Shekar Raman

Shekar Raman is CEO and co-founder of Birdzi, a grocery retail AI solutions company that was inspired by an idea his 11-year-old daughter had about locating products in the supermarket. He is passionate about building data-driven technologies leveraging AI and Machine learning to help retailers and brands elevate the customer experience.

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Gary Hawkins

Gary Hawkins has lived his career ahead of the curve, putting him in the right place at the right time to help guide the fast moving consumer goods retail industry into the future in a time of exponential technology growth using never-before-available capabilities to innovate the future of shopping. Early in his career, Hawkins launched one of the first loyalty programs in the US supermarket ...

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Shekar Raman is CEO and co-founder of Birdzi, a grocery retail AI solutions company that was inspired by an idea his 11-year-old daughter had about locating products in the supermarket. He is passionate about building data-driven technologies leveraging AI and Machine learning to help retailers and brands elevate the customer experience. Shekar began his career working on the Human Genome Project at the Dept. of Human Genetics, Univ. of Pennsylvania, developing algorithms for protein modeling. He was part of some of the pioneering groups (early 90s) in BioInformatics at UPenn,  and at the Dept. of Human Genetics, UNLV, where he applied speech recognition techniques to identify and classify genetic sequences.  He then continued onto AT&T Bell Labs, working in the Speech Recognition group as a consultant developing data collection algorithms where he also acquired significant expertise in systems engineering. He then later moved on to Systems Engineering, architecting & implementing infrastructure solutions for a large Fortune 500 company working in both consulting and management roles.Shekar Raman has a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electronics and Communications from Osmania University, Hyderabad India. He went to Graduate School at Villanova University where he obtained a MS in Electrical Engineering with a focus on Digital Signal Processing and Pattern Recognition.

Gary Hawkins has lived his career ahead of the curve, putting him in the right place at the right time to help guide the fast moving consumer goods retail industry into the future in a time of exponential technology growth using never-before-available capabilities to innovate the future of shopping. Early in his career, Hawkins launched one of the first loyalty programs in the US supermarket sector, quickly leading industry learning around shopper insights and analytics. That work quickly led to advising premier retailers in markets around the world in gaining customer intelligence. Next up was helping companies like Procter & Gamble and Unilever develop a shopper focus and leverage customer insights and analytics into collaborative marketing initiatives with key retailers, laying the foundation for today’s shopper marketing movement. Realizing the ineffectiveness of mass marketing across the supply chain, Hawkins leveraged early insight to new innovative technologies to develop and deploy the first personalized marketing system for mass retail, driving industry focus on the power of marketing personalization. Hawkins leverages his unique perspective into his role as strategic advisor at Birdzi to help guide business strategy, product roadmap, sales and marketing.

This is Us!

The Retail Perch podcast is hosted by the powerful duo Shekar Raman, CEO of Birdzi and Gary Hawkins, CEO of Center for Advancing Retail & Technology (CART).
This podcast aims to provide a fresh perspective and framework for how grocery retail is viewed. Whether you're a retailer, entrepreneur, or a curious mind tuning in, there is something in store for everyone. Each Monday, your hosts will share supermarket analysis, personal stories about the industry, along with their views to provide you with further insight into everything retail grocery and AI.

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Our Videos

Interview with Mike Novosel of Cardlytics

This week, Shekar, and guest host, Stephanie Doherty have the opportunity to speak with Mike Novosel, Industry Lead for Grocery, Gas & Convenience at Cardlytics. Cardlytics uses ...

Interview with Jeremy Neren of GrocerKey

This week Shekar and Gary speak with Jeremy Neren, co-founder, and CEO of GorcerKey, a comprehensive e-commerce platform for independent and regional grocers. Jeremy ...

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Interview with Brandon Scholz of WGA

This week Shekar and guest host Stephanie Doherty have the privilege of interviewing, Brandon Scholz, a partner at The Capitol Group and President & CEO of the Wisconsin Groc...

In-person Events

On the fence about attending upcoming, in-person events? This week, Gary Hawkins and Shekar Raman review the most recent in-person events (GroceryShop and The NGA Show 2021)...

Interview with Victor Penev of Edamam

In this episode of The Retail Perch, Gary and Shekar delve even deeper into the world nutrition data with Victor Penev, CEO of Edamam. Edamam offers affordable value-added nutriti...

Interview with Marcus Sredzinski of ScriptSave

In an effort to stay healthy during the Covid Pandemic, many shoppers started to examine how the food they eat affects their health and well-being. Marcus Sredzinski, COO/EVP Script...

Interview with Annette Franke

“How granularly you define your customer is how much better and refined your insights will be about them as an individual."- Annette Franke.

Interview with Greg Ferrara of National Grocers Association

Just in time for the NGA Show, Gary and Shekar welcome Greg Ferrara, President, and CEO of the National Grocers Association. Greg shares his observations of how independent grocery has ...

Interview with ShiSh Shridhar of Microsoft Startups

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of what makes a ...

Interview with Steve Dennis author of Remarkable Retail

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of wha...

Interview with Richard Kestenbaum of Triangle Capital LLC

Do not miss this fascinating episode with Richard Kestenbaum, Partner at Triangle Capital LLC and contributor at Forbes.com. Gary, Shekar, and Richard discuss the impact the growth of onli...

Retail Roundup

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of what makes a ...

Interview with Joe Lampertius of ChaseDesign

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of what makes a ...

Interview with Sandra Duff of Jackman

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of what makes a ...

Interview with Olga Yurovski, Inventor & CEO of Shopperations

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of what makes a ...

Interview with Ashish Shrowty, Co-Founder, Divebell Inc.

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of what makes a ...

Interview with Orlee Tal of Stor.ai

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of what makes a ...

Interview with Refinition

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of what makes a ...

Interview with Michael Haase of Plant Jammer

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of what makes a ...

Interview with Manil Uppal of Delivery Solutions

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of what makes a ...

Interview with JMK Solutions

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of what makes a ...

Interview with White Box

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of what makes a ...

Interview with Retail Voodoo

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of what makes a ...

Interview with Ketner Group Communications

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of what makes a ...

Interview with Open Voice Network

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of what makes a ...

Interview with The Food Industry Association

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of what makes a ...

Interview with Future Proof Retail

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of what makes a ...

Interview with Halla

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of what makes a ...

Interview with Grocery Shopii

Entrepreneurs and start-ups, this episode is for you. This week, Gary and Shekar get to pick the brain of venture capitalist, David Matthews from RevTech Ventures. David shares his ideas of what makes a ...

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