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Swiss Type Lathe of the Future, SwissNano from TORNOS

May 4th, 2015 No comments

Tornos has a well-established reputation in the field of bar turning for watchmaking, but never before the launch of SwissNano had a manufacturer gone so far ahead in design, ergonomics and integration research into a human-machine interface with a radical focus on efficiency and simplicity.

 

Swiss, Type, Lathe, Future, TORNOS, Swissnano

Front, side and back fantastic ergonomic access.

For more than 100 years, Tornos has been manufacturing machines aimed at watchmaking with theirs Swiss Type Lathe, and for around twenty years, the company has been providing NC solutions to meet highly specific watchmaking requirements (Deco 7 & 10, Micro 7/8, Delta 12 and EvoDeco 10, to mention only a few). Therefore, the company knows the market and has had its engineers pull out all the stops to develop a machine whose design stands out resolutely against other products in the market. The aim: to create a new category.

The SwissNano marks a break from the rest of Tornos’ Swiss-Type lathe range in terms of the design and concept of the machine; its aim is an ambitious one. Fully manufactured in Switzerland, it must meet very stringent cost requirements, to be able to counter Japanese and Korean competition, often manufactured in low cost economies. The SwissNano is a demonstration of the performance that the Swiss industry can offer.

Combining all aspects of design

It is well known that design must bring together two aspects: aesthetics, which plays on emotional effect, and the practical aspects that work on both a rational and emotional level. Mr. Renggli, the Tornos Marketing Manager, told us : “We wanted to create a modern automatic turning machine with a 4mm capacity, occupying minimum floor space and with complete 180° access; hence this frontal design, and the integration of a tablet in addition to the conventional control.”

Frontal access: complete freedom of action

Given the space constraints in watchmaking workshops, the machine was developed so as not to require any rear access. If necessary, it can even be placed against a wall. The machining area is protected by a ‘bubble’ and is accessible from all sides. Mr. Renggli, reports: “The setup is user-friendly, not only is everything easily visible, but it also gives us ideal accessibility. We had a very positive experience.”

Foolproof repeatability and precision

The machine’s structure is designed to meet the most demanding needs of the watchmaking industry in terms of precision, repeatability and surface finishes. Thanks to its flexibility, the SwissNano is a competitive solution which effectively meets the needs of the watchmaking industry (amongst others), proving to be the perfect partner for producing any type of small part. The SwissNano may be small, but you will be surprised at its great performance and flexibility.

Setting, monitoring and interaction

The greatest advance may be in terms of communication. SwissNano has a graphic tablet on top. All the basic production data its reported on this interface. At a glance, the operator can access all the data for a specific machine or for the whole fleet. Tablet connectivity provides a number of other services. Therefore, it incorporates an application that allows machine production to be remotely monitored. The SwissNano can communicate with an Android® tablet via a standalone Wi-Fi network, which it’s created between the machine and the tablet. This application allows information on the machine state, the production status and the plan for the work piece currently being created on the machine to be brought up and displayed, along with the service and maintenance instructions, alarms and their troubleshooting methods. All of this is available in a modern, practical interface. What is more, the application is not limited to one machine; it allows an entire workshop or a bank of particular machines to be monitored. The machines and the application are not connected to the Internet or to any network. The machine and the tablet create their own networks automatically. The application recognizes the machines in the workshop and communicates with them via their own network. With concerns over confidentiality.

 

HUMARD AUTOMATION SA, la fiabilité comme leitmotiv

October 2nd, 2014 No comments

L’entreprise propose à ses clients des presses hydrauliques de haute précision et des systèmes d’automation dans le but d’augmenter la productivité
et la facilité d’utilisation des installations industrielles.

Enrique Luis Sardi designer milano suisse switzerland svizzera Schweiz high precision swiss made hydraulic press

Le design innovant des Servo’Presses hydrauliques CNC HUMARD ® allie productivité élevée et ergonomie

HUMARD Automation SA, Delémont, a été créée en 1995 par les frères Georges et Raphaël Humard, tous deux directeurs généraux. Georges est responsable de la partie commerciale alors que Raphaël dirige la R&D et la production. L’entreprise a débuté en développant des solutions de robotisation pour les presses hydrauliques et, aujourd’hui, HUMARD Automation SA est spécialisée dans la conception, le développement et la fabrication de machines hautement automatisées ou robotisées. Son assortiment compte six lignes de produits, à savoir les presses hydrauliques de grande précision, les systèmes d’automatisation de la production, les robots de manutention, les automates de palettisation, les décolleteuses de haute précision ainsi que les accessoires et dispositifs divers. Tous les produits sont conçus pour accroître la productivité des installations industrielles, véritable défi pour les entreprises en Suisse qui se doivent de produire à très haute valeur ajoutée pour rester concurrentielles.

Si HUMARD Automation SA a su se forger une belle réputation, c’est grâce à des valeurs sur lesquelles aucune concession n’est envisagée. En 1er lieu, la qualité et la fiabilité des machines livrées chez le client et, ensuite, une solide capacité d’innovation, à travers un bureau de R&D d’une quinzaine de personnes (près de 30% de l’effectif  total), animées d’une véritable capacité d’observation et d’anticipation du marché.

Des systèmes sur mesure et modulables

A l’aide de modules standardisés, HUMARD Automation SA combine les éléments pour réaliser des solutions sur mesure, adaptées aux besoins spécifiques du client. L’interchangeabilité des modules offre en outre une grande flexibilité ; une chaîne de montage peut ainsi être modifiée en tout temps, et avec une interruption de travail minimale.

Trois entreprises complémentaires

Georges et Raphaël Humard font preuve d’un véritable esprit d’entrepreneurs, ne refusent aucun défi, mais sont attentifs à une évolution maîtrisée de leur société. Pour  soutenir le développement, deux entreprises ont été acquises, offrant synergies et complémentarité.

En 2002, New Ingenia SA, distributeur exclusif « Bosch Rexroth » pour la Suisse romande, a été rachetée et transférée à Delémont. Elle conçoit, monte et vend des installations complètes intégrant des profilés en aluminium telles que postes de travail, systèmes de convoyage et châssis d’installations diverses.

Seuret SA, spécialisée dans la révision de machines, notamment à cames, a, quant à elle, été reprise en 2011. Le mariage entre la force industrielle de HUMARD Automation SA et les compétences microtechniques de Seuret SA a permis la commercialisation d’un tour automatique de haute précision
combinant savoir-faire ancestral et technologies de pointe.

Enrique Luis Sardi Matija Maticevic Stefano Ghiglione Silvio Marangoni sardi design team

Gros plan sur la zone de travail spacieuse de la Servo’ Presse hydraulique

Les clients d’HUMARD Automation SA sont issus de l’horlogerie, la joaillerie, l’électronique, le médical, l’alimentaire ainsi que l’automobile. HUMARD Automation SA est très bien implantée en Suisse et une expansion vers certains marchés étrangers ciblés est en cours. Pour abriter ses activités, l’entreprise a bâti quatre usines dans la zone industrielle La Communance à Delémont. Une 5e halle, destinée à Seuret SA, est opérationnelle dès cet automne. Côté personnel, une septantaine de collaborateurs travaillent pour l’ensemble du groupe, y compris des apprentis dessinateurs sur machines et automaticiens.

HUMARD Automation SA, qui avait obtenu le soutien de la Promotion économique lors de son démarrage est aujourd’hui un fleuron de l’économie jurassienne.

 

Humard Innovation and Design team

Source: EnPlus

Good examples of Swiss Made

September 18th, 2014 No comments

swiss made, quality, precision, girod tast, girod instrumentsSwiss Made is a registered trademark that denotes products that are made in Switzerland. It is such a value for the manufacturer and the consumer that its designation is regulated, protected and controlled by Swiss law.

The Swiss Made designation has earned a reputation as a warranty of good sustainable products that is built with great precision through centuries of manufacturing quality products in Switzerland. It gives consumers a sort of guarantee about the quality of the goods they are purchasing and manufacturers can further profit in greater sales gained by the high consumer confidence from such a prestigious reputation.

The Swiss Made designation is an asset for Swiss companies to leverage in a competitive marketplace. In today’s global economy, a manufacturer must compete with goods made across the world. In order not only to survive but to be chosen by the customer as the best, the Swiss manufacturer must be competitive in the national and international market as well. This is why it is very important that Swiss Made goods deservingly earned a stellar reputation that is widely recognized and respected worldwide.

Today, Switzerland is regarded as having one of the world’s most powerful and stable economy. This is due to its strong manufacturing base as well unprecedented and continuous high quality that can be dated for hundreds of years. The solid and traditional quality of Swiss Made also contains latest know-how, industrial and scientific. In this way, the Swiss Made goods attract and reach a broad range of interested customers, even those who are ready to pay the ultimate price for such a remarkable product. It’s a win-win business for the Swiss Made goods producers and their customers.

Under the Swiss Made label, Swiss manufacturers have earned a worldwide fame for quality goods with durable reputation. These companies are recognized and accepted in many well-known areas of international industry. In addition to this, they can also surprise us in their visionary way by thinking in creating their own successful business in the market niches or supply professionals with unique products.

One of such company is Duvoisin Guitars SA. It is a Swiss manufacturer located in Neuchatel, Switzerland.  This company may not be known to many but for connoisseurs of electric guitars and basses this brand has world-class prestige. Like the traditional Swiss watchmakers, Duvoisin produces their musical instruments with great precision. They created internal six steps technology’s guide-line in order to achieve the highest quality product. It begins with the wood selection, its cutting and careful aging in the company workshops. Further it continues through the various stages including sound transmission, the geometry of the neck and precision in the positioning of the frets. Finally it finishes with the truss rod and touch markers.  To achieve this outstanding quality, in addition to the internal six steps rule, the company employs high qualified professionals, makes the guitars from exquisite woods as well uses special machine locally developed.  And it is not a surprise that they are testing the suitability of various Swiss’ woods for making instruments. Also since 2007 the company has been manufacturing basses from the Swiss wood. Duvoisin’s electric guitars and basses are produced in full compliance with the principles of Swiss Made goods.

Another example of Swiss Made are products of FELCO, a company which was created in 1945 by Mr. Félix Flisch a legendary, self-taught visionary. To start production of his first pruning shears he bought an old watchmaking factory. If it was just a coincidence, or destiny indicating that his products are so finely crafted as Swiss watches? The truth is that today, FELCO manufactures not only pruning shears unlike any others but offers tremendous assortment of pruning and cutting products to his clients in over 120 countries. The company is based in Les Geneveyes-sur-Coffrane, Switzerland. In the FELCO catalogue customer can find three general products classifications: “Green,” “Industrial” and “Power-assisted” for professional and leisure use. It sounds very simply but behind these three categories are wide range of goods offer to the client. It starts with the “universal cutter” and finish with “pneumatic and electric tools.” FELCO tools are used in various domains. They are widely used in agriculture, automotive industry, civil engineering and aeronautics, telecommunications, fishing and harbour activities as well many others.  The manufacture not only produces excellent tools but also offers accessories and service to maintenance the highest quality and longtime use of their products. When a new product is created the entire design team attention is focused on the smallest detail. The unique quality, perfection in accuracy and execution as well customer pleasure in using the tools are the base of Swiss Made brand.

A New chapter in Swiss Made knives is a cooperation between FELCO and VICTORINOX.
The two Swiss companies using label Swiss Made, proudly marked in a co-branding agreement a “Grafting and Pruning Knife.” The knife is produced by the manufacturer of Swiss knifes Victorinox.

Victorinox has been in business since 1884 and it is probably not always synonymous with cutlery, but it manufactures one of the world’s best-selling pocket knives, the Swiss Army Knife. Since 1891 Victorinox has been supplying officially the Swiss military with these pocket knives that would eventually become the Swiss Army Knife. As Victorinox knives got renowned, Mr.Karl Elsener, the company founder decided in 1909 to distinguish his knives from copies by using the white cross and red shield as company brand. Slowly but strong, the company was recognized for excellent quality production of original knifes and became one of the leaders in manufacturing cutlery.  1978 was a big moment and a huge recognition for the unique Swiss Made quality of Swiss Army Knives when the first time 50 Master Craftsman knives, model # 5044 were purchased by NASA. Nowadays the Swiss Army Knife is part of the standard equipment for the crew on space missions. Company reputation for durability and reliability is second to none extending a lifetime warranty for those who purchase their products. In addition to the well know production of world-class professional and household knifes Victorinox offers pocket tools, timepieces, travel gear and fashion. All these goods represent Swiss Made quality at every stage of their production. They are masterpieces of quality and latest technology with the roots in a revolutionary idea from 1884 of Mr. Karl Elsener.

In such a distinguish company it could not be missed the Girod Instruments, a Swiss manufacturer measuring instruments of superior precision. The company products are noticed for their Swiss Made solid quality and neat appearance. In 2014 the company is celebrating its 50th anniversary of the successful business. The business is located in Court, in the middle of the Swiss Jura, a region which is well-known as a historical base for manufacturing the famous Swiss watches. Be a part of the living watch industry tradition influenced the products of Girod Instruments.

The company develops measuring instruments as well customized products on request. The main area of the business activity of the company is micro-mechanic. A company’s own product the Girod-Tast is a lever indicator. A part of the Swiss Made quality is an outstanding service. That is very much in line with the Girod Instruments philosophy, because the company manages the repairs of the products directly within its own locations.

Swiss Made is a legacy and philosophy for companies, which are located in Switzerland and desired for the highest quality and standard of their products. The companies pay attention to the smallest detail of their product and respect customer’s well-being.
The Swiss Made trademark is most known for the reliability and precision and is always proudly displays on product which meet the requirements.

By Ella Salzmann

 

SwissNano – Success in the USA

September 18th, 2014 No comments

Actually the machine has already been sold a few time in the US and results seems promising. The first machines were sold to Petron Automation, a Connecticut shop proud owner of the first two SwissNanos in the US.

Tornos, SwissNano, Sardi Innovation, Enrique Luis Sardi, high precision lathe19 new machines

Last November, Petron Automation, Inc. held a ribbon cutting ceremony marking its facility expansion. Tornos CEO, Michael Hauser, was there to witness the event. The company, established 34 years ago, added 9,000 square feet to make room for 19 new machines – more than doubling the company’s capacity in 17,000 square feet total.

SwissNano to reach new markets

“These new machines will help us expand our operations and sales further into electronics, connectors…and micro parts, which we see as having huge growth potential,” says Luis Santolamazza, VP Sales & Marketing. He continues: “Getting the first two SwissNanos in the country, shows our President’s commitment for the latest technology. That has always been part of the strategy here and having these new machines supports the point that we invest very regularly in the newest technology (we turn over our machines every 5 years). It’s important to mention that these first two SwissNanos in the country were proven reliable making precision parts for the watch industry in Switzerland…and the purchase of these machines shows that we are trying to step ahead of technology.”

By Pierre-Yves Kohler

Source: EuroTec

Salon EPHJ-EPMT-SMT: l’innovation encore et toujours

September 11th, 2014 No comments

Le treizième Salon EPHJ-EPMT-SMT s’est tenu à Palexpo Genève en juin dernier. Plus important salon professionnel annuel de Suisse dans le domaine de la haute précision, de la sous-traitance en horlogerie-joaillerie, des microtechnologies et des technologies médicales, il s’impose comme une référence internationale.

 

Georges Humard, Raphael Humard, George, Georgy, Enrique Luis Sardi, Stefano Ghiglione, Silvio Marangoni, Sardi Innovation

La nouvelle presse hydraulique de haute précision HUMARD HU6, de la société HUMARD Automation conçu par Sardi Innovation.

Maintenant bien installé à Genève depuis trois ans après dix éditions organisées à Lausanne, le Salon EPHJ-EPMT-SMT n’a cessé de se développer tant en nombre d’exposants que de visiteurs. Les fournisseurs de l’industrie horlogère, qui représentent à eux seuls près de 60% des exposants avec près de 500 entreprises disposant d’un stand sur les 825 du Salon, ont tous conscience que les salons professionnels représentent la troisième source d’information des entreprises après la presse et internet. L’importance pour la Suisse de bénéficier de tels événements est donc capitale pour lui assurer un impact national et international tant sur le plan économique qu’industriel.

Les créateurs du Salon, André Colard et Olivier Saenger, l’ont bien compris et proposent depuis douze ans ce rendez-vous devenu incontournable, organisé désormais par Palexpo, sous la conduite de Barthélémy Martin, chef de projet. Au fil des ans, de nombreuses innovations ontainsi été présentées dans de plusieurs domaines. Cette édition n’a pas dérogé à la règle avec différentes nouveautés.

Les visiteurs ont pu découvrir une nouvelle matière inédite présentée par une jeune entreprise de Sion, CristalTech. Grâce à une technologie de cristallisation développée par cette société, l’osmium, le métal le plus dense sur Terre, pourra être travaillé par les horlogers-joailliers sous forme de plaques de différentes tailles et épaisseurs ou de tubes de diamètres variables. Encore plus rare que le platine, l’osmium pourrait bien être, dans le futur, le métal précieux utilisé pour la réalisation de modèles haut de gamme.

Dans un tout autre domaine, la société Giroud, basée au Locle, a dévoilé un nouveau système de chassage électropneumatique reproduisant à l’identique le mouvement d’une presse d’horloger manuelle. Ce nouveau concept permet non seulement de maintenir une qualité constante, mais également d’augmenter sensiblement la productivité.

L’entreprise Humard, établie à Delémont, présentait quant à elle sa dernière presse hydraulique de haute précision. D’une capacité de six tonnes, cet outil offre une précision encore jamais atteinte pour une telle rapidité d’exécution.

L’ébavurage, le polissage, le rayonnage ou encore le lissage de surface sont autant d’opérations délicates et particulièrement complexes, voire impossible en raison de la petite taille des pièces. ABC SwissTech, à La Chaux de Fonds, a conçu de nouveaux équipements capables de répondre aux plus grandes exigences. Les médias qui correspondent aux outils nécessaires aux opérations de tribofinition mis au point par ABC SwissTech, de très haute densité, de l’ordre de 20 kg/dm3 permettent d’obtenir d’excellents résultats.

Chaque année, de nombreuses conférences et tables rondes permettent également au public de s’informer de l’évolution de la branche, donnant à ce rendez-vous un intérêt toujours croissant.

De Frédéric Finot

Source: Journal Swiss de l’horologerie

Third story of an enterpreneur by Carlos Dorado

September 9th, 2014 No comments

Businessman standing among globesOne of the other tales that my mother used to tell me was the one about Joselito.

One day Joselito went to the seashore and noticed that there were thousands of sea stars deposited there by the waves. Joselito had a strong feeling of sadness when he realized that the low tide was taking place and that in short time all of them would be dead. Without thinking twice, he started collecting them obstinately one by one, and throwing them into the sea. He was running continuously back and forth trying to save them.

A man was looking the whole scene and, after a while, he told to Joselito: “What are you doing? You can’t be so naïve! There are thousands of sea stars and you won’t be able to save them all. Can’t you realize that your efforts aren’t worthwhile?” Joselito looked at him very seriously, bent himself, picked one of the sea stars up with his fingers throwing it into the sea and, looking intensely the gentleman spoke to him: “for that sea star it was worthwhile.”

“Carlos, our work is our health and it is a good remedy for many diseases. In this world, only through hard work and by developing your skills you will be able to become an independent person. These skills will be your biggest treasure.”

Work ennobles man. And every time I feel tired after a long working day, I always think about the farmers of my country that I was able to hear whistling at 5 a.m., even though they were going to do some very tough earth work for the whole day. Now, remembering those scenes, I believe that the art of resting is part of the art of working, and if you smell the after completing a task, they have a different scent.

To establish goals to reach without working is utopia, to work without goals is a hobby. To work having a goal, a target is a utopic hobby, but –sooner or later- it’ll bring you to something! To believe that success is not connected to work is dodger’s dream and, as for everything, big results are fruits of hard work and perseverance, because big ideas are nothing if you don’t work on them and develop them: they remain solely ideas. A genius can start to do big projects, but just working one can complete them and, as my father used to say: “Carlos, you can believe in luck or not. But always remember that, the harder you work, the more lucky you’ll become.” In the end, the things you earn by hard working, you appreciate them way more.

To work with love and passion is the secret to happiness, and there is no work that is despicable, there are only despicable people that are not interested in working. Work is as a sweet that sweetens up your life; but, unfortunately, not everyone loves sweets. People don’t know that laziness consumes more than work; and, if someone tells you that he doesn’t need to work in order to survive, he’ll always need to work in order to stay healthy. When weed starts growing up in someone’s garden, if he doesn’t react, it will be just a matter of time before the weed will overwhelm everything.

I thought about all of this after a concert by Julio Iglesias, who kindly invited me, and where I saw him on stage with the same passion and enthusiasm as always, even though he is almost 71. Julio has a big gift in being able to do the work he does, or maybe the gift is the work? In that moment I remembered Joselito’s story

By Carlos Dorado

Source: Runrun.es

Il terzo racconto di un imprenditore di Carlos Dorado

September 4th, 2014 No comments

Businessman standing among globesUno degli altri racconti preferiti che mia madre era solita raccontarmi è quello di Joselito.

Joselito un giorno andò in spiaggia e vide che c’erano migliaia di stelle marine che erano state portate dal mare sul bagnasciuga. Joselito sentì una grande tristezza quando si rese conto che la marea si stava abbassando e, che col ritirarsi del mare, sarebbero tutte morte.  Senza pensarci due volte, si mise a prenderle disperatamente una ad una, e a riportarle di nuovo nel mare.  Correva freneticamente avanti e indietro dal mare, senza sosta.

Un uomo che lo stava guardando, dopo un po’ gli disse: “Ma che cosa stai facendo? Non puoi essere così ingenuo! Ci sono migliaia di stelle marine e non sarai mai in grado di salvarle tutte. Non ti rendi conto che il tuo sforzo non vale la pena?” Joselito lo guardò molto seriamente, si piegò, prese un’altra stella marina tra le dita, la alzò lanciandola nel mare e, guardando fisso negli occhi il signore,  gli disse:  “per quella stella marina invece è valsa la pena”.

“Carlos, il lavoro è salute ed è il miglior rimedio per tutti i mali; e, in questo mondo, potrai diventare una persona indipendente solo attraverso il duro lavoro e lo sviluppo delle tue capacità. Questa capacità saranno il tuo più grande tesoro.”

Si dice che il lavoro nobilita l’uomo. E ogni volta che mi sento stanco dopo una lunga giornata di lavoro, penso sempre a quegli agricoltori del mio paese che sentivo fischiettare alle 5 del mattino, anche se stavano andando a lavorare la terra per tutto il giorno, in condizioni durissime. Ora, ricordando quelle scene, credo che l’arte del riposo sia anche una parte dell’arte del lavorare, e se provi a sentire l’odore dei fiori dopo aver finito un lavoro, essi avranno un profumo diverso.

Porsi degli obiettivi da raggiungere senza lavorare è un’utopia, lavorare senza obiettivi è un passatempo.  Lavorare avendo degli obiettivi è il passatempo utopico che prima o poi si avvererà!  Credere che il successo sia scollegato dal lavoro è solo un sogno dei furbacchioni, come in tutto, i grandi risultati sono frutto del lavoro e della preseveranza, perché anche le grandi idee sono nulla se non ci si lavora sopra: rimangono semplicemente idee. Una persona geniale comincia a fare grandi opere, ma solo il lavoro arriva a completarle e, come era solito dire mio padre: “Carlos, puoi credere o meno nella fortuna. Ma ricordati sempre che, più duramente si lavora, più fortunati si diventa.” Alla fine, ciò che si guadagna con molto lavoro, lo si apprezza e lo si ama di più.

Lavorare con amore e passione è il segreto della felicità, e non esiste nessun lavoro spregevole, esistono solo persone spregevoli  a cui non interessa farlo. Il lavoro è come un dolce che ti addolcisce la vita; ma purtroppo non tutti amano i dolci. Non sanno che l’ozio consuma più del lavoro; e, se qualcuno dice che non ha bisogno di lavorare per sopravvivere, avrà sempre bisogno di lavorare per rimanere in salute.  Quando l’erbaccia dell’ozio nasce nel giardino di una persona, se questa non interviene, è solo una questione di tempo prima che l’erbaccia s’impossessi di tutto.

Ho pensato a tutto questo dopo aver assistito ad un concerto di Julio Iglesias, che gentilmente mi ha invitato, e dove l’ho visto sul palco con la stessa passione e l’entusiasmo di sempre, nonostante stia quasi per compiere 71 anni. Julio ha un grande dono nel fare il suo lavoro, o forse è il lavoro che gli da quel dono? In quel momento mi è venuta in mente la storia di Joselito e mi sono detto…anche per Julio ne è valsa la pena.

Di Carlos Dorado

Fonte: Runrun.es

Why competition is a good thing

September 4th, 2014 No comments

David Lester on realising he wasn’t alone with his big idea and how dealing with the competition with his first business has prepared him this time around


why competition is a good thingLet’s talk competition. About three years ago, when I started researching the market for my new start-up citrusHR, there was nobody offering anything like it, at least for small businesses.
When we started development, about 18 months ago, we saw three or four firms offering relatively simple versions of the employee database we offer, though still nobody offering the full set of services I think are important for a small business audience.

But by the time we launched, just a couple of weeks ago, I was aware of an amazing 23 companies offering some sort of online employee database. Some of those also include some of the other elements of our service. So in a year and a half, a fledgling market went from having three small, basic suppliers to having 24! I had expected more competition to launch, but not that much more!

Why competition is good for business

Should I be terrified, or concerned? Actually, I am excited. (Perhaps I’m too easily excited…). My main reason is that when there are so many people who think an idea is good enough to pursue, it is strong evidence that there really is a strong market.

In fact I believe that within five years most employers will use a service something like ours. The real question for me, and for the bosses of the other 23 suppliers, is will our business succeed.

I will be amazed if there are more than five major suppliers in this space in five years’ time. The rest will either sell out to others, or go bust, or quietly pull out. A few will probably find a small niche and operate quietly and sensibly within that; so I imagine there might be 10 or 12 viable suppliers by then. So I don’t think that half the people offering this service today will still be around in five years. Which should be scary, right?

I am OK with this, oddly, because I have seen it before. My first company was a computer games developer and publisher; we started in 1988, when there were already lots of games publishers – in the UK there were probably well over 50 back then. The market was growing, which helped hugely – new companies didn’t need to steal customers from their competitors, they could simply grab new customers entering the market.

The other reason for my excitement is that when faced with a similar challenge 25 years ago, I came up with a good strategy for carving out a good, profitable niche for my company. And I am confident that the same applies today.

I love football, and like to use analogies from it – apologies to those of you who aren’t fans! When young people first play football together, they pretty much all follow the ball around – so you literally see a mass of kids running around in a crowd, trying to kick the ball.

As they learn the game, the better players learn the importance of position, reserving energy, and finding space – which gives them time to place their pass or their shot.

Major new growth markets feel very similar, with everyone initially chasing the ball. So in my new sector, almost all the 23 competitors do essentially the same thing; only five of them do anything at all other than storing employee records online. I see citrusHR as being on a wing, in plenty of space, running with the ball.

Learning how to win

So far this is all somewhat interesting, but so what… the key is to understand your market, and find a position for your business which is different from the rest. In the computer games market, most companies (including mine in the beginning) were publishing a wide variety of types of games.

We then decided to specialise (in strategy games, as it happens), and got to know fans of that type of games really well, which enabled us to give them more of what they wanted; it worked really well – we went from selling about 10,000 copies of our best game in say 1991, to 100,000 copies in 1995, and two million copies in 1997! The payoff for being well positioned – and focused on our strategy and not our rivals’ – in a growing market can be enormous, as I found out.

Time will tell as to whether the position I have carved out for citrusHR will prove successful. I expect that some of the different aspects we offer will prove really popular, while others might not. I don’t know which, yet, and hope to learn this from our customers as fast as I can.

But being in a growth market is exciting; I’m enjoying the journey, and will keep you posted here as to how we get on.

by David Lester

Source: startups.co.uk

¡Tercer cuento de un empresario! por Carlos Dorado

September 4th, 2014 No comments

Businessman standing among globesOtro de los cuentos preferidos, que solía contarme mi madre era el de ”Joselito”, quien un buen día llegó a la playa y observó que había miles de estrellas marinas sobre la arena, que habían sido depositadas por el mar. Enseguida a Joselito lo invadió una inmensa tristeza cuando se dio cuenta de que la marea estaba bajando y que para cuando subiera, estarían todas muertas. Sin pensarlo dos veces, se puso a recogerlas desesperadamente una a una, lanzándolas de nuevo al mar. Corría desenfrenado, iba y volvía sin pausa.

Un señor que estaba observándolo, después de un rato le dijo: ¿Pero qué estás haciendo? ¡No puedes ser tan iluso! Hay miles de estrellas, y no vas a poder salvarlas a todas. ¿No te das de cuenta de que tu esfuerzo no vale la pena? Joselito lo observó con una mirada muy seria, se agachó, sostuvo una estrella de mar con los dedos, la alzó lanzándola al mar, y mirando fijamente a los ojos del señor le dijo: “A esa si le valió la pena”

“Carlos, el trabajo es salud y es el mejor remedio contra todos los males; y sólo a través del trabajo duro y el desarrollo de una capacidad, te vuelves independiente en este mundo. Esa habilidad será tu mayor tesoro”.

¡El trabajo dignifica al ser humano!, y cada vez que me siento cansado después de una larga jornada de trabajo, siempre pienso en esos campesinos de mi pueblo que a las 5 de la mañana, los escuchaba silbando, a pesar de que iban a labrar la tierra durante todo el día, bajo condiciones muy duras y difíciles. Ahora recordando esas escenas, creo que el arte del descanso es también una parte del arte de trabajar, y si hueles las flores después de cumplir con las exigencias del trabajo: ¡Huelen diferente!

Las metas sin trabajo son una utopía, el trabajo sin metas es un pasatiempo. ¡El trabajo con metas es el pasatiempo de una utopía que tarde o temprano se hará realidad! Pretender que el éxito no te agarre trabajando, es sólo un sueño que se hace realidad en la vida de los corruptos, pues en todos los demás, los grandes éxitos resultan de trabajar y saber perseverar, porque inclusive las grandes ideas, sin trabajo se quedan en eso: simplemente en ideas. El genio comienza las grandes obras, pero sólo el trabajo las acaba, y como solía decirme mi padre: “Carlos, puedes creer o no en la suerte. Pero acuérdate siempre, de que cuanto más duro trabajes, más suerte tendrás”. Al final, lo que con mucho trabajo se logra, se aprecia y se ama todavía más; y cuanto mayor es el esfuerzo, más grande es la gloria.

Trabajar con amor y pasión es el secreto de la felicidad, y no existe ningún trabajo despreciable, sino tan sólo personas despreciables a quienes no les interesa hacerlo. El trabajo es como un dulce que te endulza la vida; pero desafortunadamente los dulces no le gustan a todo el mundo. Estos no saben que la ociosidad, desgasta más rápidamente que el trabajo; y si alguien tiene la dicha de que no necesita trabajar para comer, siempre necesitará trabajar para tener salud. ¡Cuando la mala hierba de la ociosidad nace en el jardín de una persona, es una cuestión de tiempo que todo sea maleza!

Todo esto lo pensé después de asistir a un concierto de Julio Iglesias, quien amablemente me invitó, y donde lo vi con el mismo entusiasmo y pasión de siempre, a pesar de que está a punto de cumplir los 71 años. ¿Tiene Julio un gran don para hacer su trabajo, o quizás es el trabajo lo que le da ese don? En ese momento vino a mi mente el cuento de “Joselito”, y me dije: “……A Julio también le valió la pena”

By Carlos Dorado

Source: Runrun.es

Sicher ist sicher

July 22nd, 2014 No comments

So lassen sich Hydraulikpressen sicher einrichten und überwachen

Mit einer Sicherheits-Steuerung und deren Motion-Control-Modul hat das Schweizer Unter-nehmen HUMARD Automation SA einen sicheren Einrichtbetrieb für hydraulische Pressen realisiert. Das Absicherungskonzept minimiert die Rüstzeiten der Pressen, verbessert deren Verfügbarkeit und gewährleistet maximalen Bedienerschutz auch in den automatischen Betriebsarten.
Eine der Besonderheiten der Lösung dieser Pressenabsicherung bei der HUMARD ist die Möglichkeit, im Einrichtbetrieb dynamisch zwischen verschiedenen Geschwindigkeiten umzuschalten und so ein zeitoptimiertes Umrüsten zu gewährleisten. “Für unsere Kunden resultiert daraus mehr Effizienz und Produktivität beim Einsatz der Pressen”, unterstreicht Frédéric EGGENSPIELER, Software Engineer von HUMARD den Vorteil des Sicherheitskonzepts von Sick für seine Kunden. Die Bediener sind dabei bestmöglich gegen gefahrbringende Pressenhübe geschützt, denn die sicherheitsgerichtete Überwachung mit Flexi Soft und Drive Monitor erfüllt die Sicherheitsniveaus PL e nach EN ISO 13849, SIL3 nach IEC 61508 und SIL3CL nach EN 62061. Auch in den beiden Betriebsarten “Automatik mit Roboterbeschickung” und “Automatik mit Handbe-schickung” gewährleistet das Sicherheitskonzept einen jederzeit sicheren Betrieb der Pressen.

 
Konzept gemeinsam erarbeitet

Humard Automation, Drive Monitor, Georges Humard

Frédéric Eggenspieler: “Der Drive Monitor ermöglicht unseren Kunden den sicher überwachten Einrichtbetrieb.”

Die grundsätzliche Aufgabenstellung bei HUMARD war es somit, durch ein umfassendes Konzept die Presse für diese unterschiedlichen Betriebsmodi abzusichern. “Die besondere Problemstellung der sicheren Überwachung des Einrichtbetriebs ergibt sich aus der Tatsache, dass die Presse zwar Geschwindigkeiten von 60 mm/s beim Abwärtshub und 450 mm/s bei Aufwärtshub durchführen darf, beide Bewegungen aber sofort sicher auf 10 mm/s reduziert werden müssen, wenn der Bediener beim Einrichten durch Sicherheits-Lichtgitter hindurch in die Maschine, d. h. an die Gefahrenstelle des Presswerkzeugs eingreift”, erklärt Frédéric EGGENSPIELER. Basierend auf diesen Anforderungen haben HUMARD und Sick gemeinsam ein Absicherungskonzept erarbeitet, das in allen Betriebsarten das höchstmögliche Schutzniveau erreicht. Im Mittelpunkt steht dabei die Sicherheits-Steuerung Flexi Soft aus dem sens:Control-Portfolio von SICK, dessen steuerungstechnische Lösungen speziell auf die sicherheitsgerichtete Automation von kleinen und mittelgroßen Maschinen ausgelegt sind. In beiden Automatik-Betriebsarten sorgen Sicherheits-Lichtvorhänge, Sicherheits-Türschalter und -Verriegelungen an Schutzklappen und anderen mechanisch trennenden Schutzeinrichtungen sowie Not-Halt-Taster für eine lückenlose sicherheitsgerichtete Überwachung der Hydraulikpressen. Sie stellen sicher, dass die Schutzklappen bei laufender Maschine geschlossen sind, ein Eingreifen in den Sicherheits-Lichtvorhang bei Handbeschickung zum sofortigen Stopp der Maschine führt und die Presse im Ernstfall auch per Not-Halt gestoppt werden kann. “Eine Besonderheit ist die sichere Antriebsüberwachung im Einrichtbetrieb”, bestätigt Frédéric EGGENSPIELER. “Zum einen haben nur wenige Hersteller von Sicherheitssteuerungen eine solche Funktionalität, wie sie der Drive Monitor bietet, überhaupt im Programm; zum anderen erlaubt sie uns, unseren Kunden den sicher überwachten Einrichtbetrieb überhaupt anbieten zu können.” Die produkttechnisch optimale Lösung sowie die Unterstützung von HUMARD bei der Erstellung und Implementierung des Absicherungskonzepts waren schließlich ausschlaggebend dafür, dass der Maschinenbauer der Applikations-, System- und Lösungskompetenz von SICK vertraute.

 
Sichere und vielseitig: Antriebsüberwachung

Humard Automation, Georges Humard

In Hydraulikpressen ermöglicht der Drive Monitor die dynamische Űberwachung und Umschlatung der Pressen-geschwindigkeit.

Der Drive-Monitor ist ein Erweiterungsmodul für die modulare Sicherheits-Steuerung Flexi Soft, mit dem viele Funktionen der sicheren Antriebsüberwachung ausgeführt werden können, z. B. SSM (für: Safe Speed Monitor, sichere Geschwindigkeitsüberwachung) oder SOS (für: Safe Operating Stop, sicherer Betriebshalt). Die Drehzahlüberwachungsfunktion SLS (für: Safety Limited Speed, sicher reduzierte Geschwindigkeit) minimiert im Einricht-, aber auch im Wartungsbetrieb der Pressen, das Risiko von Verletzungen. Hierzu wird die Maschinengeschwindigkeit, die beim Einrichten der Hydraulikpressen gefahren wird, sicher überwacht – und dadurch das manuelle Eingreifen in den Gefahrenbereich ermöglicht. Der große Vorteil der sicher reduzierten Geschwindigkeit SLS liegt darin, dass Rüst- bzw. Einrichtprozesse nicht notwendigerweise gestoppt werden müssen. Die erforderlichen Arbeiten können schneller durchgeführt werden, da die Maschine mit reduzierter Geschwindigkeit gefahren werden kann. Auf diese Weise verbessert der Drive Monitor auch die Produktivität der HUMARD-Hydraulikpressen.

 

Zeiteffizient und sicher

Der lösungstechnische Erfolg des Drive Monitor in dieser Applikation ist wesentlich durch die dynamische Überwachung und Umschaltung der Pressengeschwindigkeit begründet. In der Betriebsart “Einrichtbetrieb” kann die Presse – solange sich keine Person an der Gefahrstelle befindet – das Werkzeug mit höheren Geschwindigkeiten nach unten und nach oben verfahren. Sobald eine Person über die angebrachten Sicherheits-Lichtvorhänge an der Gefahrstelle detektiert wird, leitet die Flexi Soft über die Pressensteuerung eine Reduzierung der Geschwindigkeit auf sicherheitstechnisch geforderte 10 mm/s ein. Der Drive Monitor überwacht in diesem Fall die Geschwindigkeit und die Einhaltung der Rampen bei einer Anforderung einer Ge-schwindigkeitsreduktion. “Bei anderen Lösungen hätten wir die Geschwindigkeit eventuell unter 10 mm/s absenken müssen”, vergleicht Frédéric EGGENSPIELER die Funktionalität des Drive Monitor mit anderen Lösungsansätzen, “Zudem wäre es u. U. auch nicht möglich gewesen, die Geschwindigkeiten dynamisch umzuschalten. Dank des Drive Monitor können unsere Kunden die Pressen im Einrichtbetrieb schneller auf ein neues Produkt umstellen, was die Presse selbst effizienter und produktiver macht.”

Hydraulikabschaltung in allen Betriebsarten

Der Drive Monitor und die Flexi Soft sind nahtlos in das gesamte Automatisierungskonzept der Pressen integriert. Daher ist der Drive Monitor in der Lage, über den Einrichtbetrieb hinaus auch in den beiden automatischen Betriebsarten das Verhalten der Presse zu überwachen und bei einer Fehlfunktion eine wichtige Sicherheitsaufgabe zu übernehmen: Das kontrollierte Stillsetzen durch Abschalten des Antriebs über die Hydraulikventile. “Über sie werden die Geschwindigkeit, die Richtung und die Kraft der Presse geregelt”, erklärt Frédéric EGGENSPIELER. “In den hydraulischen Kreisen befinden sich Ventile, welche der Drive Monitor im Fehlerfall abschalten kann, um somit jede weitere Bewegung zu verhindern. Dazu werden noch per EDM-Funktion bei jeder Bewegung die Rückmeldung der Ventile überwacht“.

Kernkompetenz für sichere Antriebsüberwachung

Mit dem Drive Monitor setzt HUMARD in seinen Pressen eine
innovative Lösung zur sicheren Antriebsüberwachung ein. Das Erweiterungsmodul der Sicherheits-Steuerung Flexi Soft ist besonders für die Aufgabenstellungen und Randbedingungen geeignet, wie sie für hydraulische Antriebe typisch sind. Antriebs-Know how und Kompetenz auf dem Gebiet der sicheren Steuerungstechnik bilden die Basis, auf der SICK im Bereich Motion Control für hydraulische Applikationen kontinuierlich neue Lösungsmöglichkeiten entwickeln und neue Anwendungsgebiete erschließen wird.

Staples’ Tom Stemberg advises businesses to avoid the ‘Amazon effect’

July 14th, 2014 No comments
Staples' Tom Stemberg advises businesses to avoid the 'Amazon effect'.  (Image: Courtesy Company)

Staples’ Tom Stemberg advises businesses to avoid the ‘Amazon effect’. (Image: Courtesy Company)

Now a VC investor, Tom Stemberg has a warning for entrepreneurs thinking about competing with Amazon.

In the ’80s and ’90s, Staples founder Tom Stemberg was a big-box pioneer. Those days seem distant, says Stemberg, now 65 and a VC at Highland Capital. His portfolio includes sporting-goods chain City Sports and yoga brand Lululemon. “Terrestrial, mundane businesses,” as Stemberg explains to Inc. editor-at-large David Whitford, but with a twist he couldn’t have imagined when he was starting out: the ability to serve customers wherever they shop, on Main Street or in cyberspace.

In order to be successful today, you have to operate on all cylinders. You have to have a great retail operation and a terrific e-commerce operation, and you have to link them together. Your store may not have to be as big as before; some things you’re better off fulfilling from a distribution center. But you really want to integrate the strength of a retail store-the ability to let people touch and feel the merchandise-with the efficiencies of e-commerce. That’s the real challenge, and it’s tricky.

One thing I worry a lot about, which wasn’t an issue for Staples initially, is the Amazon effect. Amazon has built a wonderful business. However, it’s a business with very little profit. Amazon prices its goods in a way that creates an incredible problem. Do you price at these insane levels? Or do you yield market share to Amazon? As an investor, I try to avoid companies with products that are susceptible to the Amazon effect. Until Wall Street demands Amazon make a profit, that’s a dark cloud that’s going to hang over everything in retail.

When I invest, I look for two things above all: a great market and a great entrepreneur. The business plan is going to change. The team is going to evolve. But if you have a leader who can inspire others and a growing market that offers you an opportunity to differentiate yourself, typically you’ll have a winner.

My general advice to entrepreneurs is the same I’ve been giving for 30 years: If you want to get into a business-no matter what the business is-first, you ought to work for a really well-run company in that industry and learn some management fundamentals. I’m talking about how to hire people, how to fire people with dignity, how to motivate people. Sure, some businesses don’t require a lot of people in the early stages. But as you get bigger, people skills become critical. The entrepreneurs who bring those skills to their first ventures will have a big advantage over the entrepreneurs who don’t.

There are the rare birds like Bill Gates who have the talent to succeed without experience. But they’re like the guys who go straight to the NBA out of high school. Works for some, but for the vast majority, it doesn’t.

By David Whitford

Source: Inc.com

Inventing can be fun, and profitable. Here’s how to get started.

July 4th, 2014 No comments

InventingCompanies are looking for your ideas. Smart businessmen understand and respect that great ideas can come from anywhere — and anyone. Open innovation makes sense!

By seeking out and being willing to accept product ideas submitted from outside their own walls, companies up their chances of finding the next great idea. At the same time, they lower their research and development costs. Entrepreneurs can capitalize on open innovation by learning how to license their ideas, cheap. If that sounds too difficult, you’re psyching yourself out.

Earning royalties from licensing one of your ideas is one of the most straightforward examples of the multiplier effect: Rent your idea to a company, and they’ll have to pay you every time a unit is sold, regardless of where you physically are or what you’re doing. I’ve collected royalties while on vacation with my family. I’ve been able to set my own hours.

When I started out, only a few industries were willing to work with freelancers and outside inventors. That has changed.

Here’s a quick guide to help get your brain churning:

1. Come up with an idea. This step should be fun. My advice is to focus on making small improvements to existing products — that way, you can be sure there’s already a market for your idea. More likely than not, it can be manufactured at a reasonable price point. Retailers change their inventory often. Companies are looking for newly improved products.

2. File a provisional patent application. Only big ideas require patents. Filing a PPA establishes perceived ownership — and if you move quickly, which you should, perceived ownership is enough to get your product to market first. Filing a PPA is easy and inexpensive, and most importantly, it allows you to label your idea “patent pending” for up to one year. Later on, you might be able to get the company who is licensing the idea to pay for your patent application.

3. Create a sell sheet. It’s your most important tool when licensing an idea. Essentially, a sell sheet is a short and sweet advertisement for your idea. That means one page only! It should feature your one-line benefit statement prominently. Why do people want and need this idea? Next, include a picture or drawing of your idea. And of course, include your contact information.

4. If you have a prototype made, make a YouTube video. I use my iPhone, and keep it very simple. That means no music and not much longer than a minute — just enough time to identify the problem that needs solving, and how your product solves it.

5. Get on the phone. Start calling potential licensees. It sounds scary, but in reality, it’s not hard. What companies make the products that are similar to your idea? Call those companies. Don’t identify yourself as an inventor; introduce yourself as a product developer. Tell them you have a new idea that you’d like to submit. Ask what employee you should talk to.

By Stephen Key

Source: Enterpreneur.com

Gusto aims to create a better, easier email

June 30th, 2014 No comments

Gusto aims to create a better, easier emailHave you ever wanted to attach a file in an email and you can’t find or access it from your phone? The team behind the new email app Gusto has shared that frustration.

“After years of using mobile email and being constantly frustrated with finding emails, files, and photos on the go, we came up with a sleek dashboard that breaks your digital life down into convenient tabs for easy use,” said Gusto CEO Shawn Schwegman.

Gusto works with any IMAP email provider (Google, Yahoo, AOL, etc.) and automatically saves all the files that have been sent or received. This allows a user to easily access a document and send it from their phone.

This same principle applies to photos. Not only does Gusto show photos you’ve buried in your email, but you can link to Facebook and Instagram to access those photos as well.

“We designed Gusto to combine mobile email with built-in cloud storage so all of your photos, files, and documents are right where you need them when you need them,” said Schwegman. “Just as Google organizes and helps you find the world’s content, you use Gusto to organize and find your content.”

Gusto at its best eliminates a step or two for people using email. Easy access to information all in one place saves time and hassle. Apps don’t have to be complicated to be successful. They just need to identify a pain point for consumers and address it.

“My own personal frustration with email inspired us to produce something better. The more I talked to other people, I realized that they also had this pain. I am constantly on the go and having my life so spread out across other platforms made me think about why an app had to do one single function,” said Schwegman. “Email on the go has never been more important than it is today. Being disappointed in current email capabilities inspired us to build something that simplifies basic functions.”

Gusto is adding features and will eventually use the freemium model to generate revenue. Right now, they are identifying the updates and additions that matter most for users.

There are other email apps like Mailbox, Acompli, or Boxer. Each focuses on something different like cloud services or organizing files into sections. Gusto’s aim is to create one unified view of your life in the palm of your hand.

 

 
By Jeff Barrett

Source: Allbusiness.com

Apple manufacturer Foxconn goes green in China’s Guizhou

June 27th, 2014 No comments

Terraced fields of rice paddies are farmed on June 4, 2013, in Jinping county, Guizhou province, China (Photograph by ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)

Guizhou may be one of China’s poorest and least developed provinces. But the flip side is an environment so pristine that President Xi Jinping recently joked its air should be bottled.

Now, Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group (2317:TT), the world’s largest consumer electronics producer, with more than a million employees working in 30-some industrial parks across China, has set its sights on backward but beautiful Guizhou.

The maker of Apple’s (AAPL) iPad and iPhone and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) servers is building an industrial park in China’s southwest, seemingly worlds away from its massive and gritty Shenzhen manufacturing base, that aims to be state of the art in energy efficiency and environmental friendliness. Set among karst hills on the outskirts of Guiyang, the provincial capital, the 500-acre park will keep about 70 percent of the natural vegetation undisturbed.

The eco-friendly park will produce smartphones, large-screen TVs, as well as have a 130,000-square-meter R&D center and 2,160-square-meter big data center. By March 2015 it will employ 12,000 workers and have an annual output of 35 billion yuan ($5.6 billion), the company says; three years later it plans to more than triple in acreage, employing 50,000 workers, and reach 50 billion yuan in sales.

The highlight of its green cost-savings model is the use of a north-south wind tunnel, already bored through one of the area’s many hills, for cooling the 12 containers of servers in its big data project. While usually 35 percent of energy consumed to run servers goes toward air conditioners for cooling, Foxconn aims to reduce that portion to just 10 percent, by using wind to naturally blow over its servers and dissipate the heat generated.

“We have succeeded in leveraging technology to enhance all aspects of manufacturing, and we are focusing our investments in areas that link technology with sustainable economic growth in a way that also protects the environment,” said Foxconn founder and Chief Executive Terry Gou, speaking at a forum on environmental protection in Guiyang today.

It is using close to 100 percent recycled steel in the construction of the zone’s buildings. And to reduce energy use while operating, Foxconn is installing its own patented heat-reflective laminated glass for all windows. Meanwhile, for outdoor lighting, it is installing 170 “intelligent” street lamps of its own design; not only do they rely on solar panels for energy, they come equipped with sensors that are able to determine traffic load as well as sun or fog conditions, and adjust the strength of the light accordingly to minimize wastage.

Foxconn also says it’s changing how its smartphones are made in Guiyang to cut energy and water use, as well as reduce the paint and chemicals needed. Rather than spray paint onto its smartphones, the usual method where 70 percent of paint is wasted and chemical fumes are released into the air, it’s now using a special mold process where less than 1 percent of the paint is lost, according to Dai Fengyuan, chief technology officer at Foxconn. Similarly, the traditional film used in smartphone touchscreens has been replaced by a new carbon nanotube film, which requires 80 percent less energy to produce and cuts water use to near zero. “We have all these innovative technologies, now we have to get them into our mass production process,” says Dai.

Foxconn not surprisingly is facing pressure from its top customers to ensure its production process has fewer environmental costs. “Carbon emissions from our manufacturing partners remain the largest portion of our carbon footprint, an area we’re committed to addressing,” Apple said in its latest environmental responsibility report, posted online earlier this month. Last September, Hewlett-Packard announced a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions at its top manufacturers by one-fifth in the decade through 2020.

“In the past, people thought being green would increase costs or lower efficiency. That is not the case,” said Foxconn’s Gou at a July 10 press conference in Guiyang. “This industrial park represents a new model for growth: green and responsible.”

 

By Dexter Roberts

Source: Businessweek.com

Home depot starts selling 3-D printers in stores for first time

June 23rd, 2014 No comments

Home Depot Inc. (HD), the world’s largest home-improvement chain, will start selling 3-D printers today in stores for the first time, pushing deeper into a market that was once the domain of engineers and hobbyists.

Home Depot is selling devices from MakerBot, a 3-D printer maker acquired by Stratasys Ltd. (SSYS) last year, in 12 locations as part of a pilot project, the companies said. The effort will include stores in California, Illinois and New York.

“It’s a pilot for us to test a potential disruptive technology, and to make sure we are on the forefront of a new innovative product,” Joe Downey, an online merchant at Atlanta-based Home Depot, said in an interview.

The move builds on Home Depot’s decision to offer the MakerBot printers on its website three months ago. Though the devices aren’t likely to create a major new source of revenue, the chain is betting that they’ll appeal to forward-thinking contractors and do-it-yourselfers. Customers can use the printers to create parts and supplies that might be handy for repairs, such as cup holders, U-clips and pipe-stakes.

MakerBot’s partnership with Home Depot is a “step into the mainstream,” said Bre Pettis, chief executive officer of Brooklyn, New York-based MakerBot. “Mom, dad, contractors, interior designers — we’re looking forward to blowing their minds and making them MakerBot lovers.”

As the home-improvement field faces increased competition from specialist retailers and e-commerce, new technology will become a more important way for stores to differentiate themselves, said Jocelyn Phillips, an IBISWorld analyst.

Aging Population

The industry is contending with slowing growth in coming years, according to IBISWorld projections. Sales will increase 1.7 percent annually through 2019, compared with a 2.6 percent gain in the past five years, the research firm said.

The U.S. population also is aging, which will decrease the number of homeowners in the next 10 years, said Seth Basham, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities in New York.

Home Depot is the home-repair market leader — with $78.8 billion in revenue last year — followed by Lowe’s Cos. (LOW), which had $53.4 billion. Given the size of the total market, the MakerBot partnership will not “move the needle financially for Home Depot,” said Joseph Feldman, an analyst at Telsey Advisory Group in New York.

Instead, the move is part of the company’s efforts to stay ahead of the curve, he said.

“If they can capture some of the market share first, then they will,” Feldman said.

Learning Process

The 3-D printing industry is still in its early stages and will need people to become educated on how to use software to design objects, said Tim Shepherd, an analyst at research firm Canalys in the U.K.

“Ten years from now, it will be quite common for people to have 3-D printers in their homes,” he said.

The consumer market for 3-D printing will reach $600 million in 2017, up from $70 million to $80 million last year, according to Kenneth Wong, an analyst at Citigroup Inc. in San Francisco.

For retailers, the emerging market presents a double-edged sword. If customers create their own supplies and components at home, there’s less need to order something from a store.

Home Depot and MakerBot say they’re not worried about that.

“You can’t use it as a hammer,” Pettis said. Only certain materials can be printed in the MakerBot machine — metal cannot — and customers will still have to go to the store to buy the materials for the printer.

The 3-D printing technology also isn’t as far along as consumers may think, Canalys’s Shepherd said. It takes about an hour to print one chess piece, he said.

“There’s a perception in the public mindset that 3-D printing is like what they see in ‘Star Trek,’” Shepherd said. “If that’s the idea they have, they’ll be disappointed.”

by Selina Wang

Source: Bloomberg.com

Yahoo says workforce 37 percent female in first diversity report

June 18th, 2014 No comments
Marissa Mayer, chief executive officer of Yahoo!, looks on at the Cannes Lions International Festival Of Creativity in Cannes, France. Photo by Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Marissa Mayer, chief executive officer of Yahoo!, looks on at the Cannes Lions International Festival Of Creativity in Cannes, France. Photo by Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) revealed its workforce is less than 40 percent female and that many of the women are in non-leadership roles, in the Web portal’s first such disclosure amid a Silicon Valley debate over diversity.

Yahoo said 77 percent of its leaders — defined as vice presidents or higher — are men, according to the report yesterday. Women make up 15 percent of the technically focused positions and have 52 percent of the jobs in non-technical posts. Almost 90 percent of Yahoo’s U.S. workforce is white or Asian.

The Sunnyvale, California-based company, one of the few led by a female chief executive officer, Marissa Mayer, is disclosing the make-up of its staff after similar reports by Google Inc. and LinkedIn Corp. in the last few weeks. The data shine the spotlight on the lack of minorities and women at technology companies, an issue that has received growing attention. Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and others have faced pressure to increase the number of women directors on their boards.

Mayer, a former Google executive, was brought on board in 2012 to turn around the Web company. In total, Yahoo had about 12,400 employees as of the end of March.

Attract, Retain

“Yahoo works to ensure that our existing employees feel welcome and supported during their time at the company,” Jackie Reses, Yahoo’s chief development officer, wrote in the blog post. “Overall, our goal at Yahoo is to create a workplace culture that attracts and retains all talents, regardless of background, and to help our people grow to their full potential.”

The disclosures show Yahoo is slightly ahead of Google in the composition of women in its workforce, with the world’s largest search engine recently saying that 30 percent of its employees are female. The two companies are relatively in line on ethnicity in the U.S., with just 2 percent of Yahoo’s U.S. workforce being African-American and 4 percent Hispanic.

The company has many employee resource groups to serve people of diverse backgrounds, according to the post.

Sarah Meron, a spokeswoman for Yahoo, declined to comment beyond the diversity report.

 

By Brian Womack
Source: Bloomberg

Boeing said in talks with China’s ICBC for 747-8 jumbo order

June 18th, 2014 No comments
A Boeing 747-8 freighter operated by Korean Air Lines at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea. Photo by SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

A Boeing 747-8 freighter operated by Korean Air Lines at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea. Photo by SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Boeing Co. (BA) is in talks to sell 747-8 jumbo jets, the four-engine model that has struggled to attract buyers, to the commercial finance arm of China’s biggest lender, three people familiar with the matter said.

ICBC Financial Leasing Co. is considering a purchase of 747-8 freighters to place the aircraft with South Korea’s Asiana Airlines Inc. (020560), which flies 10 older cargo versions of the 747, two people said. The discussions are for four or five planes, with a total list value of as much as $1.8 billion, one person said.

A deal with ICBC Leasing, a unit of Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., would extend Boeing’s reach in the world’s most-populous country and provide a much-needed boost for its iconic hump-backed jet. The Chicago-based planemaker has won just one 747-8 order in 2014 as carriers shift long-range flying and airfreight to more-efficient twin-engine models.

Doug Alder, a Boeing spokesman, declined to comment on the ICBC Leasing talks. ICBC Leasing declined to discuss any negotiations with Boeing, according to a Beijing-based spokeswoman for the lessor who refused to be identified, citing company policy.

“We aren’t currently expecting to lease aircraft from a Chinese lessor,” a spokeswoman for Seoul-based Asiana, Lee Hyo Min, said by phone.

Boeing may announce the ICBC transaction next month at the Farnborough International Airshow in England, one person said. The event is this year’s biggest forum for aircraft introductions and sales.

Emirates Discussion

The world’s largest planemaker also is in talks with Emirates as the company seeks to keep the jet’s assembly line humming. Boeing has 51 unfilled orders for the 747-8, about three years of production, after slow sales prompted two production cuts last year to the current annual rate of 18 jets.

The 747-8 features a bigger wing and an elongated fuselage hump, the latest upgrade to a jet family whose commercial service began in 1970. The freighter version of the 747-8 debuted in 2011, followed by the passenger model, dubbed the Intercontinental, in 2012.

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., based in Hong Kong, has ordered 14 747-8s, Korean Air Lines Co. has bought 17 and Air China Ltd. has ordered five, according to Boeing’s website. While the freighter and passenger versions both retail for about $357 million, airlines and lessors typically pay less than list prices.

Jumbo Lessor

ICBC Leasing would be the first Chinese lessor to order the 747-8 as planemakers brace for a wave of purchases from the world’s second-largest economy. Last year, the company arranged China’s first lease of Airbus Group NV (AIR)’s double-decker A380 superjumbo jet.

China is poised to be the “most important single source of added growth” for Boeing and Toulouse, France-based Airbus as government planners chart aviation needs and economic growth for 2016 through 2020, Douglas Harned, a New York-based analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., said in a June 16 note to clients.

“The country has massively under-ordered airplanes to meet planned passenger growth due to the arcane ordering process tied to the country’s five-year plans,” Harned said. “We should be heading into a next wave of orders” even if economic growth is at the low end of forecasts.

ICBC Leasing, founded in 2007, owns and manages 337 aircraft, according to its website. The company, which also leases power, rail and construction equipment, reported assets of 150 billion yuan ($24.1 billion) as of June 2013.

By Julie Johnsson
Source: Bloomberg

50 Years of providing world-class metrology solutions

May 29th, 2014 No comments

In 2014, Girod Instruments, one of the best Swiss quality provider of metrology solutions, will kick-off a celebration to commemorate 50 years of precision measuring success.

Girod Instruments was founded in 1964 as family business. Today it is still managed by the same family and this gives their customers the possibility to work really closely and to share tasks and responsibilities.

The company’s speciality are Girod Tast lever-type dial indicators.

girodtast, girod-tast, girod tast, swiss quality, girod instruments, Marie-Christine Bouduban

 

Special events will be scheduled for Girod Insturments’ valued customers, suppliers, and employees throughout the year at various locations to allow Girod Instruments the opportunity to personally thank the companies and individuals for their on-going support and commitment over the past half century.

“Girod-Tast has prospered only because of the dedication and support received from our customers, suppliers and employees throughout the years. That’s why we want everyone who has been a contributor to our success to share in celebrating with us”, said Marie-Christine Bouduban CEO of Girod Instruments.

Source: Girod Instruments

Apple’s chief of design Jony Ive expands authority over software

May 28th, 2014 No comments

Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s chief designer Jony Ive, who Steve Jobs called his “spiritual partner,” is gaining more authority over the look of the company’s products.

Ive is taking full control of the team that designs Apple’s iOS software that powers iPhones and iPads. The move coincides with the retirement of Greg Christie, who led software design.

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has turned to Ive to set the overall design aesthetic for products, from the shape of the iPhone’s hardware to the look of screen icons. Ive’s first major influence on Apple’s software was last year’s introduction of iOS 7, which featured brighter colors and eliminated many of the realistic designs for applications such as wooden bookshelves and leather-bound contact books.

Christie’s software-design team, which had previously reported to software chief Craig Federighi, will now work directly with Ive, the company said. Christie “has been planning to retire later this year after nearly 20 years at Apple,” the Cupertino, California-based company said in a statement yesterday.

“He has made vital contributions to Apple products across the board, and built a world-class Human Interface team which has worked closely with Jony for many years,” the company said.

Christie, whose name is on several iPhone patents, testified last week in the company’s current trial against Samsung Electronics Co. His departure was first reported by 9to5Mac.com.

Ive, who worked closely with Jobs on products stretching back to the iMac, gained greater control over the look and feel of Apple’s hardware and software after the departure of former software chief Scott Forstall in 2012.

 

By Adam Satariano

Source: Bloomberg

 

Not using big data for hiring? You may be missing out on the best candidates.

May 28th, 2014 No comments

Big data is giving businesses game-changing insight into their customers and industries. In this series, learn more about how the power of big data is helping executives and managers make smarter decisions.

According to a survey by Silicon Valley Bank, 90 percent of startups believe finding talent is their biggest challenge. Yet, a solution to this problem could lie with Big Data — massive amounts of structured and unstructured data that’s difficult to process using traditional techniques.

Over the last decade, human resources departments and hiring managers around the world have analyzed Big Data for insights related to their recruiting. Huge corporations such as Xerox and Google have done this to cut employee turnover in half and hire the best talent.

Although thus far larger companies with big hiring budgets are using Big Data, startups and smaller companies can too.

What’s the big deal with Big Data? Previously employers have relied on assessments such as IQ tests, skills aptitude tests and even physical exams to answer questions like “Should Sarah be promoted?” or “Is it time to fire Bill?” But in recent years, Big Data has become the new approach for scientific hiring, allowing recruiters to ask questions like “Will Joe be the best fit for this position?”

Companies like Xerox have used Big Data to measure how long candidates stay at their jobs. The tech firm screened candidates on criteria unrelated to productivity or retention. When Xerox asked job seekers questions about the distance between home and work, it found a strong association with employee retention and engagement.

Many HR departments and C-suite managers wrongly assume that Big Data’s role is to determine if an employee should be let go or could perform better in another position. But employers can use computers and software to objectively evaluate a candidate based on skills, experience and knowledge before an interview — and remove bias from the process.

Consider a candidate whose resume displays a history of job hopping. A recruiter’s initial thinking might be that this person lacks loyalty to employers. Yet research tapping Big Data has found that frequent job changers did not perform any better or worse than those with long-term employment.

Fine-tuning the right approach. Employers must select the right tools to be able to ask better questions when hiring. Choosing the right data tool is like choosing the right social media platform; employers need to know what works best for accomplishing their specific goals.

One approach might be mining statistical data and predicting results based on the analysis. Job boards collect huge amounts of data, such as the best day of the week to post a marketing position in Chicago. If an analysis of current efforts revealed that a posting wasn’t resulting in enough qualified applicants, the employer could adjust the hiring strategy accordingly, using insights provided by a job board such as choosing a better day to post or different keywords. Additionally most job boards allow employers to tag parts of a job listing providing important information. This, in turn, allows human resources professionals to target sources (websites and social media) that could bring increased traffic to the job listing.

Here are some tips for small companies considering tapping Big Data when they recruit candidates:

1. Create a consistent rubric for the hiring process. While Big Data has been used to gamify the application process, forcing candidates to play games so their abilities can be assessed, this focus can overlook talent.

Fashion a consistent rubric for the hiring process by focusing on the goals you hope to achieve. Determine a position’s description, the qualifications desired, the company’s culture and how a candidate might fit in.

Next, design a consistent strategy for every job interview: Guarantee that every candidate is asked the same questions, performs the same tests and is given an equal opportunity to excel.

2. Tweak the candidate-screening criteria. Most employers use variables such as grade-point averages, work history and degrees to determine whether a candidate’s fit. Although attention to such criteria can help winnow a pile of applications, they might not be the best measures. When screening a candidate consider the happiness level and how well a person interacts with others. Studies show that happy employees are more likely to be engaged at work.

Because the happiness quotient and how well a person interacts with others are not measured during the typical hiring process,employers are unlikely to have a database already containing this information; it’s certainly not a field in any applicant tracking system I’ve ever come across. But by tweaking a candidate-screening process to measure this type of data, employers can build a database of information based on desirable personality traits rather than skills and experience alone.

3. Combine social media with Big Data. Today’s job seeker is typically connected to social networks, which provides a wealth of data. Companies are using platforms such as TalentBin to sift through social data collected from Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter. These platforms scrape data (like the keywords candidates are using in their social media posts) and turn it into usable information.These tools can help employers find talented candidates online, making their recruiting processes more efficient.

Social media is also valuable for employers because job seekers generate information about their hunt every day. But the information is voluminous and difficult to analyze without help. Employers can understand applicants’ behavior by monitoring click-throughs from social sites like Facebook and LinkedIn and analyzing when people share articles, apply for jobs and interact online to discern patterns over time.

This can help employers discover where the most talented job seekers hang out online and a company can redirect its hiring strategy as needed.

A company’s online presence is critical to attracting new hires, so produce content such as company news, blog posts and videos to drive traffic to job postings. Managers can monitor how many job seekers visit the company’s website and determine the recruitment strategy’s effectiveness.

4. Don’t overlook online forums. Check out industry-specific forums such as Stack Overflow, where professionals and experts gather to discuss a given industry.and share ideas. By monitoring online forums, employers can collect data for talent management purposes — such as the number of votes that forum users have received for their contributions — to spot confident and skilled talent. Recruiters will be able to assess potential candidates in real time and locate people who spark intelligent conversations about issues relevant to a company’s industry. Overall, online forums can provide a pool of data to refer to when recruiters are seeking candidate at the top of their game.

Big Data isn’t meant to eliminate the interview process completely but it can help uncover trends in the hiring process.

 

 

By Heather R. Huhman

Source: Enterpreneur.com

Intervista a Kökler su Glit Magazine

May 23rd, 2014 No comments
kökler, koekler, fashion design, kokler fashion, Made in Italy, High end prêt à porter, Hatice Sagdic, Emine Sagdic, Kleant Stasa

Kökler team: Emine Sagdic – Kleant Stasa – Hatice Sagdic


Glitmagazine incontra i tre giovani protagonisti del brand emergente Kökler.

Chi é Kökler?
Kökler é un nuovo brand di «High & Prêt-à-porter» donna, con sede a Como, in Lombardia. La Parola Kökler, dal turco «Radici», ha un significato simbolico molto forte per noi, perché vogliamo che i nostri abiti siano carichi di tradizione, di consapevolezza delle varie culture che modellano la nostra società odierna. La nostra metodologia si basa su tradizione, originalità, “interculturalità”.
I materiali con cui lavoriamo sono di alta qualità. Tra i nostri obiettivi primi fra tutti il rispetto di chi realizza il prodotto, dalla produzione dei tessuti alla realizzazione del capo stesso.
La nostra ambizione è riuscire a combinare queste caratteristiche con un design raffinato sfruttando le ultime evoluzioni tecnologiche.

Chi sono Kleant Stasa, Hatice ed Emine Sagdic?
Siamo tre giovani designer con origini e «background» culturale molto diverso.
Hatice è di origine Turca, ma è nata a Magonza, in Germania. Ha studiato Tedesco e Letteratura presso l’universita J.W. Goethe di Francoforte; sua sorella Emine, nata anche lei in Germania, studia teatro, cinematografia e psicanalisi presso la stessa università.
Kleant, di origine Albanese, si è trasferito in Italia, a Genova, dove ha studiato pittura, scenografia e costume all’Accademia Ligustica di Belle Arti.
Si conoscono poi a Milano, dove tutti e tre si trasferiscono per studiare moda e design.

Quando nasce l’idea di questo progetto insieme?
Ci siamo conosciuti in AFOL Moda, durante il corso in Fashion Design.
Già durante i nostri studi abbiamo avuto l’opportunità di collaborare ad alcuni progetti, e dopo qualche esperienza lavorativa che ci ha portato lontani, abbiamo sentito il bisogno di tornare a lavorare gomito a gomito, fino a sviluppare l’idea di dare vita ad un progetto che fosse veramente tutto nostro.
Creare il nostro brand.
Ci eravamo accorti che insieme avevamo maturato una “certa idea di fare design” che non siamo poi stati in grado di ritrovare durante le nostre esperienze come singoli.

Dove nasce la vostra ispirazione?
La nostra ambizione è quella di creare collezioni che nascano da un concetto forte, strutturato. Nel caso specifico di Rozafa l’ispirazione giunge da una leggenda albanese, quella di «Rozafa» appunto. Abbiamo quindi avuto l’idea di creare dei capi concettuali, dei progetti artistici, che non sarebbero stati destinati alla vendita, ma all’esposizione.
E così è stato. Siamo riusciti a realizzare due mostre espositive, una a Milano, che ha preso il nome proprio dalla collezione e l’altra a Francoforte dal titolo “Oltre la Base”.
Oltre agli abiti sono stati protagonisti anche gli scatti fotografici e i figurini illustrativi dei capi.

 

moda italiana, prêt à porter Italiano, eleganza, femminilità, raffinatezza, alta qualità, materiali pregiati

 

Un vostro riferimento tra i grandi della moda?
Sicuramente Yohji Yamamoto. Ma anche la Maison Balenciaga e Givenchy.

Che cosa funziona e cosa no, secondo voi, nel sistema moda oggi?
Il sistema moda oggi e diventato molto conservativo, molto chiuso, paradossalmente più in Italia, paese famoso per la sua creatività ed il suo spirito di iniziativa, che in altri paesi europei. Una sorta di casta dalla quale né si esce né tantomeno ahimè si entra.

Che cos’e per voi lo stile?
L’ unione tra quello che sei e quelli che vorresti essere.

Stilisti emergenti da tenere d’occhio per il loro talento?
Yang li

Come dare vita ad un percorso creativo che riesca a fondere tre differenti personalità?
Apparentemente si tratta di un passaggio molto complesso. Noi abbiamo la fortuna di essere tre persone molto complementari, e il percorso creativo, dall’idea originale alla realizzazione dei ci viene quasi naturalmente, come se lo avessimo imparato da bambini, come se lo facessimo da sempre insieme.
Quando ci troviamo di fronte ad un nuovo progetto, alla realizzazione di una nuova collezione, naturalmente ci confrontiamo, discutiamo, cerchiamo idee e input ognuno verso la propria direzione, e naturalmente, scambiandoci idee, punti di vista ed esperienze, riusciamo poi a trovare una direzione che ci trova d’accordo e soddisfa pienamente tutti e tre.

 

tradizione, personalità, Italian label, Italian fashion brand, AFOL moda

 

Chi segue cosa?
Il processo creativo per se è seguito da noi tre contemporaneamente, pensiamo che questo sia proprio il nostro punto di forza. Le altre attività sono poi suddivise per progetto.
Non essendo ancora una grande azienda, ci possiamo permettere questa flessibilità che arricchisce l’esperienza di ognuno di noi, essendo cosi più preparati quando i compiti e le responsabilità (speriamo) si faranno più complessi.

Progetti, sogni e ambizioni per il futuro?
Essere in grado di continuare a fare moda rispettando sempre i nostri principi: progettare capi con uno stile che sia sempre all’avanguardia, nel più assoluto rispetto del lavoratore.
E trovare poi il modo giusto di rispettare anche l’utilizzatore finale, il cliente, potendo garantire il giusto rapporto qualità-prezzo.

Source: Glitmagazine

 

13 Questions that will lead you to your perfect marketing strategy

May 22nd, 2014 No comments

Plenty of startups try to determine the perfect business model to take to market only to find that the market doesn’t need, want, or understand what they are presenting.

The fact is, most books or courses on business models take this into consideration by suggesting trial-and-error scenarios and market hypothesizes prior to launch.

Any business model, or plan for that matter, is little more than a guess, and I believe that your best chance for getting that guess right is to build your business model based on a marketing strategy.

This assumes the role a fully developed marketing strategy actually should play in determining the direction of an organization. The fact is, most people, if they consider marketing strategy at all, stop at a core message, identity elements, and perhaps a sales proposition and call it a strategy.

A marketing strategy is how you plan to use the resources available to you to build an ongoing case that your business, products, and services are the obvious choice for a narrowly defined ideal customer.

If you accept this expanded view of marketing strategy, then I would suggest you answer the following questions in an attempt to measure where your strategy stands today and where it could go if you have integrated it fully as your business model:

1) What about this job, work, or organization are you passionate about?
2) How does this business serve a higher purpose for you and your customers?
3) What value do you really bring that benefits your market in ways that your competitors wouldn’t dream of proposing?
4) What’s the dominant personality trait that you need your customers to associate with your business?
5) What does an ideal client look like?
6) What is the simple 10-word core message that explains and excites?
7) How will your market become aware of your business?
8) How will your market come to trust that you have the answers?
9) What are the revenue sources that you can tap to grow this business?
10) Can you describe the perfect customer experience throughout your organization?
11) What resource gaps and constraints do you need to overcome to achieve your strategy?
12) What partnerships do you need to create in order to achieve your strategy?
13)What would the result of using this strategy model to run your business look like?

By John Jantsch
Source: allbusiness.com

50 Years of providing world-class metrology solutions

May 18th, 2014 No comments

In 2014, Girod Instruments, one of the best Swiss quality provider of metrology solutions, will kick-off a celebration to commemorate 50 years of precision measuring success.

Girod Instruments was founded in 1964 as family business. Today it is still managed by the same family and this gives their customers the possibility to work really closely and to share tasks and responsibilities.

The company’s speciality are Girod-Tast lever-type dial indicators.

girodtast, girod-tast, girod tast, swiss quality, girod instruments, Marie-Christine Bouduban

 

Special events will be scheduled for Girod Insturments’ valued customers, suppliers, and employees throughout the year at various locations to allow Girod Instruments the opportunity to personally thank the companies and individuals for their on-going support and commitment over the past half century.

Girod Tast has prospered only because of the dedication and support received from our customers, suppliers and employees throughout the years. That’s why we want everyone who has been a contributor to our success to share in celebrating with us”, said Marie-Christine Bouduban CEO of Girod Instruments.

Source: Girod Instruments

Cam operated machines as of day one – english

April 14th, 2014 No comments

The golden age of automatic lathes manufacturers probably lies in the middle of last century when three Swiss companies shared the market and were selling cam autos by tens of thousands. In the 1960s, small structures specialized in overhauling those machines have appeared. 50 years later, that trade is flourishing and offers interesting prospects. Meeting with Mr. Carlos Cancer, CEO of Seuret SA, overhaul specialist since 1964.

Seuret SA is part of the Humard Automation SA Group since 2011. For the fiftieth anniversary of the company in 2014, it will be offered a new location in Delémont in an ultra-modern plant (under construction) and can rely on a new CEO with a broad experience in the areas of sales and management in industrial companies references in the field.

Carlo Carlos cancer Seuret sa seuretsa delemont machines à cames meilleur services Décolleteuse jura

A visit to Seuret SA awakes the love of beautiful mechanical wonders.

A complete complementary offer
Dec’Humard, the NC automatic lathe presented in our September 2013 issue (available for download, see at the end of the article) counts on the key competences of Seuret SA in relation to all machining and high precision assembly operations. Mr. Cancer says: “The Dec’Humard relies on three essential points, the basic concept developed in collaboration with Elwin SA, a watchmaking subcontractor looking for perfection, the force and the industrial rigor of Humard SA and microtechnological skills of Seuret SA”. This machine is intended primarily for companies at the forefront of the watch market. They are also looking for cam autos for the production of parts in larger series. They find the answers within our group”.

Cam operated machines in 2014? A solution for the future!
If some high precision turners have chosen to work only with NC machines and put old cam machines out of their workshops, others have an exact opposite approach and wish to add overhauled cam machines to their NC production areas. A priori three assets as stated here below are contradicting three elements commonly heard on the market and we will see with Mr. Cancer that cam machines are highly needed in 2014.

1 – There are qualified operators
“The job of high precision turner has changed and we see that several institutions and companies train cam-controlled machines specialists. Their skills are highly valuated and that also means that in term of remuneration, the job is very interesting” says Mr. Cancer. Moreover, looking at Seuret SA’s staff, we can discover many young enthusiasts who continue the tradition.

2 – Cam machines are accurate
“The requirements both in terms of geometric and dimensional accuracies and surface finishes have largely increased, notably in the watchmaking field, and a machine overhauled by Seuret SA perfectly meets all these requirements” explains the director. Active in overhaul for 50 years the company has accumulated and documented know-how that is probably unique in the world. This allows the company to offer machines of exemplary quality and precision.

3 – Overhauls brings good return
“Complete overhaul costs are not negligible, but they remain largely lower than the acquisition of new machines. And once overhauled, these machines offer the opportunity to produce at very high speed for decades” adds Mr. Cancer.

Many services offered
The core business of Seuret SA is the overhaul of mechanical machines, mainly cam controlled single spindle automatic lathes, but also other types as gear cutting machines for example. Mr. Cancer says: “We have great known-how in this field and we have already overhauled hundreds of machines. Today, we consider diversifying into other types of machines that require the same skills”. And if the director does not say more about it, it is quite easy to imagine other kind of mechanical machines, for example multispindle lathes. In addition to overhauls, the company offers breakdown services for cam machines and also proposes an efficient spare parts department.

George Georgy Georges Humard Décolleteuse machine rouge et blanc red white SIAMS

Humard Automation SA uses the skills in microtechnology of Seuret SA to
build the Dec’Humard. With this machine that completes its overhaul service,
the group offers complementary products; cam-controlled and NC to cover all
needs in very high precision machining in small diameter.

To offer a new life to machines
A machine that leaves the Seuret workshops is like new, painting is new, beds and slides are scrapped and assembled within a few microns tolerances… they are as in day one. Mr. Cancer tells us: “Machines are upgraded to match the precision and quality standards demanded by today’s most demanding markets, for example watchmaking. Our customers tell us that we offer the best overhauled machines on the market”. In conclusion the Director adds: “In addition to their numerical control lathes, today many companies are inclined to use this means of production, which offers very high speed and very competitive prices. We’re here to help them in Switzerland and in Europe”.

 

 

Seuret SA in Delémont!
We wanted to know what are the reasons and the consequences for customers of the future move. Mr. Cancer says: “At the level of quality of our products and services, nothing will change. We are recognized to provide a first class delivery and we will continue. But this will be done in much more suitable premises and better conditions for our employees. Due to the closeness with Humard Automation SA, we will be able to better benefit from synergies between the various activities of the group”. A priori it is not intended to significantly increase the delivery capacity in the short term, the CEO is very clear: “We’ve analyzed the market and of course have clear ideas for the future, there is great potential, but we do not want to grow at any price”.

Source: Eurotec No 393 (02/2014)

French version

German version

Is It Time to Call Tesla the Future of Made In America? Not Quite.

April 14th, 2014 No comments

Creativity has rebooted business. Discover how through this ongoing series featuring unique products, services and technologies, as well as the personalities who have turned their dreams into our realities.

When you think car and you think America, what comes to mind?

If it was Ford’s F-150 pickup truck, than you’re on the money. (I mean, check it out: pretty darn American looking). In addition to being the country’s top selling vehicle last year, the pickup truck also landed in the top spot on Cars.com’s American-Made index, which measures how “American” a car is based on factors like where the car’s parts come from, whether the car is assembled in the U.S. and if it is bought in large numbers by American consumers.

But according to a recent report by Morgan Stanley, Ford F-150 better watch its tail lights. Why? Tesla is fast approaching. The report predicts that once the Elon Musk-led company opens its $6 billion battery factory, Tesla vehicles will zoom into the top spot.
Does this mean the future of Made in America, as Quartz reports, lies in Musk’s hands?

It all depends on how you define “Made in America.” If the motivation behind the Made in America movement is job creation — that American manufacturers need to keep and create more jobs here — then the answer is no, probably not. At least not for a while.

That’s because, despite the amount of press Tesla and Elon Musk get, it’s still a fringe player in the automotive industry.

Sales of Tesla’s battery-powered vehicles, priced from about $70,000, totaled around 22,450 last year. “With 6,900 deliveries in the [fourth] quarter [Tesla's Model S sedan] is still a niche vehicle,” Kevin Tynan, an auto analyst for Bloomberg Industries told Bloomberg. According to the company’s annual report, as of December 31, 2013, it had 2,964 full-time employees world-wide. (The percentage of those employees who work in the U.S. was not released in the report. An inquiry to Tesla was not immediately returned).

Meanwhile, Ford sold a total of 6.3 million vehicles last year, with 3.1 million in North America alone. The company employed 181,000 people globally, with 84,000 of those employees working in North America (while the report did not specifically list the number of American employees, a 2011 estimate put the automotive maker at employing 65,000 Americans, a number that has surely grown as the auto industry has continued to recover since the recession).

Once Tesla sets up its so-called “gigafactory,” the company predicts that it will employ an additional 6,500 Americans. But that’s not slated to happen until 2020, by the company’s own estimate (Tesla has yet to narrow down the factory’s location to a single state).

All of this is to say that even if Tesla eventually does manage to nab the top spot on Cars.com’s “American-Made index,” let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Larger, if admittedly less flashy, auto makers are still embodying the term “made in America” to the fullest. Which, in our estimation, rests less on the concept that their car parts are assembled in the U.S. and more on the fact that they continue to employ a whole ton of Americans.
By Laura Entis

Source: entrepreneur.com

Facebook’s hardware push behind the scenes draws Oculus

April 11th, 2014 No comments

Hidden away in Building 17 of Facebook Inc.’s headquarters is a 170-person team that’s toiling away on products not usually associated with a social-networking company: hardware.

Up from just seven people in 2010, the team designs, manufactures and supplies the powerful server computers that handle Internet traffic for the Menlo Park, California-based company. The group has produced hundreds of thousands of the machines, with Facebook last year spending $1.36 billion on its own data centers, compared with $606 million in 2011.

Now the question is whether Facebook can make the leap from servers into consumer hardware when it completes a $2 billion deal for Oculus VR Inc., which produces headsets that let people immerse themselves in virtual games. Consumer electronics is a competitive arena marked by narrow margins, and Facebook would be stepping into a wearables industry where Google Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. are playing. It also involves navigating regulatory restrictions in different countries for what materials can be used and how a product can be disposed of, said Pamela Gordon, president of design consulting firm Technology Forecasters in Oakland, California.

“This is something that Microsoft, Sony, Dell, all of the consumer-electronics companies have had to deal with,” she said. “There’s a huge amount of oversight involved.”

Oculus Optimism
Oculus executives said they are optimistic that Facebook’s experience with servers will benefit them — and that it helped lure them to sell to the social network in the first place.

“Facebook is going to help on the manufacturing side, on the component side, on the supply chain,” said Nate Mitchell, vice president of product at Oculus in Irvine, California. “They don’t have a lot of consumer hardware experience, but they do have experience manufacturing.”

Facebook’s hardware operations echo those of other Internet companies such as Google and Amazon.com Inc., which also have built their own data centers from scratch, often by becoming assemblers of server computers. That has brought the Web companies clout with component suppliers and given them some characteristics akin to hardware makers such as Hewlett-Packard Co.

“The scale of Facebook made them a force very quickly” in hardware, said Mark Papermaster, chief technology officer of Sunnyvale, California-based chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices Inc., which contributed component designs to a Facebook-led data center effort. “I think that shows they have the capability to really look at any engineering problem they’re facing and really go about that with the industry.”

Melting Machines
Facebook moved into hardware in 2010 when it needed to find a less-expensive way to handle the computing power to transmit data between members of its fast-growing user base. Ready-made servers from Dell Inc. and Hewlett-Packard weren’t handling the load, and technicians sometimes resorted to making emergency trips to the local pharmacy to buy fans that would keep the equipment from melting.

That was when a small group started out tinkering in a mailroom with an idea for a more efficient basic server. Facebook started building the machines with manufacturers including Quanta Computer Inc. It now has 14 different server models.

In 2011, Facebook began an initiative called Open Compute, where the company and some partners share the designs for more efficient and low-cost computing systems. The approach contrasted with that of Google and Amazon, which have done their hardware in secret.

Cold Storage
Facebook’s hardware group can move quickly. Jason Taylor, a director in the infrastructure team, sent an e-mail in 2011 to his colleagues with an idea for an energy-efficient way to store data long-term, called cold storage. A cold storage facility was up and running at a Facebook data center in Prineville, Oregon, in 19 months, he said.

At Facebook’s headquarters today, engineers in Building 17’s labs are testing ways to fit smaller servers into racks of data storage, blasting electronic equipment with humidity to find the machines’ limits, and cutting up balsa wood and sheet metal to brainstorm designs. The engineers in the labs recently held a multiday hackathon for ideas, an exercise that Facebook is more known for applying on the software side.

The company now owns four data centers filled with custom-made products. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has said Facebook saved $1.2 billion by using Open Compute-based equipment instead of products from established makers of data-center technology.

‘Core Strength’
Facebook has developed a “core strength of shipping new products,” said Taylor, who leads hardware engineering and supply chain. “Everybody thinks of Facebook as a software company and actually we do a lot of hardware.”

This experience won’t necessarily translate into how Facebook would build virtual reality into something mainstream, said Daniel Ernst, an analyst at Hudson Square Research, who has a hold rating on the stock.

“I really don’t think they’re going to try to scale Oculus,” said Ernst, who is based in New York. “Open Compute was a really acute need that they had to build for their business today. Here, they’re making a small bet on the future, but I really don’t think Facebook wants to become a consumer hardware company.”

Taylor declined to comment on the company’s specific plans for Oculus because the acquisition hasn’t been completed. Zuckerberg has said he sees virtual reality as a prime way for people to communicate with each other, after mobile phones.

Virtual Reality
Oculus currently only has a prototype of its headset available to developers and hasn’t set a date for rolling out the product widely. The company is putting the finishing touches on a consumer version of its product, Mitchell said. More than 75,000 software development kits have been ordered by those who want to build programs for the device, Oculus said.

As a small hardware startup, Oculus hasn’t had much bargaining power for the cost of materials in its product, meaning it has had to compromise on quality to ensure consumers can afford the device, Mitchell said.

“The most exciting thing about the acquisition is we will be able to deliver a better product at a lower cost,” he said.
By Sarah Frier

Source: bloomberg.com

Kurvengesteuerte Maschinen: so gut wie neu – deutsch

April 11th, 2014 No comments

Das goldene Zeitalter der Decolletage-Drehmaschinen ist wahrscheinlich in der Mitte des vergangenen Jahrhunderts anzusiedeln, als sich drei Schweizer Unternehmen den Markt teilten und zehntausende Kurvendrehautomaten verkauften. In den sechziger Jahren tauchten kleine, auf Überholungsarbeiten spezialisierte Unternehmen auf. 50 Jahre später erfreut sich dieser Bereich blühender Geschäfte und bietet interessante Perspektiven. Wir führten ein Gespräch mit Herrn Carlos Cancer, dem CEO der Seuret SA, die seit 1964 auf Überholungsarbeiten spezialisiert ist.

Das Unternehmen Seuret SA gehört seit 2011 der Gruppe Humard Automation SA an. Das Unternehmen wird 2014 fünfzig Jahre alt; zu diesem Anlass wird ein ultramodernes Werk in Delémont gebaut, das den Mitarbeitern der Seuret SA einen völlig neuen Rahmen bieten wird; darüber hinaus wird sich das Unternehmen auf einen neuen CEO stützen können, der viel Erfahrung in den Bereichen Verkauf und Management von Referenz-Industrieunternehmen des Bereiches mitbringt.

Sobald die alten kurvengesteuerten Maschinen geschabt, frisch lackiert und
neu zusammengebaut sind, erleben sie eine neue Jugend, und die Kunden
können davon ausgehen, sie mehrere Jahrzehnte hindurch einzusetzen.

Ein umfassendes Zusatzangebot
Der Drehautomat mit numerischer Steuerung Dec‘ Humard, den wir in unserer September-Ausgabe des Vorjahres vorgestellt hatten (der Artikel ist als Download verfügbar, siehe Ende des Artikels), fördert die Schlüsselkompetenzen der Seuret SA in Bezug auf alle hochpräzisen Bearbeitungs- und Zusammenbauvorgänge. Herr Cancer führte näher aus: „Die Dec’ Humard beruht auf drei wesentlichen Punkten: auf dem Grundkonzept, das in Zusammenarbeit mit der Elwin SA – einer perfektionsorientierten Zulieferfirma der Uhrenindustrie – entwickelt wurde, auf der Stärke und industriellen Zuverlässigkeit der Humard Automation SA sowie auf den Mikrotechnik-Kompetenzen der Seuret SA. Diese Maschine ist hauptsächlich für Unternehmen bestimmt, die für den Luxusuhrenmarkt arbeiten. Diese Unternehmen sind ihrerseits an kurvengesteuerten Drehautomaten interessiert, um die Teile in zunehmend größeren Serien herstellen zu können. Somit finden sie in unserer Gruppe alles was sie benötigen.“

Kurvengesteuerte Maschinen im Jahre 2014? Eine zukunftsträchtige Lösung!
Manche Decolletage-Unternehmen haben beschlossen, alles auf numerische Steuerung zu setzen und die alten kurvengesteuerten Maschinen aus ihren Werkstätten zu verbannen, andere machen es genau umgekehrt und möchten überholte kurvengesteuerte Maschinen in ihren Werkstätten einführen. Die drei nachstehend angeführten Argumente widersprechen dem, was man auf dem Markt ständig hört; das mit Herrn Cancer geführte Gespräch zeigt, dass kurvengesteuerte Maschinen 2014 sehr gefragt sind.

1 – Es gibt qualifizierte Bediener
„Der Decolletage-Bereich hat sich im Laufe der Zeit weiterentwickelt, und verschiedene Unternehmen bilden Decolletage-Arbeiter auf kurvengesteuerten Maschinen aus. Ihre Kompetenzen sind anerkannt und sehr gefragt, daher werden solche Facharbeiter auch gut bezahlt“, antwortete Herr Cancer. Wenn man sich darüber hinaus das Personal der Seuret SA etwas genauer ansieht, stellt man fest, dass junge, von Leidenschaft beseelte Leute dabei sind, die am Fortbestand der Tradition festhalten.

2 – Kurvengesteuerte Maschinen sind präzise
„Die Anforderungen, sowohl was die geometrische Präzision und Dimensionsgenauigkeit als auch den Oberflächenzustand anbelangt, sind wesentlich höher als früher, insbesondere im Bereich der Uhrenindustrie – eine von Seuret SA überholte Maschine wird allen diesen Anforderungen gerecht „ erklärte der Geschäftsführer. Das seit 50 Jahren auf Überholungen spezialisierte Unternehmen verfügt über ein auf der ganzen Welt wahrscheinlich einzigartiges Know-how, wodurch es in der Lage ist, Maschinen anzubieten, die hinsichtlich Qualität und Präzision beispielhaft sind.

3 – Eine Überholung ist wirtschaftlich rentabel
„Die Kosten einer kompletten Überholung sind nicht vernachlässigbar, nichtsdestoweniger liegen sie weit unter den Anschaffungskosten von neuen Maschinen. Sobald die Drehautomaten überholt sind, bieten sie sehr hohe Produktionsleistungen, und das mehrere Jahrzehnte lang“, fügte Herr Cancer hinzu.

Zahlreiche Dienstleistungen werden geboten
Die Überholung von mechanischen Maschinen, hauptsächlich von kurvengesteuerten Einspindeldrehmaschinen, ist das Kerngeschäft der Seuret SA, aber das Unternehmen überholt auch andere Maschinentypen wie zum Beispiel Verzahnmaschinen. Herr Cancer führte näher aus: „Wir haben sehr viel Erfahrung in diesem Bereich und bereits hunderte Maschinen überholt. Wir überlegen, unsere Tätigkeit auf andere Maschinen zu erweitern, die dieselben Kompetenzen erfordern.“ Der Geschäftsleiter äußerte sich nicht weiter zu diesem Thema, aber wir können uns gut vorstellen, dass beispielsweise von Mehrspindeldrehautomaten die Rede ist. Abgesehen von Überholungsarbeiten bietet das Unternehmen Seuret auch Störungsbehebungen von kurvengesteuerten Maschinen sowie einen leistungsstarken Ersatzteilservice.

Ein Tornos M4-Rahmen, der für den Zusammenbau bereit ist.

Den Maschinen neues Leben einhauchen
Eine Maschine, die die Werkstätten der Seuret SA verlässt, ist wirklich neuwertig: Sie ist frisch lackiert, die Rahmen und Schlitten wurden geschabt und gemäß Toleranzen von wenigen Mikron zusammengebaut… Sie sehen wie neu aus. Herr Cancer erklärte uns: „Die Maschinen werden auf den neuesten Stand gebracht, um den höchst anspruchsvollen Präzisions- und Qualitätsanforderungen der heutigen Märkte (zum Beispiel die Uhrenindustrie) gerecht zu werden. Unsere Kunden bestätigen uns, dass die von uns gebotenen Maschinen die besten auf dem Markt sind.“ Der Geschäftsleiter fügte abschließend hinzu: „Als Ergänzung zu den numerisch gesteuerten Drehmaschinen interessieren sich heute wieder viele Unternehmen für dieses Produktionsmittel, das sehr hohe Leistungen zu äußerst wettbewerbsfähigen Preisen bietet. Wir sind da, um ihnen dabei zu helfen in der Schweiz und Europa.“

Die Seuret SA in Delémont!
Wir wollten wissen, welche Folgen der Einzug in die neuen Geschäftsräume in Delémont (im zweiten Halbjahr 2014) für die Kunden haben wird. Herr Cancer erklärte uns: „Hinsichtlich Produktqualität und Leistungen ändert sich nichts. Wir sind dafür bekannt, einen erstklassigen Service zu bieten, und das werden wir auch weiterhin tun. Die erheblich besser geeigneten Räumlichkeiten und angenehmeren Arbeitsbedingungen unserer Mitarbeiter werden Produktqualität und Service zunutze kommen. Da wir den Geschäftsräumen der Humard Automation SA geografisch näher sein werden, können wir die Synergien der verschiedenen Tätigkeiten
der Gruppe in Zukunft besser nutzen.“ Zunächst ist nicht vorgesehen, die kurzfristigen Lieferkapazitäten erheblich zu erhöhen; der CEO nahm diesbezüglich ganz klar Stellung: „Wir haben Marktanalysen durchgeführt und haben selbstverständlich klare Vorstellungen was die Zukunft anbelangt; es ist ein großes Potential vorhanden, aber wir wollen kein Wachstum um jeden preis.“

Source: Eurotec No 393 (02/2014)

 

English version

French version

Swiss textile industry exchanges views with government

March 21st, 2014 No comments
Parliamentarians, Government officials and representatives of management of textile companies have exchanged views on the status and development of the textile and clothing industry in Switzerland.
At the annual meeting of the ‘Parliamentary Group for the textile industry’, office bearers of Textile Federation Switzerland informed policy makers and representatives from the Federal Government about the concerns of the Swiss textile and clothing industry, according to a press release of Textilverband Schweiz (Textile Federation Switzerland).
Andreas Sallmannshausen, president of the Federation, said the central issue is the challenge of continuing textile and apparel production in Switzerland.
Sallmannshausen said that in spite of difficult environment confronted by the textile companies, including high labor costs and a strong currency, many firms are continuing to manufacture in Switzerland.
It is because the country has a flexible labor market, well qualified staff, low administrative barriers, moderate taxes and the best possible access to foreign markets, Sallmannshausen added.
By accepting the mass immigration initiative, the relationship of Switzerland’s textile industry with its most important market, the EU, is at risk. Hence, quota must be introduced to ensure that necessary and specialized professionals continue to stay, Sallmannshausen said.
There was also a suggestion for keeping the administrative burden as low as possible for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The Swiss Textile Federation jointly represents the interests of over 200 companies in the textile and garments industry.

Des machines à cames comme au premier jour – francais

March 14th, 2014 No comments

L’âge d’or des fabricants de tours de décolletage se situe probablement au milieu du siècle passé où trois entreprises suisses se partageaient le marché et vendaient des tours à cames par dizaines de milliers. Dans les années 60, de petites structures spécialisées dans la révision firent leur apparition. 50 ans plus tard, ce métier est florissant et offre des perspectives intéressantes. Rencontre avec M. Carlos Cancer, CEO de Seuret SA, spécialiste de la révision depuis 1964.

L’entreprise Seuret SA fait partie du Groupe Humard Automation SAdepuis 2011. Pour le cinquantième anniversaire de l’entreprise en 2014, elle se verra offrir un tout nouveau cadre à Delémont dans une usine ultra-moderne (en construction) et peut se reposer sur un nouveau CEO disposant d’une large expérience dans les domaines de la vente et du management au sein d’entreprises industrielles références du domaine.

Suisse Swiss Switz svizzera suiza Seuret sa seuretsa delemont machines

Le coeur de la révision de qualité est l’opération de grattage. Chez Seuret SA,
deux personnes à plein temps en sont responsables.

Une offre complémentaire complète
Le tour automatique à commande numérique Dec’Humard présenté dans notre édition de septembre 2013 (disponible en téléchargement, voir en fin d’article) fait la part belle aux compétences clés de Seuret SA en ce qui concerne toutes les opérations d’usinage et d’assemblage de très haute précision. M. Cancer précise : «La Dec’Humard repose sur trois points essentiels, le concept de base développé en collaboration avec Elwin SA, un sous-traitant horloger à la recherche de la perfection, la force et la rigueur industrielle de Humard Automation SA et les compétences microtechniques de Seuret SA. Cette machine s’adresse principalement aux entreprises actives à la pointe du marché horloger. Ces dernières recherchent également des tours à cames pour la réalisation de pièces en plus grandes séries. Elles trouvent ainsi toutes les réponses au sein de notre groupe».

Des machines à cames en 2014? Une solution d’avenir!
Si certains décolleteurs ont fait la démarche de tout miser sur la CN et de sortir les anciennes machines à cames de leurs ateliers, d’autres ont une approche exactement inverse et souhaitent ajouter des machines à cames révisées dans leurs surfaces de production. A priori trois arguments ci-dessous viennent contredire des éléments couramment entendus sur le marché et nous verrons avec M. Cancer que la machine à cames est très demandée en 2014.

1 – Il y a des opérateurs qualifiés
«Le métier de décolleteur a évolué et nous constatons que différentes institutions et entreprises forment des décolleteurs à cames. Leurs compétences sont reconnues et recherchées ce qui fait qu’en terme de rémunération, le métier est très intéressant également» répond M. Cancer. En outre si l’on regarde le personnel de Seuret SA d’un peu plus près, on peut y découvrir de jeunes passionnés qui perpétuent la tradition.

2 – Les machines à cames sont précises
«Les exigences tant en terme de précision géométrique et dimensionnelle que d’états de surface ont largement augmenté, notamment dans le domaine horloger, et une machine révisée chez Seuret SA répond parfaitement à toutes ces exigences» explique le directeur. Active dans la révision depuis 50 ans, l’entreprise dispose d’un savoir-faire accumulé et documenté probablement unique au monde qui lui permet de proposer des machines d’une qualité et d’une précision exemplaires.

3 – Une révision est économiquement rentable
«Les coûts d’une révision complète ne sont pas négligeables mais ils n’en demeurent pas moins très largement inférieurs à l’acquisition de nouvelles machines. Et une fois révisés, ces tours offrent la possibilité de produire à très hautes cadences et ce durant des décennies » ajoute M. Cancer. Nombreux services offerts Le coeur du métier de Seuret SA est la révision de machines mécaniques, principalement des tours monobroches à cames, mais également d’autres types de machines comme des tailleuses par exemple. M. Cancer précise: «Nous disposons d’une très grande expérience dans ce domaine et nous avons déjà révisé des centaines de machines. Nous envisageons aujourd’hui de nous diversifier dans d’autres types de machines nécessitant les mêmes compétences . Et si le directeur n’en dit pas plus, il est assez facile d’imaginer d’autres types de machines mécaniques, par exemple les tours multibroches. En plus de la révision, l’entreprise Seuret offre une prestation de dépannage sur machines à cames et bien entendu un service de pièces de rechanges performant.

Pour renforcer l’efficacité des décolleteuses, Seuret SA développe, construit
et commercialise des appareils spécifiques comme l’appareil à polygoner et
fraiser Piranha.

Redonner vie aux machines
Une machine qui sort des ateliers de Seuret SA est vraiment comme neuve, la peinture est refaite, les bâtis et les coulisses sont grattés et assemblés dans des tolérances de quelques microns elles sont comme aux premiers jours. M. Cancer nous dit : « Les machines sont mises à niveau pour correspondre aux standards de précision et de qualité demandés par les marchés les plus exigeants d’aujourd’hui comme l’horlogerie. Nos clients nous disent que nous offrons ce qui se fait de mieux sur le marché ». En conclusion le directeur ajoute : «Aujourd’hui de nombreuses entreprises se tournent à nouveau vers ce moyen de production qui offre de très hautes cadences et des prix très compétitifs en complément de leurs tours à commandes numériques. Nous sommes là pour les y aider».

Seuret SA à Delémont!
Nous avons voulu savoir quelles sont les raisons et les conséquences pour les clients du futur emménagement (au deuxième semestre 2014) dans des tous nouveaux locaux à Delémont. M. Cancer nous dit : « Au niveau qualité de nos produits et prestations, rien ne change. Nous sommes reconnus pour offrir une prestation de toute première force et nous allons continuer. Mais ceci pourra être effectué dans des locaux bien mieux adaptés et dans de meilleures conditions pour nos collaborateurs. De par le rapprochement avec les locaux de Humard Automation SA, nous allons pouvoir mieux profiter des synergies entre les différentes activités du Groupe ». A priori, il n’est pas prévu d’augmenter notablement les capacités de livraison à court terme, le CEO est très clair : «Nous avons analysé le marché et avons bien entendu les idées claires pour le futur, il y a un grand potentiel, mais nous ne voulons pas la croissance à n’importe quel prix».

 

Source: Eurotec No 393 (02/2014)

 

English version

German version

Why connecting online with offline marketing matters

February 28th, 2014 No comments

Everyone in marketing likes to talk about digital marketing. Just check the headlines of any marketing blog and you’ll find hundreds of articles on the subject. Today’s consumers have access to almost every product and service conceivable with just a click of a mouse. For businesses, digital marketing is essential.

 

Just because digital marketing is indispensable, however, it doesn’t mean you can ignore your offline presence. Like it or not, there are still plenty of consumers who interact with brands in person. This makes it more important than ever to build a bridge between your online and offline presences.

For one, you’ll drive more traffic to your business. Connecting the dots can drive your offline audience online and your online audience offline. It will help you connect your customers with your brand during all stages of the buying process.

A few months ago, Squarespace reached millions of viewers with a 30-second Super Bowl ad. According to Squarespace, the ad was “an iconic way for a brand to make a statement … [and] the spots that run can make a lasting impression on the public’s perception of a brand.”

Whether you enjoyed the ad or not, it was still significant. An online company, known for their completely digital services, felt the need to advertise during the Super Bowl. It’s all about reaching as many people as possible, even if you’re a purely online operation.

Combining Online and Offline Marketing Pays Off

To reach customers, your brand presence needs to be consistent and seamless. From your website down to your business cards, every format becomes an opportunity to turn someone into a customer.

This is especially important in today’s world. Consumers are busy and they most likely won’t remember your brand the first time they’re exposed to it. After the second, third, or fourth time, it’ll start to stick. Having a combination of online and offline marketing with consistent branding means that they’ll remember you sooner.

For a brand like eyewear manufacturer Warby Parker, opening retail locations offered the company a way to interact with customers in person. Neil Blumenthal, company co-CEO, calls these locations “a form of marketing and customer acquisition.” And he’s right. Retail locations became the intersection between an innovative online experience and traditional retail. The stores’ clean design mimics the brand’s e-commerce website. This has created a seamless experience for those craving a chance to see the company’s eyewear in person or even to place an order.

Offline marketing also allows you to focus more directly on your customers. Allowing them to interact with your brand in a different way can foster an irreplaceable personal connection. It might be a simple handshake, but that personal experience can lead to a devoted following.

In addition, the more channels available for customers to interact with your business means more opportunities for you to gather data on how customers will interact with your brand. One customer might look up your brand online before stopping by your store to see your product in person. But then they might not make a purchase until later when they spot a promotion on Facebook. It’s all interconnected. Bolstering all these channels allows you understand how your customers interact with your brand.

Of course, not every brand can afford fresh retail spaces or a Superbowl ad. The point is that creating a cohesive bridge between your online and offline presences can’t be ignored. It could be as simple as ensuring consistent branding or throwing an event together. You’ll reach more customers, create more avenues for purchasing, and grow your business, both online and off. And that’s a win-win.
By Felicia Tsung

Source: allbusiness.com

Swiss watchmakers – Time is money

February 21st, 2014 No comments

An industry ripe for a shake-up
The average Swiss watch costs $685. A Chinese one costs around $2 and tells the time just as well (see chart). So how on earth, a Martian might ask, can the Swiss watch industry survive? Yet it does. Exports of watches made in Switzerland have grown by 32% by value over the past two years, to SFr21.4 billion ($23.3 billion). Demand in the biggest markets (China, America and Singapore) dipped recently, but some of the slack was picked up by watch-loving Arabs and Europeans.

No one buys a Swiss watch to find out what time it is. The allure is intangible: precise engineering, beautifully displayed. The art of fine watchmaking has all but died out elsewhere, but it thrives in Switzerland. “Swiss-made” has become one of the world’s most valuable brands.

In the popular imagination, Swiss watches are made by craftsmen at tiny firms nestled in Alpine villages. In fact, the industry is dominated by one big firm. The Swatch Group’s stable of brands (Breguet, Blancpain, Omega and a dozen others) generated watch and jewellery sales of SFr7.3 billion in 2012. That is up by 15.6% over the previous year and accounts for one-third of all sales of Swiss watches. In January Swatch announced the purchase of Harry Winston, an American jeweller which also makes watches in Geneva.

Swatch’s dominance goes even deeper than this. It is the biggest supplier of the bits that make Swiss watches tick. It owns ETA, which makes over 70% of the movements (core mechanisms) put in watches by other Swiss watchmakers. Another subsidiary, Nivarox-FAR, supplies more than 90% of the balance springs (which regulate watches).

Many big brands rely on Swatch. LVMH (owner of Bulgari, Hublot and TAG Heuer) and Richemont (owner of IWC, Piaget and Vacheron Constantin) use Swatch components. So do the British and German watchmakers that are trying to break into this lucrative market. Few, however, can match the precision of a Nivarox balance spring.

Swatch became the watchmaker to watch in the 1980s, when it merged two weak companies and launched Swatch watches as a relatively cheap brand (though not nearly as cheap as a typical Chinese timepiece). It remains dominant, in part, because other firms find it easier to let someone else go to all the trouble and expense of producing their watches’ most fiddly and essential components.

But Swatch now finds this arrangement irksome. It supplies parts to rivals (Swiss and foreign) which then spend lavishly on advertising. Swatch would like to curb its sales of components, to 30% of the Swiss total by 2018. The Swiss Competition Commission agreed to modest reductions in 2012. After lobbying by watchmakers, Swatch will make no more cuts this year, but next year it will probably try again.

Swatch may be doing the industry a favour. Its actions may prod other watchmakers to invest more in their own factories. Already, Richemont and LVMH are buying up smaller component-makers. “Everyone could actually produce these components,” says a spokesman for the Competition Commission.

At present only a few high-end watchmakers can do without Swatch: for example, Patek Philippe in Switzerland and Robert Loomes in Britain. But such Swatch-shunners typically make only a few (costly) watches each year. Firms that make larger batches of not-quite-so-pricey watches still need Swatch. So its retreat from the parts market will cause turmoil, and probably more consolidation.

Meanwhile the Swiss government seems about to tighten the definition of “Swiss-made”. Currently, a watch may not claim to be Swiss unless 50% of its components, by value, were crafted in the cantons. Swiss watchmakers are trying to get the threshold raised to 60%. That will create demand for Swiss components even as Swatch curbs the supply. So watch out: prices will rise even higher.
Source: The Economist

Why large companies should think like a small business

February 14th, 2014 No comments

Steven W. Korn, former Vice Chairman of CNN and veteran executive, and Suren Gupta, Allstate technology executive, recognize the need for large companies to innovate and adapt as efficiently as their smaller counterparts.

Technological innovation in modern business is coming from a great number of nimble startups. Twitter changed media, WhatsApp has changed messaging, Netflix made Blockbuster obsolete, and Warby Parker changed the online/retail model.

Each one of these startups had major competition. Yet they have thrived by being able to adapt to technological shifts faster and more efficiently than their larger competitors.

“A business’s ability to adapt to new technology depends on leadership, culture, and the nature of the business itself. Technological advancements can alter industries significantly, forcing businesses to adapt rapidly. If they fail to adapt, they will lose customers, fall behind their more nimble or newer competitors, lose market share and, eventually, they will die,” said Steven W. Korn.

It’s not necessarily the size of the business, but its focus and mindset that dictates its ability to innovate. Typically, larger organizations take longer to adapt because there are more layers of management and longer approval processes. It’s like trying to change the course of an aircraft carrier as opposed to a speedboat (or startup).

Flat organizations, which are being adopted by some larger companies, reduce layers of management. One of the main reasons for this change in management philosophy is the desire to spark more innovation in an organization.

There are other ways large organizations promote innovation, such as keeping teams small and giving them autonomy. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a simple rule for work teams – they should be fed by no more than two pizzas. The larger a group is, the more difficult it will be to find consensus and move forward efficiently.

Craft beer isn’t a technological innovation, but it is an appropriate example. Larger companies have acquired smaller brewers and introduced their own craft beers.

Successful craft brewers developed strong regional relationships and create a community. The relationships are so strong that many community members will not buy craft beer from a large organization. Apple built a similar brand loyalty when they were a small company, long before iPods and iPhones swept the market.

Being able to create or tap into a community is an underrated component of professional innovation and adaptability.

Technology also plays a critical role in innovation. Suren Gupta, Allstate’s executive vice president of technology and operations, said in The Chicago Tribune, “In most companies, innovation is driven by business ideas for what the company wants to do. That drives technology development. But technology also should drive some of the businesses. We need to have a balance.”

How an organization is structured, how it markets, how it listens to consumers, and how it approaches technology all contribute to its ability to innovate. Leaner startups have the advantage, but it’s not impossible for large companies to adapt responsibly and innovate proactively.

“If a business is able to foster a culture of innovation and reinforce the vital importance of anticipating and adapting to significant trends, even a large firm can prosper and grow in changing environments,” said Korn.
By Jeff Barrett

Source: allbusiness.com

The skills of a social business leader

February 7th, 2014 No comments

Social business leaders know that to become a team, it takes more than just working together. A team is formed through trust, respect, and mutual concern. Social leaders leverage the power of people, culture, process, and technology to unlock the full potential of the organization. In the connected economy, sustaining market relevancy depends on our ability to build and maintain a modern social business designed to deliver stakeholder value and drive bottom-line results. It requires collaborative change agents to lead an evolving enterprise that is both engaged and adaptive. These change agents are social leaders who demonstrate a deep-seated commitment to improving the customer and employee experience.

Good management skills alone do not make strong social business leaders. Vineet Nayar draws the distinction between managing work and leading people, noting that counting value, managing people, and circles of power may relate to management traits, but creating value, leading people, and circles of influence are vital leadership attributes. We agree with these indicators, and believe the definition of a social business leader is best understood by looking at contrasting traits.

In the book The Pursuit of Social Business Excellence, it is described how to develop social business leaders by promoting specific positive leadership characteristics, but also by pointing out the negative traits that are to be avoided. Highlighting the contrasting behaviors provides a valuable context to further distinguish between desired attributes and those to eschew.
By Vala Afshar

Source: inc.com

How to boost customer loyalty with apps

January 31st, 2014 No comments

You know what they say: It’s easier to keep a customer than it is to find a new one. It’s also far cheaper – 6 to 7 times less expensive, according to Flowtown. That’s why it’s essential for every business to have a strategy to boost loyalty and keep customers coming back for more.

One incredibly effective tactic – and relatively cheap solution – is to boost loyalty with the help of smartphones and tablet apps. With the help of an app, your business can secure new leads and increase interest from existing customers.

Ready to get started on your app? The following six tips will ensure your app campaign is a success and prevent it from falling flat among users.
#1: Your App Must be Simple and Easy to Use
Don’t just cram functionality into your app without thinking about the user experience. Your customers will only give your app a short amount of time. If you fail the test, they won’t think twice before deleting and forgetting about your product.

This is why you must absolutely make it child’s play to use your app. Think about it this way (disclaimer: slight exaggeration used here) … if your grandparents would find it impossible to use, try tweaking it until it becomes a little more user friendly.

Do plenty of testing before releasing your app to make sure that others find it intuitive. Get people on board that have used your service before, as well as completely new users. Gauge how they handle your app from the get-go, and if they have any issues, you need to iron them out. Extensive testing will save you from potential fallout and major headaches post-release.

#2: Your App Must Add Plenty of Value
Loads of companies add apps to the marketplace without really thinking it through and then are disappointed to find the project bombing and ending as a dismal failure. The main reason is because most of these apps are missing value.

You need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. With the dizzying number of choices available, why would they choose to clog up their device memory with your app? Ask yourself whether your offer is worth downloading. Ensure that you offer something unique that will make you stand out from your competitors.

In addition, make your app stand out from yourself. What this means is to give customers an incentive to go for the app, rather than simply heading to your website. Your app should not be another version of content that can be found elsewhere. Add something different. Find an angle that will pique customer interest to get them hooked on your app.

#3: Your App Should Be Social
People love apps that have social capabilities built into them. Hook into the popularity of social by allowing customers to engage with others, such as by allowing users to easily share your special deals at the touch of a button.

#4: Your App Should Leverage Existing Loyalty Programs
When it comes to creating effective loyalty programs, you don’t have to develop every bit of functionality from the ground up. It’s expensive, time consuming, and there may already be something better out there ready for you to use straight off the bat.

Great examples of such services are Belly and Loyalty Blocks. These two services allow you to create fully functional loyalty programs for your company, making it an absolute cinch to get yours up and running in a matter of hours.

Combine the functionality of your own in-house company app with a loyalty program and you’ll have an effective one-two punch that will help you to retain customers and find new ones. Some services will allow you to work with their API to create seamless integration, so it’s well worth a look.

#5: Your App Should Be Compatibile
Ensure full-market coverage by making sure your app is compatible with all popular smartphone devices. Not only should your app be available on both the App Store and Google Play, but it should be compatible with BlackBerry and Windows devices.

#6: Final Tip–Don’t Stop Moving
Once you deliver your app, don’t just put your feet up and relax. The app release date is just the beginning. Depending on customer activity and feedback, update your app and respond to what users are telling you. Maximize the return on the connection you have made with your customers, and you’ll find your app’s success will skyrocket.
By Mary Ann Keeling
Source: allbusiness.com

7 Tips to manage online critics

January 24th, 2014 No comments

Following are seven tips for managing the critics online.

Create an internal policy. Everyone on your team—both internally and externally—needs to understand what your policy is for managing critics online. A bad situation can be made worse by a well-intentioned employee or external partner who doesn’t understand your policy. The policy should lay out who will respond to critics, what they’ll say, how quickly they’ll respond, and what to do if someone not authorized to comment sees or receives a comment.

Be cautious. When dealing with critics, particularly if they’re anonymous, you don’t know how severe the reaction could be or how successful they may be in creating an online crisis involving hundreds or thousands of others. A good rule of thumb is to publicly say you hear them and you’d like to discuss offline. Then take it to the phone or in person. Get it out of writing so you can hear the tone of voice or see body language. Don’t get defensive or engage in a back-and-forth debate online.

Assume the best. Even if you think the answer is obvious or right in front of their face, sometimes the critic is misinformed, doesn’t know where to look for the information on your site, or may be unwilling to search. When they complain about the obvious things, be helpful, pleasant, and non-defensive. You should never assume malicious intent until you’ve covered the obvious.

Consider the medium. Unless you run a sports, religious, or news site, it’s unlikely anonymous trolls will want to spend their every waking moment criticizing you. So keep your goals in mind. Consider the medium of the criticism and the message of the critic. If it’s directly on your blog or on Facebook, it’s far more difficult to ignore than in a tweet.

Deleting posts. While deleting posts may remove the damage for the time being, when people discover you’re doing so, they’ll take you to task for that… and it won’t be pretty. Consider a politician who lies about his affair. Soon enough we all find out; cue news conference, with his family standing next to him, to admit the affair he lied about for months. It’s far worse to be found out later than to attempt to ignore it to begin with. And, when you’re transparent about your blemishes, an amazing thing happens: Your community comes to your defense and the critics sulk away.

Use common sense. Take your corporate hat off and think like a human being. No one wants to be talked to in corporate jargon or to be showered with pre-approved PR messages. Be understanding, listen, and make things right. Don’t act like a robot that can only repeat one or two messages. Use common sense when responding. Ask yourself if the critics have real complaints or they’re someone just harassing you. If it’s the former, be patient and give the person time to vent their frustrations.

Have a written external policy. The policy should describe when you will delete comments or ban critics, and establishes the tone of the conversation allowed on the site. For instance, the policy at Spin Sucks is that you can’t swear (we’ll edit out the swear words if you do) and the discourse must be professional. We once had a troll who copied and pasted his rude comment to the top of the stream every time the community pushed it down. He had been responded to, so we told him that if he continued to do that, his comments would be deleted and he would be banned. He stopped doing it. The written policy helps you moderate the conversation in a professional but open way.

It’s a very uncomfortable position to be in. None of us want to be criticized.

But, as the saying goes, if people either love you or hate you, you’re doing something right.

 
By Gini Dietrich

Source: allbusiness.com

3 companies who make the environment a top concern

January 17th, 2014 No comments

There is a growing movement of individuals drawn not only to the journey of entrepreneurship, but also to creating businesses with an environmentally-friendly mission. The philosophy, “think globally, act locally,” has been embraced by “ecopreneurs” for businesses of all sizes.

 

Here are three entrepreneurs that try to incorporate green practices at every level of their businesses:
Octopus Ink. Found primarily online and through their retail locations in Alaska, eco-minded, ocean-inspired clothing line Octopus Ink is creating some very cool fashion. Founder, artist and designer Shara Dorris loves the ocean. Being an ocean conservationist, she felt a strong tie to creating clothing that was inspired by the marine life she loved, while also protecting the environment she was honoring. She started her business in 2007 with that in mind. People don’t seem to mind paying upwards of $60 for a hoodie when it’s created from a local designer and printed locally on Alternative Earth Apparel material, which consists of organic cotton, recycled polyester and other sustainable raw materials. The collection is as beautiful as it is inspiring for eco-fashion.

 

Eco-me.com. After her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at only 35 years old, co-founder of Eco-me.com Robin Kay Levine conducted some research on environmental factors that could potentially be linked to cancer and found some scary results. Then and there she decided there needed to be a central location for easy access to more affordable but toxin-free household items such as cleaning supplies, personal care sundries and even pet products. Levine and co-founder Jennifer Mihajlov created Eco-me.com to meet that need and have made it their mission to spread the word about eliminating toxic products in the house for healthy, family and pet-friendly alternatives that will keep everyone safe.
Interface. A globally successful commercial carpet manufacturer is probably not where you would except to find ecopreneur principles and sustainability plans. However, that’s exactly what founder and chairman Ray Anderson set out to create with his textile manufacturing company, Interface. Well, maybe not exactly from the start. Textile manufacturing has some of the most chemically and environmentally unfriendly processes of any product on the market. So it was an unlikely mission pivot for Anderson. However, after clients in the mid-1990s began to ask what Interface’s environmental impact plans were, Anderson realized there was more to do than a plan alone.

After reading Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce, he began a massive movement within his company to create a totally sustainable global business. Everything from the places where Interface employees work to the products they create and how they’re sourced, Anderson has created a fully comprehensive seven-step area plan to move this company toward sustainability. While the company is not there yet, it’s a bold ecopreneur’s journey that started in 1994 and is well underway today — with full corporate transparency about its progress, successes and weaknesses out for the public to see.
By Matthew Toren

Source: entrepreneur.com

How Google and Facebook design for emerging markets

January 10th, 2014 No comments

One of the first directives from Matias Duarte after he joined Google in 2010 was to commission research into how people around the world use the company’s phones.

At the time, Google was making smartphones for geeks, and Duarte, who was recruited from Palm to lead the user-experience team at Android, was tasked with bringing a more accessible design to the Internet giant’s mobile software.

Designing a device for everyone meant looking outside Silicon Valley.

“The challenge for anybody who wants to develop in emerging markets is just understanding the cultural differences,” Duarte said in an interview today. “The first thing we did was a baseline study about how people use Android. It’s completely different from how we use it in the U.S.”

Google’s mobile group was making a smartphone based on how Americans use them without accounting for the limitations of emerging markets, Duarte said. One of the study’s findings demonstrated that many of the countries where smartphones were starting to take off lacked reliable data infrastructure. That realization prompted Android’s design team to make the system work well even without consistent Internet connectivity, he said.

“There are lots of places where data connectivity is erratic,” Duarte said after appearing on stage at the Accel Design Conference in San Francisco. “We assumed ubiquitous connectivity. While this is the 21st century, that’s still not true in many parts of the world.”

As emerging markets in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America become the biggest consumers of smartphones, Valley companies are trying to figure out how usage there differs. This involves an army of consultants, as well as designers and engineers who must take on the enviable task of trekking through exotic regions to see trends firsthand.

“The biggest challenge for designers is just to have awareness,” Duarte said. “You have to know who your audience is.”

Brynn Evans, a user-experience designer at Google, said the company has begun welcoming researchers into every step of software development. At each stage, designers tweak their products based on what they learn about user habits instead of waiting until an app is released to see how people interact with it, as Google used to do, she said.

Facebook, which recently began an initiative to advance global connectivity called Internet.org, has ramped up its own design research in emerging markets, according to Julie Zhuo, the company’s director of product design.

“We’ve been doing a lot more research in having folks on our team visit a lot of different markets,” she said at the design event. “Recently, we went to Africa, India and Indonesia. We were trying to understand what people value and care about, and a lot of that was reflected in speed. They say, ‘I sit here and open Facebook, and it takes about two minutes. But we’ll just be patient.’”

Designers at the world’s largest social network are working on ways to make its apps transfer data more efficiently and run better on cheap, low-end Androids, Zhuo said. They’ll need to pull off these feats before people’s patience runs out.

 

By Mark Milian

Source: bloomberg.com

The quickest way to get free publicity is to connect with readers

January 3rd, 2014 No comments

Press releases get tossed out by editors all the time because they don’t connect with readers. To put it another way, they lack a news hook.

So what’s the best way to keep your news releases out of the circular file? You need to start thinking like a news editor. Understand that in today’s world, news is something that will interest a reader. The fact that you purchased an automatic lathe for your factory is not news — even though it you cost six-figures. Unless it brews lattes while cleaning the factory floor, you will not get much publicity announcing this purchase.

However, if you purchased the machine in response to record sales overseas and you think this could indicate a new untapped market for manufacturers, you have a news hook because you have connected it to readers who may be interested in broadening their markets. Or you could also localize the announcement by linking your purchase to a need to hire more workers. This local angle would interest readers looking for a job.

If you just write about purchasing new equipment, you are simply writing an ad. But if you connect that event to business trends or employment opportunities, you have a news story because you have connected the purchase to the needs of readers.

Another way to write a newsworthy press release is to connect your business to current events. Assume for a moment that you sell security systems to businesses. You could connect your product to a story about a recent theft at a local warehouse, or a major security problem in U.S. distribution centers by offering advice on how to avoid theft and minimize security risk. This kind of press release defines you as an expert providing insight into an ongoing problem that is of interest to many readers.

Sometimes businesses and nonprofits will generate monthly or quarterly reports about trends related to their industries. For example, if you own a travel business, you might produce a quarterly report that profiles travelers to Europe and interprets demographic trends. This would make you a travel expert that journalists can rely on to provide good information and insightful quotes.

A final word of advice: Do not seek publicity in your own industry. You need it in the industries your business serves. You gain very little from a news item in a trade publication serving your industry, but you gain much more with a short paragraph or quote in media serving your clients. Focus your PR efforts on those publications and you will get the kind of publicity that can translate into customers.

 

By Joseph P. Giunta

Source: allbusiness.com

Kid inventor Maddie Bradshaw turns bottle caps into profit

December 30th, 2013 No comments

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We like to write about kid inventors every chance we get, because it’s just such a fantastic inspiration to see how kids come up with great solutions and brilliant ideas when they invent with simplicity and fun as the foundation of their product ideas.

Texas based Maddie Bradshaw is a young successful inventor with a profitable and fun story to tell. She came up with an awesome product idea when she was on 5th grade.

Maddie was looking for a cool magnet to decorate her school locker and couldn’t find one that she liked. Using a bag of bottle caps given to her by her uncle, Maddie decided to create her own magnet. She decorated the bottle cap by herself and put it in her locker. Several kids at school loved Maddie’s idea and asked her to make them a magnet just like hers. After making magnets for her friends, Maddie realized that she could turn her cool bottle caps into interchangeable necklaces. That’s how her Snap Caps product idea was born. Maddie’s idea of necklaces expanded into bracelets, hairpins, ribbons, picture frames and stationary. Maddie, her mom and her sister opened a business together and named it M3 Girl Designs.

Many Snap Caps and years later (Maddie is now about to go to college), the business is still very successful. Maddie wrote a book “You Can Start A Business Too” to inspire other kids with a business idea to pursue their ideas and be successful.

Looking at Maddie’s product Snap Caps, we can learn a useful lesson to take on our inventing journey: if you invent for a consumer category that you know deeply, your chances of success are greater. A simple rule to follow that can potentially bring you big results.

 

By Andrew Krauss

Source: Inventright

Use infographics to boost your credibility and traffic

December 19th, 2013 No comments

 

A few years ago I stumbled upon a study that tried to prove the significant difference between visual and textual information. According to this study, visual information — when presented clearly — trumped textual information by tenfold, and uncovered that 90 percent of all information we remember was based on visual impact.

While this theory sounds absolutely groundbreaking, the reality is that the world around us has always been infused with visual information.

Not everyone may be familiar with the term infographic since it is rather new; you may come across it disguised in fancy words like “data visualization” or “information design.”

 
What Are Infographics?
According to Wikipedia, infographics are “graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly.”

Simply put, it means taking data, organizing it, and making it visually digestible by converting it into graphs, charts, maps, and visual stories. Without having to read large amounts of text, the viewer can easily process the information that is being shared and is given the chance to explore a topic in a highly engaging way.

 
8 Reasons Why Infographics Work
Let’s review why data visualization is so effective:

  • Most of us tend to have shorter and shorter attention spans, for which (unsurprisingly) looking at a captivating image beats out reading large amounts of text.
  • We are constantly exposed to information overload via our computers, tablets, and smartphones. The key is no longer to get the information out there, but to get attention for it.
  • Human beings are highly visual, and can absorb visual information faster and more easily than other kinds of information.
  • Most people forget a large amount of what they’ve read, but they do remember what they’ve seen.
  • Infographics are more fun and engaging than plain text.
  • Infographics done right do not only make it easier to understand complex information, but boost both the creator’s profile and website traffic.
  • Infographics allow the creator to showcase his or her knowledge about a certain topic.
  • A good infographic can spread quickly on the Internet, giving other bloggers and writers something to talk about, and the creator backlinks and exposure. Be sure to include a logo and URL on the image for copyright purposes.

 

How Your Business Can Benefit from Infographics
Infographics are collages of information created to entertain, engage, and educate an audience. Nearly any topic can provide enough material to transform static text into an interesting visual, and therefore provide an informative and memorable reading/viewing experience at the same time.

Giving your audience something they can repost and share with friends increases your chances of being shared all across the Internet – be it on blogs, social media, or news sites.

 
Building a Great Infographic in 3 Steps
Step 1 – Pick your topic

When choosing a topic, be open to subjects that might not solely revolve around your business. Be selfless and pick something that is of common interest (but do ensure there is a close connection to your business or professional background in order to establish your expertise). Rather than creating an infographic of “The 5 Things I Do in My Restaurant,” create an infographic that is more generic and universally usable: “Management Practices of Restaurants in the U.S.”

Be ready to dig deep to retrieve valuable and little-known information. The key is to provide unparalleled value!

Step 2 – Design your infographic

Once you’ve assorted all your information, it is time to visualize the information in the most creative — yet logical — way possible. Split your information up into categories and try to determine the size and layout of your categories. Take a minute and search on Pinterest to draw inspiration from hundreds of great infographics!

Remember one thing: do not try to move mountains but think pragmatically. If your infographic is about restaurants, use icons, graphics, colors, and shapes that you would find in restaurants (i.e., to showcase the amount of soups ordered, use spoons; to showcase the amount of main courses ordered, use forks & knives. If soups represent 10% and main courses 90%, you could place 10 spoons next to 90 forks & knives to illustrate the ratio.

Be creative about the way you display facts but do not try to go overboard and make your infographic too complex. Remember that infographics are meant to simplify understanding, not complicate it further!

Step 3 – Give yourself credit for your work

Be sure to include your credentials on the infographic. Claim it as your own because this is the reward you are getting from sharing it. You can include your logo, your sources of information, and your domains in the infographic. It’s your masterpiece and you have the rights to claim it as your own!

Here is an interesting infographic produced by my AllBusiness colleague Matthew Faustman’s firm: How Intellectual Is Your Property? Notice how it communicates a huge amount of information more easily by using a variety of interesting visuals.

 
Where to Post Your Infographic
In most cases, the objective of creating an infographic is for it to be found, seen, and shared. There are no limits to where your infographic can be posted.

Definitely showcase your masterpiece of information design on your own blog or website (if applicable). Share it via your social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, and definitely visual sites such as Pinterest! Allow others to use your infographic in their articles and posts, but ask that they include a link back to your website or add an image credit note at the bottom.

Being able to pack information into a visual experience is a great opportunity to get your point across, drive interest and traffic, get exposure, and build your reputation as an expert.

 

By: Melanie Haselmayr

Source: AllBusiness

How to set a budget for your new website

December 12th, 2013 No comments

The truism “You get what you pay for” is as true as true can be when it comes to building a company website. When small firms fail to budget properly, one of these nightmare scenarios is likely to ensue:

  •     The site ends up costing two or three times more than expected, causing all-important post-launch marketing activities to be cut back or eliminated.
  •     The site ends up having half or a quarter of the desired functionality, rendering it nearly useless.
  •     The site ends up as a series of compromises in design, content and functionality, making a mediocre impression on customers and prospects.

The underlying problem, as these three scenarios suggest, is under budgeting — or not budgeting at all. What’s the best way to set a budget and lay the groundwork for a site that meets your expectations?

Step One: Create Site Specifications
Setting a realistic budget starts with having an idea of what you want the site to do, so let’s start there. Important things to consider include:

  •     Design. How much customization do you want? Will a standard WordPress theme suit your needs? Do you need a custom design from the ground up? Something in between? Do you have imagery for your new site, or will photos need to be taken? If so, how many photos (or other imagery such as charts and diagrams) will be needed?
  •     Content. How much unique content will your site need? 10 pages? 100 pages? Will it be easy or hard to write? Do you have the ability and bandwidth to write it, or will you need to outsource copywriting? If outsourced, will the writer need to do extensive research to write the copy properly?
  •     Functionality. Do you need more than a basic contact form? Do you want to offer downloadable PDFs or other information? Do you want leads from various forms to be tracked? Will you need e-commerce, and if so, what type of payment options? Are there any other functional requirements, such as integration with internal systems or third-party e-commerce sites? Do you want to optimize your site for search engines (SEO)? Will you need W3C or other compliance? Do you want Flash design or a customer portal?

Step Two: Seek Proposals
Once you have a rough list of desired site specifications, you’re in a position to solicit proposals. A web development agency (or freelancer) will need these inputs from you to provide a reasonable estimate. The proposal might match up precisely to your specs, but more likely, it will have modifications based on practical considerations or the agency’s capabilities. This is OK; often, a developer has ideas that reduce cost and yet meet your needs.

Considering three or four proposals on the initial go-around is best, because you’re apt to see a fairly wide range of prices and approaches.

Step Three: Align Expectations and Costs
A likely outcome will be the realization that your desired site costs much more than you expected, but this is OK, because you’re now in a position to have a meaningful review of development options, their real value, and their real cost. The biggest disconnects that are revealed by following this three-step approach include:

  •     Design disconnects. Creating images is expensive and time-consuming. Often, firms don’t care about images in the early stages of a project, but later on, when they see boring, text-heavy pages on the test site, they desperately want a lot of customized imagery. Settling for tired stock imagery, the usual Plan B, results in a generic-looking, unimpressive site.
  •     Content disconnects. Content is far more expensive and time-consuming to create that most people realize. Firms often assume they can have an employee whip up content at the last minute, and learn too late that’s an impossible task.
  •     Functionality disconnects. Firms typically have no idea what pieces of site functionality — some of which were detailed above — actually cost. They become frustrated in mid-project when they ask the developer to “throw in” a little e-commerce and discover it costs $5,000 to do so.

By using initial proposals to set a budget for your site project, you prevent unpleasant surprises down the line. In addition, you’re more likely to find the right developer for your project and create a site that is truly right for your business in terms of overall performance and cost.

Following this plan takes serious upfront strategic thinking and grunt work, but the payoff is big. Pulling a budget out of thin air, or committing your business to a new site without a budget at all, are risky approaches that can drain your bank account and set back your Internet marketing for several years. It’s an unnecessary risk.

 
By Brad Shorr

Source: AllBusiness

Manufacturing: so it’s time to go overseas

December 9th, 2013 No comments

When and if you do decide to go with an overseas manufacturer — we did when we started needing to fill enormous orders for WalMart — find the factory yourself. When I worked at Worlds of Wonder in the 1980s, I spent several weeks in China and Thailand overseeing production. I made sure the standards of quality were being met before I left, but when I came back, there were problems. There was confusion. To get the product you want — as well as security of mind! — it is necessary to build relationships, like in all other aspects of partnerships. Be careful of whom you trust simply online or over the phone; I believe there’s nothing quite like being able to look someone in the eye and shake their hand. Factor these costs into your decision to make products overseas — because you’ll have to go if you want dependably great products.

And, of course, before you begin manufacturing your product overseas, learn all that you need to know about bringing your product back into the US. What are the import rules and regulations that affect your type of good? When will you need to pay, and how? What about customs and clearance and transportation costs? Do your due diligence. I’m happy to report that we never had any problems with the products we had made overseas. Samples may look good when they first arrive, but quality can drop during production. That’s why you need someone to help oversee the process. The language barrier can be really challenging. Paying for your first shipment up front without having seen any product is a little nerve wracking, to say the least! Here’s to hoping it looks great! Sourcing agents can help take away some of the stress, and there are many companies that exist solely to make this process as easy as possible.

Kick the tires on any company you ever work with. Read about them online. Get referrals. Are they one of the good guys or bad guys? Do your homework. That’s my point. One of the best ways to identify good manufacturers in your field is to attend trade shows. They have contract manufacturers there.

 
By Stephen Key

Source: InventRight

Forget TVs. Sharp sees a future in strawberry farming

December 5th, 2013 No comments

 

Sharp, known for its televisions, actually has its origins in mechanical pencils. Its future may rest on a business distant from either of those: growing strawberries in the deserts of Dubai.

The struggling consumer-electronics company announced on Sept. 20 plans to ramp up an experiment it started in July, in which berries are grown in a hermetically sealed farm lit with Sharp’s power-efficient LED lights. Sensors made by Sharp track temperature and humidity, and the company’s Plasmacluster air-purification system, which it markets to consumers, helps protect the fruit by killing germs, bacteria, and mold. Dubai is a logical home for the project, because Japanese strawberries are popular in the Middle East, expensive, and quick to spoil. Sharp says it will collect data on how well its cultivation techniques work to “achieve stable production of high-quality strawberries.”

The company recorded a net loss of 545.4 billion yen ($5.3 billion) in the fiscal year ended in March and lost 376 billion yen the year before. It fired thousands of workers and cut capital investments by 31 percent in the last fiscal year, when revenue from LCD televisions and smartphones fell to half their level from four years earlier. In those four years, the proportion of revenue Sharp made from the sale of electronic components such as liquid-crystal displays and solar cells rose to 46 percent, up from roughly one-third. Success in agricultural technology could help position it for the shift.

Sharp won’t be dispatching its employees to fruit stands anytime soon. “We will not enter the strawberry selling business,” says spokesperson Riko Ifuku. The company says it will decide if it can create an agricultural engineering business that will focus on factory design, technology to monitor growing conditions, and maintenance services. Sharp also intends to bring in local partners but says it’s too early to name them or discuss specific clients. The company is eligible for subsidies from Japan’s Ministry of the Economy, Trade and Industry but wouldn’t say how much of its own money it is investing in the agriculture technology.

The farming laboratory isn’t the only way Sharp is targeting agriculture. On Sept. 26, it said it will begin in October to sell a sensor that enables corporate customers to monitor levels of microbes such as bacteria and mold spores in the air. The tool can help food-processing companies perform in 10 minutes facility inspections that usually take hours, according to the company.

If Sharp can win over strawberry growers with its laboratories in Dubai, it could go down as one of the sweetest pivots in recent tech history. Take note, BlackBerry.

 

By Joshua Brustein

Source: Businessweek

How social media is rewriting the advertising rules

December 2nd, 2013 No comments

The constant changes in the world of advertising of late have been brought about largely due to social media. The public are now exposed to more adverts than ever, and whilst some may find this intrusion annoying, for businesses it is a golden opportunity which has to be played carefully.

It’s one of the odder facts about the internet, especially social media, that users often express disgust at their favourite medium, which is invariably free to access, carrying ads. It’s never made clear how these global companies, transferring gigabits of data in the blink of an eye, are supposed to pay for themselves or turn a profit. The lack of visible ads was one of Google’s strongest points when it first launched as a simple search engine. All of this has changed further since, and the advent of social media has brought about a constantly evolving advertising arena to keep up to date with. Here’s what has happened as we enter the tail end of 2013.

The nimble profile of Twitter has always posed something of a problem for the company when it comes to selling advertising space. In the early days, ads could have been carried on its .com site (although they resisted), but now Twitter is more likely to be visited on a smartphone app or browser plugin, that option is all but gone.

Twitter has experimented with sponsored ads that come up on searches and promoted tweets appearing in users’ timelines, but the day-to-day Twitter experience is largely ad-free. It does, however, take payments for suggesting users follow certain accounts, which is pretty unintrusive and gives the user a sense of choice in the transaction. Users are opting in to being marketed to by corporations, and they can unfollow whenever they like, so it’s difficult to be critical of this means. More controversial are celebrity endorsements (displayed with a Tweeted picture of a famous person with a product), which have enraged Twitter users.

YouTube is in a unique position as people use it solely to watch videos, which makes it the perfect medium for ads with motion that can also be targeted to individuals. Since many YouTube views take place off the main site, the ability to precede a video with an advert or superimpose a static ad over the video are technically simple.

Giving users the ability to skip the ad after a few seconds is a good touch, and encourages advertisers to be snappy in their messaging if they want results. However, some ads can’t be closed until 30 seconds and do test user patience.

With YouTube and Twitter methods it’s pretty obvious you’re being advertised to, and this is where users might accept the methods they employ. It’s when users feel they are being exploited (particularly in terms of their personal details) that a negative response is found. Facebook recently got stung with a $20 million settlement over the use of people’s personal information in targeted ads (an amount they won’t be losing much sleep over). For their troubles, around 600,000 users will apparently have $15 (about £10) each as compensation. No problem for Facebook, but smaller businesses would obviously want to steer clear of this.

Elsewhere amongst the internet giants, is is apparent Gmail “reads” our emails to target ads with, but we accept this is the way it is and trust Google to handle our data sensitively –- and in accordance with the law. Since we probably email much more personal information than we would dream of putting on Facebook, it shows it’s not so much the fact of personal information being exploited by advertisers, it’s the means, and the implied granting of permission.
Yahoo! once ruled the search engine world, even with stiff competition from the Excites, AltaVistas and Lycoses of the fledgling internet. Of course we all know what happened when the little upstart from Menlo Park came along, but one of the remarkable things about Yahoo! is it seems to be on the up again. Perhaps users are getting a little uncomfortable with Google’s ubiquity, or maybe there’s a real issue at the heart of search that needs addressing if people are frequently sent to the wrong sites through strongarm manipulation. The arrival of new CEO Marissa Mayer (ex-Google) could possibly have turned the company around in double-quick time, too.

Visiting the Yahoo! site, however, will fill many an old-timer with a feeling of nostalgia. It looks pretty much like you might remember it if you last visited in 2005 –- a little search box and tons of popular news articles and more banner ads. With the company more or less holding station, it’ll be interesting to see which way it goes and how well it has pitched its position.

Near-Field Communication is one of those technologies that’s been hanging on the fringes of critical mass for some years, but is yet to capture the public (or device manufacturers’) imagination. If and when it does, however, we can be sure our proximity to NFC sensors will be exploited to the max by advertisers and influencers. Should Apple include it with future handsets then a craze could well begin.

The Californian giant has, meanwhile, taken a bold step with its new advertising campaign featuring a likeable Apple “genius” who helps out people in need thanks to his tech expertise. It might sound like everyday marketing fodder, but compared to Apple’s previous attempts at marketing itself as the coolest tech behemoth on the block, it really does have an old-school charm to it. If you’ve not seen the ads, have a look on YouTube – they’ll appear right after that Samsung S4 promo.

 
By Alex Morris

Source: AllBusiness

Lego slithers into digital age with biting robot serpent

November 25th, 2013 No comments

 

Lego fans no longer need to fret about the cat or dog knocking over their constructions. When bothersome housepets or other pests come too close, they can ward off the intruder with one of their plastic-brick creations.

The R3PTAR, a robotic snake from Lego A/S, can be programmed from a smartphone app to attack felines, canines, and siblings — or simply scuttle along the floor and give them something to chase. Equipped with a snapping mechanical jaw and fangs, the serpent might just send even courageous hounds, pusses and pesky kid brothers packing.

R3PTAR is among the new creations the Danish toymaker is counting on to stay relevant in the Internet age. Broadening its product range to attract older users with more complex — and sometimes conflict-driven — toys is helping Lego grow faster than competitors Mattel Inc. (MAT) and Hasbro Inc. (HAS)
Lego’s success “lies in embracing what digital can do,” Chief Marketing Officer Mads Nipper said over coffee in his toy-filled office at company headquarters in Billund, Denmark. As evidence, he points to the 20 million monthly visitors to Lego’s websites and the 100 million-plus copies of video games sold by its licensing partners.

The toymaker has come a long way from the days when it produced yo-yos, ducks and fire trucks made of wood. The company is still controlled by the family of carpenter Ole Kirk Kristiansen, who founded the business in 1932. The family also owns part of Merlin Entertainments Group Ltd, the owner of Lego theme parks.

 
R3PTAR Bite
The R3PTAR is part of a 601-piece set introduced last month that includes a programmable brick, sensors, software and motors. Known as EV3, the $350 set is the third incarnation of the Mindstorms series, introduced in 1998. It includes plans for five walking, talking and thinking robots including the snake, the scorpion-like SPIK3R and the Mohawk-sporting EV3RSTORM.

“These robots have attitude,” said product designer Lars Joe Hyldig, who spent about three years developing them. “They can surprise you” by taking on a mind of their own.
While simple enough to be built by 10-year-olds, Lego says many adults purchase Mindstorms for themselves.
“I’m looking forward to buying some of these for my nieces and nephews and “help” them put them together,” fan Tom Cullen wrote on his Twitter feed Sept. 1.

Lego invited an international group of some adult fans to help create 12 bonus models of the new robots, including an electric guitar and a bulldozer, for which building instructions are accessed online.

 
Angry Faces
The fearsome-looking Mindstorms robots are unlikely to stem criticism from some fans that Lego is straying too far from the toys that have engaged children for generations.
According to a study released this year by university lecturer and former Lego employee Christoph Bartneck, faces on the toymaker’s minifigures have grown angrier in the last four decades as Lego has embraced more conflict-based themes. A set based on The Simpsons television series that’s due next year has also irked members of Lego’s online community, who grouse that it’s not appropriate for the company’s target audience.
“Lego, do not make the Simpsons!” a user called Superfox9783 wrote on an online message board. “It is not a kid-friendly theme! If you do, I will boycott your products.”

 
Physical Play
Such concerns aren’t reflected in Lego’s sales, which are outpacing its primary competitors, helped by both new products and growth in Asia. Revenue in the first half of 2013 increased 13 percent to 10.4 billion Danish kroner ($1.89 billion), versus a 4 percent gain at larger rival Mattel and a slight decline at Hasbro, which it overtook to become the world’s second-biggest toymaker earlier this year.
Mattel has a market capitalization of about $14.3 billion and Hasbro is valued at about $6.1 billion.
Lego has doubled its market share since 2008, according to Robert Porter, an analyst at Euromonitor International in London. Among its top rivals, “Lego has been the most successful of all over the past few years,” Porter said.
Lego controls about 60 percent of the construction toy business, which Euromonitor estimates will grow to more than $10 billion by 2017 from about $7.7 billion in 2012. The traditional toy and game industry was worth about $83 billion last year.
Toy construction line Meccano, known as the Erector Set in the U.S., was acquired by Canadian toy company Spin Master Ltd. earlier this year.
Lego is building new manufacturing facilities in China and plans to expand sales there as rising incomes boost demand, Chief Executive Officer Joergen Vig Knudstorp told Bloomberg Television this month.

 
Colored Bricks
In response to growing demand in emerging markets, the new robots now come with native language editions for Russia, China, Korea, Japan, Spain and Denmark. They used to speak just English, French, German and Dutch.
Lego is now gearing up for Christmas. The company gets 70 percent of its revenue in the last two months of the year. To remain atop Santa’s gift lists, the company recognizes, it must continue freshening its lineup, though without alienating traditional fans.
“It’s very much front of mind,” Chief Financial Officer John Goodwin said while showing off products such as the recently introduced “number train” for toddlers. “We have to keep that newness.”
That doesn’t mean there won’t be a place for the traditional colored building bricks that have long been synonymous with Lego, Goodwin said.
“We still think physical play is going to have a key role even in a digital world,” he said. “Physical creation is something that’s just wired inside all of us, and the joy you get from that can’t fully be replicated via a virtual experience.”

 

By Katarina Gustafsson

Soure: Bloomberg

Personal branding tips from Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and your mom

November 18th, 2013 No comments

 

Before social media turned practically everyone into a public figure, few CEOs included the word persona in their everyday vocabularies, much less hired publicists and marketing strategists to help them craft a personal brand.

But now that business owners are among the 72 percent of online adults who use social media, they are branding themselves with every tweet they post, every YouTube video they produce.

If you want to turn your personal brand into a powerful part of your digital marketing strategy, spend some time studying the habits of your industry leaders. And take some lessons from three women: Marilyn Monroe, Madonna and your Mom.

 
Permanent Imprint: Marilyn Monroe
Norma Jeane Mortenson carefully crafted the voice, walk, pout and smile that became indelibly identified with Marilyn Monroe, the sex symbol whose posthumous celebrity has lived for more than a half century since the actress’s death in 1962.

Marilyn Monroe is an example of perfect personal branding. Her public image was so well rehearsed that, when Marilyn slipped back into her Norma Jeane mannerisms, she could go out in public without being noticed. As an actor, Marilyn grew to resent how well she perfected her bombshell image — she was repeatedly rejected for serious roles.

But for CEOs, there are numerous advantages to typecasting. Take the effort to secure a distinctive, memorable personal brand, and it’s locked in for life. You don’t have to keep proving yourself over and over again to your clients.

Here are 3 ways to take the Marilyn Monroe approach to personal branding:

1. Create a visual gimmick.
Marilyn Monroe is easy to picture: red lipstick, skin-tight, cleavage-baring dress and platinum blonde hair.

Make yourself memorable. Always wear orange, carry a walking stick or hand out personalized M&Ms instead of business cards. Establish a memorable visual image — and reinforce it daily.

2. Create a realistic personal brand.
Marilyn’s brand was extraordinary, but it meshed with the dreams of Norma Jeane, who always wanted to become an actress. And she was a genuine beauty, as stunning with a bare face and messy hair as she was in artfully applied makeup.

Strive for a personal brand that is a better version of yourself, but don’t stray too far from the real you. Actors can leave their characters behind when they walk off a set, but you have to live your brand. So, keep it authentic. Because the truth will come out. Don’t pretend to love dogs, kids or apple pie if you hate them. But do strive to show respect for people whose views differ from your own.

3. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
Don’t go public with your personal brand until you’re confident you can pull off the image you seek. Just as it takes practice to prepare for a game and rehearsal to get ready for a stage production, it takes repeated effort to develop your personal brand. Marilyn studied the art of movement, reading books such as “The Thinking Body” in order to perfect her posture and walk.

If, for example, you want to present a more polished image in public, videotape yourself and critically examine your performance. Do you mumble or speak too loudly? Do you interrupt people or create awkward silences? Privately work on improving such issues before debuting the new you.

 
Perpetual Change: Madonna
Not everyone wants things — including their personal brand — to stay the same. If the idea of sticking to the same script for 20 or 30 years bores you, create a brand that embraces change.

Madonna perfected this. The one constant in her image was change.

Want to stay out of a personal branding rut? Practice these tips:

1. Rotate the tires.
Think of your personal brand as if it were your car. Rotate your brand message frequently. Unless you have supreme self-confidence, it’s better to make minor changes often than dramatic changes every year. Don’t do the equivalent of wearing a cone bra to work if you typically wear a Brooks Brothers suit. To soften a stolid image, change the color of your shirt in the spring and go for a blazer, no-tie look in the fall.

2. Admit mistakes and missteps.
Madonna is not known for apologizing for what her critics call outrageous behavior. But she’s been open about her regrets. In “Drowned World/Substitute for Love,” she admits, “I traded fame for love without a second thought… And now I find I’ve changed my mind.”

If you make a point of keeping your personal brand in a state of flux, you’re bound to make some gaffes along the way. Keep the mistakes from becoming a permanent part of your brand by quickly taking ownership of misbehavior or ill-considered comments.

The faster you get in front of personal branding problems the quicker you put them behind you.

3. Don’t confuse change with chaos.
The changes you make in your personal brand should have a purpose. An evolving personal brand is not the same as a revolving one. Your personal brand is strengthened when life experiences change your views. Parenthood and the early loss of her mother are among significant events that added new dimensions to Madonna’s image.

Your personal brand is harmed when change appears opportunistic or as if you’re simply latching on to a trend.

 
Moral Compass: Mom
A good way to test — and protect — your personal brand is to ask yourself, “What would my mom say?”

My mom warned me against acting on impulse, whether it was buying a new pair of shoes or lashing out in anger. I consider her “walk away” advice every time I’m tempted to take on a deep-pocketed client I don’t trust and before I send a hastily-composed email.

The mom test helps you align your personal brand with your core values. So if you ever wonder whether your actions are helping or harming your brand, ask yourself whether your mom would approve.

Or ask her yourself. She’d probably love to hear from you. And being nice to your mom is good for your image.

 

By Katherine Kotaw

Soure: AllBusiness

The 5 main drivers for success in any company, anywhere

November 11th, 2013 No comments

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, not the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change” – Charles Darwin

Whatever got you where you are today will not be sufficient to keep you there. A rapidly changing environment is the regular background against which organizations must develop.

Change is continuous and will become more rapid as we move forward over time. Senior management must be capable of reacting to those changes and be prepared to take advantage of them and yet stay within the overall framework and agreed strategy.

The role of strategy is fundamental if the people within an organization are to be enabled to make the level of contribution of which they are capable. Strategy, based on a good grasp of the core competencies of a business, is an essential precursor to achieving optimal shareholder value.

The world’s leading organizations continuously seek to improve their performance. There may be unlimited potential for achieving accelerated improvement but if this potential is not being realised, good change agents must line up and mobilise all the forces (or drivers) for improvement.

There are five main drivers for improvement in organizations:

Strategy
Lean operations
Balanced culture
Customer responsiveness
Leadership

 
Strategy sets direction and give focus to improvement. It must however be deployed throughout the organization to be effective.

Processes need to be mapped and analysed in a methodical way; projects must be managed; problem symptoms traced to root causes; data must be collected before decisions are taken; trends in customer preferences detached and fed back; improvement activity of any kind reported on and coordinated; improvement action measured. Just about everything should be done to a discipline.

A balanced culture means effective, creative management of people. Customers are served by people; processes are managed by people. Only people can deliver quality improvement. For them to work well they must be empowered, given direction, measured, reviewed and success recognised.

Customer responsiveness keeps the organisation focused on customer needs, reactions and changing requirements.

Finally, leadership ensures that everyone is enthused and supported to work on the strategy, improve processes, served customers and active team players.

 

By Jonathan Farrington

Source: AllBusiness

No check, please!

November 4th, 2013 No comments

 

The waitress was nowhere in sight as my wife downed the last of her margarita at El Toro Blanco in downtown Manhattan on Sept. 25. It was getting a little late and a little cold. We were ready to go. So we stood up and left.

As we speed-walked to the subway, I felt the same illicit giddiness as when I last skipped out on the check. Although the Pizzeria Uno I sprinted out of in 1998 has yet to bring charges, El Toro Blanco caught up with me quickly. A few minutes later, a message popped up on my phone telling me that my credit card had been charged the full amount, plus 20 percent tip.

El Toro Blanco is one of about two dozen upscale New York restaurants using Cover, an app designed for solving the very specific, very First World problem of having to wait around for your check. It’s pretty simple: When I showed up at the restaurant, I checked in with the app. The waitress greeted us, and I told her we were going to pay with Cover. Surprisingly, she knew what I was talking about and was able to find me in the restaurant’s system. That’s it. The only other time I used my phone during dinner was when I Googled “epazote.” (It’s a Central American herb. If you have a chance to put it on your tamales, do it.)

Cover isn’t the only company trying to eliminate the middleman. Chili’s Grill & Bar is expanding its effort to use tablets instead of waitstaff. It offers the same basic promise—you don’t need to find a human when you’re ready to pay the check—but there’s a tablet sitting with you the entire time, showing you images of chocolate cake and tempting your children with video games that cost extra.

Square Wallet allows you to pay at some coffee shops by syncing your smartphone with the register via location services. But you still have to wait in line. PayPal recently launched an updated app so you can order and pay in advance; then your Jamba Juice is ready when you walk in the door. The one company that has been on this from the get-go is Uber, the car service app that takes care of payment ahead of time and lets you jump out the second the wheels stop rolling.

Cover makes money by lowering restaurants’ credit card transaction fees (because it serves as an extra identity check on the people who’ve signed up) and by keeping a percentage of those savings. And it will likely be good for business. When you know the price of that extra beer isn’t going to be staring you down the minute you stop chugging, you’re more likely to buy it. And there’s also evidence that people tip more when they think about it less. The NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission found that riders tip more on credit card transactions. Chili’s has shown that its tablet system also increases gratuities. With Cover, you set your default tip and have to manually change it during your meal if you’re either unhappy or ecstatic about service. Warning, cheapos: It won’t let you go under 18 percent.

Cover wants to be known for its simplicity, but it might be too simple. When the El Toro Blanco bill arrived on my phone, it was just a lump sum, with only the tip and tax broken out. Did I get charged for an appetizer I didn’t order? Did the waitress mistakenly add another round of drinks? I’ll never know. But if that’s the price of not making that awkward signing hand motion ever again, I’ll gladly make a standing reservation.

 

By Joshua Brustein

Source: Businessweek

Small business management: 5 ways to get the most from your employees

October 31st, 2013 No comments

When you work in a small business environment, it’s easy to think that communication and team management should be easy due to the small number of team members. In reality, it can be a lot more complicated because the smaller the team, the more robust the roles. Generally, everyone juggles a variety of roles which leaves a lot of room for communication breakdowns and workplace confusion. The other side of a small business workforce is that many are contract workers who serve on a per-project basis. Many small businesses and startups find themselves lost in a fast-paced environment with a serious lack of precise communication, which can lead to low productivity.

Here are five ways you can get the most out of your employees when you are managing a small business:

1. Define Roles
Most people like structure, though structure should not be confused with micromanagement. Clear communication starts by knowing who to ask when you have a question or what to do with that valuable nugget of information you just acquired. To optimize communication, you need to clearly define people’s roles in the company. This can be challenging in small business because roles can be complex. However, each person and team should have specific roles with goals and know how to measure them. This information should be accessible to everyone in the company. That way you can make sure important information is leveraged properly and people can move forward easily in their day-to-day tasks.

2. Use an Internal Communication System
Chances are if you are working in a small business environment, you have either a partially remote workforce or one that is spread out over different time zones. By giving your team good online communication tools like instant messaging and project management tools, people can stay connected and informed no matter where they are located.

3. Set Clear Expectations
Create work content descriptions for employees and update them quarterly. Since roles in a small company will be ever changing, it’s important to make sure that you keep work content descriptions current. This will aid in the first point mentioned – knowing who is responsible for what so you don’t have to waste time figuring it out to get questions answered. This also creates accountability for individuals.

4. Be Encouraging
At most small businesses and startups, the first 5 years are the hardest. It’s expected that you’ll have to put in long hours and go above and beyond with little yield for a while. Due to the high amount of stress associated with startup life, it’s critical to create a sense of community where people feel supported. By taking the time to acknowledge your colleague’s efforts and give accolades for a job well done, you’ll keep the positive momentum going. Everyone likes to hear that their contributions count. By creating a supportive and encouraging environment, people are more likely to engage at work fully and happy employees increase a company’s bottom line.

5. Be Social
There are so many great things about working for a startup or small business that it’s important to celebrate them together as a team regularly. Just don’t make the team do the work. Cater a lunch, go bowling, do a challenge course together. A little team building can go a long way. A social opportunity is a time for colleagues to be a little less structured and build trust in one another outside of the office. Trust is imperative for effective communication.

One of the most important things in managing a small business is to act big even when you are small. Your communication and management strategies should set up to accommodate your company’s growth and progress. By establishing a solid internal communication system, a supportive environment, work-life balance activities, clear role expectations and regular evaluations of work content descriptions, you’ll be able to create smooth office communication and happy employees who will give you their best every day.

 

By Nancy Arnold

Source:  AllBusiness

The man who made video vames big business

October 28th, 2013 No comments

 

For some, video games and the name Hiroshi Yamauchi may mean little. Apple’s Steve Jobs is more likely to spring to mind as a genius creator. Yamauchi, who died on September 19th aged 85, didn’t like or even play video games. However, from the 1970s onwards the diminutive Japanese businessman transformed Nintendo from a small business into a global icon. His influence is greater even than this; he took the video game medium and launched it towards the multi-billion dollar global industry we know today.

It is his business practices which spearheaded this success. Utilising a mixture of intuition, creativity, and occasionally savage business acumen he sent Nintendo to the top of the world. Through diligent methods he also amassed a fortune worth $2.1 billion, making him the 13th richest man in Japan. For a company with such small beginnings, the transformation is a remarkable achievement. Here’s a brief history of an amazing man and his business ethics.
Small Beginnings

Hiroshi Yamauchi was studying at Waseda University in 1947 when he got the call to join the family company, which at the time specialised in making playing cards. Young and inexperienced, Yamauchi nonetheless rose to prominence in 1949 at the behest of his grandfather. He was company president of Nintendo in his early twenties, a promotion resented by long-term employees. It wasn’t long before they went on strike; refusing to defer, Yamauchi fired the staff who questioned his authority. It was the brutal decision-making of a man who knew how he wanted to run his business.

Over the following decades he led the company on several unsuccessful business experiments which almost caused bankruptcy. However, once Yamauchi brought engineer Gunpei Yokoi’s creative mind to the fore, Nintendo found its true calling. With Yokoi’s highly imaginative toys proving to be a hit the transition was complete — Nintendo were officially into entertainment only. With a technological revolution around the corner, Nintendo were now poised to make their move.
Making History

As technology in the ’70s improved, Yamauchi made one of his most prescient decisions. Realising entertainment could be part of electronic products he began experimenting with the burgeoning video game industry. Initial efforts proved reasonably successful and Nintendo produced Arcade Games and the Game and Watch franchise. Radar Scope, Space Fever, and Sheriff were minor hits in Japan, and with this new found success the company expanded to America. The games did not prove to be a success in the US, which left Nintendo once again facing financial collapse. A star games developer was needed.

In 1977 Yamauchi had realised the potential of a young designer named Shigeru Miyamoto. He took a risk in 1981, with the company facing its second major fiscal disaster, and let Miyamoto design what became Donkey Kong. An enormous hit, the game also prompted the attentions of Universal City Studios. They claimed Nintendo had breached their copyright on King Kong and launched a lawsuit. This backfired disastrously when American courts ruled the King Kong franchise was in the public domain, and that Donkey Kong clearly did not impinge on the King Kong film. Suitably shamed, Universal Studio’s mistake is often selected for one of the most embarrassing moments in gaming history.

With this potential disaster skilfully averted, Yamauchi continued bringing in a talented team of creative minds. In particular, the pairing of Miyamoto and Yokoi would earn the company their reputation under Yamauchi’s leadership. By 1983 Nintendo was way ahead of the field; the president had launched three R&D departments who competed for innovation, excellence, and Yamauchi’s blessings. This company leadership was matched with an industrial development process, and an intuitive awareness of what would enthral the public. The Famicom (Nintendo Entertainment System – NES) launched in 1983. By 1985 it made it to America, and it was in Europe from September 1986. It was a sensation, and Miyamoto’s landmark games (Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda) easily stood out in the gaming world. Meantime, Yokoi’s invention the Game Boy (when matched with the official rights to Alexey Pajitnov’s Tetris) was launched in 1989 to staggering global success. Whilst facing some competition from rivals Sega and their character Sonic, Nintendo moved to crush them with the release of the NES’s successor. The Super Nintendo (SNES) was released in 1990 and was another phenomenal hit, allowing Nintendo to dominate the industry up until 1995.

It had been a meteoric rise to success, but such crushing domination rarely lasts. From 1996 onward Nintendo has been succeeded in popularity by the likes of Sony and Microsoft, but the company’s N64 and Gamecube consoles were critically well regarded. The creation of Pokemon maintained its global icon status, and the series continues to be a major hit for the Game Boy. Since Yamauchi’s retirement, Nintendo has released the very popular Wii and 3DS (a development of the Game Boy). The Wii U is their most recent console, and it launched the Next Generation console battle. Slow sales aside, it is the usual merger of creativity and outright escapist fun, matched with new technology to inspire the industry.
Legacy

Always one to push for genuine excellence with products, Yamauchi also made the unusual decision it was artists who made excellent games, not technicians. Shigeru Miyamoto proved him right. Despite having no engineering background, and what you’d expect to be a pertinent dislike of video games, it was Yamauchi alone who decided which games would be released. This innate knowledge of what would drive the public wild turned Nintendo into a world famous brand.

Although he retired in 2002, the legacy he has left behind is indelible. Video games simply would not be what they are today without his endeavours. Millions would not be playing on Grand Theft Auto 5 right now, the Xbox One would not be just around the corner, and the industry would still be mired in a “geeky” image, rather than being the billion dollar earning trend it has become. However, Yamauchi, above all else, should be remembered for striving towards perfect products and customer service. An example of this is the NES’s customer support line, which ran for 24 years, long after the console was obsolete! These attributes will certainly never be forgotten by Nintendo.

 

By Alex Morris

Source: AllBusiness

Coca-Cola goes green with environmentally friendly bottle

October 24th, 2013 No comments

They’re only available in Argentina at the moment, but any success will surely spread the concept of Green Coke to the global marketplace. Marketed as Coca-Cola Life, the plastic bottles are made from 30 percent plant-based plastic and they are fully recyclable. With its 108 calories per 600 ml bottle, the drink itself sits somewhere between Diet Coke (0 calories) and classic Coke (250 calories) thanks to its partial use of the sweetener stevia alongside sugar.

 

 

A massive change is in the design, too. Gone is the iconic red background carrying the white script logo; it is replaced by a new green tone to drive home the environmental message they’re trying to convey. It’s debatable how much the colour green signifies such issues anymore, though. We still use green petrol pumps for our unleaded petrol, even though leaded petrol is no longer available – and unleaded petrol is not exactly endorsed by Friends of the Earth. However, Coke’s push for environmentally friendly packaging could have a huge impact on the already troublesome amount of plastic littering the planet.

The biggest risk perceived by anyone who knows the history of Coke is a repeat of the 1985 New Coke affair, which proved to be a watershed moment not only in Coca-Cola’s history, but in the way changes are implemented (or foisted upon customers in this case). To summarise, the Coca-Cola Company thought after 99 years of the same recipe it was time for a change to reflect modern tastes. The public hated the decision and bombarded Coca-Cola offices with complaints and boycotted the new product. In popular retellings, two details are often left out of the run-up to the change. First, Coke had been losing market share for 15 years and so, the company reasoned, some change was required to refresh the brand. Second, there was much research into the new recipe, and the results of extensive blind tests had shown conclusively it was preferred over the old.

So what went wrong? The fact Coke was 99 years old probably played a major role in the story. It had survived two world wars and predated the admission of the state of Nebraska into the USA, so there was a sense of public ownership of the drink (even though the recipe was secret and the company private). That it wasn’t even allowed to reach the centenary rankled with some. Overall it was seen as an example of meddlesome corporates sticking their fingers into American culture for no particular reason.

Oddly enough, the protests started to get the company air time. Pressure groups were started with names like “The Society for the Preservation of The Real Thing”. Protestors picketed the company’s offices with placards which, to modern eyes, would look suspiciously like some kind of viral marketing ploy initiated by the company itself: “We want the real thing”; “Our children will never know refreshment”. Within a couple of months the Coca-Cola Company had got the message and were producing their old-style cola, branded Classic Coke, which they sold alongside New Coke, giving their customers a choice they probably would have appreciated in the first place. New Coke hardly stood a chance, and it was discontinued soon after.

Coca Cola is at the changes again, though this time in keeping with the need to be environmentally friendly. In Colombia, a supposedly green initiative is being tried by the company – bottles made entirely of ice. Water is poured into silicone bottle-shaped moulds and it’s frozen. The bottles aren’t sealed, though. They are sent to vendors empty and they fill them with cola just as you’d get cola in a glass at a bar.

You do have to question the green credentials of a product that requires energy to keep it frozen. In all likelihood (and judging by the almost identical coverage it’s getting over multiple news outlets), it’s more of a PR and marketing exercise, altough it does cut down on the need to use the plastics which are clogging landfills across the globe.

It’s impossible to understate the importance of making our bottled drinks greener. According to a Cultureist statistics, 30 billion plastic bottles go into landfills in the US alone, and three times as much water is required to produce one bottle as the capacity of the bottle itself. Although much plastic is now recyclable, it is generally not biodegradable, which means the stuff that goes into landfill will still be recognisably bottle-like in hundred of years, and fragments will survive for thousands, putting potentially toxic chemicals into water supplies and getting into the food chain.

Of course, this isn’t just Coca-Cola’s fault – it’s a global problem, and like it or not, the ultimate responsibility lies with the buying public. Given the choice, many of us will choose the greener option, all other things being equal. The problem is all else is not equal. If Company A goes green but you prefer the produce of their competitor Company B, you’re probably marginally less likely to bother too much about Company B’s green credentials. The more scientists research plastics, the more “natural” alternatives we find. Starches are a good place to start, but all manner of proteins, cellulose, vegetable oils, triglycerides, and bacterial polyesters have been found to contain the polymers essential to the production of plastics. Not only are they biodegradable over short periods of time, they generally require much less energy to produce than traditional plastics (much of which comes from oil) and their raw materials can often be grown locally.

The Coca-Cola Company naturally has to tread a careful path between commercial viability and fulfilling any green aims, so it makes sense to launch Life in a single market and maintain the original product alongside it. Even if the beverage itself proves to be a flop, they’ll have gained much experience in the production of these new greener bottles to go global with them – which hopefully wouldn’t cause anything like the 1985 backlash.

 

By Alex Morris

Source: AllBusiness

5 reasons entrepreneurs should own a motorcycle

October 21st, 2013 No comments

You’ve heard about how poorly the motorcycle manufacturers are doing these days. Sales and profits are down, some plants are in danger of closing, and now dealers with multiple dealerships in one city are being asked to consolidate into one location. They say it’s because ‘discretionary spending’ is down. But I have a question: When did owning a motorcycle become discretionary?

I believe that owning a motorcycle is as American as entrepreneurship–and vital to a founder’s long-term business success. I learned many years ago that the skills and techniques necessary to be a successful biker directly transfer to my daily business life.

Here’s how:

1. Running a business is one long road trip.
The first thing bikers learn is how to get from here to there safely and successfully. Bikers know how to select the right destination, plot out the right course to get there, and prepare for the unexpected. Bikers know how to overcome adversity along the way, whether it’s bad weather (the economy), poor road conditions (market fluctuations), or crazy cagers (competitors). Both biking and business are nothing more than vehicles designed to take you where you want to go: one physically, the other economically.

2. Both business and biking require you to assume reasonable risk.
And if not done properly, they can both cause severe damage to you. Staying upright requires awareness, timing, and a keen ability to sift through the background noise and B.S. that surrounds you. So the lesson from both is not about overcoming fear, but instead understanding and embracing it. Because riding scared is a fast ticket to the hospital–or business failure.

3. I like hanging out with real people.
Bikers and entrepreneurs are a similar and bold lot. Both groups are independent, adventurous, strong-willed, and utterly intolerant of fences. Go to any biker hangout and you’ll see business leaders and professionals sitting next to mechanics, carpenters, and full-time bikers. They come together to celebrate the culture of riding, to exercise their passions. And they come together to have the type of real-life, frank conversations that can only happen between two people with nothing to gain but an honest point of view. When’s the last time that’s happened to you at a chamber of commerce meeting?

4. Passion is the fuel of desire.
When that desire is properly channeled, you achieve excellence. On a bike, it’s about feeling the crisp air while navigating the winding road. In business, it’s putting yourself out there on the winding roads of the marketplace. With both, happiness comes when you turn our passion into performance.

5. Biking is a total attitude adjustment.
Ask any entrepreneur who rides and he’ll say the same thing: I ride to get away from it all for a while. I do some of my best thinking in the saddle because my synapses are popping right along with that V-twin. Riding an open road seems to charge my brain impulses with an even hotter spark as the sights, sounds, and smells combine to rev up all my senses.

I’d definitely rather be riding my motorcycle thinking about my business than sitting in an office thinking about my motorcycle.

 

By Dwain M. DeVille

Source:  inc.com

Customer service is not a department, it’s a culture

October 17th, 2013 No comments

In a world where websites highlight help buttons and front counters at Big Box companies corral customers to the Customer Service desk, management guru Ken Blanchard continues to remind businesses that, “Customer service should not be a department, customer service is everyone’s job.”

 

Customer service trickles down. Imagine how you hire and treat your employees and then consider that your employees will pay that respect, kindness, and patience along to your customers. The reality, then, is that customer service becomes everyone’s job — not just your front line of employees or bank of customer service representatives. What’s more, it happens everywhere, whether it’s in-store or online through social media and blogging.

Ultimately, customer service starts at the top. If your CEO doesn’t have your customers at the forefront of their business plan, the rest of the company will feel it. Is the head of your company taking customer service calls or emails? Is she hopping on the company chat to make sure that complaints are being handled swiftly and responsibly? If not, chances are your employees see the divide, and customers aren’t having the kind of experience they could be having. Even the most high-ranking executives showing the fluid nature of customer service will create waves of change.

Bill Marriot, former CEO and heir to Marriot International, credits the company’s service success to Marriot employees: “[We make] sure our associates are well cared for so they in turn take care of our customers.”

When it comes to your workers, hiring passionate, motivated people is important, but if you’re not building your brand with a culture of customer service in mind, you’re missing the point. Think of your employees as target customers. If you hire people who are excited about the brand, they’ll reflect that to your customers in the best way possible; brand evangelists make the best employees. Hiring just by skills or experience won’t create impassioned employees, and the truth is that a companies don’t make emotional connections — people do.

“Customer service creates an environment of one-to-one communication. That intimacy creates a special opportunity to build a relationship,” says Joseph Michelli, author of The Zappos Experience.

Companies like American Express that have ditched the script and allow their employees do “off the cuff” customer service have seen the greatest successes. Employees are happy, customers are happy, and service ratings have skyrocketed. When you give your employees the chance to be the experts, you’re giving them respect, responsibility, and a chance to shape a customer’s experience.

Every employee has the chance to make or break a company, whether they understand that role or not. It’s important to make sure everyone — from the people sweeping the hallway to the highest executives, whether on Twitter or working in a storefront — understands that they are brand ambassadors.

A quick and positive customer service interaction reinforces brand loyalty and lets customers experience the possibilities of an amazing brand that puts its customers first at every turn. With positive customer service, you create positive brand marketing that is organic, natural, and doesn’t cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, either. Value your brand, value your employees, and your customers will feel the trickle-down love.

 

By: Sam Brandes

Source: AllBusiness

Curb – Don’t block employee web surfing

October 14th, 2013 No comments

For anyone who runs a business, employees who surf the Web instead of doing their jobs can seem like an absolutely maddening waste of company time and money. That often leads to the temptation to block employee access to the Web so they have no choice but to buckle down and get back to work.

 

One recent survey claims the average worker wastes two hours a day online! That’s why many big businesses invest in software and services to block, control, or monitor Web usage.

But as it turns out, this approach can actually HURT employee productivity. Survey after survey shows that allowing workers to do at least a limited amount of Web surfing, even on “company” time, makes workers more productive, not less.

That may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s really not. If workers can use workplace Web access (and the phone, of course) to deal with the little things in their personal lives that always seem to crop up during the day, they’ll also have more freedom to concentrate on their jobs instead of personal problems that didn’t get solved. Researchers also suggest that short “Net breaks” can help workers refresh themselves to attack work tasks with more enthusiasm.

Then there’s the whole back-end technology problem. It costs money to install blocking software and services, and they don’t do much good unless you take the time to read – and then act on – the fancy reports they create. Many small businesses find the whole process is more trouble than it’s worth.

As Charlotte Jensen pointed out (See Monitor Your Workers’ PCs — If You Dare), there are also more subtle — but perhaps more important — reasons not to drop the hammer on employee Web access. No one likes to be micro-managed or feel like their employer doesn’t trust them. Employees who believe their boss is taking a Big Brother approach to Web use can suffer from lowered morale and decreased job satisfaction.

There may even be legal issues with monitoring your employees Web habits without their prior consent. And you may learn things about your employees that aren’t illegal, immoral, or harmful to your company, but that you really didn’t want to know…

Finally, remember that many workers have valid, work-related reasons to surf the Web, and you don’t want to get in the way of that, do you?

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should let your employees run hog-wild all over the Internet. Smart small businesses take a reactive approach.

Typically, that begins with a clearly communicated Internet Usage Policy. The typical policy allows some casual surfing, personal email, social networking, and shopping, but it outlaws porn, betting sites, and other inappropriate content. Those sites may be actively blocked. The policy should also warn employees that their Net usage may be monitored. That in itself is often enough to discourage misuse.

But unless there’s some sort of red flag, most small companies don’t bother to actively monitor employee surfing. If a problem surfaces, then they take a closer look and deal with any issues directly.

The ability to take that kind of personal approach is one of the benefits of running a smaller, more flexible organization. It would be a shame to squander that flexibility in favor of rigid rules and draconian bans on Web surfing that may do more harm than good.

 

By Fredric Paul

Source: www.allbusiness.com

HomeAway Partners With Gogobot to Gain a New Edge in Vacation Rentals

May 17th, 2013 No comments

Vacation-rental giant HomeAway has partnered with vacation recommendation site Gogobot to launch “Insider Guides,” a new feature that allows rental-property owners to provide localized tips and recommendations to prospective renters.

Insider Guides are in direct competition with Airbnb’s Neighborhoods feature, which launched last November. Airbnb, which facilitates peer-to-peer property renting, now has multimedia travel guides for 12 cities around the world, including New York, Berlin and Rio de Janeiro.

Comparatively, HomeAway’s online guides are created by its rental owners to highlight the interesting things to see and do in their local areas. They have the potential to reach more cities than Airbnb’s internally created guides, since members of HomeAway’s global user base can create them at will.

As part of the partnership, Insider Guides will combine the owners’ advice with Gogobot’s editorial content and reviews from its members. While HomeAway adds value to its core business, Gogobot gets new content for its 2.5 million members. Through Gogobot’s mobile app for iOS and Android, travelers can access the guidebooks on the go for maps, directions and more.

HomeAway and its subsidiary Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO), a rental website that it acquired in 2006, together offer more than 740,000 rental properties around the world, according to the company. HomeAway went public in 2011 and has a market capitalization of nearly $2.7 billion.

Menlo Park, Calif.-based Gogobot was founded in 2010 and has raised $19 million in venture capital from various investors, including Battery Ventures and Redpoint Ventures.

Source:  www.entrepreneur.com

Easy Shortcuts to Make You Smarter

March 15th, 2013 No comments

To run a successful business, your mental fitness is just as important as your bottom line or your marketing plan. It takes work to stay sharp, but learning how to get smarter will make you a more agile, creative business leader.

Intelligence is a use-it-or-lose-it commodity, so exercising your brain needs to be an ongoing effort. “You can’t just play a [brain-training] game for ten minutes and think you’ll be sharper for the rest of your life,” says Susanne Jaeggi, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Michigan. “It takes dedication and practice [to get smarter].”

You may already know about the most effective strategies for improving your brainpower: exercise, low stress, and continued learning. But it’s hard to commit to doing them when your business takes all your time.

Here are three strategies to work brain-boosting activities into your busy schedule:

1. Get a treadmill desk. “The most important thing for maintaining brain function is physical condition,” says Richard Restak, a neuroscientist and author of Think Smart (Riverhead Trade, 2010). If you don’t keep your body healthy, your mind will start to deteriorate.

For many entrepreneurs, busy workdays get in the way of workouts. Instead of trying to juggle both, merge them. Take calls or answer emails on a treadmill desk, bike to off-site meetings, or do jumping jacks while you brainstorm. Not only will you have more energy, your brain will function better — now and in the future.

If you have more time for exercise, try partner dancing (such as salsa or swing) or tennis. Each requires you to make rapid-fire decisions and store a lot of information at once, so they are especially good for your brain.

2. Learn a language on your commute. To get smarter, tax your brain with a challenging task like learning a new language. Work it into a busy schedule by practicing on your commute. (Try Babbel, a free language-learning app for iOS and Andriod.)

If languages aren’t your thing, learn to play chess or a musical instrument, or do a daily crossword. “Any activity that demands high mental capacity will help you improve your general cognitive ability,” says Jaeggi.

According to Jaeggi’s research, you need to practice these activities for at least one month, 20-25 minutes a day, in order to see any real benefit. Just like going to the gym, “the longer you train, the better the outcome,” she says.

3. Meditate whenever you have to wait. “Stress is the biggest peril toward maintaining good brain function,” Restak says. Cortisol, the hormone you release when you’re stressed out, impairs your memory and brain function. Mindfulness, or meditation, helps lower stress, keeping your brain sharp.

Meditate while you wait for water to boil, for a train to arrive, for a meeting to start, or for a doctor to finally see you. It doesn’t require silence or solitude — just mindful attention. Try this online meditation guide to help you get started.
By: NADIA GOODMAN
Source: www.entrepreneur.com

7 Trends in ‘Green’ Business, Not Just for Tree-Huggers

February 22nd, 2013 No comments

Post Superstorm-Sandy, more entrepreneurs are reappraising climate change and taking a closer look at sustainability.

These seven emerging trends in “greening” your business are expected to gain momentum this year, according to the recent “State of Green Business 2013″ report by sustainability strategist Joel Makower and the editors of GreenBiz.com withTrucost, a London-based research firm focusing on environmental resources and sustainability.

1. Businesses are measuring their “natural capital” and factoring it into financial decisions.
Natural capital refers to environmental resources. Consideration of the natural capital that companies consume in the course of doing business — resulting in polluted air and water, extracted nonrenewable resources, or carbon emissions — is moving from university halls to boardrooms. After the Rio+20 United Nations Conference of Sustainable Development, 39 major financial companies primarily from Europe and South America committed to make financial decisions with specific consideration for environmental costs.

2. Risk management has become part of sustainability. 
Droughts, floods, hurricanes and wildfires have wreaked havoc on companies and their supply chains with increasing frequency. For example, Hurricane Sandy cost businesses tens of billions of dollars, the report noted. Climate change has become a top risks to manage for major corporations. The World Economic Forum said in its assessment of global risks in 2012 that “rising greenhouse gas emissions” and the “failure of climate change adaptation” are as potentially dangerous as food shortages and terrorism. Sustainability executives are learning to manage the risk of supply-chain disruptions caused by natural disasters.

3. Financial reports factor in sustainability data. 
More investors want to see environmental costs factored into profit-and-loss statements. “Standalone sustainability reporting may go the way of the rotary-dial phone,” the report says. For example, in 2012, the French company PUMA, which also owns luxury brands including Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, published an Environmental Profit and Loss, or EP&L, statement last year that monetized the costs to the planet caused by its operations and supply chain.

4. Businesses are installing machines that talk to each other. 
It may feel sci-fi, but a growing number of machines can talk to each other via embedded sensors, taking measurements and make decisions. These machines allow corporate facilities to conserve energy by automatically turning on during periods of high demand and automatically powering down when demand is low.

5. Big investors are starting to care. 
Where major investment houses haven’t cared about how environmentally conscious businesses are in the past, major climate disruptions and superstorms have started to shock them into awareness. Increasingly investors are considering how businesses protect against environmental risks. “It’s not yet mainstream, but it’s getting closer,” the report says. Bloomberg terminals, where many investors get financial information, are offering more environmental, social and governance data, called EGS data, and that data are being accessed more by Bloomberg users.

6. Companies are starting to exceed their sustainability goals.
Sustainability experts are watching how companies that meet their goals establish new ones. “Should we celebrate these overachievements or criticize the companies for aiming too low?” the report asks.

7. Sustainability hiring is sliding.
Even as more companies increase their commitment to sustainable practices, the number of corporations hiring sustainability executives peaked in 2008. The reason could be that sustainability practices have become the responsibility of more employees, from the purchasing manager to the facilities crew, the report suggests. It could also just be a natural ebb-and-flow of corporate involvement. “We’ve seen corporate sustainability unfold in waves, with continuing peaks and valleys. We fully expect corporate sustainability, unlike oil, to rebound in the near future,” the report says.

 

 

BY              CATHERINE CLIFFORD
Source :   www.entrepreneur.com

Using Fashion to Make a Statement on Technology

February 8th, 2013 No comments

THE fashion designer Alexander Wang is joining forces with Samsung to create a new print based on doodles, sketches and photographs that are being contributed via smartphone by some of the top names in fashion.

Mr. Wang’s collaborators will participate electronically, sending ideas on Samsung Galaxy Note II smartphones, as inspiration for a one-of-a-kind print that will be used on a limited collection bag. Proceeds from sales of the bag will be donated to a New York art charity for children.

For Mr. Wang, who recently became the creative director of the storied French fashion house Balenciaga, partnering with Samsung “represents a new way that technology and style can come together,” he said in an interview.

In a nearly two-minute video, called “Be Creative,” which was released on Thursday in tandem with the opening of New York Fashion Week, Mr. Wang uses his Galaxy phone to capture ideas on the way from his Soho apartment to his design studio, and then to configure the space where his collection will be shown.

Samsung, which is taking a viral approach and showing the video only on social media, hopes the partnership with Mr. Wang will underscore its message that “technology empowers creativity,” said Christine Cho, director of global marketing for Samsung Electronics, from its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea.

“We thought Alexander Wang would be able to show that,” she said, “because of his passion for experimentation and his on-the-go lifestyle.”

The electronics giant is walking in the footsteps of companies in other industries, like automakers that have allied with luxury-level fashion to distinguish themselves from rivals. To gain notice for the 2013 Chevy Malibu, General Motors, for example, worked with the fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, who created an apparel and accessories collection celebrating the car’s redesign.

“Fashion can be a good way to humanize technology,” said Sabrina Horn, head of the Horn Group, a digital communications agency, who noted that technology companies “often forget to strike that emotional connection with consumers.”

For Samsung, establishing a distinctive identity is critical as it battles its biggest rival, Apple, in the hotly contested mobile devices market. Last year, Samsung shipped 396.5 million mobile phones worldwide, according to a report from the Boston research firm Strategy Analytics. Smartphones earn the most revenue for Samsung, which had more than $143 billion in sales last year. Samsung also sells products like flat screens, chips and microprocessors.

Samsung did not divulge how much it is spending on its partnership with Alexander Wang, but overall, the company spent nearly $212 million on advertising in the first nine months of 2012, according to figures provided by Kantar Media, the WPP unit. Samsung introduced the Galaxy Note II smartphone last year. It is striving to familiarize consumers with its abilities with its new campaign.

“It’s all about association. If Samsung wants to be perceived as hip, cool and cutting edge, it has to have a partner with the same qualities,” Hal Hershfield, assistant professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business, said of Samsung’s alliance with Mr. Wang.

“Like Apple, which has a certain image, both Microsoft — with indie bands — and Samsung with fashion are saying that we can play this game, too,” Mr. Hershfield said.

After the Feb. 23 deadline for submissions from Mr. Wang’s fashion circle — including models, photographers and fashion editors like Vogue’s Sally Singer — Mr. Wang will create a designer print for the limited edition bag. Samsung, an official sponsor of New York Fashion Week, plans to donate the proceeds to Art Start, a New York City nonprofit that provides art workshops for at-risk children ages 5 to 21. Mr. Wang chose the charity.

Samsung has made other forays into the fashion field. Last summer, the company paired with the well-known designer Zac Posen to highlight an earlier Samsung tablet. A video featuring Mr. Posen showed him using his Samsung for notes, draping and creating a gown. He has appeared as a judge on “Project Runway,” the Lifetime Television show whose sponsor, Hewlett-Packard, provided touch-enabled screens for fledgling designers to create original patterns.

Samsung’s current pairing, with Mr. Wang, allies it with a young designer who created his own fashion label and entered fashion’s top ranks when he won the prestigious CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award in 2008. In his video, filmed by Matt Bieler, a director for Serial Pictures, the boyish Mr. Wang collects ideas, designs and makes business preparations for his Fashion Week show.

“With a little multitasking, I can keep it all together,” he says in the video, where he uses the stylus to write notes and create drawings. “It’s not just the clothes. It all makes up the bigger picture.”

When he arrives at the Cunard Building in Lower Manhattan, the 1921 Art Deco edifice that once housed the passenger shipping company, to plan his Fashion Week showing, he sketches out the seating, lighting and runway placement on his Galaxy. Then, using the device’s file-sharing software, he taps his phone to an assistant’s to instantly transmit his plan.

“When I see something that inspires me, I don’t have to wait until I get home or to my office to sketch it.” Mr. Wang said. “I can do it on the spot,” he added, “which is helpful because I have the worst memory.”

 

Source: www.nytimes.com

BlackBerry’s New OS, Smartphones: What’s in it for Business Users?

January 31st, 2013 No comments

Research in Motion, the Waterloo, Ontario-based maker the BlackBerry line of mobile devices, unveiled its long-delayed, revamped smartphone operating system called BB10 today. It also announced two new BlackBerry smartphones that run this OS: the Z10 (which has a 4.2-inch touchscreen) and the Q10 (with a physical keyboard).

For those who are keeping notes, Research in Motion also officially changed its company’s name to BlackBerry. 

The BB10 OS offers some intriguing features — for users of the touchscreen model, at least. But some big questions remain for people who are deciding whether to buy BB10 devices.

A few of the interesting new features for business owners are:

BlackBerry Hub.
This is an inbox on steroids, integrating inbound messages, to-do list items, social media, events and more in one interface. It can be accessed with one swipe from any app. Individual items in the Hub can be acted upon (forwarded, deleted, etc.) again with one or two swipes. When in the Hub, you can do things like create an event that gets added to your calendar, or send a tweet, without directly opening your calendar or Twitter app.

Touchscreen-friendly typing and user interface.
BlackBerry is trying to improve on common usability complaints about using touchscreens through BB10 features such as using a flicking gesture to toss words from the keyboard to the text entry field. CEO Thorsten Heins called this “writing without typing” — which is a great idea, as long as the results are fairly accurate.

Almost all BB10 functionality — such as switching between apps and taking a note — is swipe-based, making one-handed, even one-thumbed, operation easy.

Screen sharing from BlackBerry messenger.
The revamped BlackBerry Messenger service allows video calling. But probably more important for business users is screen sharing from one phone to another. This would allow you, for instance, to show a colleague a document you’re discussing on a call. But Messenger only works between BlackBerry users. Skype, which offers mobile video calling, has committed to being on BB10.

Security and profiles.
A part of BB10 called “Balance” makes it easy to create, customize, and switch between “work” and “personal” user profiles, each with different apps and security settings. For enterprise users, the employer can control the “work” profile but not the personal profile.

And, yet, some major questions remain:

What are the costs and availability?
Neither phone is available yet in the U.S. or Canada, although it will be available this week from a few European carriers. Canadian availability is expected by February 5. U.S. availability is expected sometime in March and major U.S. carriers are expected to announce pricing and availability dates soon.

Pricing for the Z10 was said to be $149 on contract. Monthly plans will be available from some carriers.

How well will BB10 work on the Q10?
Many BlackBerry users love having a physical keyboard. In the launch event, BlackBerry executives demoed many BB10 features — but only on the Z10 touchscreen model. Obviously, swipe-based features would not work on a non-touchscreen phone.

What about maps and navigation?
These are key features for business users, but they weren’t mentioned or demoed in the launch event. Given Apple’s recent blunders with maps on iOS, this would be something users would want to try out before buying.

BY AMY GAHRANSource:  www.entrepreneur.com

Incubator Helps Online Social-Recruitment Tool Take Off

January 23rd, 2013 No comments

The startup: RolePoint, an enterprise-level social-recruitment platform that helps companies find new talent through recommendations from current employees. The startup graduated in May 2012 from San Francisco accelerator AngelPad, which works mainly with web technology companies. AngelPad runs two sessions per year and accepts about 12 startups to each; the most recent program drew some 2,000 applicants.

What it is: While working for a large investment bank in London, Chris Le Breton received an e-mail from a colleague seeking referrals for a new hire. Numerous messages on the subject went around internally, sparking Le Breton’s “aha” moment: Companies aren’t efficiently leveraging their own employee networks to fill job openings.

“Referrals are valued beyond any other hire in companies, and really not much work has been done around that to help the process or help people internally hire for their companies,” says Le Breton, who now serves as RolePoint’s CEO.

With RolePoint, companies circumvent time-consuming or expensive methods like recruitment agencies or traditional direct hiring. Instead, the online platform taps a company’s employees to find candidates within their professional networks and refer them to the hiring manager.

Getting in: AngelPad was intrigued by RolePoint’s technology and capacity for strong leadership among its four U.K.-based founders, but in large part the startup was accepted for what wasn’t there. “We saw an incredible raw potential, and a big part of what was missing was this understanding of how to focus on building a really large company,” says Thomas Korte, the AngelPad founder who mentored the RolePoint team. “Oftentimes for companies that have come from anywhere but Silicon Valley, business is very different. In the U.K., for example, there’s a big focus on revenue very early, so it doesn’t help founders look at the really big picture. [With RolePoint] we saw that if we help them see what they can do with this, it can be so much bigger.”

The goods: AngelPad’s 10-week program focuses on product development and market fit prior to launch, as well as fundraising. The small program’s attention to detail was a draw for RolePoint. Le Breton appreciated the “focus on the quality rather than quantity,” adding that many accelerators just push a gaggle of companies through and hope one takes off.

Lessons learned: Make sure your concept or company aims to solve a well-defined need or problem. “Be very clear on the value you’re adding from day one,” says Kes Thygesen, co-founder and head of product for RolePoint, which has relocated to Silicon Valley since completing the AngelPad program. “Really understand why a company would pay money for this; then you can concentrate on building a solution and validating that solution.”

Adds Le Breton: “Demonstrate traction in the early stages, even if it’s on a very small scale, and then let the investors extrapolate that.”

Looking ahead: RolePoint closed a large seed round from Silicon Valley investors last October, and is working on scaling up the team and product.

By Michelle Juergen
Source: www.entrepreneur.com

Digg Founder: Trust Your Gut. Always

January 18th, 2013 No comments

Fear almost prevented Kevin Rose from starting Digg. Now, as a partner at Google Ventures, Rose advises other entrepreneurs on conquering the fear of failure.

 

The fear of inadequacy almost prevented Kevin Rose from starting Digg, a social news site that, at its peak, attracted 38 million unique visitors a month (and landed Rose on the cover of Inc. magazine). Though Digg’s popularity eventually waned, Rose went on to launch other companies, including Revision 3, an online video company he sold to Discovery Channel, and Milk, a mobile development lab that Google acquired last year. Now, as a partner at Google Ventures, Rose advises other entrepreneurs on conquering the fear of failure. –As told to Issie Lapowsky

Back in 2003, I was hosting a cable television show, The Screen Savers on TechTV. It was a pretty geeky show focused on tech, everything from reviewing the latest software to talking about motherboards.

Because we were based in San Francisco, we were able to get some really influential founders on the show, including Steve Wozniak and Stan Lee. I was a geek in my early 20s, and I would get so nervous. These guys were larger than life to me. My palms would be sweaty. My heart would race.

The turning point for me–what made me stop being so nervous–was when I realized that these guys were just real people who decided to pursue their own passions. Something flipped in their brains, and they said, “You know what? I don’t have to work for someone else. I can go do this myself.”

Because of that realization, I decided to try to create this social news site I’d been thinking about for a few months. In 2004, I quit my job to work on Digg. My parents were pretty pissed off that I was leaving hosting a national television show.

Trusting myself was still a challenge, even while building Digg. As a result, one big mistake I made was giving away a lot of control rather than figuring things out on my own. I hired a CEO in the first six months, and started bringing in outsiders to take over the pieces of the business that I was unfamiliar with. Because I wasn’t formally trained in business, I felt like I needed to hand responsibility off to someone else. I learned a lot from these people, but if I could do it again, I would have taken the Zuckerberg approach: If you don’t understand something, you don’t hand it off. You surround yourself with people who can bring you up to speed.

There are a couple of types of founders I meet with on a daily basis now that I’m at Google Ventures. Some of them have already started. They’re raising money, they have a technical team identified, and they’ve made the leap of faith.

Then there’s a whole other breed of people waiting in the wings. These are the people I meet who come up to me at conferences, looking for validation. If there’s any piece of advice that I have, it’s that if you have an itch you need to scratch, something you feel needs fixing, no one else is going to build it for you. You shouldn’t look to someone else for validation. You have to really believe in yourself and know that, worst-case scenario, if it doesn’t work out, you still built something really cool.

Source: http://www.inc.com

The fresh approach to keeping deliveries like clockwork

January 10th, 2013 No comments

Covered in colourful close up photos of mouth-watering fruit and vegetables, you can’t miss the hundreds of Fresh Direct trucks that weave their way, one stop at a time, through countless New York neighbourhoods.

Even residents high up, without the energy or inclination to wander over to a window, know when a Fresh Direct vehicle is nearby.

The slow purr of the refrigerator motor is a well known noise to New Yorkers, with the same recognition factor as taxi horns and automated bus announcements.

Started in 2003 when the dot-com crash was still a recent memory, it is an online only delivery service where customers can order fresh produce and groceries from a mobile app or desktop PC and see it at their doorstep the next day within a two hour window of their choice.

Founder and chief executive Jason Ackerman, part-foodie, part-logistics expert got his inspiration from Michael Dell who re-invented the way computers were made and shipped in record time.

Fresh Direct is similar – the food makes its way from the farm to the warehouse facility, stands still barely long enough to be put into a box and from there is driven to the customer’s doorstep.

As a start-up the drivers and managers communicated with walkie-talkie radios. Now it’s a lot different, says Mr Ackerman.

“During our launch phase we were delivering to a whopping 20 customers.

“It was the world’s largest bodega. So we had a huge facility and a tiny amount of orders. But now we deliver about 12,000-plus deliveries during one single day.”

Human voice

Over the past 10 years the technology involved in keeping the supply chain moving has improved dramatically.

But perhaps surprisingly for such a complex operation which delivers about $6.5m (£4m) of food per day, no vehicle or driver is outfitted with GPS. They have found a better system.

Fresh Direct van, food conservation

When each team leaves the depot for an eight hour shift, they are clutching a printed itinerary and a handheld scanner.

As deliveries are made they are scanned. Any deviation of more than a few minutes sets off an alarm back at the operations desk, and a human voice calls up the driver wanting to know why there is a delay.

Maybe it’s road work, maybe a building elevator is broken requiring a long slog up some very steep steps, maybe a overworked doorman took his time notifying a resident.

Whatever the cause and its likely duration, which could be seconds or years, it’s added into the Fresh Direct dynamic software program that boasts a 98% success rate for directing all deliveries to a smooth conclusion within two hour windows, scheduled anytime between 6am and 11pm, seven days a week.

It turns out at least for now, people are a lot more reliable and detail orientated than a GPS chip.

But Mr Ackerman is always trying to seek out more sophisticated software and hardware solutions capable of calculating advanced algorithms that produce even more accurate delivery times and which can handle constantly changing traffic and weather patterns.

Ironically the idea is that the more technology can be used at each step in the process, the less the end customer should know about it.

Mr Ackerman admits that most consumers only start to think about such things when there’s a problem.

“Where we have really applied the technology is our ability to see everything that the customer sees in real time so our ability to control the experience is so much more than it ever was.

“This food is a trust brand. People expect the quality that they want, the condition of the product to be excellent, the accuracy of the product, the on-time delivery etcetera.

“We had to pick it out better than they could, so all these aspects get fed into our incredibly complex information systems.”

Complaints logged online by customers also get fed into the system and are tracked back at base which can have an immediate effect on the supply chain.

If numerous customers object to the taste of a bag of apples for example, the supplier can be notified within minutes.

City challenges

Such a speedy, effective and efficient result is much less likely in a supermarket scenario where people often don’t bother to return bad food or even contact the company once they are home.

It’s taken Mr Ackerman almost 10 years to branch out.

He’s watched other delivery services expand and implode within weeks, taking millions of dollars down with them. So he is not in any hurry.

It was brutally hard to open a delivery service in Philadelphia it turned out – because the supply chain and customer base had to be built from scratch. Every city is different and comes with its own set of challenges.

All orders, no matter the destination, currently have to be placed at least one day before delivery to take advantage of the economies associated with batching orders together in an industry where margins are notoriously thin.

But Mr Ackerman is already working on the next phase of Fresh Direct – same day delivery. For many companies like Amazon this is the final frontier, but it will not be easy.

Mr Ackerman believes that realistically it can’t be done with the same kind of resources and algorithms used in the existing business model, so it will require a whole new approach.

But as third party data streams containing valuable information like weather and traffic get better and better, online delivery can only become more and more accurate.

 By Ian Hardy
Source:  http://www.bbc.co.uk

Ginni Rometty on the woman behind the Most Powerful Woman

October 29th, 2012 No comments

Ginni Rometty, CEO and now Chairman of IBM, is Fortune’s 2012 Most Powerful Woman. But like many of the people on that list, there was an even more powerful woman behind her mom.

Goldman Sachs' Lloyd Blankfein, IBM's Ginni Rometty and Fortune's Andy Serwer backstage at MPW.

Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein, IBM’s Ginni Rometty and Fortune’s Andy Serwer backstage at MPW.

A single mother who hadn’t finished college, and struggled to raise four children, Rometty’s mom led by example. “Mom taught us by her actions,” she said, about watching her work at night so she could go to school by day. “What she taught us she never said. Actions speak louder than words and to this day I think about that. Also, I learned that nothing’s insurmountable. I will be forever grateful to her.”

Asked by Fortune Senior Writer Jessi Hempel to reflect on her first year at the helm, Rometty called it “humbling,” but says she’s been able to crystallize how she sees the long-term—which for a company like IBM (IBM), means a very long time indeed. “I believe that the idea of strategic beliefs may be more important than strategic planning when thinking about how you keep the long view,” she said. “Clients say what’s your strategy, and I say, ask me what I believe first. That’s a far more enduring answer.”

One thing she believes strongly is that we are entering a new era of cognitive computing. The first era of computing was about tabulating, followed by the era of programming. “In this third era,” Rometty says, “you won’t be able to program a machine for everything it should know. These machines will have to learn what is right and what is wrong. That’s cognitive.”

The best example of this era is IBM’s own Watson, the Jeopardy-playing computer that became a global celebrity last year. So what’s Watson doing now? “Going to medical school,” says Rometty, who says that the computer has, amazingly, “ingested 80% of the world’s medical data.” Starting with oncology, Watson is now actually able to consult with doctors on making diagnoses. “It’s almost as if he’s talking to a colleague,” says Rometty. “We shouldn’t even call it a machine.”

For now, Rometty has 400,000 employees to manage. One wonders after hearing about Watson, how many of them will be human beings in the years to come.


 By Jennifer Reingold
Source: http://management.fortune.cnn.com 

Serial Entrepreneur Gurbaksh Chahal on Finding the Courage to Start a Business

October 28th, 2012 No comments

Fear is your worst enemy – risk is your best friend. The best thing about the unknown is the meaning itself: If success were guaranteed, the journey wouldn’t be the same. And the journey is actually what inspires and shapes us to understand that success isn’t supposed to be easy, it’s supposed to be worth it.

gurbaksh-chahal-on-finding-courage

At 16, when I became an entrepreneur, I didn’t really grasp the meaning of fear. But, over time I acknowledged it as an entrepreneur’s worst enemy. The truth is you don’t know if you’ll be successful. But if you consume yourself with thoughts of failure, you’ve already lost without even trying.

I know too many people who have big ideas and big dreams, but are stuck in fear or the dream itself. Don’t get caught in that trap. The only way to achieve your dreams is by actually doing something about them. Decide whether you want to be a doer or just a dreamer. Start by spending 100 percent of your energy on just doing something – taking that first step. The natural byproduct of that is you’ll be on your way to step two.

Next, the most important thing you’ll need to conquer your fears is passion. Without passion the first step will always be a daunting one. I’ve found that positive energy leads to positive outcomes. When I was starting out, I researched the advertising and media space and started building something almost immediately that I thought would be attractive to advertisers.

Thomas Edison didn’t get the light bulb right on his first try, and chances are you won’t build the next great company or product on your first try either. But Edison ultimately achieved success by rapidly iterating and trying lots of ideas. You can start by building something small as a test to see if it gains traction.

When I started ClickAgents, I tried a lot of ideas and pitched them to people in the marketplace. I used the external feedback to validate the ideas that were working and quickly improve them. The ones that were not getting good feedback were pushed aside. One of the lessons from iteration is to keep moving ahead quickly, even when the idea is not perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect product or perfect decision. However, speed in decision making and product iteration is as close to perfection as we will get.

Finally, be ready to jump in with both feet. Many people believe they can take that entrepreneurial leap and still keep their day job, but would you be happy if you achieved only 50 percent of your goal — half a dream? If you don’t go all in and let your intuition guide you on which risks to take, then I say don’t go in at all. It’s all or nothing. The road to success can be described as a painful journey with the highest reward. It’s never easy, but it’s always worth it.

 

BY GURBAKSH CHAHAL
Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com 

How to Analyze Your Business Expenses

September 26th, 2012 No comments

Q: What are the best strategies for analyzing expenses in my business?

A: While analyzing expense trends is vitally important, I have to first ask if you, the business owner, are the most qualified person to do this task. What’s important here are the answers, not the time spent analyzing expenses.

If you have a CFO, he or she should already be doing this analysis for you. And a really good controller will be proactive about doing this kind of work. Bear in mind, however, that it’s beyond the skills and experience of most bookkeepers.

That said, I understand the entrepreneurial drive to try to find the answers. So if you’re going to go it alone, or you just want to understand what your CFO or controller should be doing, here’s a step-by-step plan.

Analyze the income statement.
For every line item in the operating expenses, calculate the dollar amounts and percentages of revenue. Your accounting reporting software (such as QuickBooks) should be able to spit out reports like this very easily. Compare the numbers to last month, the last three months, the average of the last three months (called “rolling average”), average year-to-date and the same month last year.

Next, examine the “why” behind the numbers. I had a client whose parking-ticket fines for his delivery trucks jumped significantly compared to the last quarter and last year, and it was killing revenue. Turns out the city had tightened its enforcement. We shifted the delivery schedules and hired a ticket-fighting service that more than paid for itself.

Compare “actuals” to budgets.
One of the most important financial management exercises is the creation and use of a budget–the examination of all your expenses and estimation of what they will be next year. This will automatically get you thinking of the drivers behind each expense. And don’t worry, your estimates will nearly always be off-target, but if you understand why a line item is going considerably over budget, you’ll know what to fix and how.

Use a dashboard.
Boil down your actuals to the absolutely most significant numbers and trends (profits, expenses, revenue, cash flow, etc.) and compile them into an easy-to-read dashboard. There are dashboard programs available for businesses of all shapes and sizes that can extract the data from your bookkeeping software and post the numbers automatically. This will allow you and the management team to instantly spot trends and problems on a weekly–or even daily–basis. These are your business’s vital signs and, good or bad, knowing them will help you sleep better. Trust me.

Make industry comparisons.
Reliable and relevant industry numbers can be hard for a single business owner to come by without spending a good chunk of money, but they’re critical to running a smart business. I used a commercial service called ProfitCents by Sageworks to work with an owner who initially thought his sales expenses were very low. But ProfitCents said they were double his industry average. Consequently, he reorganized his sales department and was able to save more than $100,000 per year.

Lacking that, try industry trade associations for any data, such as expense ratios, and ask other local businesses that are roughly the same size as yours–not competitors–to share their expense data. You’ll get a good idea of the costs for rents, salaries and other services in your geographic location.

 

BY JOE WORTH
Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com

College Students Who Pivoted Into Entrepreneurship

September 18th, 2012 No comments

To succeed as an entrepreneur, you occasionally have to be willing to give up something good for something great. Austin Hackett was halfway through a medical degree at Columbia University in New York when he decided to devote himself fulltime to his startup discussion platform, CrowdHall.

Austin Hackett (pictured center) was a medical student at Columbia University when he decided to startup instead.

His mother was supportive, but his father had doubts. Wouldn’t it be better, his father asked, to complete the medical degree before risking his future? Although Hackett was interested in helping people, he knew then that the physician’s life wasn’t for him.

“I was always more drawn to creative problem solving,” says the 27-year-old Hackett, who now lives in Cincinnati. “Medicine doesn’t really have creative problem solving. It has prescriptive problem solving. It didn’t really excite me.”

For Hackett and many more young people like him, it’s painful to discover that the decisions made as a 17- or 18-year-old college student don’t always continue to ring true at 21 or even 27 years old. But what do you do? Stick it out in a career that’s not your dream or pursue your real passions instead?

Related: Thinking of Majoring in Entrepreneurship? Read This First

That’s a question serial entrepreneur and Brown University entrepreneurship professor Danny Warshay often helps his current students and new grads grapple with. Students have considerably more options than they realize, he says. But too often they narrow their choices before performing a true self-assessment and figuring out where their passions lie. “Unfortunately, many of them end up unhappy and come back to me for guidance,” adds Warshay.

To prevent this fate, Hackett turned to more creative pursuits. He is creating a communications platform that he claims will be especially useful to celebrities and politicians.

On CrowdHall, users can create individual profile pages, called “halls,” and followers can post questions to them. The entire audience has the ability to vote on which questions they would most like answered. You can check your hall on a regular basis to answer the top questions, and the answers will be sent out to those who voted and archived in the hall for everyone to read.

Hackett and his co-founder Jordan Menzel have already made some progress. After selling an early CrowdHall prototype to the U.S. Agency for International Development, the founders are planning a soft launch of the full platform this month. The site will also host the Columbia University Earth Institute’s State of the Planet conference in October.

Related: 5 Ways to Land Press for Your Startup From Your Dorm Room

Like many entrepreneurs who’ve transitioned into business from alternative career paths, Hackett says his previous experience has been an asset. Being a doctor, he says, is about “trying to understand patients and letting them feel like they have a voice that matters. And that’s exactly the thing we’re trying to do with CrowdHall. Every person has a voice that matters and they have an opportunity to be heard in the wider public space.”

Perhaps the most important catalyst to pivoting away from a college major or first job is finding a need that you connect with. Just ask Julie Sygiel.

Julie Sygiel

Julie Sygiel (in Blue) turned her chemical engineering background into a business.

In 2008, Sygiel was a junior at Brown University studying chemical engineering. But after taking Warshay’s entrepreneurship course, she realized her true vocation. During the class, she and two classmates were tasked with creating a business idea that solved an everyday problem. The problem Sygiel’s group picked: accidents that befall women during menstruation. And the idea, which would eventually become Underbrella, was a line of high-tech undergarments in breathable fabric with a thin, leak-resistant layer.

Related: 7 Paybacks an Alma Mater Can Offer Young Entrepreneurs

Upon graduation, Sygiel started up the company, which the now 24-year-old says will hold its first preview sale on its website in October. Soon after, the line will be available in at least 16 boutiques across the country as well as on ActivewearUSA.

Although Sygiel once considered going into food science or the cosmetics industry, she now says she doesn’t think she’ll ever work as an engineer.

“You’re going to be way more successful doing something that you love,” she says. “Sure, there are going to be hard days. But don’t settle if you’re not really happy doing what you majored in.”

 

BY BRIAN PATRICK EHA
Source: www.entrepreneur.com

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg admits disappointment in shares but hints at new products

September 14th, 2012 No comments

Facebook Inc. chief executive Mark Zuckerberg admits to being disappointed about his company’s crumbling share price, but argued that Wall Street did not yet grasp the full long-term potential of its slow-growing mobile business.

facebook sardi innovation

In his first major public appearance since the No. 1 social network’s rocky May IPO, Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg soothed investors by hinting at new growth areas from mobile to search.

The chief executive, who has himself lost billions of dollars on paper since Facebook’s market debut, admitted to disappointment about his company’s crumbling share price, but argued Wall Street has yet to grasp the full potential of its fledgling mobile business.

Speaking at theTechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, the 28-year-old co-founder looked confident in a gray T-shirt and jeans as he hinted that the company was “halfway through” a cycle to “retool” and offer new advertising products.

His delivery helped drive Facebook shares up more than 3 percent after hours to above $20, building on a 3.3 percent gain in regular trade on Tuesday.

Facebook became the first U.S. company to debut on stock markets with a value of more than $100 billion. But it has since lost more than half of its capitalization as investors fret about slowing growth.

 

Source: www.telegraph.co.uk

The Vince McMahon School of Productivity

September 13th, 2012 No comments

As the chairman and chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), Vince McMahon, 66, oversees a global professional wrestling empire with programming in 145 countries. After almost singlehandedly redefining both “wrestling” and “entertainment” in the 1980s, McMahon has successfully steered the company—which has launched the careers of every buff, bold-faced wrestler from Hulk Hogan to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson—through steroid scandals and even severe miscalculations such as the XFL. Around the ring, though, business continues to boom. In 2011, the company brought in $483.9 million in revenue. As WWE prepares to celebrate the 1,000th episode of its flagship program,Monday Night Raw, Bloomberg Businessweek asked McMahon for his managerial secrets to success.

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Chairman Vince McMahon

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Chairman Vince McMahon is introduced during the WWE Monday Night Raw show at the Thomas and Mack Center

 

Listen to Your Employees—and Yourself

“You can’t say, ‘Go do so-and-so,’ unless you’re willing to do it. You can’t ask someone to put in a zillion hours unless you’re willing to go do it. You can’t ask anyone to have a passion for a product unless you have it. Listening is a lost art. I have a unique ability to listen to myself as I’m talking. That’s somewhat unique, but I think that to listen is to learn. I think some of things begin from a natural standpoint, and you’ve got to work at them. You’ve got to let it evolve.”

Treat Every Day Like Day One

“Once you make a decision, you go with it, and everyone gets behind it. There’s no second-guessing. One of my expressions is, ‘First day on the job.’ That’s the way I like our executives to look at our business every day and what they do. When you do that, then it either confirms that what you did yesterday is the right way—or it’s, like, ‘Ooh, now that I have this new information. … There’s this new form of media, there’s a new way of thinking of things, you know, or I read a book last night, I read something in the newspaper ….’ Bringing that degree of intelligence and flexibility into the organization is very, very important.”

Don’t Cultivate Fear

“Certainly the best way to fail in management [is to be distant and imperious]. You shut people down. If you have all the answers, why is anyone around you? If your ego is so big, then there’s no room for anyone else’s. The fear stuff—that is so rotten. You have to earn everyone’s respect. I have to do it every day. Sometimes I leave the office and I feel great. In military terms, I’ve got ‘scrambled eggs on my cap.’ I’ve got medals dripping off my chest. When I wake up in the morning, they’re all gone. You have to earn everyone’s respect in business every day.”

Clear Your Head and Find Your Zone

“I average about four hours of sleep. I don’t like to sleep. I’m missing something when I’m sleeping. From a personal standpoint, I’m aggressive by nature and I’m truculent by nature. So I need to have a socially acceptable outlet for that. That would be bodybuilding. I enjoy that. It’s a challenge to be stronger. I get a lot of enjoyment by training. Nutrition goes with it. I train for my head—not my body. The ancillary benefits are that I’m healthy as a horse. It really does clear my head. It’s an opportunity to wash anything from my head, business-wise or personal. That’s my moment when I can get into a zone.”

Don’t Settle for BS Answers When Interviewing Job Candidates

“My first question is: Why do you want to work with WWE? They don’t have to know WWE, by the way. They don’t have to be fans. Sometimes that gets in the way. If they give me a boilerplate answer, I look at them and I say, ‘That’s a boilerplate answer. It’s not what I’m looking for.’ I’m very straightforward and very honest with people. That’s what I want back. Don’t tell how to make the watch—tell me what time it is. Be honest. It cuts through a lot of crap. People know where they stand. They know where you stand. Life becomes a lot easier.”

Complacency Is Your Worst Enemy

“Indecision ticks me off, but complacency would be the biggest thing. I don’t take anything for granted. There’s no entitlement. I’m not entitled to take my next breath. I will never be complacent. If I climb a mountain, I want to see the next highest peak. Encourage employees by giving them other opportunities. I think if you see complacency, you say from an HR standpoint, ‘We find that you’re becoming complacent.’ So as a quality I don’t like, that’s strike one. Strike two is if they can’t change—if they can’t look at it as the first day on the job. Sometimes people need a kick in the butt for themselves—personally or professionally. Strike three is when it doesn’t work.”

 

By Keenan Mayo

Source: www.businessweek.com

Jack Hitt Examines Why Amateurs Are the Job Creators

September 12th, 2012 No comments

Forget Wall Street types—they don’t create jobs, not like startups and backyard inventors do. This American Life’s Jack Hitt, author of Bunch of Amateurs, says dorm-room innovators can save America


After getting ticked that her dying computer battery required a tangle of plugs and wires, a 22-year-old college student named Meredith Perry decided she’d poke around the subject to find out why wireless hadn’t made the leap to electricity. It’s the classic amateur move, and the story feels vaguely familiar, right? Because you know where it’s going: this paleobiology student, who was interning at NASA not long ago, is now the CEO of uBeam, a company poised to revolutionize life in the digital sphere.

But it’s the details of Perry’s success that make the story. Once seized with a desire to know why, in a world of remote control and Wi-Fi, we were still worrying about wires and adaptor bricks, she repaired to that authoritative source of inspiration: Wikipedia. Her investigations led one way or another but often to experts who told her that it was all too complicated and that the physics made it impossible.

 

Perry now gives TedxTalks about innovation and gumption, dissing the old guard’s boxed-in mentality. Turns out, those Wiki entries were enough for her to link two well-known technologies. Piezoelectricity is a form of power that is recharged through slight motion. So, Perry thought, forget about the difficulty of sending standard electricity through the air, why not send ultrasound waves—humans can’t hear or feel them—across a room to a piezoelectric battery?

 

Funding is now gathering behind uBeam. And should the startup deliver on this idea’s promise, next year we’ll all be tossing out the name “Meredith Perry” the way we currently sling “Mark Zuckerberg.”

 

The emergence of new startups and the reappearance of the backyard (or dorm-room) inventor is no real mystery. The era of the amateur typically revives right around the time it’s declared by conventional wisdom to be over. Our time, people breezily insist, is too complicated, too confusing, too corporate, too professional, too specialized for there to be any real amateur pursuits. And then, one day, that no longer seems to be true. A “maker” movement arises and flourishes, and DIY shops and labs pop up across the country.

Economic slumps and burst bubbles also help. It might just be random chance that when David Packard tinkered in a Palo Alto garage with William Hewlett in 1938, it was the height of the Great Depression. That garage was recently designated a Registered National Landmark. Why? Because in a country of backyard inventors, that’s the location of a lot of American ingenuity.

It might also be more random chance that the two Steves, Jobs and Wozniak, holed up in a Cupertino garage during the stagflationary mid-’70s until they emerged with the first modern desktop. But probably not. The economy matters. These days, the Internet seems almost to have sped up the process, so in the future it might be a few dorm rooms that become registered landmarks.
amateur create the job CEO

Meredith Perry, the Founder and CEO of uBeam, speaks at this year’s TED Conference in Nashville.

An amateur revival is on the way, in part not just because the current generation is learning the hard way that necessity is the mother of invention, but also because that’s how it typically happens here. In recent years, Wall Street investors have managed to flatter themselves with talk of being “job creators” and “risk takers.” But that’s ridiculous. By their own admission, they’re in the exact opposite business. The entire phylum of what they do is called “hedging risk,” not diving into it. And the recent rise of the phrase “job creators” is a bit of Frank Luntz jibber jabber meant to neutralize a lot of populist talk about “the rich.”

 

Refusing to join in the general flattery of big money these days is itself the real risk. Ask Nick Hanauer, an Amazon investor. He’s the guy who gave a Ted Talk recently that was so controversial the Ted commissariat refused to post it online until public pressure forced them to relent. Hanauer had found the one idea that Ted was afraid to spread, because, as curator Chris Anderson explained, “it would be unquestionably regarded as out and out political.” Hanauer’s treachery was not that he talked about income inequality, his stated subject. The entire nation has been openly discussing that subject ever since the Occupy Wall Street dude walked into a public park. Here’s the real treason that dinged Hanauer as a Ted-sanctioned talker: “Rich businesspeople like me don’t create jobs.”


By  Jack Hitt

Source: http://www.thedailybeast.com

Square CEO Jack Dorsey: I never wanted to be an entrepreneur

September 10th, 2012 No comments

SAN FRANCISCO — Startup lightening struck twice for Jack Dorsey: He’s a cofounder of Twitter and the creator and CEO of payments venture Square. Both companies now have multi-billion-dollar valuations, putting Dorsey in the rare pantheon of serial entrepreneurs with multiple home runs.

It’s a role that wasn’t originally on his radar, Dorsey said Monday in a talk at TechCrunch Disrupt. He wanted to be actor Bruce Lee, he quipped.

Jack Dorsey twitter founder square ceo

Jack Dorsey

Dorsey’s talk was light on specifics — he offered no new details on how things are going at Square or Twitter — and heavy on inspiration. Now a top executive at two of Silicon Valley’s most buzzed-about ventures, Dorsey spoke about his twisty journey to the business world’s peak.

“I wanted to be a sailor, to explore and experience the world,” he said of his early career visions. “I wanted to be an artist, specifically a surrealist — my favorites because they see the world in a very, very different way.”

Dorsey, who taught himself how to program at 15 and was inspired to build Twitter by his obsession with maps and data, outlined his philosophy of entrepreneurship to an audience packed with founders and investors.

“A founder is not a job,” he said. “It’s a role, it’s an attitude and it’s something that can happen again and again and again.”

One of Dorsey’s core beliefs is that “life happens in intersections.” Another is that developers should be building technology that will eventually disappear as it integrates into peoples’ lives.

Dorsey’s two businesses take aim at giant industries: Twitter is a top player in the social networking field, while Square hopes to reinvent the entire payments market. He encouraged other founders to stop nibbling around the margins and swing big.

“We don’t want disruption where we just move things around,” he said. “Speeches will not disrupt.”

In fact, he’d like to see the entire word tossed out of the tech lexicon.

“I think we have to change the name of this conference,” Dorsey announced from the stage.

Disruption is “like an earthquake,” he said: “It has no values, it has no organizing principles, it has no direction and it has no leadership.”

 

That’s not what the tech industry should be aiming for, he thinks.

“What we want to bring into the world is revolution. Revolution has values, revolution has purpose, revolution has direction, revolution has leaders,” Dorsey said. “Revolution looks at the intersection ahead and pushes people to do the right thing.”

His advice: “Pick a movement, pick a revolution and join it.”

By Laurie Segall
Source:  http://money.cnn.com/

Steve Bachmann, Vinfolio

September 10th, 2012 No comments

Five years ago, Steve Bachmann abandoned his 17-year career in investment banking to open an online shop for devoted wine collectors. Bachmann himself was no stranger to fine wine — at the time, his personal collection was in the thousands.Steve Bachmann wine worldwide

Bachmann’s vision was to tailor a one-stop solution for aficionados within a field whose existing services he saw as rather fragmented. “We wanted to streamline the process,” he says. “People always get excited when they find out the scope of what we do.” The website goes beyond a typical wine store by providing expert information, community functions, and access to other members’ private collections.

Bachmann knows that investing in fine wine often requires selling as well as buying, so it’s not uncommon for him to purchase new varieties from his customers’ collections. In total, Vinfolio purchases 70 percent of its inventory from private collectors. Vinfolio’s own collection-management software called VinCellar is another way to attract wine-minded Web surfers and keep them coming back to the site (32,000 users are currently registered to the service).

So far, the strategy is working. Last year’s sales totaled more than $14 million, and this year, the company expects to break $30 million. A Hong Kong office, set to open in the fall, will tap into the growing Asian wine buyers’ market.

vinfolio wine “The VinCellar software is something that wine collectors and enthusiasts can visit every day, so it helps us create a shared mind with them, and gives us an opportunity to educate them about the wine they own,” Bachmann says.

To help promote his company as a veritable voice of authority in all things wine, Bachmann also hosts three blogs on the Vinfolio site. One is devoted to California wine, one to staff picks, and one to his own thoughts on the industry. Besides enabling a sense of community, the blog lets Bachmann view his own work from an analytical level, outside of the daily frenzy of running a business, he says.

 

Ana Patricia and Laura Palotie
Source: http://www.inc.com

Inventor Steve Katsaros Brings Light To Off-Grid Communites

September 7th, 2012 No comments

steve katsaros

Inventor Steve Katsaros created Nokero, a solar light bulb designed to provide light to 1.6 billion people in the world that lack access to electricity.

 

Launched in June of 2010, the Nokero bulb combines the best in solar and LED technology to create a superior, yet affordable, solar light. It’s made to last. The clear globe is made from the same shatter-resistant polycarbonate used in car headlights, and its high-temperature battery ensures it will charge efficiently even in the world’s hottest weather.

Steve Katsaros ecological lamp light no kerosene

 

Nokero has the potential to be a powerful tool to government and non-governmental organizations to bring disaster

 

relief in times of calamity, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters, when light is often needed most.

 

Nokero can be used in the home as well. It can be hung on an outdoor patio, soaking up light during the day and providing soothing light in the evening. It can also be used in classroom education, camping, in backyards, or in any ways in which traditional lighting is currently employed.

 kenya nokero

Steve Katsaros founded Nokero (short for No Kerosene) in June 2010, a for-profit company that designs affordable solar technology solutions expressly for poor, off-grid communities around the world. Katsaros’ goal has been to develop safe, affordable and environmentally friendly technology that eliminates the need for harmful and polluting fuels.

 

by ANDREW KRAUSS
Source:  http://inventornotes.com/

Entrepreneurs Should Take Advice from Nike: Just Do It!

September 6th, 2012 No comments

What makes an entrepreneur? Is there a formal course of study to be followed? With today’s exploding costs of a college education (multiples substantially higher than CPI and GDP growth) and the consequent increase in post graduation debt load and interest carry, is obtaining a college degree the most efficient way for the driven entrepreneur to reach for the successful establishment of a new enterprise, and the job creation that comes with it?

Many colleges and universities offer courses—and some even offer degrees—in entrepreneurial arts and sciences. While I find some of the offerings interesting and perhaps even useful and beneficial, in general they aren’t the most effective or efficient way to reach the ultimate goal. Certainly a budding entrepreneur would be assisted by a working knowledge of the law, accounting, economics, marketing, production methods, statistical measurements, and other skills that go into making a business run. However, an aspiring entrepreneur would probably enjoy more success if they just spent that time and energy in actually pursuing their enterprise with energy and a thoughtful plan.

Doing is all-important. I believe the sport apparel and equipment manufacturer, Nike, got it right in their long-running marketing campaign. “Just Do It!” applies to sport, where success in execution is all important, but it certainly also applies in business. Training and education in law, accounting, marketing, and the associated business skills—while they are ultimately necessary to a successful enterprise—exist in a marketplace where they can be “purchased” as and when needed. What cannot be purchased is the vision and passion for success required to take an idea and turn it into a business. And idea is not the same thing as a business. Nor can one buy the willingness to personally risk everything—yet that is precisely what every entrepreneur must do in order to be succeed.

 

Ron Lazof

Ron Lazof is managing director of Prism Advisers, LLC and a Job Creators Alliance member.

In addition to vision, passion, and risk, any entrepreneur will need to add to that basic skill and experience, as well as start-up capital, no matter what path you choose. Skill and experience are gained by following the Nike dictate: Just Do It! Capital is attracted in proportion to the perception of both opportunity for gain and the corresponding risk. Risk and return are always and forever linked, so if you seek significant financial return, you must accept significant risk, at least according to the prevailing “free market” philosophy.All that said, where should our new generation of entrepreneurs look for guidance? First, they must look to themselves for the vision, passion, and drive to achieve. Secondly, they must look to their peers and the examples of those who have plowed the path before. Most Fortune 400 entrepreneurs are self-made—that’s right, they did build it themselves. Few have inherited wealth. Many did not finish or even start traditional educational paths. Their haste to “Just Do It!” combined with their vision and passion required them to gain experience through trial by fire. When they failed—and make no mistake they did fail at some point, perhaps repeatedly—they got up, dusted themselves off, and tried again, in a cycle that would brook no obstacles and accept no limitations until the successful delivery of their vision to the market. So if you desire to be entrepreneurially creative, and become a job creator for the good of yourself and your country—take your well-formed vision and deep-seeded passion and get out and Do!

By Ron Lazof

Source: U.S. News http://www.usnews.com