The Stevie Awards Blog

The Science of Better Wine Selection

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jun 26, 2019 @ 10:22 AM

After 20 years of astonishing growth, the wine market is finally facing some headwinds. And with this comes the important question: How does the industry get more consumers—particularly younger ones—interested in their product?

For one start-up, the answer is to match each drinker with the right blend, whether that’s a , a robust Cabernet Sauvignon, or a sweet Moscato. GREAT WINE, Inc., claims to be the first company to produce wine based on people’s wine personalities, or “vinotypes.”

The company is the work of Founder and CEO Danni Lin, a former Data Scientist at Microsoft who saw a need for better guidance when it came to wine.

great wine

“I know, personally, I’d go into a supermarket and get lost in the wine section,” says Lin. “I’d have to wade through massive, overwhelming product lists and ads.”

Plans for her company, which markets wines under the brand name “PERCIPIO,” didn’t solidify until she met Tim Hanni, the first American who earns the title Master of Wine – the most prestigious title in the wine world which has only been awarded to 380 people around the globe so far. Hanni introduced Lin to the vinotype concept — his 20-year research subject showing that everyone perceives wine differently and has his or her distinct preferences.

For Lin, that meant a $200 bottle of Bordeaux wasn’t necessary to give consumers a great experience every time they opened a bottle. Rather, they needed accessible, high-quality wines that matched their unique sensory experiences.

“When GREAT WINE, Inc. was founded, it was one of the few companies in the industry that successfully anticipated the changing tides of the global wine market,” says Lin, whose Stateside operations are based in Bellevue, Washington, United States. “It recognized that American and Asian consumers preferred affordable wines with traceable origins.”

To better pair shoppers with the right varietals, GREAT WINE, Inc., partnered with myVinotype, a wine recommendation platform developed based on big data analysis to learn about their wine “personalities.”

By asking a series of questions—whether users prefer salty or sweet foods, for example, or if they enjoy specific flavors, such as coffee or cilantro—the service suggests products it believes match individual tastes. Customers can take the quick survey right on the company website, leading them to their algorithm-selected product lists.

“This concept allows individuals to accurately build their wine profiles, be confident in their wine preferences, and be comfortable whenever they purchase wines,” adds Lin.

Going for Broke

While building a wine label around vinotypes appealed to Lin’s analytical side, she says the decision to launch the company was difficult.

“I was at the crossroads of either staying with a well-paid, full-time job in a large corporation or taking the risk of founding a start-up with no pay,” says Lin. “Choosing the latter meant spending my own savings to work on something that had no guarantee of success.”

She ultimately decided to follow her passion and to launch GREAT WINE, Inc., in 2015 as a company with roots in both the United States and China. For the first time, the former Microsoft employee was forced to operate without a major source of capital behind her, and one of the keys to success, she admits, was the willingness to accept her constraints.

“The production, labor, and facility costs of running a winery are very high,” she says. “For start-ups, it’s very easy to run into a situation where the bank balance is almost zero. Although I had big plans for my company, I had to accept there were times I simply couldn’t be a perfectionist.”

Two years later, she introduces her PERCIPIO label and opened a tasting room for GREAT WINE, Inc., in downtown Bellevue, Washington, United States. A second location in China just opened in February 2019.

The company launched at a precarious time for wine start-ups. After more than two decades of steadily increasing demand, wine consumption has all but plateaued over the past couple of years. GREAT WINE, Inc., sees its unique approach, which promises consumers more personalized experiences, as a way to overcome these barriers.

So far, Lin and her team have succeeded in that quest. The winemaker has already strung together a series of accolades, including the 2018 Bronze StevieⓇ Award for Start-up of the Year -- Consumer Services in The American Business Awards®.

“This award is a great encouragement for us to keep moving forward on our journey to alter the wine industry,” Lin says.

I’d consider adding chardonnay or another type of dry wine to precede ‘dry’ here, to be consistent with robust and sweet.

In fact, we deliberately avoid the concepts of varietals in our winemaking because we believe that wines can be tailored for different palates. Therefore, we suggest taking out all mentioning of varietals.

Tags: new product of the year, best new product or service

In Male-Dominated Tech Sector, Firm Offers a Platform Where Women Take the Lead

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Jun 20, 2019 @ 10:54 AM

From Google and Amazon to PayPal and Uber, companies in the U.S. technology sector are some of the most dynamic, fastest-growing businesses in recent memory. However, not everyone shares equally in the industry’s success.

According to a recent survey by Silicon Valley Bank, only 56 percent of tech start-ups have one or more women in an executive position, and a mere 40 percent of those organizations have at least one woman on their boards of directors.

Some professionals aren’t waiting for the industry to catch up, though, opting instead for a more proactive approach. One example is A23 Advisors, a boutique consulting firm based in San Francisco, California, United States. The company consists of an all-female team of experts focused on travel technology, hospitality, e-commerce, ad tech, and fintech.

a23

Founded by former Travelocity and Switchfly executive Cady Wolf, the firm helps companies streamline their operations, refine their strategic marketing plans, and develop their thought leadership positions—all without adding permanent staff members.

At A23 Advisors, the goal is to help consultants provide that expertise without sacrificing work-life balance, which many professionals must give up when working for a tech start-up.

“Members bill at their own selected rates, determine their own work schedules, and actively cull their networks for prospective new clients,” says Serenity Thompson, managing director at A23 Advisors.

Thompson says the firm caters to a talent base that often can’t find such equilibrium elsewhere in the tech sector.

“Families with children at home need to be there on sick days and game days,” says Thompson. “Moms who do it all need flexibility in work and in life so they can stay healthy and happy.”

Creating a “Family-First” Culture

Work-life balance isn’t something the tech industry has historically thrived on. In a 2015 survey of senior-level women working in Silicon Valley, 40 percent said they felt pressured to talk less about their families in order to be taken more seriously, and 52 percent of respondents cut short maternity leave so it wouldn’t adversely affect their jobs.

Women don’t have to face those pressures at A23 Advisors, where a family-first ethos permeates the culture, according to Thompson, the recipient of a Bronze Stevie® Award for Female Executive of the Year in 2018. The company functions as a virtual home office and an umbrella for core business functions—including marketing, PR, and legal—and it provides access to firm-branded templates for contacts, presentations, and signature services. A small percentage of each member’s billable revenue helps cover the expenses A23 incurs.

At the same time, the firm strives to create a shared sense of ownership in its success.

“Every advisor is involved in a minimum of one advisory board or board of directors that drives our brand recognition and is tied to the company’s vision and goals,” she says. “All contribute to industry and vertical thought leadership with white papers, speaking engagements, guest blog posts, and media interviews.”

With its recent venture, Women in Travel Tech, or WiTT, the consultancy built a space where female professionals can help each other thrive in a sector where the cards often seem stacked against them.

“The organization brings together the leaders and executive women of the travel industry to create a social, professional, and creative network,” adds Thompson.

For technology companies, working with A23 means they can avoid adding long-term staffing costs as they try to innovate and to build market share. The firm, which markets itself as “an outsourced extension of your executive team,” sees its agile personnel solution as a key selling point. To date, the firm has already attracted an array of promising start-ups, including FLYR, Points.com, Bonwi.com, TripTuner, and myDigitalOffice.

“Start-ups seek flexibility in marketing, sales, and operational investments as they build products and scale infrastructure,” notes Thompson. “Established companies seek flexible investment in innovation and market expansion resources, and publicly held global enterprises seek flexible consultative expertise when researching acquisition targets.”

Tags: women awards

Entertainment Chain GameWorks Goes “All In” with Esports Investment

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Jun 13, 2019 @ 11:14 AM

GameWorks, a complete entertainment destination with seven venues nationwide, is a key influencer in the reshaping of the Family Entertainment Center (FEC) industry. The FECs of yesterday were mainly comprised of large arcades, anchored by pinball and the beloved Pac Man machines, and they became the place to be for families, friends and teens.

Today, expansive, brightly lit entertainment centers dominate this landscape, and GameWorks, the specialty entertainment chain based in San Francisco, California, United States, feels poised to grow its share of the market, particularly with its natural evolution and rapid progression into the esports realm. Esports is taking the entertainment sector by storm.

GW_Esports3

That’s the chain’s secret weapon - Esports lounges. Located in each venue, these lounges cater to fans of competitive gaming, including both players and spectators. Each of the rooms is equipped with 20-40 PCs and consoles, along with a library of approximately 100 popular video games, says Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Philip N. Kaplan.

The lounges accommodate about one hundred guests each, all of whom can play against one another in casual competition or participate in one of the roughly two hundred tournaments held at GameWorks locations every month. According to Kaplan, the company is also planning to bring in more players for local and regional tournaments in the coming months.

“GameWorks is recognized nationally for its esports emphasis,” he says. “Esports is growing quickly , and GameWorks is focused on expanding in this area. GameWorks, with its decades of gaming experience, organically segued into esports over the years, and now, has the perfect platform from which to grow.”

Riding the Esports Wave

GameWorks is outwardly optimistic about its foray into esports, due to the rapid growth and broad interest both in the U.S. and globally..

The company was founded in 1996 as a joint venture between Sega, Universal Studios, and DreamWorks SKG, and the bold experiment, which involved taking on more entrenched competitors, such as Dave & Buster’s, didn’t exactly go as planned.

After ramping up its presence around the country, the organization filed for bankruptcy in 2001 and again in 2010, changed ownership several times, and shuttered many of its locations. In 2017, the esports tournament business Oomba bought GameWorks and enacted a plan to make competitive gaming a staple of its new layout.

Last year, however, it changed hands once again. One of its lenders, ExWorks Capital, acquired the chain, and under the leadership of Philip N. Kaplan, the new chairman and CEO, GameWorks is doubling down on its esports strategy. Earlier this year, it added lounges to four additional locations in Virginia, United States; Illinois, United States; Minnesota, United States; and Kentucky, United States.

For Kaplan and his team, this is a way to capitalize on the skyrocketing growth of competitive gaming. The consulting firm Activate predicts esports viewership will reach 84 million by 2021, a bigger audience than that currently watching professional baseball or basketball, and because most of the fans are in the 18 to 34 year-old age bracket, esports also has the potential to bring in a key demographic.

Additionally, the team members who work and operate the esports lounges are competitive gamers in their own right, something Kaplan says brings more excitement to the offering.

“Gaming is on the rise, even in high schools,” says Kaplan. “Companies that have frameworks built and foundations from which to grow will succeed in the esports space. As far as we know, we are the only national entertainment venue that already had a footing in esports, even before the industry took off.”

New Leadership, New Culture

The new chief executive sees gaming as a big part of the future of the company, which earned a Silver StevieⓇ Award for Achievement in Management in the hospitality and leisure segment.

“As an established leader in competitive gaming and entertainment, GameWorks is well positioned to capitalize on this burgeoning space,” says Kaplan. “Our strong foothold in esports, including lounges in every location, further strengthens our leadership position and will serve as a springboard for future growth.”

Under his watch, the company is also hoping to cash in on gaming activity outside of its own entertainment centers. Earlier this year, it announced a partnership with SCCG Management, which will bring lounges to casinos around the country. At these locations, visitors can bet on esports competitions. It’s calling the venture “Play by GameWorks.”

The expanded effort within esports isn’t the only part of Kaplan’s turnaround strategy, himself the winner of a Gold Stevie for Maverick of the Year in the consumer services category. The former healthcare IT executive is trying to reshape the organization’s top-down managerial approach in favor of a more collaborative culture. Kaplan has also put in place a “top three” philosophy, where the company focuses its efforts on business units that have the most impact on the bottom line.

Recent corporate changes are giving the organization the foundation and confidence that it won’t repeat setbacks of the past.

“With the right owners and management in place, GameWorks is on a new trajectory toward success,” he says. “The Stevie Awards are proof to our team these efforts truly paid off and made a difference.

Tags: new product awards, maverick of the year

Stevie Awards Extends International Business Awards® Final Entry Deadline Through July 18

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Jun 13, 2019 @ 09:00 AM

The Stevie® Awards, organizer of The International Business Awards®, has announced that the final entry deadline in the 2019 competition is extended to July 18. The original final entry deadline was June 12. Recognized as the world’s premier business awards program, The IBAs attract nominations from organizations in more than 70 nations and territories each year.

All individuals and organizations worldwide -- public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small -- may submit nominations to The International Business Awards. The 2019 awards will honor achievements since the beginning of 2018.  Entry details are available at http://www.StevieAwards.com/IBA.

REVIEW THE ENTRY KIT HERE.

IBA 22

Juries featuring more than 250 executives will determine the Stevie Award winners. Results will be announced August 13. Stevie Award winners will be presented their awards at a gala banquet in Vienna, Austria on October 19.

The International Business Awards recognize achievement in every facet of the workplace. Categories including, Management Awards, Company of the Year Awards, Customer Service Awards, Entrepreneur Awards, PR Awards, Web Awards, and many more.

There are many new and revised features of the IBAs for 2019:

  • A variety of new categories, including the IT categories Best Technical Support Strategy and Implementation and Best Technical Support Solution. In categories for business-related media, there are many new Live Event, Publication, and Video categories.
  • Entry fees have been eliminated for nominations to the Company of the Year categories. Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie winners in these 35 by-industry categories will again be included in the worldwide public vote called the People’s Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite Companies.
  • In the Marketing, New Product & Service, and Public Relations categories, nominees may now submit a video of up to five minutes in length, instead of the traditional written Stevie Awards essay or case study.

Tags: business awards, marketing awards

Gamifying Employee Engagement

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Jun 06, 2019 @ 10:29 AM

Over the last 10 years, gaming culture has grown exponentially across all age groups and genders. From enjoying record-breaking retail numbers to hosting events that attract tens of thousands of fans, gaming has officially left the basements of the world and become one of the main attractions on the world stage.

Gaming and its underlying principles aren’t just restricted to consoles and PCs, though. Gamification is a motivational method that’s increasingly making its way into many organizations. By applying game design elements into non-gaming situations, the practice actively engages teams and individual members. For example, say a real-world business goal is to reach a certain monthly benchmark. Teams can “gamify” the rules and milestones of that practical target to motivate each “player” to do his or her best and, ultimately, to decide a winner.

PentaQuest is an Australian-based company that helps organizations perform better by gamifying individual preferences. These preferences then optimize organizational strategy, culture, and capability.

Pentaquest

The company provides custom and off-the-shelf gamified platforms, as well as consulting services, giving them the flexibility to apply their tools to solve a range of challenges related to everything from organizational performance to cultural issues.

New Game, New Players

PentaQuest was founded in 2016 in Canberra, Australia. Their founder, Kerstin Oberprieler, discovered gamification in 2014 and implemented a gamified experience for her colleagues in order to add fun to business- and team-based activities.

“The original design was simply a ‘pen and paper’ experience. It involved a team leaderboard in the office and physical tokens and artifacts,” says James Sellers, a gamification designer at PentaQuest. “Kerstin’s colleagues loved it. Before long, there was enough demand from clients for gamification design, and PentaQuest was born.”

With a proven methodology and track record, the company earns clients through both word of mouth and extensive existing networks.
 
Yes, Gaming Is Good for You

Whether applied to employees, citizens, customers, or students, gamification promotes positive workplace culture, health, and well-being, and the practice is proving to be effective for governmental departments, schools, multinational companies, and many more entities.

Although gamifying tasks can be a fun motivational tool, PentaQuest makes it clear their core values drive success. Review these six core values to see if your team can benefit from the methodology:

1. Purpose driven 
2. Playful 
3. Player-centric 
4. Ethical 
5. Experimental
6. Open to evolution and change

If improved employee engagement is a goal for your company in 2019, look further into how PentaQuest implemented the practice to see if gamification aligns with your career and personal goals.

“PentaQuest is growing quickly, and we are now serving customers from five countries,” says Sellers. “In the coming years, we hope this number will grow significantly as we continue to provide value to thousands of organizations and teams around the world, helping them supercharge performance through a human-centered, playful approach to employee engagement.”

Many established companies are already gamifying programs for their employees. Here are just a handful of businesses enjoying practical success with gamification:

Even human resources are successfully using gamification to drive higher employee engagement and to raise productivity. It’s also resulted in improvement in unexpected areas, such as the promotion of better diet and exercise practices among employees.

Gamification has proven to have a positive impact on employee engagement. By harnessing humans’ natural interest in playing games, participants feel more motivated to solve work-related issues, which, in turn, benefits the company.

PentaQuest won the 2018 Bronze Stevie® Award for Startup of the Year in the 2018 Stevie Awards for Women in Business.

Interested in entering the Stevie Awards for Women in Business this year?

Request the entry kit

Tags: womens awards, game awards

Winners Announced in 2019 People's Choice Stevie® Awards for Favorite New Products

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jun 05, 2019 @ 10:07 AM

MONAT PET’s Gentle Cleansing Dog Wash received the most votes of any nominee in the 2019 People's Choice Stevie® Awards for Favorite New Products, a feature of The American Business Awards®, the U.S.A.’s top business awards program, which are now in their 17th year.

The worldwide public vote was conducted last month, with the highest number of votes deciding the winners in a variety of product categories. More than 43,000 votes were cast.  To win, a category’s leading vote-getter had to have received at least 100 votes. MONAT PET’s Gentle Cleansing Dog Wash collected almost 8,000 votes.

ABA 2-2

The crystal People’s Choice Stevie Awards will be presented to winners at The American Business Awards banquet on Tuesday, June 11 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. There, the winners of peer-adjudicated Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Awards will also be presented their awards. More than 650 executives from across the USA will attend. Watch the ceremony live on June 11 at 7pm ET on LiveStream.

All new products and services nominated in the new product awards categories of this year’s American Business Awards were eligible to be included in voting for the people’s choice awards.

The winners of the 2019 People’s Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite New Products are:

Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Solution: Applause for Amazon Alexa
Business-to-Business Product: Fannie Mae - CAS REMIC
Business-to-Business Service: Stay In The Game BPO Services
Big Data Solution: Workiva Wdata
Business Technology – Other: TEKLYNX' 2018 Barcode & RFID Labeling Solutions
Cloud Application/Service: Information Builders Cloud
Cloud Storage / Backup: Quest Software's QoreStor
Collaboration/Social Networking Solution: Passageways' OnSemble Employee Intranet
Consumer Electronics (tie): Carnival Corporation's OceanMedallion and Relay by Republic Wireless
Consumer Product/Service: MONAT PET’s Gentle Cleansing Dog Wash
Content Management Solution: John Hancock Business Communications' Omni
Content Solution: Thomson Reuters Checkpoint Catalyst:  US GAAP Accounting for Income Taxes
Corporate Learning/Workforce Development Solution: Skillsoft Aspire
Digital Process Automation Solution: Datamatics Global Services's TruBot
Education Solution: Pearson K-12 Learning - Project Imagine: U.S. History
Endpoint Security Management Solution: SaltStack SecOps
Financial Service: Bank of America Digital Mortgage Experience
FinTech Solution: Fiserv's Card Risk Office Fraud Warning
Governance/Risk/Compliance Solution: Mentor by eDriving
Healthcare Technology Solution: Lumeon's CPM 4.0
Healthcare or Pharmaceutical Product or Service: Virtrial's Patient Management Program
Human Capital Management Solution: Apex Informatics' Sendtral
Identity & Access Security Solution: EZShield Mobile Defense Suite
Insurance Solution: BenefitMall Client Ready Quote System
Integration Solution: Squelch
Marketing/Public Relations Solution: TapClicks Marketing Operations Platform
Payments Solution: Wisely Pay by ADP
Platform as a Service: Urjanet Utility Interval Data Platform
Software Development Solution: Wind River's Helix Virtualization Platform
Supply Chain Management Solution: UltraShipTMS Spot Quote Solution
Vendor Management Solution: goLance online workforce platform

Tags: company awards, new product awards

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