Content is the key for progression, not the tech

26/2/19 — Late night thought on how communication is key for culture progression, and in turn, the content.

A late night thought pops up as I’m reading stuff about coding and web technologies. It triggers me to think about what I am doing, learning is all about the web. Something that became popular only around mid-90s and early-00s.

The Internet is the source that now powers all these growth and web companies. Many modern advancements appear within the last 2 decades — online shopping (Amazon and eBay, classic), online payment, remote working, many more.

Then we have the 2007 inception of iPhones. Smartphones make websites more accessible to people. Internet became ubiquitous with our mobile devices everywhere and faster network, cloud etc. Suddenly you get the information around the globe at your fingertips.

All new information starts to flow in even more rapidly, even for work. Productivity enhanced with people communicating faster, better, more frequently. At work, many people can even power their business all from their pocket 24/7, me excluded.

The core development of all tech promotes how people invent, deliver, receive and retrieve information.

With all these great tools, good things spread faster and so are the bad ones.

​Culture is built from communicating the right information.

I’m always intrigued by the motive of running (or back then work for) businesses that save time for people. What we do at Maven Access should go beyond merely saving time for workers. We shall also aim at finding ways to enhance their work quality and efficiency. Done is better than perfect, but done in the wrong direction is worse than doing nothing.

At the end of the day, we are in the field of content marketing. Content regardless of any form, visual, audio, textual is the essence of communications. It is what matters for real communications. Reading junk from a content farm means nothing. That wastes your time for the very least let alone twisting facts.

Nerd alert: As an engineering grad, I love the concept of vector quantities, which consists of both magnitude (how fast you go) and direction (where do you go). Going fast in the wrong direction is awful.

Information is about getting right, quality content.

Anybody, not just working professionals, that would produce new content that might impact or affect others shall take note for:

  1. Better ways to deliver the content and;
  2. Better content quality

Good content is a determining factor. It is the bullet, what matters. All channels — social media, mobile, TV, podcast or influencer are the hardware, the guns. Whether or not if you shoot a lead bullet or bubbles from the pistol is your choice.

Based on what I thought we should take note on, that leaves me with 2 questions

One — What would be the next wave that fundamentally spreads right, authentic content faster, better? With the impact that as far as printing does in the 15th century or as near as mobile internet does in the last decade. Something beyond fancy front-facing applications but hardcore tech.

Two — How shall one select and detach from the overwhelming amount of information? Or better yet, detach from the internet at all from time to time.

TL;DR: I believe that technology helps us to connect with each other and the world’s information better. But to be sure you/your company is gatekeeping the quality and authenticity of it.

Please share your thoughts to help debug my 2 questions, comment here or tweet @edwin_psty

Happy writing!

Founder, Maven Access

About the author

Edwin Ty

Founder of Maven Access. Passionate in building products, content that saves people time. In love with the future of work, believing that work is a big part of our lives and we should find ways to enjoy it.

Write about #Entrepreneurship, #Content, #product, random thoughts.

Why are we taking down our freelancer marketplace

First of all, what is Maven Access

Maven Access is a Marketing Tech (MarTech) Startup. We aim to simplify content creation with a freelancer platform and AI tools. It’s all about creating the future workplace. We envision everyone works on anything they love, with anyone they like at anytime they want.

Our core value: time-saving. We started Maven Access as we want to save time for the workforce. That will never be changed nor pivoted, despite our products have changed a couple of times. 

We do it by reducing the friction of workflows between parties. That is where our freelancers, content collaboration tools, and NLP prediction model come in.

Why did we exist?

We are born to ease the pain of inefficiency at the workplace and its processes. We want to save everyone's time at work so they get more freedom on other things. The premise is that we connect businesses to right talents and resources they need to achieve great work, on demand at an affordable cost.

We believed 2 things by heart in our business.

  1. Freelancing and remote working is the future of work.
  2. Content marketing is the future of marketing.

"Maven (n.) One who is experienced or knowledgeable."

The inspiration of the name “Maven” was from the book “the tipping point” by the author, Malcolm Gladwell on how small things can make a big difference. We aspire to make a big influence in the world with a small impact each time. We embrace the concept of the connector, maven, and salesperson mentioned in the book.

We believe creators are the domain knowledge experts - Mavens. They will never be replaced. Whereas a good product along with good content carries the "salesperson" effect already. Technology is the best "connector" now to bring us together.

"Bottom line - we aspire to become an organization that helps people to sell, market, and work more effectively."

So... what happened with the marketplace?

Hey, Airbnb has launched 3 times before they hit the grand slam! We've discovered a way that wasn't optimal for us - a good sign!

We started out as a freelancer platform focusing on all the content writers such as copywriters, translators etc. in Asia cities. We connect SMEs and Small agencies to find and work with the local freelance talents directly.

The bright side of it

We managed to acquire talents that are super experienced in their respective domains. Close to 80% of our freelance talents are from the industry: being either a journalist or a PR practitioner. They know their stuff, they know their fields. Our projects come from different industries. From co-working space, e-Commerce companies, F&B companies, and fashion startups. On the B2B side, we've served investment institutions, professional conferences, publications and more.

Maven Access Marketplace Product shot collage

Now to the not-so-bright side of it.

Most of our clients are from Hong Kong, with some from the UK, Brazil, and Singapore. They don't quite adopt the model of "marketplace". Meaning most of the time, most companies would rather go through us through the offline medium, either phone, texts. On the other hand, due to our freelancers' identity by day, a lot of them chose to stay anonymous and let us handle the communications.

We once again became a traditional agency with many inefficiencies at work.
But there goes a learning part!

Our lessons learned

First lesson

We learned that our marketplace product isn't a perfect solution. There are many ways to perfect it and tweak it to suit the use case.

The second lesson

A more valuable one. Is the workflow of our clients. How to better create a product for them. Finding a freelancer for them isn't the end. Many of our current clients may not have a strategy in place at first. And they don't have the right way to manage all the people, content projects and content assets.

To solve this, we have launching our new product Maven COREThe original marketplace feature will integrate into the system. All content and information will stay safe and is well kept in our internal system as well.

Company users can now create content projects on Maven CORE. For each project, you get to collaborate with a set of involved stakeholders. And only relevant people can view and access the project content and assets. You get to create and edit content on the spot; checking all previous versions as references without even switching a tab. Approval process and project management are so much easier. 

Why using Maven CORE for content collaboration

Benefits of merging the marketplace into Maven CORE

1. Better security

Previously, as an open platform, many users have raised concerns regarding security and privacy. With an enhanced back-end infrastructure, we protect your personal and project information even better now. Collaborators can only view the content and assets within the project and nothing more. For managers perspective, it's much easier to control the access right level.

2. Onboard the right people to each project.

In each project, you could invite your collaborators to it. No matter your in-house team, vendors, agencies or freelancers. If they belong to your network or your vendor's network, just a click will drag them to the project.

3. You still get to find freelancers, but just much easier.

If you need help out of your network's expertise, hiring freelancer is just one click away. Here is how you can access our original marketplace freelancers. But this time, with a much easier communication flow. And the freelancer will be masked yet with our verified badge after the vetting process.

4. Tracking tasks and assignment

We often set milestones for a project. Such as "having research done by xxx", "completing draft 1", "adding graphics" etc. You can now set them for each project and track the progress. You can even assign a specific task to a person, regardless of the in-house team or vendor.

What's next

For company users

If you're interested in trying Maven CORE or ping me anytime. Are you looking for consultation on content marketing? Or need a curated freelance team to handle content projects? Please fill your brief at Access Link.

For the current freelancer member

Don't worry at all, your information will be kept safely with us internally and will be integrated into our system.

Most importantly, the default setting will be masked identity, which is equivalent to "Anonymous profile" in the current marketplace set up. Brands will only be able to see your relevant work, portfolio, experience inside Maven CORE as well as our team will curate for them.

For new freelancers

Please sign up your profile here. After submitting the form, our team will be in touch will you and vet your profile accordingly before going into the system.

Most importantly! We appreciate all our users, customers' support and we will continue on improving our products. This could not be done with us alone. We look forward to hearing all the feedbacks, product comments, feature suggestions from you all. Catch me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Stay awesome!

Maven Access

About the author

Edwin Ty

Founder of Maven Access. Passionate in building products, content that saves people time. In love with the future of work, believing that work is a big part of our lives and we should find ways to enjoy it.

Write about #Entrepreneurship, #Content, #product, random thoughts.

Maven Access - Market against the giants

How should startups with limited budget market themselves against industry leaders

What happened:

Recently YouGov has released, based on their Brandindex’s Word of Mouth metric, these findings of the top 10 most discussed brands among Hong Kong millennials. 2 online payment companies and 3 consumer companies took up the top 5 spots here.

We find the results very insightful yet also triggered us to think about what should we do if our direct competitions happen to be among them?

Top brands among millennials

Here are my two cents on how your startups, or for marketers with a limited budget to advertising, can leverage content over ads.

Why you should care about content over advertising:

These are the reasons why content marketing might suit you more than advertising would.

1. Avoid getting into a price war.

Advertising is mostly on digital space now since first, it is much cheaper when comparing to offline ads ranging from billboards, print ads, whatnot. Second, for startup services that focus on a specific group of audience, it's much easy to target the ads and measure ROI, impact etc.

But by SEM (Search Engine Marketing), if you’re a startup, most keywords you want to use might get outbid by a giant. In fact, many keywords have gone way above USD 200 per word in 2018 according to Kantar Media.

Ain't no startup could or should spare that much money on SEM. Either you find a very niche keyword like "Gucci Toilet" or else a keyword like "leather purse" won't be helpful to you.

2. Banner ads and Display ads are losing their glory.

By the way, all the display ads and banner ads don't work as well as they would before. According to LinkedIn, 92 percent of online banner ads go unnoticed or ignored. I know right, it sounds sad. There is a banner blindness effect going on now.

It means the reader will recognize and ignore all the display / banner ads. Even if you use a pop-up window, the first thing their eyeballs go after isn't the tagline but the little "x" to exit.

We know the ads are coming

This is pretty much how they feel about it, phew....

3. Content builds a long-lasting organic effect and it is healthy for your SEO.

Start to think about content marketing. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has almost everything to do with content. You want your website, your blog, your product page is searchable on search engines? Write something! By only doing advertisement, you got next to nothing for search engines to index for. And worst of all? It all stops once you stop paying.

That being said, SEO is less about instant effect though. You're expecting to see results to come in months later. So for starters, it's still good to do both SEO, SEM and other channel's advertisements (carefully).

By building right content on your own content, you build your brand with an opinion and stance. You're putting yourself out there for your audience. We will later have a separate post on how much content and what type of them is good for your SEO strategy.

How to go about it:

1. Any content is better than no content

Content Marketing Institute's report suggests that content marketing has become an almost universal tactic. Since with almost 90% of companies using it in 2016, and even more will be utilizing it in 2017 and 2018. Nielsen's studies shares that average consumers engage with more than 11 pieces of content before making a purchase.

It really isn't surprising when you think about it. When you search for "best mother's day gift", very easily you'd go through the first 4 links in the result page, right? Then when you nail down to getting a bouquet, there goes another search.

The content marketing adoption rate is still low in Asia (and hurray that’s good). As we are helping companies to work on their content marketing in Asia, we know that not so many players are producing much content here. Many consumers even for myself, would reference the content we found from Europe or North America.

There are not so many companies are creating content in Asia yet, especially in Hong Kong, you have a great chance in standing out.

2. Write extremely niche content, that is intended for only 10-20% of your target audience pool.

That way you're getting a higher chance to be searched by a specific term or linked by a relevant post. Take this exact post as an example, at Maven Access, we aim to help companies to become more efficient in content production whereas we help them by providing tools they need and talents required. However, we can’t manage to target all these companies at once.

For organic search, it makes more sense for this blog to be searchable by people from industries mainly dominated by incumbents but they have an intention to compete against industry leaders with next to nothing on their hands.

You can’t fit all appetite at once. Try to tailor. If you're pleasing everybody, you end up pleasing nobody.

3. Adding some flavor of personality. Even for your brand.

I’ve seen this many times, content coming from many established companies are not reader-friendly. Not like they didn’t have good content, but the opposite, too much of it. The whole piece sounds almost robotic (or they really have used machine generated content, who knows).

Only if machine generated articles sound more human in 2018....

When I’m working with my clients from established scale vs startup level, this is super obvious. Sometimes the founders really do know their brand persona the best. It’s our job to dig out all the details, messages, and background stories from them to write about. Yet, if we are only dealing with a manager who newly joined the team, we might need more time to go through this. In that case, we can easily spot the rigidity in their “safe” way of writing. Usually to safeguard their image and make sure thing are objective. Sometimes it invites the image of lacking originality and opinion.

Use more first-person writing style. You could even crack a joke or two. Robots lack your humor:) I still like this video of the Sophia robot on BBC show a lot.

With that being said, we do believe in machine generated work such as machine translation as our other product is heavily involved with NLP (natural language processing). But we believe most tools on the market can't do the one-size-fit-all approach to make content relevant for all occasions. 

All in all...

Start to think of other ways of marketing yourself. Especially when your battlefield has so many giants with tons of resources. There are still methods and channels that require very minimal investment.

Next time before you place an ad for your company, simply ask yourself, "have I installed an ad-blocker?" If the answer is yes, think of an alternative way to get your brand name out.

Write on!


About the author

Edwin Ty

Founder of Maven Access. Passionate in building products, content that saves people time. In love with the future of work, believing that work is a big part of our lives and we should find ways to enjoy it.

Write about #Entrepreneurship, #Content, #product, random thoughts.

Getting enterprises to adopt SaaS startup products……

Just replied to a Quora question on “What makes leading Enterprises/Companies adopt SaaS?” I thought might be good to share my two cents here as well. I’ve expanded more thoughts and my current company’s example at the end.

Below is some modified abstract from my answer.

— — — — — —

In the enterprise settings, it normally takes 4–6 touch points before the final decision makers make the call. Put things in context, I sold SaaS products to Salespeople, PR & Marketing pros, startup owners. Mostly in North Asia, since culture matters (will touch on this), it’s good to let you know where I come from.

2 keys, all SaaS products should serve either one or both purposes of A) Revenue generating; and B) Operation Efficiency.

Generally, you will encounter 1) Users and 2) Buyers that matter the most.

— — — — — —


1) Work with Users:

  • [Usually] Operation Efficiency matters.
  • They care about UI and UX
  • They know the real influence of your product, whether your product is helpful.
  • Feedback to understand your product’s potential impact to that particular organization.
  • Get the insider news here — budget cycle, politics, the real decision maker (e.g. Boss’s son) etc.
  • Get them on your end and their endorsement of your product.
  • Make them your champion, to help you co-sell to their boss.
    This is what many tech conferences have been doing. Building a landing page full of info to lure the techies about a Cloud Server or things in that nature, then attach a letter or certificate for the reader to download, so as to convince the boss to pay for the trip.

2) Work with Buyers:

  • [Usually] Revenue generation matters
  • They care about figures, ROI, budgets investment.
  • Talk to them in the right tones and context set up based on the info gathered previously.
  • Basic info should be known by now (e.g. budget cycle). Gather high-level insights like their strategic 3-year plan, how your company can fit in.
  • Be objective to compare all the competitors or go a step further to help them think of how the vendors can all work together for them.
  • Shout out to the endorsements from the users. Let them know that, no matter how effective or cheap the product is, if their users don’t like nor use them, Buyers eventually will have to find a replacement.

All in all, aligning interest with parties is key. Depending on your product, for my experience, selling to salespeople can easily align all folks since they all wanna exceed targets, whereas selling to PR folks will be different as the management wants ROI while users wanna save time only.

— — — — — —

Culture matters:

Selling in Hong Kong, China (Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen), Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, UK (London), the US (SF) are all very different.

Each city (not even on the country level), has different rules that apply to different industries.

On the surface, their tech adoption rate, government policy, company hierarchy is one. On the other side, where do they like to talk about business, company and personal interest. All took some time to figure out.

— — — — — —

Our company, Maven Access, was originally a freelancer platform for content writers in Asia. We set out to help marketers save cost and time when finding local marketing experts.

However, we found that most people got stuck in the planning stage, and a platform wasn’t enough for them.

Thus, we are launching new AI tools based on NLP (Natural Language Processing) for marketers and owners and we let some early users use the beta version for now.

We aim at saving their time and help them to perform marketing based on science but not just guesses. It will be a subscription-based SaaS product, ideally, we want to address both Keys mentioned above of A) Revenue generation and B) Operation Efficiency.

Effectively for the marketing department to predict better ROI and save time.

— — — — — —

To fellow SaaS founders,

After speaking with many new leads recently, my approach may not work for all but was to be super niche. I boiled down a list of prospects that are both Buyer and User. In my case, (Regional) Managers for big corporates, Directors for agencies and startups. I wish to save some discovery time by doing so yet I had to spend much time researching or asking for warm referrals.

→ Not good for growing a sales for the stable product, but works well for testing a new market.

Many early users now agree to use our products have the bargaining power to make the hammer call too.



Saving time for marketers and return the control back to workers.