Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Intrepid Modern Travelers Polo du Jour

The Intrepid Modern Travelers Polo du Jour is a launching startup Menswear Social Network Brand provided by The Fraternity & Co. They sell poloshirts for the modern gentlemen delivering oldworld luxury in a new world package. We have conducted a short interview with the founder Tunde Uche-Kaine.



Antique shank buttons are used in "The Fraternity & Co" brand of polo shirts, could you tell us how these buttons differentiates you from your competition?
Yes, ordinary polo shirts are expensive because of the cottons, finishings, heritage and marketing, however once worn there is no value in the shirt perse. Our shirts are valuable because of the button and the wearers taste which inherently makes the shirt/button combination valuable and heirlooms. Basically something you can hand down that has sentimental value, or even gift to friends and family which actually has value. Here in the UK polo shirts are the number 1 gifting items on birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.

Why would people who like your brand also want certificates? How did you get inspired to include this detail in your product branding? 
The certificates are for the buttons, they’re a valuable addition to the shirt, as they’re made in the same age old traditional methods the Victorians’ used of die stamping: an archaic method which is both costly and time consuming. Also annually there will only be so many made to reflect our membership numbers, which means the value of the buttons will go up as The Fraternity & Co grows.

Is there a special series for your brand launch and what is the price range like? 
Yes, were launching on Kickstarter and we’ve created the Series A button especially for the launch. Limited to 1000 pieces therefore 500 shirts, making these buttons ultra exclusive & collectable.

Your product has a very special packaging. Why was the tin chosen? 
I wanted to create Polo shirts for the modern gentlemen delivering oldworld luxury in a new world package and I felt the tins exemplified this.

Why did you choose to launch your brand on Kickstarter and what are your aims? 
Kickstarter was a stab in the dark, I wanted to birth the brand on social media, and Kickstarter seemed appropriate.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Interview with Mickey Mikeworth

Mickey Mikeworth is a Chief Financial Officer that consults with small business and making small business profitable. Her specialty is working with creative business owners that have unique business models that don't fit into conventions paradigms.



What misconception do creative business owners have about a Chief Financial Officer ( CFO)?
The largest misconceptions is that fiscal management of a business is accounting. Most business owners know that a good accountant can help the get their numbers straight, what they are often missing is financial strategy as it pertains to business growth and that strategy will never come from accounting.

Accounting and CFO strategy are two different positions that need to have a symbiotic relationship. I have found that creative business owners do the best when they can see HOW to invest in their own ideas with multiple forms of capital, understand a clear accounting of how the business can support those ideas, and then learn when to implement those ideas to the marketplace and finally how to measure the success of those ideas.

How do you build transparency?
Transparency is about showing a clear path. The fastest way to show a clear path in business is use language that allows a partner or customer access to facts they helps them to make their own decisions. Some simple examples may be posting hours on the outside of a building, stating a return policy on a receipt, making public knowledge how items are sourced, or posting special deals.

A great rule is that if there is a cool fact that your business is a part of, and that fact sets you apart the rest of the competition: you should share that fact in a meaningful way. I have a client that has placed over 1 million dollars of paychecks directly into the hands of artists in Minnesota. Letting people know that fact may give them information that assists in a buying or partnering decision.

How do you create a marketplace for small business owners?
In creative businesses or new ideas there is often not an existing marketplace. My motto is “Find things that bind”. The fastest way to build a marketplace as a small business owner is to use a grass roots and self-help approach and look for relationships that naturally stick together.

In the case of a luxury brand they want to look at relationships that have a natural commonality. People that buy luxury homes may want to know some great artists, handypersons, organizers, and landscapers. As a business owner you can forge those relationships and pool resources to reach out to those customers in a specific way.

How does it feel to be honored by the “Top Women in Finance” twice by Finance and Commerce Magazine?
That award has special meaning to me because it’s about your service to the community, plus let’s face it, it is always a delight to be recognized by your peers.

It adds a little extra sparkle that my work as a tiny firm is measured against huge banks and lending houses and that it measures to that level of excellence.

What is totally unique and the part of winning that I am personally most proud of is being honored for two uniquely different industry portions of leadership. An interesting fact is that Finance and Commerce actually made a new category in the award for the 13 of us that had achieved this upper echelon of being awarded twice. The stand out for me is that (in the last 70 years) I am the only one who has been awarded two very different financial industry awards. One award was for my work with nonprofit start-ups and the second one was for jobs creation during the recession.

Putting financial ideas and marketplace delivery together for both the profit and the nonprofit sector is not the normal path for those in financial industry. I believe those two worlds have MUCH more in common than anyone talks about.

During a consultation, what are the three most important partnership ideas you advise on and why do you think they are important?



Pick very few: Concentrate on few relationships and deeply integrate them into your business and be very clear on the capital exchanges. Even if it is social capital there is always an exchange that can be measured. Your partnership should be the peanut butter to your jelly.

By staying small and deeply committed the brand will build strength.

Build a vetting system: Each business needs to be able to measure if a possible partner is a perfect fit. That may be defining what the other company has in capital resources right now. They may need to have a specific revenue, marketing budget, methods of doing business, or labor standard. Make a list and stick to it.
 
Having a standard minimum requirement for doing business will position your brand identity.

Build brand capital- The purpose of a partnership is to allow good things to happen faster. There will be many business sectors that match yours but very few that are eligible to partner. Many businesses will be an identity match because you may share customers, a style, or geographical location.

When you weight the partnership with a higher level of interconnectedness on brand the relationship requires more effort from both partners. That’s when the real fun and exciting part comes- when two brands cozy up together and figure out how to build a financial strategy that makes everyone look and feel great.

Concentration on brand capital takes out the emotional attachment to old ideas.

What is your favorite quotation with regard to investments?
I am still actively teach business and economics.

I have a class session that was built around this concept quote that I made up:
Destruction allows us the ability to build structure.

I use it to remind business owners that there is beauty and an invitation from things that break.

Lots of things break and instead of looking at that fact as a breech or a problem a financial strategy it to look at that break as a request to rebuild or discard. Things that do not break will not get upgraded because “they work just fine” but the fact they work “just fine” does not mean they are structurally the best fit.

Every time something is smashed it will get rebuilt stronger, faster, and overall better. Destruction is a healthy part of building greatness. It’s OK to smash things up a bit.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Small Business Loan Store

Albert Richards is a Senior Funding Specialist and managing member at The Small Business Loan Store. They specializes in various forms of alternative lending products, and assists in raising capital for both existing businesses and start-ups. In a short interview we were talking about their activites.


What does "The Small Business Loan Store" do to help entrepreneurs specifically?
First off, The Small Business Loan Store would like to thank you and your readers for this interview. We truly appreciate the opportunity.

The Small Business Loan Store helps assists in raising capital for both existing and start-up businesses. Many businesses fail as a result of being undercapitalized and we essentially bridge the financing gap for our clients. Since the great recession finding capital for a small business is increasingly difficult, but with our banking contacts and finance experience we have a unique property of loan services and products to help our clients grow, start, or expand their companies. Our loan products and services include revenue based loans, equipment financing, factoring, purchase order financing, credit repair, and lastly our most popular program-unsecured lines of credit.

How is a day in your life as a "Senior Funding Specialist" like?
It’s probably not as exciting as one may think…haha. In all seriousness, I wake up around 6am and start going over funding requests from potential clients. Then an hour or two later, once I get to the office, I distribute it to our team of marketing consultants to follow up with those requests, this probably takes a few hours in itself. For the next couple of hours I’m sifting through pre-approvals from our processing department, making sure we have everything in order and sending them back to our marketing consultants to relay to potential clients.

At around lunch time I’m on the phone with our other managing members strategizing, talking numbers, and figuring out what’s working and what’s not. Soon after, I’m on the phone again promoting our services to new clients.

Later on in the day I’m following up with our billing department, and ensuring that it’s running smoothly. Before I leave the office, I get a report with notes from our marketing consultants on the progress they made during the business day. I usually make it a point to give my own suggestions and feedback on how they can better their marketing efforts to attract clients.

Once I get home, I do my best to tune out business. My spouse doesn’t like it when I talk “work” and neither do my children. I’m usually in bed by 10pm, and then I wake up the next day and do it all over again!

What are the minimum pre-requisites for a small business owner to get funded by your organisation?
Our pre-requisites are listed on our website, and they do vary from program to program. For some of our programs, you can have a credit score of 500, for others you may need a 680, for some you don’t need a credit score but must have proven revenue. So it really depends.

However, as mentioned earlier our most popular program is our unsecured line of credit funding. For this particular program our applicants can either have a current business or just be starting out. So that part doesn’t matter. As far as credit requirements go the applicant must have at least a 680 credit score, 3-4 revolving trade lines, and at least 1-2 years of positive credit history. This isn’t a fully complete list of what an applicant needs for funding for the unsecured lines of credit program but it’s the starting point, because it really does depend on the whole credit profile. I would like to add the benefit of this program is that it DOES NOT require any job, asset, or income documentation. We can even fund those who have had a past bankruptcy. So it’s really a great option for many small business owners looking for business funding.

The best way to see if you qualify is to call us at 1-949-423-3939 and leave us a message, or visit our website at http://smallbusinessloanstore.com fill out the contact form and we will get back to you within 24 hours. Or you can send us any questions you may have to info@smallbusinessloanstore.com

For illustration, essentially which industries have you helped funded so far and at how much in dollars for their size(s)? respectively?
This is a great question, because sometimes people think we are only restricted to certain industries and that isn’t the case. We’ve helped fund all types of industries including restaurants, franchises, auto repair shops, internet marketing businesses, retail stores, clothing and jewelry companies, real estate investors, mobile app creators, and many more. The amounts we have funded per business vary, this is of course dependent upon the size of the company (start-up, existing business), amount of revenue, time in business, and industry.

For our unsecured lines of credit program we can fund all the way up to $200,000. For our other options such as our equipment financing and revenue based loan funding we can fund up to $2,000,000.

For our more advanced clients, we can fund up to $5,000,000 using private investors and a variety of other methods, but this is on a case by case basis. I would like to say that along with our sister companies The Small Business Loan Store has raised $40 million in funding in 2013, and is looking to double that in 2014.

What are your preliminary advice to small business owners if they are considering growth strategy? How stringent are the audit procedures for companies taking up the alternatives forms of lending from your company?
For small business owners considering growing through various strategies, my best piece of advice is to make sure that you not only have the capital to initiate the growth, but also the capital to sustain it. Take it from someone who has owned multiple companies, but has also been around entrepreneurs his whole life. I’ve had relatives and friends who have had all types of businesses, and who initially did really well. However, when it came time to grow, they often faltered due to lack of capital. We aren’t saying get yourself in unnecessary debt, what we are saying is to make sure you have the necessary financing lined up or in hand, so that you can overcome whatever hurdles come up during your stages of growth.

I do want to say that we often get calls from various entrepreneurs who want to utilize our services but are afraid of debt. Debt shouldn’t be feared, as it’s a natural tool for any entrepreneur. Well managed debt can help take a company from little sales to millions in revenue. If you’re intent is to go out and get funding and then blow it on frivolous things, no offense but we don’t want you as a client. We are looking for clients who have a desire to succeed, who have a desire to make money, and who have a desire to become great entrepreneurs. Sorry to be so blunt, but I just felt I needed to get that part out there. As far as our audit procedures go, it really depends. That’s why we say that we need to look at the whole credit picture. It’s not as easy as saying that if you have a 750 credit score then you qualify for funding, or if you have $1,000,000 in revenue then you qualify for funding. What if the 750 is based on only one credit card with a $200 limit? It would be difficult, but not impossible to get that client funding. What if the $1 million business has hundreds of thousands in losses? A different approach would be required to get them funding. So it’s not black and white, it’s a very analytical process. BUT, we do EVERYTHING we can and go through ALL OPTIONS to get our clients the funding that they need.

With that said, The Small Business Loan Store would like to thank you and your readers once again for this interview, and to wish you all much prosperity and success.

For more information on The Small Business Loan Store please visit http://smallbusinessloanstore.com or call 1-949-423-3939

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sustainable and Green Human Robots

Dr. S. Enjavi Chief technology officer of the European Federation of Robotics invented the new generation of Sustainable and Green Human Robots that can do everything that human can do, without needing to recharge them. They get the energy from the nature. 

We have conducted a short interview with him:



How many hours and how often do these Sustainable and Green Human Robots need to be re-charged if by solar energy? For cold weather, how are they charged?

Especially for service robots that will be active in supporting roles in the night (guards, nurses, etc) we are using the full daytime/daylight charging cycle. Of course we have not managed to get energy out of zero, yet! What we are planning is to partner up with high density, green battery technologies such as the urine fuel cell developed in the UK by Greek researcher Ieropoulos.

What are the top 5 abilities of these Humanoid Robots?

The purpose of humanoids is to be a drop-in replacement for human beings in all their daily functions, most important being 

a) moving, including obstacle avoidance, door handling, step climbing 
b) detecting human identities in their immediate environment by audio and visual processing 
c) engaging in interaction scenarios with the humans, whether enabling scenarios like helping seniors to walk or disabling scenarios like blocking a criminal's escape route 
d) Call-for-help scenarios where the correct human agent(s) are introduced to the scene and given sufficient information to quickly and effectively engage 
e) the companion scenario, whereby artificial voice and artificial face provide a suitable "partner" for anyone from toddlers to the elderly and even to their pets for baby-sitting and pet-sitting

Do you agree that the complexity of the human brain makes any kind of passable man-made imitation seem totally unrealistic? 

We view the machine as our equal in learning and tackling personality and social complexities. The amount of dysfunctionality and criminality in our societies are proof that humans have not mastered the secrets of productive human interaction, and some of their limitations are very human: fatigue, limited memory, conflicts, personal priorities, all make a human agent only moderately effective at their objectives. Robots face a different set of limitations but will be learning in the "cloud"/hive brain, simultaneously recording and analysing millions of interactions and getting a chance to understand humans and serve them with superhuman abilities.

How do robots learn to adapt to the unpredictable decisions and actions of humans?

Ever since the Greeks invented the Hippocratic oath primum non nocere - first do no harm, they created a powerful paradigm for the laws of robotics. Life is a game of chances and there will be cases where smaller or larger harm will come to a human that diverges from expected norms of man-machine interaction. But we in the European Federation of Robotics (Robofed) can mathematically guarantee that, unless someone runs with speed and brutally rams her head into the beautiful titanium alloys of our humanoids, the robots first priority is to minimize the chance that the humans comes into contact with physical, biological or chemical risks. In a similar way an offender running towards or away from a crime will never be as safe with a startled/scared/angry human law enforcer as he will be with a calm, accurate law enforcing machine.

What will happen if robots start to learn "bad behaviours" from humans? Are there ways to make them 'unlearn' it?

Indeed the most powerful approach to robot training and evolution is learning-by-watching, a learning system that with humans depends on so-called "mirror neurons" and for our machines is tentatively called MiMicMe. In all truth we expect the complexity of massively deployed humanoids interacting with numerous will generate some questionable machine behaviours but, additionally, will be seen with human understanding by many/most humans - judging by the deep involvement of people with game characters for example, we would not be surprised if an old lady at a nursing home soon says "oh yes, the humanoid switched the TV to adult channels while I was trying to sleep, but it is only humanoid after all and it has served me great for months so I forgive it". As most interactions take place in the context of "scenarios", scenarios that generate complaints and controversy such as "buy ganja at the street corner and roll me a joint" would end up being temporarily or permanently banned, possibly after legal scrutiny - so not as such unlearned but inactive. Of course for most purposes no risky scenario will be entertained, and risk aversion will be even higher in the presence of third parties (so no rap language by the humanoid to shock and offend passers-by!).

Dr. S. Enjavi 
Chief technology officer, 
European Federation of Robotics 
Email: info@enjavi.com 
twitter: enjavi_com 
Phone: +45.42417244

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