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Food Fax

Posted on April 01 2017 | Author: Admin

Read the lasted Food Fax newsletter from International Food Focus Ltd.’s President, Carol Culhane.  

 

©2016 International Food Focus Ltd., 211 Carlton Street, East Office, Toronto, ON M5A 2K9 E: focus@foodfocus.on.ca
Food Fax is archived at www.foodfocus.on.ca 






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Health Canada Proposes New Food Labelling and Marketing Regulations for Children

Posted on March 23 2017 | Author: Admin

Healthy eating can be challenging due to several factors, some beyond the control of the consumer. This is why the Government of Canada is taking actions to make the healthier choice the easier choice for all Canadians. Health Canada is currently overhauling Canada’s healthy eating guidelines with a comprehensive strategy that will include new rules for marketing and labelling certain foods aimed at children. Health Minister Jane Philpott said the “iconic” Canada Food Guide has not kept up with the country’s changing demographics and lifestyle.

The World Health Organization (WHO) released recommendations on the marketing of food and beverages to children in 2010. WHO called on governments worldwide to reduce the exposure of children to advertising and to reduce the use of powerful marketing techniques employed by the food manufacturers and beverages high in saturated fats, trans-fats, added sugars or sodium.

Health Canada's last food guide was criticized because it was based on much input from industry. Today, Canada is acting on those WHO recommendations, which already restricts marketing to children under the age of thirteen. It will take anywhere from five to ten years to implement these changes, after consultations with industry, stakeholders and the public. Although, this is an unprecedented amount of change that will require an unprecedented level of investment in an unprecedented time frame, this will change what's in our products, what's on our product packaging and how these products will be marketed. On the other hand, the food and beverage industries continues to face challenges with timely regulatory approvals and costs for reformulation and innovation.

The food industry in Canada is already taking steps to encourage Canadians to make more informed, healthy food choices, and said it is "keen" to ensure further steps are taken. Health Canada just completed the scientific review of the Canada Food Guide. It found that most of the science behind its recommendations was sound. However, the department found there were not enough distinctions between age groups, sex, activity levels, or height. Hopefully, this new guide remains the most requested document at Health Canada.

In summary, Health Canada will engage the public and stakeholders to seek feedback and input on a proposed front of package labelling approach aimed at helping Canadians make healthier and more informed choices, particularly on added sugars, sodium and trans-fats.

dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand.

 

Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

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The Healthy Eating Strategy: Health Canada Issues Changes to Food Label Regulations

Posted on March 09 2017 | Author: Admin

On December 14, 2016 Health Canada announced amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations in reference to the labelling provisions for packaged foods. These changes stem from Health Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy, an effort to empower consumers to make healthier food choices by making food labels easier to read and understand. The final objective being the elimination of industrially produced trans-fat, reduction of sodium and additional information pertaining to sugars and food colours.

As a result of these amendments, Health Canada has updated food labelling as it concerns the Nutrition Facts table and list of ingredients.

Nutrition Facts Table

Increasing the font size of the Calories and Serving Size

Adding a bold line under Calories

Adding the footnotes “5% or less is a little” and “15% or more is a lot”

Assigning new % daily values based on modern nutrition science

Adding a new % daily value for total sugars

Adding potassium

Removing Vitamin A and Vitamin C

Adding the milligram amounts for potassium, calcium and iron

Creation of a regulated reference Serving Size, based on single serve versus multi-serving packages

List of Ingredients

Following ‘sugar’ group sugars-based ingredients in brackets

Listing food colours by their individual common names

Using black font on a white or neutral background

Separating ingredients using bullets or commas

Listing ingredients using both upper and lower case letters

Using Minimum type height requirements for ingredients

Following the same formatting requirements for the ‘Contains’ statement (indicating the presence/potential presence of priority food allergens, gluten sources and/or added sulphites)

The food industry has been given a five year transition period, as of December 14, 2016 to implement the new food label requirements under these revised regulations. During this interim period, companies may choose to label food products under the former regulations or the new regulations. Over this period, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will maintain its current guidance and tools while simultaneously updating them to reflect these new requirements. Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have prepared a guide to develop accurate nutrient values, as well as a number of laboratory methods for nutrient content analysis. Health Canada will respond to questions related to the new requirements and their intent, whereas inquiries dealing with compliance and enforcement will be handled by local Canadian Food Inspection Agency offices.

dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand.

 

 

Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

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Front-of-Package Requirements for Food Labels in Canada: Simplifying or Confusing Consumers?

Posted on February 23 2017 | Author: Admin

On November 14, 2016, Health Canada released the consultation document “Toward Front-of-Package Nutrition Labels for Canadians” outlining their proposal to introduce mandatory requirements for labels that appear on “Front of Package” foods (FOP) that are high in nutrients of public health concern. These nutrients of public health concerns when at high levels are sodium (associated with hypertension), sugar (associated with diabetes) and saturated fatty acids (associated with obesity). Health Canada has requested input from consumers, stakeholders, industry members, researchers in academia and health professionals on the proposed FOP requirements.

Health Canada proposes applying FOP labelling through the use of a symbol (currently being determined by Health Canada with properties of being simple and intuitive) that is mandatory on the principal display panel when the prepackaged food exceeds the predetermined “high-in” threshold value for sodium, sugars, or saturated fats. Through this mandatory and simple approach, Health Canada feels that consumers can rely on quick information on key nutrients of concern that would allow them to easily compare products and help make healthier choices easier. Health Canada feels that consumers can be limited by time, motivation and other factors, so FOP symbols grants them an additional tool to help them with informed choices; being a simple visual cue. Health Canada also states that FOP labelling is transparent as consumers can verify which nutrient is being flagged in the FOP symbol and can verify its actual quantity on the Nutrition Fact Table on another panel.

The proposed threshold value for when a “high-in” FOP symbol would be required for sodium, sugar and saturated fats is suggested to be 15% of the dietary value for prepackaged food and 30% of the dietary values for prepackaged meals and combination dishes – though different threshold values are being proposed for foods with small reference amounts (condiments, butter, margarine, cookies etc.).

Health Canada is also permitting or considering permitting exemptions to FOP labelling for products with very small packages, small individual packages served in restaurants, food produced and prepackaged by retailers, alcoholic packages and packages of sugar and salt.

There has already been feedback from the industry that FOP labeling may actually increase, rather than decrease consumer confusion as intended as the consultation documents outlines many exemptions which could confuse consumers when encountering an exempted food versus a healthier food alternative that carries FOP labelling. Industry also has concerns that FOP labelling on the three nutrients of public health concern will cause consumers to focus on these three nutrients and not the other beneficial nutrients in the food (running contrary to a promotion of a balanced diet) and be frightened away from these products despite their other nutritional benefits. Some of the proposed FOP symbols are reminiscent of street signs (stop & yield) which may confuse consumers to be a “not-consume” warning rather than an indicator of a higher value of a certain nutrient that it actually is.

In addition to FOP labelling, the consultation documents also discusses update to nutrient content claims to make them consistent to the proposed FOP labelling and revising the current high-intensity sweetener regulations to align with those seen in international regulatory agencies around the world.

The current consultation has just recently closed on January 13th, 2017, though further consultations are planned again in June 2017.

dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand.

 

Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article






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New proposed Canadian food safety regulations open for comments

Posted on January 31 2017 | Author: Admin

They’re finally here! The long-awaited Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (Regulations) have been pre-published in the Canada Gazette I for comment, and the CFIA has officially kicked off consultation on the proposed regulations.

The proposed Regulations are made under the Safe Food for Canadians Act (the Act), which was adopted back in 2012 with a view to improving the safety of the Canadian food supply through establishing consistent, prevention-focused requirements for food that is imported or prepared for export or interprovincial trade. The Act consolidates the authorities of the Fish Inspection Act, the Canada Agricultural Products Act, the Meat Inspection Act, and the food provisions of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act.

The highly anticipated Regulations, which put the meat on the bones of the Act, result from significant consultation with stakeholders that began in 2013. Key objectives of the Regulations include prevention, enhanced market access for Canadian exporters and consolidation of 14 different, overlapping and at times inconsistent, food-based regulations to a single set of outcome-based requirements to improve consistency, enable innovation and flexibility and level the playing field across foods and between importers and Canadian producers.

The proposed Regulations include a number of new, and some not-so-new requirements around licencing, preventive controls, traceability, ministerial exemptions, packaging, labelling, recognition of foreign systems, inspection legends, seizure and detention, organic products and some commodity-specific requirements. Below we provide a brief overview of three key food safety elements: licences, traceability requirements and preventive controls. The full text of the Regulations can be found here.

Licences

The Regulations would replace the current commodity-based licence regime by requiring licences based on activity, rather than commodity. Under the proposed Regulations, licences will be required for food importers, companies preparing food for export or for interprovincial trade, and for companies slaughtering food animals from which meat products for export or interprovincial trade may be derived. The Regulations provide for some exemptions, and the CFIA has provided this interactive tool to help industry determine whether it will require a licence.

The intent of the licensing regime is to provide enhanced oversight of the entirety of industry, resulting in the better identification of food safety risks, communication of food safety information and more efficient CFIA inspections and enforcement actions. Licences are proposed to be valid for two years, for a fee of approximately $250 and will be subject to suspension in the event of non-compliance.

Traceability requirements

Traceability requires a company to be able to track the movement of food one step back (to the person who provided it) and one step forward (to the person to whom it is provided) – one step forwards and one step backwards throughout the entire supply chain, up to the point of retail sale. The Regulations apply the international standard for traceability established by Codex to anyone importing, exporting and interprovincially trading food, as well as to other persons holding a licence issued under the Act, and to growers and harvesters of fresh fruits or vegetables that are to be exported or traded interprovincially

Industry will be permitted to keep either electronic or paper records, as long as they can be accessed and provided to Health Canada within 24 hours (or possibly less in the case of an imminent risk to human health). Records will have to be maintained for a minimum two years. The CFIA has provided additional information on traceability requirements and record-keeping here.

Preventive controls

The Regulations propose that food subject to the Regulations and all regulated activities be conducted in a manner consistent with internationally recognized good agricultural and manufacturing practices, i.e., GAPs, GMPs and HACCP. The proposed Regulations address certain key preventive control elements, including sanitation and pest control, transportation and equipment, storage, hygiene and complaints and recall.

Most regulated parties will be required to develop and maintain a written preventive control plan (PCP) that demonstrates how to identify and eliminate (or reduce) hazards and risks related to food products. The PCP should be developed based on HACCP principles and should address the seven key elements of an HACCP plan.

The CFIA has provided this interactive tool to help industry determine whether it will require a PCP. Additionally, draft PCP templates for Canadian food businesses and exporters can be found here and a draft step-by-step guide for preparing a PCP can be found here (Canadian business and exporters) and here (importers).

Next steps

The CFIA is proposing a phased approach for the coming into force of the proposed Regulations to account for different levels of industry-readiness and the concerns of small businesses. Additionally, it has promised support for industry in the form of guidance documents, continued communication and new compliance tools. The CFIA’swebsite on the Safe Food for Canadians Act provides additional information on the Act and proposed Regulations.

Consultation on the proposed Regulations closes on April 21, 2017. The CFIA is offering a number of in-person and web-based information sessions across the country through February and March – additional information about these sessions is available here. In the meantime, the CFIA has prepared this Handbook entitled “Understanding the Proposed Safe Food for Canadians Regulations: A Handbook for Food Businesses”.  

 

Érika Bergeron-Drolet
Associate, Norton Rose Fullbright

Sara Zborovski
Partner, Norton Rose Fullbright

 

Article provided by Norton Rose Fulbright

 

About Norton Rose Fulbright
Norton Rose Fulbright is a global legal practice that provides the world's pre-eminent corporations and financial institutions with a full business law service. Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers share food and agribusiness sector knowledge and experience across provincial and national borders, enabling them to support their clients anywhere in the world. To learn more about Norton Rose Fulbright, please visit www.nortonrosefulbright.com

 

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Food Fax

Posted on January 06 2017 | Author: Admin

Read the lasted Food Fax newsletter from International Food Focus Ltd.’s President, Carol Culhane.  

 

©2016 International Food Focus Ltd., 211 Carlton Street, East Office, Toronto, ON M5A 2K9 E: focus@foodfocus.on.ca
Food Fax is archived at www.foodfocus.on.ca 






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Key Changes to the Finalized New Nutritional Facts Panel

Posted on December 20 2016 | Author: Admin

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finally formalized the new Nutritional Facts panel for packaged foods. There are six critical changes that the FDA has implemented to help consumers to make more informed choices about the food they consume. The changes are outlined below:

Serving Size

  • The quantity of the serving size has been increased to accurately reflect what people typically now consume on a daily basis.
  • The text size for “serving size” has increased to highlight this information to consumers.
  • There are new requirements for certain size packages that may be larger than one serving size, but could be consumed in one setting.

Calories

  • The text size for calories is now larger and bolder to help emphasize this information.
  • Fats
  • While “total fats”, “saturated fat”, and “trans fat” are still required on the panel, the declaration of “calories from fat” has been removed since emerging research has shown the type of fat a person consumes is more important than the amount.

Added Sugars

  • The quantity of “added sugars” in both grams and as a percentage of daily value (% DV) is now required.

Nutrients

  • Together with Calcium and Iron, Vitamin D and Potassium declaration is now required since Americans are not getting the recommended daily amounts of these two nutrients. However, Vitamin A and Vitamin C declaration are no longer required.
  • The daily values for a large number of the vitamins and minerals have been updated.

Footnote

  • The footnote at the bottom of the panel has been updated to better inform the consumer the exact meaning of the percentage daily values.

Food manufactures in the United States have until July 26, 2018 to update their label with these new requirements. Though, businesses with less than 10 million dollars in revenue have an additional year to comply, making their effective date July 26, 2019.

 

Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article. 






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The Dangers of Executive Magical Thinking

Posted on December 16 2016 | Author: Admin

Today’s new executive standard calls for leaders with the ability to embrace the grey and drive to black and white. Yet when we peer into the toolbox that leaders use in the effort, we sometimes find excessive use of a very dangerous tool: magical thinking.

What is magical thinking?
Executive magical thinking can be broadly defined as relying on something other than leadership, judgment, and hard work to build success. Examples include:

  • Magical Direction
  • Magical Hiring
  • Magical Systems
  • Magical Marketing

Magical Direction
We know of a CEO who is a devoted reader of the latest books by business leaders. Whenever his leadership team sees a new book on his desk, they brace themselves because they know a change in management style is coming. That CEO believes that if only he follows the thinking of whomever he is reading, he can magically transform his own organization.

On the other hand, consider the case of the executive who asked his lieutenant for two good options to address a pressing issue. After the lieutenant presented both options – with their pros and cons – the boss simply said, “You pick.” When the early career lieutenant pressed her boss for his preference, he replied, “These are both viable. Just decide and go implement and make your decision good.”

So who is the better leader? The one who makes a good decision, or the one who makes his or her decision good? Up to that point, the lieutenant had believed the boss would make the decision, so she felt both relieved and somewhat distanced from responsibility for the outcome. But once the lieutenant was empowered to make her own choices, she was more than ready to pick one and make it a success.

Magical Hiring
Magical thinking can show up in the hiring process, too — most often in an over-reliance on psychometric tests to choose employees. These tests are fine as one minor component of the hiring process that also includes the hard work of interviewing, thorough vetting, and then careful thinking through whom should ultimately be hired for a position. Tests can confirm what a behavior-based interview assessment has concluded, or they can highlight inconsistencies – even point out something that was missed. But tests become magical thinking when a manager uses a score alone to make a hiring decision, or as a pre-screening pass/fail and thus relieve him or her from the responsibility of a careful, holistic hiring process.

Magical Systems
“Our sales will really take off once we invest in a full-function Customer Relationship Management system.” The idea that employees who were not terribly proactive or productive to begin with will suddenly become so because of a new system is simply magical thinking. Training and equipping a sales force is hard work. Systems can help management, but they are not a substitute for the daily discipline and accountability of business development.

Another example of Magical Systems is an investment firm that relies solely on spreadsheets or formulas to pick winners and then waits to see what happens. They fail to realize the difference between passive reliance on numbers and analytics versus nurturing of a culture that not only picks potential winners, but then works hard to maximize the return on each one over the long haul.

Magical Marketing
We also see firms searching for that magical marketing “silver bullet.” They believe, “If we can just get our people more engaged in social media, then they will become more engaged with our clients.” Never mind that they are not picking up the phone or getting on a plane to see prospects now. What they are really saying is that they want to avoid personal contact.

Similarly, the company may think the answer is a new website, the right catch-phrase, or a stellar commercial. Any or all of these may be smart, but they are magical thinking if they lack an intellectually honest assessment of whether or not the product is right – and fail to make sure that those who field the incoming leads are fully equipped to take advantage of the fruit of the marketing effort.

Final Thoughts
Looking for magical solutions doesn’t work because … there are no magical solutions. Deflecting results onto a “thing” is avoiding the reality that people are the ultimate determinant of success. Effective leaders don’t build castles in the air. They chart a course, hire the best talent they can, and then free their team to pursue the chosen course. They make decisions, take action, and then make their decisions good.

 

Greg Duerksen
President, Kincannon & Reed

 

Article provided by Kincannon & Reed

 

About Kincannon & Reed
Kincannon & Reed recruits leaders for organizations that feed the world and keep it healthy. Their focus is on the interrelated realms of food, agribusiness, and life science. Their clients range from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, as well as investment funds, financial institutions, industry associations, universities, and non-profit and development organizations. This sector knowledge streamlines the search process and enables them to better asses a candidates organizational fit and more compellingly present to them a client’s opportunity. In addition, the principals at Kincannon & Reed are former senior executives from the sectors they serve. This distinctive difference allows them to understand at a personal level, not just at an intellectual level, the environment in which you operate. The result is a quality conversation around your needs and a smoother recruitment process. To learn more about Kincannon & Reed, visit: www.KRsearch.com



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How Aspiring Entrepreneurs Can Benefit From Proper Business Communication

Posted on December 14 2016 | Author: Admin

For an entrepreneur there are many aspects to running a successful, well-rounded business. One significant factor to success is proper communication among employees and management, as well as B2B and B2C interactions. Without successful business communication, a business could suffer massive losses, injuries and even fatal mistakes can occur. An entrepreneur needs to be able to understand common challenges of business communication, characteristics of communication effectiveness as well as the importance of being able to adapt with technological change and its relation to communication.

Problems Surrounding Business Communication
Problems in business communication can come in numerous forms, and can have very different, problematic effects. For an entrepreneur to succeed they need to be aware of potential barriers within the communication process and how to avoid them. A few specific examples of barriers in business communication are:

Filtering – A barrier created by a speaker manipulating information they communicated to highlight positive aspects within a conversation and filter out the negative topics so that the audience does not know about problems and the severity they may possess.

Selective perception – This is a barrier put up by the receiver to select which information they want to see and hear based on their own specific needs.

Nonverbal communication – This is one of the most common barriers in communication. Many individuals may take nonverbal queues the wrong way, distorting the message that is being communicated.

Regardless of how the information is communicated; it needs to be conveyed in the clearest form possible. The communication process diagram demonstrates the varying areas in which barriers from employees, clients, partners, or other indirect consumers can easily arise and distort the message being communicated. An entrepreneur needs to be able to identify where the problem is originating and how to handle it as fast as possible.

Communication Process Diagram:


 

How to use Business Communication Effectively
Effective business communication has three specific characteristics that entrepreneurs need to follow for business success.

 1. Strategy in business communication comes from an individual’s ability to pre-plan a message. This planning phase involves developing the message, determining a target audience and the most appropriate medium for delivery. With strategy comes plenty of research – and in most instances, an entrepreneur should know the age, race, and gender of the audience to ensure their message will be communicated effectively and avoid misunderstanding.

 2. Being professional while communicating is such an important characteristic for entrepreneurs to follow – it could ultimately be the deciding factor of making a deal or losing one. Professional communication whether in person, via email, over the phone, etc., will foster a positive business reputation.

 3.  Adaptability in business communication trends is a very important aspect of corporate success. Entrepreneurs need to be able to adjust the way they communicate depending on the situation at hand. The situational context of an entrepreneur’s communication can affect how an entrepreneur approaches others and how the recipient deciphers the messages.

Business Communication and Technological Change
Being able to adapt to new communication technology will greatly benefit a new business’ progress by adding efficiency and ease to the workday. Entrepreneurs need to be familiar with technological software like email, video chat applications and online meeting websites.

 Communicating with consumers has greatly changed since the invention of the television and radio. Through technological change, social media has been introduced and developed as a top B2C tool. With over a billion active users on Facebook alone, it is no surprise that entrepreneurs thrive when social media is used effectively as a marketing tool. An entrepreneur must use their social media page correctly by following the three business communication strategies as mentioned above to ensure their messages are communicated properly to their audience.

 

Andrew Forgeron
Corporate Program Assistant 

 

Sources
Barriers to Effective Communication
Business To Business - B To B
Business To Consumer - B To C
How to Adapt the Way You Communicate to Different Situations
Three Steps to Effective Communication
What is Strategic Communications?

 






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Health Canada Approves Use of Stevia as a Sweetener in Nutritional Supplement Bars

Posted on December 08 2016 | Author: Admin

On August 24, Health Canada’s Food Directorate issued a Notice of Modification to Enable the Use of Steviol Glycosides (the active ingredient in stevia leaf extract) as a Sweetener in Nutritional Supplement Bars.

This is great news for the industry, as approval for stevia in various food products has lagged behind the US market for some time, with many customers wondering why low-calorie nutritional bars do not have stevia as an ingredient.

This also led to an unfair playing field in the industry, as Canadian manufacturers were limited in their choice of sweeteners to add to low-calorie Nutritional Supplement bars.

This Notice of Modification adds to expand the list of foods in Canada that can include steviol glycosides (stevia leaf extract) as a sweetener.

While the term is not in common use, Nutritional Supplements are a specific category of food within the Canadian Food and Drugs Regulations (FDR). They are located in FDR Division 24, Foods for Special Dietary Use, specifically in Section B.24.200.

While most consumers will not be familiar with this category as a distinct type of food, most people are aware of the concept of Meal Replacements. Meal Replacements are also found in Division 24 of the FDR. Up until now, Meal Replacements were allowed to use stevia, but Nutritional Supplements were not.

The two categories are quite similar in terms of compositional requirements of the products. The biggest differences are that Nutritional Supplements are permitted to have a lower total calorie count than Meal Replacements, and in addition they cannot be advertised as a replacement for a meal.  The easiest way for the general public to think of Nutritional Supplements is that they are a Low-Cal version of Meal Replacements.

 

Article provided by dicentra


About dicentra
dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

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A User’s Guide to Social Media Strategies

Posted on November 30 2016 | Author: Admin

In the past, it took 60 years for television to reach 1 billion households. In this generation, it only took 5 years for cellphones to reach the same amount of people. In today’s generation, the increase in cellphone users goes hand in hand with the use of social media platforms due to the growing amount of people who use their phone for the internet and social networking apps. Technology is growing rapidly, requiring consumers, and more importantly businesses, to grow with it. With 70% of the global population expected to have smartphones by 2020, it is imperative businesses are active on social media.

Social media can be a great tool for organizations to reach a large segment of their consumers, help them interact with users and uncover consumer needs. Two of the most popular social media platforms used by businesses are Twitter and Facebook. Each of these platforms has unique strategies and goals associated with it.

Twitter
Twitter focuses on 4 key pillars: public, conversational, real time and distributed information. Since each post is limited to 140 characters, Twitter is not about creating long, in-depth messages– it is about grabbing the users attention, being seen and engaging with the public multiple times a day.

Did you know that 80% of customer service requests come from Twitter?

It is important for businesses to interact with customers to identify needs, areas of improvement and to keep the “conversation going”. It is not often that people take their complaints into a store anymore; businesses should prioritize activity on the platforms that consumers favour and use to express their opinions.  This can assist with fostering customer satisfaction and even staying ahead of the competition.

Twitter is also a great place to keep up with current news and trends. If there is a specific issue that everyone is tweeting about – businesses should consider becoming a part of the conversation! Organizations can increase engagement when they express an opinion, encouraging their consumers to share their views as well. It also indicates to consumers that your organization is keeping up with current trends, news and is active on the platform.

Facebook
Facebook has changed significantly since its launch in 2004. It has grown from a standard image-sharing network to a marketing hub. Today, Facebook is populated with multiple advertisements, promotions, pages, interests and “likes” posted to your profile. This gives companies access to information that they have never been able to see before!

Consumers are able to “like” different company pages, share articles, videos and photos they enjoy as well as comment on all content circulating the platform. This has allowed users to become very interactive online and has created a space to share thoughts and opinions on practically anything. Since consumers can share information online so easily, Facebook is a great way for companies to utilize social marketing. By promoting your organization on Facebook, you allow people to easily share your content with their networks, who can then share with their networks and so on. With features that allow you to “like” and comment, it is easy for consumers to receive feedback and identify what pages their friends are “liking”, and thus, possibly influencing brand behaviour. 

A recent study found that trusted social media users play a larger role in purchase decisions than product manufactures/retailers – these users are often referred to as “influencers”. Consumers value other consumers’ opinions, which means that “influencers” can play a huge part in the marketing of a brand – especially on social media where more than half of the population is active!

By promoting your product on Facebook, it gives people the opportunity to share their interest in your product with their network and potentially promote it with the click of a button. “Likes” and positive comments can help enhance a brand’s reputation and help you promote your product or business.

Growing With Technology
The way consumers use technology has changed, making it extremely important for businesses to adapt and understand how consumers are engaging with it.  Since the invention of smartphones, consumers are using various social media apps to converse and share opinions online. This is the new way of communicating in today’s generation, making it essential for businesses to be part of social media and its communication platform.

Hopefully this post has provided you with more information on using social media across different platforms.

 

Rachael Piccoli Kuschke
Marketing & Events Assistant 

 

Sources
5 Social Media Metrics that Your Business Should be Tracking
70 Percent of Population Will Have Smartphones by 2020
Hootsuite Conference 2016
Impact of Social Influence in E-Commerce Decision Making

 

Photo
Pixabay
 






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Are You Meeting FSMA Produce Safety Rule?

Posted on November 24 2016 | Author: Admin

The Produce Safety Rule (PSR) requires growers to initially establish a Microbial Water Quality Profile (MWQP) for each untreated surface agricultural water source used during growing activities of covered produce (other than sprouts).

The Produce Safety Rules (PSR) must be applied for each water source using a direct water application method and annual surveys must be conducted for that water source in subsequent years.

The water quality profile is based on the levels of generic E. coli in your agricultural water using 100mL sample sizes. The method of testing for generic E. coli must be conducted following U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Method 1603. Methods other than 1603 may be used but they must be scientifically valid and shown to be at least equivalent to EPA Method 1603 in accuracy, precision, and sensitivity.

Some experts have stated that testing water samples with 100mL sample size is not sufficient and may not detect pathogens if they are at very low levels.

Research led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is examining a new irrigation water sample collection and testing methods that are expected to enable better detection of pathogens and fecal organisms other than E.coli for irrigation water. Ultra filtration water sampling techniques seem to be offering better options for risk assessment. The technique involves robust filters with minute pours that can trap bacteria, parasites and viruses. A battery powered portable pump is used to filter water from rivers, lakes or ponds at rates of 2 to 4 liters per minute.

Agricultural water is defined in part “as water that is intended to, or likely to, contact the harvestable portion of covered produce or food-contact surfaces.”

Geometric Mean (GM): GM is essentially the average amount of generic E. coli in your water source. FSMA Produce Safety Rule criteria requires a GM at or below 126 E. coli CFU/100mL.

Statistical Threshold Value (STV): STV is a measure of variability of generic E. coli levels in your water source. In simple terms, it is the level where 90 percent of the samples (log values) are below the value. Produce Safety Rule requires an STV at or below 410 E. coli CFU/100mL.

CFU (colony forming units) is the estimate of bacterial concentration in your water per 100mL.

 

Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article. 






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Mandatory GE-food labelling coming to the USA Part 1

Posted on November 09 2016 | Author: Admin

Read Mandatory GE-food labelling coming to the USA Part 1 from International Food Focus Ltd.’s President, Carol Culhane.  

 

©2016 International Food Focus Ltd., 211 Carlton Street, East Office, Toronto, ON M5A 2K9 E: focus@foodfocus.on.ca
Food Fax is archived at www.foodfocus.on.ca 






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FDA Addresses Nutrition Label Issue for Small Amounts of Nutrients and Dietary Ingredients in Finalized Guidance Document

Posted on October 27 2016 | Author: Admin

As of the beginning of July 2016, the FDA has finalized the draft guidance document (originally drafted and released for consultation at the end of July 2015) on its policy about Nutrition Labels and how small quantities of nutrients and dietary ingredients should be declared by food and dietary supplement manufacturers.

The finalized guidance document acknowledges the conflict that sometimes may arise when being in compliance with two distinct sections of regulations and which regulation takes precedence in the discretion of the FDA. The two sections of FDA regulations (both from Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations [21 CFR] 101.9) where compliance could potentially be mutually exclusive are:

  • 21 CFR 101.9(c)(1)-(8): These regulations describe the nutrition-labelling requirements in declaring the nutrient values in a serving of conventional food. It specifies that in declaring nutrients, specific “rounding” rules have to be applied, where the stated value has to be to a distinct increment (ex. the quantitative amount of total fat present at 5 g or less must be rounded to the nearest 0.5 increment).  This regulation also specifies how the FDA tests for compliance to these values.
  • 21 CFR 101.9(g)(4)(ii) and (5): These regulations describe the compliance requirements for declaring dietary ingredients and nutrients in nutrition labelling.  These compliance provisions (sometimes referred to as the “20-20” rule) describes a product to be misbranded under the following two conditions:
    1. The amount of a naturally present vitamin, mineral, protein, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, other carbohydrate, polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat or potassium is less than 80% of the value for that nutrient declared on the label (21 CFR 101.9(g)(4)(ii)).
    2. The amount of calories, sugars, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, or sodium is more than 120% of the declared value for that nutrient (21 CFR 101.9(g)(5).

The conflicting values for a nutrient can arise when small quantities of nutrients have to be declared.  The rounding requirements under 101.9(c)(1)-(8) may result in a value being declared that exceeds the 20% deviation permitted in 101.9(g)(4)(ii) and (5).  An example would be a food containing 0.70 g of saturated fat per serving.  The quantity that should be declared according to 101.9(c)(2)(i) would be  0.5 g.  However this declaration would not comply with § 101.9(g)(5) because 0.70 g is more than 20 percent in excess of 0.5 g.

The FDA’s resolution  (“to be applied to all products in a consistent way” ) is based on the rationale that as the FDA’s nutrition labelling requirements in 21 CFR 101.9(c)(1)-(8) specifies the increments and units of measure for declaring nutrient values while 21 CFR 101.9(g)(4)(ii) and (5) does not, the “FDA considers it more practical and consistent” for manufacturers to follow paragraph (c)(1)-(8) when a conflict occurs between 21 CFR 101.9(c)(1)-(8) and 21 CFR 101.9(g)(4)(ii) and (5).

 

Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra provides sought-after food safety guidance, compliance consulting services and scientific guidance for food and health-related products sold in North American marketplaces. Since 2002, dicentra has been helping clients resolve complex scientific and safety issues, develop safe and effective market-leading products and facilitate timely regulatory approvals. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article. 






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Food Fax

Posted on October 14 2016 | Author: Admin

 

Read the lasted Food Fax newsletter from International Food Focus Ltd.’s President, Carol Culhane.  

 

©2016 International Food Focus Ltd., 211 Carlton Street, East Office, Toronto, ON M5A 2K9 E: focus@foodfocus.on.ca
Food Fax is archived at www.foodfocus.on.ca 






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WHO Cares About Food Safety: Red Meat

Posted on October 13 2016 | Author: Admin

It was only last October that the World Health Organization (WHO) announced, based on a report from the International Agency of Cancer Research (IACR), that processed meats and red meats were carcinogenic.

The WHO, however, did not attempt to establish the degree of risk to the public or the actual nature of the risk. While they did assign an IACR Group 1 classification to processed meats and an IACR Group 2A classification to red meats, it is important to remember that a “group” simply refers to the weight of evidence available to support the carcinogenic designation; not to the actual level of risk involved.

It is not clear, therefore, if or to what degree the risks involved can be mitigated (for example, if they can be lessened by avoiding high temperature cooking or by avoiding certain methods of preservation). As a result, and as expected, sales of processed and red meats declined immediately following the announcement. What is perhaps surprising is that within just a few weeks, sales of such meats began to return to normal, as reported in a March 2016 Global News broadcast. The reasons for such a rebound may vary – perhaps people have short term memories, perhaps they began to doubt the WHO’s findings, perhaps they decided that the health benefits of such meats to outweigh the risks, or perhaps they find such meats too delicious to give up.

Of course, the potential risks should not be so readily dismissed. Estimates of cancer deaths, based on independent research conducted by the Global Burden of Disease Project, due to diets high in processed meats are about 34,000 worldwide per year, while those attributed to diets high in red meat are estimated at 50,000 per year. On the other hand, putting this into perspective, the number of deaths worldwide per year due to ingesting contaminated foods is about 420000, with 40% of those being children under the age of 5, and an additional 500 million+  individuals falling ill each year (according to the WHO’s own statistics).

While in the case of meats it is still unclear how to mitigate the overall risks, in the case of food contamination we do know how risks can be reduced and avoided.  This involves observing simple food safety practices throughout the supply chain, from the sourcing of raw materials to the dinner table. For consumers at home, this means proper handling, refrigeration, and cooking of foods. For industry, this means implementing HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) and adopting effective food safety programs.

Were producers, suppliers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers to take food safety more seriously and adopt simple but effective measures towards preventing contamination and adulteration, the global food supply would be far safer than were the WHO to declare an outright global ban of red meats.


Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra provides sought-after food safety guidance, compliance consulting services and scientific guidance for food and health-related products sold in North American marketplaces. Since 2002, dicentra has been helping clients resolve complex scientific and safety issues, develop safe and effective market-leading products and facilitate timely regulatory approvals. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article. 






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Proposed amendments to Canadian corporate and competition laws

Posted on October 11 2016 | Author: Admin

A bill amending the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA), the Competition Act and federal cooperatives and not-for-profit legislation was tabled for first reading in the Canadian parliament on September 28, 2016. The changes proposed (the Amendments) are intended to ensure that Canada continues to have a modern economic framework that allows federally regulated corporations to operate flexibly and innovatively. The Amendments are further intended to increase shareholder democracy and participation while reducing the burden of regulation.

CBCA amendments

Election of Directors

  • directors of public CBCA corporations will be required to be elected on an individual and annual basis. Currently the CBCA allows directors to be elected by slate and for up to a three-year term.
  • the Amendments introduce majority voting for the election of directors of public corporations where there is only one candidate nominated for each position available on the board. Each nominee must receive a majority of votes to be elected. If a nominee does not receive a majority of votes, he or she may not be appointed a director before the next shareholders’ meeting at which directors are elected.
  • the Amendments regarding election of directors bring the CBCA substantially in line with the requirements of the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). There will be prescribed exemptions for certain corporations from these requirements.  

Shareholder Communications

  • “notice-and-access” allows the notice of a shareholders’ meeting and access to related documentation to be delivered electronically. While securities legislation was amended in 2013 to introduce notice-and-access, the current provisions of the CBCA are not entirely compatible with the full use of notice-and-access by federal corporations. The Amendments, if enacted, will facilitate the use of notice-and-access by federal corporations.
  • the Amendments will simplify the time frame for a shareholder to submit proposals to a federal corporation by introducing a prescribed period for submission.

Women on Boards of Directors and in Management
To support the representation of women on the boards of directors and in senior management of federal corporations, it has been announced that the Amendments will require distributing corporations to include disclosure regarding gender diversity among their directors and senior managers. This will bring the CBCA in line with Canadian securities regulations pursuant to which TSX-listed issuers are currently required to make such disclosure on a “comply or explain” basis.

Transparency
The Amendments clarify that all shares and warrants of CBCA corporations must be in registered rather than bearer form to increase transparency.

Competition Act amendments
The definition of “affiliate” in the Competition Act is proposed to be amended to reflect a broader range of non-corporate bodies such as trusts, partnerships and other unincorporated entities by referring to entities rather than corporations.

Other legislation
The bill also proposes amendments to the Canada Cooperatives Act (CCA) and the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (NFP), which statutes are based on the CBCA. The Amendments to the CCA include changes regarding election of directors, transparency and shareholder communication described above. The Amendments to the NFP are largely of a technical nature.

Next steps
Regulations that will provide details of the Amendments and their application are pending. Further in its announcement of the Amendments, the federal government stated that there are important corporate governance issues that were raised in the 2014 public consultation on the CBCA by the government that require further analysis and consultation. Further changes to the CBCA may be coming.

More information to come
For more information on this development, please access the Government of Canada’s Backgrounder and FAQs.

 

Tracey Kernahan
Senior Knowledge Lawyer, Norton Rose Fulbright

 

Article provided by Norton Rose Fulbright

 

About Norton Rose Fulbright
Norton Rose Fulbright is a global legal practice that provides the world's pre-eminent corporations and financial institutions with a full business law service. Norton Rose Fulbright lawyers share food and agribusiness sector knowledge and experience across provincial and national borders, enabling them to support their clients anywhere in the world. To learn more about Norton Rose Fulbright, please visit www.nortonrosefulbright.com

 

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The Growing Safety Concern of Alpha Lipoic Acid and Hypoglycemia

Posted on September 29 2016 | Author: Admin

The Growing Safety Concern of Alpha Lipoic Acid and Hypoglycemia:
Marketed Health Products Directorate Issues ALA Summary Safety Review

August 08, 2016 Marketed Health Products Directorate provides Summary Safety Review for Alpha Lipoic Acid.

In an effort to increase transparency and consumer safety, Health Canada’s Marketed Health Products Directorate published a Summary Safety Review (SSR) on Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) on June 30, 2016. ALA is a medicinal ingredient generally used, in Natural Health Products (NHPs), as an antioxidant for the maintenance of good health and to help promote healthy glucose metabolism. ALA can also be used in NHPs, as a non-medicinal ingredient, with a preservative function. To date, Health Canada has licensed more than 800 NHPs containing ALA as a medicinal ingredient.

The Health Canada SSR issuance on ALA was prompted by reported international cases of Insulin Autoimmune Disorder (IAS) considered to be linked to the use of ALA containing products. IAS, also known as Hirata disease, is a rare case of serious and spontaneous Hypoglycemia. It is characterized by extremely low blood glucose, and extremely high insulin and insulin autoantibody levels. Current evidence suggests exposure to certain sulfhydryl-containing oral drugs such as ALA, in individuals with specific genetic predispositions, can induce Hypoglycemia and increase the risk of IAS. The reported cases demonstrate Hypoglycemia resolution following discontinuation of ALA oral consumption. At the time of the review, no Canadian cases of Hypoglycemia were reported as a result of ALA oral use. It is however unknown how prevalent the suspected genetic predisposition may be in the diverse Canadian population.

As a result of the SSR findings, Health Canada is looking into updating the ALA labelling standard risk information to inform consumers to discontinue product use and consult a healthcare professional if they experience symptoms indicative of Hypoglycemia (sweating, paleness, chills, headache, dizziness and/or confusion). Health Canada has also committed to publish a Health Product InfoWatch article to raise awareness of this potential risk and continue to monitor safety information involving ALA.


Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra provides sought-after food safety guidance, compliance consulting services and scientific guidance for food and health-related products sold in North American marketplaces. Since 2002, dicentra has been helping clients resolve complex scientific and safety issues, develop safe and effective market-leading products and facilitate timely regulatory approvals. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article. 






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FSMA is Not Just Coming… FSMA is HERE!

Posted on September 15 2016 | Author: Admin

It’s been 5 years since you’ve first started hearing about looming FSMA deadlines. Now that the first deadline for 2016 has arrived, its time for you to understand how this will impact your business.

If your business is simply a retail or restaurant establishment, you initially may feel untouched by this legislation.  This assumption, however, may be very untrue.  Although FSMA is geared to food growers, manufacturers and distributors, businesses in other sectors that are not legally required to comply will still be impacted.  A supplier of ingredients to retail and restaurant business is fully impacted and so as a result, this will inevitably have an impact on all business not directly captured by the law.

It’s quite obvious that one of the main intentions of the new law is to give legislators at FDA more power to regulate and enforce.  The ultimate goal is to shift food industries from a reaction mode to a prevention mode. This shift will initially appear to be very costly and labor intensive, but the reduction in food safety incidents leading to recalls will outweigh all initial costs.

The first FSMA deadlines related to compliance to Preventative Controls for Human and Animal Feed are outlined below:

September 2016: Companies with more than 500 full-time employees
September 2017: Companies with fewer than 500 employees
September 2018: Companies with less than $1 million in average annual sales

Under FSMA each site will be required to have a “Preventative Control Qualified Individual” (PCQI).  A PCQI is required to have successfully completed training in the development and application of risk –based preventative controls.  This individual is responsible for:

  • Performing or overseeing the preparation of the food plan
  • Validating the preventative controls
  • Reviewing records for implementation and effectiveness of preventative controls
  • Appropriateness of corrective actions
  • Managing the required reanalysis of a food safety plant every three years or whenever changes occur

Being FSMA ready will mean moving from HACCP to HARPC as reviewed in previous articles.  While HACCP involves Critical Control Points (CCPs), HARPC involves controls that are not CCPs.

Supply chain control is essential and is obvious from the Foreign Supplier Verification Program.  This program has compliance deadlines in 2017, but has a huge impact on ingredients and foods coming into the U.S. from outside the country.

In order to import food from foreign suppliers, importers need to ensure they have:

#1. Determined known or reasonably foreseeable hazards with each food they are handling
#2. Evaluated the risk posed of the food they are importing based on the hazard analysis, and the foreign supplier’s performance
#3. Used the risk evaluation connected to the food and the supplier’s performance to approve suppliers and determine appropriate supplier verification activities
#4. Conducted supplier verification activities
#5. Conducted corrective actions

Since importers are responsible for their own food safety plans, they are expected to reevaluate these plans every three years. This involves conducting a Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls, or HARPC assessment on each item of food being imported, and verifying each supplier being used. Importers are also responsible for keeping detailed records of all data and analyses.

Under the Third Party Certification rule, FDA will be choosing accreditation bodies to implement the certification of qualified organizations who will confirm that the requirements of FSMA are being met.

This rule establishes a voluntary program for the accreditation of third party certification bodies, also known as auditors, to conduct food safety audit and issue certification of foreign facilities and the food for humans and animals they produce.  These certifications may be used by importers to establish eligibility for participation in the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) which offers expedited review and entry of food.  To prevent potentially harmful food from reaching U.S. consumers, the FDA can also require in specific circumstances that a food offered for import is accompanied by a certification from an accredited third party certification body.

This article has not dealt with every aspect of the FSMA requirements, but it will hopefully give you an understanding of the areas in your business that need to change in order to come into compliance with the new expectations.


Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra provides sought-after food safety guidance, compliance consulting services and scientific guidance for food and health-related products sold in North American marketplaces. Since 2002, dicentra has been helping clients resolve complex scientific and safety issues, develop safe and effective market-leading products and facilitate timely regulatory approvals. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article. 






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Business Networking: Tips and Results for Sustainable Growth.

Posted on September 01 2016 | Author: Admin

If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.
Margaret Fuller
(1810-1850, Journalist, Critic and Women’s Rights Activist)

Expanding your networks and building strategic partnerships play an integral role in successful and sustainable growth, especially in today’s society. The new economy - also called the digital economy has had, and continues to have, a remarkable impact on businesses and how they are creating awareness amongst others.

Nowadays, growing and maintaining business relationships have become much simpler thanks to technological advancements like cell phones or GoToMeeting and social media platforms such as LinkedIn. Building a network for your business is an important way to leverage different assets, create exposure, and ultimately learn in a mutually beneficial manor.

Pre-Networking
Prior to engaging in networking activities, it’s important to understand your strengths, weaknesses and what you are trying to gain from this experience. For example, if you are excellent at carrying conversations and enjoy large groups of people, consider participating in larger networking events, conferences or trade shows. If you are more the one-on-one type, meeting for coffee or smaller seminars may be more suitable for you to begin.

Take advantage of the different social platforms effectively, and make networking more efficient. For example, webinars are virtual learning sessions you can attend with others on a specific area of interest. These can be useful for a quick lunch-break networking. Another technological advancement that has impacted networking is GoToMeeting or conference programs via the Internet to communicate with people in different cities or even across the world. This makes it easy to decrease travel costs and increase connectivity.

Before choosing your networking event, it’s also important to take into consideration and determine the value in attending. What would you like to gain from this experience? Make new connections? Keep up to date on the latest industry trends? Strengthen existing relationships?

Here are several suggestions to consider, prior to engaging in a networking event:

  1. Research the organizations and key players who are attending. It demonstrates you’re prepared and keen to become connected. This can also help identify shared areas of interest, making it effortless to carry out a conversation. This can be done simply through searching LinkedIn profiles or company websites that contain employee information. After all, the information is there to be read!
  2. Make sure you’ve read about the event and know the details: time, place, what you should bring etc. It’s never a good feeling to be rushed or arrive late.
  3. Be prepared! Bring business cards, company handouts, pens, a notebook, etc. It is strongly recommended to prepare ahead of time, and decrease your chances of forgetting something.
  4. Dress to impress. This is an obvious one however there are always a few people who tend to overlook dress codes. Remember that it’s better to be slightly over dressed than under dressed. To simplify: Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak. –Rachel Zoe
  5. Consider preparing a list of people you’d like to talk to, questions or topics you may wish to discuss or what it is you want to gain from the event.
  6. Don’t go into a conversation expecting something. The best interactions are genuine and on the basis of goodwill. 
  7. Be kind, polite and sincere to everyone because you never know who could be joining in on a conversation or passing by.
  8. Keep an open mind. Opportunities arise quickly and you never know whom you’re going to meet or how you may be able to help one another.
  9. Make sure you’re rested! Sleep is obviously very important.  

Let the Networking Begin
When you’ve reached your networking event, it’s always important to be alert and aware. You don’t want to miss out on any potential opportunities. Keep your goals in mind and if necessary, take frequent breaks to ensure you’re on track.

Try to avoid hesitation when intimidated by someone you wish to speak with. We all can learn from one another so take the opportunity to seek what you are looking for, stay optimistic and keep your head up. Don’t forget to hand out your business cards or information and vice versa. Collecting others information will help with the follow-ups. Go for it and take a few risks! 

Post-Networking
Post-networking is crucial for truly harnessing those relationships. This is the time for follow-ups and next steps. It’s important to make the effort to email or call the connections you’ve made to thank them for their time or ask any additional questions. This can further open the relationship up to future interactions and opportunities for collaboration. Add your new connections on LinkedIn to broaden your network and to stay in touch through a social media platform targeted specifically towards networking!

The benefits from networking are very helpful to sustainably grow your company. These outcomes can benefit you in a range of ways. You could meet investors who show interest in your company, professionals who want to join your team or even gain new clients. You will also continue to grow and learn as an individual. While all of this is happening, you are simultaneously creating exposure and establishing a reputable image for you and your company!

So my advice to you is to keep calm and network on!


Elisha Amar
Corporate Program Assistant


Sources
5 reasons networking is necessary for start-ups
Business quotes for sharing knowledge
Tom Farley networking tips

Photo
Pixabay






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Category Specific Guidance Finalized: Temporary Marketing Authorization for Supplemented Food

Posted on August 31 2016 | Author: Admin

Supplemented Food guidance document has been finalized by the Food Directorate with an extension for Supplemented Food TMAL holders

In addition to the Caffeinated Energy Drink (CED) guidance document that was finalized in 2013, the Food Directorate has published the long awaited final Temporary Marketing Authorization for Supplemented Food Guidance Document this past February. This guidance document has been long awaited by both companies currently developing new formulations, since it provides guidance on acceptable quantities of vitamins and minerals that may be added to a supplemented food, but also by companies whom currently hold TMALs set to expire August 31, 2016.


A few interesting highlights of this new guide are as follows:

  • Definition: Supplemented food has been defined as “a pre-packaged product that is manufactured, sold or represented as a food, which contains added vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbal or bioactive ingredients. These ingredients may perform a physiological role beyond the provision of nutritive requirements.” A key point here is that it is now permissible to submit a product through the TMA process that contains only herbal or bioactive ingredients (with no vitamin or mineral fortification) for review. Additionally, the guide provides a subset of novel ingredients that are being permitted in the TMA pathway as per Appendix 2 of this guidance document, see more on this below.
  • Extension: TMALs set to expire on August 31, 2016 have received an extension to comply with the new guide until February 22, 2017. Although to maintain market access beyond February 22, 2017 you must be compliant with this guide, as well as any other applicable Food and Drug Regulations provisions and provide an updated copy of the TMA and label with a letter outlining the revisions to the formula by August 31, 2016. Acceptable products will then be extended until December 31, 2021.
  • 2 Pathway system: Supplemented foods will now be categorized into a pathway system based on the potential for adverse effects. In short the 2 pathways are as follows:
    • Path 1 – Intended for a general subpopulation (children ≥4 years old) with maximum levels of addition of ingredients based on a per serving
    • Path 2 – Intended for a subpopulation  ≥14 years old with maximum levels of addition of ingredients based on a per day. This pathway will also have a threshold for vitamin and mineral fortification which when exceed will trigger specific cautionary labelling statements.
  • Revision to vitamins and minerals not accepted for addition: Consistent with the feedback that Health Canada provided in several regulatory sessions, they have amended the list of ingredients not permitted for addition. Importantly calcium and manganese have been removed from this section and are now permitted in Path 2 (products not intended for children) supplemented food products in quantities specified in this guide.
  • Novel Ingredients: Appendix 2 of this guidance document has now been populated with specific novel ingredients that are eligible for consideration in a supplemented food product. Although, it is worth noting that when an ingredient from this Appendix is added, the Food Directorate cannot commit to the timelines outlined in their performance standards guidance document, and it could delay the TMAL significantly.
  • Unique Identifier: No definitive guidance has been provided yet, but Health Canada has indicated that they are exploring the possibility of a front-of-pack identifier on the label of supplemented foods so that consumers can easily identify them. Health Canada has currently developed several options, which have not yet been disclosed, and will test them with consumers.
  • Market Research Protocol (MRP): For companies that have already received TMALs they may be aware that they are required to provide data in the form of a MRP on their product to address data gaps to aid in the development of specific regulations for supplemented foods. While TMAL holders of Caffeinated Energy Drinks have been advised that they are expected to prepare a MRP and collect data in accordance with this protocol, supplemented food holders had not yet been advised that they must begin this requirement. Once a TMAL holder of a supplemented food receives their final extension, as discussed above, they will be advised of their expected research requirements to fulfil this obligation in their Letter of Agreement.

In summary, the finalized Supplemented Food guidance document is an overdue, appreciated guidance regarding the requirements of a fortified food (outside of foods that are already permitted to be fortified in the Food and Drug Regulations). This guidance should help many companies develop unique and novel products that have a legal path to market without worry of Health Canada reformulation requests.
 

Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra provides sought-after food safety guidance, compliance consulting services and scientific guidance for food and health-related products sold in North American marketplaces. Since 2002, dicentra has been helping clients resolve complex scientific and safety issues, develop safe and effective market-leading products and facilitate timely regulatory approvals. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article. 


 






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The New Age of Advertising

Posted on August 24 2016 | Author: Admin

Facebook, Twitter and many other channels have millions of users, so why not take advantage?

Social media advertising is dramatically shaking up the marketing industry. With lower costs, higher returns and available reporting metrics, it seems obvious why countless organizations are focusing on this outlet. Social media advertising allows you to deliver the right message, to the right people, at the right time.

The most revolutionary and unique aspect of social media advertising is the number of target selections available to focus on a specific group of individuals. Below are just a few examples of the possible target options:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Education
  • Interests
  • Friends
  • Relationship Status
  • Actions Taken
  • Occupation
  • Location
  • Friends of Friends
  • Job Title



Advertising budgets can go a long way over social media. With the benefit of spending as much or as little as you’d like, it helps enhance the quality and reach of your campaigns, to promote your brand to the right audience. Primarily, targeted advertisements should be your focus, but also note that it is important to create blanket-marketing messages that appeal to a wider group of people as well.


Determine An Outcome
Before creating your campaign; outline your goals and objectives to best tailor your advertisement. Monitor and analyze the channel’s metrics frequently to determine if these goals are being met.

The three most important metrics are below and they display how your campaign is performing:

  • Click through rate (CTR): Measures the number of clicks on your advertisement VS. the number of impressions received (clicks divided by impressions). This shows how relevant your content is to your audience as well as traffic quality. Higher is better.
  • Conversion Rate: Tracking the landing page visits from your campaign provides an idea of the quality of clicks it is receiving, which can help to better develop content for future campaigns. Calculate by dividing conversions by number of clicks. Higher is better.
  • Cost Per Conversion (CPC): Each campaign should have a clear goal or call-to-action (ex. Newsletter signups, sales, web traffic, etc.). To calculate the return on investment of your goal, divide the amount of money spent by the number of conversions (provided in your metrics). This assesses your campaign’s profitability and also helps determine a potential future budget. Lower is better.


Choose A Channel
Each platform offers various tools and reporting outcomes. Therefore, analyzing which is the most appropriate for your marketing objectives is essential for success.

Facebook

  • Pro: Facebook is a great option for small businesses because it has the largest audience and can easily boost visibility for the company and its advertisements. Also, it has many targeting options such as: gender, location, education, workplace and relationship status that help reach the right individuals more accurately.
  • Con: Compared to other channels, Facebook provides minimal information for reporting on the performance of your campaigns.
  • Cost: This is one of the most cost effective channels, with the option to spend as little as $1 per day.

Twitter

  • Pro: Twitter has the target option to reach people based on their current interests. Using hashtags helps target the advertisements more specifically, similar to Google Adwords.
  • Con: Despite the convenience of hasthags, other Twitter advertising options do not offer the same ease, with a limited selection of targets to choose from.
  • Cost: There are three different options, but the most frequent and least expensive is promoting tweets.  For approximately $0.5-$2.00 per engagement (retweet, favourite, click, etc.), you can boost the reach of a tweet you wish to promote.

LinkedIn

  • Pro: The best aspect of LinkedIn advertising is the user base, which are mainly business professionals. Similar to Facebook, you have the ability to target specific groups through location, titles and demographics, for example.
  • Con: Although there is a higher conversion rate, this platform provides a very low click through rate. Generally, the users behind the clicks are much more qualified than compared to other social media networks.
  • Cost: LinkedIn is one of the more costly networks, averaging of up to $4-5 per click.  However, since it hosts a greater audience quality, your campaign reaches only those who are immediately interested, which may be worth the extra cost.


Create an Advertisement
Now that you’ve determined your campaign goals and the appropriate channel to use, you can begin to create your advertisement. Consider the following when developing the campaign:

  • Be consistent: Create the ad so its parallel with your company message and culture
  • Be informal: Use language that is similar to how your audience converses over social media
  • Be honest: Display your brands uniqueness and culture so your advertisements appear genuine
  • Be concise: You only have a few moments to grab their attention so be sure to make a good impression
  • Be obvious: Incorporate a call-to-action, make it clear what you want them to do
  • Be visual: Always include images for a greater impact and the potential to increase click through rates

Advertising through social media has created endless possibilities. To use it effectively, you need to be frequently engaged, create quality resources for your audience and analyze the metrics provided. Only by analyzing your outcomes and productively utilizing the appropriate channels, will your company be able to refine its voice on social media and truly communicate with the right audience.

Rebecca Reynolds
Marketing & Events Assistant

 

Sources
www.pennapowers.com
www.hootsuite.com
www.hubspot.com


 






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What’s the Difference – HACCP vs HARPC?

Posted on July 22 2016 | Author: Admin

There is some confusion over HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) and the more-recent food-safety plan, HARPC (Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls) that is part of FSMA.

Just to recap, 6 out of 7 rules of FSMA have now been published, and if you are a U.S. based food operation, you need to be actively working out how to comply.  One of the key questions that food processing companies are struggling with is how to use HACCP to shift to HARPC. So what’s all the fuss about?  What are the main differences between these two systems?

HACCP is a global standard that was developed in the late 1950’s by a team of engineers from Pillsbury, the U.S. Army’s Natick Research Labs and NASA which joined forces to make a global food safety standard in line with Codex Alimentary. Originally the point of developing a HACCP System was to ensure quality and food safety, specifically for the manned space program.  In 1974, the U.S. FDA incorporated its concepts into its low acid and acidified food regulations, and by the end of 1980’s, McDonald’s started requiring all of its suppliers to adhere to HACCP in order to ensure the food being served in its restaurants were safe. The key motivation for implementing HACCP was not the requirement to meet regulations.  The real motive for implementing HACCP was simply to gain more market share.  Most large companies followed McDonald’s lead and HACCP became the standard to measure food safety. Later, in 1989, the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) published the first official HACCP document, which standardized the process by presenting seven principles as follows:
 

  1. Hazard Analysis
  2. Critical Control Point Identification
  3. Establishment of Critical Limits
  4. Processes for Monitoring
  5. Corrective Actions
  6. Record Keeping
  7. Establishment of Verification Procedures.

At this point in time, the standard for food safety was very clear, and HACCPs use spread globally. In contrast, HARPC is not a global standard, but an updated U.S. standard that was incorporated into the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) on July 4th, 2012. HARPC applies to almost all-food processing facilities in the United States.  The only facilities not required to comply with HARPC are those subject to the Standards of Produce Safety, those already governed by HACCP and those facilities regulated by Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for Dietary Supplements. Small and very small businesses, as defined by FDA are also exempt.  HARPC requires facilities to:
 

  1. Conduct a hazard analysis for all food processing procedures
  2. Develop and implement preventative controls, and then monitor their effectiveness
  3. Provide a detailed plan in writing, describing how the hazards will be controlled, the preventative controls, and a schedule and method for monitoring the controls
  4. Verify the effectiveness of the controls and maintain written records of the verification
  5. Re-analyze the HARPC Plan at least every three years; more often as new product lines are added or changes are made to equipment or process.

HARPC takes HACCP a step further and includes planning and assessing risk that might occur as a result of contamination from the environment.  Even though cleaning and sanitation are not CCPs under HACCP, in HARPC cleanliness and sanitation become key preventative steps that need to be controlled.

Finally a very key difference in these two systems is that HARPC also includes risk assessments resulting from potential terrorist acts, intentional adulteration and food fraud. Under HARPC, it is expected that a food processing facility has a food defense plan that includes security, visitor access and control.

In summary, six out of seven FSMA rules are already passed with compliance deadlines for larger companies coming up as early as November 2016.  It’s important for you to understand what your organization needs to have in place in order to meet these new requirements.
 

Rule Final Rule Published  
  
Compliance Non Small    
 
Compliance Small  
  
Compliance Very Small   
 
PC Human Food    11/16/2015 11/16/2016 11/16/2017  11/16/2018
PC Animal Food    1/26/2016 1/26/2017 1/26/2018 1/26/2019
FSVP 11/27/2015 3/17/2016 9/17/2017 9/17/2017
Produce Safety 11/27/2015 1/26/2017 1/26/2018 1/26/2019
Sanitary Transport 4/6/2016 4/6/2017 4/6/2018 N/A
Food Defense 5/27/2016 5/27/2017 5/27/2018 5/27/2019
Third Party Certification                           11/27/2016 01/26/2016 01/26/2016 

01/26/2016  


Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra provides sought-after food safety guidance, compliance consulting services and scientific guidance for food and health-related products sold in North American marketplaces. Since 2002, dicentra has been helping clients resolve complex scientific and safety issues, develop safe and effective market-leading products and facilitate timely regulatory approvals. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article. 


 






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What's The Number 1 Driver of Shareholder Value

Posted on July 20 2016 | Author: Admin

Quick: Name the most important driver of shareholder value in your organization: a) products, b) technology, c) timing, d) talent.

Talent is the correct answer. The caliber of your leaders drives shareholder value. But when seeking to hire and develop leadership talent, many companies encounter two problems: 1) failing to make hiring and developing leaders a top priority, and 2) setting fuzzy requirements when recruiting leaders to the organization.

“Many companies put off dealing with talent issues because people are ‘messy,’” said Jon Leafstedt, managing partner for Kincannon & Reed. “But if you don’t focus on the “soft” issues around people, then ultimately you won’t deliver the hard financial results you want for your shareholders.”

So how can your company tackle these talent issues to achieve greater shareholder value?

1) Make talent acquisition and development a priority

According to a McKinsey & Company survey of 410 corporate officers at 35 large U.S. companies, the organizations who hired a top performer into a general management role saw a 49 percent increase in profits, versus companies that hired an average performer into the same role. In operations, the effect was a 40 percent increase in productivity; and in sales, hiring a high performer produced as much as a 67 percent increase in revenue.

Of the managers surveyed who said they had worked for an underperformer, 86 percent said, “They (the underperformers) made me want to leave the company.” Still, despite the empirical evidence, talent acquisition and development are often seen as the sole domain of Human Resources.

How can a company better prioritize talent acquisition and development?

The drive for building high levels of talent into the organization must come from the top. “Senior leadership must focus on acquiring and developing talent,” said Leafstedt. “If top leaders fail to do this, they have abdicated a core responsibility — with repercussions within the organization and to the bottom line.”

The tone is set when your senior leadership team advocates and participates in setting high standards for talent acquisition and development, and then measures and rewards success. Similarly, the Board of Directors signals its priorities when talent acquisition and development are fully integrated into Board agendas and deliberations, as well as the metrics for the CEO’s evaluation process.

“Rigorous assessment of top leaders to see how they’re doing with hiring and growing mid-level and lower-level leaders is key to having a ‘bench’ to pull from for future leadership positions,” said Leafstedt. “Management has to be measured and rewarded in these areas. If it’s not measured, it’s not going to just happen.”

To effectively acquire and develop talent, a company must also have a clear, long-term strategy to match talent and cultural fit. Senior leaders have to understand and agree on the culture they want to cultivate in the organization. If you are happy with your company’s culture, ask yourselves as leaders how you are supporting and reinforcing that culture through the recruiting and on-boarding process with new employees.

It’s important to note that it takes time to see the effect of making talent a priority. There are no shortcuts.

2) Be specific on your requirements 

It’s easy enough to come up with a wish list of the qualities you want in hiring leaders across your organization. But the reality is that if you leave needs assessment to the gut feeling of, “I’ll know the right people when I see them,” then you may fall into the second trap: setting fuzzy requirements for leader recruitment.

To separate the “need to haves” from the “nice to haves,” hiring managers should look at the whole organization. Consider questions like:
• How does your organization compare with similar companies and/or your competition across key talent areas?
• Spin the clock forward a few years. What would affirm that you are selecting the right people? What would success look like for the part of the organization they lead?
• What stage is your company in? Start-up organizations often require a different type of leadership style and experience base from established companies

These types of questions will help you recognize the right talent and evaluate each prospective employee’s fit with your organization, needs, and culture. Then you can answer questions about a certain talent search such as:
• Are you looking for someone who has already done this job, or someone ready to step up?
• What are the critical keys for success in a given position: experience, skills, and behavioral attributes?
• In situations where a transformational leader is needed, do you need evolution or revolution? How much change can the organization stand?

Interestingly, the McKinsey study found no correlation between a company’s revenue growth and teams with solid, but unexceptional, leaders all-around. The improvements came with leaders who were exceptional in a few specific areas. That’s why Kincannon& Reed recommends that you focus on a few specific skills or competencies that new leaders must have in order to be outstanding.

“Remember that Superman and Wonder Woman are comic book characters.” said Leafstedt. “So rather than seeking a mythical person who has everything, including superpowers, use your needs and priorities to guide you to the candidates who have the critical skills and experiences to complement your current management team. If you thoroughly understand your strategy, the gaps in leadership to accomplishing your strategy, and the culture you’re trying to reinforce, then you are on your way to building an exceptional leadership team.”

Exceptional leaders = Exceptional results

Making talent acquisition and development a top priority and clearly defining recruiting needs and criteria—across your organization and for specific positions—will result in greater success, both in the satisfaction and contribution of your employees, and in longer-term results.

Leafstedt said: “The marketplace is not going to come along and assess your talent and leadership needs for you. These are not easy issues—they can be messy and slow to reach conclusions, but in the end, addressing them is absolutely worthwhile.”

“We have all worked in an environment with highly motivated, successful leaders who are focused on the right priorities,” he said. “It is exhilarating and rewarding to be part of that type of team. It’s helpful to keep that goal in mind as you find and develop new leadership talent.”


Written by: Jon Leafstedt, Managing Partner at Kincannon & Reed

About Kincannon & Reed
Kincannon & Reed recruits leaders for organizations that feed the world and keep it healthy. Their focus is on the interrelated realms of food, agribusiness, and life science. Their clients range from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, as well as investment funds, financial institutions, industry associations, universities, and non-profit and development organizations. This sector knowledge streamlines the search process and enables them to better asses a candidates organizational fit and more compellingly present to them a client’s opportunity. In addition, the principals at Kincannon & Reed are former senior executives from the sectors they serve. This distinctive difference allows them to understand at a personal level, not just at an intellectual level, the environment in which you operate. The result is a quality conversation around your needs and a smoother recruitment process. To learn more about Kincannon & Reed, visit: www.KRsearch.com

Click here to view the original article.

 






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Feeding The World Requires A Surprising Ingredient

Posted on June 08 2016 | Author: Admin

National Agriculture Day is set aside in America to recognize and celebrate the abundance of food provided by the agricultural sector. The date this year is March 15, so now seems a good time to celebrate how far agriculture has come and think about how far we still need to go in order to feed the world.

The Great Food Divide
The Green Revolution of the 1970s was one of the most transformative times global agriculture has seen. We dramatically increased the availability and reduced the cost of basic grains, which made many foods less expensive. With more disposable income, because families didn’t have to spend so much on rice and wheat, people could enjoy a more diverse diet with more protein.

Today in the developed world, food diversity and security are so taken for granted that attention has turned to premium-priced, specialty foods, sometimes sardonically called “food for the 1 percent.” Examples include non-GMO and organic foods; free range poultry and eggs; locally sourced “artisanal” meats, vegetables and dairy products; gluten-free and lactose-free foods, among many others. These trends get media and consumer attention for their purported health benefits; but realistically, they are out of reach in terms of cost or availability for most of the world’s population.

To be clear, we have nothing against “food for the 1 percent” trends, especially if it means more money for growers and producers. But by 2050, the United Nations estimates we’ll need to feed an additional 1 billion people, an expected global population of 9.6 billion. By some estimates, this will require us to produce as much food in the next 25 years as has been produced in the past 10,000 years.

To address the need, a new Green Revolution is underway, one that combines biotechnology with smarter agricultural practices and equipment, to take the next step toward higher crop yields in the face of declining land available for farming. However, for us to succeed in the face of expected population trends, another, less visible ingredient is needed: infrastructure.

The Critical Ingredient: Infrastructure
If farmers are to provide all strata of society with the fresh, healthy foods – while also ensuring that farming continues as a livelihood for many around the world, the logistical costs inherent in the global food system must be reduced. Infrastructure is just as vital to the success of the newest Green Revolution as seed and crop nutrients are.

Roads and Rail
Roads and rail link farmers to crop inputs and offer access to competitive markets, where they can sell their crops for a better price than what may be available locally. Yet in many countries, roadways and rail transportation are antiquated, or worse, non-existent. The U.S. State Department estimates that nearly one-third of global agricultural production either arrives in poor condition or never makes it to consumers at all. This is waste the 99 percent cannot afford.

In Brazil, the world’s ninth largest economy continues to struggle because its transportation infrastructure isn’t keeping up with its economic progress. Many Brazilian highways cannot support the largest, most efficient tractor-trailer units; instead, smaller, less efficient vehicles navigate dusty or gravel roads.

In Africa, less than 50 percent of the rural population lives close to adequate roads, making it difficult for farmers to advance beyond feeding their own families and local villages.

Proper Storage
Proper storage is another critical component of infrastructure. Governments and the private sector can help here by providing incentives and financing for farmers to band together to build the kinds of storage facilities that will enable them to keep their crops dry and available year-round to markets, not just in season. Refrigerated storage is needed to make fresh, healthy foods available to urban populations. This takes financing and electricity.

Infrastructure: Key to Food for the Future
Strong infrastructure – such as roads, rail routes, storage, and refrigeration, which the developed world takes for granted – is hugely important to keeping smallholder farming profitable and to ensuring that fresh, healthy foods reach the billions of the earth’s inhabitants. National governments and international development organizations recognize the need and are taking steps. But in the race against hunger in the face of a burgeoning population, ever more creative and entrepreneurial talent will be needed to develop infrastructure solutions.

 

Written by: David Turner, Managing Partner at Kincannon & Reed

About Kincannon & Reed
Kincannon & Reed recruits leaders for organizations that feed the world and keep it healthy. Their focus is on the interrelated realms of food, agribusiness, and life science. Their clients range from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, as well as investment funds, financial institutions, industry associations, universities, and non-profit and development organizations. This sector knowledge streamlines the search process and enables them to better asses a candidates organizational fit and more compellingly present to them a client’s opportunity. In addition, the principals at Kincannon & Reed are former senior executives from the sectors they serve. This distinctive difference allows them to understand at a personal level, not just at an intellectual level, the environment in which you operate. The result is a quality conversation around your needs and a smoother recruitment process. To learn more about Kincannon & Reed, visit: www.KRsearch.com

 






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How To Invest In Your Employees Beyond Giving A Raise

Posted on June 01 2016 | Author: Admin

When it comes to retaining your team, money isn’t everything.

Sure, salary increments are always going to be an employee’s top concern, but there are other ways to show value that doesn’t equate to another zero on the end of a paycheque. Personal investments are often more valuable and effective than financial increases, and will set the path for a mutually beneficial relationship.

Everyone wants to earn more, but increasing an employee’s salary doesn’t address other issues that often equate to a high turnover. By approaching your staff as people first, and employees second, you will be creating a company that cares about its team on a deeper level. In many cases, it will motivate the team further.

Whether you’re a small business owner or a Fortune 500 company, there are several ways to advance an employee without a title change or payment increase:

Offer flexible work schedules A study by Millennial Branding shows 45 per cent of this generation prefer workplace flexibility over higher pay. And with 75 per cent of the workforce expected to be made up of Millennials by 2025, managers can often attract and retain their team by foregoing the traditional 9 to 5. Implementing flexible hours can be a huge perk for working parents who are juggling their children’s schedules and daycare on top of their professional duties.

Offer staff the option of working from home a few days a week, or allow them to start and end the work day any time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. The key for managers to adapt this approach is to first establish trust, set measurable targets and expectations and communicate effectively.

Say thank you It’s amazing what these two little words can do for your company. Yet despite it’s simplicity, so many managers forget to say it. Appreciation and acknowledgment are  pillars of any successful relationship, whether it be with your spouse, friends, or staff. It is amazing what a simple Thank You card, or even a quick email can do for the morale. It can even propel an underperforming employee to step up her game, as the reason for her slump may be due to feeling taken for granted.

Hitting a quarterly target or bringing in new clients are perfectly good reasons to say congratulations and express thanks; however, don’t forget the small actions that lead to those big achievements. Thank someone for showing up to every meeting on time, helping on-board a new employee, or even cleaning up in the lunchroom. Just make sure it’s sincere and delivered authentically so that they understand they’re appreciated.

Provide professional development Investing in your employees’ skills sends several messages. The first is that you want to foster a long-term relationship and cultivate their future. The second is that you’re open to giving them more responsibility by adding to their skill sets. And finally, that you don’t want them to get bored in their current role. Whether it’s a night course, weekend workshop, or in-office training, offering continued education will not only help build loyalty but also propel your company further by advancing your team’s skills. In all, it’s a win-win.

Whether you implement flexible work hours, exercise more appreciation, or offer professional development, these investments will do wonders for your workplace culture and morale. A company that sees their team as people rather than merely staff is an invaluable metric that far outweighs the dollar sign.

 

Provided by: Financial Post
By Mandy Gilbert, CEO of Creative Niche

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Starting With Social Media

Posted on May 13 2016 | Author: Admin

Social media can be a valuable resource for marketing your company affectively and affordably. There are numerous channels and resources to utilize, which could be intimidating if you’re new to many of them. But the potential growth and business exposure could be significant, even for the smallest of marketing budgets.

Social media enables companies to be more engaged, while promoting their business in a very simple and direct manner. Traditional marketing can be pricey in comparison to marketing over social media platforms – which can be as simple as posting a comment that your followers can discuss, and thus generating exposure for your company. You’ll invest in time what you save in dollars.

Steps To Success

1. Do Your Research
With many social media platforms, it’s important to know which is more appropriate to support your company’s goals. For example, if your social media target is to build stronger brand loyalties, Facebook is the best platform. Or if you’d like to develop more business-to-business relationships, than focus your efforts on LinkedIn.

Understanding each platform’s audience and using them correctly can grow your following and minimize your future social media efforts. For a summary on some of the most popular platforms, see the image below.

2. Create Your Accounts
To start, it is most effective to focus on one or two platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter for example. When creating your accounts, ensure that your profiles enable your customers to contact you:

  • Profile Photo: Usually the company logo is the most effective image.
  • Website URL: No matter what platform you use, your website URL should always be accessible.
  • Location: On platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn, including your location can help your customers find your business easily.
  • Contact Information: Including a phone number or e-mail on your account can help facilitate interactions with potential customers.

3. Time To Connect
Once your profile and all relevant information are up and ready, you can begin following and connecting your network. Be sure to connect with your employees as they are usually the most eager and ready to share company information. You should consider following other companies and contacts in your industry, news stations, government bodies and even your competitors.

4. Plan Before You Post
Each social media platform has varying applications and logistics. To explain further, Twitter is much more rapid and quickly consumed compared to Facebook which is more about posting quality over quantity. Every platform needs specific and active attention in order to be utilized successfully. Consider creating a schedule of the type of content and when to post it to help track and organize all the information you are sharing.

A rule of thumb known in social media is the 80/20 rule. It suggests that only 20% of the content you post should promote your company directly and could include posting useful statistics, testimonials, sales promotions and more. For the other 80% of content, you should consider posting interesting information, like relevant news articles, industry trends as well as responding and interacting with your network. The 80/20 rule is a helpful guideline because it encourages you to focus on your audience’s interests, in order to engage with them sufficiently. 

5. Combine Your Efforts
If used effectively, social media has the ability to enhance your online exposure as well as drive more traffic to your website. When appropriate, sharing content from your website (Company or Industry News, Services Offered, etc) can assist with creating awareness as well as drive traffic to your website. Another example of great content to share is the company blog, further promoting the knowledge and expertise within your company.

6. Respond, Retweet, Repeat
Company social media accounts are not all just posting. It is equally as important to be active and responsive with your social media community, which includes responding in a prompt and timely manner, especially in regards to negative comments. A timely response can assist with demonstrating the importance your company places on customer service. Monitor your feeds and be mindful of what your following is discussing as well as industry trends and news. This will help you target your content towards the topics your audience is interested in and help gather a strong following.

7. Keep The Connections
Make sure your network can follow you! Make links to your social media platforms readily available.

  • Place social media icons on your website, either at the top or bottom for your website, ensuring the icons are visible on majority of the pages.
  • Add social media share buttons under your blog posts as well as links in your email signatures
  • Consider adding a live feed from your most active social media platforms to the homepage of your website.

Although this is just scratching the surface, mastering the basics for maintaining and growing your social media network will help make it a more manageable and worth-while time investment for your company.

 

Rebecca Reynolds
Marketing & Events Assistant 

 

Sources:
www.socialmediaexaminer.com
www.businessnewsdaily.com
www.socialmediatoday.com

Photo:
www.marketingleap.net
 






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What’s The Key Ingredient for Innovation in Food and Agribusiness?

Posted on May 06 2016 | Author: Admin

A recent article in a business publication reported that the most overused business buzzword today is “innovation.” Clearly, everyone is talking about innovation, but how can it be implemented successfully?

The key to unlocking innovation in today’s marketplace is having the right talent in place - leaders with the necessary skills, knowledge, experience, and personal characteristics.

Truly innovative companies look for people with the ability to capitalize on the company’s creative and financial resources all along the supply chain. They recognize the following realities when it comes to their human talent:

Innovation has to be system-wide - across the supply chain, and include finance and marketing.

Paul Miller, Managing Director and Food Sector Lead for Kincannon & Reed, said, “We are seeing the same challenge to innovate across all slices of the supply chain - in large and small companies, ingredient companies, packaging and equipment companies, as well as food processors and marketers.”

“For example, organic products have had impressive growth and companies see opportunities there. But one challenge in creating these products is determining what the supply line should look like.” Miller said, “For instance, pastures with cattle or fields with corn have to be pesticide-free for three years as a first step to organic certification. As a result, we see some innovative food companies trying new approaches such as buying farmland directly.”

“Meanwhile, the ingredient companies are telling us: ‘We need people who understand consumer insights and can help us create solutions for our customers to satisfy their wants and needs,’” Miller added. “On the Research and Development and Product Development side, many business-to-business clients no longer rely solely on their customers to tell them what consumers are thinking. They are taking the initiative to understand on their own what is driving consumers, so they can innovate earlier.”

Hand in glove with this trend, the large food companies say they are looking to their suppliers not just for solutions, but for ideas. They want suppliers who can say, for example, “We’ve found new ways to take sodium out of products and still maintain the taste.”

Miller said, “Innovation is not just taking consumer insights and creating a new product. It’s looking at how the product fits within the life stages of consumers, then packaging and selling in more sophisticated and ‘honest’ ways.“

As a result, we are doing more searches all along the supply chain for roles with job titles such as Chief Product and Innovation Officer,” Miller said.

Innovation requires leaders who can drive flexibility in a company’s operations and manufacturing.

Smart companies know they can no longer base their manufacturing strategy solely on long production runs to be efficient and hold down unit costs.

Miller explained, “In key operations and supply chain roles, clients talk about the need to be innovative in manufacturing and supply chain processes to allow for more efficient change-overs and short-runs. It’s the same in establishing and securing supply lines. Suppliers say they need to do this for their customers, particularly their clients with cutting edge products or packaging.”

“We see large food companies backward integrating to achieve agility,” said Miller. “They want executives who understand this approach and who have done it.”

Companies are achieving innovation through “co-creation” and “science community,” as well as through mergers and acquisitions.

Michael Whitney, Managing Partner and Region Leader for Kincannon & Reed in Europe, said, “Some large multi-nationals have made huge strides using co-creation. They have assembled a cadre of high-quality innovation managers from both R&D and Commercial to lead their strategic global projects. In parallel, they have increased the level of understanding of science and technology among non-technical people, particularly in Marketing and Sales.”

Whitney continued: “Innovation from Mergers & Acquisitions can be a key growth driver if the companies get it right, but sometimes they struggle to extract the maximum synergies from the integration. There are other challenges. For example, the new entity may give scientists too much free rein or, conversely, because the acquiring firm has a different attitude to risk, there is less freedom to innovate. Others report that although they accessed new value streams, their development and execution strengths have been at risk as they try to harness the new shared capabilities.”

Says Miller: “A key success factor in these mergers and acquisitions is how the larger company manages the smaller ones without stifling creativity or harming the smaller company’s brand.”

How does the demand for innovation affect your talent search?

Miller stated, “We explore innovation as a desired quality in every conversation we have with clients about a potential hire, regardless of the role’s function or level. Food and ingredient companies want people who can identify trends and consumer insights, and move quickly to address them. They want people who can envision using the full capabilities of an organization and understand what a flexible supplier looks like.”

Whitney concluded: “Because so much is riding on bringing in the right person, we engage in a very deliberate process to ensure we present a slate of candidates with the combination of skills, experience, and personal characteristics that will fit with the innovation goals and culture of each particular client.”


Article provided by: www.KRsearch.com

About Kincannon & Reed
Kincannon & Reed recruits leaders for organizations that feed the world and keep it healthy. Their focus is on the interrelated realms of food, agribusiness, and life science. Their clients range from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, as well as investment funds, financial institutions, industry associations, universities, and non-profit and development organizations. This sector knowledge streamlines the search process and enables them to better asses a candidates organizational fit and more compellingly present to them a client’s opportunity. In addition, the principals at Kincannon & Reed are former senior executives from the sectors they serve. This distinctive difference allows them to understand at a personal level, not just at an intellectual level, the environment in which you operate. The result is a quality conversation around your needs and a smoother recruitment process. To learn more about Kincannon & Reed, visit: www.KRsearch.com






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Consumer Business Economic Update

Posted on April 25 2016 | Author: Admin

Key indicators combine with analyst sentiments, search engine and social media trends to provide a revealing snapshot of Canada’s consumer business sector.

The thirteenth edition of Deloitte’s Consumer Business economic update for Canada provides a snapshot of key business indicators across the retail, consumer packaged goods (CPG) and travel, hospitality and leisure (THL) sectors.

The newsletter also aggregates search-related data for online travel, products and shopping with social media trends and analyst sentiment.

Economic indicators
The Canadian economy experienced a 0.8% real GDP growth rate in Q4 2015.

Retail trends
Same store sales year-over-year growth increased by 11 bps from Q4 2014 to Q4 2015.

Travel, hospitality and leisure trends
The majority of key indicators in travel and leisure continue to be positive for this quarter, with hospitality as an exception.

Consumer packaged goods
CPG sales experienced a lower year-over-year growth in most categories in Q4 2015 compared to the growth experienced in Q3 2015.

Social media
Kijiji, a free Canadian local classifieds site has continued to retain its position (as in the previous three quarters) as the top online search in the Shopping category by Canadians in Q4 2015. The second and third positions on the list in Q4 2015 were “walmart”, the American multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of discount department stores and “netflix”, the American provider of on-demand Internet streaming media.


View the full report.
For more information, please contact the Deloitte team.






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What is HACCP? A Comprehensive Look at What HACCP Means and What it Takes

Posted on April 11 2016 | Author: Admin

We know HACCP has to do with food safety. But what is HACCP (pronounced ‘ha-ssup’) really? What does it mean and what does an organization need to do to have HACCP certification? HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). This should not be confused with HARPC, which will be discussed in a separate article on our website.

HACCP is definitely not new to the food industry. It was initially developed in 1959 by the Pillsbury Company, The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center (NSSC) and The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The original intent of HACCP was to guarantee the safety of food on space missions, to deal with concerns about crumbs and liquid droplets in zero gravity and ultimately to deal with concerns related to microbiological safety.

In simplest terms the goal of HACCP is to apply a common sense application of technical and scientific knowledge to a specific food production. Part of the HACCP process is to systematically prioritize and control hazards as well as to identify where and how these hazards might occur either in your ingredients, your finished product, your process or your distribution. When HACCP principles are in place, there are defined actions implemented to prevent, eliminate and reduce potential hazards. That’s not all. The next important part of HACCP is monitoring and verifying the applications and effectiveness of these actions to make sure the risks of hazards are decreased. The end result is the production of a food product that is much safer to consume.

Step 1: Put together your HACCP team
To prepare for an effective food safety HACCP program, the first step in the process is to choose your HACCP team. Ideally your HACCP team should represent all parts of your operation. Quality assurance and quality control personnel are an essential part of every HACCP team, but production, maintenance, purchasing and management employees should not be overlooked and have much to contribute to the success of implementing a HACCP program.

Step 2: Prepare a flow chart
After choosing your HACCP team, the next preparation step for the HACCP implementation process involves describing your products and identifying their intended use. This is not a difficult step and is simply acknowledging and documenting what you already know about your product and its destination after leaving your production facility. Creating a diagram of the flow of product from receiving to shipping is the next preparation step and is an excellent exercise in understanding how materials, finished product and people flow through your plant.

Step 3: Identify your hazards
The next step is to conduct a hazard analysis of your process and raw materials. Conducting hazard analyses of your process involves asking the question what are the possible biological, chemical and physical hazards that can occur in my process?

A biological hazard is one that can cause illness. It can involve contamination by bacteria, virus, parasite or any organism that can produce a toxin.

A typical chemical hazard is one that can cause injury or poisoning and includes even naturally occurring substances such as allergens. Other chemical hazards can even include intended ingredients but used in a manner as to exceed the intended amount. Antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides are examples. Chemical hazards also include ingredients that are accidentally added – such as cleaning chemicals, paint or pest control chemicals.

A typical physical hazard is any foreign object accidentally added that can cause injury. Examples of this are glass, metal grindings, screws, bolts, stones, pebbles and hard plastics.

Step 4: Determine the CCPs and limits
The next important principle in the development of your HACCP program is determining the critical control points (CCPs) and establishing critical limits. A CCP is any step (or activity) which adds an element of control to the production environment and can be applied to your process. The CCP is essential to prevent or eliminate a food safety hazard or reduce it to an acceptable level. An example of a biological CCP to reduce a possible biological hazard involves a heating step in your process for a specific time and temperature. An example of a physical CCP to reduce a possible physical hazard involves having your product go through a metal detector. Once the CCPs are established the limits for each point need to be established. For example, for the elimination of a potential biological hazard we would cook a food product at a designated minimum temperature for a designated minimum amount of time.

Step 5: Don’t forget the prerequisite program!
For a complete HACCP program to be in place a prerequisite program is also required. A prerequisite program reduces the likelihood of certain hazards from occurring. Often prerequisite programs are facility wide and if not followed, bring significant food safety concerns. Many recalls are not related to CCPs but rather to failures in prerequisite programs. The WHO definition of Prerequisite Programs is practices needed prior to and during implementation of HACCP which are essential for food safety. They can be divided into the following groups: premises, personnel, transportation, sanitation, equipment, and recalls. Procedures need to be written and implemented and need to be made available to everyone who has a role in monitoring your process, implementing corrective actions, and verifying that the steps implemented are effective.   Finally, procedures need to be in place for record keeping and documentation.

In essence HACCP is a system what when properly designed, implemented and maintained, results in the production of safer food, improved workplace safety, increased market access, protection against liability and sets the company on a pursuit for continuous improvement.

Article provided by: dicentra.com

About dicentra
dicentra provides sought-after food safety guidance, compliance consulting services and scientific guidance for food and health-related products sold in North American marketplaces. Since 2002, dicentra has been helping clients resolve complex scientific and safety issues, develop safe and effective market-leading products and facilitate timely regulatory approvals. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com






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Thinking of expanding to new markets? Consider this first!

Posted on March 04 2016 | Author: Admin

Thinking of expanding to new markets? Here’s what to consider before taking the leap

Expanding into a foreign market can offer many benefits for private business, including increased sales, higher profits, competitive advantage and a reduced dependency on domestic markets, to name a few. However, it can also present new challenges and risks that require careful consideration. Here are some ideas to help you navigate through the process:

Set the right strategy and priorities
Planning for expansion is a strategic exercise that involves identifying the market that meets your private company’s needs from among the many attractive options. Your strategy should consider the markets, your products or services and your overall goals for international trade. This may seem daunting, but without a full analysis of each potential market you risk choosing a market that may not be the best one for your business.

Develop the skills to evaluate, plan and execute entry into a new market
Companies expanding overseas, especially for the first time, need to acquire some new skills and expertise. It’s important to understand the effort of conducting business in a given foreign market and investigate the regulatory environment, the culture and the ability to operate seamlessly. Also, determine whether there’s a clear and growing demand for the type of products or services you offer, a base of potential clients who have the interest and money to buy and what the competitive landscape looks like.

Understand cultural, product and regulatory differences
Local culture and customs can have a significant impact on expansion. It can affect marketing your product, human resources and your methods of conducting business. It’s a good idea to get advice from someone with expertise in the market’s cultural norms and nuances. Being respectful of cultural differences can help you avoid making costly faux pas.

Get the right advice
Even where good data and information are widely available, look for people on the ground to advise you. Nothing beats real life experience when it comes to export know-how. Try to network with people who have lived in, conducted business in or have some type of connection to your target market. The information they can provide is invaluable.

Build a strong management team
Building a team of people you trust, and who share your ideas about running your private business, is an essential step in expansion. Your management on the ground needs good local knowledge and experience that can drive expansion and ensure linkages with your home market. Develop a strategy for recruitment and keep in mind that management skills needed to get a new operation off the ground may not be the same ones needed once your business is well established and growing.

Create a governance structure
Attempting to micro-manage a local operation from afar is unlikely to be successful, but you will need to retain oversight. Impose a clear decision-making process that empowers local managers to run day-to-day operations effectively while working toward the business’s strategic vision.

Be clear about your objectives and monitor progress
State your goals at the outset, along with measurable performance indicators that can be tracked by both local managers and your head office. Staying on top of progress to plan will help minimize risks and enhance your success in the market.

Your rationale for a move into a new market may be one of opportunity — overseas markets can offer exciting new prospects, high growth potential or the chance to better serve existing clients. Alternatively, it may be one of risk. You owe it to your business to do the research necessary to decide if it’s the right strategy to pursue.

By Bill Hamilton and Brock McMillan at www.financialpost.com

Click here to view the original article.






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Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, or Corporation?

Posted on November 25 2015 | Author: Admin

Organizing a new business can be challenging as entrepreneurs are faced with many options on how to start their business. Choosing whether to establish  a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation is a common challenge for start-ups. The decision can have a significant impact on the business management of risks and tax exposure.

It’s important to first understand the different types of business structures. This will help entrepreneurs select the most appropriate structure for their business needs.

Sole Proprietorship
A sole proprietorship represents the situation in which an individual holds all the legal rights and responsibilities of their business activities. As such, the owner personally assumes the risks of the business activities including legal action and tax liability. The owner is responsible to declare business net income or losses as part of their personal tax reporting. For a start-up business, personal income tax rates can be higher than small corporation tax rates but start-up business losses can be offset against the owner’s other income. And legally, since there is no distinction made between the business and the owner, the owner’s personal assets are at risk if the business is not successful.

Partnership
A partnership is similar to a sole proprietorship for legal and tax purposes, except that the business’ net income/losses, liabilities, and management decisions are shared between two or more individuals. Its similarity to a sole proprietorship model makes it relatively easy and inexpensive for business to start-up and operate.  Because liabilities and taxes are shared between the partners, it is considered less risky for entrepreneurs. But this also means that the partners share in management decisions, and can therefore create difficulties if the partners do not have the same vision.

Corporation
A corporation is recognized by law as a single entity, or in other words, recognized legally as a person.  This takes much of the risk away from the owner's personal liability, as the company itself is now responsible for its debts and taxes.  While incorporating can reduce personal risks and taxes for the owner, it is more expensive to set-up and administer.  

There are different types of corporations that can either be private or public type corporations.  Private corporations are most commonly used among start-ups and owned by few shareholders, including the founders.  Public corporations sell shares of the company to the public through listings in stock exchanges. Listing through a public stock exchange makes it easier to access the financial markets by selling “shares” in the company. However, filing and reporting requirements for a public corporation can be considerable and expensive, whereas privately held corporations do not have the same disclosure requirements.

When starting a business, knowing the advantages/disadvantages of the different types of organizations (sole proprietorship, partnerships and corporations) can make choosing the right one an easier task. The entrepreneur's own situation and initial business prospects will be important criteria to the type of structure selected. The legal structure of a business is an important decision and should be based on the entrepreneur's budget, revenue, profits, expenses, size, and industry.

The most common business structure for a start-up is a sole proprietorship, which makes up 73% of all new small businesses (the rest being partnerships and corporations). Many start-ups are on a tight budget and may not be able to afford the costs and management requirements of a partnership or corporation.

Philippe Piche
Program Assistant

References: http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/page/2853/
Photo Credit: pixabay.com 






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The Importance of a Social Media Policy in your Business

Posted on August 27 2015 | Author: Admin

Earlier this summer I was tasked with creating a social media policy. While doing so, I learned a lot about how important it is to have one in your business.

While browsing news headlines, I found a ton of stories related to social media and the workplace. A few years back, Virgin Atlantic fired 13 employees for posting disloyal content on Facebook that criticized Virgin’s safety standards and offended it’s passengers.  Similarly, an employee was fired from the Broofield Zoo very recently because of a racist post on Facebook taken place at work and in her uniform.

Policies provide clear guidelines and support
Policies are the building blocks to any corporation. They provide structure and guidance to each and every employee.  

Social media is drastically changing the way individuals and organizations communicate. It’s important that employees who use social media, use it in a way that enhances the company’s prospects, or at least doesn’t diminish them.  A misinterpreted status update can easily generate complaints or damage the company’s reputation.

A social media guide clarifies standards of behaviour in which employees can use social media professionally and effectively.

Policies help manage risks
It is important to keep confidential company information protected. Therefore it is critical that clear guidelines are made about sharing private information online in order to mitigate risks involved with online activity.

Ensure that your social media policy includes that all confidential company information is never communicated or made publically or privately viewable on social media sites. Regardless of privacy settings, online information is accessible and can easily be placed in the wrong hands.

Policies protect company reputation
Users should always be careful discussing things they wouldn’t want their boss to see. Posting information that is disloyal could severely damage your company’s reputation (like those 13 employees at Virgin Atlantic). Setting clear guidelines against this is crucial in maintaining a good company reputation.

If there are no guidelines set in place against this, any posts by employees that harm the company’s reputation will be without consequence. In order to prevent the spread of disloyal information, guidelines must be set in place.

Policies assist with networking and awareness
Social media policies do not always have to be a long list of boring restriction. There is a lot of potential in using social media to your advantage.  

Social media is very important for building relationships with current and potential clients. It is an effective way to distribute marketing and communications, build an online brand and business profile, as well as stay connected with valued networks. It is also a great tool for employees to make useful connections, share ideas, and have discussions, whether it is work related or personal.

Illustrate ways in your social media policy for employees to use social media to their advantage whether it be for their personal social media use, or for company use.

Policies increase productivity
In the long run, policies actually increase productivity as issues are mitigated and therefore resulting in saved time.

Establishing a social media policy reduces lost time spent dealing with unauthorized usage or inappropriate behaviour online. Instead of dealing with the consequences of conflicts related to social media use, employees will be educated on your organization’s expectations for online professionalism and potential issues will be prevented.

And remember, no policy is alike
It is important to keep in mind that all policies need to be structured to perfectly fit your company.

Virgin Atlantic’s social media policy is different than Bioenterprise’s; Apple’s social media policy is different than McDonald’s. Your policy needs reflect your company’s business profile and online strategies in order to fulfill all of your company needs

Bethany Witvoet
Marketing and Events Assistant

Photo: Pixabay, Dilbert.com
References: http://mediabuzz.com.sg/asian-emarketing?catid=0&id=787

 






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Writing a Business Blog: The Why and How

Posted on August 12 2015 | Author: Admin

I’m going to tell you exactly why blogging is a fundamental part of any business. It’s not a waste of time, it’s not difficult, and you don’t need to write one every single day. The benefits of blogging to improve a business are boundless, and here is why:

How to start: the daunting task ahead

“The first thing you need to decide when you build your blog is what you want to accomplish with it, and what it can do if successful.” –Rod Dawson

You don’t have to write like an expert, and you don’t need to ‘fluff up’ your writing to make it seem longer. Quality not quantity! Sometimes short and sweet is the way to go.

You want to make sure you have a point and get right to it. Whether it’s to inform readers about something, voice an opinion on a certain topic, or start a debate, you want to have a goal in mind.

This isn’t a diary entry or a personal blog; it’s a business blog. Be thoughtful of your vocabulary choices, tone of voice, and above all else - proofread. Nothing says amateur like having a post littered with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. It is essential that you do not solely rely on spell-check, make sure you read through your blog at least twice and then, get a co-worker, family member, or unsuspecting passer-by to read through it. Doughnut bribes are most effective!

Know your audience

If you’re writing B2B, use jargon that shows you are an educated and seasoned member of the business world. If you’re writing B2C, convey information in a way that customers will understand. Remember; if you’re going to use humour then make sure it’s appropriate. As NASA says in their ‘One Hundred Rules for NASA Project Managers’ Rule #67: Some like a good joke, others only like a joke if they tell it.

The topic

I consider there to be two fundamental criteria when choosing a blog topic.

  1. Write about what you are passionate about.
  2. Write about what you know.

Usually the two come hand-in-hand. You want to write about something you really care about, because that passion will make writing easier and more influential. You also want to write about something that you have a fair bit of knowledge on, because it often takes years of accumulated knowledge and experience to show an expert opinion. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t explore new areas. In fact, researching for a blog is one of the best things you can do - just make sure you aren’t in over your head; and if you do decide to do research, add your sources.

Another great addition to any blog is quotations. Quotes from famous authors, philosophers, from CEO’s, employees, news stations or anything relevant to your company, target audience and blog topic show your knowledge, dedication, and if you ask me - add a certain flare. If you can’t think of any inspiring quotes off the top of your head, use this online quote database!

Online platform for networking

Entrepreneurs can network at events and connect with others through LinkedIn, but when the opportunity to meet face-to-face is not available, a blog is a great way to network, gain contacts, and generate interest in your company. Blogs demonstrate your expertise, and give readers a chance to learn about your company and interests with a more personal touch that goes beyond the standard information found on website homepages.

Great PR tool

Blogs of course share your ideas, opinions, and insights, but can also be a place for press releases and company updates. Added a new member to your team? Opened more offices or changed location? Acquired a company or received investment? Blog about it.

Website Traffic

One of the key opportunities for gaining website traffic is through writing a blog. People want to know what you and your company think, and what you’re doing. A blog on your company website can be an ideal outlet for this information, as it can be linked and shared through your social media platforms and emails, bringing more readers back to your website.

Inbound traffic to your website enhances your search engine optimisation (SEO); the more people who visit and share your post (and therefore your website) the better your search ranking becomes. This means your site will appear in search results more often, and possibly, higher on the list. Enhanced SEO helps attract and convert more traffic into customers; talk about a low-cost marketing channel!

Don’t forget! Promote your content.
Having a blog is all well and good – if people read it. 20% of your time should be spent writing your blog, while 80% is for promoting it! Get on your Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and whatever else is at your disposal or send it out in an email or newsletter.

Engagement opportunity

Not only do people stay informed about your company’s activities through your blogs, but many have comment sections that allow for suggestions, affirmations, debates and general feedback. It’s a two-way street that helps readers engage with the author, and operates as a learning tool for the author as well. Blogging is a communication outlet for you, your peers, and most importantly, blogging gives you insight into your audience.

Mix up the type of content that you share

It’s not very entertaining to read a wall of information with no other media. Balance text with images, videos, or even sound clips! This will help to further engage your audience and hold their attention. You want them to read the entirety of the blog after all. Having headers and sub-headers is a great way to organize information. Another great hook is to have guest bloggers, who add a fresh voice to your site.

Maintaining a blog is a great engagement opportunity for learning, networking, connecting, marketing and branding! From start-ups to large corporations, business blogs are becoming a vital part of growth and success. Start your own blog today and begin to reap the benefits.

Natalya Smardon
Junior Projects Coordinator

Photo Credit: Flickr, Pixabay






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On-Hand Cash: The Hidden Value

Posted on July 29 2015 | Author: Admin

Bootstrapped start-ups and SME’s have a different relationship with cash than a large multinational corporation.  Despite this fact, many small firms will have situations where cash has been generated without the need for it to be immediately spent on other aspects of the business.

The complacent firm would plainly place the cash in a chequing account and utilize it when needed. Yet, with some careful planning this excess cash can provide an extra flow of income.  If a company decides to invest the primary focus should be placed on answering the two following questions.

How long until the cash is needed for operational purposes? (Liquidity)

How much desired risk does the company want to place on the cash? (Risk)

If a person would prefer to avoid risk it may seem to be the logical approach to place cash in interest generating savings accounts, yet the majority of these accounts have microscopic rates of interest. These savings accounts can generate less than 0.1% of annual interest. Currently, these rates are below the inflation rate so in the big picture the cash should be indifferently placed between chequing and savings accounts.

To generate more cash it would be better to place in a low-risk money market investment or Canada Treasury Bond that can be withdrawn within less than years time. Other securities are available dependent on how long a company would prefer to hold their investment.

Some examples of short-term investment options are:

  • Short Term Bond Funds and Electronically Traded Funds (ETFs)
  • Certificate of Deposits
  • Money Market Accounts
  • Vanguard Short-Term Investment–Grade Fund

In terms of liquidity, many of the short-term investments are significantly less risky by design. Since debtors need to be distributing payments in a short period of time, the debtors tend to have less likelihood to default during the small time frame.

In general, if given the opportunity to invest cash for small periods of time, short-term investments are an ideal option despite not giving the returns that long-term investments provide. These actions allow a company to create value from assets the company has and with just a little bit of planning.

Paulo Mendes
Junior Financial Analyst Intern

Image credit: Getty Images






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10 Startup Expenses You Shouldn’t Waste Money On

Posted on June 24 2015 | Author: Admin

While I’m happy that Single Grain is now in a financial position to support two individual offices – both filled with full-time employees and the latest tech gadgets – I can easily remember back to the days when we were a bootstrapping startup like so many other companies out there today.

If you’re in startup mode yourself and haven’t yet received the million-dollar financing rounds you hoped for, you’re going to encounter plenty of temptations to spend money you don’t have.  If you want to keep yourself going and make it past that critical first-year hump, I’d highly recommend avoiding the following ten expenses until you’re on more stable financial ground.

Expense #1 – Office Space

Trust me – you don’t need a prestigious office address to be taken seriously.  These days, there are so many alternative options for office space that commercial leases should be the furthest thing from your mind.  Instead of blowing your budget here, look for coworking spaces or business incubators that offer extra perks for growing businesses at a fraction of the cost of traditional office rentals.  Even consider keeping your company remote until your finances match up with your leasing aspirations.

Expense #2 – Office Furniture

Now, even if you do decide to lock in to a traditional office lease, there’s no reason you need to waste even more money loading it up with new furniture!  Look for office furniture consignment stores, companies that are going out of business, university disposition programs or Craigslist ads to pick up everything you need at a fraction of the cost of buying new.

Expense #3 – Expensive Subscriptions

While paid subscriptions to services like Basecamp or Sprout Social might seem like they’ll take your business to the next level, keep in mind that there are nearly always free alternatives to these programs.  Trello and SocialOomph, for example, are two options that provide many of the same features as their paid counterparts.  Start with free subscriptions now and amp up your spending in this area later on when you can really afford to do so.

Expense #4 – Conference Travel

Being seen at conferences is great for your business’s profile, but it’s a pretty damn expensive way to get noticed.  Until your cash flow grows, look for local networking events or free online forums.  There are plenty of networking opportunities out there – it’s up to you to take advantage of them!

Expense #5 – Info Products

Info products are a huge weak point for me.  I love learning – so whenever somebody I trust and follow comes out with a new ebook or training course that promises to show me something new, it’s hard for me to keep my hand off my credit card.

But the thing is, I can afford to buy these products now.  If you’re starting out, buying in to a $999 course might mean the difference between paying all your bills one month or falling behind financially.  Not to mention, spending too much time learning can take away from the amount of time you’re actually implementing – and that’s much more important for a young company.

Stick with free online resources for now and make sure your time is focused primarily on actions (rather than learning).  There will come a time in the future when you can learn as much as you want!

Expense #6 – Shipping Supplies

Single Grain doesn’t ship products (unless we’re sending t-shirts to our followers), so we haven’t had to worry too much about the expenses that this process entails.

But if you do ship products, there are a number of ways you can trim your expenses in this area:

Take advantage of the USPS’s free packaging program (if flat rate shipping makes sense for your business).
Get the major carriers to compete for your business by asking them to match – or beat – each other’s shipping rates.
Constantly compare your actual shipping and handling costs to what you’re billing the customer.  If you’re coming up short on each transaction, you need to adjust your margins somewhere.

Expense #7 – Printed Marketing Materials

There’s nothing that says “I’ve arrived” like logo-printed envelopes and glossy custom brochures.  But when you’re first starting out, there’s also nothing quite as unnecessary as printed marketing materials.

Everything we do these days is online, which – for the savvy business owner – means that most traditional printing costs have become obsolete.  Sure, it might be worth it to pick up a box of business cards from Vista Print or Moo – especially if you plan on attending a lot of free networking events.  Just skip everything else and send electronic document versions to cut down on costs.

Expense #8 – Employee Salaries

At some point, your startup will grow to the point where bringing on traditional employees and compensating them with salary and benefits packages will make sense.  However, until you’ve reached a point where your cash flow is relatively stable, it may make sense to pursue alternative employment options.

Can some of your admin tasks be handled by a virtual assistant hired through Odesk?  Can you use a cloud-based accounting subscription service, rather than hire a traditional bookkeeper?  Or, if you must have employees on-site, can you come up with creative ways to compensate them based on performance incentives, rather than with set salaries?  There are options out there – and you can save a lot of money if you look for them!

Expense #9 – Brand New Computers

Sure, your buddy’s shiny new Mac laptop looks pretty appealing – and, as a business owner, don’t you deserve one too?  As Suze Orman would say, “Show me the money!”  If you can afford to buy brand new computers and tech equipment without negatively affecting your business’s finances, then go for it.  And if you can’t, look for manufacturer refurbished or “scratch and dent” models until your cash flow improves.

Expense #10 – Traditional Land Lines

If you need to set up phone service for your company (if, for example, you’re in a traditional office, rather than a coworking space), there’s simply no reason to buy-in to traditional land lines anymore.  Solutions like Google Voice or VOIP services will save you tons of money without compromising your overall service.

Now, with all of that said, I do want to make it clear that there are some areas where I don’t think you should look to save money at all costs.  The following three expenses are ones that I believe every small business owner should prioritize – regardless of how young, old, successful or financially devastated the company is.

Expense #1 – Legal Advice

When you’re starting out, find a good lawyer who specializes in your business’s area of expertise and pay for the advice you need to keep everything kosher.  There are plenty of things you can do to save money on legal expenses (for example, doing some of your own background research or filling out documents yourself), but the financial implications of failing to start out on the right legal foot can be enough to tank your company down the road.  Don’t skimp when it comes to good legal advice!

Expense #2 – Financial Advice

The same thing goes for anybody who’s handling your money.  While you can save money hiring a cloud-based bookkeeper rather than a staff clerk, don’t mess around with cheap advice when it comes to major financial planning issues.  Having a qualified accountant or tax attorney assist with setting up your books, advising you on potential tax saving strategies or determining your long range financial plan will be well worth any upfront costs.

Expense #3 – Taxes

And finally, don’t think that you can save money by skipping out on your taxes!

When I was much younger, I used to be terrible about setting aside the money I knew I’d need to pay my taxes later on.  Instead, I’d reinvest it in my business – rationalizing that the increased growth would leave me with enough income later on to cover each April’s tax bill.  Of course, that never happened – and every year, I’d wind up scrambling yet again to come up with the money I owed to the government.

Don’t be like me!  Whenever your startup receives a payment, make sure that the appropriate amount is set aside in a separate account that won’t be touched until it’s tax time.  It takes discipline, but trust me – there’s nothing worse than that mid-April scramble to come up with more cash!






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What Happens When Farming Goes High-Tech?

Posted on May 29 2015 | Author: Admin

 

Soil maps, GPS guidance, and even drones are becoming critical tools for modern farmers. These methods of precision agriculture can help increase yields and efficiency—and save farmers a surprising sum along the way.

By 2050 we'll need to feed two billion more people. Click here for a special eight-month series exploring how we can do that—without overwhelming the planet:
http://food.nationalgeographic.com

Watch more Food by the Numbers videos:
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/foodbynumbers/#.VWiwP2bOUoss

Click here to view original video






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Food Fax Edition Part 1 of 4: Caught Out

Posted on May 06 2015 | Author: Admin

The theme for the 2015 Food Fax series is "Caught Out", an examination of the practice of food adulteration for economic advantage.  The first issue introduces the issue and how reputable members of the food industry are systematically dealing with the issue.  The three subsequent editions of Food Fax 2015 will examine:  the changing role of the regulator as food fraudulence becomes more prevalent; how primary agriculture has become associated with global human trafficking;  and how inferior ingredients pose food safety hazards.

“The man who took chalk out of bread”
Prior to his passing last year, Professor John Postgate, a renowned figure in the field of sulphate- reducing bacteria, wrote a biography of his great- grandfather (his namesake) entitled Lethal Lozenges and Tainted Tea which recounts the fatal effects of adulterated food and drugs of 18th and 19th Century Britain, and the financial sacrifices, perseverance and political will undertaken by Postgate and two colleagues - Hassall and Accum - to bring Britain’s Sale of Food & Drugs Act of 1875 into being. Legislators relied on smell, taste, feel and appearance until a published paper showed that a new invention - the microscope – revealed chicory, roasted corn, ground acorns, bean flour and crushed mangelwurzel in coffee. They were on to something.

Mold, Meat and Misleading in the USA
The USA’s Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906 was a direct response to Upton Sinclair’s book, The Jungle, written to expose the hardship of immigrant life but also revealed unsanitary conditions in the USA’s meat packing industry. Widespread deaths from an adulterated elixir led the US Congress to enact the Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1938, expanded to include the oversight of Food Additives in 1958. In 1962, the partner to adulteration, misleading, was first legally curtailed, when Congress required drug manufacturers to provide scientific evidence that their offerings were not only safe, but effective as well.

When Canada was a province
Sections 15-22 of The Statutes of the Province of Canada and the Dominion of Canada and Ontario (1876) deal with the “penalty on persons mixing deleterious articles with food” (first offence, $100 fine; second offence, six months imprisonment with hard labour), and “offering articles so mixed for sale” ($100 and $200 fine, for first and second offences, in turn). As well, the analytical costs related to the conviction were levied. In 1919, a federal Department of Health was formed, followed by the introduction of Canada’s Food and Drugs Act in 1920. Subsequent to the thalidomide tragedy of the 1960’s, drug efficacy was subjected to regulator review, in addition to safety.

Plus ça change
Economically-motivated food adulteration is more prevalent today than ever previously recorded. As food science matures and technology becomes more precise, paradoxically, opportunities for fraudulence to gain an economic advantage have increased. The Rockland, MD-based USP (U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention), who purchased the Food Chemicals Codex in 2008, published a Food Fraud Database in 2012. Recordkeeping, analytical skills, and stakeholder collaboration have identified the foods most susceptible to being passed off¹:

Most prone to clone Some whys and wherefores
Olive Oil Dilution with inferior oils; natural forces curtail supply, leading to price increases; buyers are motivated.
Fish and Seafood Higher-priced varieties replaced by those of lesser value
Milk and Milk Ingredients Milk from cows adulterated with milk from sheep, buffalo, and goat antelope and with reconstituted milk powder, urea, rennet, and other food and nonfood products.
Natural Sweetening Agents such as Honey and Maple Syrup Colour, sweetness, and viscosity can be mimicked; honey: rising prices due to Colony Collapse Disorder
Saffron To the world's most expensive spice has been added: glycerin, tartrazine, sandalwood dust, barium sulphate, and borax
Expensive Fruit Juices

Such as pomegranate, diluted with apple juice

Coffee See second paragraph!

¹Mermelstein N. 2015. Fighting Food Fraud. Food Technology. Vol. 69 No. 3.

What the Food Industry is Doing
The naysayers abound, as surely as they did when Sinclair published The Jungle. Yet, reputable members of the food industry refuse to be smeared by crooks. The USP has published Guidance on Food Fraud Mitigation, a framework, matrix and flowchart to assist all members of the food industry to fend off food shikesters of every description.

Carol T. Culhane, PHEc, MBA
President, International Food Focus Ltd.
Bioenterprise Regulatory Advisor
 






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6 Steps to Becoming a Successful Student Entrepreneur (Infographic)

Posted on May 05 2015 | Author: Admin

Bill Gates. Mark Zuckerberg. Larry Page. Sergey Brin. They share more than a few enviable accomplishments. They’re billionaires, they made their fortunes in tech and they started their businesses while they were still students. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re seriously smart cookies.

However you slice it, they’re all living proof that you don’t have to wait until after graduation to launch your own business. And, as was the case for Gates and Zuckerberg, you might not have to graduate at all (though, to be clear, we’re not advocating for dropping out).  

If you’re considering becoming a student entrepreneur, just like any other endeavor you undertake, you should have a clear plan -- not like a half-assed term paper hobbled together the night before it’s due. Researching the steps needed to successfully bootstrap a business from your dorm room is key.

Here's a six-step snapshot of the basics of starting up. At first glance, it looks easy, but, as many student entrepreneurs will attest, it's very challenging, especially while juggling a course load and keggers:

  1. Evaluate your business skills, knowledge and goals.
  2. Find the business idea that suits you best.
  3. Research your competitors (and prepare to crush them).
  4. Make a stellar business plan.
  5. Seek out a helpful mentor.
  6. Register your business, open up shop and rock it.

Luckily the people behind the U.K.-based Westminster Bridge Student Accommodation and Urbanest Student Accommodation have neatly packed specific, actionable instructions pertaining to each of the above steps into the helpful infographic below. We couldn’t help but notice that a good chunk of the information visualized within it hails from our very own wordsmiths, right here at Entrepreneur.com.    

From inception to launch, here’s how to startup while you’re still a student. Good luck!

By Kim Lachance Shandrow, Senior Writer Entrepreneur.com






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Becoming an Ag Entrepreneur

Posted on April 22 2015 | Author: Admin

Today’s agriculture isn’t your grandmother’s agriculture.  While we still till the soil and practice animal husbandry, we do it in wonderful ways that past generations could never imagine.  From lasers to GPS to genomics to drones, agriculture has become a hotbed of innovation.

And ag-innovation is no longer the exclusive domain of the major multinational companies. Farmers and non-farmers alike are dipping their toes into the ag-innovative pool with an endless supply of novel ideas. But the journey from creating an idea, to converting that into an actual product or service, and then moving that through to market can be daunting. Fortunately budding entrepreneurs don’t have to take that journey alone.

There are a number of ag organizations available to help aspiring entrepreneurs turn ideas into commercially successful products, or where necessary, offer a bit of tough love. One with which I have worked closely for almost 10 years is Bioenterprise Corporation (www.bioenterprise.ca) located in Guelph. Bioenterprise is a not-for-profit centre whose sole purpose is to foster innovation in the agri-business sector* across Canada. Their team of agribusiness professionals provides entrepreneurs with early stage feedback on the validly of their business idea, areas that need continued work, and help to fill in the gaps.

Here’s how it typically works. At Bioenterprise, if a business concept looks interesting and passes the initial evaluation phase, prospects are invited to expose their idea to an Entrepreneur’s Reality Check, a sort of friendly Dragon’s Den.  Here, a group of senior industry experts will apply their skills and experience to give entrepreneurs a deeper evaluation based on the specific dynamics of the industry they plan to enter. The Reality Check gives entrepreneurs direct access to industry-specific professionals that they would otherwise have little chance of meeting.

If the idea passes the Reality Check, the entrepreneur can continue working with Bioenterprise staff to receive help with writing patents, building a business plan, assembling financial forecasts, conducting market research, and of course, finding sources of seed money. The best part is that there is only a nominal cost for all these services, in the range of $300 per month. You’d do well to get two hours of a consultant’s time for that kind of money.

But how do you know if your business idea is even worth giving Bioenterprise a call?  Too often we fall in love with our own ideas, especially if well-meaning friends and family provide encouragement. Although their intentions may be genuine, rarely are these the best sources to ask for an evaluation of whether you should devote the next few years of your life and much of your savings to your innovation.

However, after working with dozen of ag entrepreneurs over the past 10 years, I have found six simple questions which, if answered honestly,  can provide entrepreneurs with a good initial self-evaluation of whether their innovation is ready for the big stage.

1. Does my invention work?
And more importantly, can I prove it using industry recognized standards? The more third party data you can generate to prove your product delivers its claims, the better. If you can’t prove to the satisfaction of industry professionals that your product works, there is no need to even consider the next 5 questions. As the saying goes, “Without data, you’re just another guy with an opinion”.

2. Can my invention be protected?
That is, can my invention be patented, or is there some other form of intellectual property protection that can be used to keep competitors at bay. If it cannot be protected, it will be copied. And without protection, you can forget about enticing a major company to ever make you an offer. Along the same line, an often neglected question is whether you have Freedom to Operate. In other words, are you sure you are not infringing on someone else’s patent? Many entrepreneurs forget to check this, only to have the rug pulled from under their feet after they have invested a large chunk of their savings.

3. Can I register my invention?
Although not necessary with all products, many areas of agriculture are highly regulated. Do you know how your invention will be regulated, what government agencies will be involved, and whether you will be able to satisfy their questions? Some products, such as pesticides, food additives, or nutraceuticals can be very difficult to register and can cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some technologies may not be registerable at all.

4. Can I Manufacture my Invention?
Making a prototype in your workshop is far different than scaling up into mass production. Do you have the expertise and capital resources to construct a modern manufacturing facility? Are the raw materials readily available, and will the raw material suppliers sell to you? It is not uncommon for competitors to have exclusive contracts with suppliers of specialized raw materials to keep others out of the industry.

5. Will I have Customers?
What makes me believe that customers will switch from what they have been using for years and adopt my product? And how will I reach those customers? Distribution tends to be one of the most difficult steps for entrepreneurs. The best distributors tend to be tied up with the best suppliers, and may be unwilling to carry your product if it could put that larger relationship at risk. And if your product is destined for the mass retail market, such as a novel food, gaining shelf space with one of the major food companies can be daunting task.

6. Will I Make a Profit?
After investing all my time, energy and money into this venture, will the returns be worthwhile? Entrepreneurs often over-estimate the market share they can obtain and underestimate the total cost to bring an invention to market. Unless you have previous experience, you may be surprised by the cost of patent protection, regulatory compliance, third-party research, and marketing. Building an early relationship with your accountant can help avoid nasty surprises along the way.

It isn’t necessary to have full answers to all six questions right away, but eventually each will need to be addressed. In my opinion the first question, “Does my invention work?” is the most important. If you can honestly say that you have invented something new and useful and can prove it works, it may be time to engage the professional help available at organizations like Bioenterprise and become one of Canada’s next successful ag entrepreneurs.

*Agri-business Sectors serviced by Bioenterprise

Agri-Based Life Sciences Food
Agri-Based Health Food Ingredients
Ag Management Tools Functional Foods
Animal Science Growth Stimulants
Aquaculture Nutraceuticals
Agri-forestry Organics
Bio-Energy, Bio-fuels Pest Control
Bio-Materials Water Management
Cleantech Software (ag)
Crop Science Waste Management
Equipment Technology Crop and Seed Varieties
Fertilizer, Nutrients  

 

Warren Libby
Chairperson, Bioenterprise Board of Directors
         






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The Importance of Languages in Business

Posted on February 25 2015 | Author: Admin

If you’re thinking about broadening your spectrum by engaging in international business, it’s important to consider which languages will be most frequently used for interactions with other businesses, clients and customers. Of course, most places around the world have large English-speaking communities and for the most part, English is used by professionals from all over the globe. You may be considering the idea that, knowledge of another language is not needed or not worth the time and effort it takes to learn. After all, why should you bother having multi-lingual employees when English is commonly the default language for communication? There are considerably large benefits to second language use that are invariably overlooked.

 

The foremost reason is respect. Believe it or not, even if your skills are a little rusty, people appreciate the effort. Showing a willingness to use another language even if you make mistakes demonstrates your confidence, dedication and willingness to connect – traits that are important for all entrepreneurs. Speaking another language not only helps with first impressions, but eases communication with business partners. Having both parties able to communicate in more than one language is ideal, as it can lead to a deeper understanding and thereby aid in a smooth transition from a national to international market. In this fashion, languages help with foreign affairs, correspondence with governments and institutions, and essentially any and all international exchanges. There is a growing demand for multi-lingual individuals as the global market expands, and the world becomes smaller.

 

If you or your business can be officially labeled as multi-lingual, you will find that more doors are open to you. With increased means of communication, you become more accessible to overseas markets that may have previously been unavailable to you, and can signal boost to reach a more extensive range of markets. Furthermore, you have the potential to access new sources of funding and sponsorship and can provide better services to clients.

 

Translators / communication platforms
One who is not already convinced on the importance of multi-lingualism, might say they have the use of electronic translators. These devices may be available at every turn in today’s society—apps on smartphones, computers and laptops, tablets and iPads, but unfortunately they are incorrect most of the time. Sure they can get the general idea across, but can you afford to blur the lines in your meetings and discussions? Electronic translators are inconveniently slow, do not understand acronyms, slang, jokes, and most importantly dialects. Having a real person translating and interpreting for you is much more personal, and accurate, and even better if you can do it yourself!

 

Cross-cultural communication
Cross-cultural communication is an important aspect of international business that should not be looked upon lightly. There are many customs, gestures and signals that elude the less-traveled individual, which can lead to inconvenient and embarrassing misunderstandings. The last thing you want to do is strain relationships based on cultural miscommunications, but fear not! When you can speak a mutual language or two, it is much easier to explain your actions, discuss foreign customs and clear any confusion and misinterpretations. Here are a few gestures that may be unknown to you:

 

Eye Contact
In some African countries, it is considered insulting to make eye contact with your superiors. In contrast, Arab cultures see eye contact as very important and it is often constant. The same can be said for Brazil, where people look into one another’s eyes much longer than in North America, as they view the eyes as mirrors of the soul and see this as a way to get to know a person.

 

Finger beckoning
In North America, beckoning your finger at someone means ‘come here’, but in Malaysia it has an effect of ‘come here animal’. In Indonesia and Australia, it is used to call inferiors, and is an insult. Additionally, in North America the “okay” hand sign means everything is alright. Do that gesture in France, Australia or Islamic countries and it’s a great insult meaning zero, or worthless. Another commonly unknown gesture is the North American ‘halt’. In Iraq, putting your hand out in front of you with your palm facing outwards means hello.

 

Handing out Business Cards
In Hong-Kong, Singapore or Japan, when someone hands you his/her business card, they will do so with both hands. You have to receive it in both hands, look at it, acknowledge it and then put it into your pocket. Otherwise, it is considered quite rude. Whatever you do, don’t write on a business card in front of the person that gave it to you!

 

Yes and no
In many countries the nod forward is the symbol for ‘yes’. In Bulgaria, Pakistan and India you shake your head back and forth to say ‘yes’, the way North Americans and many Europeans say ‘No’. In Greece, ‘No’ is represented by shaking your head briefly backward and a mild tongue-clicking.

There are hundred of customs that could get you into trouble, be it manners, body language, verbal queues, forms of politeness, or attire. Do plenty of research before traveling!

 

Fun Facts

  • Canada's French-speaking population ranks second only to that of France worldwide. It is larger than the Francophone populations of Switzerland and Belgium combined.

  • The number of French-speaking Canadians living outside of Quebec is equivalent to that of entire provinces such as Saskatchewan, New Brunswick or Nova Scotia.

  • Almost one Canadian in four has French as a mother tongue and close to one Canadian in three speaks French.

  • 1.6 million of Canada's French-speaking population have an ancestry other than French or English.

  • According to the Linguistic society of America, there are between 6900 – 7000 languages spoken worldwide.

  • Not surprisingly, Mandarin Chinese is the most useful language for business after English, spoken by 845 million people in the world's second-largest economy, China. French is no. 2 and Arabic No. 3.

  • Studies from Rosetta Stone have shown that bilingual employees earn on average 10% more in their salary than those that are monolingual.

 

It is no question that business and language compliment each other. More and more, businesses are beginning to require language to be successful. The end result is that you can only benefit from learning and using a second, third or fourth language. Convinced? Read more from the Government of Canada on Making your Organization Bilingual.

“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” - Ludwig Wittgenstein

 

Natalya Smardon
Junior Marketing & Projects Coordinator

Resources:
ABC News
The Linguistic Society of America






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Marketing in a Browsing Society (3 of 4)

Posted on October 27 2014 | Author: Admin

The 4 p's of marketing
This third edition of Food Fax 2014 delves into the effect of the Internet on “price”, one of the four p’s of the Marketing Mix, which collectively are place, product, price, promotion.

Three Big Hits on the Pocketbook
Consistent with previous findings, Statistics Canada’s most recent Survey of Household Spending (2012 data, released 2014) identifies the major costs effecting Canadian households: shelter (28.1%), transportation (19.9%) and food (13.8%).

Shelter and Real Estate Data Gaps
The Internet has not exerted any downward pressure on housing costs in Canada. The International Monetary Fund warns that Canada has the most overvalued housing market in the world. Low mortgage rates since 2008, which have spurred demand and inflated prices, is only one factor. Real estate boards closely hold critical, raw, property data, such that banks, governments and consumers have access only to the data the boards choose to release. In 2013, the Competition Bureau sued the TREB (Toronto Real Estate Board) as to this anti- competitive behaviour, and lost on a technicality. The court ruled that TREB was inaptly cited under section 79 of the Competition Act, rather than section 90 which deals with trade associations (even though they do not have competitors per se). The issue continues to simmer; the Huffington Post recently published a series on real estate data gaps.

Transportation and Transparency
At 2 people per sq. km, Canada has one of the lowest population densities on the planet, resulting in hefty long-distance phone bills and disproportionate transportation expenses. Transparency of dealer costs is on call at sites such as CarCostCanada.com and Unhaggle.com. However, a prospective buyer may need to adjust their expectations. As Cars.Cost Helper in the USA forewarns, demand can outstrip supply in specific regions - such as Toyota’s Prius® in the States of California and Massachusetts - allowing the dealer to close at the MSRP or higher.

Food: Small Ticket, Big Purchase
While the ticket price may be small, the collective impact is significant. In its most recent estimate (May 2013), the USDA estimated the monthly moderate-cost food budget for a family of four to be US$750 (excluding foodservice). The same family unit in Canada has a monthly expenditure of C$680 (Statistics Canada, 2012 data published 2014) on grocery food and C$240 on foodservice purchases.

In Canada, all the major grocers publish their flyers online, allowing the same compare-and-shop as the hardcopy version. Loblaw's Weekly Flyer can be matched to your neighbourhood store; Sobey's aggressively blocks entry to their website until a drop-down registration form to receive an electronic weekly flyer is either completed or declined. While there are currently no formal studies which confirm that the Internet has resulted in lower food prices, in the USA, CompareGroceryPrices.org has made an attempt to achieve just that. The upstart lists the prices of select foods as sold at Aldi’s®, Trader Joe’s®, Kroger® and Publix®, and encourages users to suggest new products and additional stores.

Big Mac Index & Interactive Currency
Burgernomics was created by The Economist in 1986 as a lighthearted way to quickly determine if exchange currencies are correct, and to make exchange-rate theory “more digestible”.
“... the Big Mac Index has become a global standard, included in several economic textbooks and the subject of at least 20 academic studies. For those who take their fast food more seriously, we have also calculated a gourmet version of the index.”

As of July 2014, against the Euro, the C$ was over- valued by 6.0%, and the US$ was under-valued by 3.2%. While The Big Mac Index has many critics, its supporters maintain it some legitimacy. When the Euro was first launched in 1999, its over-valuation was correctly reported by The Big Mac Index. Regardless, Burgernomics continues to entertain professional and armchair economists, online.

Carol T. Culhane, PHEc, MBA
President, International Food Focus Ltd.
Bioenterprise Regulatory Advisor
 

 






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Marketing in a Browsing Society (2 of 4)

Posted on September 25 2014 | Author: Admin

The 4 p’s of marketing
This second edition of Food Fax 2014 delves into the effect of the Internet on “product”, one of the four p’s of the Marketing Mix, which collectively are place, product, price, promotion. The review begins with a commentary on the Internet itself as a product and a service.

NET Neutrality
Recently, several stakeholders have united to ensure equal access to the Internet by every person with an online hookup, so as to maintain the ‘Net as the information gateway, data pool and socio- economic leveler it has become. The basic premise holds that the WWW must not be deliberately filtered or withheld by any one government, corporation, NGO or individual. In April, Brazil hosted an internet governance conference, NETMundial, attended by 1200+ delegates from a cross-section of the globe, to achieve two goals: assessment of the equality of the Internet’s accessibility, and, delineated action to either return to a state of universal fairness or secure it for the future. The general consensus reveals that stakeholders are satisfied with the current level of global access, however, intervention is needed to retain neutrality from this point forward. One journalist summed up the concluding sentiment with a quote from di Lampedusa’s classic novel The Leopard “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change”.

Food E-vangelists
Corporations have had to relinquish a degree of brand ownership and control to consumers, who through social media, can dictate product composition. Ingredient statements come under scrutiny at the site www.whatsinthisstuff.com. Teenager-cum-food critic Sarah Kavanagh has mounted successful online campaigns to remove – to name a few – brominated vegetable oil from PoweradeTM (Coca-Cola) and GatoradeTM (Pepsico) as well as the dough proofer azodicarbonamide from Subway’sTM buns.

For every cloud...
It’s not all downside. Both local and global mandate products can now profitably penetrate niche markets, owing to an online presence and IT.

...there is a silver lining
Any recall of clouds’ illusions is quickly resolved in the Financial Times’ instructive Understanding Cloud Computing, the forerunner to an article specific to product development Power to the People on Product Design [©The Financial Times Limited 2014].

FT concludes that today’s winning and innovative manufacturer will use cloud technology to locate, validate and define niche markets, then, create an infrastructure to service heretofore economically- prohibitive or remote segments, chiefly through R&D cost reduction and flexible manufacturing.

“chocolate made with cloud” ©Lindt Ltd.
The Economist is not where one would expect to find a full-page ad for chocolates, claiming “now Lindt can deliver custom chocolates to consumers anywhere in the [UK, US, etc.]”. This new LindtTM- IBMTM joint venture, more commonly promoted through you tube videos and business commentary, features customization and scale as a dynamic duo, and credits the cloud for tripled chocolate sales volume from mobile devices alone. In another application, cloud technology can enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of food safety programs. Cloud-based food safety management systems integrates several platforms (HACCP, BRC, FSMA, etc.) and can instantly produce traceability records.

“On cloud nine” has taken on a new meaning in the 21st Century.

Carol T. Culhane, PHEc, MBA
President, International Food Focus Ltd.
Bioenterprise Regulatory Advisor






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Sustainable Growth

Posted on August 16 2014 | Author: Admin

High Growth. Record Sales. Revenue Upswing. All of these terms have high appeal to the average investor and are indicative of successful business execution. Yet, there is a downfall to the excess, especially for companies with significant production restraints. The sustainable growth ratio helps paint an accurate picture of financial health through the inclusion of the following components:

Equation Equation Composition Ideal Level
The Dividend Payout Ratio (Dividends/Net Income) Low
The Profit Margin (Net Income/Total Sales) High
The Leverage Ratio (Total Liabilities/Total Equity) Low
The Asset Turnover Ratio (Total Sales/Total Assets) High

 

The asset turnover ratio displays the efficiency of a company. This highlights sustainable growth since abnormal levels of sales could lead to additional investments in assets leading to a reduction in the turnover ratio.

The profit margin is the self explanatory, standard indicator for financial health by displaying the amount generated after net revenues and costs have been accounted for.

The dividend payout ratio displays the amount of profits reinvested in the company. Reinvested cash will lead to more sustainable growth due to the enhanced ability to finance asset purchases internally therefore cutting cost

The leverage ratio displays the level of risk regarding the company’s financial structure. The greater the liabilities (debt) will lead to more interest that will be paid annually. Yet with equity, there is no associated expenses therefore being a more attractive commodity for investors and company growth

In conclusion, the sustainable growth ratio is intrinsically related with a company’s investment in future projects and its ability to manage debt and interest effectively while increasing profitability. It is an important tool that can prove beneficial for any company analysis.

Paulo Mendes
Junior Financial Analyst Intern

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Marketing in a Browsing Society (Part 1 of 4)

Posted on March 28 2014 | Author: Admin

The 4 p’s of marketing
The four p’s of marketing are as fundamental to the practice as are basic accounting principles to the discipline of finance. Also known as the “marketing mix”, the 4 p’s of marketing are familiar to those with formal marketing training, yet tend to be relatively unknown amongst practitioners in other fields of business.

Place Product Price Promotion


First conceived in the 1960’s by academic Jerome E. McCarthy, the 4 p's of the marketing mix have been known to swell to eight in number and more, with suggested candidates such as people, policy, processes, programs, patrons, performance and even politics. However, after scrutiny, debate and evaluation, the academicians and more skilled practitioners concur that any additional p’s are truly subsets of one of the original “fab four”. The experts further conclude that the addition of more p’s to the marketing mix would obscure the four-way dynamic and interconnected synergy that is the aim and prospect of a well-designed marketing mix. Similar to the four essentials of a shelter - foundation, roof, side and entrance – each of the 4 p’s has a distinct composition, requiring quality material and skilled workmanship to function at full potential.

Composition of the four cornerstones
A detailed look reveals the independence as well as interconnectedness of each p, as follows: Place: location (region or nation? urban or rural? concrete or virtual? a retail lease on main street or in a mall?); competitors; regulations; distribution; customers; consumers; population density; climate. Product: composition; brand name; quality; after-sales service; packaging; site or country of manufacture. Price: costs; revenue; profit margin; breakeven; taxes. Promotion: personal selling: in-store salesperson, commercial sales representative, online sales; sales promotion: trial offer; introductory or competitive price discounts; public relations: press coverage, social media, community involvement; advertising: website; commercials; brochures.

Which p is the hardest to change?
The 4 p’s and the marketing mix are not exclusive to business. Public sector entities, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, associations and NGO’s all have the 4 p’s, knowingly or not. When refined, the marketing mix works like a four-sided, multi-pronged tool, modified and fine-tuned to suit the needs at hand.

The mantra of “location, location, location” is an expression of this fact. Get it right, and the overall mandate is easier to deliver. If out of sync, the other 3 p’s are compromised; disproportionate resources and efforts are expended to balance the mix.

The hardest p to change, is that which continues to change most rapidly
In a browsing society, by necessity, each p of the marketing mix has a virtual online presence, either with or without a concrete, bricks-and-mortar equivalent. While place is the hardest p to change, every organization faces a virtual place in either a state of flux or perpetual re-creation. Prices can be quickly compared – and changed; product manuals are posted or downloadable; websites are, as has come to be expected, a 24/7 salesforce; online point-of-sale is becoming increasingly commonplace.

Some food industry virtual statistics
Stats Canada reports that 18% of internet users regularly buy groceries online, twice the 2010 statistic.  Online wine and beer sales in Canada and liquor sales in the USA are thriving. A UK online grocery guru predicts the tipping point – online versus store – will occur when online prices are discount to those in-store. If so, convenience stores are anticipated to boom as the source of mid-cycle replenishment while conventional grocer outlets will diminish.

Carol T. Culhane, PHEc, MBA
President, International Food Focus Ltd.
Bioenterprise Regulatory Advisor






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Five Steps to Crafting Your Value Proposition

Posted on February 26 2014 | Author: Admin

The term Value Proposition (VP) is commonly used, and commonly misunderstood. The common definition you will come across sounds something like this one from MaRS Discovery District’s “Value Proposition” article:

“A product’s value proposition is a statement of the functional, emotional and self-expressive benefits delivered by the brand that provide value to the target customer.”

While that certainly explains the components of a VP, it fails to capture the real essence of the term. I like to cut to the chase, which means small, simple words – and as few of them as possible! The VP definition I use:

“A VP is a statement that identifies; a market problem, the person (or business) that has that problem, and your unique solution to that problem.”

When crafting a value proposition there are many things to consider – the following list should help you better define your unique VP:

1. Know your customer!
You can’t be all things to all people. Who is your customer – they need to be clearly identified in your VP. Some products have several separate market segments or stakeholders, defining your VP for each is important.

2. Clearly understand the problem your customer has.
For the most part, people buy products and services to save time, save money, or make their lives easier. All of these motivations have a “problem” that can be identified.

3. Connect your unique solution directly to the problem.
You might have created the widget to rule all widgets, but if you can’t articulate the problem it solves then it’s going to be hard to sell, and even harder to get anyone to invest in it! Tell the reader how your solution makes their life easier/better/faster/cheaper.

4. Tell your customer why your solution is better.
In the world of technology there are often a bunch of startups vying for the same space in the market. This makes it exceedingly important to showcase the benefits of your product/service. Now that you’ve told us what you do, tell us why that’s the best way to do it!

Remember, even if you’re the first to market you have one big, hairy, competitor: the status quo. Your customers are used to doing something the way they have always done it, and you can’t expect them buy something just because you built it.

5. Keep it simple.
Your VP is NOT a technical description. It’s also not a vision statement, mission statement, or witty tag line.  

Keep it simple, tell us who you are, what you do, why you do it, and how you do it better. Nothing less, nothing more.

In closing, here’s an example of a VP that I believe is effective. It comes from 360 Incentives, a rapidly growing SaaS company based out of Whitby, ON.  It’s clear, concise, and to the point. It outlines what 360 does, who they do it for, how they do it, and why they do it better. Check it out below, then see how your VP stacks up!


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Braden Kemp
Manager, Business Acceleration Services
Spark Centre






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Innovation and Commercialization Part 4 of 4

Posted on December 17 2013 | Author: Admin

Regulations - a Trajectory
Addressing a Life Sciences Ontario audience recently, Cameron Piron, CEO, Synaptive Medical (2nd start-up venture for this 30-something Canadian, having sold his first company for $85M+) summed up the regulatory barriers which impact on his solution-focused medical devices (used by 18/20 of the top US Cancer Centers):

  • Bar constantly changing as technology and market changes
  • No world-wide synchronization
  • Regulatory environment moves opposite to innovation - understandable

He gets it – understandably. All life science legislation must be scientifically sound.  Regulations lag behind the laboratory, leveling the playing field.

The Anomaly of Organic Food
UK organic food regulations became law in 1987, a decade before the dormant sector erupted.  The basis of all organic food trade today, the UK organic food regs stem from guidelines and standards set in 1967 by an NGO, the UK Soil Association.  Two major forces in the 1990’s dramatically reduced UK consumer confidence in conventional farming:  the launch of genetically-modified food, closely followed by an unrelated outbreak of BSE disease in UK cattle. The organic food sector thrived due to pre-existent regs.  Two supply factors curtailed growth: inadequate volume, due to a mandatory 3-5 year washout period of conventionally-fertilized soil, and, no federal organic food regs in other nations – required to claim imported food as organic in UK/EU markets.  The current Cda and USA organic regs pleaded for by North American stakeholders has facilitated exports and spurred domestic demand. 

The Canadian Organic Food Sector totaled $3.5B in 2012, triple the 2006 value. The American Organic Food Sector grew 11% Y/Y in 2012 to US$28B.  A life science? Innovation? A life science sector kept unto itself, organic food lacks the distinctive mark – industry turmoil without new market creation – of disruptive innovation.  It is part radical innovation in that only a portion of conventional food has been displaced.  However, worth watching, one study claims organic agriculture can indeed feed the world.

Water Quality, Fracking, Due Diligence
Some methods of extracting gas from the earth’s crust significantly contribute to the carbon footprint.  Separately, farmers are concerned about water supply, quality and cost. An innovation, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), accesses subterranean gas with much less carbon generation but may contaminate the water table. Accordingly, at least two fracking proposals in Canada’s eastern provinces have been stalled, due to citizen resistance and East Coast wit.

Younger concedes that the US approach has been one of trial and error. It remains to be seen if fracking can meet his description, and if regulatory control can render fracking economically feasible and environmentally safe, inclusive of water quality.

Motor Power Enters the Streets of London - Call for Regulations  23 August 1913, The Tablet
The application of motor power to vehicles has revolutionized the traffic of London, and with the growth of it the danger to life and limb has also shown a proportionate increase. […] a Select Committee was appointed to inquire into the problem and recommend means for ensuring the safety, especially, of foot passengers in the streets. […]  in 1907 there were 3, 866 horse cabs and 5, 952 hansoms licensed.  There are now only 2, 385 of the two together.  In 1907 there were 2, 961 horse omnibuses and tramcars and 2, 973 electric trams and motor omnibuses.  The last horse bus has now run its last journey through the City.  

In 1912, there were 5, 767 electric trams and motor omnibuses, and the smaller powered vehicles included 8,000 motor cabs…Among the minor recommendations or suggestions are the following:  Tramcars and omnibuses alike should have speed registers; all driving offences should be endorsed on the license; motor horns should be of a standard type; dazzling head-lamps in lighted streets should be prohibited; all slow vehicles should keep to the kerb; unsound vehicles should be prohibited in the streets.  Upon one point the recommendations have been keenly criticized, that which gives the control of traffic, routes, time-tables, and the number of stage carriages to be used, to the County Councils.

Carol T. Culhane, PHEc, MBA
President, International Food Focus Ltd.
Bioenterprise Regulatory Advisor






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Innovation and Commercialization Part 3 of 4

Posted on September 27 2013 | Author: Admin

Game-Changers... Same Market or New?
Innovation may be classified as radical, disruptive or incremental.  Radical innovation is invasive. It establishes its own new market and sends incumbent markets into history books.  The automobile displaced the horse and carriage.  Disruptive innovation is one which causes turmoil in an industry, but does not create new markets. As to if smartphones are a disruptive innovation over cellphones depends on whether a new market for hand-held communication devices was created with the smartphone launch.  Both radical and disruptive innovations are game-changers. On-line shopping has certainly been a game-changer in the retail sector.  Has it created new markets (radical) or simply caused turmoil (disruptive)?

How Next Happens
Incremental innovation is how ‘next’ happens. Defined as “an improvement in the cost or functionality of an existing product in an existing market”, a BI Norwegian School of Management Thesis  concluded that “most progress in society is achieved through incremental innovation, which is far more frequent and economically predictable than radical innovation”.  Two car-based examples are the GPS and IPAS (Intelligent Parking Assist System), standard new features on several car brands.  Both were first launched as a personal-car feature 10 years ago, yet only recently matured to a technologically-dependable and cost-effective proposition.  Neither feature is radical (no expansion or displacement in the personal car market).  Are these features disruptive to the automotive sector?  Would a driver examiner permit use of an IPAS during the parallel-parking portion of a driver’s test? If so, is this fair to those without access to an IPAS? The topic would become a moot point should all cars eventually include an IPAS, in which case correct operation could be an evaluation point.  Is a GPS a hazardous distraction from a driver’s attention?  Or, will GPS-equipped cars net on the upside? - due to less time being lost, ability to schedule travel time, less need to frantically confirm the name of a street, more timely arrivals, etc.  As society decides these matters, any market upheaval is a consequence.

Getting to Next
“I don’t see much new here” sighed the trade-show attendee, an IT expert on the fringe of the food industry.  On the surface, an accurate observation.  However, the IFT Innovation Awards Committee evaluated 62 entries, many of which could be described as incremental:  a more soluble, true-salt-flavour sodium replacement; a sanitization system which greatly reduces water and energy usage; an edible gold glitter. Incremental innovation moves in increments (if at all) and is a timely process.  In addition to taxing the patience and resources of the entrepreneur, a willing and engaged consumer is mandatory, to shed a bit of the customary methods so as to make way for, and embrace, the new.

A Course for Improvers
The 1000-year old Buckfast Abbey in Devon, England offers bee-keeping courses to serve three levels of apiarists, or honey farmers: beginners, one-day workshops and… improvers! There is no mention of ‘advanced’ courses here or a place for those who may describe themselves as such.  The Buckfast history provides clues to this choice of words, as the pages are peppered with “drastic change” “immediate and fundamental transformation” and “rebuild” interspersed with long periods of calm and civil livelihood.  Centuries of experience has allowed the apiarists to recognize and value the counterpoint activity of continuous improvement, and the factors which foster it.

An Enduring Example
One of the world’s leading companies in the frozen food sector is “Newlyweds”.  In 1932, a founder created a smash success when he layered ice cream onto a sheet cake and rolled the two into a frozen pinwheel.  The company was re-named “newlywed”, having newly married cake and ice cream. Today, the company owes its success to having “consistently invested in infrastructure, human resources and capacity”.

Carol T. Culhane, PHEc, MBA
President, International Food Focus Ltd.
Bioenterprise Regulatory Advisor






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Dissecting Storytelling

Posted on July 25 2013 | Author: Admin

A smile is never just a smile. And a story never just tells us something. It’s loaded...

Giving lessons
Storytelling is certainly used to tell us about events, but it’s mostly used to give “do this/don’t do this” lessons: Do not book the maiden voyage of anything. Do have an exit strategy – whether from a job you dislike or from your part in a foreign invasion.

Providing distraction
Storytelling can take you somewhere else: It was not just a power outage on a cold day. It was when the family curled up in front of the fireplace and bonded over their most embarrassing moments.

Teaching
Storytelling increases the likelihood of information retention (in the pre-iPad days anyway). Four minus three is one; it’s also how many cupcakes Jane has left if Dick ate three on the way to the store after a particularly fun stop at grandma’s house.

Controlling behaviour
Storytelling can easily and subtly let it be known what is/is not acceptable: Most religions have very heavy doctrines that are hard for followers to understand. Storytelling helps clearly depict what will happen when you err.

Gettin’ respect
Telling stories with a quiet, rolling drawl is generally the purview of weathered grandparents imparting wisdom. But it can be used to great effect by others to puff themselves up.

Entertaining
Have you ever whipped out your awesome hiking trip story during the awkward, “five-minute break” at a corporate meeting? High five! Hope it lightened the mood.

Selling
It’s not a razor – it’s a lifestyle choice. And it’s not pre-made chicken casserole. It’s love.

The art of storytelling is a valuable talent for those that have it, as it can influence all the above and ultimately affect and direct changes in both thought and behaviour.

By Stacey McCarthy at www.thelettermmarketing.com






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Fundraising Is A Means Not An End

Posted on July 05 2013 | Author: Admin

“All that glisters is not gold.” William Shakespeare, The Merchant Of Venice

For many entrepreneurs “raising money” has replaced “building a sustainable business” as their goal. That’s a big mistake. When you take money from investors their business model becomes yours.

One of my ex students came out to the ranch to give me an update on his startup. When I asked, “What are you working on?” the first words out of his mouth was his fund raising progress. Sigh… What I should have been hearing is the search for the business model, specifically the progress on product/market fit, but I hear the fund raising story first at least 90% of the time. It never makes me happy.

Entrepreneurs need to think about 1) when to raise money, 2) why to raise money and 3) who to take money from, 4) the consequences of raising money.

It all starts with understanding what a startup is.

What’s a Startup? Just as a reminder, a startup is a temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. It’s worth parsing this sentence:

  • Temporary Organization: The goal of a startup is not to remain a startup. The goal is to scale. (If you don’t have scale as a goal then you shouldn’t be raising money from angel or venture investors, you should be getting a commercial or government small business loan.)
  • Search. Although you believe your idea is the most brilliant innovation ever thought of, the odds are that you are wrong. If you raise millions of dollars on day one, simply executing the idea means you’re going to waste all those dollars attempting to scale a bad idea.
  • Repeatable: Startups may get orders that come from board members’ customer relationships or heroic, single-shot efforts of the CEO. These are great, but they are not repeatable by a sales organization. What you are searching for is not the one-off revenue hits but rather a repeatable pattern that can be replicated by a sales organization selling off a pricelist or by customers coming to your web site.
  • Scalable: The goal is not to get one customer but many – and to get those customers so each additional customer adds incremental revenue and profit. The test is: If you add one more sales person or spend more marketing dollars, does your sales revenue go up by more than your expenses?
  • Business model: A business model answers the basic questions about your entire business: Who are the customers? What problems do they want solved? Does our product or service solve a customer problem (product-market fit)? How do we attract, keep and grow customers? What are revenue strategy and pricing tactics? Who are the partners? What are the resources and activities needed to make this business happen? And what are its costs?

Who to take money from?
First, decide what type of startup you are. If you’re a lifestyle entrepreneur or a small business, odds are the return you can provide is not what traditional angel or venture investors are looking for. These types of startups are better suited to raising money from friends, family, commercial and government small business loans, etc.

If you’re a scalable startup, you want to spend small amounts of money (seed capital) as you run experiments testing your hypotheses. Why small amounts? No startup ever spends less then it raises. And at this early stage you’ll be giving up a larger percentage of your firm to investors. A seed round can come from friends, family, Kickstarter, angels – and most importantly, early customers.

These sources are a lot more forgiving of iterations and pivots than later-stage venture-capital funds.

When to raise money
In a Lean Startup, the goal is to preserve your cash until you find a repeatable and scalable business model. In times of unlimited cash (internet bubbles, frothy venture climates) you can fix your mistakes by burning more dollars. In normal times, when there aren’t dollars to undo mistakes, you use Customer Development to find product-market fit. It’s only after you have found product-market fit (value proposition – customer segment in the language of the business model canvas) that you spend like there is no tomorrow.

Don’t confuse “raising money” with “building a sustainable business.” In a perfect world, you would never need investors and would fund the company from customer revenue. But to achieve scale, startups need risk capital.

Raise as much money as you can after you have tangible evidence you have product/market fit, not before.

The consequences of raising venture money
The day you raise money from a venture investor, you’ve also just agreed to their business model.

Here’s a simple test: If you’re the founder of a startup, go to a whiteboard and diagram how a VC fund works. How do the fund and the partners make money? What is an IRR? How long is a fund’s life? How much will they invest in the life of your company? How much do they need to own at a liquidity event? What’s a win for them? Why?

There are two reasons to take venture money. The first is to scale like there is no tomorrow. You invest the dollars to create end-user demand and drive those customers into your sales channel.

The second is the experience, pattern recognition and contacts that great investors bring to the table.

Just make sure it’s the right time.

Lessons Learned

  • Fund raising is a means not an end
  • Preserve your cash until you find a repeatable and scalable business model
  • Focus on product – market fit
  • Run small experiments testing your hypotheses
  • Raise as much money as you can after you have tangible evidence you have product/market fit

By Steve Blank from www.forbes.com






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Innovation and Commercialization Part 2 of 4

Posted on June 27 2013 | Author: Admin

Create, Adopt or Adapt
Cultures evolve and are transformed by the curiosity and dedication of only a few individuals. Game-changing inventions – the type that alter lives and life-patterns forever – can be attributed to a finite number of people. The remaining members of society are either early adopters or adapters. An essential part of every product life cycle, early adopters are those who are first to use a new technology, buy the latest fashions, try a new flavour. Adapters emerge later, coerced into aligning with forces around them, either because adherence to methods of the past is awkward or obsolete.

The Psychology of Creativity
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – a “less well-known but probably one of the most serious management scholars of recent times” – in his widely-quoted thesis Creativity - Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention¹ describes creativity as “the attempt to expand the boundaries of a domain”. Mihaly has identified four major internal, yet surmountable obstacles to the creative process: too many demands; too many distractions from psychic energy; laziness, or lack of discipline; and, not knowing how to channel one’s creative energy.
Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein dealt with the first two obstacles in a similar manner: Einstein wore the same old sweater and baggy trousers every day; Jobs stocked his wardrobe with one colour-black. Each iconic inventor found the decision of what to wear each day - an example of what Mihaly calls “the wear and tear of existence” - a taxing drain on their creative reserves.
Laziness or lack of discipline can be overcome through increasing complexity of the task, keeping the mind engaged and curious. Creative energy can be harnessed by taking up a hobby: learn to draw; play a musical instrument, bridge or chess; or, cook like a gourmand. Mihaly claims that by internalizing and mastering the “system” – rules, rewards and rationale – of a non-essential domain, the human mind experiences a freedom within which to explore various pathways to stated goals, and transfers this skill set to other tasks.

Fascination with the Everyday
A recently-released BBC documentary, Isaac Newton: The Last Magician reveals a curious, systematic mind and disciplined nature exemplary of the requirements observed and advocated by Mihaly. Newton was interested in practical problems (alleviation of flatulence: steep horse dung in ale, express juices, drink), kept meticulous notes (confessed to the sins of “making pies on a Sunday night” or “punching my sister”) and like many over- achievers, never felt that he had finished anything, nor had solved a problem for all time. Lastly, no apple fell on his head.

Tenacity and Famous Failures
One particular trait of most of the world’s most famous creators, inventors and leaders was pig-headedness, as they trudged and trail-blazed to the success(es) for which they are known. Michael Michalko – an acclaimed creativity expert with an approach different than that of the academic Mihaly – refers to the 10 famous failures - 10 dreams fulfilled. Among them, Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Oprah Winfrey, J.K. Rowling and from the food industry, Colonel Sanders:

The failure: Despite having the now-famous fried chicken recipe, he was rejected 1008 times before a restaurant took it in. 1008! Oh and he also went to all 1009 restaurants on his own by driving his van and sleeping in it.
The success: You see it yourself today. KFC is a worldwide brand in the fast food industry and the finger-licking good chicken is here to stay.

The Creative, Tenacious Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs “expand the boundaries of a domain”. As creative as artists, they develop something new and tenaciously overcome and resist doubting dissenters. Moreover, they believe in the ability of their undertakings to change part of the present into a positive, promising future.

¹ISBN 0-06-017133-2

Carol T. Culhane, PHEc, MBA
President, International Food Focus Ltd.
Bioenterprise Regulatory Advisor






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thefoodlawyer.ca - Innovation and Food Safety

Posted on June 07 2013 | Author: Admin

Innovation and Food Safety – as Good Together as Peanut Butter and Chocolate

A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of meeting with John Russell, a representative for an innovative company, AquaLab. John talked to us at thefoodlawyer about some really interesting technology the company has developed for use in (among others) the food space.

Chatting with John served as an important reminder: We tend to think about food in the context of the people who make it (farmers, producers, etc.), people who sell it (supermarkets, restaurants, etc.) and people who regulate it (Health Canada). When it comes to innovation in the food industry (a favourite of ours!), it’s often companies outside the traditional food space that really move the needle.

AquaLab is one such company.

Regular readers of thefoodlawyer know that we are especially keen on developments in food safety and food stability. So it shouldn’t surprise you that we were very excited to meet with John and learn about AquaLab’s impressive technology, which can be used to improve both food safety and food quality.

AquaLab has several products which are able to accurately measure the water activity of various foods. If you don’t know what water activity is, don’t worry – neither did we until we met with John!

As John described it, water activity is a measure of the energy status of water in a system. Among other things, water activity can tell us whether a powder will cake or clump, whether water will flow from one ingredient to another, and whether bacteria are able to survive and thrive in a particular environment. In the food space it is predominantly useful in connection with:

Product Safety: For over a half century we’ve known that bacterial growth in food is correlated with water activity. By measuring the water activity of products, industry can learn what sort of bacteria, molds, or fungi will grow in any given product. Better yet, by reducing the water activity of a product, you can rule out the growth of certain (or all) classes of microbes. It shouldn’t be too surprising, then, that Health Canada relies on water activity as a standard for categorizing and evaluating many different types of food products.

Product Quality: Since water activity determines whether water will flow from one ingredient to another, recipes can be fine-tuned in order to ensure that each component of a product maintains its most desirable moistness. For example, suppose you make a cupcake: one part cake and the other icing. Big concern for the cupcake industry: how can it ensure that the tiny, delicious tidbit of sweetness maintains its moistness as it sits on the shelf waiting to be eaten? If the manufacturer formulates its product with water activity in mind, it will know how to limit the transfer of moisture from the delicious cake to the sugary, sweet icing.

Thus, being aware of water activity measurement can significantly improve industry’s ability to keep moist foods moist, and crunchy foods crunchy (who wants soggy cereal?!?) In addition, water activity measuring instruments are friends to industry because they can assist in reducing costs (and who doesn’t love that??).

Lower Risk: Since water activity testing can be used to limit bacterial growth, companies can reduce the possibility that their products are contaminated either during production or once they are sitting on the shelves. Anything that helps a company avoid a product recall is good news in our books!

Reduced Costs: Testing water activity can have a direct impact on a food company’s bottom line too. For instance, it can be used during production processes to avoid wastage: suppose a recipe requires a certain moisture level for the finished product. Think dog food – it needs to be crunchy. By testing the water activity of the ingredients at intermediate stages in the processing, a dog food manufacturer may discover that it doesn’t need to dry its food for as long as it may have thought, therefore savings costs associated with potential ‘over drying’ while still getting the pooch’s food just right. Second, water activity testing at intermediate stages can ensure that a finished product will have the desired moisture content, avoiding the costly expense of making mistakes (read: throwing out imperfect product).

Greater Market Share: Better tasting food sells more, right? So if a company can ensure that its cupcake stays the freshest the longest, it can frost the competition (sorry, we couldn’t resist!). Another way to drive sales is to feed into the “natural food” movement du jour, and limit the amount of additives and/or preservatives in foods. Water activity testing helps companies limit the need for extra ingredients in foods.

Isn’t this all really cool?

Our meeting with John reinforced just how important and interesting innovation in the food space is. The ability to leverage new technology to stay competitive as a food producer or manufacturer is integral to continued success and anything that can boost food safety can only be a good thing.

Thanks John for spending some time with us at thefoodlawyer. We look forward to hearing about more innovation from AquaLab in the years to come!

By Sara Zborovski at http://thefoodlawyer.ca






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Innovation & Commercialization Part 1 of 4

Posted on March 27 2013 | Author: Admin

Quote
“To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” Theologian John Henry Newman (1801-1890); a similar variation is widely attributed to Winston Churchill (1874-1953).

The Ubiquity of the Word “Innovation”
It’s everywhere. Publicly-funded agencies are dedicated to it. Newly-formed businesses spin it into a corporate name. Training seminars and university courses are mandated to teach it. Organizations of every description are warned to do it or die. The word “innovation” is bandied around much like the word ‘strategy’ was treated during the 1980’s - with hefty investment of scarce resources dedicated to the concept, yet, without definition, established criteria, and, objective means of measurement.

…What is it?
An objective, comprehensive, tested-and-true characterization hails from the authoritative OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, author of Oslo Manual for measuring innovation), which defines four types of innovation - product, process, marketing and organizational:

Lessons from the Past; Examples for the Future
“Best is the enemy of Good Enough”
The first model need not be perfect, or complete.
The Blackberry® has undergone several improvements since first launched as a wireless email pager in 1999. Blackberry Inc. (formerly RIM) took a page from the tin can. The steel can patent of 1810 preceded the first canning factory of 1813. Filling rate was automated and increased 10 fold, to 60 cans per hour, in 1846. The first can opener was patented in 1858, almost 50 years after the tin can patent. The Arctic was explored by men carrying cans of food to be opened with a hammer and chisel.
“Necessity is the Mother of Invention”
Fulfillment of consumer need and marketing pull will sustain and perpetuate commercialization.
In 1863, London England was a global political, financial and trading centre, with 3 million citizens and limited transportation options. The automobile had not yet been invented. The Underground aka “the tube” - a network of tunnels, tracks and trains - was developed “to keep the congested city moving”, forever changing public transportation in every major metropolis of the world. In fulfillment of consumer requirements, Summer Olympics’ demands, and to mark the tube’s 150th anniversary, wifi coverage is available at selected stations as of June 2012.

Safety of Tradition; Risk of Innovation
Who is cradling tradition? Who is not threatened by the complexity of the modern world but rather, invigorated and enriched by it? Which organizations have the necessary degree of self-appraisal to thrive? What is required to operate in a context of challenging uncertainty? Where is the talent to anticipate consumer needs and identify solutions?

Subsequent Editions of Food Fax®
Over the course of the year Food Fax® will report on the defining characteristics of successful and game-changing innovations, such as: the daily rituals, mindset and tenacity of classic inventors, and, the role of technology in commercializing ideas.

Carol T. Culhane, PHEc, MBA
President, International Food Focus Ltd.
Bioenterprise Regulatory Advisor






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2nd Generation Bio-products in Real Life

Posted on February 27 2013 | Author: Admin

Think second generation bio-products are only found in the lab? Think again.

Here’s a list of five ways you might have used bio-products before you even get to work in the morning:

1. Roofing
The roof that’s keeping the rain & snow out of the living room just might be made from a mix of cellulosic fibre and recycled materials like the products offered by Enviroshake. These products replace petroleum and tar based traditional roofing materials.

2. Insulation
It’s February in Canada, but nice and warm inside. That’s because your house is insulated – did you know that companies like Biobased Insulation offer GREENGAURD certified spray foam insulation?

3. Consumer Packaging
Time to get ready for work – shower, brush your teeth, etc. Even these daily tasks can involve bio-products! Companies in the Health and Beauty industry such as Colgate-Palmolive, Lush, and others are utilizing plant-based and post-consumer recycled materials in their products & packaging in an effort to reduce the global reliance on petroleum-based plastics.

4. Flooring
That new floor you recently had installed might be just as good for the environment as it looks in your kitchen. Companies such as Armstrong Tile are introducing flooring products that are manufactured using bio-based polymers from plant material.

5. Automobiles
If you’re anything like much of the Canadian workforce you commute to work in a car. What you might not know is that several integral components of your car are in fact bio-based! Seats, dashboards, and door panels are only some of the applications for bio-based composites in the automotive market.

These are some of the many ways that second generation bio-products are beginning to become mainstream – keep an eye out for bio-based materials next time you’re at the shopping centre.

Braden Kemp
Bioenterprise Corporation
 






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3 Critical Elements of an Investor Pitch

Posted on December 17 2012 | Author: Admin

The 10 minutes or so an entrepreneur has to pitch an investor can often make or break the future of the startup. When the encounter goes well, millions of dollars in financing can propel an idea into a successful reality. But, more often than not, entrepreneurs don't nail the pitch.

The investors at New York City-based venture capital firm FirstMark Capital, for example, receive more than 1,000 inquiries from entrepreneurs each year. They meet with only a couple hundred hopefuls, and it can be clear within the first few minutes if an investment is worthwhile or not.

FirstMark founder and managing director Lawrence Lenihan and his team have seeded star companies such as the social-sharing site Pinterest, online ticket marketplace StubHub, and e-commerce platform Shopify. We sat down with Lenihan to find out what he finds most important in a pitch. Beyond having a strong business model, here are the three elements he considers most crucial:

1. Know the investment firm.
If you want to get on the radar of an investor, you'll want to know something about the person and what his or her interests are. "Because if you don't … I lose interest immediately," Lenihan says.

Venture capital firms, and sometimes angel investors, have areas of expertise or a theme in their investment patterns. Making sure your company fits that theme is key to your pitch.

2. Know your numbers, and listen carefully.
Aspiring entrepreneurs must know the key financial drivers of their business. If a founder has to "get back to you" on revenue figures, it's a red flag, Lenihan says.

But they must also listen carefully when an investor challenges those numbers. "If I tell you I don't buy your model, I wouldn't expect you to say 'Oh, OK, you're right, let me go start over,' but I do expect a conversation," he says. Oftentimes, founders answer questions by repeating parts of their prepared presentation, unable to adapt or admit any areas for improvement.

3. Show why are you excited.
In other words, why is your company the greatest thing you could be spending your time on? "It's amazing how many people come in presenting their business in an almost clinical way," Lenihan says. "You don't want to be bouncing off the walls, but you want to be able to explain why this is an enormous opportunity you actually care about, with real concrete and tangible reasons."

It's about creating a personal connection with the investor. While it's important to identify a market poised for growth, to solve a pain point and articulate a customer acquisition strategy, investors want to work with people they like. The human side of a pitch meeting can be as important as the idea and the supporting data, Lenihan says.

By Julie Cohn from www.entrepreneur.com
Image credit: Shutterstock

The Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre receives funding under the Growing Forward suite of programming, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. However, the comments or opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Government of Canada or the Province of Ontario.






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Posted on 2013.04.06 | Author: patrik

Wow! I am impressed!!


Tips About Access to Government Funding

Posted on November 19 2012 | Author: Admin

Tips about access to government funding with Dan Mathers (MaRS IAF), Stuart McKeen (FedDev Ontario) and Alex Hodgson (1DegreeBio)






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Jim Rogers on Investing in Agriculture Commodities

Posted on October 18 2012 | Author: Admin

Jim Rogers talks about investing in agriculture commodities with CNBC and says "We should all become farmers".






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Keep it Lean

Posted on September 28 2012 | Author: Admin

Make sure your solution has a problem

Entrepreneurs are often the most intelligent, creative, and gutsy individuals out there – but even the best and brightest have a hard time guessing what the market wants.

Case-in-point: Segway. The founding team at Segway was made up of incredibly brilliant individuals and was backed by some heavy hitters in the venture capital space. They truly believed that their idea would revolutionize urban transportation. So, after collecting over $100 million in funding they set about the stealth development of the next big thing.

What happened? Well, not much. We still drive cars to work, or take the bus, train, subway, or bicycle. The original vision flopped – and it cost a lot of money. They’ve found their market now, but was it a lesson that was really worth a hundred million?

Today’s startups are becoming highly successful very quickly, and with less money than ever before. How?

Among (many) other things, the lean concepts of people like E. Ries, A.Osterwalder, S.Blank and A. Maurya are creating a movement of small, agile, and intelligent startup teams. These teams understand a key concept: don’t build it until you are as certain as possible that people actually want it, and are willing to pay you for it.

Here is a list of tips that have been synthesized from a variety of authorities on agile/lean development:

  1. Start with a market need
    • What is the problem? Who has it? Why do they have it? How many of these people are there? Remember, you are making assumptions here.
  2. Develop an initial business model based on your assumptions
  3. Test your assumptions
    • You have made a bunch of guesses – now it’s time to see how wrong you are.
    • Get out of the building! Talk to 10 (or 20, even 100) real people about the problem you think they have. Is it truly a problem? What are they doing now to solve it?
  4. Develop a product vision
    • Now you understand the problem – how will you solve it?
    • Test your vision “If I could solve your problem with this…”
    • Learn from the customer’s feedback – be ready to pivot

Once your product vision has positive traction in your market, along with commitments (or enthusiasm, at the very least) to purchase it’s time to build out the Minimum Viable Product.

The road is still fraught with risk – but at least you know you don’t have a solution without a problem.

Braden Kemp
Bioenterprise Corporation
 






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Innovation Fridays: AgDay: Monsanto's New FieldScripts Product

Posted on September 07 2012 | Author: Admin

Monsanto is taking precision planting to the next level with its new FieldScripts integrated farming system.

Monsanto’s recent purchase of Precision Planting is leading to a system that will produce the perfect planting environment for today’s high-value seed, according to Gregg Sauder, CEO of Precision Planting. The first product being launched in the system is FieldScripts.






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Would your company still operate if you fired yourself?

Posted on August 30 2012 | Author: Admin

Take a look at your business. If you fired yourself right now, would your company still operate as normal? Have you created systems in your company that allow you to remove yourself from the equation and still have a fully functional business?

Notice that the key word here is operate.

A business that operates on its own not only gives you more free time to do what you want (lifestyle business), but it also allows you to focus on growing the company.

Furthermore, a self-operating business positions an entrepreneur to grow the company intelligently - instead of hiring more people because there’s too much work to do, an entrepreneur can hire more people when it’s time to scale.

These are the steps I take to remove myself from the equation.

Step 1: Dive in head first

Do not build systems until you’ve done the work yourself. Managing a project is completely different from executing on the project as there are always unexpected obstacles along the way of completing a task. It’s therefore important to dive head first into the task before you build systems. While you do the work, make sure to write down the mistakes you make and the shortcuts you find along the way. I just use a simple Text Editor to write down all my notes as I complete a task.

Step 2: Create the training manual

There are two types of training manuals that I create depending on the situation:

Written training manual delivered via Google Docs
Video training guide hosted on my company FTP

Written training manual

I utilize Google Docs to create a written training manual. I make sure to go into extreme detail with every step needed to accomplish the task. I organize the training by colors:

Red-highlighted section: warning, there is a common mistake here that you should pay attention to avoid
Green-highlighted section: shortcut to accomplish a task
Blue-highlighted section: immediate next steps for the reader

I utilized Jing to take screen captures of my screen and make the training manual idiot-proof. That’s actually a very important part of building a training manual:

Create a training manual as if you were creating it for a child. Be completely thorough in your training and never leave room for different interpretations.

Video training guide

I utilize Camtasia to video record my screen for a training guide. Similar to a written training manual, I make sure that the video is idiot-proof. Furthermore, my goal is to minimize the length of the training manual as much as possible. I delete unnecessarily long pauses while I’m waiting for a web page to load so that the viewer doesn’t have to sit their idly during training. My video training is fast-paced and forces the viewer to keep engaged or else they’ll miss something important.
Centralized location for the training manuals and guides

I utilize a simple Google Group to host all of my training manuals. A Google Group has a Welcome Page that allows you to write any text to welcome a member. I use the Welcome Page to organize all of the training manuals and make it easily accessible for all employees.

Step 3: Test and revise the training manual

Test the training manual with the team member that will spearhead this project. Watch as they accomplish the task using the training manual WITHOUT any of your help. Take notes and see where they have questions, where they slow down, and where they make mistakes. These are areas in the training manual that need clarification.

Step 4: Observe closely then forget about it

I hate to micromanage, but that’s what it takes during the first few times the team member accomplishes the new task. If the results are not 100% to your liking, then you need to figure out how you can improve your training manual so that you can get the results you need. Often times it’s as simple as speaking with the team member and asking why they made a mistake.

Once the results are 100% to your liking, then it’s time to forget about it and move on to growing your company.

By Jun Loayza from www.junloayza.com

The Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre receives funding under the Growing Forward suite of programming, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. However, the comments or opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Government of Canada or the Province of Ontario.






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How to Sell Your Ideas

Posted on July 23 2012 | Author: Admin

You've got all your employees excited about your vision. Now, it's time to convince the rest of the world.

To make a difference in your company and your market, you have to get others to accept and promote your ideas. You’re already a leader in your company. The next step is to become a leader in your niche--to use your ideas to influence an entire market, and to help your vision of the future take hold.

Subscribe to the VRE formula for success: Begin with a well-tested and honed Vision, accumulate a track record of Executing successfully, and then get out of the office to build the right Relationships and share your ideas. Here’s how to begin.

Vision: Getting Out There

Just as you test products before bringing them to market, you need to test your ideas before trying to become an evangelist for them. So try explaining the kernel of your big idea to appropriate stakeholders to get their input. Once you’re confident that you can get others to understand and accept your basic idea, try reframing it so that it tells a bigger story that engages others.

The next step is to find speaking opportunities that will let you champion your vision. There is an aura of trust around the person on the dais or behind the microphone. That’s earned by having something meaningful and memorable to say. Without that invitation to speak outside of our organization, we often don’t take the time to gather the evidence and anecdotes that give us credibility and help convert others to our point of view.

Relationships: Why Conferences and Boards Matter

Identifying and nurturing relationships--with investors, advisers, and potential employees--will allow you to spread your ideas much more quickly.

Attending conferences and serving on boards are great ways to test and refine your vision, and to meet the people who can make it happen. Start by thinking about the people you want to learn from or influence. Then split them into A and B lists, and identify the people on the A list whom you most need to meet within the next three years. Which events do the A players attend, and which boards are they a part of? Who can help you get the right invitations to those opportunities?

Execution: Your Track Record

People will remember you and come to rely on you if you do what you say you will do. That’s enough to put you ahead of the pack in pretty much every situation.

That does not mean you have to do everything yourself or work 24/7. Sure, it’s easy to think, "Oh, I can do this faster (or better) than anyone else." Before you know it, it’s 1 a.m. Again. So make the most of virtual assistants, crowdsourcing, online cloud services, and the creation of a "do not do" list.

Deadline: One Year

Create a one-page plan, now, that will help you stay focused on the right opportunities to build visibility, credibility, and reputation this year.

By Denise Brosseau via www.inc.com

The Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre receives funding under the Growing Forward suite of programming, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. However, the comments or opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Government of Canada or the Province of Ontario.
 






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Start a Green Business

Posted on June 18 2012 | Author: Admin

Make money and be earth-friendly with a green products business.

Even Wal-Mart sells organic cotton T-shirts these days, but you definitely don't have to be a retailing behemoth to take your business in a green or organic direction. In fact, entrepreneurs have an advantage when it comes to reaching customers who care about the cause as well as the products.
"It's a highly underrated opportunity for small business," says Dr. Karel J. Samsom, a specialist in environmental and sustainable entrepreneurship and author of Spirit of Entrepreneurship. A study by the Organic Trade Association shows that nonfood organic product sales reached $744 million in U.S. consumer sales in 2005, with supplements, personal care and household products leading the charge. For green entrepreneurs, passion is key, says Samsom: "People who are imbued with this kind of spirit have an incredible imagination to rebuild the value chain and inspire their customers in the process."
That passion is evident when talking to Jonelle Raffino, 41, of South West Trading Co. Inc., a Tempe, Arizona, business that specializes in earth-friendly, alternative fibers and textiles such as yarns made from bamboo, corn and even recycled crab shells. "This country is seeing that we need to challenge the idea of products that use fossil fuels," says Raffino, who co-founded the company in 2001 with her mother, Jonette Beck. Business is booming so much, they've expanded into ready-to-wear items, and they can barely keep up with demand for their line of plush Soy-Silk Pals toys.
 
Getting Started
If you dream of starting your own green products business, consider the following tips:
  • Seek your niche. There are enough areas of open opportunity in green products that, chances are, you can find one that both fits your skills and a needed niche. "Find a way to express your own passion to others," says Dr. Samsom. Areas like cleaning supplies and cosmetics are natural fits for green products, but don't be afraid to look past the obvious.
  • Be an example. "Show you believe in your product by changing other aspects of your life and business to support your own commitment to the earth-friendly lifestyle," says Raffino. This can include making green decisions when it comes to your suppliers and even your personal life. Make a point to recycle and check into using solar or wind power for your business. A green attitude overall will reflect well on your business.
  • Educate. Green products customers are just as hungry for knowledge as they are for organic foods. "Understand the significance of your product and how it benefits the earth or conserves resources, know everything about it," says Raffino. If you've done your research, you can more effectively communicate the value of your product to your customers.
  • Your customers are your best marketers. Green products is an area that can be heavily driven by word-of-mouth and by happy customers passing on their experiences to other people. "Get your customers to be your best promoters," says Samsom.
  • Find colleagues who are on the same page. When it comes to employees, management staff and investors, you need to find people who share your passion. Colleagues that share your cause will be more invested in helping your business to blossom. It's not just about making money, it's also about making a difference in the world around you, one green product at a time.
 
Image: Flickr user Tilak Bisht

The Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre receives funding under the Growing Forward suite of programming, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. However, the comments or opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Government of Canada or the Province of Ontario.
 





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The 6 Huge Hiring Mistakes Everyone Makes

Posted on May 24 2012 | Author: Admin

You need a top-notch team to do your best work--but you need to hire them first. Here's half a dozen common ways managers shoot themselves in the human-resources foot.

 

 

If you can recruit people who are talented, brilliant, natural leaders, it can make all the difference to your organization’s success--and your sanity as a leader. There is nothing that improves your chance of success more than having a strong, trusted team.

But even with the best intentions, you can choose badly. Particularly if you get really excited about a candidate and hire for the wrong reasons.

Here are six mistakes--some of which I've also made myself--that executives make when their misplaced enthusiasm for a candidate causes a superficial, rushed, and ultimately bad hiring decision.

1. Admire a past accomplishment too much
Very often a candidate will have an accomplishment in their past that is truly extraordinary. It’s more impressive than anything you’ve ever done and vastly overshadows the accomplishments of the other candidates. Wow! You’re Hired!

Don’t: Hire the candidate based on this one grand accomplishment alone.
Don’t: Assume this breakthrough will be repeated for you!
Do: Make sure they are ahead of the pack on many of the other hiring needs too.
Do: Make sure to get them to talk about how they will think, learn about, and do the specific things you need now--don’t assume brilliant success on the prior thing will automatically translate to brilliant success on what you need done.

Make sure you will love them just as much for other reasons---for the mainstream work they will do and for their personal contribution to your team. Don’t just hope for a repeat home run.

2. Put too much stock in advanced degrees
I know plenty of people with advanced degrees who are highly effective business leaders, but I know as many who are not. Advanced degrees alone are not proof of future business success. They are only proof that the person is capable of getting advanced degrees.

Don’t: Say “Wow, look at all those masters and PhDs--you must (by definition) be better than all the other candidates that don’t have all those impressive degrees”.
Do: Get them to talk about examples of what and how they have done the kind of things you need done.
Do: Get them to give examples of how they personally conceived of and led business change, growth, or transformation.

3. Too much experience
One of my first hires was a telemarketing guy who had 22 years of experience being a telemarketing guy. I was so impressed! Oops.

Don’t: Hire someone only because they have a huge amount of experience in the thing you need done. Remember, they might have so much experience in that job because they were never talented enough to get promoted. If you are hiring a deep expert you may be okay, but if you are hiring a leader be suspicious. You are always better off judging and hiring for smarts and future capability than past experience--because the problems and opportunities are always changing.
Do: Look for advancement on a resume over experience. Judge the person’s ability to solve problems, learn, grow, and lead others, not just how much experience they have.

4. Fall in love with the person
Okay, when after the interview you want to go out for drinks with the person even more than you want to work with them, make sure you are not mistaking how much you like the person as a potential friend, with making the right hiring decision.

Don’t: Make this decision by yourself. You’re in love. You are not thinking clearly.
Do: Get others’ help validating the person’s capabilities and fit for the job.

5. A great talker
Particularly in the case of sales and marketing people, remember these people are experts in selling. So they are selling themselves in their interview.

Don’t: Get so mesmerized by a great pitch that you think the person is a star.
Do: Press extra hard on examples of their success. Look for proof points that were unambiguously accomplishments of theirs alone, and check their ability to explain them at a significant level of depth.
Do: Ask them to describe a mistake or a failure they have overcome. A truly great candidate will always be enthusiastic to share a big lesson. A big talker will always resist showing any chip in the armor--or will give you an overly polished answer.

6. Failure to check references
This seems so obvious, but for all the rose-colored reasons listed above, I have seen executives not bother, or get too busy, or need to move too fast to check references. Then they get surprised and burned. In all the cases above, add to the DO list: check references!

A reference check adds a reality check to balance the things you fell in love with during the interviewprocess.

Don’t: Ever not check references. If you skip this, don’t be surprised if you get surprised!
Do: Always also check back channel references, not just the ones they give you.

The tricky part is that when you get a star sitting across the table from you, you indeed get pretty excited. And you get the feeling that it is a competitive situation so you will need to move quickly. Just remember, there are people who are not true stars who can get you as excited as the ones who are. Move quickly, but always dig deeper, and always check references.

Source: Patty Azzarello via Fast Company: Expert Perspective

Image: Flickr user Jes

The Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre receives funding under the Growing Forward suite of programming, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. However, the comments or opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Government of Canada or the Province of Ontario.
 






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Guelph- The City that Makes a Difference

Posted on April 13 2012 | Author: Admin

Guelph has consistently been ranked as one of Canada's Top 10 Most Desirable Places to live, and with its constant engagement in sustainability throughout the community it is no wonder why!

In a profile of the city, covered by Terry Bradshaw, Guelph is deservingly classified as a city that truly makes a difference. Bioenterprise is very proud to be a Guelph-based business, contributing to its overall economic and sustainable development.

Watch the video to learn more.

The Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre receives funding under the Growing Forward suite of programming, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. However, the comments or opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Government of Canada or the Province of Ontario.
 






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Posted on 2012.06.03 | Author: Gary

This forum needed shaking up and you've just done that. Great post!


9th Annual World Congress

Posted on March 21 2012 | Author: Admin

Bioenterprise, along with OAFT and Soy 20/20 will be sponsoring the World Congress on Biotechnology and Bioprocessing in Orlando, Florida this year!

This is the largest industrial biotechnology event gathering together business leaders, investors and policy makers in biofuels, biobased products, and renewable chemicals.

If you missed it last year, check out the video below. Hope to see you there!

 

The Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre receives funding under the Growing Forward suite of programming, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. However, the comments or opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Government of Canada or the Province of Ontario.






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Do YOU Exist in the Google-sphere?

Posted on March 12 2012 | Author: Admin

Why Your Start-up Needs an Online Presence

Critical mass –The minimum required to start or maintain a venture: "a critical mass of users".

Generating critical mass is an integral part of launching a business venture. You want people talking about your start-up before it even starts up. This will increase awareness and ensure you stay afloat during that key period when you transition from an idea to a bona fide business. At this point you likely can’t afford that witty Super Bowl ad, but modern marketing tools allow you to reach an incredibly large and diverse audience at a very low cost. There are a million reasons why existing on the Internet is a must, but here are just a few:

1. Start a conversation with your target market – don’t guess what they want, ask them!

Social networks like Twitter and Facebook are providing companies with a very unique opportunity, and the best part is it’s free. By building a presence on Twitter and Facebook you can develop a relationship with your customer base, and engage them in conversation.

Let your audience know what you’re doing; keep your idea in their minds as you engage in the commercialization process and you might find that they provide valuable input on key features or services they would like to see. This is the one of the biggest advantages of today’s marketing tools; rather than blasting a message to the masses in hopes they understand, you can actually interact with your target market and be sure they understand.

2. Important people need to know what you do.

Like most ventures you will probably need some extra cash to get off the ground, and unless you happen to have a rich uncle (read: John Pickard’s "6 Things Every Entrepreneur Should Know") you are going to have to ask potential investors for a large sum of their money.

Here’s the thing – investors like their money and they don’t give it away without performing some serious due-diligence on your operation. Here at Bioenterprise, we perform a ton of due-diligence on prospect companies and if your investor is anything like us, Moneybags is going straight to Google to search your company name. Give it a try – do you exist on Google? No? You should.

I’m not suggesting you hire an IT firm to design a $50K webpage, in fact even a simple landing page that describes who you are and what problem you are solving can do the trick. If key individuals who can influence the success of your organization see that you are actively developing a brand and engaging your target market, they just might be more likely to dedicate time, and perhaps money, to help you get started.

Whether a venture capital firm is considering a $10 million investment or a potential customer heard about you through the grapevine, they will inevitably turn to the web to check you out. When they do, you better be there or you could be missing out on some great opportunities. Make use of the free platforms that are available and get out there and start a conversation!

Remember – this is free marketing, and when was the last time you got something for free? Taking advantage of the options available to you online will help to build and define your brand, and that’s an important part of any business small or large. Speaking of branding, I have some thoughts on that too – stay tuned.

Braden Kemp
Junior Business Analyst, Bioenterprise






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10 Employee Engagement Actions for Managers

Posted on March 05 2012 | Author: Admin

The Employee Engagement Pyramid

Recently on his blog, Winnipeg consultant David Zinger has been detailing 10 steps to employee engagement, which he has shaped into what he calls the employee engagement pyramid, explaining the building blocks for success:

1. Achieve results

At the top of the pyramid is the main target: getting employees involved in formulating the results that the company should be seeking, and then having them be intent on achieving those agreed-to results. “Powerful results matter to managers, organizations, employees, and customers,” Mr. Zinger notes.

2. Mark progress

The Progress Principle by Teresa Amabile and Steve Kramer, published last year, presented fascinating research that indicated the key to motivation and engagement for knowledge work is making progress each day at work. Managers therefore need to structure work so that progress is visible (and do their best to prevent setbacks).

3. Maximize performance

Managers need to figure out how to make top performance worthy of employees’ attention and provide feedback that is heard and heeded by those employees.

4. Foster recognition

Management needs to show employees that their accomplishments are appreciated. “Authentic recognition is so much more than an annual gala or occasional gift card for good behaviour. Recognition is social, strategic, and powerful,” Mr. Zinger says.

5. Build relationships

Work is social. Research by Harvard Business School professor emeritus John Kotter found that one of the factors that distinguished general managers with consistently outstanding performance records from their counterparts was their ability to develop and maintain a strong network of relationships. Gallup’s famed questionnaire on engagement has several questions about the strength of relationships at work with colleagues and supervisors.

6. Enliven energy

Energy drives us. It comes in many forms including physical, emotional, and mental. Mr. Zinger also cites the importance of spiritual energy; that is, being caught up in a mission that is greater than ourselves.

7. Leverage strengths

Research is consistently showing the importance of bringing out the strengths of employees to energize them, rather than harping on weaknesses.

8. Make meaning

If managers can make the work meaningful, it will engage, sustain and enrich people.

9. Master moments

Doug Conant, former chief executive officer of Campbell Soup Co., used what he called TouchPoints to transform the dismal engagement scores at his company, and to make the most of the times that managers interact with employees.
“Engagement resides in the moments,” Mr. Zinger observes. “Each of the many connections you make has the potential to become a high point or a low point in someone’s day.”

10. Enhance well-being

As a manager, you must eliminate the toxic aspects of your workplace. Employees must be allowed to find a sense of well-being at their work so they leave each day enlivened, rather than depleted.
 

Source: David Zinger Employee Engagement via The Globe & Mail: Report on Business

The Agri-Technology Commercialization Centre receives funding under the Growing Forward suite of programming, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. However, the comments or opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Government of Canada or the Province of Ontario.






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CarbonCure Technologies Inc. - Block System

Posted on March 01 2012 | Author: Admin

Robert Niven, CEO and founder of CarbonCure Technologies Inc. discusses their newly discovered technology designed to use carbon dioxide as a value-added input in the production of concrete, an abundant commodity product.

The CarbonCure Block System introduces CO2 into the actual manufacturing process of concrete, making it green and creating far stronger products at an early stage.This higher strength can then be converted to less waste and defects, new and better products, less cement and less energy.

With their partners, CarbonCure is helping to solve today's economic and carbon challenges by improving the production of concrete, which is all around us.

To learn more about this company and its products visit: http://carboncure.com/

Watch our Innovation Video of the Week:

Source: CarbonCure Technologies Inc.
 






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Receive Money Back when You Apply for the CETC tax!

Posted on February 06 2012 | Author: Admin

Oh the joys of the hiring process! I’m sure managers must jump at the opportunity to hire a new employee, because who wouldn’t want to read piles and piles of cover letters and resumes, or sit through endless hours of interviews, sounds appealing doesn’t it?

If you are one of these managers who dislike the burden of recruiting new employees, you should definitely consider hiring a co-op. University or college institutions typically set up the hiring process, which means your work is cut in half. All you need to do is provide a concise job description and decide what degree programs you feel will adequately qualify for the demands of the position. This will help to filter out the types, and amount, of students who apply to the jobs, ultimately simplifying the hiring process. Now just sit back, and wait for the applications! Institutions will also assist in securing time slots for the interview process, according to your convenience.

Seems pretty simple now, right?

‘CHA CHINGGGG!,’ there goes that sound in the back of your mind…will you be able to afford the costs of hiring a new employee? Have no fear, the Co-operative Education Tax Credit (CETC) is here... if you a hire a co-op student, that is.

The Ontario Ministry of Revenue has introduced the CETC, which benefits employers who hire students enrolled in a co-operative education program at post-secondary institutions across Ontario. Simply put, you can receive up to $3000 in tax credits!

Is hiring a co-op student sounding better to you yet?... Still not convinced?

In addition to our eagerness to learn and apply our academics to the real world, co-op students may choose to recognize your company as an ‘outstanding employer.’ This could grant you the opportunity to win awards such as “Co-op Employer of the Year” (depending on the institution). I’m sure Bioenterprise Corporation can definitely vouch for truth in this statement, as recipient of this award in 2010 from the University of Guelph.

Start contacting post-secondary institutions near you, to see if your organization can benefit from this great opportunity, and be amazed by our student potential!

Christina Lippa
Marketing and Communications Assistant, Bioenterprise



 






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Importance of having a registered office address

Posted on November 28 2011 | Author: Admin

Business success is largely about building consumer loyalty; and consumer loyalty lies in the ability to identify with a company that communicates trust and confidence. Having a physical office space for your company defines your company image, and helps establish a stronger corporate brand.

Most start-ups don't have the funds available to rent or purchase commercial real estate. Being cost effective is important, but compromising quality to save a buck will only hurt your bottom line in the long run. Here's why...

In today's world, working from a home office is often stigmatized. Consumers often get the idea that a home-based business isn't a substantial one.

While starting out in a home office is one thing, consider that having a registered office address gives a persona of professionalism and success before tossing the idea of obtaining an office space on the backburner. Working in a community environment also increases drive and creativity, which often lacks in a home office.

So what can you do if you can't afford an office rental but want to give your business a more professional approach?

Co-working:
Co-working is typically less expensive than traditional office space. It can be a good first step out of a home office for many. Wikipedia defines co-working as a “social gathering of a group of people, who are still working independently, but who share values, and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with talented people in the same space.” Do an online search of "co-working in xxxx", xxxx being your city, and you'll find websites that list various co-working facilities, such as Co-Working Toronto.

Office space by the hour:
The concept of renting a meeting room for an hour or a day is catching on with start-ups and entrepreneurs. The services usually provide a business address, mail service and 24/7 access to office space on a pay-per-use basis. It's a variable cost as opposed to a fixed cost of thousands a month on a lease.

There are solutions out there to give your start-up or home-based business a professional edge, and taking full advantage of them will help your business reach new potentials.

Emily Prange
Marketing and Events Assistant, Bioenterprise


 






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Posted on 2012.01.05 | Author: Kevrel

How neat! Is it really this simple? You make it look easy.


Solar Trash Bins

Posted on November 08 2011 | Author: Admin

High-tech Trash.

In our cities, waste collection can be pretty wasteful itself. Garbage trucks have to make near constant trips to keep public trash bins from overflowing—contributing to traffic and pollution. To keep our cities in harmony, we'll have to figure out a better system for urban waste collection. The people at BigBelly Solar already have one solution.

Watch our Innovation Video of the Week:

Produced by Eve Marson and Max Joseph

Source: GOOD Magazine






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Posted on 2011.11.24 | Author: Audel

Hey, kliler job on that one you guys!


Eco-Gym

Posted on October 17 2011 | Author: Admin

Lowering your impact is no sweat.

Nothing kills that post-workout buzz like contemplating the environmental impact of traditional gyms—the air conditioning, the cardio machines, the thousands of tiny towels that are washed daily. But Manuel de Arriba Ares, a retired Spanish gym teacher, has come up with an alternative: all the exercise equipment in his gimnasio ecológico requires no electricity and is made entirely of recycled materials. 

Watch our Innovation Video of the Week:

Source: GOOD Magazine






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Posted on 2011.11.25 | Author: Jeanette

Ah, i see. Well that's not too tricky at all!"


Innovation Fridays: Electric Bicycles

Posted on September 26 2011 | Author: Admin

In much of the world, biking is the main mode of transportation. In China or Denmark for example, it's not unusual to see more bicycles than cars on the road. However, in North America, this is not the case.

Thanks to electric bikes, getting around via bicycle has become more practical and efficient than ever. Your own energy and an electrical motor combine to make cycling up hill or long distance much faster and easier. Needless to say, if electrical biking catches on, city traffic can be minimized and carbon emissions drastically reduced. 

Watch our Innovation Video of the Week.






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The Greenest Building in the World

Posted on September 09 2011 | Author: Admin

Ready for another Innovation Friday Video?

The Port of Portland is a large quasi-state agency in Oregon, which operates 3 airports, and several marine terminals along the mighty Columbia River, and sees thousands of tons of cargo come through its facilities every week.  When they recently decided to relocate their headquarters from a downtown highrise to the airport, they had a prime opportunity to go green.

Check out this weeks video featuring one of the greenest buildings in the world (according to Forbes).







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Innovation Fridays: Plastic from Corn

Posted on September 02 2011 | Author: Admin

The majority of plastics today are oil-based. Not only does plastic consume 10% of the world's oil supply, but it also increases global warming, and can take over 1000 year to degrade. Plastic made from corn is biodegradable, carbon neutral, renewable and even edible.

The long chains of carbon molecules in corn starch are remarkably similar to the chains of carbon in oil-based plastic. The pellets of corn polymer can be melted down and formed into any shape and size of biodegradable plastic. Find out how it's made...

Watch our Innovation Video of the Week:






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Posted on 2011.10.19 | Author: Donte

IJWTS wow! Why can't I think of things like that?


How to Explain Your Idea to a VC

Posted on September 01 2011 | Author: Admin

Written by Brad Feld, re-posted from feld.com.

Allen Morgan at Mayfield has a nice series up on his blog about the ten commandments for entrepreneurs. His post today is Commandment #6: Explain Your New Ideas by Analogy To, or Contrast With, Old Ideas.

He’s right. Mostly. At the end of his post, he asks for ways to “categorize the new ‘It’” (if they are VCs). My constructive addition to his post is the notion of the analog analog (also known as the “analog analogue”, but I like my version better).

In the mid 1990’s, I met Jerry Colonna, we invested in a few companies together, and became very close friends. I love Jerry and – while I rarely see him since he’s in NY and I’m in Boulder – I feel connected to him in a way that’s unique. Maybe it was our joint experiences together, maybe it was something we drank one night, or maybe it was merely a cosmic connection – in any case, I smile whenever I think of the things I’ve learned from him and the experiences we have had together.

One day, when we were talking about a deal, Jerry knocked me on my ass by saying “what’s the analog analog?” In true Feld fashion, I responded with a “huh?” Jerry went on to explain his theory of the analog analog (which I’ve written about before) – specifically that every great technology innovation (or technology business) has a real world, non-digital analogy. It’s not the “nothing new is ever invented” paradigm – rather it’s the “learn from the past” paradigm.

I’ve found this to be a much more powerful lens to look through when evaluating a new business than the “technology analog” lens (which is the one Allen is describing in his post). While “Tivo for the Web” or “eBay meets CNN” are useful analogies, I recommend entrepreneurs take a giant step back – out of the technology domain (or at least our current technology domain) – and get to the core analogy – optimally a non-digital one. Then – walk forward from the analog analog through other analogies to the current idea.

Throughout my life, I’ve heard the cliche “history repeats itself” over and over again. This is never more true then in the computer industry. Earlier this morning, I wrote about Ryan’s post on Mr. Moore in the Datacenter and alluded to the migration from mainframe to web to ASP to SaaS (aren’t they all different versions of the same thing?).

All hail the analog analog – the more things change, the more they stay the same.
 






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