Luboh helps users share their buying experiences

Sunday, 16 October, 2011

Luboh - logo

My insightful friend & former co-worker Sarb recently launched Luboh (in beta) with his partners. Here is my text interview with Sarb to tell you more about the cool Luboh.

Kempton: For people who haven’t heard about Luboh yet, can you talk about how they can use Luboh? How will Luboh help people?

Sarb: The idea behind Luboh is to help users share their buying experiences. While there are many online reviews and customer feedback and opinions on many consumer products, the authors are typically strangers. Instead, we as humans place far higher importance on opinions of people we know. Our friends and family. Let me give you an example. Say you’re looking for a new TV and it just so happens that when you mention it to your friend while at the pub. He tells he just got a fantastic deal on a Sony model XYZ TV from a shop down the road. No doubt you’re interested. More so than perhaps reading an online review from an effectively anonymous individual. Luboh.com lets you easily find a product that you’re interested in and then to either ask your Facebook friends what they think of it or if you’ve already bought it, to tell your friends what a great deal you got! You can try Luboh at www.luboh.com

Kempton: Can you share a few screen captures to explain some of the Luboh features or functions?

Sarb: Here is a screen sample showing what search results look like. If you login with your facebook account, we’ll also show you what your friends have recently bought. (Click to zoom in to large image)

And here’s another one that shows how you share information with friends. (Click to zoom in to large image)

Kempton: Does the name Luboh have any special meaning?

Sarb: Well, other than “lu-boh” being a really cool name for a website, the word “lub-oh” in Punjabi (pronounced slightly differently to the website) actually means search-for.

Kempton: Future plans?

Sarb: The site is still in a beta mode and there is still some work left to iron out the wrinkles. In the future we hope to keep on increasing the number of products and services that we have access to, to make it more and more useful to our users.

******

P.S. You can follow Luboh on their Facebook page.


Corla Rokochy, Snappy Socks, interview at Brett Wilson’s Garden Party 2011

Friday, 24 June, 2011

Corla Rokochy, Snappy Socks

It was my pleasure to finally meet Corla Rokochy (Snappy Socks) in person after watching her pitched on Dragons’ Den and talked about her business in Feb 2011. The following is my video interview with Corla at Brett Wilson’s Garden Party 2011.

The following are a few highlights of my video interview with Corla,

0:00 Corla talks about Snappy Socks and shows us some of her cool socks.

0:35 How much money did Brett invest in the business and what was the story?

0:52 How did the Brett’s money impact the business?

1:14 With that money, how many pairs of socks were bought and sold? Read the rest of this entry »


Breakfast at Richard Branson’s

Thursday, 9 June, 2011

I’ve admired Virgin Group’s main man Richard Branson for years (since I read his autobiography “Losing my Virginity” one quiet Christmas/New Year holiday). Since then, I’ve tried to learn from Richard whenever I can.

Have a read,

* “Breakfast at Richard Branson’s

* “Entrepreneurs quiz Richard Branson


Brett Wilson interview – 01/05 – Leaving CBC Dragons’ Den, TV offers, Uno bike, and Ben Gulak

Thursday, 12 May, 2011

Brett Wilson interview 2011

Few days ago I had the great pleasure of chatting with Brett Wilson, Calgary entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist. Here is the video Brett Wilson interview – 01/05 – Leaving CBC Dragons’ Den, TV offers, Uno bike, and Ben Gulak (see below for interview transcript). [Click her for links to watch all five parts of the interview series.]

Kempton Lam: I was shocked & saddened by CBC Feb 2011 press released that you won’t be part of Dragons’ Den. To be positive, did that motivate/excite you when the TV offers came in resulting in the chance to do a new TV show call “Risky Business”?

Brett Wilson: Those are very good questions.

First of all, I was and I am disappointed that CBC and I couldn’t reach agreement. I was very keen to do another season. CBC knew that. So just to be clear, I didn’t walk away from the show. I was very keen to do another season. Then CBC press released it that I was gone which also surprised me cause I didn’t think it was that big a deal. And I really thought that was the end of my television career. I’ve never studied acting. I can’t memorize lines. I don’t understand Shakespeare. So I had no interest really in doing anything else in terms of television. I certainly didn’t leave Dragons’ Den to pursuit other stuff. I wanted to continue with Dragons’ Den.

So first of all I was surprised that CBC wanted to press release it that I was gone. And then more importantly, I was surprised by the responds in the market place. All three networks reached out at various levels to say, “Hey, if you are interested, lets talk.” And I had two production companies say, “Would you like to screen test for shows we have in development?” And I did. I screen tested both. And we decided to move forward on one of the shows right now. The other show I am still hoping to do for another time.

And I’ve met with several production companies about doing some stuff in the world of philanthropy that I am very interested in doing. But then again, thats all in production, in development. Someone told me the other day that Mark Burnett  is telling the world that 90% of all television under production is documentaries and reality TV, which doesn’t bode well for those people who studied acting. Which does bode well for people who are playing in the reality TV genre which is what obviously now I am part of.

Kempton: When offers started to come it, did it surprise you too?

Brett: Well, I was very surprised. I really didn’t think there was anything else for me. You know, there is one television show in Canada that deals with business and thats Dragons’ Den. And I thought that would be it.

I am very proud that I’ve done 55 episodes with CBC. In terms of the 75 shows that they’ve shot, I have been involved with 55. And its the highest rank 55. I mean the first two years, the viewership was 200/300/400 thousands people. In the time that I was on the show, it has been running a million, and now up to 2 million a show. So it is in a league of its own. And its something that I am very proud of.

Kempton: You were one of five Dragons, and now you have your own show. Thats a big change.

Brett: Now I have my own show. When I left the show, one of the thing I said was, I like to challenge CBC and the Dragons to step up the game cause the quality, background, and knowledge of the viewership, of the people watching Dragons’ Den has gone up a bunch. Read the rest of this entry »


Talk by Tom Hulme, Design Director @ IDEO, founder of OpenIDEO

Thursday, 7 April, 2011

Talk by Tom Hulme, Design Director @ IDEO, founder of OpenIDEO. Highly recommended.


TRANSLOGIC: BPG Motors UNO (video interview + demo)

Monday, 21 March, 2011

Check out “TRANSLOGIC 47: BPG Motors UNO (video interview + demo)“.

“We all know motorcycles are awesome, but in our view most are missing two key ingredients: a zero-emission electric drivetrain and the ability to transform. That is, until 17-year-old Benjamin Gulak created the UNO as a high school senior. Now on their third iteration, BPG Motors is perfecting this unique EV cycle and TRANSLOGIC is the first to take it for a spin.”


Brett Wilson talks to media about leaving CBC Dragons’ Den

Tuesday, 1 March, 2011

Of all the reports/interviews I could find today (Feb 28th, Monday) about Brett leaving Dragons’ Den, I want to say I enjoy the report (see below) from Calgary Sun‘s Lisa Wilton the most (very detail and insightful). It is nice to be pleasantly surprised by Calgary Sun.

Reports (see below) in Ottawa CitizenNational Post, Canadian Press, NewsTalk980 all added a little something (see emphasis) and worth a read. And then there are reports in Toronto Star and Calgary Herald. (March 6th Update: CityTV Breakfast Television Calgary interview video, “What’s Next for Brett Wilson? – Brett Wilson is leaving the Dragon’s Den. He tells us why and what’s next on his agenda.“)

Here is an excerpt from Calgary Sun “Wilson opens up regarding ‘Den“,

[ Q ] – Did your reason for leaving just come down to a contract negotiation breakdown?

Well, it started in December.

They gave me three weeks to sign the contract, take it or leave it.

There were some issues with the contract. First of all, they tried to cut the compensation. We negotiated that and got that solved. And they wanted to stop me from going on any other networks, so we negotiated that and got that solved.

Where we got stuck was on schedule. When I told them I had a family vacation and I wasn’t prepared to vary, they told me that wouldn’t work.

So, I politely advised that I would have to be out of the show because I wasn’t prepared to walk away from the vacation. It’s the first time I’ve had all three kids in one place in two years so I wasn’t going to walk away from that. It meant more to me than another season of the show.

Then CBC moved heaven and earth, and I really give them credit for it. Read the rest of this entry »


Snappy Socks on CBC Dragons’ Den – The Business

Thursday, 3 February, 2011

To me, Snappy Socks‘ Corla Rokochy is one of those entrepreneurs that has the can-do spirit. And she is also very likeable. It was wonderful to see her receiving investment from the Dragons (I can’t remember for sure but I think from Arlene and Brett).

The socks look cute and the snap-on button is a great idea. If there is one thing I don’t like about the business, it is that anyone can attach a snap-on button to their socks. And if the idea/business become successful, there is nothing stopping other copycat businesses from anywhere (including China) from attaching snap-on buttons to their socks. Hopefully, the initial investment will have generated enough returns for Corla and the Dragons by then, and Corla will have created new products to sell.

Best of luck to Corla and Snappy Socks!


From JobLoft (Dragons’ Den) to Teamsave – Chris Nguyen

Thursday, 9 December, 2010

Canadians first “met” Chris Nguyen on CBC Dragons’ Den when he and three others young guys pitched JobLoft (see my previous articles about Chris). So it is interesting to watch Chris again on The Globe and Mail (video) today, talking about Teamsave.com (a “fast follower” in the crowded field of Groupon-want-to-be).


Erin Bolger’s The Happy Baker – 2010 New York Times Best Cookbooks

Wednesday, 8 December, 2010

Erin-04-Paris

I am excited to report Erin Bolger’s “The Happy Baker” has made the 2010 New York Times Best Cookbooks!

[…] After a while, Ms. Gold’s injunctions to cook “breathtaking” food made me want to curl up on a cinnamon bun for a nap with “The Happy Baker: A Girl’s Guide to Emotional Baking” by Erin Bolger (Harlequin, $17.95), a bright spot on the often-messy bookshelf of culinary comedy. Ms. Bolger’s tales of love, loss and caramels, matched with easy recipes, include advice on why sleeping with the gardener at a Cuban resort hotel is a good idea, and how to deal with a Valentine from Mom. She and Matt Moore, the earnest author of the self-published “Have Her Over For Dinner” (Last Resort Press, $25), might make a nice couple. Mr. Moore, a musician in Nashville, targets the young man who wants to make dinner on a date — while managing to avoid the usual Playboy-tinged prose of cookbooks “for men.”

Congrats Erin on your great job! You’ve worked hard to make this possible!

Feel free to check out my video interview with Erin “The Happy Baker” from earlier this year.


Congrats Dr. W. Brett Wilson

Thursday, 28 October, 2010

I want to congratulate Brett for receiving a honorary doctor of laws degree from Royal Roads University. Brett gave a great and insightful speech “Still Making Mistakes” and I had a wonderful time reading it. When Royal Roads post a public link of the speech video and speech text, I will share them here.

[HT Phil]


Award winning 5468796 Architecture Inc (The Cube, Sunspot, and other projects) – Interview with Sasa Radulovic & Johanna Hurme

Sunday, 24 October, 2010

Sasa Radulovic and Johanna Hurme (co-owners of 5468796 Architecture Inc)

Since I bought a copy of “I. M. Pei: A Profile in American Architecture“ by chance twenty years ago, I have been fascinated by beautiful buildings and the architects themselves. Last week I had the great pleasure to interview Sasa Radulovic and Johanna Hurme, award winning principal architects and co-owners of Winnipeg-based 5468796 Architecture Inc, to talk about their firm, The Cube, and other exciting projects.

Branding of 5468796 Architecture Inc

5468796 Architecture barcode5468796 Architecture contact list

What does the “5468796” stand for in the name 5468796 Architecture Inc? Why not use the traditional branding convention and brand the firm by the names of the principals and founders? Have a watch of the cool explanations in my interview with Sasa and Johanna. It shows their careful thinking from day one “to challenge convention at all scales, [starting] from branding“.

The Cube (Winnipeg Old Market Square Stage) (Project 0134 | Stage)

5468796 Architecture Inc. - The Cube - pix 1

Here is an excerpt from the project description (emphasis added), “Whether functioning as a neighbourhood park or as a hub for the entire city during summer festivals, Old Market Square has undeniable significance for the health and vitality of the Exchange District. Following the establishment of a Master Plan for OMS by landscape architects Scatliff+Miller+Murray Inc., a new stage was the logical next step in the park’s redevelopment. Through an open competition, the city asked for a design that met the functional requirements for a stage. Our winning submission proposed to do more; we recognized that the stage only functions as such for a very limited time, and questioned what it could be the rest of the year.

The Cube was opened in June 2010 for the festivals season when it was only about 85% completed and before 5468796 Architecture had chances to fine tune the building. So I think many early critiques of the design are not fair. The final winning idea for The Cube was actually one of three ideas submitted by 5468796 Architecture and was deemed the best.

You see, the Cube is not just a stage, it can also function as an exhibition space for video artists where video images can be projected on the skin of The Cube. And different themed colour lighting can be projected on different days (for example, orange on Halloween, green on St. Patrick’s day, etc).

See more info about The Cube in this and next interview video clip. More photos of The Cube here, here, and here.

Interview with Sasa Radulovic and Johanna Hurme – part 1/3

A lesser known fact about The Cube is its smaller second stage on the “second level” inside The Cube. This second stage can be used for smaller and more intimate performance (seating ~25?). In the following video, you can see Sasa shows you the second stage in a model.

For the remaining time in my interview with Sasa and Johanna, I picked the following projects and got them to say a few words and share their key inspirations.

Sunspot (Project 0155, Client: The Forks)

5468796 Architecture Sunspot pix 1

Here is an excerpt from the project description (emphasis added), “The Sunspot hangs from the Forks’ Historic Rail Bridge, hovering just three feet above the frozen river. Composed of a structural frame coated in a skin of ice and coloured water, the interior is rendered with a vibrant and warm glow that evokes Tarsia’s painting plates. A large diameter opening at the bottom of the sphere allows skaters to enter and experience the transformed sky. The bottom ring provides a rope-wrapped bench to rest on, while the structure offers shelter from the wind.

More photo here.

Welcome Place (Project 0027, User Group: MIIC, Client hold zone)

5468796 Architecture Welcome Place pix 1

Here is an excerpt from the project description (emphasis added), “The design focuses on the significance of prospect and refuge for residents and patrons of Welcome Place – who are just beginning to make a place for themselves in Canada – through the integration and overlap of public and private space. The private spaces are defined by a random patterning of windows that form a uniquely textured facade with multiple views to the exterior. Walls have thickness so these views feel less expansive and more protective. The public realm begins with a sunken courtyard outside the main doors, forming an exterior ‘room’ for community functions. Within the building, public spaces are located at the building’s edges, permeating through the facade to engage the streetscape below.

For this project, I asked Sasa about his special connection to MIIC‘s Welcome Place, which aims to help immigrants and refugees newly arrived in Canada. You can also read more in the article “Designing for desperate needs“.

More photo here.

Interview with Sasa Radulovic and Johanna Hurme – part 2/3

BGBX (Project 0022, client: CSB Corp.)

5468796 Architecture BGBX pix 1

Here is an excerpt from the project description (emphasis added), “The project begins as a white corrugated metal box, a blank slate which is then strategically sliced at six points to reveal unexpected glimpses of lush, green foliage at the block’s centre. The landscaped courtyard cuts away at the box from the inside out to create a dynamic, multi-facetted courtyard facade.

The design seeks innovation at all levels, including its building systems. Hollowcore concrete slabs are used as air plenums, eliminating the need for ductwork. Abundant vegetation in the courtyard acts as lungs for the entire block, providing fresh air for residents. Gray water cisterns collect run-off from the roofs while permeable surfacing and bioswales in the courtyard filter runoff water into the soil.

More photos here.

Bohemier Residence (Project 0007, private residence)

5468796 Architecture Bohemier Residence pix 1

Here is an excerpt from the project description, “The essence of the old house, not its actual presence, becomes the centre of the new residence, as the original foundation is preserved as a sunken courtyard. It turns the former spatial arrangement inside out: house to courtyard, yard to house, solid to void, void to solid. This shift allows the ghost of the old house to remain. The courtyard expands the visual space beyond the distinct rooms and creates a nexus around which circulation spirals in three dimensions.”

More photos here, here, here.

big brother | little sister (Project 0000, client: Sasa | Johanna)

5468796 Architecture big brother little sister pix 2

Here is an excerpt from the project description, “The 1800 sq ft & 1100 sq ft dwellings were designed and constructed as a pair from their inception to completion. They share a conceptual approach and attitude to detailing, while exhibiting unique qualities and personalities responding to the residents’ priorities.

[…] Each condominium flows freely around the enclosed functions organized at their centres, leaving the exterior walls free of joining partitions. Zones within are separated for visual privacy by procession sequences from one scale to another.

The Winnipeg Free Press 2006 article “Cutting-edge” has more details about “big brother | little sister” where Sasa and Johanna are the architects and clients. (note: They still live in “big brother | little sister”.)

More photos here, here.

Emerging Architecture Award

Finally, I asked Sasa and Johanna a few questions about winning the Emerging Architecture Award. The readers of this article may wonder how big a deal is this? Well, let me quote Winnipeg Free Press’ article “Maligned Cube wins international award” (emphasis added),

So how big a deal is it to win an Emerging Architecture Award? Very big, according to Manitoba Association of Architects president Art Martin.

Martin said the EAs, which were founded in 1999, are considered one of the world’s most popular and prestigious awards for young architects. He said this year’s competition attracted about 300 entries worldwide.

“For a Manitoba firm to get this award is really something. All (Manitoba) architects can share in that pride.”

I love great architectural works, so it was a great pleasure for me to talk to Sasa Radulovic and Johanna Hurme, two internationally recognized emerging architects. It will not surprise me if I see them creating more beautiful, fascinating and functionally cutting-edge buildings in the years to come. In time, I am sure I will see some of their works in Calgary, across Canada, and around the world.

By the way, at the end of part 3 of the interview clip, I have included pictures of the projects I highlighted above and I hope you will enjoy them. Visit 5468796 Architecture Inc for other projects that I didn’t get around to feature.

Interview with Sasa Radulovic and Johanna Hurme – part 3/3

P.S. More news links, photos, video in my previous article “Congrats 5468796 Architecture: Emerging Architecture Award (The Cube in Winnipeg’s Old Market Square)

P.P.S. Feel free to check out my other articles about architecture and architects in Bird’s Nest: Herzog & de Meuron in China – Filmmaker chat“, “Frank Gehry (Live from the NYPL)” and mentioning my other favourite architects like Douglas CardinalFrank GehrySantiago Calatrava (his stunning Turning Torso) in “American Institute of Architects & Google Earth“.


The Adventures of BeetleCam with Elephants, Lions, African Buffalos

Saturday, 24 April, 2010

Check out “The Adventures of BeetleCam” (with sample photos of Elephants, Lions, African Buffalos). Very cool.

“And so BeetleCam was conceived; a DSLR camera mounted on top of a four-wheel drive remote control buggy.”


3D Scanners – Creform

Friday, 2 April, 2010

The Canadian Quebec-based company Creform‘s 3D scanners are very cool and powerful. Here is an interesting tech details and video about the creation of the logo for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Now, I just need an excuse to find a scanner and try to use it for something.

[HT BMD]


“Last Train Home” Review – 130 million Chinese migrant workers making inexpensive “Made in China” goods possible

Thursday, 18 March, 2010

"Last Train Home" Review - pix 1

The 2010 Sundance & SXSW screened and award-winning documentary “Last Train Home” is starting its screenings at Calgary Globe theatre tomorrow Friday March 19, 2010. The film will also be screened in the HKIFF on March 26th & 29th.

To me, Last Train Home indirectly exposed to us the heart, soul & meaning of those inexpensive “Made in China” goods and the human cost/impact of these goods through the eyes of one Chinese migrant family. Last Train Home is a film that I greatly enjoyed and found extremely touching and insightful.

In the beginning of the film, the viewers are informed that,

There are over 130 million migrant workers in China. They go home only once a year, during Chinese New Year. This is the world’s largest human migration.

Last Train Home is the debut film by Chinese-Canadian director Lixin Fan and he has done a wonderful job in telling an emotionally engaging story and the film was beautifully shot. As a documentary filmmaker myself, I watched the film three times over different days before I write this review. And I enjoyed the film more as I watched it.

I came away with the intense feeling that it is the Chinese migrant workers’ rights to improve their living standards, no matter how harsh it may seem to us Westerners. Yes, it came with a price, sometimes the prices can be very high. But, as I get older, I am reluctant to be judgemental and pronounce the western ways are the “best” for Chinese or other citizens of the world. There isn’t a single way to pursue a better life.

A great documentary makes us think and want to talk about the various issues discussed or not discussed in the film and it will make us care about the people in the film. Using these yardsticks, Last Train Home has succeeded and is definitely a great documentary. By chance, the film included one of the worst winters in recent Chinese New Years where train and bus services were seriously disrupted. And that added some urgency into the film.

There is one scene (when the parents had an argument with their child) in the film that shaken and touched me at the same time. As a documentary filmmaker, I kept asking myself, what would I have done if I were filming in the same situation? I finally came to the “uneasy” but “responsible” rationale that supported my instinct. I would have done the same thing and kept filming like Lixin. There was a story to be told and because of the trusting relationship that was built over months, it was ok to keep shooting.

By the way, please see the bottom of this blog entry where you can read an excerpted analysis/discussion by my economist friend Dr. Zhaofeng Xue (薛兆丰) about the problems associated with the Chinese New Year transportation nightmares (“春运综合症”).

Here is an excerpt from the synopsis of the film,

Every spring, China’s cities are plunged into chaos, as all at once, a tidal wave of humanity attempts to return home by train. It is the Chinese New Year. The wave is made up of millions of migrant factory workers. The homes they seek are the rural villages and families they left behind to seek work in the booming coastal cities. It is an epic spectacle that tells us much about China, a country discarding traditional ways as it hurtles towards modernity and global economic dominance.

Last Train Home, an emotionally engaging and visually beautiful debut film from Chinese-Canadian director Lixin Fan, draws us into the fractured lives of a single migrant family caught up in this desperate annual migration.

Here is a trailer of the film for the famous SXSW,

***

Economics analysis/discussion re chaos with train transportations around the Chinese New Years (“春运综合症”)

My friend Dr. Zhaofeng Xue (薛兆丰) has written for more than 10 years about the problems associated with the Chinese New Year transportation nightmares. In Feb 2010, he wrote about this topic again in this Chinese blog entry, “火车票低价造成了举国浪费“. Very insightful stuff if you read Chinese. Here is an excerpt,

“[低票价造成举国浪费] 火车票价不够高,其经济之恶,是那些用于排长队、拨电话、托关系、找黄牛、扫黄牛所耗费的努力,数以千万人的精疲力竭的努力,从整个社会上看,是被白白消耗掉的。如果这些人这段时间的努力,是用于通过他们的专业技能来服务他人,然后再把赚到的钱用以竞争火车票,那么这些乘客在争得火车票的同时,其努力也造福了其他人,也转化成了社会的财富。但现在的情况是,火车票以低价销售,人们靠排队来竞争。这种分配方式,必然引发利己不利人的资源耗散,而这种资源耗散只有通过提高票价才能消除。应该认识到,讨论火车票价问题并非“你比较重视效率就赞成提价、我比较重视公平就反对提价”的主观问题,而是一个如何消除社会浪费的客观问题。”

Zhaofeng received his Phd from George Mason University and is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Northwestern University School of Law. Here is a link to my congratulatory message to Zhaofeng when his book about antitrust was published in 2008.

"Last Train Home" Review - pix 2


Toronto Star CBC Dragons interviews – Kevin O’Leary, Arlene Dickinson, Jim Treliving, Robert Herjavec, Brett Wilson

Monday, 15 March, 2010

Reporters from Toronto Star have done a series of extremely well written and insightful interviews (not your usually fluffy and all positive interviews) with the five CBC Dragons: Kevin O’Leary, Arlene Dickinson, Jim Treliving, Robert Herjavec, Brett Wilson.

I greatly enjoy all of these interviews. And wish I could be as good in conducting some of my own interviews with people.

Note: The included excerpts (in the order they were published in TorStar) are meant to give us sides of the dragons that we don’t usually see on the TV shows.

* Kevin O’Leary: Canada’s unrepentant Dragon – O’Leary is breathing fire (and building his personal brand) on CBC TV’s business reality show Dragons’ Den. Here is an excerpt,

What made Kevin O’Leary rich was the moment he calls the “massive liquidity event,” that is the sale of LCI to toymaker Mattel Inc. for $4.2 billion (U.S.). O’Leary wasn’t the company’s largest shareholder, not by a long shot.

According to 1998 securities filings, Thomas H. Lee Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm, held nine million shares. The Tribune Co. was next up with five million. Bain Capital had 3.4 million. O’Leary, the company’s president, had just over a million shares. O’Leary says he had more than that.

Within months of the deal, announced in December 1998, Mattel issued warnings of unexpected losses at LCI. Read the rest of this entry »


Inventors Eye from USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office)

Friday, 26 February, 2010

If you are an inventor or cares about the business of inventions and patents, I highly recommend you subscribe to the Inventors Eye from USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office). Here is the intro info from Inventors Eye (emphasis added),

“Welcome to the first issue of Inventors Eye, a new electronic publication by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Inventors Eye is for and about America’s independent and small entity inventor community. It is a community that has always been a vital and vibrant part of America’s invention heritage.

Inventors Eye will appear every other month. Each issue will feature information you can use, tips on working with the USPTO; events, organizations and meetings of interest to the community; issues that impact independent and small entity inventors; and stories about people like you who have become successful inventors.We also want to hear from you with your ideas for stories and features that will enable us to better serve you through this publication.”

You can start off by reading Under Secretary of Commerce and USPTO Director David Kappos’s “Open Letter to the Independent Inventor and Small Business Communities – Patent Reform: Good for Independent Inventors and Small Businesses“.

And read about “Protect Your Innovation: Avoid Scams“.

By the way, as part of my management consulting services, I work with entrepreneurs with cutting edge patented technologies. Having good patented technologies don’t guarantee success but it is a good start.

[HT Dennis]


Erin Bolger “The Happy Baker” interview (with video)

Wednesday, 24 February, 2010

Erin-04-Paris

(Cross posted as an examiner.com article.)

In the season 5 episode 6 of Dragons’ Den the happy, humours, and driven Erin Bolger pitched her book “The Happy Baker – A Dater’s Guide To Emotional Baking” and made a $50,000 deal on TV with Calgary-based Dragon/investor Arlene Dickinson.

See some photos here.

The following are some highlights of what Erin and I talked about in the video interview,

What lead Erin to write and self-publish the book? I asked if she has got any help in writing the funny bits in the book? For example, did she have a comedian friend to help her write?

An update on Erin’s deal. On TV Erin & Arlene agreed to: $5,000 cash, $20,000 in travel miles, and $25,000 in PR services, in exchange for 30% of the proceeds from the book sales.

How did Erin come up with the 300,000 copies sales target? Thats one out of every 100 Canadians! How far along has Erin reached the target so far?

– We also talked about some of the recipes in the book. Here are links to the recipes for “My Mom’s Cupcake” and “ME + YOU – YOU = ICE CREAM COOKIE SUNDAE“. Both look very yummy.

– We also talked about Erin’s Paris cookbook festival experiences. And her experience in visiting the world famous Pierre Herme shop in Paris.


The Lady Gaga zero-awareness-to-ubiquity time-warp

Tuesday, 23 February, 2010

For the record (emphasis added) from Adage, “Gaga, Oooh La La: Why the Lady Is the Ultimate Social Climber – Leveraging Digital Media and Creative Partnerships Makes Artist a Uniquely 2010 Pop Star”
By Andrew Hampp
Published: February 22, 2010

LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) — As far as breakout musicians go, few artists have had quite the zero-awareness-to-ubiquity time-warp of Lady Gaga. And as far as brands go, few marketers of any kind have leveraged social media the way she has to drive sales of their core product — in her case, albums and digital singles.

Lady Gaga, with her army of nearly 2.8 million Twitter followers and more than 5.2 million Facebook fans, can move product. Since fall 2008, her digital-single sales have exceeded 20 million and her album sales hit 8 million, all at a time when no one under the age of 60 buys CDs anymore (see Susan Boyle breaking the record for highest first-week album sales last year). Now, she’s being courted by marketers to do the same for their products.

Gaga’s rapid ascent to the pop-culture stratosphere is often compared to Madonna’s, right down to their shared beginnings in the downtown New York club scene before their big record deals. But what makes Gaga’s star status, particularly in the marketing community, so uniquely 2010 is that she has achieved as many milestones (if not more) in 18 months than her idol did in nearly a decade. Madonna’s notorious endorsement for Pepsi in 1989 — cut short after her controversial “Like a Prayer” video aired on MTV — came seven years after the debut of her first single in 1982. Within a year of her out-of-the-box rise to fame in September 2008, Gaga had already lined up Virgin Mobile as a sponsor of her Monster Ball tour; created her own brand of headphones, Hearbeats by Lady Gaga, with record label Interscope; and landed her own (cherry pink) lipstick as a spokeswoman for Mac Cosmetics’ Viva Glam, benefiting Mac’s AIDS fund. And by January, she was tapped by Polaroid to become the brand’s creative director, hired specifically to create new products and inject life into a brand that hasn’t been hip for years — save for maybe a popular reference in Outkast’s “Hey Ya!”

Old school meets new media
How did a 23-year-old singer/songwriter achieve so much in so little time? Two words: social media. Sure, Gaga had a fair share of old-school artist development — radio play — to become the first artist to score four consecutive No. 1 singles from a debut album. But she’s also put a new-media spin on her distribution strategy. Read the rest of this entry »


Google Buys Aardvark for $50M

Thursday, 11 February, 2010

Interesting info from Google Buys Aardvark for $50M,

As of October 2009, Aardvark said it had 90,000 users, with more than half of them having asked or answered a question. Eighty-eight percent of questions had been answered, and 60 percent within 10 minutes.


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