Category: News

Innovation for the Win: Lessons Learned from ESPN’s Struggles

08/15/2017
In the most recent issue of CSQ, Echo-Factory’s dear leader, Mike Schaffer, used a recent wave of layoffs at ESPN as a jumping-off point for an article touting the importance of building and maintaining a culture of innovation. And that’s something you don’t have to be a sports fan to appreciate.

When it launched, nearly 40 years ago, ESPN was a revolutionary idea: nothing but sports, all day long. The company was able to ride the burgeoning wave of 24-hour cable programming well into its second decade, but then a series of tubes called the internet came along and roiled ESPN’s reign as the most important outlet for sports.

With record-setting sports viewership and sports stats available in the palm of your hand, at any moment, you would think that ESPN would have tapped into entirely new audiences and formats for their content. But over the past two years, ESPN has laid off more than 400 employees. So, why isn’t ESPN still flying high?

Because they refused to innovate. While the entire rest of the world has been busy figuring out how to evolve to accommodate the initial dot com boom and internet 2.0 and whatever comes just before flying cars, ESPN has dug in its heels and remained stubbornly shackled to a failing business model. In the meantime, other outlets have happily seized the opportunity to fill in the gaps, offering exciting new ways for audiences to watch, track and interact with the sports they love.

It’s worth mentioning that, since Mike wrote the article, ESPN’s parent company, Disney (maybe you’ve heard of it?) has announced that ESPN will offer its own standalone streaming service beginning in 2018. Here at Echo-Factory, we believe that it’s never too late for innovation as long as the innovation provides new value. Now the ball’s in ESPN’s court to make sure that their streaming service gives people something to cheer about.

To get the full story of what is happening at ESPN and to hear Mike’s thoughts on how to avoid a similar fate for your business, hop aboard (or, uh, inside, I guess?) one of those fancy internet tubes and read Mike’s article on how to create and sustain a culture of innovation on the CSQ website.

Social Media Is Key, Especially If You Want Nuggs

04/26/2017

As marketing professionals, we know that social media is important for reaching and engaging with your customers. It’s free and hardly takes any time, right? This is what @Wendys thought before they met Carter Wilkerson (@carterjwm), your average high school teenager just wanting his nuggets.

Wendy’s had a way with talking, or tweeting, with its customers. No other chain was doing things like this juicy hamburger-maker.

(more…)

An Outsiders Perspective on the Women in Tech Movement

03/06/2017
During the month of February, Echo-Factory planned, promoted and hosted a series of Women in Tech panels at Apple stores in Old Pasadena and Santa Monica. These events, featuring major local tech players, including Renée LaBran, senior advisor to Idealab, Max Powers, senior vice president of business operations at TeleSign, Natalie Sun, creative technologist and founder of NextArt, and Anna Barber, managing director at Techstars, centered around the advantages women bring to the industry, along with advice for tech companies looking to include more women and for techy women looking to advance. (more…)

What about Men

02/07/2017
 

I was watching a completely factual documentary about Portland, Oregon the other night, and came across an inspiring song, dedicated to the struggles that men face in this country.

  It reminded me of several very important facts:  
  1. Echo-Factory is hosting a “Women in Technology” roundtable next week.
  2. About 90% of the people who have registered so far are women.
  3. Women already have about a 35% advantage in leading tech companies over men.
  4. If we (and by “we” I mean men) don’t show up and discover their secrets, that gap can only grow!!!!
  So, I urge you, my fellow men, to RSVP immediately.  Only by engaging with women in technology leadership positions will we be able to learn their secrets, and hopefully one day steal their powers of tech company growth and success.
women in tech                  

Women in Technology, The Latest Silver Bullet

Wed, February 22, 2017
8:00 AM – 9:30 AM PST
 
Apple 3rd Street Promenade
1415 3rd Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA 90401
RSVP Here

Using Women To Your Unfair Advantage

01/27/2017
women in tech  

Here are some facts. Ninety-three percent of investor money goes to startups founded by men. Just 11% of Silicon Valley executives, 10% of directors, 10% of committee members and 8% of committee chairs are women. At Fortune 500 companies, things aren’t much better, with just 11% of the executive workforce made up of women.

Here are some more facts. Private technology companies that are led by women return a 35% higher ROI. Publicly traded companies with women in leadership roles in a broad range of industries have about a 27% performance advantage over companies that don’t. (more…)

IRobot Inventor Shares 3 Things VCs Look for in Robotics Companies

12/09/2016
robotics companies illustration Creator of the technology behind the iRobot vacuum, Paolo Pirjanian, is also the founder and CEO of one of the most awesome smart robotics companies yet, Embodied, Inc. He recently spoke at Innovate Pasadena’s Friday Coffee Meetup, a group co-organized by Echo-Factory, and I (one of the writers on the team) had the chance to interview him for an article on Huff Post. (more…)

The Role of Branding in Mergers, Acquisitions & ESOPs

10/17/2016
company announcing employee stock ownership plan (ESOP)

Air Treatment Corporation announces the enactment of its new ESOP its team of employees.

 

Last Monday, Air Treatment Corporation announced to its employees that they were now the new owners of the company.  And we were lucky enough to be in the room.

We were there because the executives at Air Treatment understand that change, even very positive change, can be scary. And announcing a change in the right way can have a big effect on how successful, or not, that change is.

We’ve talked in the past about how worthwhile it can be to invest in branding ahead of a merger or acquisition. It can be just as important, or maybe even more important, to brand the acquisition itself. (more…)

Thinking About Acquisition? Think About Branding

08/03/2016
(article written for CSQ magazine)

Branding can play an enormous role in creating or destroying value during an acquisition

  Bringing in a CFO to “clean up the books” before acquisition is a common process. Even if the books aren’t particularly dirty to begin with, a good CFO has the ability to help cast the company in the best possible financial light to potential investors. (more…)

Grow a Meetup from 12 to 3K Members in 3 Years?

07/15/2016
grow your meetup

Innovate Pasadena Friday Coffee Meetup has proven it can be done!

Innovate Pasadena Friday Coffee Meetup—affectionately known as "Friday Coffee"—has grown by an verage of 125 new members every month for 3 years straight. In a recent blog post for Innovate Pasadena, meetup Organizer Mike Schaffer (and Echo's beloved CEO) tells the tale of the Friday Coffee's incredible growth over the past 3 years, chalking it up to something simple but extraordinary—people who run innovative companies coming together with a real passion for a shared vision. (more…)

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