Friday, July 20, 2018

Artificial Intelligence Startups: Derq & Shoptelligence








Artificial Intelligence Startups

For many people, artificial intelligence lives purely in the realm of science fiction. However, artificial intelligence is already all around us. Every time you type something into your GPS, your search engine autocorrects, or your Netflix account predicts what shows you’ll want to watch next, you are using artificial intelligence.

We had two AI startups visit to speak with our Digital Marketing interns- Will Foss from Derq and Richard Millunchick from Shoptelligence.

Derq

One of the most creative uses of artificial intelligence technology is using it to predict traffic accidents before they occur. Derq is one of the AI startups on the forefront of this predictive technology. Will Foss, Director of Business Development and Partnerships, describes what Derq does this way:

“What if we told you, you could prevent an accident from happening while you are driving? Sure, you may have an autonomous vehicle that tells you what is happening, but that is not good enough. You need to be able to look 2-3 seconds into the future to say what is going to happen.”

This is when Derq comes in. They have developed an artificial intelligence that can predict road accidents before they happen by using a variety of factors. These factors can include the weight of a car, if the driver is texting, and if pedestrians are crossing the street; and Derq can take this information and utilize AI technology to understand the actions cars are taking and to use these trends to predict future actions. Foss also detailed some of the struggles that Derq faced as a company:

“In recent years, technology has been evolving and growing. Derq, since the beginning, has also been changing the way they do things.  Like most AI companies, it takes a long period of time to develop and train the algorithm to adjust itself and improve.”

Due to the contemporary nature of artificial intelligence,  Derq is making rapid advancements to their technology. With each deployment of their device, the company  receives more data, allowing them to fine-tune their product. The more accurate Derq’s predictions are, the more accidents they will be able to prevent and the more human lives they will be able to save.


Shoptelligence

When people go into stores, there’s typically a very specific reason for the trip. They might just be grocery shopping, finding the perfect dress for a night out, or maybe they just want a new movie to watch. When a person does this, a sales associate is almost always available to offer assistance. However, when you shop online, there’s no way to get this level of interaction with the store because it lacks the personal attention a face-to-face conversation provides. What Shoptelligence does for the consumer is take shopping data and use a complex set of algorithms in order to predict what the individual is likely to want to buy today and in the future, much like the sales associate would. In short, Shoptelligence is your own personal sales associate, here to make sure your online shopping experience is as short and successful as possible.

Shoptelligence targets retailers as its primary clients, because retailers have the audience and the inventory, providing the perfect platform with which they can reach their end user, the consumer. Richard Millunchick describes a little about these retailers:

“Retailers, believe it or not, know very little about their consumer and less about their inventory.  They have these catalogs with 100,000 different items and don’t know how to use it to their advantage.”

Shoptelligence uses basic shopping data and the relationships products have between other potential purchases to deliver a satisfying result to the consumer. For instance, if a consumer is interested in a particular piece of clothing, it will suggest other accessories and more clothes that the shopper may be interested in. With the use of these contextual algorithms, natural language processing, and image recognition software, they created a comprehensive set of algorithms that helps recommend items to consumers and what would go great with the specific product they are shopping for.

Derq and Shoptelligence both represent very practical uses of artificial intelligence technology. Derq helps save human lives and Shoptelligence makes the consumer's life much more simple. Artificial intelligence has a way of enriching lives, and startups like these are only building more traction in order to make lives even better.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Finding A Career in Digital Marketing: Insights from Digital Marketing Professionals

The Center for Digital Engagement hosted yet another amazing panel discussion for the current interns this summer that was focused on finding a career in digital marketing. Digital marketing has become a highly diverse field that is changing the way companies do business. Companies must learn to tailor their strategies in order to reach their target markets. The interns listened to insights and best practices from digital marketing professionals and will be utilizing this knowledge to help them find careers in digital marketing.



The panel was moderated by Kim Brown, senior marketing manager at Duo Security. Panelists included
  • Angelina Miller, Agency Development Manager at Google

  • Jenn Hayman, Director of Marketing at  Zingermann’s family of stores

  • Matt Laurin, Director of Marketing at Rankings.io.





Matt Laurin
Matt got his digital marketing start at a General RV center and he attributes part of his success to networking and the connections that he made early in his career. From there, he made a comprehensive portfolio that really made him stand out with prospective employers.


One of the key things Matt emphasized to the group was the importance of networking. Utilizing LinkedIn groups to connect to more people can really build your professional network and kickstart your professional career!


“Networking really helped out, especially online. Growing your network on LinkedIn is so important. You can reach out to people you want to be surrounded by, places you are interested in working at, and overall just connecting in order to get information from others. I still do it today. It’s invaluable.”


Commenting and answering questions posted by others in your field can also really help to make those connections and prepare you for professional conversations.



Jenn Hayman
Jenn comes from a broad marketing background and took an unconventional path to get to her current digital marketing position. She used her journalism degree to gain a unique perspective for her position and brought a lot of creative ideas to it. She is something of a self-starter, where she had to make her own opportunities to get where she is now. This makes her the perfect fit for Zingermann’s because marketing for so many different kinds of companies in the same family requires a certain level of flexibility! When asked about what kind of impact she had in her position, she responded that it wasn't always easy to tell.


Having methods to measure your successes is really important. That way, you’ll always know what ways you can improve.”


Jenn also provided some great insight for students preparing for upcoming job interviews.


“When you’re interviewing with someone, make sure that you interview them almost as much as they’re interviewing you. If you do, you’ll know if you’ll be even more comfortable in the position.”

Angelina Miller
Angelina began her digital media career with a Business degree at Eastern. From there, she took initiative and built her resume up with a series of increasingly impressive jobs that lead her to her current position at Google. On the way, she learned a lot of skills that were directly applicable to any job in digital marketing. One specific skill that is particularly transferable is leadership.


Working in digital marketing is a team based effort. It’s important to work with your team and lead junior members and help them make a significant positive impact.


We also discussed how the digital marketing industry is constantly in flux. There are constantly new technological advancements and changes to the digital economy. Angelina had this to say about embracing change in the workplace:


Everything is constantly changing for the better. Don’t ever say ‘this is how we have always done it.”


The Center for Digital Engagement had a great time hosting these esteemed guests and having them speak with our Summer Clinic Interns! We're looking forward to speaking with some of the minds at the forefront of artificial intelligence next week.


Make sure to follow them on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/mlaurin
https://twitter.com/angelinaemiller


Sunday, July 8, 2018

What our Past Interns had to say about the CDE Experiance


Recently, the Center for Digital Engagement hosted a panel discussion where previous interns had the opportunity to discuss their experiences in the clinic. Four talented alumni sat on the panel and discussed their reasons for pursuing an internship with the Center for Digital Engagement and Ann Arbor SPARK, the challenges and surprises they encountered throughout their internship, and the lasting benefits they received from participating in the clinic. The extent of their knowledge and the diversity of their backgrounds helped provide a panel session that was educational, informative and inspiring for the current interns.



Meet the Intern Alumni



Taking the Leap
The panel, moderated by Professor Russ Merz, focused on three distinct areas: taking the leap, crossing the chasm and leveraging the experience. The session opened by asking clinic alumni to discuss the factors that were involved in their decision to pursue an internship with the Center of Digital Engagement and Ann Arbor SPARK. One of the key takeaways was wanting to try something new. At the time, most of the panelists had no prior marketing experience and were unsure of their major. Ryan, actually had a major career change. He went from aircraft maintenance to marketing.

“I knew this internship would be a good foundation for the spot I’m in right now, I knew I had to start small, and knew I had to take small risks in order to get the position I’m in right now to succeed in my career” –Ryan

Another deciding factor was having their professors at the time really give them the “push” they needed to do the internship.

Crossing the Chasm
Professor Merz asked the panelists to discuss personal challenges and lessons they learned from their internship. One of the biggest obstacles most of the alumni had was jumping into “organized chaos” (as Miguel described it) and figuring out what to do and how to do it.

Some other tips include:
Tip #1: Research your company and the industry they are in.  - Ryan
Tip #2: Discuss your strengths with your company and use them to your advantage. - Dasha
Tip #3: “Spider map,” break projects into smaller projects, in order to stay on track. - Miguel
Tip #4: Be Flexible - Ashley

“With Small Startup companies, there are not a lot of people, maybe 6 or 7. Everyone wears many different hats, and I think it’s important to be flexible and adaptable in this kind of environment. It can feel very overwhelming at first, but the outcomes and experiences you gain are very rewarding. “-Ashley


Leveraging the Experience
The final portion of the panel focused on personal and professional payoffs. Panelists discussed the benefits of their internships and how this experience influenced their career trajectory.

One of the key takeaways here was gaining the marketing experience they previously lacked.

“Payoff is huge! You’ll be introduced to a lot of different aspects of marketing. You get to see what you like and what you don’t like!” –Miguel

Ryan mentioned that his company, Ascape Audio allowed him to fail and correct his missteps. His current employer, IProspect, recognized the value in having an employee that can not only own up to mistakes but can take the initiative to fix them.

We want to thank the alumni panelists: Miguel, Ashley, Ryan and Dasha for their willingness to share their experiences. Also, a huge thank you to Professor Merz for leading the discussion!





Sunday, March 18, 2018

Apply for the 2018 Digital Summer Clinic Internship

We are actively recruiting for the 2018 Digital Summer Clinic Internship. The internship is for 10 hours per week and will run from June 18 through August 15. Pay is $15/hour. Up to 24 positions are available.

Interns will work in teams of two for companies housed in Ann Arbor SPARK's high tech incubator. Projects vary year by year, but past examples include: digital advertisingsocial mediacontent creationanalyticsweb design and developmentSEOvideo production and graphic designmobile app development, and project management. We don't expect individual interns to be strong across this wide expanse of disciplines, but you should attempt to identify areas where you think you can contribute.

Those wishing to learn more about the Digital Summer Clinic Internship experience are encouraged to consult the following resources:

Applications are open to EMU, WCC, and other area students in enrolled in post-secondary degree programs. The application deadline is May 7. Recent graduates are eligible up to one year after their date of graduation. The application form may be found here:

Please address any specific, remaining questions to Bud Gibson, the Summer Clinic Director, via email: fgibson@emich.edu.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Announcing the 2018 Digital Summer Clinic Internship

We're pleased to announce our 2018 Digital Summer Clinic Internship. The internship is for 10 hours per week and will run from mid June through the end of August. Pay is $15/hour. Up to 24 positions are available.

Interns will work in teams of two for companies housed in Ann Arbor SPARK's high tech incubator. Projects vary year by year, but past examples include: digital advertising, social media, content creation, analytics, web design and development, SEO, video production and graphic design, mobile app development, and project management. We don't expect individual interns to be strong across this wide expanse of disciplines, but you should attempt to identify areas where you think you can contribute.

We encourage all interested current and recent students to attend the clinic information session to be held Tuesday March 6 at 4 PM in Room 114 of EMU's College of Business. The College of Business is located at 300 W. Michigan Avenue in downtown Ypsilanti (Google Maps link). At the information session, we will feature leaders of companies where students have recently interned, recent interns who can tell you their experience, and past interns who have gone on to successful careers at GM, Carat (dentsu AEGIS network), and Google. We will also have members of the clinic mentoring team who will be happy to share their perspective on guiding students through successful internships.

Those wishing to learn more about the Digital Summer Clinic Internship experience are encouraged to consult the following resources:

Starting March 6, applications are open to EMU, WCC, and other area students in enrolled in post-secondary degree programs. Recent graduates are eligible up to one year after their date of graduation. The application form may be found here:

Please address any specific, remaining questions to Bud Gibson, the Summer Clinic Director, via email: fgibson@emich.edu.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Journey of a Fitness Technology Startup

This past Friday at Ann Arbor SPARK the CDE hosted Brian Hayden, cofounder and CEO of ShapeLog, to discuss the journey he and his team has had so far as a fitness technology startup. During the CDE's summer internship clinic, Hayden worked one-on-one with two marketing students to help them expand their digital marketing skills, while they offered Hayden and his team some fresh perspectives.

The idea of ShapeLog came about when cofounder and CTO Nolan Orfield used his engineering background and curiosity to invent a gadget that would measure what you are doing when lifting weights. Today, ShapeLog has grown into a business-to-business fitness technology company with patented strength tracking hardware and the world's first strength training data API.

Hayden explained that the team spent their first few months discovering and educating themselves about where this developed technology could take them. After narrowing their sales funnel to fitness advocates and gyms, they began to develop data on what exactly their product could measure. "Once we gathered an incredible amount of data and learned how to pitch our product, we dove right into reaching out to the top fitness companies in the world," said Hayden.

Upon reaching out to those companies, ShapeLog discovered that 15 out of the 40 said they would be interested in learning more about the product they had created.

"That was a turning point for us, and we knew we were on the right track when we had something those top companies were interested in," said Hayden.

Since then, the ShapeLog team has focused their efforts on educating fitness providers about their technology and demoing their product at multiple trade shows. Additionally, they have demonstrated their determination and perseverance to continously with some of the top gymnasium chains in the country to demo their product. Currently, ShapeLog has a pilot program of their product in place at two Anytime Fitness' located in Ann Arbor and have been very happy with the feedback they have received.

Hayden said, "It may have taken us a while, but we are finally on the right track.. Having a love and a passion for the product developed is what helped keep us going as a startup."

For more information about ShapeLog, visit their website!