The event kicked off by hosting a chat with Gary Vaynerchuk. While most of @GaryVee’s content tends to center around best practices in business leadership and marketing, his offering to the crowd this morning was a bit different. Vaynerchuk was critical of today’s entrepreneurial saturation and the immense amount of capital at play around the world. He also shared that while he was an early investor in Facebook and Uber, he has since moved away from investing in these types of companies. So many companies are being birthed out of the sole intention of raising funding. This cycle of build a business, raise funding, sell to a bigger business who either wants your IP or is looking to eliminate competition doesn’t appeal to Vaynerchuk. He finds a culture that celebrates funding announcements laughable when most companies in Silicon Valley are losing money each month. “It doesn’t take a hero to lose money” jeered Vaynerchuk.
This was an interesting way to kick off a conference that is centered around companies showing off their shiny new technologies (several of whom recently announced funding rounds).
From there, Greg Price from ShipWell (who celebrated $10m in funding last fall) talked about Quantum Computing. The MIT grad spent a few minutes promising a near future of significant advances in algorithms and data processing. Price’s work is based on harnessing IBM Q - which is a free cloud computer that anyone can access. (The Q stands for quantum, btw.)
Most of the day was spent on “rapid-fire demos”, seven minute product demonstrations by various companies. We saw products built on everything from Excel spreadsheets to Wordpress - and perhaps a little AI in between. One of the most interesting demos came from Fraight (Pronounces “freight a i”). They showed how Archie, their digital virtual assistant, can help brokers in automating tasks that don’t require human interaction.
The final panel was “The Female Factor: How Can It Help Reshape the Industry?” Teams that are more diverse outperform teams that are less diverse every time. Only 4% of executives in Fortune 500 companies are women and for every dollar raised by male founders women only raised $.38 - and black women in particular only raised $.02. Great discussion was had around building organizations that recruit, welcome and retain women.
If there was an overarching theme today, it seems to be the continued perpetuation of glorifying funding for the sake of funding while the industry continues to be underserved by technology. Gary Vaynerchuk also shared the idea that what makes businesses successful is their ability to listen to what customers are asking for and deliver that, as opposed to building out your good idea and trying to force businesses to buy it. This approach has always been at the center of SwanLeap’s innovation, as we are committed to continuously solving problems and further optimizing supply chain processes for our clients. By placing our proprietary TMS technology at the epicenter of the supply chain, customers are seeing an average annual savings of 26.7%.