Beer Academies, Crafty Contingencies, and AI Powered Recruiting – Unstuck in July

Summer is in full swing which means we’re often reaching  for a cold beverage these days. Fittingly, two of our Unstuck guests during July are finding different ways to quench our thirst! We spoke to two food and beverage disruptors that are providing different and innovative services in Chicago while experiencing huge growth. One of these is a gifted musician and the other is a former MLS player with Chicago Fire. These kinds of talented individuals are on the radar of our third guest on the podcast who is building a talent management software by utilizing AI. Here is a quick summary of another great month of discussion on the Unstuck podcast!


Liberating Liquor

EP21 – Dan Abel – Co-Founder & CEO at Pilot Project Brewing

Dan Abel is a natural born creative. Having parked his professional music career, he’s now tuning up innovative and unconventional brands in the fermented malt beverage industry (aka beer!). Passionate about originality and imagination, Dan’s beer academy Pilot Project Brewing is an incubator for some of the quirkiest and coolest new drinks brands in Chicago. Breaking down barriers and supporting creativity is the essence of Pilot Project Brewing and Dan’s vision. In his own words “When you lower barriers of entry, you start organically sourcing ideas across an innovative and diverse spectrum.”. More than 450 brands have applied to participate, and Dan is proud of the diversity represented within the organization. More than a third of the enterprises in the incubator are female led and around half are minority owned brands.

Staying loyal to his musical past, Dan describes the workings of Pilot Project Brewing as ‘a bit like American Idol’. Applicants make a pitch and if it lands then they can take advantage of excellent brewing facilities, a scalable infrastructure, and clear routes to market. The first brand they helped launch was Luna Bay in 2018 and they’ve successfully brought thirteen more brands to market since! Dan’s ambition for Pilot Project Brewing going forward is that they create sustainability for these businesses rather than just being a top of funnel lead generator. Hear about Dan’s plans and how Pilot Project Brewing is rapidly outgrowing itself by listening to the full episode below!



Unseen Talent

EP22 – Joel Wright – Co-Founder & CEO at Sinecure.ai

Joel Wright is an exceptional MarTech entrepreneur that is now using AI to transform the ability to find talent. Before launching his talent management software Sinecure, Joel found huge success with #Hashoff – a social influencer software. He co-founded #Hashoff in 2014 believing there was a better way to advertise rather than bombard people with largely irrelevant messages. #Hashoff connected an eco-system of freelancers with hungry brands that were looking to create new and fresh content. Joel and his team were ahead of the game creating technologies for influencer marketing in 2014 and he thinks they may have even been ‘ a bit early’. #Hashoff found it difficult to raise venture capital as they were seen as an AdTech platform in a saturated market. But Joel insisted they were not just an AdTech vendor, they were the trailblazing CaaS providers – content as a service. #Hashoff took off and Joel led the company from inception to a successful exit!

In addition to being a pioneering CaaS technology, #Hashoff was also a hugely effective recruitment tool. Joel used his knowledge of recruiting and talent management to build his AI powered Sinecure platform. The software uses machine learning to build perfect profiles for candidates and create a perfect match between people and companies. Sinecure builds intelligence around successful workers across the globe to identify traits and skills that makeup a great employee. Usually, companies and recruiters rely on self-reporting data (e.g., LinkedIn) to evaluate applicants and prospects but Sinecure provides a greater understanding of the candidates that companies should be pursuing. Listen below to find out how this provides a smarter, faster, and more predictable recruitment outcome for clients!

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A Crafty Contingency

EP23 – Chris Ritter – Co-Founder & COO at Crafty / Former MLS Player

Chris Ritter fulfilled a childhood dream when he signed for the Chicago Fire in the MLS. He didn’t have a clear pathway to follow in reaching the major league, so he had to work doubly hard to be noticed and stand out from the crowd. He chose to study at Northwestern which has a great soccer tradition and this decision put him on the radar of Chicago scouts. His performances quickly attracted attention as he picked up several individual and team accolades. This led to the Chicago Fire taking a chance on Chris in 2014 and the rest is history! Well, not really. There were some good times ahead but Chris career in the MLS was not exactly how he imagined it to be. The coaches didn’t seem to have the same faith in Chris’ ability as he did, and he found it difficult to make his mark at Chicago Fire. After just two seasons, Chris made the brave decision to put his professional soccer career on hold to pursue a new path in business.

Never afraid to take on a challenge, Chris was presented with an opportunity to co-found his own company with friends from Northwestern. They noticed that companies were investing more in employee experience, so they offered to provide popular snacks and drinks for companies in the Chicago area. They created a company called Crafty and began filling the fridges and canteens across offices in the city. In a short period of time, Chris had gone from manning a midfield to driving a delivery truck “I was seen by my family and friends as a professional soccer player and next thing you know I’m driving a truck on Lower Wacker Drive in Chicago!” Everything seemed to be rosy for Chris and Crafty until a horrible new ‘c’ word entered our vocabulary in 2020 and offices became empty overnight. The future of work and Crafty’s prospects became very unclear. Like any good sports professional, Chris and Crafty responded to the challenge and they reinvented themselves as a food technology platform. They’re now scalable, growing rapidly, and recently earned $10mn in Series A funding! Check out their story below to hear about one of the great pandemic pivots.

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Unstuck in June: The Dark Side of Professional Sport, Hereditary Hustling, and Shelling It Out

Unstuck Highlights - June

The Unstuck podcast rolled in to its fifth month with three compelling characters telling tales of triumph and despair. They may be celebrated businesspeople now but none of our guests enjoyed a straight line to success. These entrepreneurs hurdled many challenges – some business related and others profoundly personal. From the Stanley Cup to oyster farming in the Hamptons, we covered our widest range of topics to date. Our host Clive Sirkin delved deep into the personal lives of our guests. Here’s a quick summary of another riveting month on the pod!

‘Healing Together’ with Daniel Carcillo

Former NHL Player / CEO & Founder at Wesana Health

It’s not every day we get to chat to a major league player on the pod never mind a two-time Stanley Cup champion. Nicknamed ‘Car Bomb’ due to his combat role in the NHL, Daniel Carcillo had to fight brutal adversaries both on the rink and off it. He was just 15 when he moved away from home to pursue his goal of being a professional hockey player. Having left a small farming town in Ontario the life of an apprentice player hit hard as he spent half his teenage years on buses travelling to play against older, street-smart players. Daniel struggled in what he called a ‘cult-like’ environment and he suffered severe physical and emotional abuse. This experience set the tone for a difficult adulthood. Daniel’s dream life in the NHL was often more akin to a nightmare.

Battling depression and a concussion related brain injury, Daniel turned to alcohol and substances to dim the pain. His mental health deteriorated when he retired from hockey. Thankfully, Daniel searched for treatment which led him to the path he is on today. A friend recommended natural medicine in the form of psilocybin which had an immediate and forceful impact on Daniel’s mental state. For the first time in years, Daniel felt ‘normal’ and the depression began to cease. He is now on a mission to tell people about natural medicine through his company Wesana Health. Hear more about this incredible story of hockey, hopelessness and healing below.

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‘Nag ‘n’ Hustle’ with Chad Bronstein

CEO & Founder at Fyllo

Chad Bronstein was a ‘nag’ as a kid and that’s why his father knew he’d do well in life. Ultra-entrepreneurial in his youth, Chad was always open to opportunities for extra pocket money. He earned his first pay checks washing cars and repairing Nintendos. He owes his strong work ethic to his parents who he said were ‘hustlers’ but with ‘values’.  

While Chad was always destined to be an entrepreneur, he carved out an incredible impressive career in the corporate world as a champion salesman. In his first professional job he regularly trounced targets and became the #1 salesperson in the company. During his time at this firm a mentor advised him to pursue a sales role in AdTech where his skills would flourish even further. A job in CitySearch followed and Chad quickly became the #1 sales guy again peaking at 700% of target. This opened the opportunity to join Bankrate where Chad excelled again but had to work even harder to become the #1 performer. Gaining invaluable expertise and connections, Chad’s experience in the sales world also thought him to be resilient and how to respond to rejection. These are qualities which still benefit him today.

Chad eventually followed his entrepreneurial north star and created his own company – Fyllo. In his own words he is ‘meant to be doing what I’m doing now’. His values for leadership revolve around treating everyone with respect and getting buy in from every employee. Listen below to hear more about Chad’s experience and how he’s faring as CEO!

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‘The Hatchery’ with Jeff Ragovin

Host with 1 Billion + in Exits / Chief Commercial Officer at Fyllo

Whether you meet him in the boardroom or on a boat, Jeff Ragovin is ready for the next big catch. Fanatical about fishing and the ocean, Jeff’s latest project is an environmentally friendly hatchery that produces 20 million clams and oysters per year.

This isn’t the first time that Jeff’s passion for food and his work have acquiesced. In 2017, Jeff set up Digital Fork – an invite only and exclusive dining experience. It brings together senior level marketers and execs from the world’s top brands to eat, network, and share ideas in confidence. The scheme proved incredibly popular and there have been 55 dinners since its inception with more than 800 guests.

A decade prior to Digital Fork, Jeff laid the foundations for an incredible exit story when he co-founded Buddy Media. The concept was simple – Jeff and his team wanted to help brands create unique and engaging Facebook experiences. Through messaging and content tools, brands were able to take advantage of this new craze. Facebook took off and so did Buddy Media which earned $100m in funding over five years. This culminated in an acquisition by Salesforce for $800mn in 2012. Jeff opted to stay with Salesforce to continue the Buddy Media story before eventually departing the company in 2016. If you want to hear more about this incredible story of AdTech success, then tune in to the full episode below!

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MarTech, Marketing Doctors & Agency Execs – May was Marketing Month on Unstuck!

May was Marketing Month on the Unstuck podcast as we heard from advertising agency leaders, a marketing doctor, and two MarTech entrepreneurs.

Agencies represent an important element of Screendragon’s customer base and the Unstuck listenership, so we were delighted to have agency leaders from Leo Burnett and Wieden & Kennedy on the pod. On the MarTech front, we heard about how two different technologies are helping marketing teams use social media posts to transform online ads and how quizzes and surveys power zero party data collection. In one of our most interesting discussions to date, we also learned about how studying hip hop lyrics can shape your marketing strategy – you need to listen to believe!


‘The Danger of Staying Still’ with Emma Montgomery’

Our opening guest in May was our first from down under as we spoke to Emma Montgomery, the amiable CEO of Leo Burnett Australia. Emma’s experience in the agency world isn’t limited to the Australian market as she held senior roles for both Leo Burnett and TBWA on the west and east coasts of the US. She’s now back in her home city of Sydney leading Leo Burnett’s award-winning Australian operation.

Emma’s journey in marketing and advertising was far from straightforward. With a degree in Politics and History, Emma wanted to pursue a career in social policy until she hit a major obstacle when she failed the Australian public service exam. Linear thinking wasn’t Emma’s strength, she was driven by curiosity around behavioral science and critical thinking which led her to a career guidance meeting and a sliding doors moment that changed her life. Hanging on the wall of the office was a job poster for a researcher position at Leo Burnett – Emma applied, got the job, and the rest is history. Listen below to hear about Emma’s life in advertising and why ‘getting stuck isn’t always a bad thing!

Unstuck podcast Emma Montgomery

‘Social Re-creation’ with Casey Saran

As part of the Unstuck small company feature, Clive introduced social ads platform Spaceback and their founder and CEO, Casey Saran. Having worked for Weather Underground and Google managing programmatic ads, Casey earned vast experience in the functioning of ad systems and discovered why they often deliver unsatisfactory results. It’s common for marketing teams to create generic online ads that run all year round without much time afforded to performance analysis or content changes. This led Casey to set up a creative automation platform called Spaceback.

In the early days of Spaceback, Casey discovered that social posts performed 5x times better than generic ads and that those who engaged on social media were more likely to click on a retargeting ad. Spaceback offers users the opportunity to easily convert social content and posts into programmatic ads so that online ads are kept fresh and current. Listen to the full episode below to hear how Casey’s team are ‘getting social beyond social’!

Casey Saran Unstuck Podcast

‘Hip-hop Strategies’ with Dr. Marcus Collins

Many guests on Unstuck have told stories about how they ended up working in marketing by accident without studying the discipline or earning a degree. As suggested by his title, Dr Marcus Collins does not fall into this bracket and became our first guest that can be called a Marketing Doctor!

Marcus is the Chief Strategy Officer at Wieden & Kennedy while also lecturing at the University of Michigan School of Business. In this episode, Marcus explains how we was inspired to do his marketing PHD on hip-hop lyrics and why we can learn a lot about marketing vogue by listening closely to the artist’s lyrics. Marketers are always looking for the next big trend and Marcus found that hip-hop artists are often ahead of the curve! When not studying hip-hop, Marcus keeps busy investigating culture and virality and why some ideas cause ‘cultural contagion’ – this is where marketers need to step up and create contagious content!


‘Zero-party Data’ with Tom Coburn

Our penultimate guest of May was Tom Coburn – an entrepreneur that is building future-proof data collection methods for marketers. Labeled as the ‘world’s first zero party data collection platform’, Jebbit are creating new ways to obtain legally compliant marketing data puts user experience front and center.

Tom explains that people need to be happy to share their information with you to meet the ‘zero party’ standard. Through fun quizzes, interesting surveys, and quirky games, Jebbit are engaging web and mobile visitors in a unique way while procuring high quality contact data. In this episode, Tom explains why Jebbit was formed, how their quiz software works, and why the future of data collection is all just fun and games!

Tom Coburn Unstuck Podcast

Next up!

We’re taking a quick break in the first week of June but we’ll be back the following Tuesday with an incredible guest. After winning two Stanley Cups, our guest set up a mental health company after going through personal challenges. Tune in next week to hear his inspiring story!

Unstuck in March: Evolving Commerce & Healthy Snacks!

The second month of the Unstuck podcast delivered an exciting mix of guests from backgrounds in agency, e-commerce, food and beverage, and software. Whether it was the changing e-commerce landscape, entering new markets, keeping processes inhouse, or building an enterprise from the ground up there were many memorable discussions and useful takeaways from our latest round of Unstuck stars!

Remember, there is a new episode of the Unstuck podcast every week and you can find all of our previous episodes on the Unstuck homepage or in your podcast app. If you’re hearing about Unstuck for the first time then why not check out our February highlights to see how our show launched last month? If you’ve already done so then here are some of our highlights from March!


‘Loverage’ 

Beth Ann Kaminkow, Global CEO at VMY&R Commerce

Beth Ann Kaminkow is passionate about virtual experiences and she’s on a mission to bring e-commerce into the experiential age with delightful creative engagement. In Beth Ann’s own words ‘The more you bring that creativity in to that space you’re giving consumers what they want’. Beth Ann believes this is the ‘realest, richest version of consumer marketing today’ and that you need to understand the customer journey explicitly so that you can ‘understand how people are behaving and meet them with creative engagement all along the way‘. Before getting stuck into analytics and creative though you need to always begin by asking yourself ‘how do I want people to engage with my brand?’.

The agency world can be hard and fast but Beth Ann insists on kindness being a part of her leadership manual. When unlocking talent, you need to begin by using ‘loverage’. In this fast paced business environment you need to ensure you remain committed to encouraging, praising, and helping your team when they fall. In Beth Ann’s world, it is the foundation of all transformation.

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‘Hunting the Edges’

Simon Francis, CEO at Flock Associates

Like many in the industry, Simon Francis didn’t train to be a marketer. Unsure of what career path he wanted to follow and whether he wanted to use his Biology degree, he volunteered for a role in Zenith and let’s just say the rest is history! In addition to other high profile positions, Simon has served as CEO of Aegis, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Europe, and Managing Director of OMD. Simon is drawn towards the path less travelled and finds many of his best ideas in the ‘fringes’ of a dataset. He encourages us to ‘hunt the edges – look at the other areas of a dataset’ to find new approaches and markets. 

In 2013, Simon founded Flock Associates – a marketing transformation company. Fond of a challenge, he wanted to help teams get unstuck as his experiences led him to conclude that most companies succeed because they combine good strategy (the ‘what’) with strong organisation (the ‘how’). Many companies get stuck trying to achieve the latter and Flock Associates are there to help 1,500 agencies transform the ‘how’. Listen to Simon’s story below to hear how you can transform your own marketing organisation!


‘Control is an Illusion’ 

Bohb Blair, CMO at Jones Soda

Bohb Blair is the Chief Marketing Officer at beloved beverage brand ‘Jones Soda’. Many people will recognise the Jones Soda brand from their iconic flavours and quirky marketing. Long before Instagram and Snapchat, Jones were attracting user generated content through custom bottle labels and customer photo galleries on their website. Somewhere along the way though, Jones Soda got too fixated on trying to ‘be like the big guy’ and imitate Coca Cola and Pepsi which resulted in the brand losing track of who they were and what made them unique.

Jones Soda are back in profitability and growing quarter on quarter and Blair attributes this to ‘finding a middle ground between a small independent brand vs a big CPG’. Jones Soda are using their agility to dip their toe into emerging markets as they can ‘change flavours and packaging much quicker than bigger brands‘. Listen to episode 7 with Bohb to hear about Jones Soda new ‘adventurous’ line of products!

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‘Selective Destruction’

Sarah Hofstetter, President at Profitero and Board Member, Campbell Soup

Sarah Hofstetter’s journey in media and marketing began as an editorial assistant at the New York Times. It was here that Sarah developed a love for ‘succinct story telling and getting to the point’. She’s always up for new challenges and is very encouraging when it comes to changing course or even career; ‘Don’t be afraid to pivot or completely change course in your working life. You need different chapters in the story of your life.’

Sarah is now President of e-commerce analytics platform, Profitero where she is always searching for that ‘delta between consumer behaviour and brand readiness’. In this episode Sarah shares some interesting insights about the US e-commerce landscape and how every company was forced to invest in e-commerce during the pandemic if they wanted to survive. 

Concluding Sarah’s passion for pivots, she encourages listeners ‘start from the ground up’ when iterating products and processes and believes we all need to practice a bit of ‘selective destruction’ on a routine basis!

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‘Fearless Asking’

Trish Thomas & Nichole Wilson, Co-Founders at Every Body Eat®

Trish and Nichole are passionate about food and inclusivity when it comes to eating in or dining out. More than 60% of American families are impacted by a special diet of some form which in their view can sometimes result in awkward scenarios when it comes to sharing food.

Trish and Nichole want to remove the shame around special diets so that everyone can have a ‘seat at the table’. Their snack food company Every Body Eat® has a range of foods that meets almost every specialist diet. In their own words, their founding question is ‘How do we make it easier to eat? But more importantly, how do we eat with other people?’ Listen to episode 9 with Trish and Nichole to find out great friends became formidable business partners!

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Want to listen to more episodes of Unstuck? Visit our Unstuck homepage or listen via YouTube, Spotify, Soundcloud, Apple or whatever podcast app you choose!

Podcast! Break Down Barriers & Unlock Human Potential

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Have you ever felt that your job is more about managing the beast rather than accomplishing the outcome? Do you spend more energy on process and administration than making an actual difference? Talent is the lifeblood of any organisation – but too often companies focus on performance management and process compliance over unlocking potential and achieving outcomes.

This is why we created a new podcast series to untangle the web that many teams find themselves in and unleash the talent within the room. This is the Unstuck podcast series with Clive Sirkin and guests!

Continue reading “Podcast! Break Down Barriers & Unlock Human Potential”

The Top 6 Workflow Software Platforms in 2022

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There have never been so many technology providers offering to transform your business. In Chiefmartec’s 2020 MarTech super graphic there were over 8,000 vendors displayed and over 100 of these were selling ‘Projects and Workflow’ management technology. But what exactly is ‘Workflow Software’? What features should you look for in a workflow management solution? And, most importantly, what are the top vendors in this area in 2022?  

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Forrester’s Returning to Work Report: A Work Management View

In April 2020, Forrester published a report titled ‘Returning to Work: How to Prepare for Pandemic Recovery’. The research focuses on office management, dealing with fluctuations in demand,  and managing your workforce throughout the stages of pandemic. Here is Screendragon’s view on the report with specific reference to business resilience and recommendations for maintaining competitiveness.

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How PSA Software Can Improve CX and Project Performance

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A professional services firm can incorporate many sectors. Traditionally, most perceived professional services as being ‘white collar’ workers like insurance brokers, financiers, engineers and lawyers. Nowadays professional services can essentially include any business where knowledge (or specifically, time) can be sold as a commodity. Marketing and PR firms, technology specialists and business consultants are all modern professional services, but they share similar objectives with their traditional counterparts in relation to the importance of project management, profit margins and client satisfaction.

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Building the Foundations for a Smart Workplace With Workflow Software

SmartWorkplace

A smart workplace begins with communication and collaboration. You can benefit from smart systems without having to invest large in a new office. The first step is easier than you think.. Continue reading “Building the Foundations for a Smart Workplace With Workflow Software”