Sunday, 19th November 2017

Phillip Gough

Posted on 02. Feb, 2012 by in Entrepreneur, LEADERSHIP

phillip_gough

Photogaphy By Michael Vonal

Philip Gough is a Counselor for Trade Promotion and Investment Affairs with the Brazilian Embassy. As head of the Trade Promotion Offi ce, Mr. Gough oversees a team working in the areas of trade and investment. Mr. Gough is a career diplomat, and has a background in Trade Policy. He has worked in the Trade Policy Division of the Ministry of External Aff airs in Brasilia, where he specialized in Intellectual Property rights. During his assignment with the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the International Organizations in Geneva he was responsible for antidumping, subsidies and safeguards negotiations. He has also served as Chairman of the Working Group on Trading Rights as well as the Working Group on China’s Accession into the World Trade Organization. We were happy to catch up with Mr. Gough and talk about trade with Brazil.

What should we know about doing business in Brazil?
Brazil is a consolidated democracy based on solid institutions, with a stable political environment that guarantees individual rights. It is a country with a high degree of institutional, political and economic maturity, with immense potential for growth and investment. Today, the country is a major player in global affairs. With a population of 192,3 million inhabitants and a US$ 2,1 trillion GDP, Brazil is the seventh largest economy in the world. The Brazilian economy rests on strong macroeconomic fundamentals: inflation under control coupled with a high level of foreign reserves and a sustainable average economic growth.

The consumer market has expanded, attracting new entrepreneurs and expanding business. Roughly 40 million Brazilians have joined the ranks of the middle class in recent years. The size of such middle class is estimated at more than 100 million people, or about 50% of the country’s population.

Due to the size of its population and its high consumer potential, Brazil is a naturally attractive market for any international company and it is comparable to some major world markets. At the same time, the Brazilian market is complex and diversified. Brazil is a country of continental dimensions, which still presents great contrasts between different regions. However, far from being a problem for foreign companies looking to do business in Brazil, the country’s economic, social and cultural diversity mean an almost unlimited number of business opportunities. Before going to Brazil, the American executive needs to get a business visa at a Brazilian Consulate. Washington, DC area executives should apply for a visa at the Brazilian Consulate General, which is located at 1030 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005. Details about the documentation required and how to apply are available online at www.consbrasdc.org.

Companies interested in importing from or investing in Brazil will find useful information at the Brazilian Government’s trade promotion portal BrasilGlobalNet (www.brasilglobalnet.gov.br). In addition, they can contact the Trade and Investment Offce team of the Embassy of Brazil in Washington by telephone at (202) 238-2788 or by e-mail at trade@brasilemb.org.

Most of the direct investment that we see has been in the banking industries in the U.S. What other American industries are well positioned to attract Brazilian capital?
Brazilian investment in the U.S. has increased substantially in the past years, in a wide variety of segments. One American sector that has attracted significant Brazilian capital is the meat processing industry. In fact, the Brazilian company JBS purchased Swift to become the largest single Brazilian investor in the United States. Another major investor, with factories throughout the country, is Gerdau Ameristeel, who acquired a string of previously American-owned rebar facilities. A third major investor has been Embraer, Brazil’s largest aircraft manufacturing company; a substantial portion of the parts in Embraer’s aircrafts is actually made in the United States, in an interesting example of integration of supply chains. Thus, a variety of American industries have attracted significant capital from Brazil, and we expect the variety and magnitude of such investments to increase in the coming years.

BRAZIL IS A NATURALLY
ATTRACTIVE MARKET FOR ANY
INTERNATIONAL COMPANY

How are Brazilian-American business ties under the Obama administration? We know that the two countries have had some disagreements in the recent past, have some of the trade issues been resolved? Brazil and the United States are going through a very positive phase in their bilateral relations.
President Obama’s visit to Brazil last March, and President Dilma Rousseff’s upcoming visit to the United States exemplify the intensification of our relations. We have now more than 20 mechanisms of bilateral dialogue, covering a vast array of topics. One of them is the “CEO Forum”, which brings together representatives of both governments and CEOs of both private sectors in a frank exchange of views. Many of the ideas advanced in the Forum translated into concrete measures to facilitate business. Naturally, as the relationship becomes more mature and diversified, some points of disagreement can arise. In any case, the positive aspects of the relationship between the two countries surpass, by far, localized points of friction. The message to retain is that this is a good moment for the business communities of both countries to take advantage

When you look at the headlines about Brazil, four major themes are readily apparent: staggering economic growth, The Olympics, The World Cup and the amount of crime in the cities. Out of these four, the level and severity of the crimes seem to be the biggest deterrent to attracting American businesses. How would you advise businesspeople traveling there?
Public safety policies are considered one of the priorities of the Dilma Rousseff Administration and they aim to reduce crime in the country. Many programs are part of the activities of the Brazilian Ministry of Justice and are executed in an integrated manner between the Union, the States and cities.

Studies published by the Ministry of Justice demonstrate the index of the reduction of violence due to many public actions. The Ministry of Justice of Brazil developed the National Public Security with Citizenship (Pronasci), which marks a new initiative in tackling crime in the country. Launched in August of 2007, the project articulates public safety policies with social actions, prioritizes prevention and seeks to eliminate the causes that lead to violence.

There are also important measures being adopted on a local basis. Take, for instance, the actions of the State of Rio de Janeiro, which have been under the spotlight recently. According to numbers informed by the state’s Instituto de Segurança Pública (Institute of Public Safety), levels of violent crimes have fallen signifi cantly. As a result, the established targets for crime reduction in the state for this year have been met.

The state government is developing an important program of pacifi cation of some poor communities that were dominated by drug traffickers. Th e state is regaining control of these communities, one by one.

What are some of the things Americans should never say or do in a business environment?

Perhaps, one of the most important things regarding doing business in Brazil is the fact that Brazilian businesspeople are more relationshipdriven than in some other countries. By cultivating close personal relationships and building trust, entrepreneurs will have a greater chance of successfully doing business in Brazil. Knowing Portuguese gives foreign businesspeople an important edge. Brazilian executives normally have a reasonable command of English, but in some cases it might not be the case. Meetings usually take place in offi ces and are seldom scheduled to take place in a hotel or at the business person’s residence, as sometimes happens in other countries. Keep in mind that most of the decisions are made by top level managers. It is expected that before the meeting starts, some light conversation will take place, usually involving news in the media or even some teasing about the soccer team of those present. To Brazilians, these are ways of “breaking the ice”.

What are the top three exports to Brazil from the U.S.? Exports from the United States to Brazil are very diversifi ed. Th e United States exported US$35.4 billion in goods to Brazil last year.
Of this large sum, 23%, or US$8.1 billion was chemicals. In second place, computers and electronic products accounted for almost 19% of total exports, amounting to US$6.6 billion. Th e third largest export category was transportation equipment, which accounted for nearly 16%, or US$5.6 billion. Close behind is machinery, except electrical, whose exports from the U.S. to Brazil were about 14% of the total, or US$4.9 billion. Th e other sectors, which include petroleum and oil products, minerals and ores, fabricated metal products and others, made up the rest of the exports, at US$10.2 billion or nearly 30%.

What are some interesting opportunities in emerging industries in Brazil?
Some of the most talked-about investment opportunities in Brazil arose from the country’s role as host of the 2014 Soccer World Cup in 12 major cities throughout Brazil and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil is planning to expand the capacity of its major international and domestic airports, extend various terrestrial transportation routes, and modernize several sea ports. The sporting events have also created opportunities for companies specializing in the hospitality and tourism sectors, as Brazil plans to build more hotels around the country and retrain staff to interact with the tourists expected to visit the country. Th e announcement of Brazil’s enormous presalt reserves off the coasts of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo also presents a promising opportunity for international investors.

The Summit Series

Posted on 01. Feb, 2012 by in Entrepreneur

summit_series


The Summit Series brings together some of the world’s most extraordinary visionaries, entrepreneurs, artists and philanthropists to help find solutions to a host of global problems, create new businesses, and raise millions for charitable causes. Led by co founder Elliot Bisnow, Th e Summit Series has been able to achieve a notable amount of buzz in the business and entertainment communities as well as in the world of policy and philanthropy. We spoke to cofounder Jeremy Schwartz about the collective, and what they hope to achieve in the near future.

What makes Summit Series unique?
Summit Series is a cultural mash up. Musicians debate with scientists, entrepreneurs tag sharks with actors, and astronauts partner with nonprofit t leaders. Businesses are built, friendships are made, and millions of dollars are raised for charitable causes. Whereas some ‘conferences’ focus more on ideas and knowledge-sharing, we focus on the people behind those ideas. For us, building a truly authentic relationship with someone is one of the most important things you can do at our event. We work hard to create a surreal environment. Th ere aren’t many places in the world where you can dive in with someone like Richard Branson and have Th e Roots as your house band for three days. After you have shared an experience like Summit with someone, doing business with that person just becomes the next logical step.

Summit Series invests in socially conscious companies, like Warby Parker. How do you choose which companies to get behind?
Well, we’re strong believers in the idea that what’s good for business should be good for the world. When choosing companies to get behind we look at three things. Is the company positively disrupting its industry? Does it have the potential to create lasting positive impact in the world? And most importantly, we look at the people who are driving those companies. Are they both good entrepreneurs and good people? We’re constantly advising and helping out a ton of our friend’s companies, making anywhere from 40-50 introductions a week. With so many fi rst-looks at innovative, new startups, it seems only natural for us to formally get behind some of them.

Can you tell us more about the work being done in the Community Fund? The Get Well Soon Tour sounds great.
Similar to how the goal of our investment fund is to create positive change through entrepreneurship, the goal of our Community Fund is to create lasting positive impact through altruism. Th e Get Well Soon Tour is one of the projects I’m most excited about. We co-founded it with Benny Blanco. Th e tour delivers popup performances and visits from some of the world’s leading musicians—from Justin Bieber and Pitbull to Mandy Moore and Maroon 5—to hospitalized children across the United States. Before starting Summit Series, I was a professional musician, touring in a rock band for several years. The best part about performing is seeing the actual faces of the people your music has had an impact on, and that’s exactly what The Get Well Soon Tour does. A bittersweet story: Justin Bieber ended up meeting with one of his biggest fans, whose dream it was to meet the pop icon, the day before she lost her battle to a terminal illness.

…WHAT’S GOOD FOR BUSINESS SHOULD BE GOOD FOR THE WORLD


Summit Series brings together some of the world’s leading innovators, artists and business people to affect positive change. Have the events garnered any real and quantifiable change?

Over the last 18 months we’ve raised more than $2.5M in charity from our events. Qwiki, which is basically ‘video Wikipedia’, was actually founded at our event and went on to win Tech Crunch Disrupt a year later. We connected Sean Parker to Spotify, which resulted in an investment by Founders Fund and Sean becoming a Spotify board member. One of my favorite examples occurred as a result of Summit at Sea; what started as a simple contest for attendees to win the chance to go shark tagging at our event, evolved into an entire campaign to protect the ocean. We’ve now raised more than $500,000 to create a 70 square mile marine protected area (think: national park in the ocean) less than 20 miles from where Summit at Sea dropped anchor.

If there were only one global issue that Summit Series could solve, what would it be?
Our goal isn’t to solve one global problem in particular, but rather to bring a community of minds together to address many of the challenges that we face today. This is why we try to curate our events to be as diverse as possible, regarding both people and industry. When you spend your days building a company in one particular industry, it’s easy to get tunnel vision, as if there’s only one specific solution that solves one specifi c problem. Since homogeneous events seem to produce homogeneous results, we focus on connecting diverse minds from all different industries. This drives people to tackle challenges from new angles. That’s really where the magic happens, and that’s what Summit Series is all about.

Jonathan Whittle: Axeso Payment Solutions

Posted on 01. Feb, 2012 by in Entrepreneur, LEADERSHIP

jonathan_whittle3

Photography by Michael Vonal

Jonathan Whittle is the cofounder and CEO of Axeso Payment Solutions, which offers its clients general purpose reloadable pre-paid cards in Brazil and other Latin American countries. Before leading Axeso Payment Solutions, Mr. Whittle was the Principal at Darby Overseas Investments, Ltd. as well as serving as Principal for Darby Technology Ventures where he was responsible for their investment strategies. Prior to his tenure at Darby, Mr. Whittle was the President at Optiglobe Argentina, as well as working in many capacities with Diveo Broadband Networks. We sat with Mr. Whittle to chat a bit about his experiences operating in Latin America.

Jonathan Whittle of Axeso Payment Solutions

You grew up in Spain and spent time in Argentina. How did growing up abroad shape your outlook?
Growing up in a bi-lingual and bi-cultural setting defi nitely shaped my outlook and interests. I’m not only comfortable in diff erent cultural environments, but I thrive in them… and as an entrepreneur, the cross-cultural challenges make the endeavor all the more exciting and rewarding. Th e same bug has aff ected my two brothers, both of whom work in international business and travel extensively. At the same time, growing up abroad has made me deeply appreciative of the U.S.. As much as I enjoy traveling, it is always a breath of fresh air to get home.

How did you end up doing business in Brazil?
I was first exposed to doing business in Brazil as part of the founding management team of three telecom start-ups in the 1990s that were based in Washington but focused on Latin America.

I then switched to the other side of the table, joining Darby Overseas Investments in 2002 as head of tech and telecom investments in Latin America. A majority of my investments were in Brazil, a country that I witnessed take off during the course of the past decade. When I decided to return to my entrepreneurial roots, Brazil was a natural choice for me given the relationships I’ve developed through my investment activity and given the vibrancy, excitement and opportunity in a country that is clearly on the move.

Tell us little about your newest venture, Axeso Payment Solutions.
Axeso is launching a general purpose reloadable prepaid card in Brazil, with a focus on the unbanked and under-banked segments of the population, which comprises over half of the Brazilian population. Our aim is to provide the means of fi nancial inclusion for people who today operate entirely in cash, with a value proposition of security, convenience, control and access to services, including online purchases, that they are excluded from today. I co-founded the company with Segio Kulikovsky, a brilliant entrepreneur who I backed as an investor in Certisign, one of his string of successful ventures in Brazil. So far, all of Axeso’s backing has come from Brazilian investors. I commute to Brazil every week, spending 3-4 days a week there…thank you, United, for a direct overnight flight!

What are some of the downsides of doing business in Brazil? Has security ever been an issue?
There definitely are downsides to doing business in Brazil, principally tied to costs. The current exchange rate has made Sao Paulo a very expensive place to do business. The exchange rate combined with onerously high labor taxes and high demand has driven salaries for mid and senior level executives higher than they are in the US. Though there has been some talk of tax and labor reform, I don’t see anything concrete on the horizon. Security is definitely an issue, as I recently experienced personally with an armed robbery on the street. You have to take extra precautions, just as you do in most of Latin America.

BRAZIL TODAY REALLY FEELS
LIKE A COUNTRY ON THE MOVE,
WITH A LOAD OF CONFIDENCE.

How does doing business in Brazil differ from the rest of Latin America?
Though the rest of Latin America can’t be painted in broad brush strokes, the biggest and most obvious difference is size. Brazil’s population is close to 200 million, and it is set to surpass the UK as the 6th largest economy in the world in the next year. If you can get it right in Brazil, the rest of Latin America is icing on the cake. Brazil is a stable and relatively easy place to do business, with rules of play that are predictable and institutions that are fairly mature. In most industries, competition is fierce and reasonably honest, and capital markets are increasingly sophisticated and open. Most important, though, is the pulse of Brazil’s business sector, which stands in marked contrast to what I’ve experienced in other Latin American countries. I certainly hope Brazil has broken with the old maxim that Brazil is the country of the future…and always will be. Brazil today really feels like a country on the move, with a load of confidence about the future.

You also worked as a VC, investing in tech firms in South America and Mexico. How does the venture capial landscape differ in Latin America from the United States?
In contrast to private equity, which is a fairly mature asset class in much of the region, venture capital in Latin America is in its infancy. Until recently, there were only a handful of firms with a commitment to investing in earlier stage companies and many of the early funds backed by governmental organizations were used as a springboard to developing a private equity business focused on more mature companies. That’s beginning to change, particularly in Brazil, where a number of dedicated venture capital funds have been raised entirely from private sources of capital. In the past 18 months, Brazil has seen a surge of interest from many of the leading names in Silicon Valley. Brazil is now home to a number of the fastest growing internet companies in the world, and the entrepreneurial ecosystem is changing at a rapid pace.

What tips do you have for American businessmen who are interested in Brazil?

The best advice is to dive in. You’ll find the business culture is familiar and easy to adapt to, and Brazilians are famously friendly and welcoming. The one specific tip I’d give is to concentrate on Sao Paulo…I know a number of Americans who have set up shop in Rio, only to spend most of their work week in Sao Paulo.

With the upcoming World Cup in 2014 and Olympics in 2016, Brazil will certainly be in the limelight like never before. What will this event mean for Americans looking for business opportunities? Huge investments are needed in infrastructure in the next years to get ready for the events, providing clear opportunities for companies in this sector. For the most part, however, what makes Brazil compelling has little to do with those events. Most business opportunities are driven by more basic and long term factors such as the overall strength of the economy, the rise of the middle class, and the development of the pre-salt oil fields, which should turn Brazil into one of the world’s greatest oil producers in the next decade.

Michel Richard: A Cali-Franco in D.C.

Posted on 08. Aug, 2011 by in Entrepreneur

Michel Richard: A Cali-Franco in D.C.

Michel Richard - Photography by Michael Vonal

Michel Richard oversees a growing culinary empire that includes his prestigious restaurants, television appearances and his work in philanthropy. Never to rest on his laurels, Chef Richard regularly lends his creativity to prestigious culinary publications such as Food & Wine, Food Arts, Saveur, Bon Appetit, Wine Spectator, and the Wine Advocate, and is often featured in major regional publications such as the Washingtonian, New York Times, Washington Post and L.A. Times, among others.

MB: Your attraction to Los Angeles was the glitz and glamour. What is the appeal that Washington, D.C. has for you?

MR: I was attracted to Los Angeles for the weather, not the glitz, but after awhile the weather gets boring. So I moved to D.C. for the weather. I love the four seasons. Mostly though, I came because of the influence of my good friend Jean-Louis Palladin, who was a chef at the Watergate. MB: Your restaurant, Citronelle in Georgetown, is considered to be your flagship restaurant. Why is that? MR: It is the first restaurant that I opened in D.C. and I think it is my most important.

MB: You began to cook at age seven, then spent years as an apprentice, so you’ve paid your dues. What are the advantages or disadvantages of this method of apprenticeship?

MR: As an apprentice, when you are very young, you learn how to clean the kitchen. You learn how to be a slave.

But I don’t think that’s good anymore. You don’t need to be a slave to be a good chef. You don’t need to be insulted, or supply cheap labor, to be a chef who is in love with his profession. These days most of the young chefs are college educated. I think it helps. An educated chef is a better chef. I left school too early, when I was 14, and then went back when I was 21. College education is good for chefs.

MB: You were one of the pioneers of the satellite restaurant concept which has been emulated by so many top chefs and personalities. How is that panning out for businesses such as yours and for the customers?

MR: Each one of the restaurants is different. I tried to tailor the menu to the local people in each location.

MB: Your clientele is very impressive, none more so than the President and First Lady. Do they dine alone, or does your restaurant close for them? Has their presence helped business?

MR: They dined at Citronelle for their first date night, and we were open for business as usual. The other guests and the staff enjoyed their celebrity diners. It did generate good press for us at the time. Their presence made me famous in France.

MB: It is said that you had an epiphany while enjoying KFC. What were the effects of that epiphany on your brand of fusion French cuisine?

MR: I found texture which did not exist in French food (except in the French Napoleon). Now they call it Captain Crunch. I love the way texture makes fireworks in my mouth.

MB: Do you have an opinion on social media and daily-deal types on websites that many fine dining establishments are using to draw in customers?

MR: Social media, yes, absolutely. It’s the way people communicate these days, and I like to stay current with my food and with my guests.

MB: Do you cook at home? If yes, what is your family’s favorite dish?

MR: Roasted chicken. I cook at home mostly for special occasions.

Ted’s Take: Wizards Owner Ted Leonsis |

Posted on 08. Aug, 2011 by in Entrepreneur

Ted’s Take: Wizards Owner Ted Leonsis |

Ted Leonsis

People in the Metro D.C. area are some of the most passionate sports fans in the country. What can we expect to see in the coming years from our beloved Wizards and Caps?
The plan for the Capitals and the Wizards is similar: We want to produce generationally great teams that are in position to compete for a championship each year. We want to create lifelong memories for our fans. We see, hear and feel the passion of our fans every day, and when it’s a game-night, they help transform Verizon Center into an electric venue. Everyone thought that the Capitals were coming home with the Stanley Cup this year. Are we not a playoff team, or is there even such a thing? What elements are missing from the team? Candidly, that’s what we want. We want to give our fans a team that is able to compete for the Stanley Cup every year. That is the mindset of our players, coaches and the entire organization and our ultimate goal, but winning a championship is one of the toughest business achievements. There are so many variables, many of which are out of your control. Championships don’t happen overnight, and we aren’t aiming for a quick fix. We want to build teams that our fans, local and displaced, are proud to support for years to come. We’ve won three consecutive division titles, two conference titles and had the best regular-season record in the NHL. So I think that demonstrates to our fans that we are living up to our word and executing our plan. The next step, however, is putting it together during the playoffs. This off-season we’ve added a few players who we feel will add some missing ingredients. We’ll see —it all starts October 8th.

Will there be any big name signings this year? Following anyone special?
We signed several key players this off-season, including a new, long-term contract for Brooks Laich. He is such an integral part of our team, on the ice, in the locker room and in the community. We also have added an elite goalie, Tomas Vokoun, a couple of gritty, yet gifted forwards, Troy Brouwer and Joel Ward. We added to our defense with the addition of veteran Roman Hamrlik. Jeff Halpern, a Maryland native and former team captain, returned to our organization, and we will look to him not only for leadership but also his ability to be versatile and play several key roles for us.

Among owners you are probably the most active blogger. How important is it to stay connected to the fans? What’s your take on social media?
Fans, and more specifically season-ticket holders, are our lifeblood. So it only makes good business sense to reach out to them and to listen. Their feedback gives us an opportunity to improve every day. Blogging is an outlet for me to personally express myself, be transparent and share my unfiltered thoughts. In many ways our teams are their own media companies, and my blog is just one of many ways we connect with fans. It does make me feel connected, but sometimes I do wonder if I should cut back a little. The response and traffic, however, have been great, so I’m trying to strike an appropriate balance with my time. And that balance goes for social media too. You need to determine what works best for you and your business. Social media gives you the great opportunity to not only monitor important issues but also join the conversation. It’s a fascinating two-way communications channel.


In a purely business sense, do you think that the fighting in hockey is keeping people from really embracing the game?

Like many controversial issues, I really try to see both sides of the discussion. Fighting has been part of the NHL for a long, long time; I don’t see it going away completely, but certainly there have been rule changes throughout the years to curb some fighting. I also think the media occasionally glorifies that part of the game, so it may receive a disproportionate amount of attention. Consequently non-hockey fans are given the impression that fighting is a bigger part of the game than it is in actuality. We have a great, fast, physical sport – just ask anyone who has attended a game.

Does being the owner of a team take away from the thrill of being a fan?
I was a fan first – and always will be – but owning a team, which really is a public trust, is a tremendous responsibility. The success or failure of a team really impacts the psyche of the fans and the city. That was an aspect that I hadn’t fully grasped when my partners and I purchased the Capitals. But it is one that I am now acutely aware and take extremely seriously. But you will definitely see me courtside or in the owner’s box cheering – I’m a fan that bleeds red, white and blue for the Capitals, Wizards and Mystics.

Will there be better days ahead for the Wizards? What are your plans to build the team into a real contender?
There absolutely are better days ahead for the Wizards. We have a plan in place, and will construct a team with a similar philosophy as we employed with the Capitals. We want to draft well, develop our young players, help them grow up together and when appropriate and necessary add a key player through a trade or free agency. But all of those personnel moves must fit into our overall strategy and plan. We are full speed down that road, and it started with John Wall, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2010. We added other young players last year as well and had another outstanding draft this year. Many basketball “experts” have lauded our selections, direction and execution to date. We’ve also made some astute trades. I’m extremely happy with our progress, and at this stage we might be ahead of where I thought we would be when we acquired the team. We’ve already witnessed many “better days,” and there are many, many more on the horizon. You need to come to a game and witness it firsthand.

What kind of relationship do you have with the individual players?
My relationship with players is friendly and cordial. I try to greet all of our new players and spend a little time with them talking about all sorts of subjects. I want to make them feel comfortable and confident in our commitment and direction, but the key relationships are the ones players have with each other and their coaches.


When you are making decisions on players or staff, are you a numbers person, or do you follow your gut instinct?

The answer is “yes.” I do have a firm commitment to metrics, and I am data driven in many ways. I am fond of saying: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” But I also realize some things are more easily measured than others, and numbers don’t always reflect the entire story. So it is important to take the pulse of any situation, and that is where I rely heavily on coaches and general managers. They are our experts, and I have to trust their judgment and leadership.

What’s next for Ted Leonsis?
A great question and not easily answered with our ever-changing landscapes. But I will say that all of us at Monumental Sports & Entertainment are working collectively and collaboratively to build generationally exceptional teams and are committed to first-class customer service for our fans and guests at Verizon Center. We know we have a tremendous responsibility and opportunity. We are embracing it, working tirelessly but managing to have fun and enjoy the journey. We hope our fans share that sense of excitement.

Jimmy Lynn: Behind the Scenes

Posted on 08. Aug, 2011 by in Entrepreneur

Jimmy Lynn: Behind the Scenes

JIMMY LYNN- Photography by Ray Ally

Jimmy Lynn is the founder and managing partner of JLynn Associates, a global strategic advisory firm focused on media, marketing and retail for the sports industry. JLynn Associates caters to teams, athletes, leagues, sports associations, and other businesses associated with sports, both nationally and abroad. Prior to founding JLynn Associates, Lynn spent 14 years at AOL where he served as the Vice President of Strategic Development and Partnerships where he was responsible for AOL’s Sports, which included partnerships with the NFL, NBA, NASCAR, MLB, NHL and PGA Tour, among others. Before his tenure at AOL, Jimmy Lynn worked as Advertising Manager for Home Team Sports, a CBS regional sports network.

It’s been said that you have the biggest Rolodex in D.C. Networking is such a huge part of doing business these days, but sometimes the tendency is to over-use one’s contacts and hence alienate those people you need most. How should someone leverage their contacts without being too needy?
I’ve been told my Rolodex is one of the top five in the D.C. area. I learned from two of the best all-time networkers in D.C. business history – Andy Ockershausen and Charlie Brotman. It’s also a result of living here since ’78, going to college in D.C., working in D.C. the whole time and spending a great deal of time with non-profits.

In regard to your question, I try my best to be judicious about whom I reach out to. I need to be careful. I don’t want to contact the same people time after time, whether it’s for investment opportunities, sponsorships, raising funds for non-profits or asking favors for others (including introductions to senior executives).

My primary form of communication is email. Why? Because it allows the other person to respond to me on their own time – it’s not as pressured as an in-person visit or phone call. Perhaps it’s because that’s how we communicated at AOL – especially in the glory years when we worked long hours as we built the company into a giant, global brand.

What made you decide you wanted to go into the business of sports? After 14 years doing extraordinary work at AOL, was it a big risk to turn your back on all of your hard work and go your own way?
I’ve always had a passion for Sports. I played baseball, basketball and football as a youth. And, I’m still playing baseball in a 30-andover hardball league in Northern Virginia. While pursuing my BA and MBA at American University, I interned primarily for radio stations (music was another passion).

But, after graduating with my MBA in ’89, I went to work for Charlie Brotman, the legendary sports PR expert. I also worked for WMAL, W-Lite and Home Team Sports before joining AOL in ’95 to help launch and grow their Sports business. My primary roles for AOL Sports were business development and account management. We went through a meteoric rise in the media world. And, my team and I managed so many wonderful sports brand names, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NASCAR, WNBA, CBS Sports, ABC Sports, Sports Illustrated, HBO Sports, Turner Sports, NFLPA, WWF, etc.

It really was a special time in my life. The numerous strategic partnerships, particularly the ones with the professional leagues, were extremely effective. They played a significant part in helping AOL become one of the most well-known and popular brands in the U.S. But, the league deals were also expensive. As the league deals started to wind down in ’06 and ’07, AOL also was changing its business model from a subscription service to more of an ad-supported portal site.

I had a couple of meetings in ’08 with my trusted circle of advisers, including my mentor, Ted Leonsis. It was apparent that it was a good time for me to start thinking about leaving AOL in order to better leverage my rolodex of sports contacts. It was a tremendous 14-year ride at AOL, but the time was good for me to go out on my own. So I finally pulled the trigger in March ’09 to launch JLynn Associates.

What was the biggest obstacle you faced when you first went into business for yourself? How did you overcome it?
I didn’t necessarily face any giant obstacles, but it was interesting making the transition from working for the world’s largest media company into a one-person shop. As for the associates, my original thinking was that the associates would be some of the Georgetown University students I’ve taught over the years. But, in fact, the associates are other former sports execs who left global companies to start their own firms. I now have a great network of associates who have particular skills sets that complement one another (branding, licensing, deal negotiations, distribution, etc.).

I did receive some great advice when I initially went out on my own. The most important thing I did was “listen.” I took lots and lots of meetings – I asked lots of questions and I listened intently. I did this for nearly a year – all over the U.S. as well as in Japan, China, Brazil, London, etc. This helped shape what type of strategic advisory services that my associates and I will offer to current and prospective clients.

What would be your best piece of advice for someone trying to break into the sports industry?
Internships, internships, internships. Networking, networking, networking. I am a full-time faculty member for Georgetown University’s Sports Industry Management program. So, I’ll always advocate this terrific graduate sports program. For those that want to work in sports but don’t have any experience, I strongly recommend pursuing your graduate studies as well as interning and networking. It’s vital to do so in order to break into sports, which is one of the hardest fields to break into since so many people want to work in sports.

With all that is on your plate, you still find the time to reach out and help those in need and guide those with promise. You regularly work with over ten non-profit organizations and charities. Is there ever a risk of spreading yourself too thin?
Yes, I do spend a good amount of time with non-profits. It is something that is personally important to me. And, I’ve promised two of my primary mentors, Ted Leonsis and Mario Morino, that I will continue to take the lessons they taught me and “pay it forward” by helping educate and inform the next generations.

Yes, I’m spread too thin and I do need to cut back a bit – particularly with my business travel schedule. But, “giving back” and “helping others” is something I will do for the rest of my life. It provides me with balance and perspective. I could write so many stories about the wonderful young adults I mentor. They also inspire and motivate me. It’s not a one-way street – just me helping them. They provide me with so much joy. As an example, I mentor two Chinese-American youths in D.C.. I’ve promised their parents I will pay for their college tuition. I received a wonderful message on Father’s Day –wishing me a Happy Father’s Day, how I may not be a dad (I’m single), but that I’m like a second father to them, and they thanked me for all I do for them. That message meant the world to me, particularly since I lost my father in ’08.

How did being half Irish-American and half Japanese contribute to your outlook on life and business? What advantages exist for those who have a foot in two cultures?
Growing up, I don’t think I really enjoyed being from two different cultures since I was always the minority wherever I lived (either in Tokyo or D.C.). But, during my college years, I embraced being from two distinct cultures and, ever since then, I’m proud that I’m from both the U.S. and Japan. I go to back to Tokyo every year – for business purposes as well as to visit with my Japanese relatives.

As part of both my consulting business as well as teaching at Georgetown University, I’m constantly talking about the global perspective. I think growing up in two different countries gives me the comfort factor. I have many American friends that are afraid to do business internationally since it’s not in their comfort zone.

Your late father was in the Armed Forces. Did growing up in a military household shape you in any way?
Yes, my father was a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army. I think growing up in a military family helps make youngsters more socially active and better to communicate – since you need to move every few years. It teaches you how to make new friends. It also taught me about being disciplined and punctual.

The three heroes in my life are military men – my father, my Uncle Art, who was an Air Force colonel, and my best friend’s father, General Jack Guthrie. I learned much from these men – honesty, integrity, treating people equally and fairly, love of sports, sense of humor, etc. All three men passed away within the past four years and they’re all buried at Arlington National Cemetery, which is only five minutes away from my home. So, I like being close to them.

You teach a course called Sports Marketing Strategy at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. What made you decide to add professor to your growing list of titles and honors?
I’ve taught in the McDonough School of Business for six years. It’s the only sports course taught in the undergrad program. I love interacting and engaging with the younger generation. One of the reasons is that one of my areas of specialty is Digital and Social Media. This younger generation is growing up with social media. So, I love to teach but to also receive feedback from them.

I now have a much larger role at Georgetown. We created a graduate sports program, Sports Industry Management, in the School of Continuing Studies. I serve as the “Visiting Professional in the Practice of Sports Industry Management.” It’s a hybrid role – teaching (three classes), advising students and business development. Although we just finished our third year, we’re already one of the best programs in the country. Matt Winkler, the Associate Dean of the program, and I want to make this the best graduate sports management program in the world. So, we’re working on partnerships and programs in Brazil, China, London, etc.

What motivates you? Who inspires you?

In terms of motivation and inspiration, I’ve mentioned two of my mentors, Ted Leonsis and Mario Morino. Both men came from humble beginnings, were the first ones in their families to receive a college degree, went on to become major successes in business, and then devoted so much time and money to philanthropy and gave back to help others.

But, it’s not just the big business execs that inspire me. I have others that inspire me, including one of my students who was in an accident right before his freshman year at Georgetown. He was paralyzed from the accident and is in a wheelchair. He could be a negative person who complains frequently but, instead, this young man has a positive, bright outlook on life. I love seeing his smile and his energy. He graduated from Georgetown and is now in our graduate sports program. He has a bright future ahead of him.

I have another mentee who lived in 14 foster homes in Chicago while growing up. He’s lived in homeless shelters and lived on the streets. He’s another person who could complain about life. But, instead, he had the opportunity to change his life and he has embraced it. He just completed his junior year of college and has a 3.8 gpa heading into his senior year.

There are plenty of others that inspire me, but there’s a smattering of people who inspire and motivate me.

Temel Kotil: CEO of Turkish Airlines

Posted on 08. Aug, 2011 by in Entrepreneur, MARKETING, OPERATIONS

Temel Kotil: CEO of Turkish Airlines

TURKISH AIRLINES CEO DR.TEMEL KOTIL

Turkish Airlines was formed in 1933 with just four planes on its fleet. Today, the company is one of Europe’s biggest and as of 2011 its best airline. Plaudits abound as THY seeks to continue its growth and standing within the industry as being the leader in both its bottom line, its impeccable service and presence on the global stage.We spoke with Temel Kotil, a former aeronautics engineer and current CEO of Turkish Airlines and asked him about his future plans for Turkish Airlines.

The non-stop flights to Istanbul from Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and New York have been a big draw to THY, what took so long? First of all, I would like to specify that the demand of our customers defines our strategy of growth. The growth of fleet in number and size—the growth of our network—made it necessary to open new destinations, especially in the United States.

What was the attraction to D.C. as a major hub for THY? Who is the main target of THY’s new routes?
The major hub of Turkish Airlines is Istanbul. The main target of THY’s new routes will cover networks all around the world, besides dominating the market through this wide network and the youngest fleet of Europe. Considering the United States, if you focus on the ethnic structure of Washington−the Ethiopian community, Persian and Indian communities−their homelands are THY’s most effective destinations. D.C. is one of the top political centers in the world. This creates an attraction and a natural flow from all around the world, especially administrative and global organizations and institutions, i.e., the Federal government, IMF, World Bank, etc. They all have the potential for providing international passengers.

What are your plans for in-flight services? Wi-Fi on the horizon?
On B777 operated routes, we have full AVOD IFE systems available with individual screens that allow passengers to enjoy close to 350 films, short programs and up to 600 CDs, as well as interactive games. Additionally, we have in-flight connectivity which enables passengers to send and receive text messages and e-mail. The news channel offers passengers world news, including economic, financial and celebrity news, as well as the weather report in text form. Starting with B777 airplanes, we’re also working on providing Wi-Fi internet, Live TV and SMS/GPRS services, but those services have not been yet activated.

Tell us a bit more about the Flying Chefs.
Turkish Airlines is one of the first airlines to introduce the “Flying Chef” system. We bring the high quality of the Turkish DO&CO dishes from the start of the production to serving passengers with our own chefs. Our aim is to create the best possible service and the best possible kitchen in the air. It is essential that all our chefs are professional, that they have the right expertise and, above all, that they love to cook! It’s an incredible surprise for the guests on board when asked for the first time by a chef how they would enjoy their steak. The positive feedback we have already received shows that we are on the right track.

What is different on board?
We have limited galley space and equipment. We have a few hot air ovens on board. For safety reasons we are not allowed to use open heat. So there is no possibility to grill steaks or deep fry something. But with the right training with the on-board equipment, we can create the same experience a customer would expect from a restaurant. Our main goal is to create the same high food standards of a restaurant, and the passenger should not realize any differences in the food on board. What we want is to surprise our customers with new service standards, new food styles, new ways of serving and hospitality. At the moment, 108 flying chefs are serving on all long-haul flights for Turkish Airlines.

I understand that flight attendants are required to attend a full day training seminar once a month. Is customer service a central part of THY’s business culture?
We have to meet the expectations of our passengers that THY is a commercial airline. The cabin crew for Turkish Airlines gets professional assistance to provide passenger satisfaction in an effort to differentiate them from other airlines. Our cabin crews are expected to realize the importance of relations with all of the passengers. A friendly and professional approach, the correct use of body language and maximum sensitivity is our major priority.

THY fleet is young, with an average age of 6.2 years, how is that contributing to the success THY experiencing?
An average age of 6.2 years of fleet helps Turkish Airlines decrease the operational costs and improve fleet efficiency in terms of aircraft utilization and reliability. A young fleet gives the costumers a chance to enjoy the newest technology and product comfort.

Tell us about THY hiring practices. Do you hire from the local labor market? What are some of the benefits and drawbacks?
Turkish Airlines employs the candidates under the following four categories: cabin crew, cockpit crew, overseas office employees and administrative/technical department employees (general employment). We outsource our internal services (security, cleaning, etc.). This approach gives us the chance to focus on our main business, and contributes in terms of cost and speed.

What are Turkish Airline’s main priorities in the coming decade?
Our main priority is to become an air carrier with a continued growth trend above the industry average, have the most envied service levels worldwide with unit costs equal to those of low cost carriers, and to keep sales and distribution costs below industry averages.

Turkish Airlines is now the fourth largest carrier in Europe. Are you eyeing a speedy climb to the number one spot, or are you a proponent of organic growth?
This year, Turkish Airlines has been named “Best Airline Europe” and was also named winner of the categories, “Best Premium Economy Seats” and “Best Airline Southern Europe” by Skytrax. The most important source of Turkish Airlines’ growth and success is the development of new products and the service quality. Nonetheless, the flight safety that Turkish Airlines provides is the basic principal in all matters. Istanbul (Ataturk Airport) is the hub for Turkish Airlines. It is called the “Natural Hub of the World, Istanbul.” Transit passengers travelling through Istanbul have been important to increasing our company value in recent years.

John Arnold: D.C. Hollywood

Posted on 08. Aug, 2011 by in Blogs, Entrepreneur

John Arnold: D.C. Hollywood

JOHN ARNOLD

Filmmaker John Arnold began his career in the 1970s-producing award winning commercials for the likes of Daimler-Benz, the US Post Office, ADM, United Airlines and others. Over the years, John Arnold has established himself as one of the foremost filmmakers in the business, and has been recognized by the industry with multiple awards in nearly every category imaginable. Today, John Arnold & Associates produces a wide array of commercials for a multitude of high profile clients, full-length feature films and documentaries. We asked Mr. Arnold about the business of cinema, and why he chose the Metro D.C. area as his home base for his company.

Has funding been harder to come by recently?
The most difficult aspect of motion picture production process is raising capital. With the economic downturn in 2008, money flow became restricted. Now the momentum is shifting. Investors are realizing that certain movies play an important and lucrative role in the economy.

Arnold Entertainment Partners produces films that have broad domestic and international audiences. Our films are exported around the world. This means we benefit from revenue derived from global distribution channels – theater box office, cable, TV and in-flight screens, and home entertainment DVD and internet streaming. It’s great for our investors, and good for America because our movies not only employ hundreds of people but also reduces the U.S. trade deficit with every dollar derived from overseas.

Obtaining funding is a competitive game between producers. What we try to do is provide investors with opportunities that have multiple revenue streams. For example, our “Songs By The River” is a musical biographical film about the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. A very popular personality with faith-based and African-American audiences, as well as with broader populations because of the quality of the story and music. So, there is income from film and TV distribution, but also the soundtrack, a companion book, and multiple educational components.

Investors also must understand that the movie industry is changing. The advent of internet streaming and large-screen televisions means that people will pick and choose what they want to see. Picking what movie to watch will be like going to a book store or library. This means increased demand for more product, but with one caveat that producers have to adapt to. We have to produce more quality movies and at more modest budgets. The future will be like going back to the 1930s and 40s, an era of tremendous motion picture production. But “quality production” is the catchphrase. You can’t produce lousy micro-budgeted films made in the backyard. Audiences have always been sophisticated and demanding. No one can make someone buy a ticket. So our business model is to produce films in the $5 – 15 million range, but outside the studio system. This affords the efficiencies of being an independent producer and at the same time provides the budget to develop great stories, cast top talent, and produce with top professional crews.

What are some of the alternatives to traditional funding that ambitious filmmakers can pursue?
There really aren’t any new “alternatives”. Traditionally, funding for films came from a variety of sources and still does. There are studio deals, presales to foreign markets, independent investor groups, hedge funds, international co-productions with tax incentives, all sorts of vehicles. My philosophy is to keep it simple. The more complex the financing, the more money gets drained off. For example, when one produces with a studio, the studio has to cover its overhead. So there are many meetings with many people at the table all being charged to your production. This is why studio pictures are so expensive. Not because of what’s on screen, but because what’s behind the scene. What Arnold Entertainment Partners does is produce the film independently. Investment dollars go into the production. Then we sell the picture to the studio either as an outright sale at a profit point or with a percentage of the gross box office. We will not enter into a net profit sharing deal because, well, we have no control over what costs a distributor will put against revenue. Knowing that I’ve picked a good script from the start and made a good movie, I want my investors to get their profit. Simple as that.

The challenge sometimes is that the industry is so high profile that some of its bad practices are headlines. Restaurants fail all the time, but they don’t make the news nor dinner conversation. For example, often an investor group falls prey to the pitch that so-and-so star is attached to a project. A bad producer can attach a star just to lure the investor. But the star may not be right for the role because a star does not make a film. Imagine Al Pacino being cast as a cowboy. Al’s a great actor, but a cowboy? A good story is the first key in moviemaking, and then the right casting is the next. Al Pacino as a cowboy would make for a bad film.
Another challenge for investors is the script. A screenplay is hard to read because it does not convey the emotion of music, the dynamic of an actor’s performance, the pacing of editing, the excitement of the visuals. There is no texture in a screenplay, it is simply written with almost elementary grammar. It provides the structure of the story and the dialogue, but that’s about it. Film is a complex medium, and that’s why it’s a producer’s and director’s medium. So investors have to trust in the theme of the story and in the talents of the producer and director

What are some of the biggest challenges a filmmaker has to face?
Today we are told that everyone can do everything, that we all have equal talents. Buy an Apple and be creative. Well, the truth is, top creative talent is rare. People have to be realistic in assessing their own talent. Too many people jump into the film business without the necessary abilities. The medium is demanding. When I got into the business, filmmaking technology was very expensive. Today it is almost cheap. You can buy a basic camera and editing package for $10,000. With that democratization, almost anyone can jump into making film. Hence the world of YouTube. But technology does not make the great filmmaker much like buying a pen or computer does not make a Hemmingway or Faulkner. Talent and hard work do.

That said, the film industry is a bell curve of talent. So if you do indeed have what it takes, then you will go a long way.

Why did you choose the Metro D.C. area as one of two locations for your production company? What is the appeal that D.C. has for a filmmaker?
Arnold Entertainment Partners is based out of San Francisco and Old Town Alexandria.

Old Town provides a great quality of life as well as some hardnosed business advantages. And I treat it like a suburb of Los Angeles and New York. We have three major airports, Reagan Airport being 10 minutes from my home. Today we’re always connected to anywhere in the world with emails, cell phones and Skype. I can hold a face-to-face conference meeting on my cell. So that opens up where I can conduct business. Washington is also a vibrant world-class city with endless things to do. Hollywood comes here all the time, so it’s not like I’m in a small West Texas town or even Pittsburgh.

Businesswise, Washington, D.C. has the capability of being the fourth major resident motion picture center in the U.S. Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco are the other three. I say “resident”, because I mean with movie production companies headquartered here. Until now, D.C. has been a very robust documentary and news center. But that is changing.

Arnold Entertainment Partners usually has film projects that film will film in Texas, New Mexico, Hollywood, Louisiana, North Dakota and over in Europe, as well as Virginia. So we can be located here – and enjoy the lower tax rates of Virginia versus California or New York. Factor what our business will grow to, that translates to substantial savings. So businesswise, it’s smart to be located in Virginia.

As the company grows, it will attract top Hollywood film executives that want to raise their families away from Los Angeles and its sprawl. The Washington area is attractive to those people because we have great schools, wonderful neighborhoods, and endless things to do. From concerts and theaters to riding bikes on the C&O Towpath or enjoying exploring the Eastern Shore, this is such a fabulous area to live.

How do you choose your projects?
At Arnold Entertainment Partners, we choose a project based upon the quality of the script and its projected audience. We currently own thirteen screenplays outright and have a remake of “Old Yeller” over at Disney.

The vast majority of our projects are G-to-PG-13 rated. Our comedies have strong domestic audience appeal. Romantic comedies have more international distribution, as do our dramatic stories. For example, we have a rodeo film titled “Roy Rydell” that plays in a popular backdrop – modern day cowboys. The cowboy is the iconic American, beloved around the world. Combined with the thrill of rodeo, it’s virtually assured of international acclaim. I mentioned “Songs By the River” earlier as having a great story and built-in faith-based and African-American audiences. We have what we call “Oscar-themed” movies, but we are slating those for production later in our development. They are great stories, but edgier and therefore have smaller audiences and smaller box office potential. They’re great for the awards shelf, but at the beginning, we need to make big box office hits.

You made your name producing great commercials for companies such as United Airlines, Daimler-Benz and the US Post Office, and are now making full feature films in the 8-10 million dollar range. What are your plans for the future?

My TV commercial career had great fortune. I had wonderful projects and fabulous people to work with. But that was just the first stage of my career. I simply want to keep making film, but not just any film. Arnold Entertainment Partners has a commitment to create entertainment for everyone. And it is also my personal belief that our films can enlarge people’s sympathies. I am all about entertaining while touching the heart and mind. We have assembled stories that have wonderful themes infused with humanity. I can’t tell you how much I love what I do, and the people I work with. It’s such a privilege to be able to wake up every day and know that it’s always a journey filled with new experiences and learning.

The Funders’ Top 10 List

Posted on 14. Apr, 2011 by in Blogs, Entrepreneur, FINANCE

business

If you’re searching for angel or venture funds in the Metro DC area, and you missed the Potomac Techwire breakfast roundtable on Tuesday, then you’ll want to take note of what the funders’ panel had to say. Many of the themes investors found most important paralleled the entrepreneurs’ advice.

The funders’ panel recommended that entrepreneurs:

  1. Know who you are.
  2. Know your competition.
  3. Validate your business concept. Talk to a lot of people early.
  4. Prototype. It helps tell your story in a big way.
  5. Show investors that you can execute and reach milestones.
  6. Understand your limitations. The founder is rarely the CEO five years later.
  7. Be realistic. Don’t get hung up on valuation and walk away from a good deal.
  8. Bootstrap and be as resourceful as possible. It brings independence and the valuation you want.
  9. Have a business plan. Don’t spend a lot of money making it pretty. Oh, and don’t tell investors your forecasts are conservative.
  10. Do as much due diligence on the investors as they do on you.

And just like yesterday’s blog, one more tip: Don’t approach funding like it’s a conveyor belt. Your company and the business climate aren’t that predictable. Expect to engage in a long, intense process. Each investor has a sweet spot, and it’s all about finding the right fit for both of you.

The sweet spot isn’t just about the sector, the stage you’re at, or the amount of funding you need. It’s also about chemistry. The people who invest in your company will influence how you move forward in a big way. Discord detracts from your ability to focus, execute, and ultimately limits your potential. A synergistic fit between entrepreneur and investor mitigates weaknesses and amplifies strengths. The right investor becomes a trusted, valued member of your team.

I learned a couple of important things about angels during the roundtable. First, most invest in companies within a 1-2 hour drive. It’s a red flag when companies seek angel funding beyond that radius. Unless of course, you use AngelList, which changes the game for both investors and early stage companies. Offered as a free service, AngelList creates an efficient, online marketplace with 1,500 participating angels looking for interesting deals. They’ll ping you if they like your story. AngelList can compress the early stage funding process into a matter of days or weeks.

Thanks again to the sponsors and panelists for Seed Stage Capital Outlook 2011. You offered sound advice. What we’ve discovered during our search for capital is that you’re often generous with your time and offer excellent advice offline as well. While it’s up to the entrepreneur to decide what’s best for the company, your expertise and generosity at this stage make a big difference to startups.

Kadoo

Posted on 26. Jan, 2011 by in Entrepreneur

Kadoo

 

Your company’s name is Kadoo. How did you come up with it? Is there a meaning or a story behind it?

Donna Hemmert & Kurt Baumann

We actually acquired Kadoo with its name in place. But, we really loved the name. And, apparently, it means “community” in Chinese, which we really like.

What is the main business of your company?
Kadoo is your private video cloud. Kadoo allows you to privately share or publicly publish your videos and other files anywhere, including smart phones, TV and social networking sites such as Facebook. Imagine capturing an HD video on your mobile phone and minutes later sharing it privately or publicly to friends on almost any device, TV or tablet.

Why is privacy in the cloud an important topic to you?

Privacy is a main tenant on which the Internet was built. We should not have to sacrifice our privacy to participate in this medium, although that’s what many of the big players make you do. Ownership and control of your personal information should be a fundamental right.

Is this your first company? How many others have you started? How did they fare?

Our whole team has participated in many successful startups. Kurt has started five, all of which had successful exits.

How did the Kadoo team come together?
We’ve all worked together in the past in certain configurations, and all felt passionate about what Kadoo is doing. This is the first time we’ve all been together as team. We have similar values, enjoy the same kind of work environment (outrageous fun and hard work), and we believe this is the right team to get it done.

What are the challenges of working out of your house?
We have all the normal challenges with the division of work and family life, but perhaps sometimes those lines are blurred even more. We determined to go without office space to run as leanly as possible, and it’s the right choice for now. For better or worse, the team meetings do stir up a lot of creative energy and chaos, which means that we have less down time in our home than other people.

Do you discuss business 24/7? What is the effect of it to your marriage?
No, because we have commitment to create as much balance as possible in our lives. We established grounds rules for how to manage our time. Sometimes, however, we do have to remind each other that it’s time to put work away.

Is the Metro DC area a good place to start a cutting edge technology business?
That’s a very interesting question. If you’re a cutting edge technology business serving the federal government then it is hot. Consumer technology faces a greater challenge. There’s less of a support structure and expertise for high tech consumer startups in the Mid Atlantic region than there is in the Silicon Valley This area experienced a setback when the bubble burst in 2000. It seems that recently, however, there’s been more activity for consumer-technologies in the Metro DC area. For example, people are showing a lot of interest in what we’re doing.

Where do you see Metro DC business environment go over the next 5 years?
Government-supporting technologies will continue to thrive. For the Internet, we are optimistically rooting for steady growth.


 

Kadoo

The Kadoo Rundown

 

What is it? – A browser based cloud service provider that lets you back up, store and share your files including pictures, HD videos, love letters, important documents, etc.

Who is it for? – Individuals are the primary users but small businesses can also use it.

How much does it cost? – This is one of the few things in life that is free.

Is it safe? – Company assures that all of your files will be safe and free of snooping. Just remember you password so you can recover your pictures again.