Vahe KatrosConsultant, Palo Alto, CA
I’m a Palo Alto, CA based consultant working on a range of technology based projects outside of retail, but I love sharing thoughts here to help keep me thinking about a great industry. Some recent highlights follow and then a long list of former activities that were great to remember.
- Deal sourcing for Athena Advisors, a Silicon Valley angel firm where I’ve reviewed start-ups launched at leading SV incubators. I sourced iTriage a mobile personal health diagnostic application acquired by Aetna.
- April 2016 Quora Knowledge prize winner answering – What innovation, if any, could help physical retail stores stay relevant and maintain market share? Found here…
- For Stanford’s Center on Stress and Health and Dr. Ernie Rosenbaum. I successfully lobbied for, designed, built and currently manage a patient focused portal to help folks cope with the emotional aspects of a cancer diagnosis. The process of building the site required hands on work developing with Adobe Experience Manager and develop chops around social media marketing, Google Analytics, and lots of thinking around identifying finite audience segmentation. This site is in the process of a makeover – find it here…
- With Dr. David Spiegel of Stanford, created and run a podcast, “Doctor One More Question”, currently in beta. It’s planned to be a series of interviews with experts aimed at helping people understand the unknown/unknowns relating to the cancer crisis. Find it here…
- Business ethnography and design research, notably: (1) For the USDA, development of guidelines for Web-enabling Farmers Markets that was test by the Massachusetts Farmers Market Association; (2) marketing strategy and shopper experience designs for a publically traded quick serve restaurant; (3) design research for a collaborative shopping application targeting teen shoppers, (4) Narragansett Beer – in-depth interviews to help relaunch an iconic New England brand.
Earlier in my career, I served as a retail technology person involved in a range of innovations in roles that included IT manager, programmer, network manager, consultant, analyst, journalist, standards committee member, newsletter editor, conference developer, industry marketing, and speaker across a range of retail segments.
- Retails first clienteling and customer feedback system in 1986 at department store Filene’s (now a part of Macy’s).
- POS programmer and store rollout management for the first large scale IBM 4680 GSA implementation at Federated Department Stores/Filenes. Attended the second programming class run in Raleigh, NC.
- Business justification for then start-up, Symbol Technologies, on their first large scale non-food implementation. First person to remove scanners from stores after May Company’s acquisition.
- Youngest board member and technology manager at the oldest credit union in America; the Filene’s Credit Union.
- Retail Systems Alert – co-founder and technical editor during their first four years – an experience that allowed me to analyze and write on many major technology developments.
- Retail Systems Conferences – First conference designer and director for what would become the largest independent retail technology conference.
- CFT Consulting – Employee #2 at CFT Consulting where I worked at Melville Corporation, Thom McAn, The Harvard Coop, and Swank (the retailer, not the magazine) among others.
- Java in Retail – Working with Sun Microsystems, I helped launch Java-in-retail working group.
- Barnes and Noble from 1994 to 1996, reporting to CIO on distributed store systems, data warehousing, and BN.com (personally registered in the weeks after the internet was commercialized, if only).
- Hired by SAP Retail prior to their retail launch to develop sales and consulting resources to justify and validate the ROI of their enterprise software. Speaker at Saphire’97.
- With Internet Capital Group, engaged to access the viability of investments in CFAR (Collaborative Forecasting and Replenishment) start-ups. The project that involved in-depth interviews with a who’s who of supply chain leaders from leading CPG brands, grocery and mass merchandisers, category killers and thought leaders in the ecosystem.
- ecommerce for grocery at Publix – working alongside QRS and Blue Martini, managed the development of visual and product information for their web-based shopping initiative.
- Java POS, evangelist working for Cornerstone, 360Commerce founders who built one of the first web-accessible in-store POS and web platform.
- Blue Martini, joined founding team as a retail specialist to help build, and grow the retail industries first ecommerce enterprise application. I joined as their 7th employee and we grew to 1000 employees worldwide in 18 months. After a very successful IPO we reached a market capitalization of nearly $7 billion. And then Alan Greenspan uttered the now infamous phrase: “irrational exuberance.”
- At Blue Martini, organized and led an advisor board that included a former department store CEO from Macy’s, a leading professor in retail and others.
- Helped design the conference launched by NRF.com that eventually merged with Shop.org.
- Multichannel retailing – with 360Commerce and Blue Martini – sold and organized developer resources that led to the first demonstration at NRF Annual, 2000, of a Web-to-Store POS transaction using ARTs XML standards for buy-on-web, pick-up-in-store.
- Web Ready Merchandise, Supported by NRF, partnering with QRS, and headed up by Reebok’s CIO, the initiative sought to develop web content sharing standards initially focusing on images specifications and content between suppliers and retailers to help reduce the content development burdens faced by retailers, and enhance the brand experience for customers.
- Brand Marketing Magazine – weekly technical column covering CPG and Grocery technology solutions and standards.
- Network World – co-authored a comprehensive overview on the future of Networking in Retail in 1990.
- Published author in the peer reviewed Elsevier academic journal: Technology and Society; titled “A note on retail industry Internet technologies and trends’; 2000.
- Joint patent holder of “Local Area Multiple Tracking System”, patent number 6,204,813 B1; a radio frequency positioning system that began as an instore position tracking system designed to track and deliver category specific advertising to screens on shopping carts that eventually morphed into Trakus – a system demonstrated during an NHL All Star game in the early 2000’s, issues with the player’s association led to another pivot that led to a successful solution now in use in horse racing. You saw it during this year during the Triple Crown races.
- Participant in the early standards activities run by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) (while working for Bentley College). Successfully argued for the use of internet protocols (TCP/IP) vs. the not so Open Systems Interface and our benefactor DEC and DECNet.
- Finally, by being a ham radio operator starting in Junior High, I developed a cultural connection with innovators and alpha geek’s during a time when it was not cool to be a nerd. WA1QQK.
- The fortune of working with real merchants from and others from back-in-the-day.