The June edition of Coffee Break with Game Changers broadcast is live now on the Voice America Network. This month’s episode features an engaging discussion that focused on startups in consumer products. Although new consumer products players that produce tangible goods like food and clothing may receive less media attention, they’re proving just as innovative as their higher-profile tech counterparts. Shoppers are looking past price point and features to find trustworthy companies with a social and environmental conscience. How can startups break into the consumer products market?
Our Host and Experts
Host Bonnie D. Graham was joined by three startup experts:
Sathish Gajaraju, CTO for Sensify Inc. , has 25 years of a unique blend of leading PE and VC backed technology startups, turnaround of late stage PE backed companies in the IoT space. His strengths are strategic and long-range planning, as well as setting product and technology strategies for Enterprise, B2C and B2B environments.
Sanchita Sur is the founder and CEO of Emplay, an award winning start-up that builds intelligent GPS-like turn-by-turn action recommendation systems for sales. She is a published author and contributor to various publications including Amazon bestseller “Data Driven: How performance analytics delivers extraordinary sales results.” She also is the architect of patent-pending self-learning sales DNA and sales recommendation methodology.
Dave Katona works with startups at SAP helping as mentor and driving go-to-market efforts for the Americas and has been in the IT industry for over 20 years. As Director of Market Enablement at Startup Focus, Dave leads market engagement, mentoring and strategic go-to-market activities with his partners.
Personalization, Passion and Pressure
The conversation started with a discussion of product personalization as a way to differentiate and as a source of inspiration for the consumer product segment. Consumers are willing pay more for “authentic value driven products that are personalized to them,” said Sathish. Sanchita added personalization is becoming “a need of the hour for all segments, not just consumer environment but also a B2B environment and therefore an entrepreneur has to have the passion to feel the needs of their customer.” There is now technology that leverages data from all sources to help walk in the customer’s shoes, and that is enabling production with predictable results. Peer pressure or influence, as Dave prefers, is changing demands of consumer products. Consumer demand for sustainability is enabling an ever-increasing number of niches for companies to meet the personalized ethical demands of the consumer. The panel also discussed how the government’s influence is playing a role in the sustainable push for lower carbon emissions and environmentally conscious consumer behavior.
Wearables, IoT, and Embedding Sensors
The discussion then turned to innovations that have been enabled by the IoT to reducing waste in the food supply, for example, and are now being embedded in consumer products. Embedded technology is also generating more data, which further facilitates and meets the demand for personalized and customized products. The whole panel sees the consumer segment taking services and converting them to products as an opportunity for startups. For example health vitals can be collected in mobile app and analyzed through intelligent systems. Because those are disruptive and can be applicable to white spaces in the market, those startups tend to be the ones that succeed in an increasingly technology driven market. Incremental advancements often fail due to cost associated with bringing products to market, without catching the consumer’s and investor’s eye. Wearables were discussed as having great potential, as they produce data, which can inform innovation and in turn lead to new opportunities in white spaces.
Crystal Ball Predictions
The program ended with the predictions for the future of consumer products. Sathish foresees the end of privacy as more and more products are integrated and embedded in our daily lives. This is perhaps dire in some ways, there is also potential to deliver a better world as we embed more technology into our daily lives. Sanchita sees a possible redefinition of the consumer product segment, as we consume more digital content and products. The consumer products industry is getting more tech savvy and enabled. Dave sees the opportunity for big brand players to transform themselves and startups have the opportunity to innovate as the “new mortar” of the brick and mortar stores. Technology facilitated by nimble fast startups will help bigger brands react to customer needs and trends.
Listen to the replay to learn more about Startups in Consumer Products: New Ideas, Fresh Technology, Better Solutions.