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Q&A with Tobias Peggs: CEO of Square Roots

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When you think of farming, wide sprawling hills with rows of stalks and veggies comes to mind.  You probably imagine a farmer as a dude with a plow with denim overalls, not necessarily as an entrepreneur.  Square Roots is a startup that is changing the way we think of farming.  Cofounded by Elon Musk’s brother, Kimbal Musk, this company is disrupting the industrial food complex by closing the gap between the food that farmer’s grow and the consumers who buy them.

In the heart of Brooklyn in a old industrial parking lot sits a bunch of unassuming shipping containers.  The last thing you’d expect them to contain would be two acres worth of growing produce, but alas, that is exactly what’s inside of them.

Your typical apple travels a huge distance from where it was picked to the grocery store shelf.  In the process it looses the vast majority of it’s nutrition.  Square Roots attempts to resolve this inefficiency by providing a place for produce to be grown in an urban setting.  It does this by growing produce in shipping containers hydroponically (a method of growing without soil).  Each shipping container is manned by a farming entrepreneur who is responsible for creating their own business plan, marketing and distribution logistics.  Once the produce is ready for harvest, farmers deliver the fresh goods directly to your office/home, connecting the farmer with the consumer in a more intimate and conscious way.

A couple weeks ago I took a tour of the urban farm led by of Square Root’s CEO Tobias Peggs.  Here’s a look at some of the things I learned along the way:

How much produce can one shipping container yield on average?

One shipping container can produce about 50lbs of leafy greens.

How long does it take a plant to get from seed to harvest?

This varies depending on what type of vegetable is being grown but take for example a head of lettuce: it takes about 2-3 weeks for the plant to go from seed to harvest.

Tell me more about the tech that goes into growing food in shipping containers.

To replace sunlight, we use red and blue LEDs, which are really the only two types of light plants need for photosynthesis.  Each shipping container is modular with a controlled climate.  My background is in artificial intelligence, so every aspect of the conditions in each shipping container is controlled by AI.  Say we had an heirloom seed that grew in southern Italy in the 1800’s.  We can look to see what the climate was at that time and replicate it’s environment within the container.   This way, instead of literally shipping food from southern Italy, we just ship the data about that environment and use it to grow exotic foods locally.

What control do farmers have over what they grow?

Our farmers are 100% entrepreneurs.  They decide which seeds to use.  They also are responsible for their own branding and marketing and how to distribute their goods.  This is our first cohort of farmers, they don’t have to use the Square Roots name, but most choose to.

Is there anything like this currently being attempted?

There’s one in particular being attempted in Japan.  A large portion of farmland was rendered unusable after the meltdown in Fukushima.  Because of this Japanese consumers now have stamps on the food which literally says “Proud to be grown indoors”.  So people are attempting it, all of them in different methods. I would say we were the most modular.

After the tour I got to sample some of the shipping container-grown produce.  The picture above is from a mustard green.  Believe it or not it was really spicy!  I never thought of leafy greens as spicy, but regardless it was bomb as hell in my salad.

As populations rapidly grow and change in cities, so must the way we produce and distribute food.  Not only does the current method of industrialized farming diminish the quality of our food, but it also disconnects the farmer from the consumer.  Square Roots presents us with a wildly innovative solution to these issues.  Where does your salad come from?  Mine came from a badass shipping container in Brooklyn.

What's up!? I'm Katrina. I'm wandering, collecting, witnessing and learning. I'm drawn to all things found at the intersection of art and technology. If I could go back in time, I think I'd be best friends with Mark Twain, Nikola Tesla and Cleopatra. When I'm not obsessing about the human endeavor or the nature of time, I'm probably cooking or dancing.

Business

170 Questions to Ask A Client Before You Begin Your Campaign

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Confused about what type of questions to a prospect in the crazy world of tech?

Well, worry no more! We decided to give you our 170 questions that we ask our clients, before we begin working with them. Now, we don’t ask every question, because let’s be honest, we would be here for several hours before we get all of the answers. Choose your questions wisely and add your company’s culture into how you ask your questions!

If you’d like to add more onto this list, feel free to comment below or email us your additions.

 

Current Website Questions

– What is the purpose of your current website?

– Are there any aspects of your current website that you love?

– Are there any aspects of your current website that you hate?

– Is there anything on the current website that needs to be removed entirely?

– Is there anything on the current website that must absolutely stay?

– Do you have multiple locations?

– Where are they located?

– Do you offer different products or services per location?

– What is your business’s unique value proposition (UVP)?

– What are the services you want to highlight on your website?

– Why do visitors currently come to my website?

– Is your website easy to navigate and is it easy to find information?

– Are your current website visitors being converted into sales?

– Are competitors’ websites more functional and have they recently been redesigned?

– Does the content on my website deliver the right message?

– Is your website a good representation of your business?

– Does your current website instill trust and confidence?

– Is it easy to update your website?

– Are visitors who come to your website being tracked and analyzed?

– Does your current website make it easy for website visitors to contact you?

– What tools and apps do you use to run your business?

 

Website Redesign Questions

– Why do you want a new website?

– Do you have a proposed sitemap prepared?

– In an ideal world, what do you want your website to become?

– What are your specific goals for your new website that will help indicate if your investment is profitable?

– How quickly do you want to achieve these goals?

– Is there anything that you would like to have included in the new website that you lack currently?

– Will your copy need to be reviewed and approved by legal and compliance?

– Will your legal team need to create the privacy policy for the site?

– At the end of this project, how do you qualify it as a success?

 

Competitive Analysis Questions

– Who are your top seven competitors?

– What about these companies makes then stand apart from others?

– What elements of these companies and/or their online activity would you like to model after

in your redesign?

– What do you currently like about your competitors websites?

– What do you hate about your competitors websites?

– What are some sites that you like the style of, features, and functionality of?

 

Branding Questions

– Do you have brand guidelines?

– If not, do you need help putting this together?

– What are the brand guidelines?

– Are there any color preferences for the new website?

– Do you have the hex codes for your current brand colors?

– Have you created buyer personas?

– If you did; how many do you have and will we need to set up conversion funnels for each persona?

  • Do you have a site architecture completed?

– Do certain products and/or services speak to different type of clients?

– What differentiates your product or service from your competition

– Is there any legacy on your current website?

– Do you currently have duplicate content on your site?

– What types of content will you publish on the site?

– How do plan to market the website once it is launched?

– What are some images that relate to your business?

– Will you be updating and reusing content and/or images from your current website?

– Do you need help creating new visual components for your website?

– What are some visual components that you’d like to add to your website?

– Do you have a tag line?

– What is your elevator pitch?

– Do you have a mission statement?

– What differentiates your company from your competitors?

 

Sales, Marketing, and Advertising Questions

– Do you have a documented content strategy?

– What types of marketing are you currently involved in or practice on a regular basis?

– Why kind of ads will you be running? (Google, Facebook, native, display, search)

– Do you have a current advertising budget?

When it comes to marketing (in general), what are your biggest challenges?

– When it comes to obtaining qualified leads, what are your biggest challenges?

– When it comes to closing leads, what are your biggest challenges?

– Are there any short-term or long-term goals that need to be considered in the website redesign?

– What social media elements would you like integrated?

– Do you need a subscription option or other offer?

– Will you be blogging on your website?

– Who will be blogging on your website?

– When do you see the most customers go to your website?

– Do you currently use marketing automation software?

– Do you use email marketing, landing page, or other tools on your site?

– Do you use a CRM to store sales and customer information?

– What is the target demographic of your website visitors?  Are there specific sectors, industry segments, company sizes, geography that needs to be focused on more than others?

– Would you like to personalize content so that the content shown is targeted and relevant for different types of visitors?

– Do you create ebooks, white papers, and other resources are placed behind a form?

– Do you send email marketing communications?

– What types of emails do you send to subscribers, prospects, leads, and customers?

– Do you want automated emails to be triggered by actions customers take on your website?

– Do you want the ability to create, edit, and publish landing pages and site pages?

– Would you like to run predictive lead scoring every few months to automatically determine the properties and weight of each factor to create a lead score?

– Have you performed A/B tests of your landing pages and calls-to-action to increase clickthrough rates?

 

Lead Generation and Contact Page Questions

– How do you currently track leads on your website?

– How do you want to collect customer information?

– Are you comfortable with having your phone number on your website?

– What is the email address you want on your website?

– Can you speak to your customer experience?

– How does a user become a customer of yours on your current website?

– Do you currently include relevant call-to-actions on content posts?

– Do you collect information from visitors and store this in a CRM or use it to inform marketing efforts?

– What fields do you currently or want to include on forms?

– Do you use call tracking to track online campaigns?

 

SEO Questions

– Do you need assistance with search engine optimization?

– When was the last time you reviewed your website was optimized?

– Do you have someone who can review content for SEO best practices, internally?

– Do you have someone who can create unique meta titles and descriptions per page or blog post, internally?

– Do you have a Google Analytics account?

– Do you have a Google Webmaster Tools or Bing Webmaster Tools account?

– Based on what you know right now, what keywords or phrases would “you” use to search for your products and/or service offering?

– What search terms are your competitors targeting?

– Of the words you just listed, which ones would you like to target with the new website?

– Do you have existing content that can support these keywords or phrases?

– Does your existing website and content rank for these phrases?

– What are your top performing keywords?

– What are your most trafficked pages on your website?

– Which site pages rank high in SERPs?

– What percentage of visits are from organic sources?

– What percentage of traffic are referrals from other sites?

– Which referral channel gives your website the most traffic?

– What percentage of traffic is from social media sites?

– What percentage of traffic is from email marketing?

– What percentage of traffic is from direct or people who type your URL into the search bar?

– What percentage of traffic is from mobile devices?

– What percentage of traffic is from tablet devices?

– What sources — social, referral, organic, etc. — generate traffic from mobile and tablet users?

– How many landing pages do you have?

– What are your top performing landing pages?

– What are your top performing blog posts?

– How many visits does your site get each month?

– How many page views does your site get each month?

– How many leads do you generate each month?

–  How long do people typically spend on your website?

– What is the bounce rate for your site?

– What is the average amount of sales generated by your site each month?

– What is the page load time of your site?

– How many inbound links are pointing to your current site?

– Is your current site optimized for mobile users?

 

Reporting Questions

– Do you like data?

– What types of reports and data would you like to receive from our team?

– Do you prefer phone call reporting?

– Would you like to receive reports via PDF’s?

– Would you like the reports to be converted into videos?

 

Website Functionality Questions (UX and UI)

– Will you require a responsive design (adapts automatically to mobile devices)?

– How often will you be updating the content on your site?

– What functional requirements are needed within the new website?

– Is there any specific feature that is needed for your website?

– Do you want users to be able to comment on blog posts and other types of content?

– Do you need to integrate chat features?

– Will you need an internal search engine for your site?

– Do you plan to post audio/video files to the site?

– Do you have a video hosting service or will you be uploading videos to Vimeo or YouTube to embed videos on your site?

– Will you need people to log in on the site either with a username and password or by using social logins?

– Will users need the ability to post product reviews?

– Do you want people to be able to share content from your website?

– Will visitors have to enter credit card information and other personal details on any section of the website?

– Do you plan to sell anything through your website?

 

Development and Hosting Questions

– Who is your current website host?

– If switching hosting companies, do you know where your DNS is controlled?

– Do you have any and all logins?

– Hosting

– Domain name

– Website

– Where is your site currently hosted?

– Do you know the current level of hosting you have?

– Do you have or need an SSL certificate?

– Do you have specific accessibility requirements? (Possibilities include, larger text, language conversion, blind accessible)

– Will your site need to announce that they use cookies?

– Do you have an existing content management system you prefer or would you like our suggestions on the proper CMS?

 

Project and Budget Questions

– What is your budget for this project?

– What is your yearly budget for website improvements?

– What is you desired kick off date?

– Who all is responsible for reviewing and providing feedback on the site?

– Who will give final approval for the site prior to launch?

– Who will be managing the site once it’s completed?

– Will you require training on how to properly maintain the site?

At Owners Magazine, we care deeply about creating an incredible experience for our customers. What better way to get to know our clients than to ask them fun questions? The world of business can be so serious and with the way our society is becoming, we decided to throw a wrench into your average questions.

DISCLAIMER: These questions don’t work for every company. It all depends on your company culture and how your customers view you.

 

Get To Know Your Clients Better

– At which store would you like to max-out your credit card?

– If you could have one super power, what would it be?

– If you could be one character in any movie, Tv show, cartoon, who would you be?

– What movie title describes your life?

– What is your favorite TV show?

– What is your favorite video game?

– If you could choose one Pokemon that relates to your personality, who would it be?

– Do you have any nerdy addictions?

– Have you ever refitted an item, and if so, what did you regift?

– What’s the strangest talent you have?

– Do you have any nicknames?

– Which way does your toilet paper hang on the wall – over or under?

– What is that one song on you’re afraid to admit that you like?

– What are three things still left on your bucket list?

– If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

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These Are All of the Industries Experiencing The Amazon Takeover

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amazon takeover

Amazon’s continuous growth is prompting the company to expand into a variety of industries well beyond their initial scope of electronic commerce. Beginning as an online bookstore, Amazon now represents the most valuable United States retailer regarding market capitalization. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is presently the world’s richest personA combination of success and drive for constant expansion is resulting in an Amazon takeover of several important industries. Amazon still reigns supreme as an online retailer, though clearly that title alone is not enough to satisfy Bezos. His areas of interest are vast, including the following.

Brick-and-Mortar Retail

Just last year, the Amazon takeover included Whole Foods, where they were acquired for $13.7 billion. The move continues Amazon’s battle with Walmart to reign supreme in the retail space. On the other side, Walmart is continuing to refine their online space, while remaining America’s top employer. The battle between these two giants will continue to wage on, with Amazon’s interest in the brick-and-mortar space being no secret.

Even before the Whole Foods acquisition, Amazon’s plans to build convenience stores and curbside pickup locations shows a deep infatuation with becoming a strong brick-and-mortar presence. Beyond a mere presence, Amazon is confident that consumers will continue embracing a model that allows them to order online and pick up in person.

Amazon’s opening of the Amazon Go Store in Seattle in January marks an exciting time for these interests. Customers enter the store and scan their Amazon Go app as they do. Cameras and other sensors track customers’ activity as their browse, registering an item into their virtual cart when they take it off the shelf. Customers are charged when they leave the store with their goods. Amazon terms the idea “Just Walk Out” shopping and hopes to attract customers who despise waiting in lines, as many do.

Amazon’s reshaping of the typical brick-and-mortar presence is introducing consumers to new ideas like “Just Walk Out” shopping. Combined with the acquisition of Whole Foods, the company will without a doubt continue to redefine the brick-and-mortar shopping experience.

Delivery

amazon

Amazon has been shaping the delivery industry for many years now, especially since Amazon Prime’s introduction in 2005. The company’s vow to deliver items to Prime customers in two days or less still presents a challenge to online retail competition, who are well aware that they must match these shipping expectations or compensate in some other way, like offering lower prices. Meeting Amazon’s delivery promises and their costs is a major challenge, especially to new eCommerce businesses.

Beyond Amazon Prime’s major influence on shipping expectations among online retailers, Amazon is redefining what the delivery space means through their utilization of drone technology. Specifically, Amazon Prime Air is introducing a new delivery system, where unmanned aerial vehicles can safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less.

Amazon, already familiar with quick parcel delivery, is upping the ante even more in the delivery industry with such lofty ambition. Still, with a private trial already underway in the UK, Amazon Prime Air and the use of drones in delivery is a very real aspect of the future. Upon receiving the regulatory support, we can anticipate Amazon Prime Air to be an option for many.

Technology

amazon

It makes sense that Amazon is continuing to make significant moves in the tech sphere. There’s no doubt regarding the company’s technical expertise and how technology can accommodate access to their variety of products.

Among their technological products is Amazon Fire TV, which streams live TV and enables users to watch hundreds of shows and movies. There’s also the Amazon Kindle Fire, which capitalizes on Amazon’s vast digital library in the form of a tablet computer with a seven-inch multi-touch display. Many still view Kindle Fire as a strong competitor to Apple’s iPad.

Amazon’s Dash buttons, while simple, are also an exciting addition to their array of tech. The Dash Button is a single-function controller that consumers can place around their house near items that need replenishing. Need a new order of Tide paper towels? Order a specific Dash button for Tide, put it near the towels and press the button when you notice them running low. They will then arrive on your doorstep in a couple of days.

Entertainment

amazon

Amazon Prime offers much more than free two-day shipping. One of Prime’s most notable benefits is the increasingly impressive Amazon Video platform. The Amazon Prime Video show Transparent won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy in 2005, while 2017 Oscar Best Picture nominee Manchester by the Sea is also developed by Amazon Studios.

Amazon is increasing their influence in both TV and film by producing excellent content, including many notable releases in development. They’re emerging as a viable competitor to cable, Netflix and Hulu.

Whether a consumer prefers reading a book or watching a movie, Amazon is seeking to have the entertainment niche covered.

Is This Amazon’s Peak?

Amazon’s firm grasp across multiple industries begs the question: Is this Amazon’s peak? While it’s impossible to tell definitively, stockholders should monitor the situation closely. Amazon has been a model of consistent growth since 2000. Presently, Amazon’s stock trades for approximately 130 times the business’s projected earnings for 2018 and almost four times its projected sales for 2018.

These growth prospects rely on revenue per customer growth. Although there will certainly be customers who increase their spending on Amazon, it’s difficult to think of any huge breakthroughs or offerings that will prompt more revenue per customer, especially upon Prime’s increase to $119 per year. Many customers may opt to spend that on a Costco membership instead.

Additionally, it’s important to note that Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods plays a significant role in the stock increases the past year for Amazon. The market seems to be operating under an assumption that Amazon will make a similarly buzzworthy acquisition this year, which is far from a given.

Still, even if market projections seem a bit optimistic at the moment for Amazon, there’s no doubting that the company will continue playing a significant role in shifting expectations within several industries, from delivery and entertainment to the brick-and-mortar experience.

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What To Do When You Lose Creativity

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Advice to regain creativity

The longer you are tasked to creating things, the more likely you will lose your creative edge. It doesn’t matter if you’re making websites, writing a new book, or making a new recipe. There might come a day when you feel too lethargic to get out of bed or dread going to work. These are some of the most basic and easy-to-shrug symptoms of losing the creative streak. The good news is that there are ways to snap out of it. You can regain your creativity and prevent yourself from “drying out” by practicing a few simple tasks.

Explore

When we were kids, it’s always fun to experience new things for the first time. As we get older, our sense of wonder gets jaded, probably because we had to grow up and face reality. But rediscovering how great the world is can help awaken our creative streak. To prevent yourself from losing it or to find it if it’s already lost, explore and experience new things again. You can set aside one day a month to try something new, be it an experience, new dish, or venturing out to a new place. Adventure can reawaken creative juices and your sense of wonder.

Laugh

One of the reasons why we lose our creativity is pressure. It can be quite stressful if you’re always looking for new ways to make your design look fresh. Sometimes it is even unavoidable that your paintings, essays or web designs all look the same way. Stress can kill creativity, so what better way to de-stress than to laugh? You can watch a comedy movie, catch a live comedy act, or just clown around with your friends. When your brain is filled with oxytocin and dopamine, which we get from laughter, you will be more relaxed and find it easier to find inspiration for creativity.

Think Like A Kid

If you’re asked to be creative, ask yourself what your six year-old would do in situations like these. Kids can be very creative and surprisingly straightforward. It might feel weird at first, but you never know, so you might as well give it a try and see if it works.

Rediscover Creative Pursuits

When was the last time you painted something, read a good book, sang, danced like nobody’s watching, or even modeled clay? All these creative outlets sometimes get lost because of busy lives. However, you can rediscover them again if you set aside time at least once a week to be creative outside your work.

Meditate

Mediation is a good way to relax both the right side (creative) and left side (logical) part of the brain. When they are both relaxed, they work harmoniously so you don’t run out of creative ideas. Some people think that they don’t have much time to mediate, but it can be surprising what 5 to 10 minutes of meditation can do for your brain. Meditation does not have to be complicated. You can start by thinking happy thought for 10 minutes each day for relaxation, and you will be surprised how easy it will become to carry on creative tasks.

When it comes to being creative, pay attention to yourself. Find out what works and what doesn’t. This can tell you when you are most inspired, which in turn can really help you to continue being creative.

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