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A home improvement start-up is now valued at $4 billion

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Its website has more than 20,000 sellers that offer more than nine million products. Its customers are able to connect with home improvement professionals, hobbyists and contractors. It’s a start-up called Houzz and with a $400 million new round of financing announced late last week, the company is now valued at more than $4 billion.

Financing your company is not just about a good business plan, sound management and strong product ideas. It’s also about timing. And the home improvement market is booming, particularly online. According to this report from Bloomberg, consumers bought $27 billion worth of furniture and related items for the home online and the number is projected to more than double by 2020. Read More…

This is what happens in Wichita when a business owner is shot during a robbery attempt

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

“There’s a difference between being a business owner and being a business leader,” Lance Minor, a business owner in Wichita, Kansas said to KSN, a local television station. “Business owners are interested in making a profit and business leaders are interested in making a difference.”

Minor and other business owners in the Wichita, Kansas area proved themselves to be leaders this week – along with many others in the community. They all rallied around the wife and family of 58-year-old Ruben Acosta, the owner of Ruben’s Mexican Grill. Acosta was shot during an armed robbery attempt two weeks ago and remains hospitalized. But that didn’t stop his family from re-opening the popular restaurant Monday. Read More…

You have to be over 55-years-old to work for this tech start-up

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

South Korea’s EverYoung, a technology services firm based in downtown Seoul, is always looking for good employees. But sorry, millennials, you need not apply. You’re not wanted.

Only people older than 55 are considered for employment.

“If seniors are working even after retirement, and being globally competitive, then it will be a good solution to our future social problems,” the company’s founder, Chung Eunsung, said in this Telegraph report. Eunsung started his company specifically to take on South Korea’s business culture that favors the young. And I know what you’re wondering: He’s 56, OK? Read More…

McDonalds is using Snapchat to recruit employees

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

I’m a big fan of Snapchat. I use it all the time, mostly with my family, to exchange pictures, videos and texts. I love it because it gives me an immediate visual image of what’s going on with my kids – exactly at that moment – before disappearing forever (which, given their college-age, is a very good thing).

Unfortunately, after a much ballyhooed initial public offering in March, Snapchat’s stock has dropped, user growth has subsided, and revenue growth has fallen short of expectations.

The good news is that not everyone’s so bearish on the communication service. Many publishers use the platform to advertise and distribute their content. Big companies are also wading in with their content. Now another big company, McDonald’s, is doing something very unique. The fast food giant is leaning on the service to try to fill 250,000 summer jobs. Read More…

The crazy new way this start-up raised $153 million in just three hours

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

You’ve heard of initial public offerings of stock? Well, there’s now a new, and potentially explosive, way to raise capital for your business: the initial coin offering.

The upside of the ICO? There’s no filing requirements, no Securities and Exchange Commission rules, no quarterly reporting and no required public disclosures. The possible downside? The money you raise will be in digital cryptocurrency and your investors will buy “tokens” instead of shares. Sound scary?

Not to a company called Bancor.  The Israeli-based company, according to this report in The CoinTelegraph, is very familiar with digital currencies – so much so that it has developed a unique protocol that can enable just about anyone to develop their own digital “smart tokens” (or cryptocurrency) and then help them to make it marketable by giving it liquidity and a market price from day one.  The company does this by allowing your cryptocurrency to be able to be converted to other currencies (including the U.S. dollar) “through a new kind of economic model which uses an algorithmically discovered price to balance buys and sells” using an “innovative reserve mechanism.” Read More…

Ignore the tweets. Here’s 10 ways Trump just benefited your business.

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Think about this: while you and I and the rest of the American public have been caught up in Donald Trump’s tweeting and Comey and Russia and all the other craziness, his administration has been busy behind the scenes doing many things that would be upsetting many more people – if we all weren’t so distracted.

If it’s a strategy, it’s not a bad one. Particularly because those very actions are intended to benefit business persons like me. Read More…

Will restaurants soon hire ‘Milk Sommeliers?’

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

When entrepreneurs are given start-up advice, they’re almost always told to do something they love. Bas de Groot is one such entrepreneur. He loves milk.  And his business is being an international “Milk Sommelier.”

In this Great Big Story video, de Groot – a trained organic grower who admits to sometimes drinking four liters of milk a day – shares his love of milk and why it’s a “liquid of serious complexity akin to a fine wine.” De Groot travels the world advising farmers, particular organic farmers like John Bucher, who owns the 60-year-old Bucher Farms, a Sonoma County, California family ranch that consists of 700 milk cows, 700 replacement heifers, and 40 acres of Pinot Noir wine grapes. The farm is currently transitioning most of its herd to organic milk production.

Enter de Groot, the Milk Sommelier. This is a serious business, and when you think about it, the practice of knowing all about milk isn’t so unrelated to knowing all about wine. Read More…