For constant innovation
It’s been a tough couple of months for the hospitality industry. But when Vanessa Ogle of Enseo--a company known for being the first to integrate Netflix into hotel rooms--saw her clients’ revenue tank due the coronavirus, she saw how technology could help. Enseo introduced seven new products, and secured 10 new patents (Enseo is the lead inventor on a total of 40 U.S. patents), to help clients reopen and attract consumers. These include a virtual front desk agent, a temperature scanner, and an ultraviolet cleaning cart. “The most difficult thing about radical change is breaking inertia,” she says. “To go to an entire team of engineers and say, ‘Thanks for all the hard work on the products you’ve been building. I want you to drop everything and go do this new set of products that we’ve never done before,’” was an intense effort. Ogle likens the process of converting ideas to reality to a reduction in cooking, where you concentrate a flavor by applying heat--and the coronavirus certainly provided the pressure. –Gabrielle Bienasz
For bringing community, manufacturing, and housing together
Run the World
Because now is the time for a better virtual meeting
Xiaoyin Qu launched her company eight months before the Covid-19 pandemic forced widespread stay-at-hom orders in the U.S. – and for her startup, that may just have been perfect timing. Along with co-founder and CTO Xuan Jiang, Qu created Mountain View, California-based virtual event platform Run the World in July 2019.
The idea was inspired by Qu’s mother, a China-based doctor who obtained a visa to attend her first-ever international medical conference last year--after 35 years of practicing medicine. “It shouldn’t take 35 years of being a doctor to access that kind of networking,” thought Qu, a former product manager at Facebook and Instagram. One year into Stanford University’s MBA program, Qu dropped out to launch Run the World.
By February, Run the World had 10 employees and $4.3 million in seed funding, largely from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Those figures have since exploded: Run the World now has 50 employees and raised nearly $11 million in May. The company has so far hosted events with attendees, speakers, and organizers from 110 different countries.
Qu credits her team’s deliberate approach to iteration, which is designed to prevent knee-jerk reactions to customer feedback. “Customer needs change all the time,” she says. “Instead of just listening to customer requests, ask them, ‘Why do you want what you want?’” – Cameron Albert-Deitch