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Sunday, 30 December 2012 10:49
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holidaySay you are planning the trip of a lifetime to an exotic location, just you and your partner. You start getting excited once you have made the decision to go and the next day you book your holiday leave with work and front the travel agent to plan the big adventure. You spend weeks looking through the glossy holiday brochures, days talking to family and friends, hours talking to travel agents and then you finally choose your holiday.

The day arrives when you make the trip to the travel agent to book everything, the flights, the hotels, the transfers, the insurance and then you come to a big moment of truth, payment. In order to secure your holiday, you’ve got to pay a deposit of 30%, 90 days prior to departure and the balance, 30 days prior to departure. You’ve got some money set aside but you and your partner need to save money over the remaining time to have enough to pay for the trip whilst also having enough spending money.

So, you need to set yourself multiple financial goals in order to book your holiday, pay the balance and have enough spending money. Go to the bank right now and they can offer you any number of accounts, savings accounts and term deposits all with different interest rates, fees and conditions.

How many of these bank accounts are truly aligned to the success of the customer, in this case the holiday maker? The holiday maker’s success in this case is to have a fantastic holiday. How many of these accounts help the holiday maker’s life easier simpler and more successful.

What could this account look like?

  1. It should be easy to set-up – perhaps an online account
  2. It should be easy to deposit funds – in person and online
  3. It should know the customer goals – how much money is needed and when
  4. It should provide a competitive interest rate – help the customer achieve the goal and don’t charge fees
  5. It should encourage regular saving – provide regular updates, show how much needs to be saved per week/per month and how close the goal is
  6. It should automatically pay the deposit and balance when they are due – don’t put the onus on the customer to make the payments, schedule the payments automatically
  7. It should be flexible enough to be used for buying things when on the holiday – don’t suspend activity on the account because of suspicious international transactions, the customer is on holiday
  8. It should be easy to close – when the holiday is finished and the customer returns home, close the account – no fees, just confirm the customer is safely home and close it.

If one bank can get this right, they will be on a winner and on their way to becoming outside in. Then someone will see there are other revenue opportunities in the customer value chain like insurance, what about if the bank partners with a hotel chain or airline so that the customer can get a discount on their holiday. Then there are the day trips, restaurants, shopping, photos & video, potential partnership and revenue opportunities for the bank but more importantly opportunities to make customers lives easier, simpler and more successful. Success will breed success, the next thing might be a car account, then an education account, then who knows, maybe even a home account.

Sunday, 30 December 2012 03:00
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Sure, Microsoft has 75,000 new apps, but are they the right ones?

Saturday, 29 December 2012 11:01
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Going shopping over the holiday period can be a bit like going into battle with retailers who use every sneaky scheme they can think of to get you to buy their goods. It is getting more difficult to win, because marketers are increasingly using neuroscience to trick your brain into parting with your money.

It helps to know some of the tricks neuromarketers use so you don’t fall prey to them. Here are just a few of the more common traps for shoppers.

  • A sense of urgency in advertising (the goods are on offer or on sale for a limited time only).
  • Shop assistants who are trained to talk to you. They are not just being polite! Statistics show you are more likely to buy in a shop if the assistant engages you in a conversation.
  • Displaying goods in such a way as to encourage you to pick them up or try them on. The more physical contact you have with the goods, the more likely you are to buy.
  • High margin impulse items located next to the counter which tempt you just as you are about to pay.
  • Shopping baskets or trolleys provided in store for you to fill.
  • Free samples, particularly those which tempt your taste buds or sense of smell.
  • The use of scent, such as the smell of freshly cooked bread in fast food outlets or the smell of perfumes in a cosmetics store.

If you truly want to keep to your budget over the holiday period, then make list of what you want and stick to it. Don’t be tempted by offers, avoid picking up or trying on goods that are not on your list, don’t use baskets and trolleys and avoid engaging in conversation with shop assistants.

Saturday, 29 December 2012 10:56
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padlockI recently spoke to a small group of local new businesses and their reaction to some of my tips confirmed my long held suspicions that IP is often overlooked as a key component of a new business.

In your first year of business I’m going to assume that you have registered a company name, got your GST number and dealt with other IRD requirements, registered your domain name, set up a website and had artwork for your letterhead, business cards etc designed.

But what have you done to protect your brand?

Have you undertaken research to confirm that a third party is not already using your brand in another part of New Zealand?

An example I have come across before nicely illustrates the problem that can arise if you don’t undertake a bit of research before settling on your brand. A quick look in the telephone directories shows that there are at least 12 food related businesses trading under the name Zest throughout New Zealand. So while each of those businesses may be able to co-exist while they stick to their current location, it will be very difficult for those business to expand into or promote themselves in other regions without causing confusion.

Now the fact that you have registered a company name will not provide sufficient protection against a third party. This is because the Registrar of Companies is not under any obligation to consider whether your company name is too close to an existing company name. Think of naming your company as being the same as naming your child. You are merely giving your company the legal name by which it will be known. As long as your name is not identical to an existing registered name then it will be allowed.

Returning to the Zest example, I see that the Registrar of Companies has registered companies under the following names: Zest Limited; Zest Group Limited; Zest Orchard Limited; Zest 2008 Limited; Zest Café Limited; Zest Fresh Limited; Zest Gelato Limited; Zest Products Limited; Zest on Peel Limited; Zest Espresso Limited; Zest 200 Limited; Zest Kitchens & Living Limited; Zest Café & Juice Bar Limited; Zest Catering & Café Limited; Zest Kitchen Limited; Zest Organics Limited etc etc etc. There is nothing to indicate a connection between any of these companies. Clearly there is a risk that suppliers and customers may be confused between these various companies.

It will be the same when it comes to domain names as the Domain Name Commissioner can only deny registration of the identical name. Also, with the ever growing list of TLDs the potential for confusion will only increase as there are more and more domains in which the identical name can be registered – think zest.co.nz; zest.org.nz; zest.co; zest.com etc.

If you do not do the necessary research you may find that you are inadvertently trading under a name that is dangerously close to a third party’s name.

The only way to protect your name and brand fully is register it as a trade mark which will give you protection throughout New Zealand and can be relied upon to prevent the use and registration of the identical or confusingly similar name by third parties.

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Saturday, 29 December 2012 01:00
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After spending three years and $10 million, Don Park didn't like where his business was headed. Was it too late to shift gears?

The Backstory

Am I crazy? That's what Don Park kept asking himself during his flight back to Los Angeles from Germany. He had just turned down a multimillion-dollar deal to license his product to one of the largest beverage makers in the world. The deal promised to be his big break into the industry. But Park was beginning to think his venture would fare better by developing its own line of beverages--even though doing so would take months and require a complete overhaul of the business plan.

Park's product was a bottle cap equipped with a nitrogen-pressurized chamber, able to store fresh ingredients and instantly mix them into the bottle once the cap is turned; he had discovered it while scouting business opportunities. Park envisioned the cap being used to make shelf-stable versions of cocktails and other drinks that would normally have to be freshly mixed. Plus, the cap's function produced a striking visual effect that he felt would attract customers. A robust business could be built, Park believed, by licensing the technology to beverage companies.

For the next three years, Park worked on securing the global patents for the cap's technology and further developing the product, which he called the Gizmo. By 2010, he had secured the patents, found a manufacturer in Germany, and begun attracting interest from beverage companies. Park assembled a group of advisers from the food and beverage industries. He also brought on three consultants to head business development and finance; they agreed to work for free in exchange for the opportunity to earn equity.

The Problem

Several of Park's advisers questioned the licensing strategy. Licensing the Gizmo, argued Michael Lemkin, an executive director at the investment firm Oppenheimer, would mean losing control over how the product was used and marketed. "It destroys the value of the brand," he said.

But Park had invested $10 million in the Gizmo and, like his consultants, was not taking a salary. He had several prospects lined up and was confident he could secure a licensing deal before the end of the year. In October 2010, he and two colleagues flew to London to meet with a large beverage company that wanted to license the technology. From there, they planned to travel to Bremen, Germany, to touch base with the Gizmo's manufacturer.

It turned out that the London company wanted to use the Gizmo for a new beverage that would dispense an energy shot akin to Red Bull into a soda. And that bothered Park. A year earlier, he had been found to have a chronic illness. In response, he had improved his diet--and was uncomfortable licensing the Gizmo for such an unhealthful beverage. Park turned down the deal immediately.

Once the group got to Germany, Park proposed changing gears and developing a new brand of beverages. But his colleagues disagreed. They understood Park's passion for health but remained hopeful that they could find a suitable licensing partner. Not only would developing a brand take years, they argued, it was also far riskier. Park ended up leaving Germany alone. He returned to Los Angeles despondent and unsure about his next move. "They believed it would be too expensive to create a brand," he says. "I believed it would be even more expensive to license without a brand around it."

The Decision

Back in Los Angeles, Park consulted his other advisers. Most agreed that in the long term, a successful beverage brand could be more lucrative than licensing the Gizmo. But not everyone thought he should abandon licensing. "More than one strategy can be pursued in good faith," says Greg Cumberford, president of the Asheville, North Carolina-based incubator Bent Creek Institute and one of Park's advisers.

Park considered partnering with a company whose health objectives aligned with his to develop beverages. But because the Gizmo was not yet on the market, he had little leverage in negotiations. He also fielded offers from companies interested in obtaining the patents to the Gizmo outright.

Finally, Park made up his mind: First, the team would develop a line of beverages using the Gizmo. Once the brand had proved itself in the marketplace, he would pursue licensing for the cap technology. He and his team worked to hammer out a new business plan, but the relationship quickly grew frayed. His finance head reluctantly agreed to stay on, but the two business development executives decided they didn't want to wait and left the project. "It was clear we were not aligned," Park says. "It was only a matter of time before they would lose interest." (Both signed nondisclosure agreements with Park and declined to be interviewed for this article.)

The Aftermath

Park knew he needed a partner with industry expertise. In December 2010, a neighbor introduced him to Walter Apodaca, a former executive at Coca-Cola and MillerCoors. A month later, Park and Apodaca launched Gizmo Beverages. They invested $2 million and raised $5 million more from friends and family.

Over the next year and a half, the duo worked to develop a line of teas. Tea of a Kind debuted in August 2012 in 10 stores in Los Angeles. The first shipment sold out in just one day. In October, Tea of a Kind was named the best ready-to-drink tea or coffee at InterBev, a trade show sponsored by the American Beverage Association. Also that month, the company finalized two licensing deals, one in Austria and another in Japan.

The company's change of direction hasn't come without some bumps. In March 2012, Gizmo's head of finance, unsatisfied with the company's progress, quit. But the company has since hired more employees; it now has a staff of 20. Gizmo's results seem to have validated the company's decision to shift gears. "Although it's a slower dollar, I think Don's decision is working out for us," says Apodaca.


The Experts Say...

Keeping Faith Is Key

I'm a big believer that business owners need to feel good about the concept they are leading. My business partner and I have tried to do that in our transition from traditional music retail to online reselling. Park seemed to do this by not taking the easier money but instead protecting his vision for the Gizmo by developing a beverage for it that met his philosophical standards. Not every employee will feel the same way about the direction the owner takes the company, but the ones who share the philosophy will be behind it, and they are the ones who are crucial in making it work.

--Kent Wagner
Co-founder, abundatrade.com

I'm Not Convinced

Few beverage companies can afford to pay lucrative licensing fees for these caps, and the terms Park can get may not be to his liking. Simply having a new technology doesn't necessarily mean that this company will have any advantage in creating a successful brand. As a brand, Gizmo Beverages seems generic to me. I'm not convinced that either path the company has taken will lead to success. They need to commit to one approach.

--John Craven
Founder and CEO, bevnet.com

Get All Stakeholders Involved

When a company makes a fundamental change, it is inevitable that some people will leave. Two people at my company left after we made some major changes. It helps if employees at least feel like you're including them in the decision-making process. It seems like Park came up with a new solution for the company on his own and then told everyone else. It's hard to get people to come on board that way. The best way to minimize disagreement is to make sure that all the stakeholders are in the room.

--Cheryl Yeoh
Co-founder and CEO, reclip.it

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