Rory Aronson revolutionised agriculture when he created the coolest invention ever—FarmBot—an AI robot which farms your veggie patch. Seriously, this autonomous robot plants seeds, waters the garden, checks the soil nutrients and kills the weeds. In this episode of MATE, Rory explains how he built this precision agriculture machine and why it’s going to transform the agriculture industry. We also discuss how he hacked the product launch video to go viral and smash the goal on their crowdfunding campaign.
What is CNC farming and what are the benefits?
How FarmBot works and how to build one
Who FarmBot is created for
Why Rory decided to make FarmBot open-source
How FarmBot compares to traditional methods of agriculture
Plans to make FarmBot available for under $1,000
Kickstarter’s impact on launching the project
How to make a your product launch video campaign go viral on social media
How Rory has dealt with the sudden media attention of becoming an instant celebrity
Bill Friedman has spent his entire adult life working in and around the Las Vegas casino business, alongside the gangsters who built the Las Vegas Strip. He has spent countless hours interviewing members of The Mafia, researching their histories and building a picture of the gambling industry in America. In this fascinating conversation, Bill shares the stories and lessons learned from the gangsters of Las Vegas.
Part 1: Bill Friedman’s background and the gangster history of Las Vegas
Part 2: Casino management and how casinos are designed to keep players focused on gambling
Part 3: The marketing and business lessons learned from how gangsters operated their Las Vegas casinos
Bill Friedman explains how he got involved in the casino business
The legalisation of gambling in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Bill’s fascination with gangsters, their business ethics and how he socialised with them.
Objecting to his drafting in the Vietnam War and being questioned by the FBI
Hollywood’s misrepresentation of The Mob
Bill’s research with the School of Criminology at the University of California, Berkeley.
What is Casino Management?
The unique ways casinos are designed and how they are conducive to enticing gamblers to play
Personalised service, giving customers what they want and the many ways casinos reward high-rollers.
The real reason casino chips are used at the tables instead of cash
How Frank Woolworth pioneered retail merchandising
Chris Rauschnot is a digital influencer, content producer and marketing consultant from Las Vegas, Nevada. I interviewed Chris at the Bellagio Hotel on The Strip, where he revealed the marketing secrets big brands can learn from Las Vegas. We also talked about influencer marketing, social media marketing, Pokémon GO, and why Chris decided to base his business in Sin City.
Topics and links:
Christopher Rauschnot describes himself as a digital influencer, brand advocate, writer, blogger and traveller. He works as a digital consultant in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Chris’s writing includes: blogging; reviewing products, services and travel experiences; covering celebrity appearances; and has recently been writing copy for products being launched on crowdfunding sites.
If you could give one piece of digital marketing advice to any brand, what would it be? Engage with your current audience.
FordPass is Ford’s foray into mobile, with a comprehensive digital concierge service predicted to trounce GM’s OnStar. The app’s FordGuides will answer travel questions regardless of whether you own a Ford vehicle. This is part of Ford’s mobility strategy of, ‘How do we get people from point A to point B with our brand involved?’
Maneesh Sethi is a serial entrepreneur and a serial troublemaker. He’s the founder of Pavlok, a habit-changing wearable wristband which gives you electric shocks. His career is pervaded with shocking (no pun intended!) stories … like the time he bought his own private island; the story of how he wrote a best-selling book at 14 years-old; or when he had a heated argument with billionaire Mark Cuban on Shark Tank. Maneesh has spent time working with some of the all-time best business thinkers, and in this episode of MATE he shares the business advice he personally received from the likes of Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin and Richard Branson.
Topics and links:
Maneesh Sethi is the founder of Pavlok, a behaviour company which helps people change their habits. They released the Pavlok wearable device, which helps people form good habits and break bad habits using operant and classical conditioning.
At 14 years-old, Maneesh wrote a best-selling book called Game Programming for Teens. The book took-off and became one of the top computer books in America and featured on the Amazon best-seller list. It even became a textbook in Poland (and was translated into 4 languages)!
“Everyone thinks that I’m trying to build [Pavlok] a product that really helps people. [They think], “I like that you’re testing it with other people and with yourself to see if you can help others.” And I’m like, “No, no, no … you don’t understand. I’m trying to build a product to get me to fucking get my shit done, so I’m testing it on all of you so that I know the perfect solution to solve it for me!”” ~ Maneesh Sethi
“Behaviour is really just a manifestation of all of our decisions. So the way you act is based on what’s going on in your head.” ~ Adam Jaffrey
Bob Knorpp is a consultant and a podcaster. He works with businesses to help them understand their brands and solve their big marketing problems. I met Bob on the sunny rooftop of his building in midtown Manhattan, where we discussed: what is a brand, how do you build a successful brand, how to develop effective content marketing and what happens if brands stop advertising? Bob is a self-taught marketing professional who also teaches a Master’s Degree at NYU.
Topics and links:
How to demonstrate your value using an effective elevator pitch
The start-up world gets too bogged-down with what their product does (i.e. the functional benefit) rather than understanding who their customer is and what your brand means to them (i.e. the intangible benefits). Think like the customer: “What’s in it for me?”
“A brand is not what you say to people in your marketing communications, a brand is how you do business, a brand is your identity …” ~ Bob Knorpp
“Your brand is not your logo; your brand is the experience of the consumer with your product or with your service. Your brand is built up through experience, after experience, after experience. And ultimately the logo is just a reminder of an experience that you had.” ~ Bob Knorpp
What happens if brands stop advertising?
Who’s doing brand advertising well? Apple, Zappos and Amazon.
Why you need brand advocates and how to generate them
“A great idea for an ad does not bring people to your product. What it does is it might incite a little bit of trial, and if they’re not having an amazing experience with the product they’re never going to come back.” ~ Bob Knorpp
“No matter how many different medias come into play, we do three things in marketing. We either brand, we do direct response or we do public relations … So, we have three initiatives. Every other thing that we do in marketing is a media choice. So, there is no such thing as digital marketing or social media marketing … These are just media choices that we can execute any of the three core initiatives of marketing across.” ~ Bob Knorpp
Why does McDonald’s need to maintain brand awareness through advertising when they are one of the most recognisable brands in the world?
What’s pissing you off right now? The evangelists for specific marketing techniques: single-channel experts (e.g. social media experts, word of mouth experts). These approaches are plain ignorant and don’t consider the need to achieve overarching marketing objectives, regardless of the channel used.
Who should I interview next? Mitch Joel. “He will not only be your toughest interview subject, but he will put you on the spot, because he is one of the smartest people I know.” ~ Bob Knorpp
Joel and Maria House are a Brisbane couple who are travelling the world with their SEO business. I asked them: what is SEO, why is it important and how do you master it? Joel and Maria share the key tips on how to structure your business to enable you to travel the world. And … we get really deep and meaningful to discuss life purpose, knowing your “Why”, and how to build a happy and fulfilling life. I met these fellow Aussies and recorded the first international edition of MATE at the WeWork coworking space in Dumbo, Brooklyn, New York, USA.
Topics and links:
Organic Google traffic provides the best business leads
Why Maria and Joel work as a small company rather than a big corporation
Everything in New York City is on such a grand scale
Marketing in New York City is much more aggressive, direct and competitive than in Australia.
The economics of running a business in the USA vs Australia. A business needs only to be mildly successful in the USA to make radically more money than in Australia, due to the sheer difference in population!
Tommy McCubbin—advertising Creative Director, dad and podcaster—joins me on MATE to discuss why he thinks advertising sucks, how to avoid the #1 start-up mistake and share his thoughts on podcasting. We jump right into his controversial opinions about the advertising industry and why traditional ads don’t work. Tommy reveals the harsh truth behind why his start-up failed and the warning signs he ignored. And we also talk about exciting new technology, trends in podcasting and how to succeed with side projects.
Tarron Newman—Co-founder of RIPE Intelligence—joins me on MATE to discuss how he revolutionised Australia’s emergency management with data. Through the creation of their product, EmergencyAUS, Tarron and his co-founder Luke were able to collate public emergency data when government agencies could not. Today, EmergencyAUS is the most popular national emergency information app in Australia. In episode 7 of MATE, we talk about how they created their product and built their company. We also explore the highs and lows of life as an entrepreneur. And … Tarron tells me the deep, dark, secret that his ‘I made it moment’ is the day he buys his helicopter. 🚁
Links and resources:
RIPE Intelligence, the company which assists emergency services and the public make more informed decisions during emergencies.
EmergencyAUS smartphone app, the most popular National Emergency Information app in Australia, which alerts users to emergencies across Australia. The app was developed by RIPE Intelligence.
The Black Saturday bushfires were a series of catastrophic bushfires that devastated the Australian state of Victoria on and around Saturday, 7 February 2009. There was a subsequent Royal Commission to investigate all aspects of the circumstances surrounding the bushfires.
Ryan McLeod—designer and developer of Blackbox for iPhone—talks to me via Skype about how and why he came up with this crazy idea for an iPhone puzzle game. We talk about some of the design challenges he encountered while making Blackbox, and explore what life is like as an indie developer (when the hordes of fans come bashing on your door wanting new levels!). Ryan also discusses the principles of good design, and what it’s been like creating an interaction-heavy game without a formal design background. It’s a fascinating and hilarious chat!
📲 DOWNLOAD Blackbox, the iPhone puzzle game (FREE on the App Store).
🎥 WATCH VIDEO of this episode on YouTube (the video of our Skype call).
Note 1: You should download the game Blackbox (it’s FREE) on iPhone before listening to this episode, as it will give you some context for the discussion I have with Ryan.
Note 2: Since I recorded the video from my Skype call with Ryan, I decided to test out a video edition of MATE for this episode. You can watch the discussion on YouTube if you’d like some additional visual stimulation.
Saul Flores—Chief Strategy Officer at DT—chats today about business strategy, the myths of innovation and what he’s learned through some of his crazy jobs in management. Saul has a Master’s Degree and is also a Stanford Business School graduate, and he shares his wealth of knowledge from these endeavours. We also talk about how he’s done so well in his short career, how to optimise for the best business outcomes and what it means to be a “highly trained logical-cynic with pragmatic-idealism”.
“Getting the job a McMaster-Carr was turning point number one [in my career]. Stanford was [the second] big turning point for me.” ~ Saul Flores
MATE: “Do you experience impostor syndrome?” SF: “Constantly. I think that’s been a factor in every new job I’ve ever had.”
“I was 27 when [DT’s CEO] Brian reached out to me, 28 when I started at DT and still 28 when I started as Strategy Director.” ~ Saul Flores
MATE: “Looking back at your career, and education, do you have an ‘I made it’ moment?” SF: “Not really. I think the more I’ve worked the more I’ve realised there’s more to do.”
“You’re a highly trained logical-cynic, and a value you have is pragmatic-idealism. What the fuck does that mean?!” ~ Adam Jaffrey
“Innovation is solving a problem that hasn’t been solved before, or a different way of solving the same problem, in a way that you get value from it in a marketplace.” ~ Saul Flores
“Innovation is mostly iterative, it’s mostly collaborative, and it’s rarely some brand-new invention the world’s never seen before.” ~ Saul Flores
“The reality of it is, there’s no one silver bullet that makes you innovative. It’s an organisational design process. There’s culture, there’s resourcing, there’s structures, there’s technologies, there’s tools, and … there’s a commitment. The most important ingredient is failure. You just have to fail a bunch if you want to try something new.” ~ Saul Flores
“I think ‘fast-mover’ [instead of first-mover] is important. So, when you know a move is a good move to make, get there quickly. You don’t have to be the first one. If you’re optimising for first, you’re not optimising for a lot of other things, like: do it well, do it cheaply, server a real need, etc.” ~ Saul Flores
“I don’t like to predict the future, I really try not to. I hate writing a 3-year roadmap for a client because I’m just making it up at that point, and they’re never going to follow it anyway.” ~ Saul Flores
The guest on this episode: Saul Flores, Chief Strategy Officer at DT.