The Stevie Awards Blog

Rethinking Corporate Video

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Fri, Mar 27, 2020 @ 11:49 AM

Stevie-winner KÖNIGSKLASSE#1 is a video production team that travels to their clients' locations to produce corporate videos in order to make business leaders more comfortable and confident in front of the camera.

Video marketing is a vital tool in your brand promotion toolbox, and it’s becoming more essential to ROI every day. In 2019, it is no longer sustainable to avoid video content because you’re scared of the medium or you don’t think you have the resources to create something watchable. Success means hopping on board and understanding why video is one of the most profitable and versatile digital marketing tools around.

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Videos Increase Conversions

According to Forrester’s research into digital marketing, if you add a product video to your landing page, it is possible to double your conversion rate. Similarly, if you embed an informational video about your service, you are more likely to see sales of that service. 

Hiring a great video production team is an investment worth making, as they can help you create an engaging video that showcases your company. Although it is possible to create a corporate video with online tools, poorly produced content can turn off customers. To ensure your video is giving you the best possible return on investment, focus on top-quality content presented in a slick way.

Know, Like, and Trust

Many businesspeople use the “know, like, and trust” mantra, but building trust truly helps your audience engage with your company. If you’re using video to provide potential customers with useful, interesting information, you are creating a valuable relationship. Whether you’re using your video content on your company website or getting it in front of your audience via your social media channels, you need to concentrate on trust, not just traffic. 

As Martin Grosse of KÖNIGSKLASSE#1 notes, “the corporate video market will shift within the process of digital transformation … to revolutionize the thinking of how a corporate video should look and how it should be consumed.”

KÖNIGSKLASSE#1_logoStevie-winner KÖNIGSKLASSE#1, which is located in Munich, Germany, makes a point of traveling to a company’s location in order to make business-to-business (B2B) corporate videos. This allows the C-suite of the business to be comfortable in front of the camera, which lets them shine.

Engagement with Content

LinkedIn is the social media channel of choice for engaging CEOs and decision-makers. Video is an integral part of getting in front of your audience and capturing their attention, and video plays automatically in your LinkedIn feed, which also helps to increase engagement. Additionally, LinkedIn is the perfect platform to showcase your company’s authenticity, allowing your C-suite to demonstrate the human side of the business. 

One pitfall of video content marketing is that B2B corporate videos can look very similar. That’s why you need to present your content in a way that keeps people watching. In addition to showing your brand’s accessibility, keep in mind how your audience is likely to be viewing your video. According to Insivia, mobile views are on the rise as more and more people check their social media platforms on the go. Google reveals that people who use smartphones are 1.4 times more likely to feel a sense of personal connection to video content they watch on a mobile device.

The key to a successful video marketing campaign is creating entertaining content that people are likely to share. To do this, it’s important to demonstrate value to your audience and keep them engaged in your message. 

In recognition of its innovative approach to video marketing commitment, KÖNIGSKLASSE#1 earned a Silver Stevie® Award in the Company of the Year - Advertising, Marketing, & Public Relations - Small category at The 2019 International Business Awards®.

Interested in entering The International Business Awards?

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Tags: company of the year, corporate video, 2019 International Business Awards

Enabling the Unbanked and Underbanked with Machine Learning

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Tue, Mar 17, 2020 @ 11:34 AM

Stevie-winner Braviant Holdings is a financial technology company that uses machine-learning to assess borrowers' credit and help them achieve lower rates.

Over 24 million American households are underbanked, and another eight million are unbanked (FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households, 2017). While the former have restricted access to financial services (primarily due to bad credit scores), the latter have little or no access at all. As one can imagine, this closes a lot of doors. Many of life’s necessities, such as getting a job or renting an apartment, call for a bank account and a good credit history.

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What makes this scenario even more unfortunate is that the unbanked and underbanked often land in these unfavorable financial conditions due to circumstances beyond their control. After all, not everyone with a low credit score is a habitual defaulter. For instance, many have low credit scores because of the 2008 financial crisis. Similarly, all those without bank accounts are not willfully refusing to get one. Many get their applications rejected because they have thin credit files or are migrants who don’t possess all the necessary documents.

Luckily, the fintech industry is now putting big data, machine learning (ML), and augmented analytics to work for these two neglected financial demographics, and the results are promising.

Banking the Unbanked

Online banking and lending services have made it convenient to access and maintain bank accounts, even for those in remote and rural areas. However, despite these advances, around 1.7 billion adults remain unbanked worldwide. Several fintech solutions are working toward making it easier for these individuals to create and to benefit from bank accounts of their own, though. The most notable among these is Onfido, an identity verification company based in London, United Kingdom.

Onfido does not follow the typical identity verification process. They pair highly advanced ML-based document checks with facial verification to compare user-furnished identity documents with their selfies. This makes it easier for individuals to prove their identities and open new bank accounts. This is particularly important for those with thin credit files whom banks are reluctant to trust and migrants who do not possess all the documents required for in-person verification..

Beyond Credit History and Scores

Fintech products are revolutionizing the way credit is assessed, and they are now paving the way for fairer access to financial services.

Zest AI, an artificial intelligence (AI) software platform for credit, based in Los Angeles, California, United States, helps lenders make faster and more accurate decisions on borrowers who are traditionally considered risky. It does so by using and analyzing thousands of data points to better assess predicted risk. Their clients have achieved, on average, a 15 percent increase in approval rates and reduced losses by almost 30 percent.

UltraFICO, a credit scoring system based on augmented analytics, was launched by FICO, a data analytics company based in San Jose, California, United States. It serves as yet another good example. While still in the works, it promises to be a huge step up from the antiquated FICO score system that prevents millions of people from receiving credit because of incomplete credit histories. UltraFICO will create more complete credit histories by using data from FICO, Experian, Finicity, different finance houses, and banks.

Braviant_holdings_logoStevie-winner Braviant Holdings, a fintech company based in Chicago, Illinois, United States, also offers financial solutions that help non-prime consumers graduate to lower rates as they work toward prime credit. They do so by building machine-learning decision models that look beyond a traditional credit score to more accurately assess the prospective borrower’s true ability and willingness to repay.

“Mainstream financial institutions cater to the needs of U.S. consumers with proven credit history, but more than 50 million adults labeled ‘underbanked’ are forced to look outside the traditional banking system to meet their needs,” says Stephanie Klein, CEO of Braviant Holdings. “Braviant offers tech-enabled credit products to help these deserving consumers access the credit they need today and work toward better rates in the future.”

Braviant Holdings recently won a Gold Stevie Award for Company of the Year in the Financial Services category at The 17th Annual American Business Awards®, 2019.

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Tags: The American Business Awards, company of the year, financial awards

Does the Rise of Artificial Intelligence Spell Doom for Young Workers?

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Tue, Dec 24, 2019 @ 09:00 AM

When it comes to the job landscape of the future, much speculation exists about how emerging technologies will affect those just entering the job market. When people ask the specific question of whether artificial intelligence (AI) is going to be a jobs killer, though, it’s important for young people to realize the answer isn’t a simple yes or no. The latest statistics and studies show it’s less about killing or eliminating jobs and more about evolving them.

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How AI Could Affect the Future Job Market

When Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne, two Oxford academics, came out with a prediction in 2013 that a staggering 47 percent of US jobs were at risk of automation by the middle of the 2030s, this issue of AI as a jobs killer became a hot topic of discussion. Studies, surveys, and op-eds began pouring in on the topic, and the subsequent findings were significant.

For example, McKinsey Global Institute found that anywhere between 40 million and 160 million women across the globe would potentially need to change jobs by 2030. Why? The clerical work done by secretaries, bookkeepers, and schedulers—jobs which are done by women 72 percent of the time—are especially susceptible to automation.

The salient part of the study, however, was not that these women would need to change jobs; it was that they would likely be transitioning into higher-skilled roles. In this way, AI wasn’t depriving them of jobs. Instead, it was pushing them into more advanced roles—positions that require the expertise, understanding, and skills only humans possess.

Similarly, the World Economic Forum estimates that automation is on pace to displace 75 million jobs by 2022, but it’s also set to create 133 million new ones by that date. In another study, Gartner predicts 2 million AI-related net new jobs by 2025.

With such a complicated issue, however, many potential factors come into play, and just as many studies predict an overall net loss in jobs. Forrester, for one, estimates a 29 percent loss of jobs by 2030 and only a 13 percent job increase to compensate.

While there isn’t general agreement about the potential number of jobs displaced and then created by AI, one thing does seem to be clear: AI will push people away from largely automated jobs into more advanced positions, and this transition will require the new job force to be increasingly agile and able to learn core skills and adapt to new working models.

The Company-Level Response to These Changes

Just as young people entering the job market should be cognizant of the changes technology will likely have on the professional landscape, companies should understand this dynamic as well. To stay relevant, businesses within the technology industry not only need to embrace AI and its potential but invest in training their workforces (established and incoming) to adapt to these new technologies.

“IT is a highly innovative and changing industry, and because of this, we’re reinventing education for the era of AI,” says Andrea Knoche, a first-line analytics leader for a subgroup of International Business Machines (IBM) that’s based in Ehningen, Germany. “We’re making it a priority to prepare young people around the world for the jobs of tomorrow.”

IBM_logoAs IBM illustrates, success in a changing technology-based landscape is about balancing the adoption of new technology. A company can’t ignore or dismiss new innovations, but it also must prepare its workers to properly harness the power of those tools.

“Our subgroup of IBM is most interested in moving to a cloud-based environment and utilizing big data technologies and analytics strategies,” says Knoche, “but we understand our workers must be trained and prepared to implement those tools into their jobs. When trained properly, employees can make the available technology work for them to increase their efficiency and effectiveness.”

IBM earned a Bronze Stevie Award in the Information Technology Team of the Year category at The 2020 American Business Awards®. They also won several awards at The 2020 International Business Awards®, including a Gold Stevie for Company of the Year - Business or Professional Services - Large.

Interested in winning a Stevie Award in 2020?

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Tags: The American Business Awards, company of the year, The International Business Awards, artificial intelligence

How Institutional Funds Are Changing the Real Estate Industry

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Aug 28, 2019 @ 01:25 PM

The real estate market is a complicated and multifaceted entity that undergoes many swings and fluctuations. One new kind of investment system—the institutional fund—is the latest change to shake up how the industry operates.

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What Are Institutional Funds?

An institutional fund is a type of mutual fund, and it’s marked by two characteristics: low fees but an incredibly high minimum investment. Because of this second factor, an institutional fund is usually not feasibly available to individual investors, unless that investor has an extremely high net worth. Rather, these funds typically market themselves to entities like pension funds, hedge funds, large nonprofits, or other groups with substantial amounts of capital to invest. Using that capital, these groups are buying up foreclosed or distressed homes, refurbishing them, and reintroducing them on the rental market.

Institutional Funds and the Housing Market Collapse

With the economic collapse of 2008 and the subsequent housing market crash, homes were foreclosing at an unprecedented rate. In the wake of this event, the market saw the emergence of this new kind of real estate investor: institutional firms that possessed the foresight and means to secure tens of thousands of these properties when they were severely undervalued.

Many such institutional firms were in it for the short-term rewards, simply refurbishing the homes and selling them once property values recovered. However, more than 10 years later, some of the biggest players in this landscape are clearly in it for the long term. These firms continue to expand their base of homes for refurbishment and subsequent rental.

RESICAP_silver-1RESICAP, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, is just one example of the kind of company that has emerged in tandem with these institutional funds and institutional investors.

“We are the leading vertically integrated solution for institutional owners of single-family residential assets in the United States,” says Greg Higgins, senior marketing manager of RESICAP. “For these institutional owners, we facilitate and service the entire life cycle, from valuation to renovation to property management to disposition.”

After the 2008 crash specifically, RESICAP capitalized by looking beyond its own borders.

“We were aware of international interest in the U.S. market that resulted from the 2008 real estate crash. Domestic investor interest in the U.S. single-family residence space was nonexistent at the time, so we began to look internationally,” says Higgins. “We sought investors who could take advantage of the deflated value of the U.S. dollar by investing in U.S. real estate while also participating in the rebound of the asset class.”

The Future of Institutional Funds Continues to Look Bright

Because institutional funds tend to surge and to flourish when the market is inundated with renters, market crashes have historically been times of growth for these funds. Just as with the 2008 crash, any prolonged and significant economic downturn hinders those looking to buy homes for the first time, and it jeopardizes the homes of those who are already locked into mortgages—both of which boost the rental market.

Foreclosures and poor economic performance, however, are no longer the most significant predictors of the success of institutional funds. In today’s climate, millennials, many of whom are saddled with student debt, are waiting longer to buy homes, or they are deciding to forego the process altogether. Many young adults view renting in a much more positive light than previous generations and have little interest in building up the necessary (and significant) down payment or taking on the ongoing expense of home ownership. If these trends continue in the demographic that would typically be buying their first homes and entering the real estate market, institutional funds only look to capitalize further on their emerging prominence.

The recent award recognition RESICAP earned is indicative of this trend. RESICAP took home the Gold Stevie® Award for Company of the Year in the Real Estate category, as well as another Gold Stevie Award for Fastest Growing Company of the Year in The 2019 American Business Awards.

“Few people have heard of us, yet we were the fastest-growing company in Georgia [United States] in 2018,” says Higgins. “Currently institutional funds only represent about two percent of the single-family real estate market, so there is tremendous potential and opportunity for them and, therefore, us as their partner. We have a unique business model in a relatively new industry—institutional-level, single-family home servicing—and we look to capitalize on that in order to continue our growth.”

Interested in winning a Stevie Award in 2020?

Request the entry kit here.

 

Tags: The American Business Awards, company of the year, real estate awards

In a Digital World, Marketing Agencies Move Closer to Their Communities

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Wed, Aug 14, 2019 @ 01:25 PM

Brands, businesses, and consumers are all becoming increasingly distrustful of big advertising agencies, and with so many scandals, data leaks, and privacy violations, it doesn't really come as a surprise. What’s interesting, though, is how that distrust is pushing even the biggest brands to work with smaller agencies. Additionally, it puts the pressure on all agencies to maintain honest work practices and complete transparency.

Hawke Media, a full-service marketing agency, prefers off-line opportunities to settle these potential client concerns, and they believe they know how this new need for transparency will push their industry.

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In-Person Networking Still Matters

Hawke Media is set up to be more than just a marketing agency; the company also wants face-to-face interaction with its community. To that end, they expanded beyond Los Angeles, California, United States, to host a series of events that focus on talent, resources, and marketing.

"After seeing exponential growth for the past five years, we decided it was time for Hawke Media to spread its wings and to expand, and what better place to start that expansion than New York City?" says Erik Huberman, CEO and founder of Hawke Media. "We're incredibly excited to make our mark on the New York scene, and we look forward to becoming a part of the East Coast e-commerce community."

Hawke Media builds physical communities around its business. If your organization is looking to gather feedback and ideas in your community, Huberman has four tips for interested parties:

  1. 9f4f9f23-b4ca-432c-8932-09d570a65640-photo_upload-erik-huberman-headshotValuable Information. Follow up with like-minded professionals you meet along the way to continuously incorporate feedback.
  2. User-Generated Content. Attendees who share photos of your events can help boost your exposure.
  3. Networking. Stay involved with your community through old-fashioned networking events.
  4. Awareness, Nurture, and Trust. Trust is crucial in a consumer-brand relationship. Always uphold clear lines of communication in all interactions with your clients.

These strategies create a track record of your events and provide more to future clients who are tired of just receiving emails and attending webinars.

Despite their passion for face-to-face networking, Hawke Media understands data-driven marketing solutions need to back up any style of networking.

“Hawke Media was founded on the idea that every modern business needs a CMO-level expert to lead digital marketing efforts,” says Huberman. “By shifting the agency paradigm and linking its success to its clients', Hawke Media is changing the marketing game and allowing brands of all sizes, revenue models, and industries to afford customized, data-driven marketing solutions.”

Another contributing component to its success is that Hawke Media is made of entrepreneurs. The company is full of hungry go-getters who understand the importance of dreams. Hawke Media enables entrepreneurs at any stage of the journey to create thriving, growing, successful businesses.

Because the company is siloed, Hawke Media employees can truly focus on craft rather than having to be jacks-of-all-trades. This unique business model might just be the future of outsourced marketing.

Hawke Media earned a Gold Stevie® Award in the category of Company of the Year in the 2017 American Business Awards. Kate Aurell, Vice President of Operations at Hawke Media, and Melissa Portillo, Director of Creative Development, each took home a Bronze Stevie® Award for Female Executive of the Year in the Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations category of the 2018 Stevie Awards for Women in Business.

 

Tags: The American Business Awards, company of the year, Marketing

Turning Frowns Upside Down in the Dental Industry

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Fri, Oct 05, 2018 @ 10:56 AM

Dental health is extremely important to growth, as well as overall health. The proper development of jawbones and muscles affects speech patterns, as well as supporting an attractive appearance, and these are just some of the many benefits of having access to a proper dental plan.

Staying on top of your dental health by informing your doctor about noticeable issues is, unfortunately, easier said than done. For a third of Americans, having access to the most basic dental care is hugely problematic, and it largely boils down to cost.

Steven C. Bilt, CEO of Smile Brands Inc., bit into this problem and cofounded Smile Brands in 1998 and OneSmile in 2015. He eventually combined the two businesses and now oversees 5,500 employees and affiliated providers at approximately 400 U.S. locations. Bilt is also a founding member and former president of the Association of Dental Support Organizations.

Smile brands“Our CEO, Steve Bilt, is a master at creating an effective corporate culture,” says the company’s chief marketing officer, Jody Martin. “He believes that, to be successful, the mission has to be motivating, both personally and financially to employees; inclusive to all employees, not just a few; and continually reinforced in a variety of ways.”

Incorporating recognition and a mindset of giving is also integral to the Smile Brands culture.

“At Smile Brands, every employee wears a blue ‘Smiles for Everyone’ wristband, and we continually celebrate everyday miracles. This includes calling out employees who do amazing things,” says Martin. “We also have the Smiles for Everyone Foundation, which provides donated dentistry to people in need here and abroad.”

Bracing Themselves

The cofounders of Smile Brands reacquired the company in August 2016 after prior ownership drove the business to the brink of bankruptcy. Despite this rocky start, Smile Brands won Stevie Awards in The American Business Awards® and the Stevie Awards for Great Employers.

“The team worked tirelessly on a highly successful turnaround,” says Martin. “Winning the Stevie Awards helps to validate all that hard work and the fact that Smile Brands stands apart in terms of financial strength and company culture.”

Bilt also reached a 97 percent approval rating, based on the past year’s Glassdoor reviews from Smile Brands employees and affiliated dental providers. Those numbers are sure to keep Smile Brands grinning from ear to ear!

A Simple Concept

As Smile Brands Inc. grows in to one of the largest providers of support services to dental groups in the United States, dentists can spend more time caring for their patients and less time on the administrative, marketing, and financial aspects of operating a dental practice.

This is an important step in the dental industry because new research continues to show links between chronic oral infections and heart and lung diseases, stroke, low birth weight, and premature births. Smile Brands aims to further build and to bundle comprehensive general dentistry with specialty care and to streamline experiences for both dental care practitioners and patients.

Even with all these moving parts, everything still comes back to one foundational and simple concept: smiles for everyone.

Tags: company of the year

Winners of the 2018 People’s Choice Stevie® Awards for Favorite Companies Announced

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Sep 19, 2018 @ 09:42 AM

Winners were announced today in the 2018 People’s Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite Companies, a feature of The International Business Awards®, the world’s only international, all-encompassing business awards program which is now in its 15th year.

The worldwide public vote was conducted this summer, with the highest number of votes deciding the winners in a variety of industries. More than 22,000 votes were cast. All Stevie Award winners in the Company of the Year categories of this year’s International Business Awards were eligible to be included in voting for the People’s Choice Stevie Awards.

IBA peoples choice 2017The crystal People’s Choice Stevie Awards will be presented to winners at The International Business Awards banquet on Saturday, 20 October at the InterContinental London Park Lane Hotel.

Tickets for the event are now on sale. The winners of peer-adjudicated gold, silver, and bronze Stevie Awards will be presented with their awards along with the People’s Choice Stevie Awards. Stevie winners were selected from more than 3,900 nominations received from organizations and individuals in 74 nations.

The winners of the 2018 People’s Choice Stevie Awards for Favorite Companies are:

- Business/Professional Services: TELUS International
- Computer Software: Accedia JSC
- Diversified Services: Glance Technologies
- Entertainment/Internet/Media: DRF Deutschland Fernsehen Produktions GmbH & Co. KG
- Financial/Insurance: Cebuana Lhuillier
- Manufacturing: Makers Nutrition
- Other: College Works Painting
- Real Estate: Stockdale & Leggo
- Telecommunications: Azercell Telecom LLC
- Transportation: Egypt Express

Tags: company of the year, international business

Stevie Awards Announce Winners in the 4th Annual German Stevie Awards

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Mar 08, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

The organizers of the Stevie Awards announced the winners in the 2018 German Stevie® Awards. The big winner overall with a total of ten Gold Stevies is Crowdconsultants 360 GmbH from Berlin.

With ten gold, one silver, and one bronze Stevie Award, Crowdconsultants 360 GmbH is the most awarded organization of the German Stevie Awards this year. The Berlin-based company can look forward to Gold Stevie Awards for most innovative company, startup of the year, and more.

German stevie 2016 3-2.jpg50 executives from all over Germany were named as a part of the expert judging panel who determined the Stevie Award winners. They have reviewed over 400 nominations, selected the most innovative solutions, organizations, and individuals, and finally crowned the winners of the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Stevie Awards.

Agenda Informationssysteme GmbH & Co. KG from Rosenheim and the Voith GmbH & Co. KGaA from Heidenheim each won five Gold Stevie Awards. Michael Gallagher, founder and president of the Stevie Awards, congratulates all winners on their achievements. "We are looking forward to a great award ceremony in Berlin", he says, and is proud that it takes place at the Hotel Adlon. On 27 April 2018, the winners will receive their trophies at a festive award ceremony.

All winners of the Golden, Silver and Bronze Stevie Awards are listed on the homepage of the German Stevie Awards.

Anyone wishing to be one of the winners of the German Stevie Awards next year can request an entry kit on the awards website in order to be informed in good time about deadlines and participation documents: www.stevieawards.com/Germany.

Tags: German Stevie Awards, company of the year, top business awards

A Chico, CA Startup Connects Travelers with RV Rentals

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Mar 01, 2018 @ 10:52 AM

Vision, discipline, and going against the grain are three principles Bonnie Worthington embraced as she set out to establish RV Rental Connection, an online site allowing RV owners to rent their vehicles to prospective vacationers.

The online enterprise based in Chico, California in the United States is a team of three, led by Worthington as founder and CEO, and operates in 30 U.S. states and Canada. The site offers multiple styles of recreational vehicles, from pop-ups, to trailers, and multiple-bedroom motorhomes.

RV REntal.jpgRV owners are able to begin with a free trial to test the success of the rental exchange program before making the decision to sign up for a monthly, no-contract subscription. RV Rental Connection even makes insurance coverage recommendations for renters and rentees with an emphasis on excellent customer service.

Worthington’s creative brand idea culminated with the tagline, “Rent the RV. Own the Experience.” The innovative business model has earned her recognition with The Stevie® Awards for Women in Business in four categories: Startup of the Year and Company of the Year, with 10 employees or less, Female Entrepreneur of the Year, and Maverick of the Year.

Not only was Worthington surprised with the award, but she was also in awe when she realized she would stand next to successful business women from around the world (from companies such as Microsoft and Verizon) at the November 2017 Stevie Awards in New York City.

“Our team has worked very hard this year to provide great value to our RV Rental Listing Members and website visitors who want to rent an RV from a private owner,” Worthington says. “We couldn’t have won these awards without our loyal RV rental owners and dealers who believed in us as a startup and have hung in there with us as we grow and prosper.”

This budding CEO champions the discipline to integrate strategy and to implement it towards achieving goals. Worthington told her local publication ChicoER that she was not afraid to operate a little differently from the rest of the vacation business and online marketplace, positioning RV Rental Connection as a “disruptor to disrupters.” This is what earned her the Maverick of the Year award.

In her lifetime, Worthington has won awards in academics, writing, golf, and competitive horseback riding. She is committed to staying fit and “keeping her mind sharp” with reading, math exercises, and other mind games. She remains dedicated to success, believing if she is driven to achieve, she will.

Tags: company of the year, female entrepreneurs, maverick awards

The Great Disruptor: Female Entrepreneur Shakes Up the Specialty Finance Sector

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Dec 14, 2017 @ 10:49 AM

“Complacency” is not a word in Renee Tocco’s vocabulary.

Whether it is using her skills to encourage people to live healthier or supporting any number of philanthropic causes ‒ from helping low-income children to protecting rainforests ‒  the energetic Aussie is keen to make a difference wherever she can.

It is no surprise when it comes to her main career as a business executive, Tocco does not settle for the status quo. A former sales and business accounts manager for Telstra, Australia’s largest telecom company, she started her own commercial finance brokerage, Loanezi, in 2014. In the process, she is bringing a fresh approach to an industry that is not necessarily known for innovation.

In three years, her company has become one of the fastest-growing players in the country’s asset finance industry. “Loanezi is my greatest achievement so far,” the entrepreneur says, proud of the success her venture has earned.

Loenzi.jpgFor as long as she can remember, dreaming big has been one of her character traits. “I always believed that I will one day build up an empire or disrupt an industry with a revolutionary invention,” concedes Tocco, who lives on The Gold Coast, a metropolitan area on Australia’s eastern shore.

Loanezi is the marriage of that enterprising spirit with the industry knowledge she acquired at Telstra. It was there Tocco realized the impact information and communication technology could have on businesses ‒ particularly smaller ones. For clients, new equipment was often the difference between growing or falling behind the competition.

Tocco vividly remembers her first client, a woman who was starting her own real estate practice. “Without a new phone system and printer, this new little real estate business literally would not have been able to successfully function,” Tocco told her hometown newspaper, The Gold Coast Bulletin.

Three years later, the company’s trajectory has been nothing short of remarkable. In early 2016, Loanezi was already generating enough revenue to pay back all borrowed capital, becoming 100% self-funded. During the 2016-2017 financial year, Loanezi generated 450 commercial loans, outpacing its own ambitious sales goals.

What makes Loanezi different from the competition? Tocco says it is, in part, the novel use of technology, something that is transforming what had long been a “staid” finance broking sector.

The company also offers a large panel of vendors, enabling it to serve customers with a wide range of needs, including new businesses that sometimes have trouble getting financial support.

Despite the success the firm is enjoying, Tocco makes it clear the company is not pulling off the accelerator pedal. “My goal is to become the largest commercial asset finance broker in Australia within the next three years, a humongous goal that I am focused on achieving.”

In August, Tocco and her team found out they won the Silver Stevie® Award in the “Startup of the Year – Business Services Industries” category of The 14th Annual International Business Awards.

“These awards have a great impact when building a brand and trying to stand out from the crowd,” says Tocco. “The day we added the Silver Stevie seal to the website was such a fun moment, as we appreciate the impact this has in building my profile and that of Loanezi.”

Thinking Big

For Tocco, one of the biggest benefits to the company’s success is the opportunity to give back. The business has partnered with the business giving initiative known as Buy1Give1 (B1G1), providing donations for every corporate loan it settles.

Among the results of its B1G1 gifts so far: 175 days of shelter and 225 days of education for children in need, as well as the protection of 45 square meters of rainforest and 2,000 meals for orphaned children.

“My desire is to change as many lives as possible, directly or indirectly,” she says. “The bigger Loanezi grows, the more impact we can have.”

Tocco is also using her experiences to help other female entrepreneurs achieve a similar level of success. “Through my blogs in the finance industry, I am already mentoring several females and believe that will foster into perpetuity the gift of shared knowledge.”

In that same spirit, she is hoping to offer traineeships to help students achieve their business goals and tackle important challenges around the world.

“I believe young people, offered the novelty of mentorship, will thrive in whatever industry they choose as their end goal,” says Tocco. “I hope my company will be the launching pad of future leaders with a global conscious mindset.”

Tags: entrepreneur, company of the year, Startup of the Year, startup awards

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