To Go to College or Not?

Dear Tom Tyron, (Letter to the Editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune)An editorial posted July 25th questioned the merits of a college education for “ROI” or return on investment value. State College of Florida President Carol Probstfeld rightly responded in a post on July 31st. Both articles have merit, but the real issue is not even addressed.

At the core of the need for higher education is the coming massive workforce job disruption caused by artificial intelligence (AI). Those of us in the entrepreneurship education field have privy to studies by the likes of McKinsey who forecast massive unemployment caused by the automation not only of repetitive manual labor but more significantly by cognitive thinking tasks done by white collar workers. If you think it is down the road, think again. State Farm has eliminated thousands of claims workers and gone to AI to replace their processing, and loan officers are losing jobs to automated applications every week.
Scorecards have nothing to do with a higher education. What counts is being able to make a living to support one’s family, and to do that work must become innovative and creative. We teach both skills in entrepreneurship as well as opportunity recognition, ideation, design thinking, and the lean, evidenced-based method to build a new small business. This newer planning method developed by Silicon Valley to utilize the internet has made learning entrepreneurship possible for all. It can now be taught and learned.
The future of higher education belongs to “hybrid”, half online and half face-to-face classes. The days of tenured $175,000 per year professors are gone. Community college are where education is at these days. NACCE, the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship, is adding partners, members, and creating new ways to reach those in need. Both SCF and HCC are members, and have just formed an alliance with the largest veterans entrepreneurship organization in the U. S. to expand entrepreneurship education three-fold using community colleges.
Only training for specific skill sets accomplishes employment. But, more important is empowering each student and every adult with entrepreneurship. We live in a Gig Economy where big employers have cut costs employing independent contractors who have to be self-employed to be contracted. They need training for entrepreneurship as a body. Further, as people loose jobs to automation, they need an option to put their passion or interests to small businesses of their own. Take the 3.5 million U. S. truck drivers who are on the verge of loosing their jobs to driverless trucks. If they had training and confidence in self-employed, they could iterate to their favorite hobby, open a small business using their entrepreneurship training, and increase their own salary with no limit on earnings.
Change is inevitable, but to write college is no longer necessary is poor journalism. It is more necessary than ever, but in a different direction and for specific skills in keeping with modern life and a changing economy.
Sincerely,  Clinton E. Day, MBA
Founder of Entrepreneurship at State College of Florida
Biography on Linked In – https://www.linkedin.com/in/clintday/
Current in Entrepreneurship Website – clintoneday.com

10 Ways Israel Changed the World

It’s no secret that Israel – the ‘start-up nation’ – is a global centre for technology. Culture Trip explores the country’s homegrown developments that are making an impact on a global scale.

In the world of technology, Israel is king. The country has more hi-tech start-ups per capita than anywhere else in the world and is second only to the US in venture capital funds. This is an impressive feat for any state, but more so for one that is only 70 years old and home to just under nine million people.
Despite its relatively small population, the ‘start-up nation’ has produced hundreds of tech developments, from everyday items like USB drives to futuristic medical devices that can offer diagnoses in an instant.

 The SniffPhone is a diagnostic tool that can literally sniff out disease. Currently undergoing field trials, this project is an evolution of the ‘NaNose’ technology developed by Professor Hossam Haick of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

NaNose is a breathalyser that can detect the symptomatic odour caused by some cancerous tumours, Parkinson’s dementia, multiple sclerosis and many more diseases to an 86% to 93% degree of accuracy. The SniffPhone aims to further simplify this diagnostic process by making the technology accessible via a plug-in that can be attached to smartphones.

It is estimated to become commercial within four to six years and will be “highly accurate, affordable, easy to use, comfortable and easy to repeat”, according to its developers.

After a tragic accident left him paralysed from the waist down, Dr Amit Goffer spent years developing a way for paraplegics to be less dependent on wheelchairs.

Enter the ReWalk by Argo Medical Technologies. Allowing the user to stand upright, walk and even climb stairs, this exoskeleton-esque robot receives movement signals from a wristwatch and is powered by a backpack battery. It’s been available for public use since 2014 and has made appearances at the London Marathon and the 2012 London Paralympics.

Inspired by a personal experience with chronic stomach pain, scientist Gavriel Iddan of Given Imaging (now Medtronic) came up with the idea of creating a digestible, disposable camera that transmits data to a receiver outside the body. FDA-approved, the PillCam is now used across the globe to diagnose infection, intestinal disorders and cancers in the digestive system. It’s also able to access areas of the digestive system that are typically out of range during a conventional procedure.

The PillCam has revolutionised modern medicine by allowing patients to avoid visits to the hospital. For his invention, Iddan received the European Inventor Award in 2011, 14 years after the prototype was first released.

14-year-old ‘Shark Tank’ success shares her best piece of advice for entrepreneurs

Mikaila Ulmer may be just 14 years old, but she knows a thing or two about business.  The young CEO founded her Me & the Bees Lemonade business when she was just four years old, and over the past decade has sold 1 million bottles across 1,000 stores in the U.S., including Whole Foods and, as of this month, Macy’s.

The “Shark Tank” success, who scored a $60,000 investment from Daymond John in 2015, has also established herself as a voice of guidance for others, regularly speaking at entrepreneurial summits and even introducing former U.S. president Barack Obama at The United State of Women Summit.

That’s no easy feat for a teen still completing her studies. Yet, according to the Gen Z influencer, it’s proof to others that age should not be a barrier.

“No matter how old you are, you always have something to learn. And no matter how old you are, you always have something to teach,” Ulmer told CNBC Make It.  “That’s something I always remember, whether I’m speaking to 15 or 15,000 people,” she said, before presenting a “Finance 101″ workshop to female founders at the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) in Singapore.

“When you have a big voice, make sure that you give others a voice behind you, and that you’re not only growing yourself but helping others grow and giving your expertise to others,” she said.Of course, that confidence didn’t always come easy to the young entrepreneur. Ulmer admitted to getting “nervous” when, at the age of eight, she starting leading workshops for older school kids.

But, it’s something she learned from the bees that have been so integral to her lemonade business.

“If you look into a beehive, they’re all working very closely together, it’s usually jam-packed, and they communicate, they’re always communicating, they’re always working together, they never put one bee to a job,” she said.

Ulmer started her lemonade business when, at the age of four, she was stung by two bees in one week. Rather than be scared, she was encouraged by her parents to learn more about the insects and their important role in the food cycle.

At the same time, Ulmer’s family received a cookbook from her great-grandmother, and discovered an old recipe for flaxseed lemonade. Ulmer decided that if she could make the lemonade with honey bought from local beekeepers, she could do her bit to help the bee population.

That fall, Ulmer’s mom and dad suggested she make the lemonade for a children’s business competition in her hometown of Austin, Texas. The product was a hit and, with that, Me & the Bees Lemonade was born.

Ulmer has since been expanding the business with the help of her parents, themselves business school graduates. Me & the Bees Lemonade recently launched a new line of beeswax-infused lip balms and, separately, in 2017, Ulmer launched her own non-profit — The Healthy Hive Foundation — to conduct research, education and protection projects for honey bees.

Me & the Bees Lemonade continues to donate 10% of all profits to bee conservation groups. But she isn’t stopping there. In between her studies, Ulmer spends her time managing her business, traveling for speaking engagements and thinking up new product ideas. She also recently signed a deal to co-write a book for young entrepreneurs.

“Even though I started with lemonade, I always wanted to expand to different products. My dream has always been to be the Hello Kitty of lemonade, and do my brand and my mission but spread over an array of products,” said Ulmer.

“I always say that it’s important to dream like a kid and that (as a kid) it’s the perfect age to start figuring out what you enjoy and trying new things and taking risks,” she added.

4 Things Every Business Leader Should Know About Artificial Intelligence and Automation

 In 2011, MIT economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee self-published an unassuming e-book titled Race Against The Machine. It quickly became a runaway hit. Before long, the two signed a contract with W. W. Norton & Company to publish a full-length version, The Second Machine Age that was an immediate bestseller.

The subject of both books was how “digital technologies are rapidly encroaching on skills that used to belong to humans alone.” Although the authors were careful to point out that automation is nothing new, they argued, essentially, that at some point a difference in scale becomes a difference in kind and forecasted we were close to hitting a tipping point.

In recent years, their vision has come to be seen as deterministic and apocalyptic, with humans struggling to stay relevant in the face of a future ruled by robot overlords. There’s no evidence that’s true. The future, in fact, will be driven by humans collaborating with other humans to design work for machines to create value for other humans.

1. Automation Doesn’t Replace Jobs, It Replaces Tasks

When a new technology appears, we always seem to assume that its primary value will be to replace human workers and reduce costs, but that’s rarely true. For example, when automatic teller machines first appeared in the early 1970s, most people thought it would lead to less branches and tellers, but actually just the opposite happened.

What really happens is that as a task is automated, it becomes commoditized and value shifts somewhere else. That’s why today, as artificial intelligence is ramping up, we increasingly find ourselves in a labor shortage. Most tellingly, the shortage is especially acute in manufacturing, where automation is most pervasive.

That’s why the objective of any viable cognitive strategy is not to cut costs, but to extend capabilities. For example, when simple consumer service tasks are automated, that can free up time for human agents to help with more thorny issues. In much the same way, when algorithms can do much of the analytical grunt work, human executives can focus on long-term strategy, which computers tend to not do so well.

The winners in the cognitive era will not be those who can reduce costs the fastest, but those who can unlock the most value over the long haul. That will take more than simply implementing projects. It will require serious thinking about what your organization’s mission is and how best to achieve it.

2. Value Never Disappears, It Just Shifts To Another Place 

In 1900, 30 million people in the United States were farmers, but by 1990 that number had fallen to under 3 million even as the population more than tripled. So, in a manner of speaking, 90% of American agriculture workers lost their jobs, mostly due to automation. Still, the twentieth century was seen as an era of unprecedented prosperity.

We’re in the midst of a similar transformation today. Just as our ancestors toiled in the fields, many of us today spend much of our time doing rote, routine tasks. Yet, as two economists from MIT explain in a paper, the jobs of the future are not white collar or blue collar, but those focused on non-routine tasks, especially those that involve other humans.

Far too often, however, managers fail to recognize value hidden in the work their employees do. They see a certain job description, such as taking an order in a restaurant or answering a customer’s call, and see how that task can be automated to save money. What they don’t see, however, is the hidden value of human interaction often embedded in many jobs.

When we go to a restaurant, we want somebody to take care of us (which is why we didn’t order takeout). When we have a problem with a product or service, we want to know somebody cares about solving it. So the most viable strategy is not to cut jobs, but to redesign them to leverage automation to empower humans to become more effective.

3. As Machines Learn To Think, Cognitive Skills Are Being Replaced By Social Skills

20 or 30 years ago, the world was very different. High value work generally involved the retaining information and manipulating numbers. Perhaps not surprisingly, education and corporate training programs were focused on building those skills and people would build their careers on performing well on knowledge and quantitative tasks.

Today, however, an average teenager has more access to information and computing power than even a large enterprise would a generation ago, so knowledge retention and quantitative ability have largely been automated and devalued, so high value work has shifted from cognitive skills to social skills.

To take just one example, the journal Nature has noted that the average scientific paper today has four times as many authors as one did in 1950 and the work they are doing is far more interdisciplinary and done at greater distances than in the past. So even in highly technical areas, the ability to communicate and collaborate effectively is becoming an important skill.

There are some things that a machine will never do. Machines will never strike out at a Little League game, have their hearts broken or see their children born. That makes it difficult, if not impossible, for machines to relate to humans as well as a human can.

4. AI Is A Force Multiplier, Not A Magic Box

The science fiction author Arthur C. Clark noted that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” and that’s largely true. So when we see a breakthrough technology for the first time, such as when IBM’s Watson system beat top human players at Jeopardy!, many immediately began imagining all the magical possibilities that could be unleashed.

Unfortunately, that always leads to trouble. Many firms raced to implement AI applications without understanding them and were immediately disappointed that the technology was just that — technology — and not actually magic. Besides wasting resources, these projects were also missed opportunities to implement something truly useful.

As Josh Sutton, CEO of Agorai, a platform that helps companies build AI applications for their business, put it, “What I tell business leaders is that AI is useful for tasks you understand well enough that you could do them if you had enough people and enough time, but not so useful if you couldn’t do it with more people and more time. It’s a force multiplier, not a magic box.”

So perhaps most importantly, what business leaders need to understand about artificial intelligence is that it is not inherently utopian or apocalyptic, but a business tool. Much like any other business tool its performance is largely dependent on context and it is a leader’s job to help create that context.

Courtesy Digital Tonto written by Greg Satell, https://www.digitaltonto.com/about/

The Power of Genuine Human Touch in Entrepreneurship

As the world spirals more and more towards being almost entirely dependent on technology, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find the old-fashioned ‘human’ touch in things.

Right from everyday casual interactions to discourses to approaches towards entrepreneurship, the continued use of technology in every aspect of life has certainly managed to leave an impact.

And as the wheels of change keep on turning, the irony that people are once again actually looking for a less machine-like approach to life is making itself apparent. Here are three ‘why’s’ on bringing genuine back.

1. Stand Out From the Rest
As history has shown us, nothing quite remains exactly the same for too long. While just as a few decades ago, companies were scrambling to acquire new technologies in order to stay ahead of their times, in order to stand out and attract customers, today it has become rather the opposite.

This does not mean that we are trying to dispose of technology altogether, but rather find the fine line that separates the needful from the overdone.

With the increased use of machine in literally every field and added to it the new technological advancement that is Artificial Intelligence, it has come to be seen that there is awfully little for humans to actually do on an interactive scale in businesses.

The seamless automation and near-perfect task execution of technology is indeed admirable, but in the end it still comes off as lacking. Humans nowadays are missing the exact thing in entrepreneurship that they set out to eradicate — the human touch itself.

2. Increase Sales
The simple charm of actual human interaction — the genuineness of the physical (or in some cases, aural or virtual) presence of a person is what most entrepreneurships today are missing.

In the race to become the technological best, they often forget that the quiet emotions and connect that come with humans cannot be replaced by entities that function on the basis of logic and code.

Complete mechanization hurts industries greatly – as well as it does small entrepreneurships. One needs to remember the more jobs (specifically, well-paying jobs) available to the public, the more potential buyers there are for any product or service at any given moment

It may seem cost-effective to entirely replace human labour with technology and Artificial Intelligence bots, but in the long run it affects the industries as a whole.

Essentially, the point is that removing a number (however large or small) of people from salaried positions to replace them with robots is only cost-effective in a very myopic sense. First, it throws several people into a jobless pit, which disallows them from having any purchasing power, which, in turn, hurts any and all industries in the long run.

Secondly, it takes away from the business something that made it able to connect with its target audiences and customers – humanity itself.

3. Create Lasting Relationships
Apart from this, it is well advised that you employ an approachable and amiable mode of interaction in your consumer dealings. While the basis on which most businesses survive is indeed competition, it is always wise to make efforts to ensure that you do not alienate your audience or your competitors.
It is better to see your competition as your peers, rather than rivals in this sense. There is much to be learned from opposing businesses and entrepreneurs themselves. They might be able to offer insight into areas you did not think to examine in detail. And it never hurts to maintain an amicable relationship with them in order to gain access to such knowledge.
Think of it as a way to maximize your profits by gaining the opportunity to learn from your opponents.

This does not mean that you must only pretend. Being a generally well-mannered, generous, and humane individual pays off in all fields of life, and business is no exception. Kindness is always repaid in kindness, and making genuine friends in the right circles is just good business sense.

A machine, however well programmed, is after all no replacement for a human. Retaining a human touch in your entrepreneurial model will set you apart from the hundreds of businesses that are opting for full automation today. The sincere and reposed faith in humanity will never come at a more opportune time.

By Devika Majumder, Founder and CEO, Youngpreneurs India From Entrepreneur Magazine India.

Gen Zers vs. Millennials in the Workplace

There’s a new generation in town

Millennials have long held the oft-craved title of youngest and laziest members of the workforce. From sneaking selfies in the break room to declaring a chipped nail a valid reason for taking a “me day” off from work, we’ve earned the ire of our bosses, but that time has come to an end.

Well, it hasn’t, but there’s a new sheriff in town. Gen Z, the generation born between 1997 and the early 2010s, is now entering the workforce. But Gen Zers aren’t exactly like us millennials. They grew up during a recession, and their attitudes about work and money vary wildly from those of their peers. Additionally, they don’t remember life before the internet (and might not even believe there was life before the internet), so they’re even more hooked on their devices than millennials are. Still, they can view millennials as a cautionary tale about what happens if you assume the economy will be good, and they’re willing to work to stand out on their own.

Let’s explore how Gen Zers and millennials differ in the workplace with respect to all the most important issues, like lunchtime, crop tops, and frequency of pee breaks (I’m a millennial — can you tell?).

Desired Jobs

Gen Zers: Grew up during a recession and understand the importance of a job. They’re willing to do many different things, and they know that without consistent work, they’re unlikely to ever pay back their student loans.

Millennials: None. Or if they absolutely have to have a job, they want that job to be A) remote; B) without a boss; and C) extremely impermanent.

Interviews

Gen Zers: Grew up on the internet and rely on it for any and all information. As a result, before heading into an interview, they obsessively research the company (and have probably been watching the company’s Instagram Stories for weeks), so they know exactly what to ask about.

Millennials: Focused on experiences. If they’re not going to get the job, which they don’t expect to anyway, at the very least, they want to get a good story out of it. So, yes, they might ask the interviewer if they’re on Tinder. Because they’re curious, and it’s funny.

First Day

Gen Zers: The first day for a member of Gen Z is probably their first day of a first job ever. Because of this, they’ll arrive early (and likely be nervous), so they’ll come overprepared with donuts (gluten-free, obviously) and a large coffee for their boss (with almond milk, duh, or oat if they have their sh*t together).

Millennials: For a millennial five years out of college, this is probably their 34th job. This job is really just the first day of the next fortnight of their lives. As such, they arrive late, because fixed hours are restrictive and—honestly—probably fascist.

Attire

Gen Zers: The most stylish generation to-date. They’ve grown up on Instagram, and they’ve found affordable ways to copy Kendall Jenner’s look. Sure, they’re probably too hot to work at a tech company, but it’s not their fault — their main hobby as a teenager was looking at photographs of themselves.

Millennials: Rules about clothing are extremely unfair and perpetuate all inequality in America. Millennials know this better than anyone else (in fact, they’re the only ones who know this), so even if they’re told that there is no dress code, they will still find a way to violate it. Like wearing leggings that allow underwear to be clearly visible? Or wearing crop tops that allow bras to poke out from underneath? You name it; they’ll buy it and wear it to an investor meeting.

(more…)

Diversity Is An Innovation Strategy

Christie Pitts is CEO of Backstage Capital, which has become one of the most high profile firms in Silicon Valley for its support of underrepresented founders. I sat down with Christie to discuss her views on diversity & inclusion, and how her experience is relevant to corporate innovation professionals.

Scott: Christie, I think a lot of people know about the incredible story of your business partner Arlan Hamilton, but tell us your own background as a corporate venture capitalist and how this led you to Backstage.

Christie: I’ve actually only worked for one company before Backstage: Verizon. I was lucky to have 11 different roles in 13 years, starting in customer service at a retail store and eventually winding up in corporate venture capital. I started in January 2005, and the growth at Verizon created a lot of opportunity for me.

Within the wireless unit, I worked in operations and marketing, where we were managing a customer base of 5 million people and over $4 billion in revenue. I was focused on customer acquisition and retention in California, Nevada, and Hawaii, and this territory has a very diverse population. Traditional marketing tactics didn’t work, so we had to be innovative about reaching new audiences to compete against AT&T, which was our most entrenched competitor. This was when I really began to think about diversity as a business problem.

After that, I was doing business development work with startups on behalf of Verizon, which then led to the opportunity to join the Verizon Ventures team.

When I eventually joined Verizon Ventures, I brought with me the overall corporate goal of reaching diverse customers. The venture group also knew that it was supposed to help the corporation adapt, which should have included this diversity objective, but the dots were not connected to make investments that helped achieve this goal. But I do want to give credit to Verizon Ventures for being very forward thinking about backing women-led businesses.

The result of those experiences was that I came away with the idea that VCs seemed to understand the social aspects of impact investing, but not the business case for funding underserved founders.  When I met Arlan, my initial goal was actually for Verizon to be an investor in Backstage. When that opportunity didn’t work out, we stayed in touch and eventually I partnered with her.

Scott: You and I have discussed the idea that big companies can put themselves at a disadvantage by ignoring diversity & inclusion initiatives. But what do you mean when you say diversity is an innovation strategy?

Christie: A lot of innovation work is envisioning the future and helping companies understand how to transition their business units and keep them relevant. Companies want to adapt and avoid the fates of Blockbuster and Kodak. But diversity seems to be a blind spot: these big companies don’t always consider who their core customers will be in the future.

This is a problem for big companies and startups, by the way. The tech startups are not always the most diverse, either. As an example, some sensor companies don’t test their products on people with darker skin, so a paper towel dispenser or automated soap dispenser might not “see” them. Similar sensors are used in IoT, A.I., autonomous vehicles, and many other innovative applications; if there is a lack of diversity in the team building the products, it’s easy to overlook potential customers.

On the corporate side, the problem is focusing on technological trends and not who the customers will be five or ten years down the road. Money is being left on the table because the people building the products just aren’t thinking about all their future customers.

Scott: What do you say to people who think that diversity is just the realm of human resources professionals?

Christie: HR folks are often tasked with limiting legal liability and not maximizing upside. But with innovation we are talking about a strategy function and you can’t expect progress and growth with a purely defensive mentality.

Scott: D&I has an obvious potential marketing benefit. How can big companies keep these efforts authentic and avoid having them be little more than marketing ploys?

Christie: Pursuing diversity as a PR strategy has really backfired on corporations. When you don’t have a diverse team yourself, it shouldn’t be surprising if you aren’t viewed as authentically caring about diversity or inclusion. You really need to be critical of what you are doing every step of the way.

Scott: Give me an example of how you’ve seen a company think about this less superficially; how a corporate D&I effort can be deeper.

Christie: Microsoft is a good example. They’ve partnered with something like 16 different groups — for full disclosure, including Backstage — to support underrepresented founders. It’s not just one effort. They’ve also hired internally to support diversity. Satya himself has said it’s a priority—it’s coming from the top and that’s why it’s working. I can’t draw causation, but I also believe they have attracted a more diverse customer base as they’ve made these internal efforts.

Scott: How would you combine diversity efforts with other forms of corporate innovation, including business development, venture capital, and M&A?

Christie: Diversity shouldn’t be isolated. It should be integrated with any other strategic effort like the ones you mentioned, and not off in its own silo. Corporate innovation folks, this is not someone else’s problem. It’s your problem, too.

Scott: How do you think about reducing defensive reactions from potential allies who might feel insulted or even threatened when confronted about topics like white privilege or male privilege or class privilege?

Christie: I’m not responsible for other people’s feelings. At the end of the day, this is a business conversation, and I don’t think there is anyone who wants to sell their product to half the potential customers. When we make these products more inclusive, it’s a better experience for everyone. Once you show people that there is enough economic opportunity for everyone, I believe there will be more receptivity.

I recently heard a sociologist on a panel say that to shift public opinion, you just need to get 30%. On the other hand, this could have been a totally made up statistic, but it gives me hope that we can get there!


Courtesy of Forbes https://www.forbes.com/sites/scottlenet/2019/07/02/diversity-is-an-innovation-strategy/#5736f3ff6106

Florida Small Business Leadership Conference, Orlando June 26-28th.

Your editor just returned from the captioned event in Orlando at the J. W. Marriott Hotel.  It was first class and informative as well as inspirational.  The first session featured the panel of Florida leaders four photos down.  These movers and shakers -Michelle Dennard, CEO of Career Source Florida, Ken Lawson, Director of Florida Dept. of Economic Opportunity, Mike Myhre, CEO of Florida SBDC, and Jamal Sowell, CEO of Enterprise Florida- followed the Chief Economist of  the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Jerry Parrish.  In Florida, there are 335,000 people looking for jobs and 273,700 jobs looking for people. Finding a qualified workforce is a top concern for job creators. Employers need talent that is prepared to enter the workforce, and Florida wins when we close the talent gap.

The conference was co-hosted by the Jim Moran Institute of Florida State University and the Florida SBDC.  Members of both organizations presented great classes such as business model canvas, grant making, leadership, sales presentations, data integration, financing a venture, social media, accounting strategies, negotiations, and overcoming obstacles.  Keynoters knocked the ball out of the park with Using Data to Drive Growth, Big Impacts by a Small Business, and a terrific inside look at the culture of Zappos.com by Ryo Zsun.  Their “WOW” customer service is so good it is the definition of Zappos.  One example, an employee cannot end a customer phone call, the customer must end it first!

Revealing was the fact there is a full network of SBDCs across America with an annual conference (this year Sept. 3-6 in Long Beach CA).  There are nearly 1,000 local centers available to provide no-cost business consulting and low-cost training to new and existing businesses.  SBDCs are hosted by leading universities, colleges, state economic development agencies and private sector partners, and funded in part by the United States Congress through a partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Even more incredible is the JMI, Jim Moran Institute of FSU.  Moran was a mega auto dealer with original ties to Toyota imports into  the U. S.  Now deceased, he and his widow Jan (shown below), have generously donated millions to the goals of the institute -cultivate, train, and inspire entrepreneurial leaders through world-class executive education, applied training, public recognition and leading-edge research.  Words cannot describe the impact their legacy is having on small business, and there are plans to expand their largess from Florida to other regions of the U. S.   Story of a great man –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Moran_(businessman).

This was a wonderful event and conference, and there will be another in 2020 which this entrepreneur teacher cannot recommend enough.  Small businesses of all types and fields cannot help but benefit by attending –https://jmi.fsu.edu/programs/small-business-leadership-conference.

10 success stories, social entrepreneurship can be profitable

The combination of business with social issues has gained momentum in the last decade, and we are witnessing more and more startups that are recognizing social problems and finding ways to tackle them. Although social entrepreneurship is mainly driven by societal needs, here are 10 success stories which prove that you can do good and make money at the same time.

Agricool – Urban vertical farming is incredibly on-trend. Guillaume Fourdinier and Gonzague Gru certainly know that as their startup is doing incredibly well. Founded in 2015, the Paris-based startup offers ‘Cooltainers’, recycled shipping containers transformed into urban farms, where you can grow fruits and vegetables. Agricool began with strawberries, which contain on average 20% more sugar and 30% more vitamin C than regular supermarket strawberries. From Paris to Dubai, Agricool is paving the way for a sustainable and urban agtech future.

Arborea – Scientist turned entrepreneur Julian Melchiorri believes he can tackle pollution and climate change with microalgae. His innovation, a ‘Bio Solar Leaf’, is a solar panel-like structure filled with bio-organisms that can remove carbon dioxide and produce breathable oxygen at a rate equivalent to 100 trees, while facilitating the growth of microscopic plants to produce healthy food ingredients. Imperial College London has already teamed up with biochemical tech startup to pilot this technology on its roof and improve the surrounding air quality. If everything goes well, the Bio Solar Leaf might be coming soon to a rooftop near you.

ChargedUp – People have become so addicted to smartphones that when they run out of battery, it’s like the end of the world. But this London-based startup can now help you avoid this problem with their mobile charging network, run on green energy. Founded in 2017, ChargedUp lets you rent a mobile charging pack from one destination and return it at a different location. Inspired by the bike-sharing business model, ChargedUp has partnered with Marks & Spencer to trial its service and is hoping to put chargers in more than 1500 locations by mid-2019.

Feelif – The winner of the Best European Social Innovation 2017 in Europe was the Slovenian startup Feelif, which develops multimedia devices for the blind and visually impaired and accompanying multisensory digital games and educational content. With the help of this social innovation, users can feel shapes, explore geometric diagrams, draw, play games, and more. Feelif was also named the global champion and the best digital solution in the world by the World Summit Awards 2019.

Koovee – A ban on plastic cutlery is set to come into force in 2020 across the EU and Koovee can help with that transition. The French startup was founded in 2017 to offer an ecological alternative to plastic cutlery in the form of biodegradable, economic and tasty edible cutlery. Their spoons, knives and forks are based on wheat flour, rapeseed oil and salt, without additives or chemicals and taste like crackers. Next time you have your dessert, you will be contributing to reducing waste plastics.

Orange Fiber – Each year Sicily’s orange juice industry produced 700,000 tonnes of waste and two Italian designers decided to put it to good use, by patenting and manufacturing the first sustainable fabric from citrus juice by-products. The newly created lightweight materials were already featured in Salvatore Ferragamo Summer/Spring 2017 collection and H&M’s annual Conscious Exclusive collection 2019. In 2015 the company won the Global Change Award by H&M Foundation responding to the need for sustainability and innovation of fashion brands.

Solar Foods – The future of food is being slowly cooked in Finland. A Finnish startup, Solar Foods is producing edible protein out of water, electricity and air. They currently produce one kilogram of protein-rich edible powder (“Solein”) per day, which could be used to enrich widely consumed human foods such as bread or pasta. Just recently they teamed up with the European Space Agency to develop a system for producing proteins for space flights to Mars, while commercial production is scheduled for 2021.

Sustainer Homes – Founded in response to the housing crisis faced by many young people today, this Dutch startup is offering a modular model home, which is completely self-sufficient, mobile and sustainable. Made from recycled shipping containers, the new houses are equipped with solar panels, a battery for storing electricity, a water pump and smart equipment. The best thing about it: it can be shipped anywhere and set up in minutes. This Startupbootcamp alumni has already built this next-generation housing in the Netherlands.

Too Good To Go – Founded in Copenhagen, Too Good To Go is an app that connects customers to restaurants and stores that have unsold, surplus food and lets the customers buy the excess food at a lower price than normal. It’s a win-win situation for both consumers and the environment. In their effort to tackle food waste so far they have saved over 20 million meals and have reduced around 40 million kg of CO2 . Recently they were recognized as Europe’s hottest company at the Tech5 Awards hosted by TNW and Adyen, and we just interviewed the startup’s CEO Mette Lykke.

Chatterbox – In light of the refugee crisis all over Europe, Mursal Hedayat decided to turn her personal experience into a business idea. Having experienced the difficulties of integration as a refugee, she decided to start a company which would train and employ refugees to lead online and in-person language tutoring in their native languages. Founded in 2016 and headquartered in London, today Chatterbox offers courses in Mandarin, French, Farsi, Turkish, Arabic, Korean, Hindi, Spanish, and more.

By Bojana Trajkovska 

 

Two Tampa Bay area entrepreneurs named winners at annual Ernst & Young awards

Two Tampa Bay area businesspeople have come out on top at the annual Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

Crystal Morris of Gator Cases Inc. and Joe Marinucci of Digital Media Solutions both took home the “Entrepreneur of the Year 2019″ award on Thursday night in Orlando. The awards are meant to highlight entrepreneurs excelling in innovation, financial performance and commitment to the community. The two won out of five other Tampa Bay executives selected as finalists.

“We’ve seen many successful entrepreneurs come through this program, but I’ve been so impressed by our 2019 Florida finalists,” Mike Pattillo, Entrepreneur Of The Year Florida program director, said in a statement. “The people they have impacted, barriers they’ve overcome and industries they’ve disrupted are testaments to their entrepreneurial journey.”

Tampa-based Gator Cases was named a finalist for the 2013 Florida Entrepreneur of the Year as well. In 2015, the Tampa Bay Business Journal listed Gator Cases as a TBBJ 200, a roundup of Tampa Bay’s largest privately held companies, for its specialty cases for storing and transporting specialized equipment.

Clearwater-based Digital Media Solutions is one of the largest marketing firms headquartered in Tampa Bay and it was its first time being nominated.

Other winning entrepreneurs include Tropic Ocean Airways in Fort Lauderdale, SMART Financial in Orlando and IM Healthscience in Boca Raton.