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CEO Katharine Lau Has The Right ‘Stuf’

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You wouldn’t necessarily know it if you saw it, but there are many underutilized spaces all across American cities. Natural entrepreneur Katharine Lau certainly noticed. 

I spent my entire career in commercial real estate. And over the years, I’ve become obsessed with underutilized real estate.

“It just seemed wasteful to me that someone built or bought this building and there’s all this space underneath that’s really not being utilized.”

Someone had to do something about these spaces. Why not Lau?

It wasn’t until I had this spring cleaning and I needed self-storage, and I was trying to rent a unit where I was like, ‘Wow, this sucks.” Like, ‘This is awful. It’s far away. It’s sketchy.’

“There’s all this real estate in my neighborhood around the corner, and people need better storage solutions that are easy to access and just a better experience overall.

So Lau co-founded Stuf, a next-generation self-storage company. Stuf partners with real estate companies and building owners to take these underutilized spaces and monetize them as tech-enabled storage spaces 

A Place To Keep Your ‘Stuf’

Have you seen some of “Big Storage?” Companies like Public Storage and U-Haul have large spaces. No one is saying that self-storage had to be cute, but it can certainly be more inviting and modern. 

Stuf makes self-storage ridiculously convenient. You download their app, book your space, drop your “stuf” off, and go about your business. 

We don’t have a single on-site employee. Everything is done through our laptops or our phones.

“Our customers, rather than needing a key, or needing a pin pad, or anything like that, one click on their phone and they’re in the space.

On the operational side, we have eyes in the space so we know what’s going on. We have sensors, security cameras, access control. 

“So, that even though we’re not there, we’re there. We secure items and make sure customers have a good experience.”

Movin’ and Groovin’

Not many people walk by a vacant lot and see its potential. It takes a certain mindset to look at nothing and see something. The “entrepreneurial spirit” has always existed in Lau’s world since childhood. 

I was always curious about [entreprenurship]. I joined large companies – stable, very bureaucratic companies coming out of college. That was a good experience, but it was just so slow-moving, and things didn’t really change day-to-day.

“That was pretty frustrating. It wasn’t until I joined a startup where I was like wow, wow. We can actually move and groove, and get creative, try new ideas.

“That really opened my eyes.

Lau had found her future and hit the ground running. You can hear her passion in how she describes the work.

I really like figuring out new things for the first time – finding the vendors, learning how to design it, learning what customers care about. I think that really puts me in a good position as the CEO and founder of a startup to be pioneering those new ideas.”

Of course, as with any new business, there were a couple of humps and bumps here and there. How you handle these challenges shows what kind of leader you are.

This is the first time that I’ve had to really engage consumers, understand their psychology, understand what they care about when they’re looking for self-storage.

“If we’re now selling to and serving consumers, how is the marketing different? How do we operate differently? How do we set up the legal structure of the business in a way that makes sense? So so many things to account for simply because we’re serving a new stakeholder.

While a CEO has to wear many hats for many situations, a great CEO knows their best strengths are relying on their team. 

Obviously you’re looking for skill sets, experiences that can really elevate your company, or make you go faster, do more.

“What I really look for when I’m meeting people or interviewing candidates is are they going the extra mile? Do they just answer the questions I ask or did they show not tell. Did they care enough to do a reverse reference check on the company? Is this a big decision for them that they care about? Because it goes both ways.

I want to say every team member or every person on our team has gone the extra mile or went the extra mile during the interview process, and so it means they’re going to do more than just their job.”

Stuf has been able to grow, not just under Lau’s leadership, but because of how her leadership has inspired better work from her team. 

There’s one person on our team who is always really, really creative with ideas. So if we’re faced with a delay or something like it’s going over budget, he has five different things, five different ideas. He gets so excited about that.

“I felt like his energy, I wanted to pull that out and bring that to the rest of the team so that they could approach the problem in a similar way.

Paying It Forward

Given that Lau is an Asian-American woman in a white male-dominated industry (and country), she’s under a specific kind of pressure. She doesn’t just have to succeed because it’s a life requirement, she also has to succeed for the sake of Asian-American women everywhere. It’s an unfair burden, but a burden nonetheless. 

It’s so top of mind for me. Because of that, I don’t take business decisions lightly. I don’t overspend. We run a pretty lean operation, but we can do a lot with very little. 

“I think the way I grew up, how I was raised really colors every part of this business operation because it’s so much of who I am.

Lau doesn’t just take her success and run with it, she gives back. 

I’ve been a mentor. Or I’ve been mentored by many people throughout my career. I think mentorship is really important. I was a mentor for Apex for Youth for three years, and then after that was co-chair of the associate board. 

“[Apex] is a mentorship program that serves underprivileged Asian-American, Asian and immigrant youth in New York City. So, I’m giving back to exactly the same cause that affected my parents. They were immigrants and had to learn how to live in America.

“I just think giving back, creating opportunities, having a team myself of two-thirds diverse people, show women or people of color that those are the ways I use my platform to give back and to make a change.

Lau has been active in Apex for a long time. It’s a mentorship program for Asian-American youth but is open to all immigrants. 

The programs are really about everything from college preparation to how to adapt to and assimilate into American culture and succeed. 

“There are a lot of things stacked against immigrant children. The way that standardized test questions are designed, the way that schoolyard communication and bullying can really affect children. 

“So, the programs are really about preparing students for all types of situations, both personal and professional.

Lau also finds the motivation to set a rewarding example in her own personal life. 

I’m seeing that now with my own daughter, how we mold and shape young people. So that’s really rewarding, and I hope I’m offering the same type of mentorship to people on my team, other young women that I know.”

I hope through actions, I hope through the relationships I’ve cultivated and seeing those around me become successful because of a little bit of help from me, I think that’s what I’m going to be most proud of, or I hope she would be most proud of.

Sexy Self-Storage

When you imagine the next big CEO you’d likely picture someone developing metaverse tech or artificial intelligence. You would not necessarily expect a woman in self-storage. 

I think self-storage has never received a lot of attention because it’s not sexy or cool. But it serves one in 10 Americans, and it’s a really creative way to extend the boundaries of home and work.”

Lau’s passion for entrepreneurship, problem-solving, and exploring a new industry is so clear in her descriptions of the work. 

I really love hearing the customer feedback, good and bad. Because I feel like initially when you design the business [you think] this offering or this solution serves this type of customer. 

“But what you quickly find is maybe what you initially thought in your original hypothesis isn’t true. 

“An example of that is I thought Stuff would really serve consumers first and foremost, so people who are moving, who need an extra closet.

“What I quickly learned was that there are tons of small businesses or even large businesses out there who need storage, and we’ve changed the way we’ve operated because of that.

Katharine Lau and her success with Stuf surely inspire the next generation of CEOs and entrepreneurs. 

My initial advice to a young entrepreneur would really be to get a little bit of experience under your belt before you go out on your own and invest money, invest time, and invest energy.

“I think, at least personally, I’ve gained a lot from the experiences at even larger companies, at startups. And that took time. Had I tried to do this at 22 right out of college, I really don’t think I would be successful.” 

Stuf was listed on FastCompany’s 10 Most Innovative Urban Development Companies in 2022. You can expect to see and hear a lot more from Katharine Lau as she passionately and effectively champions the entrepreneurial spirit while giving back to a community that has shared so much with her. 

If you need inspiration for getting out and starting your own company, look no further than Katharine Lau. She’s got the right ‘Stuf.”

Chris Blondell is a Philadelphia-based writer and social media strategist with a current focus on tech industry news. He has written about startups and entrepreneurs based in Denver, Seattle, Chicago, New Haven, and more. He has also written content for a true-crime blog, Sword and Scale, and developed social media content for a local spice shop. An occasional comedian, Chris Blondell also spends his time writing humorous content and performing stand-up for local audiences.

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6 Companies That Use Chatbots For Marketing and Customer Service

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a robot holding a smartphone

Chatbots have emerged as powerful tools that bridge the gap between humans and machines. These intelligent virtual assistants have transformed how we interact with technology, providing seamless and engaging conversational experiences across the web. We will explore popular chatbots that have made their mark on the web. These chatbots have unique capabilities and applications like customer service, e-commerce, healthcare, and productivity.

What are Chatbots? 

a robot looking at the screen

Chatbots are computer programs that simulate human-like conversations through text or voice interactions. They use artificial intelligence (AI) technologies such as natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to understand and respond to user queries and requests. 

Chatbots can be deployed across various platforms, including websites, messaging applications, and voice assistants. Today, chatbots are widely used as a tool for customer service, information retrieval, personal assistants, and more. 

How Do Chatbots Work?

images of headphones, cellphone, smartwatch and the name SIri

At the center of chatbot technology lies NLP, the same technology that enables voice recognition systems used by virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.

Chatbots process the user’s text prompt before responding based on algorithms that interpret and identify what the user said. Then, it infers what they mean or want and determines appropriate responses based on this information. 

While chatbot technology differs from NLP technology, the former can only advance as quickly as the latter. With continued developments in NLP, chatbots remain independent of algorithms’ ability to detect the subtle nuances in written and spoken dialogue.

This is where most applications of NLP need help, not just chatbots. Any app that relies upon a machine’s ability to parse human speech will likely struggle with the complexities inherent in elements of speech, such as metaphors and similes. Despite these considerable limitations, chatbots are becoming increasingly sophisticated and responsive. 

To further show chatbots’ benefits, six companies use advanced technology for marketing and customer support. 

1. Endurance Robots 

endurance chatbot
Image Source: Endurance

Russian technology company Endurance developed its companion chatbot. Some patients with dementia can’t engage in meaningful conversations anymore. But many people with the disease retain much of their conversational abilities as their illness progresses. However, the shame and frustration that many people with dementia experience often make routine, everyday talks with even close family members challenging.

The Endurance chatbot aims to determine differences in conversational models that may indicate immediate recollection problems. Even though this is quite an ambitious technical challenge for an NLP-based system.

Since the chatbot is a cloud-based solution, physicians and family members can review communication logs taken from the bot. The process helps identify potential degradation of memory function and communicative obstacles that could signify deterioration of the patient’s condition.

2. Casper

casper chatbot

Enter the fantastic Insomnobot 3000, a conversational agent that aims to give insomniacs someone to talk to while the rest of the world rests easy. It was created by a digital agency called ACNE in partnership with the mattress company Casper.

Insomnobot 3000 is available through text messaging and is designed to keep users company during the late hours when they may be struggling with sleeplessness. The chatbot engages in casual conversations, provides distractions, shares stories, and offers a listening ear to help alleviate feelings of loneliness or anxiety accompanying insomnia.

While Insomnobot 3000 can provide some comfort and distraction, it is essential to note that the chatbot is not a replacement for professional medical advice or treatment. If you are experiencing chronic or severe sleep issues, it is still best to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance.

3. Marvel

marvel chatbot

Marvel’s cinematic universe is expanding even faster than the boundaries of the observable universe itself. Interestingly, Marvel turned to chatbots to further immerse fans in their favorite comic-book storylines in real life. Marvel’s chatbot that lets comic-book geeks talk to Star-Lord himself is also quite good.

4. UNICEF

unicef ureport chatbot

International child advocacy nonprofit United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also uses chatbots to help people living in developing countries discuss the most urgent needs in their communities. The bot, called U-Report, focuses on large-scale data gathering via polls – this isn’t a bot for the talkative. U-Report regularly sends out prepared polls on various urgent social issues. The users, known as “U-Reporters,” can respond with their input. Then, UNICEF uses this feedback as the basis for potential policy recommendations.

5. MedWhat 

medwhat chatbot

If you have WebMD bookmarked for similar reasons, visiting our MedWhat site or app might be worth checking out. MedWhat applies data science techniques to healthcare data stored in 2D medical images, 3D medical images, electronic health records, and wearable devices.

This chatbot aims to make medical diagnoses faster, easier, and more transparent for patients and physicians – think of it as an intelligent version of WebMD that you can talk to. MedWhat runs under a sophisticated machine learning system that offers accurate responses to user questions based on behaviors that it “learns” by interacting with human beings. The bot also draws upon vast medical research and peer-reviewed scientific papers to expand its already considerable medical expertise.

6. Roof AI

roofai chatbot

Roof Ai is a chatbot that helps real-estate marketers to automate interacting with potential leads and lead assignments via social media. The bot identifies potential leads through Facebook, then responds almost instantaneously in a friendly and conversational tone that resembles a real person’s. Based on user input, Roof Ai prompts potential leads to provide more information before automatically assigning the lead to a sales agent. 

The chatbot is still under development, though interested users can reserve access to Roof Ai via the company’s website.

Conclusion

Chatbots have emerged as powerful tools in communication and customer service. Their ability to simulate human-like conversations and provide instant assistance has revolutionized how businesses and individuals interact with technology. While chatbots excel in many areas, it’s important to acknowledge their limitations. They often lack the emotional intelligence and empathy of a human counterpart. However, the ongoing development can improve chatbot technology to bridge these gaps and provide even more personalized user experiences.

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10 Viral Ad Campaigns and What We Can Learn from Them

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four people looking at their phones

On the internet, anything can go viral. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t tried and tested recipes for success. Here, we break down some of the most viral ad campaigns in the last few years. 

As you’ll learn, the top viral marketing campaigns use a mix of social media listening, trendspotting, creativity, and sincerity. From video landing page ideas to social media marketing, these campaigns integrated the best elements that took the internet by storm.  

1. Apple: Shot on iPhone

viral ad campaigns example

One of the best ways to go viral online is to call for user-generated content. And Apple’s annual Shot on iPhone ad campaigns just gets that sweet spot right. 

What we can learn from the campaign: No true ads person will just put out a call for content and call it a day. Give the audience something that they want to make content with, and you’re golden. With Apple, their Iphone’s features are enough to make a whole generation of individuals experiment with their creativity. 

2. Gillette: #SayPubic Campaign

viral ad campaigns examples

In 2022, Gillette Venus released The Pube Song to start a conversation and normalize pubic hair in women’s bodies. It’s one of the brand’s more viral ad campaigns because of its playful tone and strong self-love message.  

What we can learn from the campaign: It can be a calculated marketing risk to talk about what’s taboo. But their song campaign manages to balance the weighty message with a lighthearted delivery that doesn’t take away from the issues it’s discussing. 

3. Airbnb: Ukraine

viral ad campaigns example

Airbnb’s Ukraine campaign is also a moment that smashed everyone’s screens. In 2022, the company announced that global users could lend support to Ukrainians by renting out Airbnbs. 

What we can learn from the campaign: Sometimes, the best marketing move is to just rise to the occasion, get in touch with your own humanity, and do something nice. In addition, viral ad campaigns like this allowed millions to extend tangible support to Ukrainians. 

4. Netflix: Wednesday

viral ad campaigns example

Netflix is always goofing around with its marketing campaigns, but they didn’t come to play with their Wednesday promotions. Specifically, their release of ‘The Thing’ upon random New Yorkers really lighted up everyone’s week. 

What we can learn from the campaign: It’s okay to be fun and think outside of the box! You don’t have to stick to the same strategies if you want to go viral. In fact, when you do things on a grand scale, the audience does the virality for you. 

5. Dunkin: Ben Affleck 

viral ad campaigns example

This recent Dunkin ad is short, but it’s comedy gold. It features the actor in a meta-scene where he talks about acting for a Meta ad. It’s short, snappy, and only 30 seconds, which may be why it quickly made rounds in social media. 

What we can learn from the campaign: It’s all about references here. This Dunkin campaign wouldn’t be effective if it weren’t for the well-known fact that Ben Affleck loves his Dunkin Donuts. Instead of brands simply ignoring this fact, it’s the perfect opportunity for them to collaborate and show the audience that they’re listening. 

6. Doritos: Jack’s New Angle

viral ad campaigns example

This star-studded ad uses the signature Dorito triangle as the star of the story. It combines the elements of music and food together, so the 2023 Doritos Super Bowl ad was truly on brand. 

What we can learn from the campaign

The ad works for the sheer spontaneity of it. Jack Harlow, Missy Elliot, and Elton John in one video? Now that’s star power. The narrative is also compact, with a playful and unexpected twist delivered at the end. 

7. Milo: Park Seo-joon

viral ad campaigns example

The Korean actor paired up with Milo Indonesia for a simple ad campaign. But there’s more. Milo also released a limited edition packaging that had netizens scrambling to get their hands on one. 

What we can learn from the campaign: We know that the K-wave is rising high, but that will only get your interactions so far. However, what made this viral marketing strategy work was that it had the actor plastered on the packaging. 

8. Rare Beauty: What are you made of?

viral ad campaigns example

Meanwhile, Rare Beauty’s ‘What are you made of’ campaign isn’t just about beauty and makeup. It’s about giving the community a safe space to speak about their lives. The curated content from Selena Gomez’ following is touching, but it also pays homage to Rare Beauty’s brand values. 

What we can learn from the campaign: Well, you could argue that Rare Beauty content always goes viral. But this specific campaign didn’t just blow up for no reason. For one, they used people with their authentic beauty stories. In fact, the spotlight on the Latino community makes this even sweeter. 

9. Dove: #DetoxYourFeed

viral ad campaigns example

This lengthy campaign by Dove guides parents on how to talk about complex body image issues for teenage girls. The company also released a short film to show how much social media can harm young girls. 

What we can learn from the campaign: Dove’s hard-hitting campaign hits us where it hurts. After doing body positivity campaigns with inclusive models from different backgrounds, they’re now addressing the root of the problem: social media. 

10. Mcdo: BTS 

viral ad campaigns example

Mcdo partnered with global K-pop artists BTS to release limited-edition BTS Meals with their signature purple color.

What we can learn from the campaign: We don’t think this campaign warrants any more explanation. But just so you know, employing artists with a global audience will always pay off when the product collaboration is affordable and accessible.

Also, did we mention that fans were selling the used packaging in online forums? It was a crazy time. To date, we think this is one of Mcdo’s most viral campaigns.  

And there you have it, some viral campaign examples to inspire your next marketing strategy. We just wanted to remind you in case this wasn’t clear yet, though. Viral ad campaigns work because the appeal isn’t surface-level.

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Top 8 Free AI Stock Trading Bots

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ai stock trading bot

The term artificial intelligence is currently making waves as it has proven to make lives easier. From writing to game development, it has become a massive part of doing business, and many are now discovering its varied uses. Stock trading isn’t exempt as we find many free AI stock trading bots, and we found the ten best just for you. Here they are:

1. SpeedBot

ai stock trading bot example

An advanced AI stock trading bot SpeedBot empowers traders with cutting-edge features and algorithms. It boasts speed and accuracy in analyzing market data, identifying patterns, and executing trades rapidly. It features an intuitive user interface that makes it suitable for beginners.

Experienced traders will enjoy its customizable settings that let them adapt the bot to their unique trading preferences. SpeedBot is a comprehensive solution that provides you with automated strategies and real-time market insights.

2. Pluto

ai stock trading bot example

If you’re looking to have advanced trading capabilities, Pluto is an excellent AI stock trading bot. It offers highly powerful algorithms and machine learning techniques to help you analyze data to identify potential trading opportunities.

Its user-friendly interface makes it an excellent option for newbies and experienced traders alike. It also lets them customize their trading strategies and risk preferences. It also gives you real-time market insights and automated trade executions.

3. Zorro

ai stock trading bot example

Offering a wide range of features, Zorro helps you develop and deploy trading strategies based on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Its key features include backtesting, optimization, and execution of trade algorithms. It has an extensive library of indicators and plugins that enable users to customize and fine-tune their strategies according to their specific needs.

Zorro is a robust and versatile platform that leverages the power of AI to optimize your stock trading performance. 

4. Composer

ai stock trading bot example

A free stock trading bot, Composer offers a wide array of advanced features for traders. It has an easy-to-use interface that allows users to create and deploy automated trading strategies powered by AI and machine learning. It lets you backtest your strategy with the use of historical data.

Composer also helps you with analyzing real-time market insights and executing your trades more effectively. Its algorithms help you identify potential trading opportunities, manage risks, and optimize your investment decisions.

5. EA Builder

ai stock trading bot example

A popular online platform, EA Builder allows you to build your own custom Expert Advisors (EAs) for automated stock trading. While its main focus is on forex trading, you can also use it for stock trading. The software lets you create EAs even without any knowledge of programming. 

With it, you can define trading rules, indicators, and conditions. EA Builders offers a free account, but you can avail yourself of all its best features when you pay a one-time fee of $97.

6. Options Road Backtester

ai stock trading bot example

A powerful tool, Options Road Backtester is designed for traders to backtest and analyze their trading strategies. Primarily for options trading, you can also use it for stock trading using options as part of your investment approach. It lets you input your trading strategy parameters and historical market data. 

This allows for simulating and evaluating the performance of your options strategies. It also gives you valuable insights into risk management, profitability, and potential outcomes that help you make informed decisions.

7. Capitalise.ai

ai stock trading bot example

Primarily a trading bot platform, Capitalise.ai may not fit the traditional definition of a standalone bot, but it has automated trading capabilities. It also offers the ability to create and deploy custom trading strategies without any knowledge of coding. You can set up rules, triggers, and conditions within the platform to automate your trading activities.

Capitalise has automation features that allow for executing trades based on predetermined criteria that make it comparable to a trading bot when speaking of functionality.

8. Equbot

ai stock trading bot example

Another AI-driven investment platform, Equbot blends AI technology with human expertise to analyze and select investment opportunities. It leverages machine learning and natural language processing to analyze vast amounts of data and identify potential investment opportunities in the stock market.

Equbot focuses on providing intelligent insights and actionable recommendations for your investment decisions. It takes into account financial statements, market trends, news sentiment, and other relevant data points to help you make decisions.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Free AI Stock Trading Bot

Now that you’ve seen a list of free AI stock trading bots to choose from, how do you find the best one suited to your needs? While most of these bots offer similar features, some have tools that others don’t. Finding out which ones will suit you depends on your personal preferences and trading strategies and techniques. Below are a few considerations before getting one:

  • Features and Functionality – learn about the bot’s available tools and capabilities
  • Accuracy and Performance – assess its track record for reliable performance and predictions.
  • Ease of Use – check for the bot’s user-friendliness
  • Privacy and Security – make sure that it has proper safeguards in place and that your privacy and data are protected
  • Flexibility and Customization – know the extent to which the bot can be personalized to suit your trading preferences
  • Reviews and Reputation – check the feedback and reviews of other users
  • Terms and Conditions – review the bot’s terms and conditions and any potential limitations on its use

When you assess these factors, you can be sure to choose a free AI stock trading bot that will meet all your trading needs. It will also provide you with a seamless and user-friendly experience with reliable performance.

Final Thoughts

The availability of free AI stock trading bots gives traders an exciting opportunity to harness the power of AI in their investment endeavors. Exploring the list we made above gives you access to a wide range of functionalities. However, artificial intelligence isn’t as dependable as we want it to be.

To find the best AI stock trading bot, you’ll still need careful consideration. This is to ensure that your strategies, with the help of these bots, will result in more informed investment decisions in the ever-dynamic world of the stock market.

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