Competitive Edge
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Competitive Edge
Creating your Unique Value Proposition to gain your Competitive Edge.
Curated by Marc Kneepkens
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Google and Ford to build self-driving car company, report claims

Google and Ford to build self-driving car company, report claims | Competitive Edge |
Google is planning to announce a partnership with Ford to create an independent company that will build self-driving cars, according to a report.

Yahoo Autos said three sources "familiar with the plans" believe Ford will announce the partnership in January at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Neither Ford nor Google would confirm the partnership plans.

"We have been and will continue working with many companies and discussing a variety of subjects related to our Ford Smart Mobility plan," Ford stated in a reply to Computerworld. "We keep these discussions private for obvious competitive reasons, and we do not comment on speculation."

Jeremy Carlson, a senior analyst with IHS Automotive, said during a webcast last week that Google is serious about spinning off a separate autonomous car company. Carlson said sources believed Google would develop service-only vehicles and not a traditional car manufacturing business.

Autonomous services vehicles would be used as taxis and deliveries, but not as personally owned vehicles.

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Major carmakers are looking at #selfdrivingcars now. I'm looking forward at the time I can spend in a car doing productive work or just simple entertainment, like reading a book?

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Build It or Buy It? 7 Things for Startups to Consider

Build It or Buy It? 7 Things for Startups to Consider | Competitive Edge |

When faced with a new technology need, should you build your own software – or stitch together solutions already available on the market? It’s easier (and cheaper) than ever to do the latter. But before calling up your CTO or signing up for the SaaS product you read about this morning, figure out which is really the better option for your business.

I asked 7 entrepreneurs from YEC what they thought were the most important factors to consider when making this choice.

When considering building new technology to serve his or her business vs. using an existing SaaS product, what is the most important factor an entrepreneur should consider?

Their best answers are below:

1. Whether Your Business Could Survive Without It

You need to ensure you own the technology if your business could potentially fail without that product and you can’t easily replace one vendor with another. Also, if your requirements need heavy customization that aren’t easily replaced by an off-the-shelf product, you should build your own.

– Mark Cenicola,

2. Internal Versus Client Use

What will you use this software for? If it’s for customer or fan use and there’s a good SaaS solution, then partnering or white labeling is the smart play.

Most SaaS products are for internal company use only. If there’s a good SaaS solution that does what you need, then use it. Your company resources can be more profitably used solving other problems, not ones there are already good solutions for.

– Joshua Lee, StandOut Authority

3. Are the Features Essential to the Success of Your Business?

Many SaaS products are highly customizable and provide a wide range of services. If you require something specific to your business that can’t come out of a box, then it’s time to consider building a new technology. If this is the case, then you have a great opportunity ahead of you. And chances are, someone out there is looking for a way to meet those needs as well.

– Jyot Singh, RTS Labs

4. Can an Existing SaaS Serve as a Buffer?

If you could potentially go either way, an existing SaaS can be an excellent stopgap while you build your own custom solution. Employing the SaaS in your daily workflow will allow you to see exactly where it works or doesn’t work for your unique situation, and you’ll have a much clearer picture of what you want to build.

Or you might find that the existing solution fits your needs better than you thought. The SaaS provider may even be willing to work with you to customize their solution for your needs.

– Laura Roeder,

5. Cost Versus Value

It’s incredibly expensive to build and sustain an effective software tool. Weigh the value and costs of building your own with subscribing to another SaaS product. If there aren’t sufficient tools to support your needs, and it’s absolutely necessary to build your own product, then it might be worth the investment.

Otherwise, it may be a better option to use an existing SaaS product.

– Brock Stechman, DivvyHQ

6. Will It Scale?

In many cases, your business needs can change quicker than you can develop matching solutions. That said, it’s important to consider whether or not a homegrown tool will suffice long term.

A provider that’s dedicated to building a specific product exclusively is likely going to be your best bet as you scale, unless you have incredibly particular needs that even specialty services cannot fulfill. Sometimes, your SaaS provider might even build in functionality you’ll love but didn’t anticipate.

– Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep

7. Quality of the SaaS Product

When you’re looking for a solution it can feel like all SaaS platforms are the same. Their websites, their instructional videos, etc are often very similar. However, there can be an enormous difference in quality from product to product.

When doing your research, use the website G2Crowd. This is like “Yelp for Saas.” Use these ratings as a guide when beginning your search; I’ve found them to be pretty accurate.

– Adam Stillman, SparkReel

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Good question, many answers and great points made.

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5 Ways Startups Can Leverage Big Data for a Competitive Advantage

5 Ways Startups Can Leverage Big Data for a Competitive Advantage | Competitive Edge |
While data is an inhuman science, it can be applied to help leaders be more nimble with their business strategy.

Big data is growing rapidly, and not just among big corporations.

Data allows companies, both big and small, to improve their offerings and make more informed decisions -- and data-driven companies are more valuable in both perception and reality.

Sharran Srivatsaa recently told me how his company, Teles Properties, uses data intelligence for its brokerage model. By mining, spotting and visualizing patterns in hyperlocal micro-market data, Teles accurately predicts likely sales prices for clients and properties. The firm has given its real-estate agents a distinct market advantage and sold homes for the highest negotiated prices in the shortest times among its competitive group.

And then there ride-sharing sensation Uber, which has used big data to disrupt an entire industry. The app relies on regression analysis to determine which neighborhoods will be the busiest and activate “ surge pricing” to get more drivers on the road. Uber uses data as both a competitive advantage and a product.Earlier this year, Uber agreed to sell its data on customer travel patterns, joining the growing ranks of companies using data as a source of revenue.

Even an established firm such as GE is flexing some entrepreneurial muscle when it comes to big data. GE’s Predix software, which aims to integrate GE sensors to create a true Internet of Things, is capable of sensing maintenance needs, predicting breakdowns and sending performance data to R&D to rapid-cycle product enhancements.

The company is staking its claim in the age of data industrialization, and its price/earnings ratio continues to climb. That’s the perceived value entrepreneurs can also gain through big data.

Here are a few tips to start building a data-driven company:

Read more: click image or title.

Learn more about funding, find great funding sources, get a free business plan template, post your funding request for free, and more:

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

#BigData is becoming big business. Find out why and how. If you're in business, you'll most likely have to deal with it one way or another.

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The Best Software Tools to Run a Startup

The Best Software Tools to Run a Startup | Competitive Edge |

Time and money are precious commodities for entrepreneurs. With not much of either, here are a few tools to help run your media startup more efficiently.

There’s never been a better time to start your own company, and the explosion of online tools has gone a long way toward reducing startup costs.

But they can also be a huge time suck, a deep rabbit hole that gets you lost in maximizing process at the expense of product.

We’ve been down a few rabbit holes launching NerdWallet, a media startup focused on finanical tools, to find the right software tools to get the job done. The process is ongoing -- we try, discard and try again. And while there are some amazing applications out there, we have also learned that sometimes a trusty spreadsheet can do the job rather than an online tool that over promises and under delivers.

To read the full article, click on the image or title.

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Via Luis Costa
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Some good ideas. Decide for yourself if those tools really make life easier and are worth the monthly fees.

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