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Giving your team ownership

This is the fifth article in a continuing monthly series chronicling the growth path of Screenreach Interactive, a startup based in Newcastle upon Tyne in England’s North East. Screenreach’s flagship product, Screach, is an interactive digital media platform that allows users to create real-time, two-way interactive experiences between a smart device (through the Screach app) and any content, on any screen or just within the mobile device itself. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

In our last post, we looked at how Screenreach Interactive is managing its beta testing process to prepare for the launch of a new version of Screach in the near future. We focused on the logistics of soliciting, encouraging, filtering and interpreting user feedback to fine tune and debug the new app.

But working toward a deadline and ensuring that all of the pieces fall into place is about much more than technical and logistical details. Perhaps the most important variable to manage is the human factor. Individuals from different parts of the organization, each with their own role and responsibilities, must work together collaboratively and appreciate the needs and priorities of their peers.

“We are fortunate to have a team that is more interested in achieving an ultimate common goal than focusing on their own interests,” said Screenreach CEO Paul Rawlings. “Decisions must be made based on what’s best for the product and the collective.”

In this post, we’ll look at how the beta testing process is coming along and how the Screenreach team has learned to keep everyone rowing in the same direction.

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Preparing for a major offensive

This is the next article in a continuing monthly series chronicling the growth path of NanoScale Corporation, a growing nanotechnology company based in Manhattan, KS that is commercializing various advanced materials and compounds for improving indoor air quality, removing pollutants, and containing and neutralizing hazardous chemicals.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

When we introduced NanoScale Corporation a month ago, we talked about how the company is faced with the challenge of expanding into a conservative market wary of new products or technologies which represent a significant departure from the tried and true.

That market is the civilian disaster restoration market, where contractors work to repair, remediate and decontaminate commercial and residential properties damaged by fire, storms, water, sewer backups and mould. In North America alone, this market is worth hundreds of billions of dollars. It is a steady market sheltered from general economic volatility given that disasters and accidents happen all the time and the cost of restoration is typically covered by an insurer.

Over the past year, NanoScale has focused on laying the groundwork for a strong market push in 2012. In this post, we will explore, with marketing director Kyle Knappenberger, how the company plans to move forward over the next 12 months and overcome what can often be a new market entrant’s greatest competitive threat – the status quo.

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Dealing with the devilish details

This is the third article in a continuing monthly series chronicling the growth path of Genevolve Vision Diagnostics, a life sciences startup based in Albuquerque, NM that is commercializing cutting edge genetic research to develop new diagnostic tests and gene therapies for colour blindness.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

According to Matt Lemelin, CEO of Genevolve Vision Diagnostics, there are more than 100 occupations which rely on workers having normal colour vision. As we explored in our last post, civilian and military aviation, where there is no room for error, ranks high on this list. Job performance and passenger safety depends on pilots, air traffic controllers and many other technical and support personnel having full colour vision.

It’s easy to understand, then, why Lemelin is filled with such enthusiasm for Genevolve’s prospects when he hears the United States Air Force state that “no colour vision test currently on the market delivers what the Air Force requires.”

“We are very excited about the possibilities of working with the Air Force and other governmental departments,” he said. “We have a fairly complete understanding of their needs in regards to colour vision and we feel we have a turnkey solution to resolve their longstanding issues.”

The challenge, of course, is to bring to market a compelling product that is protected by a rigorous intellectual property (IP) strategy and has garnered the regulatory approvals and industry praise to attract the interest of such a flagship customer. In this post, we will take a look at Genevolve’s product development, IP strategy, business plan and how venture capital does, or does not, fit into the picture.

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Wanted: Partners willing to take a leap of faith

This is the fourth article in a continuing series chronicling the growth path of CommentAir Technologies, a startup based in Ottawa, Canada. CommentAir is developing a wireless technology fans can use at sports venues to receive the same real-time commentary as fans watching from their televisions, a wireless technology that also creates a platform for targeted consumer interaction. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

In our last post, we spoke to Katie and Luke Hrycak, the sibling founders of CommentAir, about their challenges as technology entrepreneurs who do not have a background in technology. A process of self-education and aggressive networking to tap into the expertise of supportive advisors and mentors has been key.

The need to seek out external business and technical expertise of course extends to the team they must build to move CommentAir along. As a bootstrapped startup, they must not only find individuals who compliment their own strengths and weaknesses, but also share their passion and are willing to put in long hours without a regular pay cheque.

In this post, we take a closer look at what the siblings have learned about themselves, about building strong teams and how this must be applied to the business.

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Putting your assumptions to the test

This is the fourth article in a continuing monthly series chronicling the growth path of Screenreach Interactive, a startup based in Newcastle upon Tyne in England’s North East. Screenreach’s flagship product, Screach, is an interactive digital media platform that allows users to create real-time, two-way interactive experiences between a smart device (through the Screach app) and any content, on any screen or just within the mobile device itself. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

In our last post, we looked at Screenreach Interactive’s recent inroads in the radio and television industries, including its appearance on Popular U.K. television program The Gadget Show at Radio Festival, Europe’s top radio industry event, and its new “experience” for long-running U.K. current affairs program Dispatches.

But making a splash at major industry events and with high profile clients demands one thing – a compelling product. But a compelling product can’t be developed in a vacuum; it must address a clear market demand. As we have emphasized time and again on this blog, marketing and product development must work together from the get go. To quote guest commentator Ronald Weissman, “Great companies constantly test the market, for validation and feedback.”

The team at Screenreach has taken this to heart. With a new version of the Screach app expected to launch in February, every effort is being made to solicit input from beta testers and prospective users. In this post, we’ll look at how Screenreach approaches the beta testing process, what third-party tools it has found to make life easier and the lessons it continues to learn along the way.

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