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Success in China: Market Opportunities & How to Get Started

China market

Success in China: Market Opportunities & How to Get Started

Are you an ambitious entrepreneur from the west seeking to expand to China? Or are you interested in opening a new business in China? If yes, this article is for you. We will explain the 5 most viable business openings in China today and the 5 most reliable tips on how to get started in this highly-competitive market. Please be our guest.

Which Viable Market Opportunities Can You Pursue in China?

As the affluent middle class continues to expand in China, solid economic transformations in the country are being realized day by day. The biggest beneficiaries of these transformations are multinational companies who have set up or are planning to open a shop in China. There are now bigger and better market opportunities to pursue, more advanced industries to invest in, and more tech-intensive manufacturing opportunities to consider. As a matter of fact, China now boasts of a 50% bigger manufacturing economy as compared to the USA.

If you are looking to tap into the continued increase in high value-added production, increased globalization of the service sector, as well as the increased outbound investment in China, these 5 market opportunities would be lucrative enough for you:

Healthcare

Rising wealth often comes with an increase in lifestyle diseases. An increase in manufacturing, on the other hand, brings forth many environmental concerns. These two factors have made the healthcare industry very lucrative in China. You will create a reliable cash cow if you could invest in a business that deals with herbal supplements or small health products- or a mainstream pharmaceutical company, so to speak. Also, the use of skincare products is on the rise in China. It’s best to set up a wholly foreign-owned enterprise for such operations.

Import and export trade

China is currently the largest exporter of tech goods and importer of processed foods globally. That means you can build a profitable importing and exporting business here in a heartbeat. 

Supplementary education

Many middle-class Chinese are keen on improving their English and expanding their knowledge of different aspects of business and politics. If you can offer them after-school private tutoring services, you will be making impressive annual returns on a consistent basis. Moreover, online tutorage is on the rise in China, which enables you to tutor more people in a more cost-effective way.

Food production

This goes without saying: Everyone needs food, everyone loves good food. And now that the middle-class in China is welcoming new entrants in huge numbers, there is a significant supply gap within this class for as long as the food is concerned. A rise in class obviously comes with a change in lifestyle, and food is at the center of every lifestyle. 

Mobile phones and accessories

The whole world has in the recent past turned to China for all its tech needs. The nation is the largest producer and importer of affordable mobile phones and accessories, meaning that a business in this industry would be extremely profitable.

What kind of structure to choose when expanding to China

IF you are considering expanding your business to China, establishing the right business structure is crucial. There are several types of business structures:

-Representative Office – allows foreign companies to open their offices in China and hire staff under their own legal entity. However, the offices are not allowed to perform any business, rather it is done by the parent company which is abroad. 

-Sales Office- this business structure enables foreign businesses to rent an office with a Chinese address for conducting business, without the necessity to establish a separate legal entity. All the activities and costs incurred in this office, are paid by the parent company.

-Foreign Invested Partnership- For this business entity, there is no need for minimum capital requirements. Depending on agreements, two or more investors can be joined and form this type of structure. 

-Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise- Through a wholly foreign-owned enterprise, two or more foreign partners can come together and establish the company which has the same liability as domestic companies. Moreover, it provides the owner with autonomous control and ownership. 

How to Get Started In China

As lucrative as China could be, many investors from the west talk about it with fear. Some of these foreign entrants tried and failed, or struggled to find their footing in this Asian economic giant. But what would render you unable to compete and survive here? For starters, the business environment here is too unforgiving and the competition too stiff for the faint-hearted. Also, cases of language barriers, cultural differences, and bureaucratic government regulations have led to the peril of many. 

In the middle of all these, how do you defy the odds and succeed in China? Here are 5 actionable tips on how to get started in China:

Don’t just translate your content for China; ensure that everything about your business is localized for China. 

It is important to understand and comply with all business regulations in China. The hiring process can be tricky to a new entrant, which necessitates the services of a Chinese recruitment agency. Such an agency will help you with all employment laws, privileges, and remuneration. 

Ensure that you understand and respect the cultural differences that exist between the west and the east. 

Never underestimate the power of customer opinion in China. Let the customer tell what their experience with your product is, respect their opinion, learn from your mistakes, and ensure that you find lasting solutions to all their concerns. 

As much as possible, try to work with a local partner in order to benefit from the many favors local entrepreneurs get from the government.

marco polo

Marco Polo Network Welcomes BNY Mellon

The Marco Polo Network, a trade and working capital finance network powered by blockchain technology, welcomed The Bank of New York Mellon (“BNY Mellon”) onboard to conduct an evaluation program. BNY Mellon’s collaboration is aimed at developing a more open and connected trade finance environment that powers global trade and economic growth.

Marco Polo is a consortium working to make international trade more efficient. The network includes financial institutions, their corporate clients, service providers and the blockchain technology firms TradeIX and R3, leveraging R3’s Corda blockchain.

By engaging with Marco Polo, BNY Mellon is positioning itself to explore trade financing powered by blockchain, in an industry where many participants still rely on costly and inefficient paper-based systems to conduct trade. 

“We recognize tremendous potential to harness digital, data and advanced technology capabilities to transform essential trade finance processes to make them more efficient and secure. Collaborating with Marco Polo members is one more measure of our commitment to provide innovative opportunities to improve the client experience throughout the transaction lifecycle,” said Joon Kim, Global Head of Trade Finance at BNY Mellon. “To achieve our goals, we seek to work with forward-looking organizations, like the Marco Polo Network, that are harnessing digital to truly transform industries,” he added.

The move reflects BNY Mellon’s focus on fully digitizing the business to deliver new capabilities faster, unlock the power of data and put clients at the center of their ecosystem. BNY Mellon remains dedicated to broadening the scope of its digital ecosystem both by actively advancing its own products and services as well as seeking opportunities to collaborate with best-in-class external companies. 

Already strong in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, the Marco Polo Network now bolsters its U.S. presence with the addition of BNY Mellon. “We are accelerating the network’s growth and reach while our members are preparing and running programs with their corporate clients,” said Daniel Cotti, Managing Director, Centre of Excellence, Banking & Trade at TradeIX. 

 BNY Mellon joins Bank of America, BNP Paribas, Commerzbank, ING, LBBW, Anglo-Gulf Trade Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Credit Agricole, Natixis, Bangkok Bank, SMBC, Danske Bank, NatWest, DNB, OP Financial Group, Alfa Bank, Bayern LB, Helaba, S-Servicepartner, Raiffeisen Bank International, Standard Bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, MUFG, National Bank of Fujairah PJSC, National Australia Bank, and Bradesco as a member of the largest network of financial institutions leveraging blockchain for trade finance.

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About BNY Mellon

BNY Mellon is a global investments company dedicated to helping its clients manage and service their financial assets throughout the investment lifecycle. Whether providing financial services for institutions, corporations or individual investors, BNY Mellon delivers informed investment management and investment services in 35 countries. As of Sept. 30, 2019, BNY Mellon had $35.8 trillion in assets under custody and/or administration, and $1.9 trillion in assets under management. BNY Mellon can act as a single point of contact for clients looking to create, trade, hold, manage, service, distribute or restructure investments. BNY Mellon is the corporate brand of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (NYSE: BK). Additional information is available on www.bnymellon.com. Follow us on Twitter @BNYMellon or visit our newsroom at www.bnymellon.com/newsroom for the latest company news.

About TradeIX 

TradeIX, is an award-winning technology platform provider driving innovation and driving change in facilitating the flow of goods, money, and credit in the $8 trillion trade finance market. Its TradeIX Platform is delivered to banks and their corporate clients via ERP-embedded applications. The TradeIX Platform is integrated with the Marco Polo Network, the world’s fastest growing trade finance network.

Some of the smartest financial institutions and companies in the world work with TradeIX, including ING, BNP Paribas, DHL, AIG, Oracle, and many other Fortune 500 companies from various industries. TradeIX is headquartered in Dublin with offices in London, Kettering and Singapore. For more information visit: www.tradeix.com

About R3

R3 is an enterprise blockchain software firm working with a broad ecosystem of more than 300 members and partners across multiple industries from both the private and public sectors to develop on Corda, its open-source blockchain platform, and Corda Enterprise, a commercial version of Corda for enterprise usage.

 R3’s global team of over 180 professionals in 13 countries is supported by over 2,000 technology, financial, and legal experts drawn from its global member base. 

Learn more at r3.com.

automation

Automation Won’t Destroy Trade – It Might Even Boost It

Alarm bells are ringing

Many industry observers are sounding alarms about the looming impact of automation, robots and 3D printing, which they fear will destroy jobsdisrupt value chains and maybe even reduce the need for international trade. Developing countries are particularly concerned because trade has been an avenue to economic development and growth for them. But a recent report released by the World Bank shows that the data and evidence don’t support the hype. Instead, automation, robots and 3D printing might actually increase trade as trade costs continue to fall.

Some business analysts have warned that automation and robots could disrupt and shorten global supply chains. The thinking behind the concern is that, if a computer can design it and a 3D printer can make it, then we won’t need to source it from countries abroad that have more abundant low-cost labor than we do. Instead, companies will drastically shorten their value chains, which could reduce international trade.

The anxieties have gotten the attention of development economists and developing countries. Trade and economic growth go hand-in-hand, both in economic theory and in practice. Multiple studies have shown that firms in developing countries that participate in global value chains outperform their local peers that solely focus on domestic markets. If robots eliminate the need for global value chains, this important avenue for economic development could be threatened.

Anxiety over automation may be overblown

Scare tactics about economic change are attractive because they get our attention. About 15 years ago, we saw headlines about “white collar outsourcing” (once attorneys were added to the list of jobs that could be moved offshore, the panic even spread into boardrooms). Some lawmakers called for restrictions on offshoring, and some of those calls are still alive today. But the mass exodus of white collar jobs did not occur.

The World Bank is a multilateral development agency that makes grants and loans to support capital projects and economic growth in the poorest countries. Anything that reduces the need for trade and global value chains would hit those developing countries hard, putting the automation concerns squarely on the World Bank’s radar.

In its annual World Development Report, the latest released on October 8, the World Bank does not take a definitive stance on the overall effects of automation, and it does not make any bold predictions. But it does make one thing clear: The anxiety over automation hindering trade is not supported by the data and evidence. In fact, the authors show that sectors with the largest increases in automation have also been those with the largest increases in trade. Yep, that’s right: We’re experiencing the opposite phenomenon to what so many are worried about.

Automation actually helping to expand trade

Specifically, the report shows that the percentage change in imports of parts from developing countries from 1995 to 2015 is higher in industries that are more automated. Agriculture and textiles are among the least-automated industries and have the smallest change. Metal, rubber and plastics, and automotive sectors have the highest rates of automation and the largest increases in trade.

Automation in industrial countries has boosted imports from developing countries

Why? Because automation, like robotic assembly and 3D printing, leads to an expansion in output and demand for material inputs. Automation can also lead to the creation of new tasks. So while it brings labor market adjustment pains — like technology and progress always do — automation will not necessarily reduce trade or shorten global value chains.

Meanwhile, investments in digital technologies continue to lower the costs of coordinating across long distances. These lower trade costs are expected to promote trade and lead to a continued expansion of global value chains, particularly for developing countries.

The big picture

Here’s the big picture: Change is the one thing in the economy you can count on. Improvements in how we make things and advanced production technologies are likely to continue, and workers and firms that adapt and embrace these changes are likely to outperform those that do not. But a wide-sweeping elimination of trade and global value chains due to automation and robots? Don’t believe the hype.

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The original version of this article was published in The Hill.

ChristineMcDaniel

Christine McDaniel a former senior economist with the White House Council of Economic Advisers and deputy assistant Treasury secretary for economic policy, is a senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

This article also appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

supply chains

Trade Wars and Warehousing: Repositioning Supply Chains for Success

It’s almost impossible to keep up with trade war news today – whether it’s U.S.-China, UK’s Brexit, EU vs Tech Giants, or anyone of the 101 international trade dispute cases filed with the WTO since 2015. The fact is, the news changes almost daily. What we do know is that the pace of change in tariffs, regulations, and subsidies has enormous impacts on global businesses and their supply chains, dramatically impacting sourcing decisions, market opportunities, competitiveness, and profitability. In the view of many analysts, this state of constant flux has become the new normal. It also means that businesses will need to find a way to cope.

Supply Chains in the Crosshairs

Trade disputes cause havoc with global supply networks, affecting both supply and demand, as well as logistics providers who move the goods. As we know, changes in tariffs and regulations can throw a wrench into even the best of supply chains. By quickly changing market signals, they can completely alter the economics of a business and leave companies struggling with sub-optimal networks and trading partners. It puts enormous pressure on margins and makes companies more vulnerable to disruptions, market fluctuations, and changes the competitive landscape at home and abroad.

Reconfiguring the links in the supply chain can be a monumental task. In fact, in this Wall Street Journal article Jacob Parker, vice president of China Operations for the U.S.-China Business Council, said, “Businesses are making arrangements to diversify their supply chain investments away from the China market and enacting other structural changes to account for that. It could take about three to five years to build up the supply chain elsewhere.”

While that may be true for some, for others changes in supply and manufacturing will occur much faster, and in many cases are already occurring. Whatever the timescale, in the near term these disputes can leave executives paralyzed by uncertainty and their businesses idling, hoping for global trade issues to subside. That may happen, but at this point, it looks just as likely for the uncertainty to continue. For many, waiting is not an option.

Pressures for Warehousing and Distribution

For warehouses and distribution networks, changes in cost signals brought about by tariffs manifest themselves on two timescales.

Near term: For an importing country facing higher tariffs on imported goods, the business response is as obvious as “Sale Ends Sunday” signage. Businesses will stockpile imports from their traditional suppliers to the greatest extent possible in the months and weeks prior to the imposition of tariffs – before prices go up. Ports and warehouses will operate at max capacity, and nimble businesses will look to move materials into their downstream warehouses and distribution network as quickly and efficiently as possible. For the supplier nation, manufacturers and logistics providers will be stretched in their supply chains as well, looking to match this spike in demand.

Longer term: Because of changing economics, importing businesses will ultimately look for new international sourcing options, new manufacturing capacity, overseas warehouse capacity and possibly new logistics providers. Here the advantage will go to those businesses that can adapt to change most quickly and bring new business partners into their supply network most efficiently. They will need to establish a trading collaboration with shared work processes, communication, business rules for exception handling, and master data management – so all parties are working from a single version of the truth in the trading relationship. Even the domestic supply chain structure may need to change in response to shifting entry points, volumes, and lead times.

A Fundamental Shift: Optimizing for Uncertainty

What businesses need to do is plan and prepare for uncertainty and constant change, which will make their business operations and network more resilient. To minimize the existing uncertainty in the supply chain, while increasing its agility, many are looking at their existing infrastructure and are seeking new ways to make them more adaptable to rapidly changing conditions in demand, supply and logistics.

Because most companies run their businesses and global supply chains with many different enterprise systems, they lack end-to-end connectivity and real-time visibility and collaboration capabilities. Traditional systems, such as ERP, MRP, WMS, and TMS, provide vital functionality, but it is primarily enterprise-focused. B2B networks often suffer from a similar problem, as they evolved from acquisitions and the integration of enterprise systems. While giving the illusion of a unified system, at the core they have multiple data models and databases that must be integrated and synchronized.

These systems introduce latency through batch processing to synchronize the various systems; both internal systems and those of trading partners. They contribute a huge amount of friction and uncertainty to the supply chain, increasing the variability and the need for safety stocks. They create rigid, hardwired connections between systems and trading partners, which make it difficult for companies to adapt systems to new partners, business opportunities, and workflows. They are costly to maintain, and an upgrade is virtually a new implementation, with all the cost, time and risk that that entails. The combination of poor visibility and collaboration, rigid architecture, and untrustworthy data makes it difficult to make effective decisions and identify opportunities and threats in a timely manner.

Removing the Guesswork with Real Time Business Networks

Enterprise systems certainly have a role to play, but to effectively manage global supply chains, trading partners need to share data and work together in real-time, to resolve supply chain issues and exploit business opportunities in a rapidly changing trade environment. Multi-party supply chain networks connect all parties to a single network so they can share data in real-time. This provides a cohesive, connected and transparent supply network, that eliminates delays and minimizes uncertainty and variability. With a permissions framework to control who can see what, companies can quickly enable access for various supply chain roles at each trading partner. All relevant parties can have visibility to demand, inventory, orders, shipments, capacity, and constraints. They can plan collaboratively and work together to resolve issues as they arise during execution, eliminating huge amounts of uncertainty while enabling companies to reduce safety stocks and other buffers against variability.

Because all business partners are on the same network, with planning and execution on the same platform, processes like creating documentation for trade compliance can be automated, streamlining many labor-intensive import and export administrative tasks. These processes can also be preconfigured so that intelligent agents can monitor and alert users to missing customs documentation and other issues to ensure compliance.

With unified solutions like inventory management, warehouse management, yard management, and transportation management all running on the same network, businesses are better positioned to understand actual demand and their various supply and logistics options so they can meet the demand at the lowest costs. Companies can also leverage the network to make better decisions about where and when to move inventory. For example, they can choose to move their goods to new markets where demand is higher, rather than incur tariffs on products where demand is low. And if stockpiling is strategically necessary in order to take advantage of market fluctuations or impending changes to tariffs and regulations, companies can leverage the network for storage, distribution and logistics services.

Digital Transformation is Important and Urgent

Lower inventory levels are one of the major benefits of real-time business networks, with companies typically reducing inventory levels by 10 to 30 percent. This relieves pressure on warehouses, where inventory is frequently stockpiled to provide a buffer against variability and uncertainty. Inventory reduction frees up a lot of capital, reduces storage costs, and significantly reduces the risk of product going unsold or obsolete.

Having access to an unlimited number of potential partners is another powerful advantage of a multi-party network. Whether it’s the need to expand in new markets, or withdraw from others, find new suppliers or new logistics partners, a multi-party digital network also means you are already potentially connected to thousands of new customers and partners. Companies who are not already on the network need only onboard once, as connections are then made virtually as opposed to physically with clicks as opposed to point-to-point hardwired connections. This makes for extremely flexible and agile business ecosystems that are controlled by the business analysts charged with managing supply and demand rather than involving scarce IT resources.

Regardless of the changes imposed by political and regulatory agencies, a real-time business network mitigates risk. They are easy to configure, rapid to adapt, extensive and inclusive, rich with alternatives, and infused with intelligence. Although the financial costs can’t be eliminated entirely, much of the administrative overhead can be, and significant savings can be made through a frictionless transaction platform that removes uncertainty, provides transparency, reduces waste and optimizes the utilization of resources.

Most importantly, for businesses facing the uncertainty of ongoing trade wars and other factors that drive volatility, real-time, multi-party networks provide a digital platform for agile business that can respond to risk and quickly exploit new opportunities. They enable companies to leverage new markets, suppliers, logistics services and other trading partners, to respond to changing conditions and to innovate new business models that keep them profitable and competitive whatever the market throws at them.

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Nigel Duckworth is a senior strategist at One Network Enterprises, provider of an AI-enabled business network platform that enables all trading partners to manage, optimize and automate complex business processes in real time. To learn more, visit www.onenetwork.com or follow ONE at https://twitter.com/onenetwork.

blockchain

How Blockchain Can Fight Counterfeiting and Fraud

A recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office shows that imported counterfeit goods raked in $509 billion in 2016 — nearly 3.3% of all global imports for that year. To fight back against the rising tide of knockoffs threatening their brands, companies are turning to blockchain technology to create more transparent supply chains.

Blockchain is a distributed, decentralized ledger technology controlled by smart contracts and regulated by a consensus protocol. The ledger automatically records every transaction, and every record it creates is unalterable. Depending on exactly how one uses the ledger, it can be classified as permissioned, public, or fit for purpose.

Within a brand’s supply chain, a blockchain ledger can manage a variety of activity from automating contract compliance between entities via smart contracts to tracking products from manufacturing to distribution. The ledger eliminates supply chain ambiguities and creates transparency that ensures companies and customers get the quality for which they pay.

Blockchain’s Value in Existing Supply Chains

The value of modernizing supply chains with blockchain isn’t just theory. Major brands have already begun partnering with tech firms and other entities in response to rising demands for improved brand protection. LVMH (Louis Vuitton SE), for instance, working closely with Microsoft and ConsenSys, has created Aura Ledger to provide proof of authenticity of luxury items and trace their origins from raw materials to point of sale and beyond to the used-goods markets.

Throughout the retail industry, companies like eBay are starting to offer product authentication as a value-added service. Currently, the company authenticates only handbags due to rising concerns from customers about their authenticity. However, eBay plans to expand authentication to additional luxury items that might be subject to counterfeit.

In agriculture, the blockchain-based Grain Discovery streamlines transactions between farmers and buyers, making it easier for them to form new partnerships. In the pharmaceutical industry, distributors have formed the MediLedger consortium to track the provenance of pharmaceuticals and stem the counterfeit drug market worth more than $75 billion annually.

In virtually every industry, suppliers and distributors are turning to blockchain technology to lower their risk of fraud. A decentralized, immutable record of every product’s journey can help verify authenticity — or lack thereof.

Blockchain as a Force Against Fraud

Companies that worry about counterfeit versions of their products have options to address the issue. When implemented together, the following steps can help mitigate risk and inspire confidence among companies and consumers alike:

Establish a secure supply chain network.

For blockchain to successfully transform a company’s supply chain, every business entity along the chain must agree to participate. That makes establishing a network of trusted partners the most important step toward securing products.

For example, the jewelry consortium TrustChain, which operates on IBM’s blockchain platform, only works because the group includes the mines that produce jewels, manufacturers that refine them, and retailers that sell them.

Given the rise of counterfeit purchases, most companies with strong brands are looking to work with their suppliers to prevent fraud. The momentum of such efforts increases when every stakeholder in the supply chain sees the value and signs up to actively participate in the efforts.

Choose the tags most suited for the brand and product.

Only with the right tagging technology can blockchain technology track every product along its journey. Through various IoT devices, tags can detect diversions, liquid leaks, vibrations, package openings, tilt, excessive force, and more.

Companies have several options, such as smart tags and high-resolution signatures that digitally relate products to the blockchain. Purpose-fit tags that have been developed to track shipments at the container, pallet, and package levels further help. Companies can also employ decentralized identifiers (DIDs) that are universally resolvable and globally visible to stakeholders throughout the supply chain.

This topic holds great interest across many industries. The RFID Lab at Auburn University recently announced the Chain Integration Project (or CHIP) launch, a project focused on finding ways for retail and apparel companies to communicate with their suppliers about tracking product inventory at the item level using radio frequency identification tags and blockchain. The project has attracted global companies across many industries due to the applicability across supply chains outside of retail and apparel.

Some products don’t need to be tracked with such intricate detail, while others should be tagged to track every moment of their journeys. Determine what tagging technology makes the most sense, adds business value, and is easiest to manage along the entire supply chain.

Encourage customers to be part of the solution.

When customers clearly and directly benefit from a company’s use of a blockchain-enabled supply chain, getting more partners to join the consortium becomes easier. However, brands can’t expect all end users to automatically jump on board.

When eBay released its authentication program for handbags, it did so in response to a need its customers had expressed. To entice sellers to participate, it offers several incentives if they sign up to authenticate their products.

Before long, the streamlined processes and unprecedented transparency that blockchain provides will be more than enough to encourage participation. Until then, make it more attractive through bonuses and other rewards in order to incentivize users and increase customer stickiness.

Unleash IoT, AI, and ML to actively fight fraud.

Protecting against counterfeiting and fraud isn’t always a passive exercise. With blockchain, companies can unleash the potential of IoT, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to actively prevent fraudulent transactions.

For instance, customers can scan product tags to verify their authenticity or compare images of the product against its stored signatures. Proof of purchase and other transaction details can be cryptographically linked to the buyer and product and then subsequently uploaded to the blockchain.

Any product that bears a brand’s name but can’t be tracked to its manufacturer would be considered counterfeit. A company can ensure, in real time, that it receives compensation for every product sold with its name on it.

The reported value of fraudulent goods that hit the global market is expected to continue rising, but companies are no longer helpless in the face of counterfeiters. As more industries and their supply chains embrace blockchain technology, counterfeit goods will no longer have a place in any market.

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Mohan Venkataraman is the chief technology officer of Chainyard, a blockchain consulting company focused on delivering production solutions that address supply chain, financial services, transportation, government, and manufacturer pain points. With more than 20 years of proven experience, Mohan has extensive skills in software engineering, governance best practices, and industry models. With exposure to more than 70 clients, he has a clear focus on understanding client needs and aligning technology and business priorities to deliver value. His current interests include blockchain, cloud solutions, big data, service-oriented architecture, governance and integration competency center establishment, and enterprise architecture, with a focus in telecom media, technology, insurance, retail, healthcare, and life sciences industries.

TenderEasy Makes Spend Matters’ Top 50 Provider to Watch List

Sustainable freight procurement leading company, TenderEasy – part of Alpega Group, was confirmed as a Top 50 Provider to Watch in 2019 by Spend Matters, landing them a place in the Spend Matters Almanac which serves as an unbiased vendor procurement directory.

Spend Matters serves as a solution intelligence source that recognizes innovators specifically in the procurement and supply chain sectors. The Azul Partners, Inc. owned and managed source researches and selects companies based on their unique merits.

“We are thrilled to be recognized by Spend Matters as a leading freight procurement solution,” said Johan Vagerstam, chief executive officer and co-founder of TenderEasy, part of Alpega.  “This acknowledgement reaffirms the market need for technology in the freight procurement process, and underlines the user-friendly nature of our solution. As we continue to grow our business in Europe and North America, we value Spend Matters for their consistent, independent coverage of the rapid evolution of these industry solutions.”

TenderEasy offers customers an innovative freight procurement tool that grants visibility to freight tendering/ RFQs for air, land, and sea, and is capable of multi-modal freight contract tendering, spot bidding, and invoice reconciliation. This tool ultimately removes manual processes and optimizes efficiencies for shippers.


Does Your Tech Company Need a Brand? The answer is “Absolutely.”

We all know that many companies, especially tech companies and companies with technology-enabled value propositions, have a hard time getting their branding right. They have rebrand after rebrand, but their message never seems to hit home with customers. It seems helpless. After working with hundreds of companies in this exact situation, I’m confident to say that it isn’t helpless.

They’re just making one fatal mistake:

These companies are focusing on the output of branding before adequately understanding and bonding emotionally with their customers.

Many technology companies see branding as writing the perfect copy, choosing the perfect color scheme, and writing up a perfect competitive sales message. The often treat messaging as branding. They get lost in a sea of bits and bytes and focus on speeds, feeds, throughputs and proprietary technology, never getting to a message that bonds so strongly with customers that they’d feel they were cheating on the brand were they to choose a competitor.   

Messages and marketing might be the output of branding, but branding is one thing: understanding – and bonding in a deeply emotional way with – your customer. I spend a lot of my time working with technology companies who categorically reject the notion that tech companies need to create deep emotional bonds with their customers. They believe that their tech’s special bells and whistles should be enough to sustainably differentiate them and give them a competitive advantage for their entire lifecycle.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If your proprietary technology or whizz-bang features that give your tech more of what I call RASM (reliability, availability, scalability, manageability) are not directly imitable by a competitor, the high-level benefits those features provide are. Here’s what I mean. Your solution may have a feature that enables customers to do more processing faster, helping them focus on their core jobs. You might even create messages that are centered on the notion of “doing more with less.” Unfortunately, that’s a baseline requirement – and promise – of technology in general, right? If you market on the basis of something that’s a baseline expectation of an entire category of products (and in the case of technology, an entire industry) you’re doing it wrong. That would be like marketing ice cream on the basis of being made of milk and being cold and sweet.

If you are pointing your marketing towards a company or a nameless, faceless customer, you’re doing it wrong. Technology purchase influencers come in many shapes and sizes, not just demographically, but also attitudinally and psychographically. What I mean here is that if you’re a tech company with new, unproven but exciting technology behind it, your ideal customer might be someone who is not just willing to take a risk on new tech but wants to be seen as an innovator in her or his organization. When you know exactly at whom you’re pointing your tech brand, you can start to understand what’s important to them and target not only your brand, but your messages and marketing directly at that person’s values, beliefs and desired achievements.

Finally, take a look at your company’s website right now. Go ahead and do it. I’ll wait. Take note of the first words you see on your website’s main headline. If those words are either “we” or your company’s name, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re talking from the point of view of “we do this so you can …” or “we make blah, blah and blah…” you’re doing it wrong. The best technology brands in the world are those that focus on their customers’ life stories and what they, as individuals, are looking to achieve in life.

This is a challenge. There are thousands of ways you can understand your customers, and many companies are paralyzed by understanding where to start.

From my experience helping companies understand their customers, there are three core questions that really get to the root of how the brand and customer interact. If you can answer these three questions, you’ll be in a much better place to start your branding process.

1) What does your brand say about your customers?

The first question for brands to answer is what it says about a person that he or she uses this brand. What does it communicate both to the outside world and to the customer him or herself? This is important because, at its core, this is what a brand is. It’s a statement about the customer, and it’s crucial that, as a business, you know what that statement is. Answering this question requires you to really get inside your customers’ heads and understand what they want to achieve in their lives, how they measure their success in achieving those goals, what they care most deeply about, and, ultimately, how the brand must deliver.

2) What is the singular thing your brand delivers that customers can’t get from anyone else?

The second question to understand is what the singular thing is that a person using this brand gets from it that they can’t get from any other brand. In other words, what makes your brand singular and indispensable. What you’ll find, as you dig into this question, is that most of the answers aren’t tangible. It’s unlikely that your product has a feature that no competitors can provide. Instead, what commonly comes up are intangible benefits, like the ways the company makes them feel or the story it tells them about themselves.

3) How do you make your customer a hero in the story of his or her own life?

The third question requires an understanding of how your brand makes the customer a hero in his or her own life story. Everybody wants to be the hero in his or her own story. Everybody wants to be the protagonist. Some brands may achieve that in an obvious way (like a fashion brand making the customer stand out from the crowd), whereas others might be more subtle (like an IT brand making the purchasing manager look good in front of their colleagues). No matter what the case, if you can answer this question, you’ll have loyal customers for life.


At a very high level, everything we do in branding is about answering those three questions.

Before you do any copywriting, design, or other branding outputs, take some time to answer those three questions. If you have trouble getting to the bottom of them, don’t worry. Ask your customers for help, and keep digging until you really understand them. With this newfound understanding of who your customers are and how they want to interact with your brand, you’ll be on the path to defining a powerful brand strategy.

Deb Gabor is the author of Irrational Loyalty: Building a Brand That Thrives in Turbulent Times. She is the founder of Sol Marketing which has led brand strategy engagements for organizations ranging from international household names like Dell, Microsoft, and NBC Universal, to digital winners like Allrecipes, Cheezburger, HomeAway and RetailMeNot, and dozens of early-stage tech and digital media titans. For more information, please visit www.debgabor.com and connect with Deb on Twitter, @deb_sol.

Amazon’s Austin Tech Hub Projects 800 Jobs Following Expansion

Adding to the 22,000+ job portfolio in the state of Texas, Amazon announced its Austin Tech Hub will create an additional 800 jobs in the region following the projected hub expansion scheduled for 2020.

“In the last four years, we have created more than a 1,000 jobs in Austin,” said Terry Leeper, General Manager of Amazon’s Austin Tech Hub. “With a strong pool of technical talent in Austin and a dynamic quality of life, we are excited to continue to expand and create more opportunity in this vibrant city.”

“The state of Texas has cultivated a strong and vibrant business environment, leading to more jobs and greater innovation,” said Governor Abbott. “With today’s announcement and continued investment in the technology sector, Texas will continue to chart a path toward greater economic prosperity.”

The new 145,000 square foot office in The Domain will provide tech-focused job opportunities including software and hardware engineering, research science, and cloud computing. Amazon was recognized as #1 on LinkedIn Top Companies in 2018 and boasts a unique and competitive benefits package including healthcare beginning on day one of employment and a dedicated paid apprenticeship program for military veterans.

“I’m pleased that Amazon is doubling down on Austin by expanding the Tech Hub,” said Senator Watson. “Austin is a special place that fosters creativity and innovation, and I appreciate that Amazon has chosen to become an even greater contributor to our dynamic community and economy.”

To read more about the Austin Hub expansion and employee benefits, please visit The Amazon Blog.