Attract talent

Air

68 Followers

Wires

Team announcement

Meet Kerry Gallagher: Enterprise Account Executive at Air

Meet Kerry Gallagher: Enterprise Account Executive at Air

Kerry Gallagher describes herself as someone who “thrives on routine,” so she tends to organize her life into four pillars: career, fitness, culture and social life. “My career is always going to come first for me but I’m also a gym rat. I work out five times a week and I try not to do any more than that,” she said. At her local gym, she enjoys boxing and personal record weightlifting. When she’s not working or working out, Kerry loves exploring the city. After years of fantasizing of living in NYC, she finally made the move to West Village in June 2021 and the thrill of the city has not yet worn off. “New York has been my hobby since moving here. I like spending Sundays going to whatever museum is on my list and going to get a bagel from a new bagel place. It’s living the dream.” Recently, she’s also enjoyed watching the cherry blossoms bloom while she reads the New York Times or visiting the Museum of the City of New York. What could get more New York than that? Career-wise, Kerry has also adhered to a routine, having worked in sales at early-stage startups since she was 19 years old. When the Air team reached out to her about the Enterprise Account Executive position, she immediately felt good about the opportunity. “Being a salesperson and making a change to a different company, you want to do something where you know you can actually sell the product,” Kerry said. “I saw a lot of potential with Air to come in and be the new kids on the block and take what everybody else was doing wrong [in the industry] and get it right from the get-go.” One aspect that drew Kerry to the company was the interview process itself. “When I started going through the interview process, everybody I connected with was so smart and had great ideas and questions. They all had their nose to the grindstone and I immediately knew I needed to be a part of this…The people at Air are the face of the company,” Kerry said. She believes that one of the many things that make the team at Air so great is how they think about hiring. “I really liked that there is this idea [at Air] that we’re not going to hire based on culture because then you’re going to get a bunch of people who are the same. Instead, we hire based on our set values such as curiosity, iteration and the ability to grow and fail forward,” she added. Since joining Air in March 2022, Kerry has not been disappointed. As an extrovert who loves to come into the office and meet new people, she was nervous about joining a completely remote team. However, Air’s inclusive community, monthly team meetups and the exciting scope of her role have made her new routine a breeze. “I love to feel like what I’m doing every day has an impact which is why I’ve always worked for small companies and startups. So being at a company like [Air] where I was hired to handle enterprise deals and help figure out how we price, who we talk to and rethink how we do outbound has been super fun, fulfilling and keeps me motivated.” Looking ahead in her career, Kerry would one day love to take on more leadership responsibilities and be able to play a part in building out a more structured sales team where everybody can play on their strengths. But for now, she’s excited to continue growing, learning and making a difference in her current role.

Team announcement

Welcome Air’s Senior Product Marketer: Fiona McCurdy-McGee

Welcome Air’s Senior Product Marketer: Fiona McCurdy-McGee

Fiona McCurdy-McGee is the newest addition to Air’s marketing team, joining as its first Product Marketer. She works out of Philadelphia, where she recently purchased her first home and lives with her husband and two pets. In her free time, Fiona loves taking on house projects such as interior design and urban gardening. Additionally, she enjoys exploring the Philly area, trying new restaurants and traveling, which the flexibility of Air's remote-first policy allows. Prior to joining Air, Fiona spent the bulk of her career at a small fintech company called Perpay, where she worked on the marketing team for more than seven years. When she first joined, her role was moreso in merchandising but she soon transitioned into email marketing. As the product grew, Fiona’s work expanded to other areas, such as brand and product marketing. This initial exposure to the world of product marketing is where her interest in the field blossomed. “I was so grateful to find a company [like Air] that really looked at my experience and background to make sure it was a fit for them, rather than caring if I had held the title before,” Fiona said. “The Air team had confidence in me that I had the core skills to do the job, so it's exciting to be able to not only jump into a new role but also start building out this unique function at Air as the first product marketer.” Fiona found her way to Air after realizing that product marketing was what she wanted to pursue, though it wasn't a core vertical at her company. She wanted to move into the software industry where it is more common for product marketing to be a necessary business function. “At Air, which is a software-as-a-service company, product marketing is really important because they're constantly introducing new features that need to be communicated to their customers or positioned in a way that acquires new users and drives engagement,” Fiona explained. “I was interested in moving into that role but also doing so in a company where I could learn all of the ins and outs of product marketing.” One aspect that drew Fiona to Air was the product itself. Prior to joining, she familiarized herself with its features and was excited by the unique perspective and insights she felt she could bring to the team. “With a background in brand marketing, I immediately recognized the value in a product like Air. I fit into their target user demographic so being able to see the need for this product gave me confidence in their mission and potential for success as a business.” Since joining the company, Fiona continues to use Air every day to streamline her workflow and collaborate with her teammates. Some of her day-to-day responsibilities include: overseeing launch plans of new features, aligning the team around timelines and expectations, helping to come up with cross-channel marketing plans for feature launches, developing processes and campaigns to drive product or feature engagement and working with sales and customer teams to enable them to better sell and communicate the product. Another one of Fiona’s favorite things about working at Air is the culture. “I got a strong sense even just from the interview process that Air is a very people-first company,” Fiona said. “They really take time to make sure that their employees are healthy and happy and they also have established great company values that they use as guiding lights…It gave me confidence that as the company grows, they will stay true to that identity.” Looking ahead, Fiona can't wait to continue to learn and grow alongside the company as it scales in the coming years.

Team announcement

Meet Eric Magne: Revenue Operations at Air

Meet Eric Magne: Revenue Operations at Air

Eric Magne joined Air in March 2022 as its first Revenue Operations hire, bringing with him five years of RevOps experience at early-stage to mid-sized tech startups. While RevOps can often mean different things to different organizations, Eric defines what the role means in his experience. “RevOps to me is the function of bringing the go-to-market team together and providing operational guidance and strategy across all the orgs. [It] sits in the middle of sales, marketing, product, and a little bit of finance.” Eric said. “The [purpose] of RevOps is to really digest what's going on with other teams and make sure the company is speaking the same language and moving in a similar direction.” Originally from Minnesota, Eric now resides in New York City where he has built a close-knit community of friends over the past five years. In his free time, he loves practicing golf, playing jeopardy and hosting dinners at home over wine and good conversation. If he wasn’t working in RevOps his dream would be to run a restaurant. “Hospitality is great because it's about digesting what somebody wants and giving them that experience and that's not going to be the same for everyone,” Eric said. “I think it's fun to provide that level of experience and hospitality to different people.” Eric studied finance at the University of Oregon, but made the decision to transition into tech early in his career. “I think the main difference between finance and tech is that in finance, you very much feel like you're part of a production line and there's not a lot of input,” Eric said. “The great thing about being in tech is that it really brings in more of a team approach. We're building a company together and people are more willing to collaborate...I wanted something where I could feel like I was part of a larger vision rather than just creating content for bankers.” His first introduction to the tech industry was at a startup called Impact, where he worked for four years and was able to experience the thrill of contributing to an organization’s growth. While working as a revenue operations associate, he loved being able to have his hands in multiple projects and the variety that it brought to his day-to-day life. After working at Impact, Eric joined Wix Answers, a content support startup within the larger Wix brand. Although Eric loved the community at Wix, he missed the exciting growth and high-impact opportunities that came with working at a smaller organization. “I was looking for something where I could really sink my teeth into and have a close relationship with the founding team and with all team members [at the company].” When a recruiter reached out to Eric about an opportunity at Air, he was happy to take the call. After going through the interview process, he felt strongly that the product, its positioning and the team at Air were exactly what he was seeking in an organization. “I was able to meet with six or seven different people and hear how they approach problems, how they work, and what their experience has been like,” Eric reflected. “Ultimately, I think the people here are just so incredibly intelligent and excited to be here. You can tell that there's a desire to get things done across the board, and it came through just in the interview process.” Since joining the Air team, Eric has found the culture to be refreshingly transparent, open and invigorating. Similarly, Eric’s team-player mentality, appetite for growth and dedication to the customer experience are all part of what makes him the perfect addition to the Air team. As the team prepares for all of the exciting developments ahead, he looks forward to setting up the operational structure to help them successfully and efficiently scale.

Other announcement

Saas Mag: Creative Operations for Marketers: Shane Hegde’s Air Automates Your Frustrations

Business, Marketing / By Cami Wooley read article here Shane Hegde met the man who would co-found Air while they were both students at Stanford. The two shared a background in computer science, and Hegde also dabbled in finance. As Hegde puts it, “We both fell in love with this intersection between media and technology.” Yet, they would individually follow slightly different routes. Hegde would ultimately lean more heavily into investing after graduation, working in angel investing and private equity. At the same time, his partner would focus more on the entrepreneurial side when he began his own live streaming business. “We always wanted to build something together,” said Hegde, and their divergent yet interconnected focuses eventually led them to that unique “something.” As a media or a marketing company, you deal with a lot of files, and organizing these files can be an absolute nightmare. This is especially true for fitting them into the flow of completing a given project. When discussing the inspiration for Air, CEO and co-founder Shane Hegde said, “The thesis for the business came together based on the fact that every company was becoming a media company and the reality that it’s difficult to work with images, videos and PDFs in the cloud at scale. When you have thousands of these things, organizing them and getting feedback and distributing them becomes challenging.” When faced with this particular pain point, many companies may turn to a DAM service or a Digital Asset Management system. Still, Hegde and his service Air are trying to present a better alternative. In reference to the main software, Air sells against, Hegde says, “We don’t think anybody should buy a DAM. They are super expensive pieces of software, and they’re sold top down. They’re tens of thousands of dollars and sold in archaic ways. People don’t like to buy software with a sales team and six-month-long processes and twelve week-long integrations.” In many ways, Hegde has hit the nail on the head. Today’s truly successful users and business owners seek the simplest, most streamlined methods to run their day-to-day operations. Compared to most DAM services’ complexity, such as Bynder and Brandfolder, Air comes across as remarkably simple to drop into and get fully integrated. The service offers an excellent alternative to all that fuss and headache: Users can try the service for free and ultimately spend as little as $30 a month instead of dumping both money and time into a different product that might not ultimately suit their needs. But what exactly is Air, and what does it bring to the table? This SaaS business bills itself as the first Creative Operations system built with marketers in mind. Not only does it provide its users with a cloud storage service to keep and share their files throughout their company, but it also has built-in tools that make organization much more manageable. An intelligent search and tagging system can make finding exactly the file you need as simple as searching one or two keywords. When your files can number in the thousands, this service aspect can quickly become indispensable. Air can sync files from other services that it presents itself as an alternative to, such as Google Drive and Dropbox, as well as from externally connected hard drives, and it can share to these services just as easily. In the words of the co-founder himself, “The traditional enterprise software category here is digital asset management, and that’s a part of our business. So, it’s digital asset management; it’s collaboration and creative reviews. You can go through the feedback and approval processes with your content, and we’ll integrate all of your different systems around your organization. We’ll also allow content to flow through the different systems and processes, and then it’s project management so that you can go from ideation through to delivery in your tool.” Target Customers and What Brings Them to Air At its outset, Air’s founders were focused heavily on the technical aspects of getting their brainchild up and running. They would spend the first handful of years developing the underlying framework that the service would be built on, hiring a team of people to focus heavily on the product side of the business. All of this would be in service of being able to actively demonstrate their product to potential customers, giving them the ability to show and not tell. But of course, inevitably, it came time to determine who precisely those customers would be. “We had our baseline business understandings to say okay, who might the buyer be in an organization? We wanted to experiment with everything from prosumer to large enterprise on who our customer was. And that was tough. It was a lot of trial and error and experimentation.” Air’s core ideal customer profile is marketers, and that’s who they focus on first in terms of getting their foot in an organization’s door. Typically, the use of Air then spreads from the marketing team to the design team, then to the product team. “Over 90 days, we usually get to anywhere from 50 to 60% of headcount starts using our tool at a target organization,” says Hegde. Industry-wise, Hegde describes Air as “agnostic,” but they do focus primarily on direct-to-consumer and e-commerce businesses. “They are a rapidly growing segment for us, and they’ve just been great because they’re super brand-oriented. The content needs to stretch across the organization, and we become the first piece of real media infrastructure they have.” Air’s Process of Scaling and Hegde’s Advice for Others Hegde and his co-founder have been working on Air for roughly four and half years. Two years ago, they launched their first pilot program, with the waitlist being established approximately six months after that. The free tier for the Air service would launch just half a year later. Air is currently composed of a team of 40 people, and Hegde has great ambitions for the future of their company. “The first four years of this business were building the foundational building blocks for the product, and the next four years will be about owning and serving the creative process end to end. And being the ubiquitous tool for how the creative process has operated at companies and for individuals across the globe,” he says. In terms of advice for other SaaS founders, Hegde stresses that they shouldn’t be hasty when monetizing their products. He puts heavy emphasis on being “really thoughtful about how you are serving your customers and making sure that you’re serving your customers in the right way and then slowly get into charging again.” Furthermore, he advises that founders make an effort to ensure their go-to-market strategy is matched to the ACV, or Annual Contract Value, of the customers they’re targeting. “If you’re going to charge people, hundreds of thousands of dollars for your SaaS product, then yeah, you can go to their office and…you can have a six-month-long sales process like that,” he says, “[but] if you’re selling $10 and $30 tooling, then you’ve got to have people who can convert and buy that all on their own. There’s a spectrum, obviously, between those two things, but you have to make sure that how you’re selling your product matches who you’re selling it to and how much you’re charging.”

Other announcement

VCs say 'party rounds' are likely to become the new normal. Here's how one Google Drive competitor got over 50 founders and execs to invest.

read original article here A startup called Air has raised $10 million from institutional investors and over 50 individuals. The deal highlights founder enthusiasm for having other founders on the cap table. Shane Hegde, Air's cofounder and CEO, explains how he got the deal done in just a month. When Shane Hegde needed new funding for Air, his startup for storing and tracking images and videos, he wrote to customers, past investors, friends of friends, and his personal idols about cutting a check for the round. He made a specific request: "I need at least an hour of your time once a month. What is the least amount of capital you need to invest in order to give me that hour of time?" he told Insider in an interview. Within two weeks, Hegde had commitments from more than 50 individuals, including the founders and marketing executives of some of America's most loved brands like McDonald's, Warby Parker, and Estée Lauder. The $10 million investment brings Air's valuation to $110 million and gives it the financial firepower it needs to grow its business. Recently, more savvy founders like Hegde have stopped raising large sums from a few big venture capitalists and instead, collect a bunch of smaller checks from individual investors, who may also run companies on the side. Some investors say these so-called "party rounds" will become the new normal for startups as founders realize their advantages. They frequently give founders the ability to invite other founders to invest and share their wisdom. "Founders know and appreciate better than anyone the value of having other founders on their cap table," said TaskRabbit founder Leah Solivan, now a general partner at Fuel Capital, which has not invested in Air. The party round is a decade-old phenomenon, but it has been buoyed recently by the record amount of capital sloshing around the ecosystem, said Elad Gil, a longtime tech investor, who's not invested in Air. He pointed to the hordes of operators creating funds and syndicates in order to write bigger checks for bigger shares of companies. "Everybody kind of has a side fund, even if they're running a company," Gil said, adding, "when there's that much capital, there's a lot of flexibility in terms of how you can structure rounds." Skin in the game Traditionally, a party round doesn't have a lead investor, and the entrepreneur sets the terms for the participating investors. Air's latest financing puts a twist on the concept by having a lead investor and a long roster of operators. Hegde wanted investments from those who have built big, successful companies and got checks from dozens of founders and marketing executives at brands like Harry's, Allbirds, Sweetgreen, Loom, The Honest Company, Rent the Runway, Lattice, JP Morgan Chase, Noom, Live Nation, Hilton, Univision, and Quip, among others. Shane Hegde is the cofounder and CEO of Air, a startup building a cloud storage solution for visual assets. Air Hegde said he sought a traditional venture firm, Headline, to lead the deal because he didn't want the pressure of setting the terms for other investors. Existing investors Tiger Global and Lerer Hippeau participated in the round, but they agreed to take a smaller portion of their pro rata rights to leave allocation for founders and operators, according to Hegde. Next, Hegde said he pitched customers like Candid, Pattern, and The Infatuation to invest in the new round, because their intimate knowledge of Air makes their feedback more valuable. They, in turn, gave warm intros to other potential investors in the space. And some of those new investors signed up their own companies as Air customers. The deal also gave Air employees the chance to learn from seasoned executives. Hegde said he paired some of his employees with new investors to do their onboarding, opening new lines of communication. For instance, the startup's head of marketing can ask for advice from investor Kipp Bodnar, HubSpot's marketing chief, while Air's customer lead now knows investor Kevin Li, who ran an online community for product managers before starting his instant ramen brand, Immi. Hedge said he doesn't pretend to know everything about running a company. The best he can do is listen.

Other announcement

The future of work may be 'pop-up offices'— here's how one startup is thriving out of Airbnbs and empty coworking hubs

read article here by Melia Russell Weeks before much of the world shut down in 2020, the dozen employees of software startup Air were hustling out of a refurbished warehouse in Brooklyn's Gowanus neighborhood, subsisting on pizza and craft beer. They had recently opened the waitlist for their cloud-storage solution for visual assets, and bonded over long days of work. Then, the first wave of COVID-19 infections washed up in the city. Shane Hegde, the cofounder and chief executive of Air, told his employees to pack up their desks and go home, and he allowed the warehouse lease to run out. "It was heartbreaking," Hegde told Insider. "We all loved spending time together." The era of remote work dragged on longer than anyone expected, and like many startups across the country, Hegde's company remains without a headquarters 21 months later. Air has reaped tens of thousands of dollars in savings by scaling back on office rent, Hegde says, but as the months went on, employees said they missed the camaraderie of being in an office. To solve this, in August Air started renting brownstones and abandoned coworking spaces one to two days a month. Employees with at least two COVID-19 vaccine shots have the option to go work with their colleagues, some of whom they haven't seen regularly since the pandemic began, and others who were recently hired. And so far, it's been a hit. The so-called pop-up offices have allowed the company to "stay super asset-light" while fostering a meaningful and inclusive office culture, Hegde said. So he's not footing the bill for an office that no one is using. The future of work is hybrid The concept could become more popular as companies push back their return-to-the-office dates, as coronavirus cases surge. Big tech companies including Facebook, Spotify, LinkedIn, and IBM have rallied around a hybrid work model — not fully remote, not fully in-person — as a way to appease their homebodies and office-fans alike. Investors say it's harder than ever to attract and retain employees, another reason to focus on building culture. "With such demand for talent, coupled with the fact that people can now apply for jobs anywhere, it's wildly easy for people to make job changes," said Alexa von Tobel, a managing partner at Inspired Capital, an early-stage venture firm she started in New York. "Companies, no matter their size, need to create organizations that people love to be part of. Put differently: With such an open job market, strong company culture is a must-have, not a nice-to-have." For Air, the pop-up offices allow employees to opt into in-person work. They have a more regular cadence than corporate retreats and are easily scalable with new hires. In January, Air will rent a home for a day for employees in San Francisco. And employees who are unable to attend can join activities by video and receive a meal stipend. Founded in 2017, the startup raised a chunky round of Series A funding led by Tiger Global last year, and used the funds to quadruple its staff from about a dozen employees at the start of the pandemic to 42 full-time employees. The perk of having temporary offices, Hegde says, is how flexible they are. "Building a modern office and culture requires a system that can constantly change," he says. "At Air, we acknowledge the iteration and plan for it. Changing employee needs, variants, and capital structures — what I love about our system is that it's whatever we need it to be at that given moment."

Other announcement

10 growth marketing experts share their 2022 predictions and New Year’s resolutionsre

read article here Miranda Halpern This is a quiet period for marketing: End-of-year campaigns are already underway, teams are on holiday vacations and there’s little to do until after the new year. Setting aside the holiday spirit, this has been a difficult year for growth professionals. Most are still adapting to pandemic-driven changes to consumer habits, but Apple’s new privacy options and the impending death of the browser cookie are making it more difficult to reach the right consumers. Growth marketers have a wide variety of tools available, but which ones do the pros use? We reached out to 10 growth marketing experts to find how they were preparing for 2022 and to ask they had any New Year’s resolutions to share. The answers and advice we received were as varied as the people we polled, but nearly all of them indicated that learning — e.g., analytics training, getting started with AI tools, etc. — was high on their to-do list. “Google Analytics 4 is the new default in 2022 and beyond, so get ready to relearn how to configure your analytics reporting in a way that makes sense for your organization,” said Richard Meyer of Tuff. Kate Adams, SVP of marketing at Validity, said it’s important to keep honing one’s skills, but growth marketers shouldn’t feel compelled to become experts at everything: “Overall, there’s more value in being able to articulate what your problems are and develop strategies to fix them than to be a technology savant gobbling up whatever solution you can get your hands on.” Our questions also addressed the future of influencer marketing, which automation tools they’re working with and recommending to clients and whether they’re continuing to invest in short-form videos. Here’s the full list of who we spoke to: Jonathan Martinez, founder, JMStrategy Kate Adams, SVP of marketing, Validity Richard Meyer, growth marketer, Tuff Bas Willems, head of marketing, DataSnipper Gus Ferguson and Alyssa Crankshaw, co-founders, Ascendant Shane Hegde, founder and CEO, Air Tracey Wallace, director of marketing, MarketerHire Greg Sheppard, CMO, Templafy Lauren Kelly, CMO, ThoughtExchange

Other announcement

Transform Your Team With Better Collaboration Tools

Do you manage a ton of projects? Is constant communication a necessity? Need to boost morale? Here’s the advice you need to shape the perfect set of tools for your team. Alexandria Jacobson Using two customer relationship management tools was a headache for SmartPM Technologies, an Atlanta-based construction technology startup. Employees were frustrated with syncing issues, integration challenges and duplicated data when the company was using both Salesforce and HubSpot for its CRMs. “People hated that,” said Rohit Sinha, chief technology officer of SmartPM Technologies. Now, the company has switched over to just using one tool, HubSpot. It was a simple choice — the service desk functionality, question automation and attention to different aspects of the customer lifecycle pushed the team to fully convert the platform. For teams looking to streamline, the best question to ask is: Will it make life easier? If it saves time and integrates with existing tech then it’s probably a good bet, Sinha said. In the past year, SmartPM switched from GoToMeeting to Zoom for its robust centralized account management abilities. Zoom is integrated into Slack and also plays well with Jira and Github. “Try and find a core set of tools that can do all aspects of your business,” Sinha said. “If you go with too many tools, you’re going to end up really backtracking and getting to that core set of tools just because it's going to be a nightmare to manage.” Built In interviewed five tech companies from eight-person startups to organizations with 500 employees about what their collaboration stacks look like. Find advice on where to start from leaders in industries like fintech, telehealth and software development below. * Figure Out the Best Fit* Using a handful of tools might be ideal for small companies. But at larger companies, it isn’t always as straightforward and sometimes tools are repetitive. That’s the case at Vendavo, a global provider of price management and optimization software for business-to-business companies. Kelli Negro, chief marketing officer at the 450-person company, recommends starting small when building a collaboration stack, but ultimately, she recognizes that different teams need different tools. The same goes for working with clients too. “Try to find a way to see if you can have a collaboration platform that works across your company, but don’t force fit as well. Allow your teams to have appropriate collaboration tools that work for their departments,” she said. Vendavo relies heavily on Microsoft tools, using Outlook, OneDrive, SharePoint and Teams. Yet, when interacting with clients, who are primarily $1 billion plus companies, she will defer to the clients’ preferred tools when sharing materials, often using the Google Suite. “We’re really focused on our clients from an account-based marketing approach. Client communication starts at the prospecting level,” Negro said. “Ultimately, we’re constantly looking at how we can make that a full circle. Our communications programs go that deep.” While much of the company uses Team for chat, some teams use Slack or Salesforce Chatter. Engineering teams use Altassian’s software development tools like Jira and Confluence, and the sales team relies heavily on the Seismic platform. Vendavo also uses the marketing automation software, Marketo, and Altify is used for account planning. These softwares are able to be integrated into the company’s CRM, Salesforce. Negro hopes to integrate their team-based work manager, Asana, into the platform as well. “All of these tools are phenomenal, but without the integration points, or a person in there at all times, it can get really noisy,” Negro said. Scaling Fast? Use Industry-Standard Tools Since the start of the pandemic, telehealth startup, Nurx, has experienced rapid growth of its customer base, in turn, requiring significant expansion of its employee base to more than 250 people. Using some of the most common collaboration tools, such as Jira and Google Suite, makes onboarding much easier, said Lilia Martinez-Coburn, vice president of product at Nurx. “Given the tremendous growth that we’re experiencing right now, and how quickly we are hiring, we need something to be super robust and super easy to implement. It’s also easier to onboard people when they have familiarity with the tools, so we are looking for tools that are universally known,” she said. These tools include Atlassian’s Confluence, Figma, an interface design tool, and Whimsical, a visual workspace. Slack is the company’s chat tool, and Cordial is its cross-channel marketing and customer engagement platform. “We heard loud and clear, especially as we were ramping up so quickly and bringing in new people, that we were kind of forcing them to learn new tools,” Martinez-Coburn said. “In this stage of growth, it’s really key to not have people then on top of learning our stack, on top of learning the organization and how we interact in the product, you’re also having them learn another ticket management tool.” It’s important to use tools that employees can adopt easily and offer flexibility on mobile and desktop platforms, said Jim Darrin, founder and CEO of Valence. Valence, based in Bellevue, Washington, works with companies of all sizes using technology to improve businesses. With 75 employees the company uses Microsoft tools and HubSpot for its essential needs, plus, Weekly 10 for employee engagement. The company also uses the HeyTaco app on Slack to send virtual tacos to colleagues (think of them like brownie points). “I think people now are looking for productivity tools that allow [multiple] things to happen, whether it’s calling or communication or messaging or document storage,” he said. “They want everything in one spot.” Manage Entire Projects and Assets Air is a workplace collaboration tool for visual assets — it organizes items with smart search, version tracking and easy sharing. As experts in collaboration and workflow, the company has a streamlined approach when it comes to the tools their 40 employees use, said Shane Hegde, co-founder and CEO at Air. “We believe in products where an entire process can happen,” Hegde said. “We believe in this future where there’s centers of work for fixed categories.” With this in mind, of course, Air uses its own product for all of its visual work. For design data, the company uses Figma. Salesforce is its CRM, and Slack is its communication center. Google Meets is the company’s go-to for meetings, although Zoom is often employed when meeting with customers. Notion is an all-in-one productivity workspace the team uses. “That’s the future that we believe in is that collaboration tools are developing into centers of work that are platform-based, that integrate with other tools, but I think are strengthened as they start to unify together,” he said. “That’s the goal of any collaboration product. It’s to tie together systems and people and processes to allow distributed, remote, real-time collaboration.” In the last year, Air’s team has quadrupled in size. With continued growth, Hegde said he is reminding his team members of the benefits of using just a few all-in-one platforms instead of branching out into a bunch of other tools. “There’s obviously trade offs with using monolithic collaboration tools. You could get a point-based solution and do X thing way better, but it doesn’t do Y and Z and A and B,” he said. “Even though this thing might be a little more challenging, it makes the most sense to keep the data all structured and organized.” What Tools Allow You to Meet Client Needs As Finch Money nears its one-year founding anniversary, the fintech startup is about to grow to eight employees. Being at a small size right now allows the company to continue using free collaboration tools like the Google Suite. “We’re not at the enterprise level, so we can use a free tool where everyone has access to everything in a transparent organization,” said Kenny Soto, content marketing lead at Finch Money, an all-in-one checking and investing platform. Yet, Soto said that growing your company size does not always mean you need to upgrade your tools. If your customer demand is staying the same, but you are growing your staff for goals like expanding social media and marketing outreach or building out a more robust technical support team, you might be able to continue on with your current tools. “Is the company ready for this? Is there a particular demand… that can’t be met by the current software you have? You might have 100 people on staff and still not need that enterprise-level software,” Soto said. “You’re thinking about: What does the team need? But also you have to think about business principles. Will the customer see a direct benefit from this as well?” In addition to using the Google Suite, Finch Money uses HubSpot for its CRM, Jira for issue tracking, Slack for internal communication, ClickUp for task management and Sprout Social for social media management. The company is looking into using Zapier for workplace automation. Whatever software platforms a company uses, Soto recommends having someone in charge of managing the tools to make sure they get updated regularly. Even if there isn’t a project manager for the team, someone should hold the team accountable for consistently using the tools.

Other announcement

‘The office is dead but culture is not’: Why this start-up is trying to foster office culture without an office

read the article here KRISTINA MONLLOS This past summer, Air, a creative operations system for marketers, began what it calls “warehouse days” for employees to work together in person. On those days, the start-up rents space where vaccinated employees gather in person for team collaboration and connection. The so-called “warehouse days,” which occur two to four times a month, are part of the start-up’s plan to encourage employees to connect and foster culture. At the same time, Air worked to incentivize employees to get together for in-person or online activities outside of work — i.e. getting coffee, going to a concert, exploring a faraway land via an online tour — with a $30 stipend so that employees would have time to build a connection with their coworkers outside of work chat. Doing so is a way for the company to foster office culture despite a remote workforce — the company gave up its New York City office in May of 2020 — and potentially mitigate burnout for its 40 employees, according to Shane Hegde, CEO and co-founder of Air. The start-up is one of a number of companies aiming to find ways to recreate company culture amid a remote world, especially as the return to office has been delayed due to the delta variant. “The office is dead but culture is not,” said Hegde. “Culture needs to modify, change and become more human. It has to be synchronized and customized. I can no longer plan monolithic team activities. If we’re all working in a distributed remote environment [we have employees whose] hours are dramatically different. We can’t do cocktail hour when it’s 7 a.m. for one person and 9 p.m. for another [so our plans have to evolve.]” Hegde believes adapting for the needs of a remote team rather than trying to mimic in-person office culture is the path forward for companies, especially those grappling with team members who are burned out. “If you really want to prevent burnout, you have to build a new culture that fits for the world that we’re in, which means it has to be asynchronous, digital and customized,” said Hegde. So far, roughly 90% of Air’s New York City-based employees have participated in a “warehouse day” and nearly 70% of employees have participated in a hangout, according to Hegde. Carmi Medoff, strategic partnerships lead at Air, helped to craft the culture strategy in her previous role running operations for Air. Medoff joined the company in September 2020 and has only met her coworkers in person twice. “It’s great to spend time together and get the benefits of whatever the mythical office life is,” said Medoff. “However, we don’t want to push people out of their comfort zone when it’s unnecessary. Companies have to stay flexible and open, adapting [culture] to what the actual team wants.” That approach makes sense to human resources experts who say that finding ways to bring teams together safely while still being flexible can help keep burnout at bay for employees. “Empowering teams to problem solve in-person for short periods of time, without losing the flexibility of working from home on a consistent basis, could have a positive impact on employee productivity and mental health (so long as it’s done in a safe manner),” said Amanda Speer, director of talent at Mekanism. Speer continued: “More than managing burnout it helps establish personal relationships that increase empathy and understanding for coworkers. We are all trying our best, but it’s easy to lose sight of what others are going through when you’re in a room alone talking to a computer screen and only ever about work. These meet-ups remind folks they are dealing with real humans, with real emotions on the other end.” So far, the approach is helping with employee retention per Hegde. “We have quadrupled the size of our team since before the pandemic (February 2020) and our six-month employee retention rate is 91%,” he said, without providing exact figures. “We believe our retention rate is this high because we have successfully adapted to the new cultural demands of a remote organization.”

Partnership announcement

Duke MBB’s Recipe for Social Media Success

read article here AMANDA CHRISTOVICH One of the winningest programs in men’s college basketball is also dominating in a space off the court: social media. It’s no accident — the team has been building a top content strategy for the past several years. And in the NIL era, a school’s skills on social media have never been more important. Duke men’s basketball has more than 4 million followers across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook — more than any other college sports program, on par with some “small market NBA teams,” according to an AthleticDirectorU study. The Blue Devils’ Instagram account leads the industry with about 1.2 million followers — more than Alabama football. The account regularly posts mixtapes, behind-the-scenes footage, and feature TV episodes. “I think we’ve tried to stay out in front of this whole realm for a long time,” Duke Men’s Basketball Creative Director David Bradley told FOS. “Maybe we saw this day coming, and that was part of it. Positioning our athletes well, helping them tell their story … that’s always been important.” “It’s become increasingly important in the time I’ve been here, obviously culminating here with NIL.” A Team-Specific ‘Media Company’ What sets Duke men’s hoops apart? Shane Hegde, co-founder and CEO of Air, a content management platform Duke uses, told FOS: “Dave operates this business like a media company.” Duke men’s hoops has a small army of dedicated creators — an unusually high investment for one team even during NIL. The content team includes Bradley, two creators, and a sports information director. The program is also hiring four student assistants for data analysis, photography, videography and drone piloting, and social. Duke built a physical structure for content operations, too. The team’s “social media hub” sits right next to the court. It includes a studio where team members or coaches can do media hits with major outlets at a moment’s notice. Once content is filmed or photographed, it gets edited and loaded onto Air. The program has been working with Air since 2019. “They store all of their content on Air, Hegde said. “They give feedback to each other on designs. They send content out to recruits, they send content out to brand partners,” Hegde said. “And all of that happens at the speed of social.” Potential NIL Impact Early data on NIL has suggested that a top-notch social media presence directly translates to revenue. Almost half of NIL earnings so far have come from athletes “posting content,” according to data released by Opendorse. Teams with strong brands have high engagement and followers, so their players benefit from being featured. The team can also help players with professional-grade content for them to post themselves. “If you want great ad partners, you have to create great content,” Hegde said. Social media prowess is a recruiting advantage for the school. When Bradley meets with recruits, “They’re listening to my pitches as closely as they are the head coach’s pitch about their basketball development plan,” he said. The program already has some NIL-specific programming in place, having partnered with NIL company INFLCR since 2018, which helps distribute content Duke creates, photos from media outlets, and music, INFLCR founder and CEO Jim Cavale told FOS. The team uses other NIL features as well. The school uses social media data collected by INFLCR to figure out “what they’re doing right on social, what they could do better,” Cavale said. Prepping for Hoops Season As tipoff for the 2021-22 season approaches, the program is gearing up for increased NIL opportunities. Already, some players have signed deals. Paolo Banchero, represented by CAA, inked a deal with NBA 2K. Joey Baker and Wendell Moore are promoting Bojangles. Bradley is aiming to teach athletes how to build a robust brand that brings in more than a few NIL deals while at Duke. “There’s a long-game aspect to this that can’t get lost,” Bradley said.

Partnership announcement

August Design News: wooden bags, concrete coral, political pottery

read article here Alice Fisher News from London Design Festival, Swedish fabrics and America’s citizen photographers After a long break, the design world is coming to life again. London Design Festival (LDF) is back and bigger than ever this year. There will be three more design districts in the capital – including the Design District at Greenwich Peninsula. It is hoped this new development will become London’s new creative quarter and showcases the work of eight different architects. A great location for Design London, a new event at LDF. Also new is Planted, a design show attempting to connect people with nature. Finally, it feels like green shoots are coming through. For more news on architecture, sustainable living, art, fashion and new ideas, Sign up for our monthly newsletter here 1. London designs for the future London design events are back and in person this autumn. London Design Festival (LDF) is citywide in September and bigger than ever. Three new design districts have been added this year – Design District at Greenwich Peninsula, Park Royal Design District and Southwark South Design District. Sustainability and the circular economy are big features, but the design community is thinking about the next generation in other ways, too. Recent graduates and young people are at the heart of many festival events. Ten students and graduates are designing red oak sculptural waymarkers, one for each of the 10 LDF districts, in a project supported by American Hardwood Export Council and furniture studio Benchmark. Each signpost – or Designpost, as they’re called – reflects the character of the design district it represents. Also for LDF, Resolve – a collective of London youth groups – will work using recycled museum materials to create an installation for the V&A’s main entrance hall called Made on Location. Planted – which aims to be the first zero-waste design event – is also scheduled for September. This event has a Green Grads exhibition which showcases graduates’ ideas for saving energy, conservation and eco-friendly materials. Designers include Emma Appleton with Green Pipe, a water collection and filtration system which lets plants thrive on underused walls and surfaces. The vegetation removes carbon dioxide and also reduces the risk of flooding. There’s Callum Wardle, who has created beach toys from plastic ocean waste in his project Ocean Bucket. They’re available for rent on the Devon beaches where the rubbish was collected. Lawrence Parent shows Living Blocks, his open-source recipe for modifying simple moulds to mimic natural stone. The textured surfaces are good for vegetation and wildlife, making urban landscapes more welcoming. It looks like the future is in good hands. London Design Festival runs 18-26 September 2021 across London. Planted runs 23-26 September at King’s Cross 2. Worthless Studio makes priceless art Studio, chose his non-profit’s name because that’s how he felt: worthless. He’d quit his job at a Californian tech startup in 2018 to become a sculptor in his hometown of New York and was shocked by the lack of community and the commerciality of the city’s art world. With Worthless, he wants to bring back some camaraderie and support the creation of public art. Now his studio provides space, materials and advice for aspiring artists of all backgrounds. Last year’s Plywood Protection Project got the plywood used to board up shop windows during lockdown and the Black Lives Matters protests distributed to artists to create public monuments. These works of art have now been set up, one in each of the five boroughs of New York. This year brings two books from the Worthless Free Film project. The team originally took a 1973 Airstream trailer converted into a darkroom across the US in 2019, giving out rolls of films to participants (anyone who arrived and asked for film) who had to follow the theme Red, White and Blue. When the pandemic and protests hit America’s streets in 2020, they distributed film again and edited the images into an archive of one of America’s most volatile years. Air, a software startup platform, is supporting the project by creating a gallery of the thousands of images to catalogue what the racial and cultural injustices looked like to everyday photographers across the US. The images are accessible to anyone that buys a copy of the Free Film book through a password. “Our mission is to support artists by providing them the tools and space they need to create,” says Hamamoto. “We’re focused on supporting artists, producing public art, and educating underprivileged youth in art practice. These projects play into the ecosystem that we’re trying to build.” Free Film: USA and Free Film: June 2020 are available for preorder. They are publishlished on 13 September 3. Ceramics get political at the Biennial The British Ceramics Biennial (BCB) is back this year. The festival is the largest ceramics event in the UK and has helped the regeneration of Stoke-on-Trent, home to the UK pottery industry. Based in the former warehouse, The Goods Yard in the heart of Stoke, events are also scheduled for the original Spode factory and The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery. Highlights include Stoke Makes Plates, an installation of 250 plates designed by Stoke-on-Trent residents, including care home residents and addicts in recovery, commissioned artists and local ceramics manufacturers. There’s also Fresh, an exhibition of new young ceramicists including Popalini & Jezando, who taught themselves to throw with the help of YouTube, and also Sarah Strachan, who first discovered clay at community art clubs. There’ll also be an installation inspired by Wedgwood’s anti-slavery medallion designed in 1787 by the company’s founder, Josiah Wedgwood. “We’re really excited to be back,” says Iain Cartwright, executive director of BCB. “As well as bringing life back to the city, the festival will be a chance to show how artists are using clay to create thought-provoking, often politically charged work.” British Ceramics Biennial runs 11 September–17 October 4. Fjällräven’s bag made of wood Fjällräven rucksacks have previously been made from recycled or upcycled materials, but this autumn brings the Tree-Kånken, the company’s first bag made from a completely new, sustainably sourced, wood pulp fabric. The raw material for Pine Weave comes from a cultivated, certified forest just outside Fjällräven’s hometown of Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. “First and foremost, this means we have a deep knowledge of the raw material source for Pine Weave,” says product developer Johanna Mollberg, “as well as a direct dialogue with all of our partners in the supply chain.” Fjällräven’s fabric is stronger and more durable than most existing plant-based materials and is coated to make it even sturdier. Using wood materials, rather than fossil-based ones, means less carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. “We believe that these sort of cellulose, wood-based fabrics are part of the solution to transitioning from a fossil-based linear society to a bio-based circular society,” says global sustainability director Christiane Dolva. But while the Tree-Kånken is made of very modern fabric, its style is retro. It’s inspired by the very first Kånken rucksack, which first got chucked around school playgrounds back in 1978. “We have learnt a lot while developing Pine Weave,” says Mollberg. “We have some exciting ideas in the works right now. We are just starting out.” 5. New book Tools for Food Writer and curator Corinne Mynatt became interested in kitchen utensils through her design research trips and huge passion for cooking. After training as an artist at Pratt in New York, then Central St Martin’s in London, she studied contextual design in Eindhoven. Work as a curator at the Royal Institute of British Architects followed before she became a freelance producer and writer. Still she’d find herself looking at cooking equipment. Advertisement “My interest was piqued by intriguing objects I found in flea markets across Europe,” Mynatt explains. “These tools are a gateway into other cultures and cuisines. I realised that, from the perspective of design, a survey of these objects was missing, and they form such an important part of culinary and design histories.” Mynatt has rectified this with her upcoming book Tools for Food – a delightful voyage through centuries of kitchen innovation across the world. Mynatt’s love is such that she finds it hard to pick her favourites amongst these ingenious gadgets. “My go-to is the presse-ail et dénoyateur (garlic press and pitter), the French mid-century aluminium multi-tool that started my interest. Close seconds are the shikizaru, a delicately woven bamboo cradle used in Japan for steaming delicate foods; and Thayer’s Universal Tool (1881), another multi-tool that is a great expression of the post-Great Exhibition of 1851 world. There are so many that tell important design/culture/culinary/material histories… uranium reamer, lemon squeezers (not just Alessi)… list goes on!” Tools for Food (Hardie Grant) is published 16 September. Follow on Instagram at @toolsforfood 6. Yes, there is life on MARS The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Australia, has a new exhibition called Sampling the Future opening this week. It showcases work by designers which reimagines how objects and buildings are made and looks for ways to combat climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. One of the most mesmerising exhibits is a new commission by Melbourne artist Alex Goad. He’s created MARS (modular artificial reef structure) from ceramic and oyster-shell concrete. These elegant geometric structures – which mimic coral reef foundations – are created using 3D printing and traditional manufacturing to provide habitats to help damaged marine ecosystems. They mimic the calcium skeletons of dead coral, which build up over thousands of years to create the scaffolding that anchor living corals. Goad’s Reef Design Lab has a number of ongoing research projects – including oyster reefs in the North Sea and mangrove planters for Victoria’s coast forests – but the NGV will display a large-scale structure visitors can walk through so they can admire the craft of man imitating nature firsthand.

Other announcement

As NIL era arrives, marketers find an influencer playbook

read article here KIMEKO MCCOY and SEB JOSEPH There’s a new crop of influencers on the horizon for marketers after the NCAA’s recent adoption of a policy allowing college athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness (NIL). Basically, the long-awaited ruling means college athletes can start making money for their influence. Marketers have been eager to pony up. In the week since the rule changed, Unilever, PetSmart and Boost Mobile and many more stumped up the cash for some of the hottest college athletes across the U.S. The reasons for this pent-up demand are clear: Instead of opting for high-ticketed professional athletes, these deals let marketers get in on the ground floor before college athletes head to the big leagues. Those athletes can also resonate in areas where there aren’t professional athletic teams. In a sense, they’re a cost-efficient route for advertisers to get in front of younger audiences like Gen Z. “It’s the most significant story for the business of college sports since [the federal civil rights law] Title IX in 1972,” said Jarrod Jordan, chief marketing officer and chief digital officer at nutrition company Iovate Health Sciences, in an email. “It means we can hyper-target communities by working with athletes at a given school in a given region.” Consider what this means: If the likes of Unilever and Boost Mobile are actually looking for real returns (not just wins for their favorite school), they are going to want to do deals with individuals who connect to their targeted consumers, and social media in many cases will be an avenue to do that. It certainly was for Unilever’s marketers. The CPG advertiser will launch a search on Instagram later this week (July 13) to find the next member for its #BreakingLimits team of college athletes for its Degree deodorant brand. “It was important for us to look beyond the star players or draft picks, and identify college athletes with untold or overlooked stories about how they’ve dedicated their lives to inspiring others to break limits,” said Rob Master, vp of media and digital engagement at Unilever North America. “Any notable social following among our college athlete partners was an added bonus to help further amplify our work together, but finding individuals with compelling stories and voices was our primary focus.” The move is part of a wider $5 million recruitment drive over the next five years at Unilever that will use athlete marketing platform Opendorse to identify and sign college athletes. So far, 14 athletes have been signed. “I think the butterfly effect, or the ripple effect of all this, is you get into that next generation of creators who are athletes right now,” said Bryce Adams, director of brand partnerships at influencer marketing agency Captiv8. “I think the benefit is going to be multi-layered, as you think about that for brands, for the athletes and the business as a whole.” Brands now have a leg up in the working relationship with college athletes should they make it as a professional, said Adams. Furthermore, these deals expand the definition of the range of influencers from lifestyle bloggers to college athletes, and everything in between. Looking ahead, these same college athlete influencers may very well become the next generation of marketers. That is to say that often these athletes have an innate understanding of how those platforms can elevate their own profiles. After all, they have grown up watching their favorite celebrities do the same thing over the years. A recent incident between members of the Duke Blue Devils men’s college basketball team backed this up. “We were doing a video shoot recently and the class basically stopped the shoot and then got together on their own to make their own group TikTok video, which has already got half a million views,” said the college basketball team’s creative director David Bradley. “The athletes we’re working with today recognize more than ever that their brand and subsequently a presence on social media are their storefront window now.” Bradley is better placed than most to comment. He has been advising the team’s players on these matters since 2018. At the time, he felt the team should formalize its in-house social media expertise given the interest its players were showing. Now, Bradley meets with the freshman group every week for an hour to talk through a range of topics as part of a wider operation that produces nearly 100,000 digital assets a year for the main social networks using creative workspace Air. “The kids here are more in tune than they’ve ever been so we’re on hand to help them understand the market,” he added. Understandably, these changes are shifting the dynamic between an athlete and the school they play for. Previously, a college could claim that its brand was responsible for an athlete’s popularity. Now, college athletes are cultivating large audiences of their own before they step foot on campus who are ready to promote both themselves and the school they represent. “If Dale Carnegie wrote ‘How To Win Friends and Influence People’ in 2021 it would be all about how to elevate one’s TikTok and IG engagement,” said Jarett Sims, co-founder at venture capital firm for sports and media businesses TuSo it stands to reason that these endorsement deals are starting to resemble the deals advertisers strike with influencers. “Most NIL deals, even traditional-looking endorsements, will have a social media component (if they are not entirely based on social media),” said Jon Israel, a partner at the law firm Foley & Lardner LLP, which works on contracts in the sports and entertainment industry. “This doesn’t mean that student-athletes not active on social media will be excluded — there will be traditional opportunities available — but their visibility and value will be enhanced by a social media presence.”rn2 Equity Partners. “If your social game is weak, forget product endorsement deals. This however doesn’t have to mean tens or hundreds of thousands of followers.” In fact, Captiv8 recently launched a program at the University of Arkansas, facilitating the new marketplace between advertisers and college athletes. The program covers entrepreneurship basics, NIL legislation, information on influencer marketing and personal branding, pitching and other business fundamentals. Ultimately, the influencer marketing agency hopes to work with student-athletes and capture data and insights to take back to brands. “We’re really trying to marry the two in a way that allows the student-athletes to finally reap the benefits of their work in terms of monetary, and allows brands to really feel comfortable and want to engage with student-athletes,” he said. Doing so, goes the thinking, could also help to “make brands feel comfortable with [the ruling] on the enterprise level,” per Adams. Indeed, the NCAA’s NIL policy is still new enough to be considered the Wild Wild West. There are two reasons for this: working with student-athletes may be vastly different than working with the typical influencer who already knows the ins and the outs of the marketing game: there’s also the fact that the NCAA’s NIL rules differ state by state. Still, marketers shouldn’t sit on the sidelines. There will be a first-mover advantage as the market opens up. “It’s a little bit unnerving to not necessarily know the exact outcome,” said Tony Pace, president of Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB). “But if you allow the kids to be creative, and you have a process, I think you can actually do some pretty interesting things,” he said.

Other announcement

NYC Musicians, Artists Find Ways to Connect Virtually During Coronavirus Pandemic

read article here STEPHANIE SIMON For New York musician Terry Derkach, a great song uses the the power of words to create a feeling — and now anyone can join with him to do just that. Derkach and his partner Meredith Collins are inviting New Yorkers and music lovers around the world to collaborate on a song. "It's a beautiful song. It's called ‘One World.’ And people are submitting what they think would make beautiful lines based on that,” Collins told NY1. “Everyone is voting and commenting and cheering each other on. And we choose a new winning lyric twice a week.” "You start reading these lyrics and people are submitting really heartfelt and uplifting like, 'We're going to get through this. Everyone just needs to be safe,’” Derkach added. “And they're writing about that.” Their online platform is called Hookist, named after the catchy part of a song, the hook. Usually people join with a well-known musician and pay 50 cents to submit a lyric. But in response to the pandemic, as they've done for other causes, this collaboration is completely free and community-driven. People can join in at hookist.com. Another way to find community through art is with a new online campaign that's inviting New Yorkers to join free virtual drawing lessons by illustrators worldwide and post New York City-themed illustrations with the hashtag #NYCDraws. The New York Community Trust and Air, a Brooklyn-based digital workspace, is behind the campaign, which is designed to raise awareness and money for the NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund. The fund was created to help cultural and community organizations struggling during the COVID-19 crisis. "As the campaign grows and houses more and more of these creations, we hope that it will become one big love note to our favorite city," Shane Hegde, the CEO of AIR, told us via Zoom. An archive in charcoal and ink and whatever else you may use. For more, go to nycdraws.com

Other announcement

It’s Time To Support Truly Purpose-Driven Brands Who Exemplify True Leadership Amidst This Coronavirus Pandemic: Here's A Starter List

read article here Aaron Kwittken The spread of COVID-19 continues to put pressure on businesses and brands from a wellbeing, economic and a values standpoint, prompting an unprecedented amount of scrutiny on how, how fast or even whether they respond. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing some incredible leaders who chose to be the front lines of purpose-driven branding long before the pandemic through my Brand on Purpose podcast, exploring the successful coexistence and healthy tension between purpose and profit. These brands, always purpose driven, are now more focused than ever on bringing their corporate character forward. And note that none of these organizations are using 60-second advertising gestures to communicate they care. They are taking real actions in their communities.

Other announcement

How Companies Are Tackling Mental Health Of Employees Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

read article here Natasha Mathur Our entire world is currently embroiled in a running war against the Coronavirus Pandemic. It’s indisputably the most harrowing and biggest crisis staring us in the face right now. The catastrophe has led to 88,538 deaths (as I’m writing) worldwide and the numbers keep jumping up day by day. While it goes without saying that the virus is posing a major threat to our physical well-being, there’s another public health crisis that’s silently brewing amidst the current pandemic - mental health issues. A recent survey conducted by the Indian Psychiatry Society revealed that there’s been a sharp 20% surge in mental illness cases, with at least one in five Indians suffering from it. What’s even more troublesome is that the very conditions (social distancing, lockdowns, travel bans, limited resources) that have been implemented by the governments worldwide to mitigate the spread of the virus are becoming a major cause of mental distress among many. And it’s not very hard to imagine why that would be the case, after all, there’s been a complete shift in people’s lifestyle and not in a way that’s normal. “During times of lockdown, there is a complete breakdown of routines and structure for all concerned, including the young and old. This coupled with uncertainty about what the future holds is stressful, to say the least. Common mental health difficulties people are encountering currently includes anxiety, insomnia, unfounded illness fears etc. It is important for all of us to effectively deal with this to prevent more serious and enduring mental health issues,” said Dr. Vinod Kumar, Psychiatrist and Head, Mpower - The Centre, Bengaluru. Too Much On One Plate In the light of the Coronavirus pandemic, people are staying indoors (more than they ever have) with minimal resources while constantly exposed to an overload of information. Not to forget, that people are constantly living in fear of job losses, business shutdowns, and salary cuts as the pandemic has caused a devastating impact on the economies around the world. This has further led to a collective worry around how to pay pending bills, EMIs, rent, organize funds in case of emergencies, and sustain a normal living overall. According to data from the Centre for Monitoring of Indian Economy (CMIE), India's urban unemployment rate soared to 30.9% while the overall unemployment rate surpassed 23% in the last week of March and the first week of April, as a result of COVID-19 lockdown. Add to this the fact that remote working is not as convenient as it might seem and people are compelled to juggle too many balls at once. While spending time with families indoors has been a safe haven for many, there are some who are now facing issues in their personal relationships where already existing indifferences within the family have grown more. Given that there’s a lack of space and privacy now, chances of stepping on each others’ toes and temper clashes have become more common. “Working from home, though seems ideal, brings with it some cons that we are witnessing at the moment. Many professionals are facing issues like social isolation, increased demand to balance work with home due to lack of what we considered essential services like house help, cooks or takeaway facilities, add to that the lack of privacy at home, worry about parents and children and lack of efficiency due to people being preoccupied with the uncertainty of the current situation," said Dr. Sapna Bangar, Psychiatrist and Head, Mpower – The Centre, Mumbai. What Can Companies Do To Prioritize Employees’ Mental Health An important question that springs up during the current pandemic is how can companies amp up their efforts to create an environment for employees that are beneficial to both their physical and mental well-being. It’s understandable that it’s a difficult situation where the sudden transition to online remote working has further exacerbated the challenges associated with building a healthy environment for employees. But, given that technology is acting as a strong pillar of support during these unprecedented times, there’s a multitude of ways a company can facilitate an atmosphere that’s enriching for the employees and helps them take a break from the ghastly reality. Mashable India reached out to companies who shared with us fun and interesting plans that they have implemented to keep their employees' morale high. Don’t Be Afraid To Have Fun One of the best ways to keep the spirits high could be organizing an activity or a plan for each team that acts as a getaway for them. Even seemingly small activities like having a fun video chat session at the end of work every day can help in big ways. For example, employees in a Brooklyn-based company 'Air', have been playing virtual board games since they've made the pivot to work remotely due to COVID-19. “At Air, we loved our lunch conversations and 1-on-1 dinner dates. Through the last month, these have been replaced by video conference game-nights and morning coffee chats in an attempt to continue supporting each other and as a reminder of how much we enjoy working together," said Shane Hegde, CEO, Air. Similarly, a New-York based consulting firm, CAD management, has also been doing daily virtual listening sessions with the whole team remotely. “Listening to new music has always been a calming experience, and we as a music management and record label are convinced that some of the best creation is going to happen during this quarantine time period. It should also be noted that we mandated that no emails be checked during this listening session time,” mentions Clayton Durant, Founder, CAD Management. Be Transparent And Flexible Another critical step that could help ease the anxiety of employees during this time is being transparent about where the company is going, how it’s doing, and how it’s being affected by the current situation. If there are layoffs or salary cuts to be made, companies should make it a priority to be as clear with its employees as possible. They should work with the managers and HR team to have all the queries answered in a transparent, organized, and timely manner. In an attempt to check in on employees globally and being transparent, Guru Gowrappan, CEO, Verizon Media and leadership holds daily virtual Q&A sessions with employees to relay updates, company news and answer any pressing questions. The company has developed a daily newsletter to provide employees with COVID-19 updates, resources, and WFH tips. Moreover, Verizon Media also offers its employees and household members 24/7 confidential crisis support and virtual counseling sessions globally. Setting up an additional support fund for the employees who are in urgent need of funds or belong to a lower salary bracket could also act as a helpful solution. Facebook, for instance, is planning to give a $1,000 bonus to its employees to support them amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. Implement Mental Health Specific Plans “Arranging for a helpline with Mental health professionals, having workshops or talks about coping in these scenarios or having flexible policies to help people balance their professional and personal commitments in this time of crisis can be some of the ways for employers to look after their employees,” suggests Dr. Bangar. FITTR, an online fitness community, has instituted a separate mental wellness helpline, where anyone who is feeling down and wants to talk to a professional can call the number and have a chat. All conversations are kept private and confidential. Its HR team also introduced “Each One Call One'' for people to connect over the phone and just chat! This doesn’t include any work-related talks, or discussions about pending tasks. Furthermore, its employees can call their city ambassador (Fitizen) and ask for help with groceries, supplies, and medicines. Ashit Kukian, CEO, at Radio City, India's private FM radio station, shared with Mashable India that the company has been keeping its employees motivated by asking them to share their ‘Home Quarantine selfies’ whilst they are engrossed in their respective hobbies and work. The employees can also express their gratitude towards their co-worker, who has extended a helping hand during Work from Home, by uploading a ‘Cheers to Peers’ image. The company is encouraging its employees to do 20 mins of mediation by playing the heartfulness meditation audio in the background. It has also partnered with a medical app for employees to have online doctor consultation and delivery of medicines on discounts. Help Employees Upskill! Productivity is equally important. So, companies can set up different productivity plans and fund courses for employees to help them upskill and face the challenges ahead head-on. In Asus, a Taiwan-based tech brand, many teams have proactively engaged in self-learning tools to utilise this time even more optimally. “Our Marketing team has enabled its members to enhance their current skillset with a couple of online courses. This has proven to be fruitful, wherein a lot of members from varied backgrounds are participating in courses related to digital or video editing, Business Continuity Management amongst others," Arnold Su, Business Head - Consumer and Gaming PC, SYS Business Group, at Asus India, told Mashable India. “From the organization’s perspective, there has been a clear directive with regards to expectations and timelines that has further helped to reduce anxiety. This whole change schedule has helped us focus our energies in the right direction and utilise our time the best way possible”. Similarly, Synechron, a New York-based IT and consulting firm, has provided its employees with systems, internet connectivity and any other infrastructure that may be required to support productivity. Different employee engagement campaigns have also been created to support the psychological well-being of all the employees across countries. The company has also tied up with online course platforms to help its employees upskill and upgrade themselves. Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way All companies should make the mental health of its employees one of their top priorities in the current situation. If the employees feel safe, sane, and sound, it further adds to their overall productivity and efficiency at work. Like we mentioned earlier, the steps implemented by a company to boost the morale of its employees don't have to be super elaborate and advanced (especially true for small businesses) if you know how to be creative and innovative with the resources that you’ve got. The main goal should be to offer unconditional support to employees during these times so that they can be ready to work at their best once this pandemic ends. In addition to employers, even employees can play a great role in encouraging each other and instil a feeling of solidarity to successfully lead a battle against the outbreak. If you find your co-worker struggling with anxiety or fear around the current situation, you can extend a helping hand, by giving them a call and talking about things that are bothering them. Or, you could ask other coworkers to join in and have fun activities to cheer up the team. It’s all about having a space where the employers and employees can keep their social connection alive and discuss things that strike a perfect balance between productivity and fun. This will not only help strengthen current relationships within a workplace but will also help build a solid foundation for the future. At last, it’s also up to us, as individuals, to maintain and practice healthy habits in terms of sleep, the food we eat, and content we consume, to make sure we don’t lose our minds amid the pandemic.

Partnership announcement

Remote work shift calls for fast footwork

read article here Kia Kokalitcheva Air CEO Shane Hegde received a frantic call last week from New York nonprofit Robin Hood (not to be confused with the brokerage app). The organization needed to immediately finish moving all its digital assets to the cloud as it was suddenly sending employees to work from home. The only solution: He dispatched an employee to Robin Hood’s offices to pick up more than 20 hard drives and upload their contents as fast as possible. The big picture: Despite the popularity of cloud-based work tools, all kinds of sophisticated organizations ran into technological challenges when the spread of the coronavirus suddenly forced them to send employees to work from home. Between the lines: Many companies are set up to have some small portion of their employees working remotely at any given time, but few are prepared for all of them do so at once. Not enough drawbridges: One popular remote work tool is the virtual private network (or VPN), which lets employees log into the company’s secure system without physically being at the office to log in. But as Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince, whose company sells a cloud-based version of this tool, tells Axios, companies often don’t have these capabilities for all employees. He adds that a 100-person travel agency recently called Cloudflare because it could only have five employees using a VPN at one time but needed to immediately move everyone home. Its outside IT vendor could come upgrade its equipment, but that would take two weeks, he says. Other companies that are not usually set up for fully-remote work have to comply with government regulations or security requirements from business partners with whom they exchange data, adds Prince. Even Silicon Valley’s tech giants ran into problems. Some Apple employees couldn't access work tools from home due to security precautions around unreleased products, while Yelp had to quickly purchase laptops for employees who didn't have them for work already, according to the Wall Street Journal. The bottom line: Many companies will likely rethink their policies on remote work, both culturally and technologically, after this crisis.

Other announcement

Lerer Hippeau's Ben Lerer shaes his priorities for scouring seed deals

read article here Lucas Matney Enterprise software startups are changing how they infiltrate companies, and investors are taking note. Last week, I chatted with Lerer Hippeau‘s Ben Lerer after his firm had just led a seed round in Air, a digital asset management platform. I used the opportunity to pick his brain about what he’s searching for in early-stage investments and which trends he believes are shaking up enterprise software.

Funding announcement

Air Raises $6 Million From Lerer Hippeau and Former Dropbox Executives to Take on Google Drive & Adobe Creative Cloud

read article here End-to-end workplace collaboration tool powering 100+ brands like Glamsquad, The Infatuation, & Duke Men’s Basketball Air, a workplace collaboration tool, announced it has raised $6 Million funding to date, to build brands a replacement for their messy cloud storage solutions. Lerer Hippeau is the lead and is joined by RedSea Ventures, Advancit Capital, WndrCo, and a group of strategic advisors including the former Head of Business Operations at Dropbox (ChenLi Wang), former VP of Product at Dropbox (Todd Jackson), and Head of Sales at Figma and former Global Partnerships at Dropbox (Kyle Parrish). Today’s announcement also marks the launch of Air’s end-to-end software product designed to help the 700 million “communicators” that work in fields like marketing, sales, and partnerships. For these individuals, visual collaboration is critical, but their creative assets are locked in the hidden corners and messy folders of cloud storage. Using Air, teams optimize their creative process: importing thousands of images and videos from Dropbox or Google Drive on sign up, giving back on average four hours of their workday. Manual tasks are replaced with automated structure, and seamless workflow tools enable sharing, commenting, and instant collaboration. “As more companies focus on creating and sharing visual content, social media marketers, sales leaders and content producers are on the frontline of the growing need for better collaboration tools,” says Ben Lerer, Managing Partner at Lerer Hippeau. “Shane and Tyler are the perfect pair to tackle this problem because they’ve worked in content and digital media and know this pain point first-hand. We believe Air will support creators everywhere with the platform to power an increasingly visual world.” “Building this product has been an ambitious undertaking and we’re thrilled to have a team of investors and advisors that believe in our long term vision. Today, every company is a media company and teams of all sizes need space to think creatively. Air dramatically improves the way people work,” says Shane Hegde CEO & Co-Founder at Air. “Tyler and I have spent our entire careers at the intersection of media and technology. We believe this market has been vastly underserved and we’re obsessed with improving the creative process: iterating and expanding our product based on real-time feedback.” “The need for great media management tools has never been greater, says Todd Jackson, Former VP of Product at Dropbox. Because of the internet and social media, every company needs to produce compelling visual content on a daily basis, and Air is the most elegant, modern tool for today’s companies.” “Dropbox made it difficult for our team to search and index,” says David Goldweitz, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Glamsquad. “It was too easy for someone to accidentally duplicate or delete files, which we would then need to recover. With Air, there is no need to copy assets and it’s simple to share between internal users and partners,” said Goldweitz. “Our marketing, growth, and product teams all have real-time access to new assets, so the team can move faster with cleaner communication.” At just $10/user/mo, Air is the first piece of media-specific software that teams purchase and 95% of customers migrate from Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive. Since launching their closed, invite-only pilot in 2019, Air has grown to manage over 5M digital assets for brand- forward businesses around the globe. The product is referred to as a “whiteboard for the creative process” as it immediately increases productivity for end users like brand marketing managers, content coordinators, and social media managers. Air’s wide range of customers reinforce the idea that the world is visually driven, and all industries now require images and videos in everyday operations. The product currently serves over 100 teams in consumer products, goods and services, sports, media, retail, and hospitality. At its core, Air believes every company needs a space to think visually.

Funding announcement

Air Raises $6 Million From Lerer Hippeau and Former Dropbox Executives to Take on Google Drive & Adobe Creative Cloud

Read article here End-to-end workplace collaboration tool powering 100+ brands like Glamsquad, The Infatuation, & Duke Men’s Basketball Air, a workplace collaboration tool, announced it has raised $6M funding to date, to build brands a replacement for their messy cloud storage solutions. Lerer Hippeau is the lead and is joined by RedSea Ventures, Advancit Capital, WndrCo, and a group of strategic advisors including the former Head of Business Operations at Dropbox (ChenLi Wang), former VP of Product at Dropbox (Todd Jackson), and Head of Sales at Figma and former Global Partnerships at Dropbox (Kyle Parrish). Today’s announcement also marks the launch of Air’s end-to-end software product designed to help the 700 million “communicators” that work in fields like marketing, sales, and partnerships. For these individuals, visual collaboration is critical, but their creative assets are locked in the hidden corners and messy folders of cloud storage. Using Air, teams optimize their creative process: importing thousands of images and videos from Dropbox or Google Drive on sign up, giving back on average four hours of their workday. Manual tasks are replaced with automated structure, and seamless workflow tools enable sharing, commenting, and instant collaboration. “As more companies focus on creating and sharing visual content, social media marketers, sales leaders and content producers are on the frontline of the growing need for better collaboration tools,” says Ben Lerer, Managing Partner at Lerer Hippeau. “Shane and Tyler are the perfect pair to tackle this problem because they’ve worked in content and digital media and know this pain point first-hand. We believe Air will support creators everywhere with the platform to power an increasingly visual world.” “Building this product has been an ambitious undertaking and we’re thrilled to have a team of investors and advisors that believe in our long term vision. Today, every company is a media company and teams of all sizes need space to think creatively. Air dramatically improves the way people work,” says Shane Hegde CEO & Co-Founder at Air. “Tyler and I have spent our entire careers at the intersection of media and technology. We believe this market has been vastly underserved and we’re obsessed with improving the creative process: iterating and expanding our product based on real-time feedback.” The need for great media management tools has never been greater, says Todd Jackson, Former VP of Product at Dropbox. Because of the internet and social media, every company needs to produce compelling visual content on a daily basis, and Air is the most elegant, modern tool for today’s companies.” “Dropbox made it difficult for our team to search and index,” says David Goldweitz, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Glamsquad. “It was too easy for someone to accidentally duplicate or delete files, which we would then need to recover. With Air, there is no need to copy assets and it’s simple to share between internal users and partners,” said Goldweitz. “Our marketing, growth, and product teams all have real-time access to new assets, so the team can move faster with cleaner communication.” At just $10/user/mo, Air is the first piece of media-specific software that teams purchase and 95% of customers migrate from Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive. Since launching their closed, invite-only pilot in 2019, Air has grown to manage over 5M digital assets for brand- forward businesses around the globe. The product is referred to as a “whiteboard for the creative process” as it immediately increases productivity for end users like brand marketing managers, content coordinators, and social media managers. Air’s wide range of customers reinforce the idea that the world is visually driven, and all industries now require images and videos in everyday operations. The product currently serves over 100 teams in consumer products, goods and services, sports, media, retail, and hospitality. At its core, Air believes every company needs a space to think visually.

Funding announcement

Lerer Hippeau leads $6M investment in Pinterest-like digital asset manager Air

read article here Lucas Matney When it comes to the so-called "consumerization of the enterprise," a workplace tool that looks an awful lot like Pinterest seems like it would be the trend's final form. Brooklyn-based Air is building a digital asset manager for communications teams that aren't satisfied with more general cloud storage options and want something that can show off visual files with a bit more pizzazz. The startup tells TechCrunch that they have closed $6 million in funding led by Lerer Hippeau . RedSea Ventures, Advancit Capital and WndrCo also participated. General-purpose cloud storage options from Google or Dropbox don't always handle digital assets well -- especially when it comes to previewing items, and Air's more focused digital asset management competitors often require dedicated managers inside the org, the company says. Air has a pretty straightforward interface that looks more like a desktop site from Facebook or Pinterest, with a focus on thumbnails and video previews that's simple and sleek. Air is trying to capitalize on the trend toward greater à la carte software spend for teams looking to phase in products with very specific toolsets. The team is generally charging $10 per user per month, with 100GB of storage included. "Adobe is an amazing suite of products, but with the idea that companies are mandating the tools that their employees use versus letting their employees choose -- it makes a lot of sense that teams are going to ultimately end up having more autonomy and creating better work when they're using tools that they care about," Lerer Hippeau managing partner Ben Lerer tells TechCrunch. Air lets customers migrate files from Dropbox or Google Drive to its AWS-hosted storage platform, which displays files like photos, videos, PDFs, fonts and other visual assets as Pinterest-esque boards. The app is a way to view and store files, but Air's platform play focuses pretty heavily on giving co-workers the ability to comment and tag assets. Collaborating around files is a pretty easy sell; a couple of users discussing which photo they like best for a particular marketing campaign doesn't require too much imagination. The team has been focusing largely on attracting users in roles like brand marketing managers, content coordinators and social media managers as a way of infiltrating and scaling vertically inside marketing departments. "What Airtable did to spreadsheets and what Notion did to docs, we're doing for visual work," CEO Shane Hegde told TechCrunch in an interview. "As we think about how we differentiate, it's really that we're a workspace collaboration tool, we're not just cloud storage or digital asset management..."

By clicking "Continue" or continuing to use our site, you acknowledge that you accept our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. We also use cookies to provide you with the best possible experience on our website.