Mike Perrone: The Innovation Interview

Mike Perrone, CEO of SocialSign.in shares his thoughts and insights on innovation, technology and the future of WiFi.

Mike is an experienced entrepreneur who previously co-founded SocialFlow, which pioneered social media optimization by applying predictive analytics to real-time big data. Now, Mike is applying his passion for data insights and social connections to SocialSign.in, a platform that utilizes a visitor’s social identity to connect offline and online brand strategies.

SocialSign.in’s technology leverages guest WiFi networks to enhance a customer’s on-site experience and increase engagement. Throughout his career, Mike has leveraged data and social behaviors in order to create more meaningful connections. He’s worked for major media and industry leading companies in the fields of advertising (JWT), management consulting (KPMG), entertainment technology and direct marketing (Bertelsmann). He holds an MBA from Penn State and a BSBA from Boston University.

How do you define innovation and what does it mean to you?

To me, innovation means constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible or constant improvement of a process or product. Personally, it means a great deal to me because without innovation in fields such as medicine the lives of my family would be impacted. I think a lot of people can resonate with the importance of medical innovations.

What industry needs to embrace innovation and take more risks?

That’s a great question, but I don’t think they’re necessarily the same thing. Taking more risk doesn’t mean you are being innovative. In some respects, innovation reduces risk. From an industry perspective, I think that the different sectors that are heavily influenced by the government are the ones where innovation is most necessary. Transportation, education, community service, etc. are all neglected to an extent. I don’t think risk needs to be a part of innovation. Investing in an innovative idea may be risky from a personal standpoint, but I don’t think an innovative company is one that must make risky decisions in order to succeed.

What is the best piece of advice that you have given and received?

The best piece of advice was to look for opportunity in each circumstance. Even in a situation that looks dire there is always something of value.

What is your greatest achievement and why?

Honestly, my family and the strength of our relationships is my greatest achievement. I’m not just saying that because my wife may read this.

Newspapers and Books: Digital or Physical?

Digital. Always. In my opinion there is no logical reason to carry around a physical book when a superior, lighter, smarter option is available.

As you begin to scale SocialSign.in, what avenues present the greatest growth challenges for the company?

Our focus is on educating the commercial market and business owners about the importance of connectivity as a customer channel. I don’t think many businesses are aware that their on-site connectivity channels can be as important as their website or online presence.

What levels of engagement are venues seeing after they adopt and deploy SocialSign.in?

Really really high levels of engagement. When people don’t consider WiFi as a viable customer channel, they’re usually shocked to see us deliver 20X the engagement that they might see on their website or social channels.

Why is now the right time to introduce SocialSign.in to the marketplace?

The number of WiFi enabled devices that we own is accelerating without any sign of slowing down. With that comes a desire from the owners of those devices to stay connected and use those devices to their maximum capabilities. People crave HD video, data, and connected experiences more now than ever. Let’s be honest, Internet access is a basic utility in today’s world and people expect it wherever they spend time. When you walk into a restaurant, you don’t ask if they have a bathroom, do you? You just ask where it is. It’s expected, and I think we’re approaching a horizon where those same expectations exist for WiFi. We’re removing the if and the where.

Are there plans to deliver exclusive content to fans in the audience of a live concert over the SocialSign.in WiFi network, in venues such as City Winery?

We avoid discussing the specific plans of our customers, but you should expect to see access to great content and services at all SocialSign.in locations as we continue building our network over time.

How has SocialSign.in been received within the hospitality industry?

So far it’s been very good, granted that’s with a limited sample size, but this is just the beginning of what we have planned and the benefits we can bring to the table.