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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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The Kosher Trend: A Growing Segment of the Food Industry

Posted on July 10 2013 | Author: Jessica Taylor

Although the term kosher carries an inherent religious connotation, it has been estimated that Jewish consumers account for a mere 15% of kosher consumers in North America. There has been a steady increase in the number of non-Jewish, non-kosher individuals in North America who are gravitating towards kosher products. The evidence is clear as kosher product sales have increased by 15% per year and has become a $200 billion dollar industry.

With statistics like those kosher is definitely a market that we need to take a closer look at. Some of the questions I immediately asked were: who is buying these products, how does a product become kosher certified and what exactly is a kosher product?

First things first – who are these new kosher consumers?

As the general population becomes more health conscious they look for safer, cleaner foods and the kosher certified trademark seems to give consumers a feeling of comfort. Others are moving towards kosher products because of food allergies or dietary restrictions, both religious and otherwise. For example, kosher foods are shellfish free as per the Kashruth allowing consumers with this type of allergy to consume them without any fear of an allergic reaction. Additionally, these foods are safe to consume during Passover and contain no gluten or wheat, meaning gluten-free consumers can safely select these products as well.

And what exactly is a kosher product?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the governing body for food regulations within Canada, states the following in the Guide to Labeling and Advertising:

Kosher, which means “fit” or “proper”, describes foods and practices that are specifically permitted by Jewish dietary laws. Certification that a food is processed in accordance with the requirements of the Kashruth is made by a Rabbi or Rabbinical organization and identified by the appropriate Rabbi or Rabbinical organization symbol.

Finally, how does a product become kosher certified and who regulates this process?

The CFIA provides a list of statements and symbols that manufacturers must not include on their label if they do not have the proper certification; however, they do not govern the certification themselves. Instead, there are a variety of certification agencies around the world that are able to certify products, establishments and caterers as kosher. These agencies employ Rabbis and individuals who are highly trained in modern food processing technology as well as how to uphold the rules of the Kashruth.

To simplify, the kosher certification process includes the following five steps:

  1. Application – Companies fill out an online application form specific to their chosen agency detailing their product, ingredients and suppliers.
  2. Application Review – Experts within the agency review applications to ensure they meet all initial requirements.
  3. Rabbinic Inspection – The agency visits the site and inspects the product and production process.
  4. Contract – If the company meets all requirements a contract between the agency and the company will be signed allowing the company to use the kosher symbol of said agency. (If a company does not meet all the requirements initially but is able to fix any issues identified during the initial inspection they may still be considered for certification).
  5. Letter of Kosher Certification – The kosher certification agency will provide the company with a letter of kosher certification stating that they meet all requirements.

Ongoing inspections occur over time to ensure that the company continues to meet all standards and regulations necessary for a kosher certification.

The largest of all kosher certification agencies in Canada is the Kashruth Council of Canada which is represented by the COR trademark. Their trademark symbol (shown top, right) is widely recognized and trusted both nationally and internationally. Globally however, Orthodox Union is the world leader in kosher certification (trademark shown bottom, right).

As kosher certification demand continues to grow, these agencies are creating more efficient and effective electronic applications and databases for companies. Consumers are now able to visit any one of these sites and have access to a database of all products that are kosher certified – the Orthodox Union has even created a mobile App that consumers can use while on the go.

So should your company become kosher certified?

Phyllis Koegel, Marketing Director, Orthodox Union told attendees at her “Kosher 101” talk at SIAL in 2011 that “kosher certification can give a company a competitive edge in the marketplace” and “cost of kosher certification is minimal when compared to return on investment”. However, even with a growing market, food manufacturers both old and new should carefully consider the pros and cons of kosher certification as it pertains to their company. It’s definitely food for thought.

If you are a food company interested in learning more about kosher certification please contact COR – Kashruth Council of Canada at questions@cor.ca or feel free to give us here, at Bioenterprise anytime.

Jessica Taylor
Bioenterprise Intern
M.Sc. Candidate, University of Guelph






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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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