April 17, 2020

Hi there,
...what a rollercoaster it's been the last few weeks!

WFH looked so GOOD, sleeping in, picking a home office location, all your favorite snacks close by, no annoying bosses/coworkers, afternoon workouts....
...and it was quite entertaining until most folks figured out video calls, the mute button, family/pet schedules...
more here (Source: FastCompany)
....but it kinda faded (fast), given it was all day, every day, and some people still not figuring it out, bad WiFi, miscommunication, missing your coworkers, the office chat, the banter, the lunches...
Let's try and get at least some of the fun back.
Remote communication, specifically tone via Slack/MS Teams isn't easy.

Next time try emojis-- or, even better, GIFs. There is a GIF for every occasion/mood.
The Operations Update is provided with generous support from

Why are your Asian suppliers so bad?
Specifically startups, smaller companies and teams that engage for the first time with Asian suppliers often struggle in their initial engagements.

Typical feedback, "...we told them clearly what we wanted, they said yes, and they totally lied to us i.e. late shipment, out of spec parts, etc.". Also, ".. their English is terrible , I barely understand what they are saying."

So, what's the real problem?

In most cases it's simply Communication (on both sides) . Once you move from the supplier's Sales team to their Operations team you will often encounter that this team has a much stronger Asian accent or might not speak as well English.

This specific concern is overcome by your team with patience, using simple language, speaking a bit slower and asking confirmation questions where the supplier has the opportunity to restate what you asked them to do. Sounds easy, but it's actually hard to do in practice.

However, the bigger problems are often caused by cultural communication differences.

For example, if your team expects a short clear answer to their question, it might sometimes be surprised by the outcome as many of the Asian cultures prefer to answer in an implicit way, specifically if they can't meet what was asked. So they might verbally agree to your demands to avoid confrontation, but with careful listening, it will be obvious that they are uncomfortable in providing this response. A clear sign for follow-up questions.

The key to all of this is understanding that there are communication differences which can't be ignored or it will lead to certain failure.

Below are 3 charts from Prof. Erin Meyer, author of "The Culture Map" that help to better understand the communication challenges between different cultures and also give great insights in how to best approach your communication.
If you need help with procurement or are tired of the late night calls.
Contact us.

Not that this should come as a surprise, the PMI Index went further down to 49.1%, losing another percentage point over February. New Orders contracted heavily by ~ -8% . The overall manufacturing slowdown appears to be accelerating.

There are some bright spots though, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) products, Sanitation goods and Paper products are clearly seeing huge increases in demand which are causing the well known supply chain shortages.
(Source: ISM)

Our friends from MassRobotics recently created a map of the Massachusetts Robotics Ecosystem with more than 350 companies . Quite astonishing how many highly innovative companies there are right on our doorsteps.

O ne of our favorite Boston Accelerators CleanTech Open is nearing their deadline on April 19th for the 2020 cohort. Find out more about their program or participate in their Info-Webinar.

Venture Cafe New England is launching a great Seed Program for early stage entrepreneurs in Supply Chain , Warehouse Management, Logistics and more. We are clearly super excited about it as we love Supply Chain. Find out more about this program . Applications close on May 8th!
Based on popular request, if your company is looking for excellent TALENT , we know folks.

  • Marketing/Product executive 20+ years @ F500 and start-up companies. Thrills customers with exceptional products , services and overall experience. Helps you with go to market planning, messaging, positioning, and more. True superstar.

  • Product Management executive with exceptional global SaaS background. Excellent Product and Marketing experience growing startups and mature companies.

  • WPI Mechanical engineering intern. Great CAD experience and interested in a summer internship in the greater MA / Boston area.

  • Super WPI Sophomore Chemist, looking for a technology or medical/pharmaceutical oriented summer internship in the greater MA / Boston area. Super work ethic.

  • WPI Aerospace engineering intern. Excellent CAD experience and interested in a summer internship in the greater MA / Boston area. He is very interested in the automotive space.
Contact us if you are in need of the above talent and we gladly connect you.
Altaeros Energies received undisclosed funding from Tokyo's Sparx Group. The fresh dough will be used to speed up the deployment of their autonomous aerostat (tethered balloon), called the Super Tower to bring mobile broadband to rural communities. More here. (Source: Lightreading).

Bevi laid off more than 30 employees due to the impacts of large scale office closures due to Covid-19. Read about it here . (Source: BostInno)

Formlabs jumped immediately on the opportunity to help out during the pandemic and started printing Covid-19 swabs . See more details here. (Source: TechCrunch)

Markforged agreed on a distribution partnership with Wurth Industries to further grow their customer base . Find out more here (Source: TCT Magazine).

Locus Robotics expands their partnership with DHL with 10 more deployments of their Locus AMR fulfillment solution. DHL has roughly 100 bots deployed and is targeting to have about 1000 by the end of 2020 More here . (Source: Logistics Management)

Optimus Ride is delivering 50-80 meals per day at Paradise Valley Estates, a 60+ Life Plan Community in Fairfield, CA as residents were no longer allowed to congregate for meals. Check it out here . (Source: Optimus Ride)

OwlLabs launched a Work from Home Scheduler so everyone in your household can book rooms and schedule responsibilities. Check it out here . (Source: Yahoo Finance)

Piaggio Fast Forward was awarded the prestigious Red Dot Design Award in the "Innovative Product" category for their transport robot "gita" which carries the users luggage or office supplies. More on this here . (Source: Design World)

Rise Robotics secured an additional $3M in funding from MIT's spin out venture firm, The Engine, to accelerate their work with leading forklift manufacturers and to electrify larger scale machinery. More about this here. (Source: Robotics Tomorrow)

Starry did a great thing! The pandemic is bad for all, but it's a lot worse for most people in public or affordable housing . Starry dropped all charges for its internet service for this group through May. Find out more here. (Source: Boston Real Estate Times)

Whoop is researching if their wearable can reliably detect COVID-19 earlier via respiratory rate changes and therefore minimize the spread of the virus. A study with current Whoop owners has been started. More details about it here . (Source: Boston Magazine)
If you have a tip , know of other great venues/companies to help startups in the New England Area, let us know .

Found the morning liquor. All this isolation is leading to massive stress drinking. Livin the good life. (Source: Bloomberg)

After all the December baby memes, there is more troubling news. Not just WFH is fading fast. T oo much time together. (Source: Daily Mail)

Who said this crisis is bad? It will help us get faster, a lot! Let's stay positive. (Source: Pascal Bornet, McKinsey)

Soon you will need more than deodorant! Your computer can smell. (Source: PC World)

The good folks in Newton, MA supposedly hate Butt Selfies 14% more than the rest of the nation. 10 Things Everyone Hates About You (Source: Pudding)
U ntil next time!

P.S. Contact us we are looking for someone to join our Purchasing team. Most assignments are great for part-time work ! We'd love to talk to you.
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