Maine Startup and Create Week: Ask the Right Questions

MSCW keynote Robyn

How do you find the right answers for your business? By asking the right questions. While attending Maine Startup and Create Week 2016 last week, I noticed a theme reoccurring in many of the sessions I attended: questions and answers. This year’s overall theme was Design & Innovation. In design school one of the first concepts of design you learn is that, at its core, design is problem solving, which means asking questions and finding solutions. Karl Cyr said in his “Client Management to Client Partnership” talk, “getting a client to think of a problem in a new way is an innovation.” Thinking about something differently involves asking questions, to really dig in and fully understand the problem at hand and the needs of those you’re dealing with. After all, it is ultimately people you are doing business with, not companies.

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Design Is A Value Not a Function

SteveJobs-DesignIsHowItWorks

Maine Startup and Create Week recently wrapped up here in Portland, Maine. The theme for 2016 was Design and Innovation and many of the conversations circled around the idea of Design Thinking.

In recent years there has been a lot of interest in using design thinking as a strategy to help companies become more innovative and create user-centric products. A 2014 study by the Design Management Institute really drove this home with the release of their ‘DMI Design Value Index’ which found: Design-Driven Companies Outperform S&P by 228% Over Ten Years.

But as I heard Whit Richards ask questions of keynote Mimi Chun, during the Fireside Chat, it became clear how misunderstood the idea of design thinking is. People still can’t jump the gap between thinking of design as an aesethetic and decorative add-on, to the idea of design as a high-level and strategic way of thinking.

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WordCamp Maine 2016

WordCamp 2016
WordCamp Maine 2016 was once again a great resource and learning experience. WordCamp returned to Portland on May 13 – 14 at Maine College of Art (MECA).

This year’s keynote, “Good Design: The Gateway to a Better Business” was given by Mel Choyce, a Design Engineer at Automattic. Mel spoke about many of the things we say again and again to our clients. Although the topic was something that I am very familiar with, it served as a reminder of how to discuss making good design choices with non-designers.

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Why Startups Fail: No Clear Differentiator

I recently viewed this video created by the University of Chicago’s Business School. It highlights three Professors of Entrepreneurship as they talk about why so many startups fail.

The video is about 30 minutes long but within the first eight minutes it becomes clear that one of the main reasons startups fail is because the business owner or founder is unable to explain clearly what their differentiators are.

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Profits, Revenues, Pricing, Branding: The Ripple Effect

Revenues, Profits, Pricing, Branding

If you look at your company’s financials, and the bottom line is not looking as strong as you’d like, you may find yourself walking through this type of scenario in your head:

I need to raise the profitability of my business. You can raise profitability two main ways: by reducing expenses or increasing revenues. If you’re already negotiating with vendors and skimping on non-required items you need to start focusing on increasing revenues. So you realize…

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