It’s been a whirlwind July for NewKnow with Jaffray and Steve. Our founders crossed Canada, participating in some of the most innovative and interesting conferences in the tech and startup space.
With Jaff at Startupfest in Montreal, and Steve speaking at KnowHow on the West Coast, we’ve had an incredibly inspiring summer.
With so much to unpack (literally and figuratively), we sat down with NewKnow’s leaders to get best takeaways from their phenomenal experiences.
Jaff’s Startupfest Round-up:
So you were able to participate in one of Montreal’s most dynamic and energized conferences -- Startupfest. What was your favorite part about the event this year?
The CannabisFest and ScaleUpFest special events were particularly interesting, with amazing speakers and terrific networking opportunities. The new site was incredible, and the boat taxis were a stellar experience for arriving and departing each day.
What were some key takeaways from the event?
Learn to stand and walk before you try to run -- whether as a technology product, a startup business, considering financing, or even an entirely new industry like Cannabis!
Whose talk did you enjoy the most? What was it about?
Hanna Abaza from Shopify was an incredible talk at ScaleUpFest - not only because she was hilarious and delivered it in hyperspeed to meet her time limit, but also because she nailed the complexity of Marketing as an art/science/magic with process, interteam discipline, and the fact that every company or product's recipe for marketing success is different, so humility and constant learning is required for success.
Who were you most excited about meeting?
Apart from the usual suspects in the Montreal tech community, and the incredible team behind StartupFest (shout out to Phil Telio, Rebecca Croll, Katherine Johnsen and the whole team for an amazing event this year!), we were particularly excited to meet Greenline POS - our visions are very aligned in providing world class technology solutions for the burgeoning cannabis industry... as the saying goes, in a gold rush, there's a great business in selling picks and shovels!
Which startup (aside from yourselves!) is the one to watch in 2018?
RenoRun is definitely a personal favourite - they are a great team of entrepreneurs and operators who are growing fast, building a really fun brand while solving a real problem. You know, revolutionizing an industry, no big deal...kind of a big deal!
Any other events lined up this year?
In November, we’re headed to Ottawa to attend SAAS North for the first time, we’ve heard really positive feedback about the quality of speakers at that event! We are looking forward to the learning & networking opportunities, particularly as we start planning for the next stage of scaling at NewKnow.
Meanwhile, last week, Steve Gendron headed off to Vancouver for the KNOWshow, speaking on a panel about customer experience at their KNOWhow special event. I’m really looking forward to learn about his experience.
Thanks Jaff! Now, on to Steve...
Steve’s KnowShow Takeaways:
This is your second time at the KNOWshow, and first time at the inaugural KNOWhow Conference. What do like most about this event?
We were thrilled to be invited to the first ever KNOWhow conference, and loved seeing such enthusiastic participation from so many retailers and brands. It’s inspiring to see the time, energy, and resources these owners and managers are investing into their businesses. They’re clearly passionate about what they do.
As for the trade show itself, it’s always fun to come out and chat with customers on the West Coast! There is such a unique & vibrant retail industry in western Canada, but of course the challenges businesses face are the same everywhere so it was a lot of fun to tell new people what we’re up to… and see the same positive reaction!
What were some of the key takeaways from this year’s conference?
I think a key takeaway was that businesses need a 360° approach to their marketing strategy. We heard from some really sharp minds - Daryl Louise from Anti Social Solutions, Lexie Carbone from later.com, Crystal DeCnodder from Full Blast Creative. They all had great insights into how businesses can attract more eyeballs to their sites and more people to their stores.
The other key takeaway was that the value of getting more people into your store is only realized when matched by incredible customer experience. Your frontline workers have to impress, so customers will be compelled to come back again and again!
Whose talk excited or surprised you the most, and why?
KNOWHow was kicked off with a fantastic talk by Michelle Gault, Head of Product at Herschel and one of their earliest employees. We learned about the brand’s roller coaster ride and how they’ve both driven and managed their explosive growth.
Michelle emphasized the importance of collaboration amongst employees because it ensures the delivery of the best product possible. It’s also essential to extend this collaborative spirit to the business partners they work with. For Herschel, they see their partners success as their own. I thought that was fantastic!
Who were some of the brands or retailers that caught your attention?
Well, I’m a little biased towards TOMS shoes, but they really did a great job showcasing their new collection. Overall there was a lot of enthusiasm for what 2019 has in store. Big brands like Nixon, Volcom, Herschel, and Richer Poorer Socks were constantly busy, but it was also great to see smaller start-up brands booking orders. Clearly there’s a lot of great product out there, and proactive retailers interested in making their business stand-out from the crowd.
You were also a speaker on the KNOWhow “Marketing Success Through Customer Service" Panel. What was that like?
Having the opportunity to be on a panel with sharp guys like Brian White from Nixon, and Sean Miller from Parkland MFG was an honour! It was so much fun to talk about customer experience as a marketing tool, and the importance of frontline employees when it comes to helping brands and retailers develop a loyal customer base.
It was such a great learning opportunity for me, but it was also really encouraging to see that NewKnow is such a valuable product for businesses in today’s retail market.
Between Startupfest and KNOWhow, you guys have had a whirlwind two-weeks. So, what has this taught you about the retail landscape in 2018?
There’s a lot of optimism and confidence amongst both retailers and brands. We’ve been to a lot of conferences and tradeshows this year , and businesses are definitely investing in their success by using tools that help their employees deliver great experiences.
Whether that’s new POS systems, digital marketing solutions, or employee empowerment tools like NewKnow, these companies are focussed on what they need to do and are doing it! I think retail is in a really good spot and it’s only getting stronger!