The winning team of the next betapitch not only gets to move into betahaus | Berlin and become a part of the betahaus community, but will also get a package of services and products to help them develop their business further. The package is solely put together by people from inside the betahaus community. In this series we want to introduce some of these friends that will help you pull yourself up ‘by your own bootstraps’. First in line is Anna-Lena Schiller.
Anna-Lena Schiller describes herself as an “information architect” and “visual sense-maker”. Having noticed the importance of clear visual communication in the success of a business, Anna-Lena – a freelance consultant on visual thinking – works with clients to help simplify their often-complex ideas into simpler ones, while adding an eye-catching visual element into the mix. As part of this year’s bootstrapping package, Anna-Lena will be offering the winning startup team a consultation on visual thinking.
In general, how do you go about helping someone translate whatever complex idea they may have into a simple image?
It really depends on the individual or company with which I work. Some companies are already really structured, and know exactly what they want to translate into pictures. Sometimes, however, I have to try and understand exactly what they want to communicate. I usually start by asking people to describe their idea verbally, and from there, I apply a process of analysis and structuring, and eventually translate their words into images. There isn’t really a specific blueprint for this process, as the outcome is almost always different.
The images I help clients come up with can be simple, such as a logo, or something representing a more complex process, or a series of ideas – something like a comic strip or series of storyboards.
Do you think it is a common problem among young startups to be unable to express themselves with images?
I actually think that many companies – especially startups – are good at pitching their ideas verbally, and expressing what they want and what they have in that way. Where they often struggle, however, is with visual expression, and that’s where I try and help them out.
Do you find yourselves working a lot with any one field in particular, or do your clients come from a variety of different fields? Is there any field that you find is more often in need of assistance in visual communication than others?
Good question. I work with clients from all kinds of different fields: from tech startups, to the health sector, to even school boards. It doesn’t depend so much on any one industry itself as it does on the cultural environment in which these clients work – on just how much of a role visual representations already play.
Lastly, what’s one thing you expect to see this year at betapitch among contestants?
One thing I’d like to see is less PowerPoint presentations! I like to see a visual presentation that’s both innovative and effective, and makes use of an original medium. Too many people use PowerPoint these days, which is a shame, as there are plenty of other ways in which one can express their ideas visually.
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Cost is a big one here. In regards to total transportation costs, the last mile comprises up to 53% of those - making it the least efficient part of the supply chain. Expectations of free shipping and next day deliveries add up to this.
Due to increasing digitalization and convenience services in every area of people's lives, the smooth and flawless process of getting the delivery to one's doorstep is exceedingly becoming what customers care most about. On top of that, for companies that package being delivered is an extension of their brand. The consumer is basically coming face-to-face with the brand, which makes it the biggest opportunity to heighten customer satisfaction.
If you live in a city and have even slightly observed your urban surroundings you’ve probably witnessed it first hand - urban congestion and crowded cities make it pretty tough to satisfy the growing demand and rising expectations of super quick deliveries. Add unpredictability in transit (like weather conditions), an incorrect address or remote locations, just to name a few, and you can see where this is going.
The worst part is, all those delivery trucks and vans that also produce a fair bit of emissions, are often only half full when they roll out for deliveries. This is mostly due to low drop sizes and stops along the route that are far and few between.
It’s not all hopeless though - Where there is a problem, there are solutions.
Same old, same old - isn’t always all that bad. Sometimes, all that’s needed are some new perspectives! The city of Utrecht, for example, implemented a zero-emissions electric barge nicknamed the “Beer Boat”.
Since 2010 it’s carrying beer and food to the city’s downtown restaurants by using waterways. Other electric barges in Amsterdam not only deliver but even collect organic waste, which is then turned into biofuel in processing plants! Isn’t that cool?
It becomes clear that cities, logistics, as well as urban planners, are equally part of solving the inefficiency of the last-mile. Tackling this mountain of issues calls for teamwork!
A centralized platform, hub or network for similar companies, could do the trick to fill up the delivery vans & trucks that are barely loaded. Parcels could be distributed more efficiently between different companies and their delivery vehicles.
Like a big pool of parcels from different companies with every single parcel going into that one van with the same route!
Delivery Driver Experience and Smart Delivery Vehicles are also areas with huge potential for improvement and innovation.
Ellie: Two years ago we adopted a new legal structure for Jolocom GmbH according to the purpose model of ownership, manifesting our commitment and dedication to building a self-sovereign organization. That means we can’t take VC funding or sell public shares of the company.
Volker: Jolocom is a community driven organisation – both in a tech sense but also much further beyond. We’re hugely involved in the DWeb community where we organize and attend events for the decentralized community. Every year we also help organize and attend the DWeb Camp in San Francisco, which brings together all kinds of creatives so this technology of tomorrow is built in a collaborative way.
Next to that on-demand experiences have become firmly embedded into people’s everyday lives - be it a mobile app to book a ride, send flowers to your loved ones or order lunch to your office. It’s all possible and has made premium features like real-time tracking a standard. The online consumer expects nothing less and certainly doesn’t like to wait.
Making that quick and instant gratification happen is another story though. Groundbreaking ideas and innovations are needed to tackle all these factors. Does your startup have one?
Volker: There is this really nice place, called Green Rabbit with salads and baked potatoes where I like to go to. Sometimes I just keep it simple and go to Lidl.
Ellie: I eat a lot in west.berlin cafe which is here around the corner and I love the Matcha Lattes from Starbucks.