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Using Technology to Tap into New Sources of Revenue: Highlights of Technology Panel at Bone McAllester Norton


Recently my law firm hosted a panel on technology.  It was a packed audience, and more guests showed up than rsvp’d, showing us that this was a topic that people really want to know more about.  Usually law firms invite clients and friends to hear about risks or changes in the law.  This event was all about business opportunity.

Since the beginning of 2011, I’ve given 1-2 speeches a month on the legal issues involved in using social media.  These talks typically have revolved around social media as a marketing tool, but not necessarily linked directly with creating new revenue.  At our tech panel, we wanted to focus instead on how companies and individuals can use technology to create new streams of revenue.  How can they tap into new revenue sources by creating their own apps, games and contests?  And what is on the horizon that none of us has even contemplated?

We invited an expert panel, comprised of David Owens of Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management, Nicholas Holland, CEO and Founder of CentreSource, and two of our clients, Parker Polidor, CEO and Co-Founder of Cell Journalist and Carter Hopkins, CEO and Co-Founder of City Streak, LLC.  Our audience was made up of leaders of financial institutions, educational institutions, technology companies, start-ups, developers, and venture capital firms.  We asked our panel and our audience to focus on three things:  (1) using technology to create new revenue streams, (2) tapping into the growing technology sector here in Nashville, rather than shipping assignments out of state to Silicon Valley or Texas, and (3) using our panelists’ stories as inspiration.

David Owens kicked off the discussion by talking about how companies that develop technology these days are recruiting high school students and high school graduates rather than college graduates, because young people are so connected with technology these days.  He talked about how younger people are physically developing stronger hands, fingers and forearms as a result of constantly using Smartphones, and how marketing firms are beginning to place signs and advertisements at foot level and knee level in stores, rather than overhead, because our bodies are getting used to looking down at a hand-held device all day, rather than looking up.  These are just some of the physiological and physical changes that are taking place from an evolutionary perspective, based on our recent adoption of certain technological devices.

Nick Holland did a great job providing an overview of how businesses can tap into technology from a variety of perspectives and in order to accomplish multiple goals.  His company is one of the fastest growing technology companies in America, and its based right here in Nashville.  Already as a result of our panel, members of the audience have hired CentreSource to help them with their needs.  This is great for them, for CentreSource, and for Nashville.

Parker Polidor shared his company’s amazing story, which deserves far greater recognition in Nashville than it currently has.  Cell Journalist is one of the biggest connectors and providers of user-generated content (UGC), such as videos of the floods captured from the Northeast over the past few weeks on individuals’ cell phones, which they then upload to various local and national news stations across the country.  As a direct result of the panel that we hosted, Cell Journalist was approached by one of the nation’s largest media conglomerates and is in the process of negotiating additional work.

Finally, Carter Hopkins, who was the youngest person in the room, and had just graduated from college at SMU in May 2010, captivated the audience by telling his story of how he and his business partner invested just over $10,000 to start this company, which already has thousands of fans and followers on Twitter and Facebook.  His company is similar to a combination of The Amazing Race and Groupon, which lets its target audience of individuals in college and recent graduates go on scavenger hunts in urban locations around the country.  They hunt for prizes and the game is based on speed and skill.  They also realize that they are in a unique position to help companies promote their products and services by incorporating them into the scavenger hunt as clues.  One of my takeaways from the morning was a conversation after the event with one of the older attendees, who said how inspired she was by Carter’s presentation.  She said it got her wheels spinning and that she is already thinking about new ways she can incorporate similar concepts into her own app.
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