Friday, June 29, 2018

Using The Cloud

Cloud-based solutions for data storage and use have become indispensable for businesses. Yet, many companies still persist is believing that having data and processing on their own computers and servers provides greater security and control. This could not be further from the truth.

Cloud-based applications are significantly more secure, reliable, and efficient than hosting on your own hardware.  Cloud-computing is simply using computers and servers resident through the Internet, rather than having physical hardware owned by the company. Your software is hosted, managed, and delivered via the Internet which offers a multitude of benefits.

First, you save all of the time, money, and resources that you would normally assign to the hardware and the teams running software in-house. Second, with cloud use, all of  the company's computers can be connected to a single cloud-service (including all lap-tops, tablets, and phones). Third, all of the information is securely stored, backed-up, and managed from a single central location - which means you could operate your business from anywhere in the world.

In the current business environment success is very dependent on optimizing efficiencies and cloud-based solutions deliver on this. They are also less costly and offer more flexibility than in-house systems and, perhaps most importantly, free up time and staff to work on core business and customer development and service.

Stay in touch,

Jim Lavorato
Fund-House Ventures, LLC 

Monday, June 25, 2018

Our Lawsuit Claim Culture

Personal injury law suits are rampant in our society. For any business, large or small, the question is when does a claimant have a good case? Given the dramatic rise of personal injury claims it would do well for any business to concern itself with what steps can be taken to limit the liability. 

Any business owes a general duty of care to the public visiting its premises. If damage, such as injury, is caused to a visitor while on the premises the business may be held liable for causing the damage - if it happens as a result of the business's negligence and breach of its duty of care, the business could be negligent if it realized, or should have realized, there was a real risk that could cause accident or harm but failed to act to reduce that risk. This same legal theory applies to, not only personal injury cases, but those involving sexual harassment, workman's compensation, fraud, and other claims.

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This causal requirement also depends upon how a reasonable person would have acted. This means that if the risk was small and the possibility of it causing injury, remote, then the business may not be held libel, as long as it can show that 'not acting' was also a reasonable course.The trick here is did the business act reasonably and not negligently.

If the business is a tenant of the premises, than the lease should make clear which of the areas used by visitors is the responsibility of the tenant to maintain and care for. Risks can not be eliminated, but adopting a commonsense approach will help in reducing the risk of claims. Instruct staff to report problems and to ensure that the public is warned of any dangers which cannot be immediately removed.

Finally, don't panic! If a claim is received, proving negligence isn't always straight-forward and a claim may even be seen as opportunistic. It could also be made against the wrong party if the terms of the lease haven't yet been checked.

Claims can be for Workman's Comp, Sexual Harassment, Bodily Injury, Fraud, just to name a few that any business may have to contend with. Be prepared and don't forget about this most important business risk.

Good Luck!

Jim Lavorato, Principal
Fund-House Ventures, LLC

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Luxury Lodgings Re-Brand for Millennials

I always view with interest and professional curiosity when an industry endeavors to re-brand and shift its focus - this type of branding is monumental. We are witnessing this in the luxury hotel industry, as the brands in this sector adjust to a younger consumer that is driving the market.

Travelers looking for relevant experience in luxe environment
Consumer Experience (CX) is the big buzz in branding and the luxury hotel group is no exception as they strive to tap into the experiences that luxury travelers desire, and selecting the right markets to enter has become key.

Millennials are forcing the re-branding as they have tremendous spending power - spending over $2 billion on travel this year and looking for more than accommodation, they want an experience. To adjust, the luxe hotel brands like Four Seasons, W Hotels, Mandarin Oriental, Rosewood, and others are not only refitting existing locations but are also entering new markets where there is an emphasis on  youthful, affluent audiences. Cities where there is a prominence of music, fashion, and creative arts both in the U.S. and overseas. From Sao Paulo to Athens, New Orleans to Scottsdale the move is on to build new and re-brand the old. It's all about servicing a new traveler type - the 'affluent explorer'. 

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The hospitality industry see this new demographic as less interested with opulence, pampering, and traditional luxury and instead seeks deeper connections, authenticity and insights into the cultures  where they travel.  This re-brand by the luxe hotel industry is looking to new, undiscovered destinations and endeavor to shift the epicenter of culture and cool.

A lot of research and brand strategy is performed to ensure the brand is not harmed but bolstered by the shift to a different market focus. This is an opportunity and a challenge which requires plenty of attention on brand outreach, particularly when entering an overseas locale.

Look for these new luxe lodgings popping up and how the re-branding of the industry takes place.

Jim Lavorato
Principal, Fund-House Ventures

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

BRANDING: It Never Ends In The Digital Domain

Businesses, many times, may not fully grasp their branding potential - Fund-House brings a business to the forefront and creates massive market impact with strategic branding and marketing in the digital domain.  This may sound easy, but it's not!

Branding is about positioning your business in the marketplace for intentional growth. At Fund-House we relish in taking seven-figure sales performers and morphing them into $5 million + revenue generators - and this growth comes principally from the inside out.

One of the keys to generating significant growth is management. A company, any company, must infuse itself with purpose-driven and intentional people. Each mentoring and coaching the other. People that are able to see and assess future trends, create new ideas, operate from their true self, and be leaders with vision. One of the ways Fund-House turns so-so businesses into stellar performer is with team building and development.

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Branding is essential. It cannot be viewed as a casual endeavor but - the company itself. Their can be no distinction between the company and its brand. They are built together and grow together. The goal is to ensure that your company becomes extremely valuable in the eyes of its target market and in doing so - its sales, valuation, and market position escalate. We all want to be understood and admired - your business/brand is no exception.

Speaking of branding. One of the ways a small business, in particular, can increase its awareness in the market is through posting videos on YouTube - no surprise, right.  However what you post and when is significant. For example, for the month of April, the highest ranking creators on YouTube were the following based on number of views, it may surprise you.

#1 WWE (yes, world wide wrestling) with an astounding 956 million views for its videos. The WWE has a death-grip on the top spot and closing in on the one billion monthly views record. Nice validation for the Fox Network which just paid $1 billion to wrest WWE's SmackDown series from NBC/Universal's USA network starting in 2019.
WWE: numero uno in YouTube views

The other nine top creators by views were as follows:

- Movieclips - 785N
- Ellen - 400M
- Inside Edition - 325M
- BuzzFeed Video - 315M
- Jimmy Kimmel Live! - 224M
- The Tonight Show - 219M
- Saturday Night Live - 191M
- Troom Troom - 187M
- Peppa Pig - 151M

Contact us today:

Jim Lavorato
Principal, Fund-House Ventures, LLC


Friday, June 8, 2018

Google Shareholders Kill Employee Backed Diversity Proposal

Last week, Alphabet (Google's stock name) shareholders voted down several proposals, led by employee groups, that would have tied pay to diversity goals.
Killing Employee Diversity Agenda

This is the first major company to be confronted with linking renumeration with diversity and inclusion -  and it is a sobering trend that will, I believe, proliferate. In this case, Alphabet management, which has voting control of the company, soundly rejected the proposal in a unanimous vote.

The group that made the diversity-linked-pay proposal argued that the current gender pay gap and lack of diversity in the workforce, makes it much more difficult to hire and retain employees and curbs innovation. "Diversity and inclusion proposals have been met with an array of responses, including formal reprimands" stated Irene Knapp, a software engineer. "this has had a very bad effect and has impaired the company's culture."

In response, Eileen Naughton, Head of Alphabet's HR, stated "We are committed to an internal goal to reach market supply representation of women and minorities by 2020, which will bring hiring in line with the diversity of the candidate pool."  

Several hundred employees had organized to challenge the company to address the persistent underrepresentation of women and other minorities in the workforce.

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The diversity and inclusion issue is hitting both private and public companies alike - but this should come as no surprise. The question being: whether or not the protests are relevant?  Lets face it, what is being asked for is a quota hiring and promotion system - now that would really impair the corporate culture.

The diversity and inclusion card is being played at all levels, not just in corporate boardrooms. Many terms and definitions have been banteed about but how diverse can we get: gender, race, sexual preference, religion, political stance, immigration posture, age, income level, and on and on.  The whole issue is becoming so large but so fragmented that it loses its meaning. The result: everyone is in a  minority group! 

Jim Lavorato 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Failed State of U.S. Corporations

There lurks a very troubling problem with U.S. public corporations: The stock markets are shrinking as the number of listed firms is decreasing! 

And it's falling FAST! Since 1997 (at its peak) the number of listed companies have declined by 50%. More striking, is that this phenomenon is only occurring in the United States - and in no other developed country. 

But WHY is this happening?

Research reveals that U.S. corporations are getting larger and older - the average age of a publicly traded company is now 18.6 years (the oldest in recorded history). The troubling fact is that young, thriving companies are reluctant to go public. They find it easier to get private funding and don't want to deal with the burdens of public scrutiny and reporting.
A good example is Pinterest, which recently raised $150 million from venture funds and bypassed the whole IPO gauntlet. To make matters worse, many companies are de-listing or exiting the public stock markets after a merger or acquisition takes place. 

It should also be noticed that public firms have become more concentrated. Last year, the top 200 firms earned more than all of the public firms combined - some 3,766 companies. Worse still, only 30 firms generated 50% of all profits reported. This compares with 89 companies in 1995 and 109 in 1975. Stock ownership in public firms has also change. In 1980, institutional ownership averaged 18%, while today it is over 50%.

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It appears that public firms have been lackluster performers. Returning capital to investors and hoarding cash rather than using and raising funds to invest and expand.


If this trend continues, the end result will be very negative economically.  Shareholders will find it difficult to invest in young, innovative companies. Delays in IPOs can lead to both decreased transparency and oversight, as we recently witnessed with Uber.

The trend of the incredible shrinking stock markets is not only troubling but points to a very different future regarding how people invest in companies - and there appears to be no end in sight.

Source for some data: Kathy Kahle, Prof. of Finance, Univ. of Arizona

By: Jim Lavorato
Principal, Fund-House Ventures, LLC