The Stevie Awards Blog

Artificial Intelligence Advances Digital Marketing

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Sun, May 10, 2020 @ 08:37 PM

Using AI in a variety of ways, Stevie-winner ThatWare LLP is optimizing digital marketing and improving customer experience.

Digital marketing is part of today’s landscape, and it's getting smarter by the minute. Smart devices abound. Consumers can ask chatbots all their questions, and artificial intelligence (AI) seems to permeate every corner of people’s lives. AI allows machines to learn from input over time and adjust their output accordingly, and that’s why it’s so valuable to businesses. By understanding consumers’ preferences and delivering personalized content, AI provides an improved customer experience, which is invaluable in digital marketing efforts.

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With its ever-advancing tactics to cut out the human middleman when identifying marketing trends, AI is changing the digital landscape. Brands can leverage AI to automate their digital marketing and to save both time and money. The substantial advantages of AI technology are providing brands with the edge that gets them noticed in a competitive space.

Understanding Your Audience

AI can work to analyze data and to build a comprehensive picture of your target customers’ preferences. Once you have defined your customer personas, you can use AI to map their buying behaviors and to track their eventual purchasing decisions. As a marketer, you can use this intelligence to put products in front of your audience that they need, which makes purchasing decisions easy for them. A marketing strategy can evolve quickly and effectively with AI-driven analytics. 

ThatWare_logoTuhin Banik, the founder of digital marketing company ThatWare LLP, aims to “positively disrupt the system” and to improve customer experience by using AI in a range of ways, including semantic engineering, natural language processing (NLP), and predictive analysis.

Productivity

The use of smart technology can help increase your productivity by allowing you to automate processes. You can outsource repetitive, time-consuming tasks and instead concentrate on strategizing and creating effective content. AI enables you to optimize the way you interact with your audience, and as AI continues to improve, the way your brand attracts new customers and keeps existing customers engaged to increase sales will continuously transform. 

Optimized Advertising

Your product or service has to reach the right audience to be successful, and with the increasing intelligence of AI, it’s simpler than ever to pinpoint your ideal customer. You can use AI to collect user information, to analyze that data, and then to predict what the customer will do or need in the future. This means digital marketers can target ads to match user data. 

You can be creative with AI too. For example, Topshop, a British high-street clothing brand, created an immersive AI experience in Moscow, Russia. Customers could download a catalog app and then use the in-store smart screens to virtually try on outfits. This innovation not only created buzz around a product, but it also allowed the brand to gather data that fed back into their AI marketing systems. Using that data, they could create even more focused campaigns in the future.

Customer Experience

AI technology allows brands to deliver an enhanced customer experience and to make their digital marketing strategies even more successful. You can use AI to track customer preferences and buying behaviors and then leverage these insights to make further suggestions. 

Digital marketing specialists are focusing on using developing technologies to advance their field in the future. In recognition of this commitment to driving faster results in digital marketing using AI, THATWARE LLP, of West Bengal, India, was presented with a Bronze Stevie® Award in the Startup of the Year - Business Services Industries category at The 2019 International Business Awards®.

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Topics: The International Business Awards, Startup of the Year, 2019 International Business Awards, business services awards

Businesses Recruit AI in Fight Against Mobile Ad Fraud

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Mon, Apr 27, 2020 @ 05:29 PM

As mobile ad fraud becomes more sophisticated, it becomes more difficult to catch using traditional methods. Stevie-winner Scalarr, Inc. is a mobile fraud detection company that uses machine learning to identify and prevent fraud.

Online fraud is almost as old as the internet itself, and as this technology progressed, fraud evolved and kept pace. In mobile ad fraud, fraudsters abuse mobile advertising technology to swindle online publishers, advertisers, and supply partners.

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According to The Economic Cost of Bad Actors on the Internet, Ad Fraud 2019, by Cheq, a cybersecurity company based in New York, United States, direct and indirect economic and social costs of global ad fraud could amount up to $30 billion in 2019. 

“I have studied the economic costs of fraud in many sectors for decades, and I was left stunned by the scale of fraud in online advertising,” economist Roberto Cavazos said in the report.

Cavazos is a professor at the University of Baltimore in Baltimore, Maryland, United States, and he worked on the report with Cheq.

AppFlyer, a mobile app analytics firm headquartered in San Francisco, California, United States, monitored 2.5 billion installs across 9,500 mobile apps in the first six months of 2019 and extrapolated their results to a global scale. They revealed a whopping 22.6 percent of nonorganic app installs globally could be classified as fraudulent. They published this and other findings in a report titled State of Mobile Fraud, 2019.

The Different Faces of Mobile Ad Fraud

Fraudsters attempting to steal advertising budgets are an ingenious lot. According to Stevie-winner Scalarr, a mobile ad fraud detection company based in Wilmington, Delaware, United States, new and increasingly sophisticated frauds emerge every day. These include smart bots, intelligent device farms, and mixed fraud. 

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“Fraudsters have become so smart that you can’t catch them by traditional methods anymore,” says Olga Bazarova, marketing lead at Scalarr.

The AppFlyer report reiterates this sentiment. It reveals that fraudsters are reacting to protection measures at an unprecedented pace. In 2018, it took them a month or two to react; now they do so in a couple of days. 

The upshot of many of these reports is that mobile fraud is ubiquitous, and no platform or publisher is safe.

“Mobile marketers tend to believe that ‘trusted’ traffic sources, such as Facebook, Google, and ad video networks, are a panacea against fraud, and they redistribute marketing budgets there. In 2019, though, we saw a lot of examples of fraud on trusted sources, confirming that fraudsters always follow the money,” said Bazarova.

Mobile ad fraud targets all stages of online advertising, from impressions to clicks to app installs. It even targets in-app purchases. The Financial Times, a daily newspaper headquartered in London, England, United Kingdom, was shocked by the scale of domain spoofing against its site. In domain spoofing, fraudsters eat into advertising budgets by masquerading as a popular domain that can display ads.

“The scale of the fraud we found is jaw-dropping,” says Anthony Hitchings, the digital advertising operations director at the Financial Times. “The industry continues to waste marketing budgets on what is essentially organized crime.”

AI to the Rescue

The speed and scale at which mobile ad fraud has evolved indicates it’s not something mobile developers or marketers can tackle alone. Detecting fraudulent installs is a mammoth task requiring analysis of numerous parameters and correlations.

Mobile ad fraud intelligence and protection solutions are increasingly and successfully relying on machine learning (ML) and big data to identify and to prevent fraud. Scalarr, AppFlyer, Cheq, and several other companies offering fraud detection and protection use ML algorithms to counter the attacks and to ensure marketers acquire only real users.

While the assumption is that fraudsters can’t work around these AI-backed countermeasures, only time will tell how this plays out. 

Scalarr Inc. recently won a Silver Stevie® Award in the Tech Startup of the Year - Services category and a Bronze Stevie® in the Startup of the Year - Business Services Industries category at The 2019 International Business Awards®.

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Topics: International business awards, The International Business Awards, Startup of the Year, 2019 International Business Awards, business services awards

A Handyman’s Perspective On Building an Award Winning Business

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Sun, Apr 05, 2020 @ 09:16 PM

Stevie-winner Chíc Creations Heaven started out as a two-person operation that has since expanded to two locations. Read about Daniel and Rebecca's story of growth and success.

Think about the success stories you love. Maybe one of your heroes or heroines overcame great adversity to be a successful athlete, or maybe that person became a doctor and now serves those suffering across the world. Maybe he or she wrote a song that changed your life. Everyone and everything has a story, and the most inspiring tales tend to be those of victory, where an individual or group rises up and conquers with integrity. In many cases, these heroes and heroines receive recognition for their work, whether that’s media coverage, a title, a medal, a trophy, or another award.

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Daniel Foster and his wife, Rebecca, built their business, Chíc Creations Heaven—Gardening, Handyman, Joinery, Decorating, from scratch. Daniel went from having no work to operating two branches that serve Bridlington, England, and Yorkshire, England. He projects opening two more branches in the next 18 months. Receiving their due recognition, Chíc Creations Heaven recently won a Gold Stevie® Award in the Startup of the Year - Consumer Services Industries category at The 2019 International Business Awards®.

Interested in entering The International Business Awards?

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Unemployed & Depressed to Business Owner

Daniel was unemployed and living in a seaside town with waning seasonal business. Tourists just were not coming to the area as much, and Daniel eventually started to fall into depression. In the meantime, he did odd jobs for his landlord to earn extra income, which used the labor and trade skills he had acquired throughout his life. 

“This gave me the confidence boost to seek more work in this area,” explains Daniel.

Daniel had worked previously in sales, and he began to use social media to launch Chíc Creations Heaven. He also focused on doing reputable work at an affordable price. If Daniel couldn’t complete the job himself, he hired another tradesman to complete it, paying a good wage.

“A happy worker is a productive one,” says Daniel.

The company has even generated temporary employment opportunities for seasonal workers. 

For businesses or individuals looking to emulate this model, here are five takeaways:

  • Don’t discredit any of your life or work experiences.
Daniel had worked many jobs before he discovered his niche. All those experiences worked together to form an entrepreneurial success story.
  • Being resourceful is essential to achieving business success.
When Daniel didn’t have the skills or time to meet a customer’s request, he found someone who did, and he paid that person well.
  • Even in this tech-focused economy, practical solutions at affordable costs are still pillars for success.
This business model isn’t a fancy app driven by artificial intelligence. It is a straightforward model of a person helping people with their property needs, and it is thriving.
  • Social media is a driving force for budding entrepreneurs.
Daniel launched his entire business with the help of social media. Networking and word of mouth helped the business grow. 
  • Paying people fairly helps build a strong reputation and helps grow a business.
If you pay people competitively, you are more likely to keep the right employees. Not only will you build employee loyalty, but you will also build customer loyalty, which can earn you repeat business. 

Two-Person Operation Opens Two Locations in One Year

Daniel and his wife, Rebecca, started this business. Daniel focused on operations, while his wife worked on marketing and graphics and took charge of the accounts. They currently manage a team of six, as well as two branches servicing North Yorkshire, East Yorkshire, Humberside, and West Yorkshire (all in England). They passed their annual business goal of over £10,000 in one month, and they earned a profit of nearly £30,000 in the first year alone. 

They increased growth and had a particularly significant breakthrough after successfully putting up PROMESH security for a local beloved nonprofit, the Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary rescues and rehabilitates approximately 4,000 wild animals a year from anywhere in the United Kingdom and transports them back to their natural habitats. The nonprofit just celebrated 10 years.

“We gained a lot of business where they are located after that job was complete,” Daniel shared. 

Here are five more takeaways for aspiring entrepreneurs:

  • There is no shame in starting small. 
Sometimes the vision exceeds what the current situation is. When people haven’t fully achieved their visions yet, they can get discouraged. Even the biggest corporations started small, though. The Fosters went from having several clients to opening two branches in one year. 
  • Trial and error is part of growing.
There is always a learning curve when operating a business, meeting client needs, and regulating costs. This can be particularly tricky when labor and time are variable and higher cost. Daniel noted how learning to quote for work was a difficult process.
  • Perseverance is key.
People make mistakes. That’s part of business. It’s part of life. Keep at it. Learn from your mistakes, and keep going. 
  • Referrals help grow your business.
A lot of Daniel’s business, and some of his biggest growth, came from referrals after servicing the local nonprofit. It was a tipping point, of sorts, for his company. 
  • Doing the right thing counts.
Integrity goes a long way. For Daniel, this means paying employees and contractors fairly, offering work for seasonal employees, fixing homes for the elderly at a reduced rate, and working responsibly with community nonprofits. 

Winning Awards Is Good for Business 

Awards like the Stevie® Awards offer a standard and a metric for success that current and prospective clients, partners, and businesses in other verticals understand. After a successful first year, Daniel wanted to know where his business stood in the world. He searched and found the Stevie® Awards and submitted the application. As a result, Chíc Creations Heaven is now a Gold Stevie® Award winner.

The win strengthened this company’s brand locally, nationally, and internationally. It also instilled a deeper confidence in the Fosters and inspired them to pursue greater success as entrepreneurs. The Fosters’ goal is for Chíc Creations Heaven—Gardening, Handyman, Joinery, Decorating to become a national company in England and a major employer that offers great wages, benefits, and training to those who want to further their trade skills.

Topics: International business awards, The International Business Awards, Startup of the Year, 2019 International Business Awards

How the Funeral Industry is Creatively Using Social Media

Posted by Daniel Ferguson on Tue, Mar 03, 2020 @ 03:55 PM

Stevie-winner Eterneva, a funeral company that converts ashes into diamonds has discovered a way to use their active social media presence to engage with their clients and community.

To many, the funeral industry sounds ill-suited for social media marketing. It is typically considered a low-tech, high-touch line of work, and the belief is that people don’t want to be reminded of death on social media. Things are changing, though, as professionals in this industry find smarter, more socially acceptable ways to engage with their local communities and to target audiences.

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According to a 2019 survey on the mobile technology trends in the funeral profession, about 73 percent of the 1,172 funeral professionals surveyed were using social media to market their services. Facebook was the most popular platform for these marketers, with 67 percent of respondents using it. 

Marrying Life with Death

In an active social media managers group on Facebook, marketers are currently having a lively discussion on social media for funeral homes. One of the participants, Sam Barsanti, comments: “We are in the process of acquiring a new funeral home client. We aren’t extremely serious with them. We try to make their business seem as assistants to the celebration of life, rather than remorse for death.” 

Many funeral home marketers now echo this sentiment. Early social media posts from funeral services were largely obituaries. They are not so morbid anymore as marketers look for more meaningful ways to engage and to drive brand recall. 

Another factor driving a significant uptick in the industry’s social media usage is the emergence of “disruptive” funeral services, which are any services that move away from traditional burial. The practice of using toxic embalming fluids and burying tons of wood, metal, and concrete into the ground is rapidly giving way to more eco-friendly options. 

Capsula Mundi, a start-up based in Milan, Italy, places the ashes or unembalmed bodies of the departed loved ones in biodegradable, egg-shaped pods. This pod is then buried as a seed, and a tree chosen by the deceased is planted on top. This serves as a living, environment-friendly memorial. This company is very active on social media and has over 47,000 Facebook followers with a lot of engagement. 

Bios Urn, a start-up based in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, also sells biodegradable urns, but theirs have seeds embedded inside. They have many environment-oriented stories and life celebration posts on their social media platforms and have a following of over 84,000 on Facebook.

Not all funeral start-ups are environmentally focused, though. AndVinyly, based in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England, presses ashes into vinyl records. The records contain music loved by the departed, as well as audio recordings from the deceased. Another outside-the-box funeral service, Heavenly Stars Fireworks, based in Stanway, Essex, England, creates pyrotechnic displays using the departed’s ashes. 

Eterneva_logoStevie-winner  Eterneva, based in Austin, Texas, United States, converts ashes into diamonds in an eight-month process. They send pictures, videos, and updates to their customers every month, which is something positive for the bereaved to look forward to. Some customers even say this process helps them move beyond the grief. The company also maintains an active social media presence.

“Our mission is to #RememberRemarkably, so we leverage social media to pay tribute to remarkable people,” says Tracey Wallace, head of brand marketing at Eterneva. “For example, we do weekly inaugurations on Instagram Live, where our team welcomes each new loved one to the Eterneva family and shares his or her incredible story with our followers, which has evolved over time into a vibrant, highly engaged tribe.”

Eterneva won the Gold Stevie® Award in the Startup of the Year - Consumer Products Industries category at the 2019 Stevie Awards for Women in Business. Adelle Archer, an Eterneva co-founder, also bagged a Bronze Stevie® Award in the Female Entrepreneur of the Year - Consumer Products - 11 to 2,500 Employees category.

Interested in entering the next Stevie Awards for Women in Business?

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Topics: Social Media, stevie awards for women in business, women in business awards, Startup of the Year

Marketing Group Promotes the Intersection of Creativity and Strategy

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jan 31, 2018 @ 02:52 PM

For companies looking to hire a marketing agency, making a decision is usually dependent on accepting certain tradeoffs. You can either get the boutique provider that’s energetic and responsive to your needs, or go with a bigger outfit that has more resources and a recognized brand name.

Strunk Media Group has tried to eschew that binary choice, and it’s proving to be a winning formula. The American firm prides itself on providing the full menu of options that clients need, from website design and digital advertising to print and billboard marketing. But the eight-employee team also conveys a unique, playful attitude that’s in line with its young, tight-knit staff. “We’re different on purpose,” says co-founder and CEO Matthew Strunk.

Strunk-Media-Team(Left-to-Right).pngSince its inception in 2015, the agency has already garnered over 40 clients who have bought into its “all of the above” message. Based in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, a town in the United States with just over 5,000 residents, the burgeoning company has found success by recognizing trends and finding creative ways to adapt.

“There is no doubt that the marketing industry will continue to transform with the evolution of the internet, but successful and proactive marketing professionals evolve with it,” says Strunk, who continues to serve as a U.S. Air Force reservist, even as he steers the company through a period of swift growth.

Strunk media dog.jpg“While traditional advertising methods are still relevant, Strunk Media has been using online methods such as Facebook advertising, Google AdWords, YouTube, Pandora commercials and ringless voice drops delivered directly to consumer cell phones,” he says. “These methods have proven successful through higher impression rates, more involved customer engagement and specific targeting capabilities.”

Whereas marketing companies are sometimes seen as places where creativity is valued more than strategy, Strunk and his team are trying to meld the two. Each marketing campaign is created specifically for the needs of a given client and based on extensive research, he says.. For example, customers who hire the group for digital services receive a web audit that addresses weaknesses in their internet presence, something that helps the agency design a targeted action plan.

Realizing a Dream

In 2017, Strunk Media took home not one, but two Stevie Awards at The American Business Awards in New York City. The firm earned the Silver Stevie for “Startup of the Year” in the Business Services category and a Bronze Stevie for “Veteran-Owned Business of the Year.”

“As a new company, winning the Stevie Awards has given Strunk Media Group validation that its marketing methods are working,” Strunk says. “These awards are the first nationally-based recognition Strunk has received, which is a tremendous accomplishment.”

“Recognition from these awards will grow awareness of our brand, helping it meet new potential clients and become a better-known company,” he added.

For all the acclaim the company has received in a short period of time, the company nearly didn’t get off the ground. Strunk recalls having to think twice before leaving a steady job overseeing marketing for a local auto dealership.

“The biggest challenge we faced was gaining the courage to leave safe careers and risk everything for a business that could become amazingly successful or be a tremendous flop,” he says. “It’s easy to talk about your dreams, but implementing action to achieve those dreams takes an immense amount of energy, time and money. But once our plan was in motion, the needed energy to continue pushing forward has not been lacking in the slightest.”

In Strunk’s case, starting a new venture involves an added challenge: having a CEO who could be called into active military duty on short notice. Strunk says he’s tried to develop a team that’s as committed to the organization’s success as he is, something that will certainly pay off should his reserve unit ever be deployed.

“Each member of the company cares about delivering the highest quality work for clients while pursuing innovative ways to obtain new business and help the company grow,” he says.

Building chemistry amongst employees is a key part of that enthusiasm, and it’s something staff members try to do outside the office as well, whether it’s a weekly happy hour or a team lunch.

“These casual bonding moments help the team get to know their co-workers, strengthening the Strunk bond,” he says.

Topics: Advertising awards, marketing awards, American business awards, marketing campaign, Startup of the Year

Revolutionizing Private Jet Ownership

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Jan 03, 2018 @ 04:09 PM

Providing access to information by centralizing, standardizing and comparing aircraft cost data worldwide is no easy task. My Sky (formerly My Jet) is a company in Switzerland that offers financial controlling and benchmarking tools for jet owners and their representatives to optimize ownership costs. They do this by collecting, digitizing, analyzing and storing all relevant financial information online for a 24/7, user-friendly service for its customers. This work has led them to win the Gold Stevie® Award for “Startup of the Year - Business Services Industries” and a Silver Stevie Award for “Tech Startup of the Year" in The 2017 International Business Awards.

A Beacon of Trust
The concept of My Sky was first developed in 2014 by two entrepreneurs active in private banking and private aviation. Since its public launch in August 2015, My Sky has garnered business from an exponential number of business aircraft owners in Europe and beyond. Oksana Smirnova is the Head of PR & Marketing at My Sky and is excited about how quickly the company became a beacon of innovation and trust.

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“Today, My Sky is a dynamic company evolving in the sectors of business aviation and financial management with headquarters in Switzerland. It currently employs over 80 experts, including in-house auditors, analysts and IT specialists.”

All their data is proof tested against the largest companies in the industry cost database. My Sky services 50 private jets and employs 80 experts in Switzerland and Russia.

Taking Off
My Sky’s mission is to revolutionize private jet ownership through technology and expertise. This has helped the company earn three international awards in just 12 months. In August 2016, they won a Bronze Stevie Award, then a Sapphire Pegasus Business Aviation Award for Innovation in April 2017, and now it has won Gold and Silver Stevie Awards.

“Winning gold one year after bronze shows that our product and our company have evolved in a very positive way and is a very important milestone in My Sky’s development,” says Smirnova.

“We also have ambitious plans on geographical expansion, and this international recognition will obviously be an added value to our unique proposition.”

Their innovative and disruptive approach provides an opportunity to augment traditional cost management practices in the business aviation industry through a smart blend of technology, data analytics and best practices.

Finding the Missing Link
My Sky considers themselves to be the missing link between industry players and the owners that remove any inefficiencies to empower jet owners by giving them more control and absolute transparency. Smirnova highlights what makes them distinct from similar companies.

“We believe the key to our success is the fact that there are no direct competitors today adopting a client-oriented SaaS approach. Accounting digitization, dynamic reporting and cost benchmarking offered by My Sky are absolutely unique on the market.”

Their unique features have allowed jet owners and their representatives to be in full control of their assets to optimize future costs while correcting past discrepancies, making sure aircrafts fly at the best hourly rate.

Topics: International business awards, company awards, Startup of the Year, startup 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.”

Topics: entrepreneur, International business awards, company of the year, Startup of the Year, startup awards

Former Tank Factory in Germany Becomes an Event Space Unlike Any Other

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Fri, Sep 29, 2017 @ 03:34 PM

Picture a group of young entrepreneurs with a creative vision and combine that with a huge, empty former tank factory. That’s right: a factory hall of 5.000 square meters, with a ceiling height of up to forty feet– a gigantic hangar that used to house the production lines for war machines until it closed down a good two decades ago.

A big, empty hall, located conveniently close to the city center of Mainz, Germany, which, in turn, is just around the corner from Frankfurt. Local entrepreneurs Ralph Heinrich and Dr. Hanns Christian von Stockhausen were intrigued, while also saddened, by the city’s decision in early 2015 to end the place’s 17-year tenure as a makeshift theatre venue. The local government had used the hall for cultural events since the shutdown of the tank factory in the mid-1990’s.

The vision

Halle 45.jpgThat was when the idea was born to revive the venue, formerly dubbed ‘Phoenix-Halle’, and transform it into ‘Halle 45’: a one-of-a-kind event hall and meeting place at the intersection of art, culture and entertainment.

The goal was to create a venue unlike any other, innovative and modern, versatile in size and functionality. Ralph Heinrich and Dr. Hanns Christian von Stockhausen founded Halle 45 GmbH in May 2015 and turned their vision into reality.

“The worst crime is faking it”

The story of Halle 45 GmbH, the ambitious, hard-working start-up from Mainz, Germany, is a unique one, and so is its motto: “The worst crime is faking it”, coined by grunge pioneer Kurt Cobain. Since its inception in 2015, the event management company, now a team of twelve full-time employees, has successfully hosted a huge variety of events at the venue, from concerts and art exhibitions, over indoor cinema, food and craft beer festivals, to industrial fairs and corporate events.

From the very start, the company also committed itself to opening the venue’s doors to non-profits and artists free of charge. Thus, the former tank factory has also hosted events like a “welcome celebration” for refugees and charity concerts.

The road to success

Charitable projects aside, the founding of Halle 45 GmbH depended on investors and needed to see profits. In the business of acquiring corporate clients, the start-up had to come up with a solid sales strategy.

The starting conditions were phenomenal: Halle 45 is the second biggest venue of its kind in the metropolitan Rhine-Main region, comprising the cities of Mainz, Frankfurt and Wiesbaden and a combined total of nearly 6 million inhabitants – an economically thriving area. The city of Frankfurt is known for its trade fairs and its growing financial district, while Frankfurt Airport is a major international air traffic hub – one of Europe’s biggest.

Another big plus: Halle 45’s innovative, versatile concept features the option to partition the space into several, individually sized venues. Add state-of-the-art technical equipment, the site’s superior amenities and professional event management – an unbeatable recipe for success.

However, in order to garner your target audience’s attention, you need traction and media attention. That’s where the Stevie® Award really helped Halle 45 GmbH to turn a page in its young history.

Ever since winning the Bronze Stevie Award at the 2017 German Stevie Awards in Hamburg, the start-up’s social network contact rate has hit untold highs. Since winning the Stevie Award, Halle 45 GmbH has also picked up other awards, among them the Mainz Business Prize. Within a period of merely two years, Halle 45 GmbH has established itself as a major venue in the Rhine-Main region – not only for cultural, but for corporate events as well.

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Topics: PR awards, German Stevie Awards, german business awards, Startup of the Year, startup awards

An Algorithm Can Save Your Credit

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Thu, Aug 03, 2017 @ 10:05 AM

In Germany, creditworthiness for end-customer transactions are worth 350 billion EUR per year. However, credit information is often incorrect, incomplete and in generally unhelpful. This leads to poor conditions for the consumer due to contract rejections. Bonify wants to fix this by offering consumers free credit checks and better transparency using a unique algorithm that helps match users with financial institutions that actually benefit them. This technique helped Bonify win the Silver Stevie® Award in the Technology Startup of the Year category in the 2017 German Stevie Awards.

Dusting off Bad Credit

Ultimately, Bonify wants to educate their customers about the ills of bad credit. Elisa Thiem, content contributor at Bonify, speaks to the growing issues of bad credit and the lack of tools available in Germany.

bonify.jpg“Surprisingly, few people know what credit means at all, when it’s relevant and what impact it has on everyday decisions. With our lively international team of 33 people, the financial world will be revolutionized. We not only offer free credit checks and clarify your credit ratings, but also exciting financial management tools to optimize your finances.”

An Algorithm Saved My Life

The way Bonify assesses someone’s options is by calculating their electricity, gas and DSL usage, then the “savings calculator” allows users to find the lowest and most convenient fares to use instead. Elisa says this makes adjustments a lot easier, “especially in the field of loans, it’s exciting to finally get registered users matched with tailored credit options and individualized offers.”

Bonify’s long-term goal is to integrate all consumer products where credit plays a role (insurance, mobile phone contracts, etc.) so everyone can easily understand the best options available to them.

Rewards for You, Rewards for Us

Bonify is grateful for opportunities that help them in their fight for transparency, and award recognition is no exception. The team is well aware of other companies who've been growing in their respective markets and who believe they belong in that league as well. Elisa relays the positive attention cast on their team and how they feel.

“We were looking forward to the technology startup of the year for the German Stevie Silver Award and are still very proud! We feel great joy and pride for all employees, customers, investors and friends. Excellent customer response and confidence are a great confirmation from the positive feedback so far.”

Not Changing is the Biggest Risk

The increasing digitalization of industry and business models provide opportunities in the field of risk and credit ratings for companies and customers. Bonify is always looking for new ways to streamline credit check processes. Elisa shares their enthusiasm in the wake of their success.

“We want to and have helped many people learn more about the topic of credit and how to improve it. From numerous personal conversations in customer service, we get a lot of interesting cases and are always glad to help. A personal credit history of our former employee, Philipp Hommelsheim, was rejected as a BKA official with a good salary and positive payment history due to its poor credit rating from DriveNow.”

Protecting Your Data

The positive customer responses, the constant support of friends and investors and the motivation and enthusiasm of their employees are encouraging. However, customer information is their top priority and a major reason why the company has been growing at such a rapid rate. Elisa wants to highlight their focus on this important matter.

“Bonify is working hard to continue improving even further so that topics such as creditworthiness and financial optimization or borrowing are communicated openly and transparently. We focus on data protection. We are aware that your data is sensitive, which is never passed on to third parties without being asked.”

Since the user is already prequalified based on the individual credit and financial situation for loans, manual processes for banks are shortened and more accurate. Bonify acknowledges that not everyone is aware of their credit decisions. With a free credit check and their financial optimization tools, individuals can look forward to their credit scores improving with the right information and tools.

Topics: most innovative company, German Stevie Awards, company of the year, Startup of the Year, best startups

Company / Organization Awards in The 2017 American Business Awards

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Nov 02, 2016 @ 03:00 PM

The 15th annual American Business Awards, the premier business awards competition in the U.S.A. which attracts more than 3,000 nominations from organizations nationwide each year, is now accepting nominations for the 2017 program. 

The American Business Awards recognize achievement in every facet of the workplace. Entry details are available at http://www.stevieawards.com/aba

REVIEW THE ENTRY KIT.

All organizations operating in the U.S.A. are eligible to submit nominations -- public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small. There are two early-bird entry deadlines this year – November 17 and December 14 – with discounted entry fees. 

A category group that has been greatly expanded for 2017 is the Company / Organization Awards.

Recognizing the achievements of entire organizations (for-profit or non-profit, large medium or small, public or private). 

Information to be submitted online for entries in these categories for the 2017 ABAs will include

a. An essay of up to 650 words describing the nominated organization's achievements since January 1 2016

b. In bullet-list form (up to 150 words), a brief summary of up to ten (10) of the nominated organization's chief achievements since January 1 2016

c. Optional (but highly recommended), a collection of supporting files and web addresses that you may upload to our server to support your entry and provide more background information to the judges

Company of the Year (may be for-profit or non-profit, public or private, large or small).  New for 2017, each of these 35 industry categories now has three sub-categories:

  • Small (≤ 50 employees and revenue ≤ $10 million)
  • Medium-size (≤ 250 employees and revenue ≤ $50 million)
  • Large (> 250 employees and revenue > $50 million)

B01.    Advertising, Marketing, & Public Relations
B02.    Aerospace & Defense
B03.    Apparel, Beauty & Fashion (a new category for 2017)
B04.    Automotive & Transport Equipment
B05.    Banking
B06.    Business & Professional Services
B07.    Chemicals
B08.    Computer Hardware
B09.    Computer Software
B10.    Computer Services
B11.    Conglomerates
B12.    Consumer Products - Durables
B13.    Consumer Products - Non-Durables
B14.    Consumer Services (a new category for 2017)
B15.    Diversified Services
B16.    Electronics
B17.    Energy
B18.    Financial Services
B19.    Food & Beverage
B20.    Health Products & Services
B21.    Hospitality & Leisure
B22.    Insurance
B23.    Internet/New Media
B24.    Legal
B25.    Manufacturing
B26.    Materials & Construction
B27.    Media & Entertainment
B28.    Metals & Mining
B29.    Non-Profit or Government Organizations
B30.    Pharmaceuticals
B31.    Real Estate
B32.    Retail
B33.    Telecommunications
B34.    Transportation
B35.    Utilities

B36. Startup of the Year (for companies that began operations since January 1 2015).  There are no entry fees for the Startup of the Year categories
a. Business Product Industries
b. Business Service Industries
c. Consumer Product Industries
d. Consumer Service Industries

B37. Tech Startup of the Year (for companies that began operations since January 1 2015).  There is no entry fee for this category
a. Hardware/Peripherals
b. Services
c. Software

B38. Most Innovative Company of the Year (recognizing overall achievement in product and/or marketing, sales, manufacturing, management, etc. innovation)
   a. Up to 100 Employees
   b. Up to 2,500 Employees
   c. More Than 2,500 Employees

B39. Most Innovative Tech Company of the Year (recognizing overall achievement in product and/or marketing, sales, manufacturing, management, etc. innovation)
   a. Up to 100 Employees
   b. Up to 2,500 Employees
   c. More Than 2,500 Employees

B40. Innovation of the Year (recognizing singular innovations in product and/or marketing, sales, manufacturing, management, etc., by an organization or an individual)
   a. Business Product Industries
   b. Business Service Industries
   c. Consumer Product Industries
   d. Consumer Service Industries

B41. Technical Innovation of the Year (recognizing singular innovations in technology, new products, etc., by an organization or an individual)
   a. At Organizations With Up to 100 Employees
   b. At Organizations With Up to 1,000 Employees
   c. At Organizations With 1,000 or More Employees

B42. Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year (recognizing organizations' contributions to society)
   a. At Organizations With Up to 100 Employees
   b. At Organizations With Up to 2,500 Employees
   c. At Organizations With 2,500 or More Employees

B43. Fastest-Growing Company of the Year (recognizing outstanding revenue growth since the beginning of 2016 over 2015)
   a. Up to 100 Employees
   b. Up to 2,500 Employees
   c. 2,500 or More Employees

B44. Fastest-Growing Tech Company of the Year (recognizing outstanding revenue growth since the beginning of 2016 over 2015)
   a. Up to 100 Employees
   b. Up to 2,500 Employees
   c. 2,500 or More Employees

B45.  Minority-Owned Business of the Year: This category will recognize the achievements since January 1 2016 of businesses in the U.S.A. that are majority owned by members of an ethnic minority

B46. Veteran-Owned Business of the Year: This category will recognize the achievements since January 1 2016 of businesses in the U.S.A. that are owned by veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces

B47. Energy Industry Innovation of the Year: This category recognizes singular innovations in energy-related technology, production, conservation, storage or delivery, by an organization or an individual in the U.S.A., since January 1 2016.  There is no entry fee for this category

Gold Stevie winners in the 2016 American Business Awards Company / Oraganization of the Year categories include:

Company of the Year - Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations
GOLD STEVIE WINNER:
Makovsky & Co, New York, NY

Company of the Year - Banking & Financial Services
GOLD STEVIE WINNER:
First GREEN Bank, Mount Dora, FL

Company of the Year - Business Services - Less than 100 Employees
GOLD STEVIE WINNER:
Kount, Boise, ID

Company of the Year - Business Services - 100 to 2,500 Employees
GOLD STEVIE WINNER:
Fleetmatics, Waltham, MA

Company of the Year - Business Services - More than 2,500 Employees
GOLD STEVIE WINNERS (TIE):
Infinite Computer Solutions, Rockville, MD
TransPerfect, New York, NY

Company of the Year - Computer Hardware & Services
GOLD STEVIE WINNER:
QLess Inc., Pasadena, CA

Company of the Year - Computer Software - Up to 500 Employees
GOLD STEVIE WINNER:
Tintri, Mountain View, CA

Company of the Year - Computer Software - 500 or More Employees
GOLD STEVIE WINNER:
HubSpot, Cambridge, MA

Company of the Year - Consumer Products
GOLD STEVIE WINNER:
Jeunesse Global, Orlando, FL

Company of the Year - Food & Beverage
GOLD STEVIE WINNER:
Fazoli's Italian Restaurants, Lexington, KY

Topics: American business awards, company awards, new company awards, Startup of the Year