Failures, Facts, and Fast Walking: TechTrek East 2018

“Fail fast”

…And cheaply.

Among all the companies we visited on our action-packed Trek to New York City, this was a common theme every company touched upon in some way.

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To be adaptable, react to shortcomings, and pivot accordingly is something all companies, of all sizes, have had to deal with. An analogy that struck me about this necessity of change was explained by President Carlos Dominguez at our first visit at Sprinklr. Carlos explained that statistically speaking, four out of five patients, when told to change their lives (in terms of smoking habits, obesity, etc…) do not make the required change, and therefore choose death over life. With businesses today, the change is even more ubiquitous in terms of frequency and necessity in order to remain relevant in today’s digital economy. Specifically, at such a massive company like Metlife, I was surprised that Hugh Dineen stated how the company institutes organizational change once every three to six months, and that those who are not on board with it can leave, while those who are on board or so-so about the change can stay along for the ride and adjust their roles accordingly.

Some other examples of adapting to change in companies we visited were:

  • Dropbox adapting to new business operations post-IPO and creating new business and paper features
  • Facebook seeing VR as the next computing platform in ten years
  • JW Player in claiming that the two most important things in starting a business are: being flexible and having a great co-founder/team
  • Harry’s in listening to customer feedback and adjusting accordingly, especially with their new launch of their new women’s line
  • Classpass in expanding internationally and changing from unlimited classes to class passes to a credit system and a new at-home workout streaming platform
  • wework in not only working with small companies, but catering to companies of any size and meeting their needs in ways that traditional real estate agents can’t; also expanding and scaling new platforms such as welive, wegrow, poweredbywe, and more
  • MetLife in being motivated by new marketing techniques to utilize new MarTech strategies and balancing strategic marketing with 1-to-1 marketing
  • Google in slowly “sunsetting” campaigns that do not go well, such as Google+

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Another thing that struck me in all of these company visits was the importance of utilizing data to drive business decisions, and specifically leveraging these insights to enact change and consequent adaptations. Some examples are:

  • Freshly claiming to be a 60% data and 40% food company
  • Handy People Operations Manager Mike Wander in claiming “data beats opinion”
  • MetLife using data and AI to be an enabler of opportunity and change, therefore changing the human component to decision making and reacting to data insights
  • Goldman Sachs in leveraging data through machine learning to personalize sales, maintain relationships, etc…
  • Socure, Bread, and Petal in using AI insights to better tailor their products to their customers in lower cost structures

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Before the trip, I knew both were necessary for starting a business of any size or scale. However, after hearing these insights over and over again, I realize I had no clue just how crucial they are. By using both adaptability and data to change operations when the data presents itself, a company is infinitely more likely to achieve success. I hope that in whatever career I pursue, I am able to maintain an open mind and view data in a way that allows me to learn much more than just sticking to the status quo.

Additionally, I never realized just how much of an asset the BC alumni network is. Everyone’s efforts in coordinating these visits were instrumental to the learning and insights we were able to achieve as a group. At the wework BC reception, it was great to hear from alumni and see first-handedly just how willing they are to help out a fellow Eagle.

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Lastly, in listening to Frances at Two Sigma Ventures, I was really interested in seeing how Venture Capital can be used to analyze trends and really see the fit between founders’ ideas and market potential. I was super inspired by hearing Frances’ background in data science and how she uses this background to see potential in people and know when to believe in ideas. It was so great to see a BC alumna breaking into the world of VC, especially as a woman, so this visit I think will stand out the most to me in terms of what I want to do in my long-term career.

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Overall, it was such an amazing trip and I am so appreciative of all the opportunities we were given as a class. I heard from some truly inspirational people and have officially confirmed my passion for a career in technology, even though I have felt an internal conflict about this for my first two years at BC. Thank you to all for so many great conversations with alumnae, and let’s be on the other side of these visits eventually!

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4 thoughts on “Failures, Facts, and Fast Walking: TechTrek East 2018

  1. Katie, great final blog post. It’s so bittersweet to read your recap on our amazing experiences last week in New York. I definitely learned so many lessons on our trip and you captured them really well. Adapting to change and utilization of data are going to be critical for companies in the future as the world continues to speed along, necessitating companies to take advantage of business analytics and flexibility to grow. Thank you for a great trip and I really enjoyed getting to know you. Hope that doesn’t stop! See you tomorrow.

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  2. Great blog post, Katie. I definitely agree that one of the biggest takeaway from the trip was that data drives all of these companies, regardless of their goal, culture, or size. I think this will become increasingly important as the power of data advances and becomes more engrained into artificial intelligence technology.

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  3. Great post Katie! I think that you captured really well the biggest takeaways from the trip. The one that impressed me during the trip was the BC network. Once one gets into BC they tell you that the network is really strong but it is completely different to see it in action. As you said I hope we get to be at the other side of the visits.

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  4. Thanks for a great semester, Katie! I really enjoyed getting to know you through the class and on the trip. I was also super impressed with the use of data analytics and the BC network on these trips. Seeing Frances at Two Sigma and her disruption of the VC world was huge encouragement to me as well. NYC was the best place to get to know everyone through fast walking and early mornings.

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