Friday, April 2, 2010

A day in the life of a small business, Lenovo sells cupcakes for a day




Jay McBain, Director Small and Medium Business, Lenovo

March 23, 2010

I had a very interesting and informative day last Thursday with CupcakeStop.com in NYC. Leading up to the ThinkPad Edge 14 and 15 inch launch on March 23, Lenovo wanted to spend some time with small business to see how the technology integrates into their business. The Edge was built from the ground up as a small and medium business optimized device, so seeing it in action was important. We also had the chance to give away 4 of them and the winners are announced below!

Let me first paint the picture on CupcakeStop. An entrepreneurial law student who is graduating in the top percentile of his class in early 2009 decides that an opportunity exists for selling premium cupcakes in New York. After deep market research, Lev Ekster decides that a mobile business is more practical than bricks and mortar and that social media would be at the core of its operation. Fast forward to 2010 and you have a growing business that is adding more trucks and locations, installing e-commerce with international distribution, and is in constant real-time communication with its 11,300+ followers on Twitter.

Watching a day in the life of Lev running his business using the new ThinkPad Edge 14” laptop was very cool. First of all, Lev never put down the ThinkPad Edge. His thousands of customers are following him closely and the level of intimacy with social media is something I have never seen before. From posting menu’s on Facebook the night before, to constant real-time updates on location of the truck as well as inventory remaining with Twitter, Lev uses the Edge as a lifeline to the business.

Here are 10 things that blew me away:

1. Being in a mobile business, CupCakeStop needs constant connectivity 24/7. This means seeking out WiFi hotspots during the day is not an option. Using ThinkVantage Access Connections with the embedded broadband allows access everywhere and anytime to the Internet through an AT&T connection. It also allows easy switching to the home network as well as secure access to public WiFi when available.

2. Security is very important to CupCakeStop. With over 75 varieties of cupcakes, the recipes are key intellectual capital that cannot fall into the wrong hands. Combined with employee payroll data and supplier contracts, Lev uses the fingerprint reader to access the machine and encrypt the data. Also, not having to remember passwords to all of the social media sites was a huge productivity boost.

3. With an Internet run business, including hundreds of Twitter and Facebook updates a day from customers, Lev runs the risk of clicking a bad link and getting a virus. With the Edge being his lifeline, he cannot risk being down for a few days (even an hour would hurt the business). Knowing that ThinkVantage Rescue and Recovery is installed means that by the touch of a button, he can boot into a separate and protected operating system and restore to a point just prior to the virus in minutes.

4. Lev made a great quote: “EVERYTHING in this truck breaks”. A mobile business with high activity level in a tight space, it became very apparent that a robustly designed laptop was critical to the business. The large hinges and legendary Lenovo ThinkPad build quality was very important to his business continuity. Again, waiting for the machine to get serviced is not an option.

5. The power limitations of the truck. Lev made a funny comment that to plug in the ThinkPad Edge would mean he would have to unplug the cash register which isn’t good for business! All day battery life was critical.

6. On the same subject as limited power, the always powered USB port allows Lev to keep his smartphone charged and ready throughout the day – saving another outlet.

7. The high quality light adaptive camera is used to publish new menu items to Facebook and Twitter. For example, the prior day to us being there was St. Paddy’s day which had new and unique Irish offerings. Being connected 24/7 (#1) also allows Skype access with customers and suppliers with the camera.

8. Lev uses the ThinkPad Edge as his personal machine as well. With the investments into new trucks, bricks and e-commerce solutions, he doesn’t want to invest money in an additional laptop for personal use. With the High Definition screen, audio, HDMI port as well as Blu -ray drive all built-in, the Edge handles all of his personal needs with ease.

9. With a new Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of memory and a 500GB hard drive running Windows 7 Professional, Lev can power through his day with multiple applications running concurrently. Previously to his ThinkPad Edge he ran the business from a BlackBerry which started to be a limitation as the business grew in size and scope. An example was a redesign of the website to e-commerce functionality which involved hundreds of prototype back-and-forths with the developer. Having real-time access to the color-palette and sizings, Lev didn’t have to wait till 10pm to view on his home computer.

10. Probably the thing that blew me away the most was the design attributes of ThinkPad Edge. Lev represents the future of social and traditional media entrepreneurs. He was clear about his tools having design elements that represent his company as well as himself. The bold statement that a bright red ThinkPad Edge makes is important as he promotes his business. Ironically, thelaptop is the same color as the stop sign in CupCakeStop.com’s logo….a perfect fit!

Since ThinkPad Edge is a new brand, we added an element of fun to the day to get people excited about the new products with a giveaway…

The lucky winners of the random drawing are:

Pateel Yenikomshian

Bryan Meyerovich

Brooke Brestel

Ronny Walton Jr.

Congratulations!

The media hook of a mobile, profitable business run on top of social media is what started the day. The immersion of ThinkPad Edge in the very core of the business is what made the day. The observation of how each feature and function are used in real-time provided Lenovo with the insight around product development for the future.

For Lenovo, a close connection with businesses using our products is very important. Looking beyond cupcakes, we are observing doctors in ambulatory practices work with ThinkPad Edge, as well as accountants, students, and many other industries. Products do not improve in the boardroom. They improve in the real-world.

Day well spent.

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