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Seth Berger Leads Sixers Innovation Lab In Camden

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Seth Berger

Entrepreneurs are flooding into Camden, including Seth Berger, University of Pennsylvania and Wharton School of Business alumni, best known as the Founder and former CEO of AND1. Seth Berger is managing the Sixers Innovation Lab Crafted by Kimball, which is housed in the Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex Business Operations Facility. Seth Berger has years of experience as an entrepreneur includes acting as a consultant and CEO in the gaming, technology and sports industry over the past decade. With a life long career in sports, Seth Berger provides opportunities for companies to grow using resources that are invaluable to business.

The Sixers Innovation Lab supports startups by providing individualized, industry-leading consulting and investment opportunities. Companies that are selected by Seth Berger and the Innovation Lab team will receive office space at the Innovation Lab, access to industry leaders, third-party branding, marketing and legal services, as well as free meals and housing in the Philadelphia area. There will also be unique opportunities to pitch to industry-leading investors and venture capitalists. Seth Berger is overseeing each startup that enters the facility along with advisors from StubHub, DraftKings, Rothman Institute, First Round Capital, Maven Creative and more.

With a unique set of skills and lifelong achievements in the sports industry, Seth Berger is passing on his knowledge on growing your company into something incredible. Seth Berger tells us about what it takes to be an entrepreneur today, making a lasting impression in business, and how you can be a part of the Sixers Innovation Lab.

Seth Berger

Describe your career.

I started a business in grad school at 25, which is now known as AND 1. It started as a T-shirt company in NYC, where I am from. Then, in seven years it grew to a basketball apparel, sports illustrated company. I ran two companies at that time. In the middle of AND1, I also ran hoopstv.com and made all of the mistakes I could. Made a couple of deals with retailers, but ultimately sold AND 1 in 2005 to American Sporting Goods. My kids at that time were six, three, and one years old. The goal then was to just be super dad, take them to school, and to see them everyday. I had part time jobs, I didn’t want a full position. I managed a few companies along the way but, my career basically had three parts: running AND 1, coaching basketball at Westtown School, an independent international school, and consulting and advising at Innovation Lab. Working at Innovation Lab combined all of my skills as a coach, consultant, and CEO. As a coach, it helped me become a better consultant and CEO to help identify and recruit really talented CEOs.

As an entrepreneur, what are some surprises that come your way?

Whether I was running AND1 or the Innovation Lab, there were always surprises. I’ve never run anything before, so doing AND 1 and the Lab were the biggest surprises. I was never really good in school, I was only a good test taker. Memorization is the only skill I had and my biggest strength is admitting that I don’t know and I need help. That’s how I got so far. If you’re always curious, you’ll always grow.

From ‘93-’05, old businesses had to make a lot of guesses when it came to prices and consumers. Nowadays, with technology, you can test everything. You can have consumers telling you a price, likings, and etc.

I’m also really surprised with how fast things move now. Businesses would take three-five years to grow, now it can be successful in three-six months.

What are some of the risks you took to get to where you are?

When I decided to start AND 1, I was maxed out of student loans and lived off of five Visas. If AND 1 didn’t work out, the alternative was to take on a job that I didn’t like and find incredibly boring, nothing I looked forward to. I took a risk as in if it didn’t work, I was going to be really broke, but the thing was, I was broke anyway so I didn’t really care. The actual risk or the biggest risk for anyone is time. Time is your most valuable resource. My risk here at the innovation lab is can I help manage five to six companies at the same. I have the mentality of, ‘I think it’ll work.’ But if I spend three to five years here and it doesn’t work, it’ll be a really big waste of time. As an entrepreneur though, you’re comfortable with mistakes.

How do you make a lasting impression when you get into a new business?

By offering significant day to day support to our companies. If all of what you want is a check and a network, then there are lots of places to get that. In the Bay Area especially, there are tons of them but that’s not us. If you want help to figure out your business, what you do on a day to day basis or annual basis, then that’s what we provide.

What recommendations do you have to aspiring business owners?

Know your consumer really well and focus on them, one of the biggest mistakes in entrepreneurship is people who say, ‘I don’t want to focus on consumers in our market because then my business won’t be really big.’ I say to them, ‘Build a small business before you have a big business, it shows you already have a business, then continue to build and expand.’  With all of our companies, we end the day with these questions: Who’s going to watch our videos? Who’s going to use our service, buy our products and be as specific as possible with those answers? 

Entrepreneurs who are thinking about starting versus entrepreneurs who have already started. Those who haven’t started aren’t afraid of failing because everyone fails eventually. It’s actually because they don’t know how to take charge. When you are your own CEO, it’s like getting a blank piece of paper for an essay but with no question. Everything is already set, what time you go into the office, the dress code, etc. with your business, no one is there to tell you. Don’t be afraid to get help.

What are some benefits the 76ers Innovation lab offer that can’t be found anywhere else?

I think Rhyan Truett, Innovation Lab Director of Operations, and I make a great team, along with Philadelphia 76ers CEO Scott O’Neil, and other people on our team can be really insightful for your business. We also offer free housing, free food, and free office space for about three months. In which there’s also access to free snacks and the gym. Also, we have a marketing agreement with strategy branding for companies, possible free legal services, and lastly, you can play basketball here.

How does startup apply for the opportunity to pitch?

Interested applicants can submit an application form through www.sixersinnovationlab.com.

What industries have you seen so far?

Everything, from cyber security, foot apparel, you name it. Our owner has a really broad network. If we can add value to your company then be let’s be a part, but if we can’t help you then it doesn’t make sense to apply.

Tips for entrepreneurs who are interested in being at Lab?

Always be willing to learn, companies who are in here are different from when they first came in. Be interested in improving. Companies who just need a check are not for us. There are three things we look for: first is what you take in, how smart, how focused, and how intense you are. Your team is a major aspect. For me, a team is the most important. I have members who studied in Wharton and are way smarter. Second, is the idea. Something you can protect and is unique. Lastly, how can we help you? If the company already had parts one and two, then how can we support you.

What is the piece of advice that helped you throughout your career?

In the fall of ‘93, when we were selling team shorts. I met Michael who owned a record company. He started his business by doing 45s. Back in the day, they used to do single records of songs of TV show songs like The Flinstones, The Munsters and all of the sudden his business blew up. He asked me, ‘Why do you want to be in business? Why do you wanna make a difference in kids’ lives?’ I said, ‘I think this business can reach kids and I can make a little money on the way, I also get to spend time with friends.’ He assured me then that you’re in business to make money, you’re not in it for your ego, you’re not in business to make friends, and you’re not in business to change who you are. And he was right. For awhile we thought we served kids as opposed to our consumers. When I got with our accounts, I asked, am I going to make enough and do I need more? If I bring in people who are around me and they get a piece of what I have or more, it’s okay. If you’re giving them pieces of yours, then they’ll eventually give more back to you. If you’re not giving your team a piece and think you have to be more in control, then it won’t work out. Like I said before, teamwork is the most important aspect of a business. Be willing to give.

Jie writes about influencers and startups in various industries. She is a designer turned techie, and when she is not writing, you can find her in her workshop working on her next big project.

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Business

Netflix Gaming Is An Embarrassment

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Netflix is having a hell of a time, ain’t they? The once innovative content titans of Silicon Valley are now playing a desperate game of catch up. They’ve lost subscribers, they’re introducing commercials, and now they’re trying to promote the awkwardly invested Netflix Gaming. 

Netflix Gaming has been available for less than a year, and subscribers do not appear to be interested. According to Apptopia, less than one percent of Netflix’s subscribers have engaged with this new content. 

And yet, Netflix plans to increase its game catalog from 24 to 50 by the end of 2022. We just have one question:

Um… Why?

A letter to shareholders revealed that Netflix considers Epic Games and TikTok as competitors. Call me crazy, but I would have guessed that Hulu, Disney+, and HBO Max would be more appropriate competitors. 

It’s like hearing Applebee’s call Wendy’s a competitor. They’re not really the same thing, are they? 

Fortunately, I am not among Netflix’s shareholders. If I were, I’d probably question the direction of this strategy. Tom Forte, D.A. Davidson senior analyst said on the matter: 

One of the many advantages to Netflix in pursuing the strategy is the ability to drive engagement beyond when the show first comes out on the platform.” 

Mkay. Seems more like a marketing strategy than an argument for why gaming is the direction should go in. Maybe don’t spend $30 million an episode for Stranger Things? It was a pretty big hit when it was just $7 million an episode. 

In this difficult time for Netflix, the company’s COO Greg Peters has one take on this strategy: 

We’re going to be experimental and try a bunch of things.

Okay, that’s not particularly reassuring. 

I would say the eyes that we have on the long-term prize really cater more around our ability to create properties that are connected to the universes, the characters, the stories that we’re building.” 

Alright, I can get behind that. World-building and fan-favor is often fun and super engaging. Whether its memes or parodies, fans love to play around with their favorite series and movies. Netflix has clearly noticed that a lot of fans share these experiences on platforms like TikTok. 

Can Netflix’s head of external games, Leanne Loombe, offer more insight into why gaming will be a worthwhile investment for the company? 

We’re still intentionally keeping things a little bit quiet because we’re still learning and experimenting and trying to figure out what things are going to actually resonate with our members, what games people want to play.

Okay so, no. She can’t offer more insight. 

Why can’t Netflix invest more in series that people will want to watch? Why cheap-looking games? 

Netflix Gaming Wants In On That Sweet Mobile Gaming Money

Ah, of course. Mobile gaming. Netflix saw the now decade old Candy Crush success and thought “us too.” 

Netflix recently acquired Finnish game developer Next Games for a whopping $72 million. This isn’t some cute little side hobby – this is a real, serious investment for a company best known for zombie-like binging and code for hooking up. 

This is head scratching, to say the least. Netflix is known for upending the television and movie industry. Experts in the field warned that the major networks (NBC, CBS, etc.) were going to catch up. Now, they have. You see Peacock, Paramount+, Disney+, and more

How did Netflix plan the coming competition? By throwing money at anything and everything. 

Co-CEO Reed Hastings said this about the company’s latest investment in gaming:

We’ve got to please our members by having the absolute best in the category. We have to be differentially great at it. 

“There’s no point of just being in it.” 

It’s no wonder that Netflix is in trouble. I have zero doubt that Netflix Gaming will be an utter failure and total embarrassment. But, you do you girl.

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10 Subscription Based Services Business Owners Need to Try in 2022

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Over the past decade, subscription-based services have taken the business world by storm. Cloud-based infrastructure makes it easier for businesses to start, scale, and succeed. Paying a simple regular fee to use a software or service helps keep all your expenses in order.

Nobody wants to get tangled up in too many subscriptions. And with so many services on the market, it’s easy to end up with more than you need. That’s why we’ve assembled 10 great subscription based services for your business needs.

1) Hive – Subscription based project management tool

Project management is one of the areas where cloud-based tools come most in handy. Real-time collaboration is a great way to keep track of everyone’s work and ensure that it all gets done.

Hive offers just that. On top of task management and time tracking, they offer a variety of views to help each team member visualize their work the way they see fit, whether it’s as a kanban board, Gantt chart, calendar, or table.

There are plenty of great project management tools to choose from, but Hive’s versatility puts it over the top. They offer quick integrations, automations, and even a built-in messaging system.

Pricing: Unlike the rest of these services, Hive only has a single paid subscription plan. They offer three options:

  • Solo – Free of charge, for individual users.
  • Teams – $12/user/month. Includes shareable forms, an in-app calendar, and Zoom and Slack integrations.
  • Enterprise – Bespoke plans for enterprise customers. Include flexible add-ons, heightened security, custom analytics, and dedicated support.

2) Omnisend – Subscription based ecommerce marketing service

Marketing solutions aren’t exactly hard to come by, but what if your company has specific needs? For ecommerce brands, that’s where Omnisend comes in. This SaaS has everything you need to create successful, automated email and SMS marketing campaigns.

Tools like sign-up forms are geared directly towards ecommerce. They offer integration with all the major platforms, including Shopify, WooCommerce, and dozens more. They also have some pretty extensive analytics tools to help you keep track of your campaigns’ success.

Pricing: Omnisend comes in three tiers:

  • Free – $0/mo. Reach up to 250 contacts. 500 emails/mo.
  • Standard – Starts at $16/mo (pricing based on contact list size). 6,000 emails/mo.
  • Pro – Starts at $59/mo. Unlimited emails. 3,933+ free SMS credits.

3) Identity Guard – Subscription based data theft protection

Identity theft protection services are often geared towards individuals and families. But while security may start at home, your business’ data is just as precious.

If you’re looking for data theft protection for your business, look no further than Identity Guard, an AI-driven subscription based service by AURA. They offer robust data breach protection as well as employee protection plans, all backed by IBM’s iconic Watson AI.

Pricing: Breach protection comes in two plans:

  • Value – $36/year per activation code
  • Total – $120/year per activation code. Includes bank account and credit monitoring.

Employee benefit plans are custom-built.

4) Zoho CRM – Subscription based CRM platform

Zoho offers a staggering range of cloud-based software solutions, including email, customer service, docs, HR, and much more. But their first, foremost, and perhaps best offering is their customer relationship management (CRM) platform.

Zoho has great customer solutions for businesses big and small. You can micro-manage operations with their detailed analytics, or streamline your process with automated workflows. On top of all that, it’s totally customizable, so you can create your ideal workspace.

Pricing: Zoho’s CRM comes at five tiers:

  • Free – $0. Includes up to 3 users, essentials like leads, documents, mobile apps.
  • Standard – $14/user/month. Includes automated workflows and custom dashboards.
  • Professional – $23/user/month. Includes real-time notifications and inventory management.
  • Enterprise – $40/user/month. Includes AI, mobile SDK, advanced customization.
  • Ultimate – $52/user/month. Includes advanced BI and highest possible feature limits.

In addition, you can buy Zoho CRM Plus, which combines 8 other Zoho services, for $57/user/month. Bigin, a pipeline-based CRM for small businesses, starts at $7/user/month.

5) HubSpot CMS Hub – Subscription based content management system

Like Zoho, HubSpot offers a wide range of software solutions for businesses, which they call “hubs.” You can buy these hubs individually according to your needs or combine them for discounted bundle pricing.

Their content management system (CMS) is one of their more impressive hubs. It includes handy tools for secure website hosting and building, including a drag-and-drop editor and mobile optimization. On top of building websites, HubSpot makes it easy to scale with multiple plans and performance monitoring.

Pricing: HubSpot CMS Hub comes in four plans:

  • Free – $0. Allows for 1 blog and up to 25 web pages. Includes analytics, hosting, SEO, drag-and-drop editor.
  • Starter – Starts at $23/mo. Includes 50 web pages, ad management, URL mappings, payment support, reporting dashboards. Removes HubSpot branding from site.
  • Professional – Starts at $360/mo. Allows for up to 100 blogs and 10,000 web pages. Includes custom analytics, advanced SEO, dynamic personalization, content staging, video hosting, site tree.
  • Enterprise – Starts at $1,200/mo. Includes highest limits on all features, custom objects, site performance monitoring, web apps, sandboxes, permissions.

A 14-day free trial is available. Add-ons such as custom SSL and limit increases can be built into your plan.

6) Penji – Subscription based graphic design service

Content management is one thing, but where do you get the content itself? When it comes to graphic design, Penji offers professional-quality designs on a subscription basis.

With Penji’s unlimited model, you can get as many designs as you need. Their plans cover everything from logos to social media graphics. They even design websites and apps. With a global team of full-time designers, they deliver quality designs in a matter of days.

Pricing: Penji offers three plans:

  • Pro – $499/mo. Includes unlimited graphic design, illustrations, logos and branding.
  • Team – $699/mo. Includes unlimited web designs, app designs, presentations, and animated graphics.
  • Daytime – $999/mo. Includes USA daytime designers, same-day turnaround, and a dedicated art director.

All plans come with a 30-day money back guarantee.

7) Rippling – Subscription based HR and IT cloud service

This enterprise software solution is one of the best options out there for payroll maintenance, but it’s got much more than that. It combines workflow automation with HR and IT tools, helping enterprises streamline their employer-to-employee processes.

If you’ve been making use of this list, you’ll be especially happy to hear about Rippling’s app management. You can set up, manage, and disable employee apps in one simple place, ensuring that you’re using everything you need and nothing extra.

Pricing: Unfortunately, Rippling doesn’t offer transparent pricing on their site. Because they cater to enterprise customers, they offer quotes based on businesses’ precise needs. At the very least, their core platform costs $35/mo, with an additional $8/user/mo for payroll services.

8) Moz Pro – Subscription based SEO tool

Moz was founded as SEOmoz in 2004 as a site for some of the world’s earliest SEO experts to share their research. Basically, they wrote the book on SEO.

Moz Pro isn’t the cheapest option for SEO on the market, but it uses its history of experience to its advantage. They offer robust, eminently useful data to give your business the search engine boost it needs, crawling your site to precisely pinpoint issues.

Pricing: Moz Pro offers four plans:

  • Standard – Starts at $79/mo. Includes 3 campaigns, 300 keyword rankings, 60 tracked URLs, 100k page crawls per week.
  • Medium – Starts at $143/mo. Includes 10 campaigns, 1,500 keyword rankings, 200 tracked URLs, 500k page crawls per week.
  • Large – Starts at $239/mo. Includes 25 campaigns, 3,000 keyword rankings, 500 tracked URLs, 1.25 million page crawls per week.
  • Premium – Starts at $479/mo. Includes 50 campaigns, 4,500 keyword rankings, 1,000 tracked URLs, 2 million page crawls per week.

9) Tableau – Subscription based business intelligence service

You can have all the fancy subscription based software in the world, but it won’t get you anywhere if you’re not paying attention to what works. Tableau is a leader in business intelligence (BI) and analytics. They offer a robust array of digestible data to help your business work smarter.

Tableau is trusted by customers ranging from Whole Foods to Pfizer, Nissan to Charles Schwab. Powered by Salesforce, they also offer integrations with SQL, AWS, and dozens of other cloud services.

Pricing: Tableau offers three cloud-based plans for teams:

  • Viewer – $15/user/mo.
  • Explorer – $42/user/mo.
  • Creator – $70/user/mo.

They also offer server-based plans (on-premise or public cloud), a Creator plan for individuals, and embedded analytics.

10) Bit.ai – Subscription based service for workplace collaboration

The final piece of the puzzle that brings your whole business infrastructure together: collaboration. Plenty of cloud-based offerings include collaboration tools, and many businesses use free tools like Slack and Google Docs to power their communication.

Bit.ai combines all these features and more. Think of it like a document editor that’s also a content manager. It lets businesses share, create, and keep track of the content they put out, all with robust communication. They also integrate easily with tools like Tableau, OneDrive, Google Suite, Miro, Trello, Facebook, and more.

Pricing: Bit.ai offers three plans:

  • Free – $0. Allows for up to 5 members, 50 documents, 1GB storage. Includes content library, integrations, collaboration tools.
  • Pro – $8/member/month. Allows for unlimited members, unlimited documents, 500GB storage. Includes export, bulk import, version history.
  • Business – $15/member/month. Allows for unlimited storage. Includes trackable documents, priority support, engagement analytics, guest access.

Bit.ai also offers custom plans for enterprise customers.

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Thinking of Investing in An Early-Stage VC?

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venture capital

Do you find yourself asking, “should I invest in early-stage VC?” If so, you’re not alone. Venture capital has become one of the most popular ways to invest in high-growth startups. It offers high returns and the chance to join the founding team of a company before anyone else. With venture capital, you have not only access to top-notch business management but also an opportunity to build your portfolio.

However, due to its early stage, venture capital investing is not for everyone. Those who are looking for ways to make money fast should consider other options first. Think about it: what do investors require in order to fund a startup? An answer that’s likely yes will do it again—at least in this case. The same can be said about the minimum investment required by venture capital firms—it depends on their target sector or geography. This article will help you understand what you need to know before investing in venture capital.

What is venture capital?

Before we tackle the answer to the question, “should I invest in early-stage VC,” let’s discuss the basics of venture capital.

Simply said, venture capital is the funding of new businesses and expansion. That said, venture capitalists provide funding for startups at an early stage. They see potential in ventures that are often in the “uncertain” stage of their growth and usually lack funds. They provide the necessary capital to help companies realize their full potential. In addition to that, financial and managerial resources may also be offered.

Insider Monkey says the biggest VC companies in the world in 2021 are Google Ventures, Insight Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, Index Ventures, and Sequoia Capital.

Why do people invest in venture capital?

person presenting something

The main reason people invest in venture capital is to gain a high return on their money. Another reason is the chance to build a portfolio of investments. For instance, some investors are interested in the high level of skill involved in the management of a venture capital fund. Some investors, on the other hand, want to be part of launching new products and services.

How does a venture capital firm operate?

VC firms are a unique blend of investment and management. They begin by identifying, researching, and screening a large number of high-potential companies. After evaluating these startups, the VC firm decides which to fund. It then hires management teams to run its companies. As mentioned above, the VC firm provides not just financial support but also expertise and advice. After all, the success of the startup means investment growth.

So, here’s the million-dollar question – should I invest in early-stage VC? The answer lies in whether you can stomach the risks. One of those risks is losing your entire investment. For example, a VC firm can fail due to bad investment decisions, poor management, or even bad timing. If you’re ready to go through these risks, however, then a VC investment may be for you.

Why should I invest in early-stage VC?

If you’re thinking of putting your money in a VC firm, some believe that now is the best time to do it. After all, some VCs have grown to be household names over the last 20 years because of their success. In addition to that, VCs have made a reputation for investing in early-stage SaaS ventures with low startup valuations.

But here’s what should be the biggest trigger for you to consider VC investment: global equity prices correction. Due to geopolitical instability, inflation, and many other factors, the economic downturn can be inevitable.

At the same time, many startups today are building products with world-changing potential. And given the high quality of these products, these startups can survive – and even thrive – in recession-like scenarios.

Given these two elements, many startups may be at a “discounted” valuation at the moment, and it would be wise to strike while the iron is hot. After all, VC is one of the most exciting ways to invest in high-growth startups with a potential for high returns.

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