Monday, December 16, 2013

How Investors Choose Early Stage Startups

Freddie Achome
Investing in high tech start-ups is not something for the weak at heart. No matter how great the product or service might be, the company does not have a lengthy track record or proven sales to promise high profits to the potential investor. But investors who choose well are apt to be heartily rewarded when, or rather if, the start-up makes the big time. 

So what is the methodology behind the selection? Investing in high tech start-ups has become a specialized industry of its own, attracting investment managers and funding opportunities. A study analyzes the factors that venture capitalists employ when investing in early stage high tech companies in Europe.

Three Types of Ventures Capitalists

The venture capital industry began gaining strength in the 1990s. Studies on how investors decide whether to invest in a start-up have shown that investors can be divided into three types: investors focused on financial data, investors focused on technological ideas and investors focused on the quality of the human capital. Each type of investor measures a company’s worth or potential using different criteria. 

For instance, the company’s team and its leadership are vital to human capital investors. While the financial situation is important, market size and expected growth are not as critical. Investment managers who look at human capital are usually very well experienced themselves in start-ups. Their investments tend to lean towards industrial automation. 

Investors focused on financial data, on the other hand, base 25% of their decisions on ROI expectations. The investment managers for this group tend to be those with the least amount of experience. 

The third group, or technologically-focused investors, is mainly interested in forming a tight relationship with the start-up’s founder and in the ability to protect the company’s technology. Since they also look closely at market prospects, ROI and the leadership characteristics, their choices are possibly the most well balanced.

Knowing Your Investor

Being familiar with the three types of investors helps venture capital companies build solid investment teams. Likewise, high tech entrepreneurs can more easily find appropriate funding by matching their companies with the most suitable type of venture capital firm.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

OMC Operates Micropower Plants to Generate Clean Energy

OMCYou would think that most citizens of the world now have easy access to plentiful sources of energy, but in India that is not the case. It’s true that most villages have power cables and poles, but that electricity is available to only about 10pc of the village. And even having electrical cables running through an entire village does not necessarily mean that there is live energy running through them. Without consistent electric lighting, many Indians work with paraffin lamps that can damage lungs and is not much help for accomplishing school studies in the evenings. With a lack of electricity, financial institutions cannot operate and local businesses must close by sundown. Even though most people in India do have a mobile phone, the task of charging them can be quite a challenge. Throughout the country there are some 400,000 broadcast masts set up to connect people, 60pc of which are run by generators operating on diesel fuel. With more broadcast towers in the planning, India is looking to make a change to a cleaner and renewable form of energy.

Replacing the Broken Electrical Grid with Renewable Sources

It’s plain for anyone to see that the energy grid in India is broken and that more diesel fuel is not a viable answer. The two billion litres of fuel being consumed now is very expensive and adds enormously to the pollution. Indian companies are now aiming to reduce coal and diesel dependency while cutting carbon emissions at both urban and rural towers. Their solution is creating a hybrid power that combines grid power and renewable energy sources. 

OMC Sets Up Community Power Stations

OMC is one company that has stepped in to develop clean energy for use by private individuals and businesses in India. OMC has been building and managing operations of industrial scale micropower plants that are capable of supplying power to rural communities and for mobile networks. OMC teamed up with the largest provider of mobile phones in India, Bharti Infratel, to create Community Power stations, which will switch dependence on the current power grid to a cleaner form of renewable energy.

The involvement with OMC in providing renewable and clean energy to India works well for India’s rural citizens as well as powering mobile phones throughout the country. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Renewable Energy and Solar Deployment Ventures

CPECIn recent years, India has experienced a steep increase in development of its infrastructure, but its energy sector is sorely lagging behind. With the help of initiatives established by the state and central governments, such as the Jawaharial Nehru National Solar Mission 2009, India is beginning to address renewable energy solutions. One company in particular, Communication Power Engineering Company Ltd (CPEC) is committed to helping India with those energy goals.

Transition from Manufacturing to Services

CPEC is a company in the renewable energy business that focuses on developing solar-based power generation. Although it was established back in 1942, it was only incorporated in 1987 as a public company, which is when it became known as CPEC. At that time its key business focus was on manufacturing gear boxes, following its restructuring in 2010, its business focus changed from manufacturing to service. Since then, CPEC has been working with the development of renewable energy, taking advantage of new advances in solar power. Besides India, CPEC also works with other developing countries to generate and provide power to the governments and to AAA rated industrial and manufacturing conglomerates.

Global Energy Production

The management team of CPEC is made up of experts who are knowledgeable of growth patterns involved in global energy production. They are experienced in the evaluation of global solar technologies that help them make the best technological choices applicable to existing climate conditions of any given region. The CPEC strategy entails providing full services as a developer and to independently produce power on a turnkey or intermediate basis. Its services are aimed at every level of energy consumers in the commercial, industrial and residential segments, offering solar projects that are ground mounted as well as on those on rooftops.

Investment Funds in Renewable Energy

CPEC expects to attract the attention of investors who are looking to add renewable energy to their financial portfolios by directing and managing the investments in a macroeconomic climate. With this experience and expertise in the global market, CPEC is well equipped to manage investment funds in the solar energy sector.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Supporting Great Ideas and Apps with Potential

Many a good idea is shot down at the starting line due to lack of available funds. What a pity. Not only to the failing entrepreneur, but to the global market. In a business culture where everything is moving and improving, it is important to identify the winners and support them from the beginning up through the final product. Appitalist is a company that supports those early ideas and helps them through to completion. 

Appitalist for Early Stage Investments

Appitalist is a company that helps entrepreneurs develop in their quest to create new and exciting apps. Through timely seed investments and access to the experienced mentors at Appitalist, entrepreneurs have a solid foundation on which they can develop their new apps and businesses, giving them the freedom to create. This is great news for app developers, as they can get seed investments of £100,000 up to £500,000 at the beginning, when they need it the most to get their ideas off the ground and into the development stage.

Identifying Great Potential

Appitalist has a knack for identifying the best projects and people to select for early stage investments. They take advantage of their full network of knowledgeable partners and their own experienced team to provide business savvy to entrepreneurs in early stage development. Investments at this stage of growth typically fall into the range of £1 million up to £5 million. This funding is vital for developers to take their new business to a higher level of growth.

Funding Successful Projects

Growth investments provided by Appitalist help fund applications that have shown a definite potential for market growth and are capable of capturing a sizeable portion of the market sector. Their investments of £5 million up to £25 million result in accelerating market growth on an international scale so that the new project becomes a market leader.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

New Technology for Harnessing the Sun

With the cost of fuel always on the rise, the interest in alternative renewable energies becomes more urgent. According to MIT Technology Review, a technology known as photovoltaics is being tested to see if it is adaptable to the solar energy industry. It works by using a large lens that focuses light directly onto a very small section of photovoltaic semiconductor material. Although this method saves a lot of money by using only a tiny segment of the semiconductor material, the concentrated light is extremely hot. The vast amount of heat generated by focused sunlight not only makes the chip too hot to function, but as the temperature of the chip goes up, its efficiency goes down. 

Too Hot to Touch

The only thing standing in the way of using photovotaics in producing energy efficient solar energy is the intense level of heat generated. IBM recognized this dilemma as being very similar to its quest to cool down computer chips. Using its long experience in cooling computer chips, IBM experimented with using the same system to cool the photovoltaic material, which involves transferring the heat from a photovoltaic cell to a water-cooled heat sink. That method did not prove effective because there was not enough surface area between the two surfaces. 

Liquid Metal as a Solution
A new solution that works better is putting a very thin layer of liquid metal between both surfaces. The metal has an extremely high degree of thermal conductivity and due to its liquidity, it can be as thin as 10 micrometers. The team experimenting with this method has been able to focus what amounts to 2,300 times the natural energy of the sun onto one centimeter worth of chip. The natural temperature would be more than 1,500°C and would vanish into thin air, but by using the water and liquid metal cooling system, the photovoltaic material remains a cool 85°C.

Although the new technology is not in place yet, the search is on for a company that can create the concentrated photovoltaic system. When the technology is in place, it is sure to bring down the price of creating solar energy and make it more cost effective as an alternative energy source.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Getting Ideas Off the Ground with Crowdfunding

Entrepreneurs looking to get high tech startups off the ground are finding a work-around to expensive bank funding or venture capital. Online crowdfunding opens the way for viable projects to get the initial monies needed to help cover startup costs and development. If you have a good idea, you can make a video and launch a global crowdsourcing campaign. According to the platform, you will need to set up a funding target as well as a deadline. If you get the funding in that period of time, the money is yours, minus a commission.

What does the donor get? Besides the excitement of funding a fantastic product that will turn the world upside down, you can offer various awards. It could be a tee shirt with you product name, a copy of the product when it is launched or a chance to sit in on board meetings of the company. So along with giving money, donors actually get something tangible in return.

Crowdfunding Platforms

Kickstarter is one crowdfunding platform that has helped 4.9 million people earn funding of $790 million since it’s inception in 2009. In line with its criteria for accepting projects, participants must be creative and their acceptance must lead to a concrete result, such as a product or a film. The service is strictly for entrepreneurs to fund projects and rules out anyone who wants to raise money for personal use.

Indiegogo is another crowdfunding company that helps people or organizations with good ideas get noticed. When you prove to a community of donors that you have a product worth investing in, larger investors and venture capital firms take notice. While the amounts donated may be small, the big thing to note is that it empowers entrepreneurs to turn concepts into viable products. 

Whether it’s a hockey stick sensor that calculates speeds or a new documentary film, crowdfunding donors enjoy take a small risk to join the development process.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Saving and Storing Energy

The solar panel industry is growing as many businesses and homeowners are buying them to install on their rooftops. There are new startups coming on the scene with the sole purpose of creating products and services relevant to energy storage technology. When creating your own energy storage, you can create and store energy during the daytime sunlight hours and bank it for nighttime use. If you have more energy than you can use, you can send it back to the grid and get paid for it.

Smart Energy Systems

Danilo Rizzuti /
There are several companies jumping into this solar industry. One of them is PROSOL Invest Deutschland, which presented its lithium-ion battery system in a U.S. solar trade event in San Francisco this year. The unique feature of this system is that it includes a wireless communication device that controls up to three home appliances. The communication control panel has the capability of interfacing with appliances that are connected via a Z-Wave plug. A small touch screen displays current solar energy production as well as how much is being consumed. So far the company has sold more than 1,200 systems in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The CEO of PROSOL is referring to it as a smart system rather than a backup power system, because of its flexibility and added functions.

Government Incentives

Many solar manufacturers are marketing solar panels that can be paired with the electrical grid, but due to costly components they are still out of the reach of most homeowners. Batteries are very expensive, so in order to provide an incentive certain governments, such as Germany, are offering rebates and low interest loans to offset a portion of the initial cost and installation of the energy storage systems. Japan began an energy storage rebate plan following the Fukushima nuclear leak in 2011 and California is investigating adding energy storage to wind and solar energy generation.

Hopefully the prices will become attractive and more homeowners can enjoy the savings and flexibility of creating and storing their own energy.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Soaring Solar Installations

In this day and age, the lack of electricity continues to be a daily struggle for many people in the world, but especially those in rural Asia and Africa who still depend on wood fires, diesel generators or kerosene for light. According to a recent industry report, large corporations as well as local utility companies do not have the facilities or the motivation to reach all residents of the developing nations of the world. The estimated one billion people living off the electricity grid are usually low income and considered to be the bottom of the pyramid. While government agencies and multinational power companies have been reluctant to reach them, this population represents a golden opportunity for startups to sell solar systems directly to the end customer. In fact, there have been more than 4 million installations of technologies for energy storage, LED lights and solar power systems to rural residents during the past ten years and those numbers continue to soar.

Reaching Developing Countries with Solar Energy

Selling to this sector of the population can involve a lot of legwork, with door-to-door sales in rural villages. To reach them with power, innovative solar systems can piggy-back off the national grid and once installed, they can implement pay as you go plans to recoup their initial investment while making it easy for villagers to pay for their power usage.

Solar Technology Startups Worth Watching
  1. QBotix: Makers of robots that follow a tracking system to change the angles of solar panels throughout the day, according to the movement of the sun.
  2. GlassPoint Solar: Developers of equipment for solar thermal energy that is based on a greenhouse design. It produced a technology for solar steam production that is geared to the oil industry and is a cheaper alternative to natural gas in regions such as the Middle East.
  3. SCS Renewables: A matchmaking company that puts investors together with high quality solar technology projects. The service also supports developers who are preparing their projects for introduction into the start up market.
  4. Solar Mosaic: A company that launched an online public site to offer investments in solar power.
  5. Clean Power Finance: A firm that raises money for installation of solar panels through leases or purchase agreements.
With major opportunities for investors, solar startups deserve to be taken seriously during the coming year.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Appeal of Luxury Penmanship

I cautiously guard my favorite gold plated fountain pen that I keep in my breast pocket. I consider it less of a luxury item than a necessity, because when I use it to sign my name on the dotted line it makes an impressive statement. I could use any pen to do that, so why does it need to be prestigious? I feel good when I use it, that’s why. The feel of a quality writing instrument exudes confidence. It not only looks good, but it makes me look good. Whipping out my impressive high dollar fountain pen in front of business associates or clients sends an upscale message rather than a dime-store ball point. It makes a statement reaffirming my lust for excellence.

Luxurious Stationery Products on the Rise

I recently read a Business Wire press release reporting that as market analysts expect the world wide office stationery and supplies market to increase in the coming years, one of the sectors showing a surprising growth is luxury stationery. Personally, I have always enjoyed browsing stationery shops. Whether I’m traveling in England, Italy, France or Japan, I make a point to take some time to browse through the best stores selling fountain pens, high grade paper and leather-bound notebooks. I like the smell of a well stocked stationery store and the feel when I touch a sheet of the most expensive paper. But until I read the press release, I didn’t realise luxury stationery products were such a trend.

Captivating Letterhead

Besides pens, the appeal of luxurious stationery products is captivating. Anyone can write on a piece of paper, but the luxury of writing on paper with 25% cotton content on a laid finish takes writing to another level. Choosing the best quality paper when printing your letterhead or calling cards does not go unnoticed. Yes, it is extravagant, but some things in life are just worth the extra cost.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Choosing Your Networking Strategy for Best Results

Putting it simply, looking for a job just isn’t as easy as it used to be. Gone are the days of going door to door with your CV in hand or mailing your CV in response to the “Wanted” section of the newspaper. Those tactics just won’t earn you a call back or even an initial interview in today’s marketplace. Even now as I write these tips on identifying your strategy, the “times are a’changin” and you must keep abreast of every nuance to get (or keep) your foot in the door of a desired workplace.

Identifying Your Goals

Whether you want to move up in the company where you are currently employed or you are unemployed with no prospects, the first step in defining your position is to write down your short term and long-term employment goals. Once this is clear, you can determine the strategy to reach those goals. In other words, you need to know where you’re going before you can draw out a map to get there. 

Presenting Your Best Face

No matter where your dream job might be, you need to successfully present your personal brand, including your accomplishments, skills, personality and reputation, to the correct person. Learn to speak well about yourself and present your credentials in a clear and coherent way. Practice this at home before trying it out in a live interview. Write down a list of questions you might be asked and practice effectively communicating your answer.

Choosing Contacts

Once your list is complete and you’ve practiced your lines it’s time to find a contact who can help you realise your goals. Social networking sites, such as LinkedIn can be a rich source of information. If you haven’t joined, now would be a good time to do that. Write a positive and concise bio with your stated goals. Then plug in your particular area of interest, or a specific company name, and identify people who could introduce you to someone in the field you are interested in. Become LinkedIn “friends” with them and send an email or message asking for advice meeting professionals in your field. When they reply, keep your request short, simple and to the point and you should get valuable contact information that will bring you one step closer to your ideal job

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Luxury Real Estate Making a Comeback

While we still see the remaining footprints of the global economic turndown of 2008, some areas of the economy are returning to their normal state. I’m happy to report that the luxury real estate market is one of them. Luxury properties can be considered the top ten to twenty percent of the real estate market in any locale or they can be the top percentage of homes in specific destinations of the world, such as Paris or London. Whatever the definition, people with money are finding them and buying them.

Types of Buying Trends

According to a recent report conducted by Coldwell Banker, ultra-luxury clients are shying away from the large traditional homes favoured by their parents and going for houses with clean designs and an open floor plan. They want well-equipped outdoor kitchens and the ability to bring the outside in with large windows showing off beautiful gardens. The study concludes that the more affluent the homeowner, the more likely to purchase a property based on location and lifestyle. 

London’s Home Buying Surge

London is one of the prestigious cities that draws the attention of luxury homebuyers. While the average price of luxury homes in and around Europe has suffered a decline of 0.4% in the first three months of 2013, the value of London’s luxury houses has shown an increase of 8%. In fact, London’s average houses in its city centre have breached the £1m price tag. Demand for central London properties outweighed supply by three to one. Why the big boom in London while European market is stagnant? Investors trying to safeguard their savings during Europe’s debt crisis and instability in the Arab world made London seem a place they could buy and safeguard their money. 

Looking at today’s real estate market statistics, they were right.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Living like You Didn't Just Win the Lottery

Sound easy to do? It's not. History is filled with stories of real down and outers who suddenly won their ticket to freedom and found themselves on skid row a number of years later. The same holds true for us as our income levels increase and opportunities for fun in the sun can actually become dreams come true. I have come up with a number of tips that will help you hang on to what you have and build for the future by avoiding what is referred to as lifestyle inflation.

Back to the Beginning

Remember when you first started out in your first apartment with the job you snagged straight out of college? We were all so careful with every expenditure back then, but we made it work. Our beginning salaries miraculously covered our living expenses. Maybe not much more, but we were satisfied. Ok, then we started up the corporate ladder and increased our wages big-time. Did we stay in our same cramped apartment that we were so happy with the year before? No. Bigger salary, bigger apartment. Housing is one of the largest monthly expenses. Not only the size of the apartment, but the furnishings, utilities and taxes that go along with a larger abode. If you can resist (or postpone) the urge to upgrade your living quarters, you can save a bundle.

Transportation Costs

Ok, so you've hooked a great job but you don't want to be seen driving the '75 Volkswagen that got you through your university years. You want to upgrade according to your job position. It's understandable that when you pull into the company parking lot that you need to drive a vehicle that represents your company well.  But go easy. Don't try to impress by something you can't afford.  Try a good-looking pre-owned car that fits easily into your budget.

Learn to Cook and Hang on to your Health

Now that you have more money you can afford to eat out every night. But should you? Is restaurant fare or take-away the natural way to save money and maintain your health? A much better solution would be to invest in a few simple cooking lessons that would give you the opportunity to make quick but healthy meals at home. You would not only hang on to your well-earned salary, but maintain a healthier diet as well.

Set up a Savings Plan

It's easy to spend every single dollar that hits our bank accounts. There is always something we need or something we could use. But believe me, there is nothing we need more than a savings account. How to do it? The only way I've found that is successful is by making a forced, or preset payment into a retirement fund or some sort of a savings plan every month.  It's like taking a small cut in your salary, but the long-term dividends are well worth it.

Preparing for Tomorrow

All that said, use the resources available to you today to make the most out of life. Drive a great car, eat well and enjoy life. Isn't that what it's all about?  Save for tomorrow and you can enjoy life well into the decades to come.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Modern Art Exhibits to Look Forward to in 2013

As a great appreciate of modern art, I have been checking out what 2013 has in store for us, so I can plan my travel agenda to catch a few of them. Excellent art pieces are good for the diverse portfolio and especially when we latch onto an up and coming artist who deserves early investment. Following are a few of the shows worth catching and artists who deserve to be followed.

Alexandre Singh at the Drawing Center

Scheduled for the early months of 2013, Singh will be holding his first North American exhibit in New York. Born in France and raised in the UK, Singh began his work for the project with a series of interviews that included famous screenwriters, fellow artists, playwrights, directors and art critics. He then created adventurous versions of the interviews that are printed to be readwhile wandering the exhibit, which consists of black and white inkjet prints that Singh made of his own collages. Like maps or schematics of the interviews, the prints are arranged in a sleek display as he tries to create an entire universe within the limits of a gallery.

The Artist and the Poet

An interesting show that aims to explain the collaborations among artists like Picasso, Hockney and Motherwell with famous poets. The show will be exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago. It coincides with the Picasso and Chicago exhibit and was inspired by his love of poetry. Picasso collaborated with many of his poet friends while working in Paris, and this is a collection that shows the ways that visual artists were inspired by poetry in the 20th century.

Masterpieces of Modern Mexico

The Nelson Atkinds Museum of Art will be hosting an exhibition of works that are part of the collection of two East European expats who have been Mexican citizens since 1942. Besides representations of modern Mexican masterpieces, the exhibit includes pieces of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera.

Good to know that wherever in the world we may travel, there will be some good art to be seen.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Spring Travel
Spring is in the air and many of us are looking forward to vacations to unknown destinations abroad. Pleasure travel is quite a bit more exciting than business travel and even demands a different mentality. You may be planning a trip with your partner, friends or every your entire family, and there are situations that you may be unprepared for as a frequent business traveler  I just want to remind you of a few of those instances that you will want to mentally prepare for to avoid nasty travel experiences. They are common sense tips that keep you from getting into at home as well as while travelling, but are more likely to happen when you are distracted by new sites or new adventures.

Hiding Your Money

We all know about hiding your extra money and credit cards, but it also needs to be separated into different places. Don't keep all of your credit cards together in your wallet, lest you be left with nothing if your wallet goes missing. Keep at least one credit card back in your hotel room or in your sock. Same goes for money, of course. Split it up and spread it around. And those bum bags that used to set tourists apart from the locals? Get rid of them. Don't advertise to the locals that you have some stuff that is so important that you're going to wear it around your belly. Go with something more discreet (and waterproof) such as a small pouch that is hidden under your clothes. As far as your wallet goes, it's much safer to keep it in the inside pocket of your jacket or your front jeans pocket than the back pocket where it can be seen and grabbed.

One Last Thing

When you get up to leave your people watching spot at a cafe or steps in front of the cathedral, take a minute to look behind you to make sure you didn't forget anything.

Bon Voyage and Safe and Happy Travels!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Men – Welcome to the Kitchen!

The kitchen may once have been thought of primarily as a woman's domain, but fortunately that is no longer
the case. Men have taken over the kitchen big time and their influence is changing the way we think of old standbys. Not content to leave the old standards alone, they are changing, upgrading and improving the
things we eat.

Let's Get Serious
One thing about men in the kitchen is that they take what they're preparing very seriously. They think long and hard about what they're making and with standards held high, they expect their creations to turn out perfectly. It's less about "a pinch of this and a speck of that" and more about turning a simple dish into an engineering feat. The end result? They are out to WOW us with a fantastic and unforgettable dish. But you 
know what? I don't have a problem with that. Perfection in the kitchen is a good thing.

Cooking as a Competitive Sport
Way too often there are televised cooking shows that are trying to make cooking into a competitive sport that you must win if you are good in the kitchen. Programs that make it seem like you should either be the best or get out of the kitchen. But that's not the way of the kitchen. Being a good cook is about being creative and making the most with what you have on hand. It's about meeting time expectations as well as putting something on the table that meets everyone's different taste and diet preferences. It's time to take meal preparation out of the sporting arena and move it into the realm of art, because whether male or female, it takes a true artist to pull off a real meal. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Classic Car of the Year
You can stop holding your breath waiting for the car chosen as the winner of the Classic Car of 2012. Alan Bartlett's 1934 Jowett Long Saloon has taken the title in the final round of voting. He inherited the beauty from his great-grandfather and did him well by restoring it and making sure it was roadworthy. The 23-year old Bartlett knew little about classic cars in general, let alone the one he was left in an inheritance. As far as he knew, it was the old car that always sat in his father's garage.

Learning from the Ground Up

Bartlett, who was a media student, decided six years ago that rather than sell his inheritance, he would restore it to its original beauty. At that time, it had not seen pavement for some eight years, so he had his work cut out for him. He began researching the car and its connection to his family and literally changed career direction as he fell head over heels in love with his new classic. He began a blog and picked up lots of interest in his new venture as he detailed his restoration steps to the public. After many hours extending over a number of years and a lot of elbow grease, he got the car back on the road with 40,000 miles on the meter. Although roadworthy, he has stopped driving it on a daily basis and saves it for classic car shows.

Grand Prize Winner

In the tough contest for winner of the 2012 competition, the Jowett had to beat two other cars from the '30s, an Austin and a Morris. In all, he did win the top prize, and is now proudly employed by Wheelpower, who are MG specialists.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Racking Up Points in the Business World with Badges and Rewards

If you think that gold stars and cute badges are only for kids, think again. Reward systems based on digital games have made the big time, thanks to the internet, smartphones and tablets. Virtual badges are now an incentive that gets people moving in the right direction and they are being promoted by marketers on behalf of big businesses as well as small.

Games that Connect Customers with Businesses

What if reading this article and "liking it" on Facebook would win you a free cup of coffee in your favorite coffee shop. Would you read through and click the button at the bottom? Chances are good that you would do that as you already envisioned yourself sitting before that steaming mug. But what if the reward was a virtual cup of coffee. Would you still click through? According to the success of the virtual badge system, you probably would still play the game. Many businesses are counting on your participation when they offer virtual rewards for such activities as checking into a certain restaurant, attending an event or even working out at the gym. Rack up a few of those badges and you will find yourself sharing and comparing your results with your colleagues.

Virtual Badges as Powerful Motivators

What would get a couch potato off the sofa and into the nearest gym? Yes, that's right. An app that tracks progress at the gym. It seems as though we need a bit of a challenge in our lives when we get stuck. A reward that we can show off is an effective motivator. It helps us get from one level to the next. And for businesses, that can mean the path to success. Motivate clients to come in for a free introductory session or to see your newest product line by rewarding them online, and get ready for a flood of new clients.
In business today, that's how the game is being played.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Attracting Winter Visitors to Public Gardens

Rather than closing attractive public gardens in the winter, the new trend is to not only keep them open, but to encourage visitors to visit off-season by setting aside special areas to be viewed in the cold months of the year. Visitors agree that there is no better way to pass a cold and dreary day than by taking a brisk winter walk in a well tended garden followed by a fireside seat at a cozy inn. With this idea in mind, many of the most beautiful summer gardens are now preparing in advance for wintertime activities.

Planning Ahead
As with all successful businesses, a little forethought is required to attract a new type of clientele that will increase visitors while helping pull up sagging wintertime profits. It's time to plan ahead to pull people up out of their warm homes on gray and chilly days to enjoy a poetic experience in a winter wonderland. This begins in the months leading up to the winter by planting with all four seasons in mind. In addition to it being a really "cool" experience, it gives locals a chance to go and see which plants survive well in their climate. With instructive guides accompanying visitors, they can learn a wealth of information that they can take home and apply in their own gardens.

Old Roses in the Winter
The Hampshire Garden, which is under the direction of the National Trust at Mottisfont, is known for its collection of old roses. The head gardener has found that by turning the winter fields of leafless trees into picture-perfect sculptures, he can show people the garden from another viewpoint. Rather than looking down at the old rose beds, he encourages visitors to look up at the beauty as seen from below. That, along with the beautiful springs and cascading water, has turned the winter garden into a scene of outstanding beauty.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Asian Luxury Market

As Asians are learning to adjust to their new found wealth, they are looking for high priced ways to redefine their identities and positions in society. They are seeking out unique experiences, enjoying luxury brands and in search of new pleasures. The new status of wealth cuts across regions and through different income levels, but it all leads to the desire for more luxury brands and products that will improve their lifestyle while setting them apart. Although in America the wealthy population leans toward being inconspicuous, emerging markets see luxury products as an honour or achievement worthy of a very expensive, and "showy" badge.

Second Annual Marcus Evans Luxury Brands Conference

The new reality in Asia has lent its support to the global luxury market and has helped it to withstand economic downturns that have greatly affected other industries. With the emerging markets in mind, the Marcus Evans 2nd Annual Luxury Brands Conference will introduce bespoke services and products while highlighting case studies by some of the largest international luxury brands. Participants will be encouraged in steps they can take now to meet the higher expectations and continue to grow with the new luxury brand market, including tools to meet the new challenges facing them with the sway towards digital marketing.

Raising the Bar

As noted in a previous Marcus Evans Luxury Conference, the luxury goods companies that have suffered the most throughout economic turmoil are those that produce products aimed at the middle market. The very high-end luxury items have done the best, as well as the lower end products. This was seen in 2010 when watches that cost in the upper range of $15,000 or more continued to sell as well as the lower end timepieces in the under $2,000 range. The market that did poorly was the middle range, a trend that carried over into the jewelry market as well as name brand clothing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Who would have known that Ferrari has been in China since 1992 if they had not just celebrated its anniversary with such outstanding events? It shouldn't come as a surprise now that China is home to more cities with millionaires than there are in Europe. In recognition of twenty years of doing business in China, daylong events that included a parade of more than 130 Ferraris were held in Guangzhou. With 700 automobiles in China and twenty-five dealerships, China is actually Ferrari's second biggest market and its popularity is still growing. The city was full of Ferrari enthusiasts, young people and lots and lots of Ferrari flags waving in the air. The day was referred to as a grand demonstration of the Chinese people's obsession 
with Ferraris.