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Telling the right story to drive customer acquisition

This is the second article in a continuing monthly series that will chronicle 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

When we caught up with Screenreach Interactive founder and CEO Paul Rawlings last week, he was in the midst of packing for a trip to New York, where he was booked as a panellist for the Digital Signage Investor Conference.

Digital signage, a so-called form of “out-of-home advertising,” delivers video content, advertisements and messages to specific locations at specific times on static or touch screens, often in combination with movement detection and image capture technology. According to one recent industry forecast, the market is growing at a compound annual rate of 40 percent, with 22 million digital signs expected to be deployed world-wide by 2015.

For Screenreach, it’s an industry ripe for the Screach app.

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Part II: Dissecting the brain of the market pays off for BlueArc

This is the second article in a continuing series that will feature case studies and anecdotal stories from entrepreneurs, consultants and veteran marketers about their efforts to develop, implement and measure marketing programs to bring technology to market and grow market share. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

In last week’s post, we introduced BlueArc, a maker of networked attached storage (NAS) systems for managing unstructured data in high-performance computing applications, and Ken Rosen, a corporate strategy and marketing consultant who worked with the Blue Arc team in the mid-2000s.

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Part I: BlueArc’s challenge to get past the low-hanging fruit

This is the first article in a continuing series that will feature case studies and anecdotal stories from entrepreneurs, consultants and veteran marketers about their efforts to develop, implement and measure marketing programs to bring technology to market and grow market share. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

Last month, BlueArc Corp., a 13-year-old maker of network storage systems based in California, was acquired by Hitachi Data Systems for a reported $600 million.

BlueArc’s business was networked attached storage (NAS), the kind of high-end storage system for managing unstructured data — files, spreadsheets, digital content and images — in high-performance computing applications. However, the company struggled for years to achieve profitability despite periods of strong revenue growth.

“BlueArc, while it had received funding somewhere north of $200 million, couldn’t dominate the NAS market on its own. It needed a partner. With the acquisition by Hitachi and its intellectual property girth, it has nailed that market down,” InformationWeek’s Deni Connor wrote shortly after the deal was announced.

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Meet CommentAir Technologies

This is the first article in a continuing monthly series that will chronicle 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

Siblings Katie and Luke Hrycak are in that category of entrepreneurs who could be called reluctant innovators. They found themselves in the midst of a problem they felt compelled to solve.

That problem was the quality of the experience in attending a major sporting event live versus watching it on television. They both found themselves dissatisfied with the experience of attending NHL games and UFC matches. Why? Because fans at the event can’t hear the live commentary.

“The question became ‘Why don’t fans have the commentary at the game?’” said Luke. “Can’t we combine both the audio and visual experience of sports? We believed that fans want and need a special feature that will enhance whichever sport they enjoy most.”

But neither Katie nor Luke had an engineering background. They were starting at zero in terms of having a product design, startup capital and any kind of market validation beyond their own fan experience and that of their friends.

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Meet Screenreach Interactive

This is the first article in a continuing monthly series that will chronicle 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

We first encountered Screenreach Interactive and its founder, Paul Rawlings, several months ago when we featured Jon Bradford, the man behind U.K. startup accelerators The Difference Engine and Springboard.

Rawlings and Screenreach completed the first cycle of The Difference Engine’s 13-week program in 2010. When we asked Bradford for an example of a successful graduate from that program, he was quick to sing Rawlings’ praises.

“He was not proprietary about his ideas, he was very open to new suggestions, new directions and wasn’t wedded to, ‘Look, this is what I’m doing and I’m not going to listen to anybody else,’” Bradford said.

“I think having an open mind, being able to listen, to react in a positive fashion was probably the making of him. He was also not very selfish about bringing in other team members, making sure he had a good team around him beyond the program itself. One of his mentors (Sam Morton, pictured right in the photo below with Rawlings) became one of his members of staff.”

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