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Seth Berger Leads Sixers Innovation Lab In Camden

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Entrepreneurs are flooding into Camden, including Seth Berger, University of Pennsylvania and Wharton School of Business alumni, best known as the Founder and former CEO of AND1. Seth Berger is managing the Sixers Innovation Lab Crafted by Kimball, which is housed in the Philadelphia 76ers Training Complex Business Operations Facility. Seth Berger has years of experience as an entrepreneur includes acting as a consultant and CEO in the gaming, technology and sports industry over the past decade. With a life long career in sports, Seth Berger provides opportunities for companies to grow using resources that are invaluable to business.

The Sixers Innovation Lab supports startups by providing individualized, industry-leading consulting and investment opportunities. Companies that are selected by Seth Berger and the Innovation Lab team will receive office space at the Innovation Lab, access to industry leaders, third-party branding, marketing and legal services, as well as free meals and housing in the Philadelphia area. There will also be unique opportunities to pitch to industry-leading investors and venture capitalists. Seth Berger is overseeing each startup that enters the facility along with advisors from StubHub, DraftKings, Rothman Institute, First Round Capital, Maven Creative and more.

With a unique set of skills and lifelong achievements in the sports industry, Seth Berger is passing on his knowledge on growing your company into something incredible. Seth Berger tells us about what it takes to be an entrepreneur today, making a lasting impression in business, and how you can be a part of the Sixers Innovation Lab.

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Describe your career.

I started a business in grad school at 25, which is now known as AND 1. It started as a T-shirt company in NYC, where I am from. Then, in seven years it grew to a basketball apparel, sports illustrated company. I ran two companies at that time. In the middle of AND1, I also ran hoopstv.com and made all of the mistakes I could. Made a couple of deals with retailers, but ultimately sold AND 1 in 2005 to American Sporting Goods. My kids at that time were six, three, and one years old. The goal then was to just be super dad, take them to school, and to see them everyday. I had part time jobs, I didn’t want a full position. I managed a few companies along the way but, my career basically had three parts: running AND 1, coaching basketball at Westtown School, an independent international school, and consulting and advising at Innovation Lab. Working at Innovation Lab combined all of my skills as a coach, consultant, and CEO. As a coach, it helped me become a better consultant and CEO to help identify and recruit really talented CEOs.

As an entrepreneur, what are some surprises that come your way?

Whether I was running AND1 or the Innovation Lab, there were always surprises. I’ve never run anything before, so doing AND 1 and the Lab were the biggest surprises. I was never really good in school, I was only a good test taker. Memorization is the only skill I had and my biggest strength is admitting that I don’t know and I need help. That’s how I got so far. If you’re always curious, you’ll always grow.

From ‘93-’05, old businesses had to make a lot of guesses when it came to prices and consumers. Nowadays, with technology, you can test everything. You can have consumers telling you a price, likings, and etc.

I’m also really surprised with how fast things move now. Businesses would take three-five years to grow, now it can be successful in three-six months.

What are some of the risks you took to get to where you are?

When I decided to start AND 1, I was maxed out of student loans and lived off of five Visas. If AND 1 didn’t work out, the alternative was to take on a job that I didn’t like and find incredibly boring, nothing I looked forward to. I took a risk as in if it didn’t work, I was going to be really broke, but the thing was, I was broke anyway so I didn’t really care. The actual risk or the biggest risk for anyone is time. Time is your most valuable resource. My risk here at the innovation lab is can I help manage five to six companies at the same. I have the mentality of, ‘I think it’ll work.’ But if I spend three to five years here and it doesn’t work, it’ll be a really big waste of time. As an entrepreneur though, you’re comfortable with mistakes.

How do you make a lasting impression when you get into a new business?

By offering significant day to day support to our companies. If all of what you want is a check and a network, then there are lots of places to get that. In the Bay Area especially, there are tons of them but that’s not us. If you want help to figure out your business, what you do on a day to day basis or annual basis, then that’s what we provide.

What recommendations do you have to aspiring business owners?

Know your consumer really well and focus on them, one of the biggest mistakes in entrepreneurship is people who say, ‘I don’t want to focus on consumers in our market because then my business won’t be really big.’ I say to them, ‘Build a small business before you have a big business, it shows you already have a business, then continue to build and expand.’  With all of our companies, we end the day with these questions: Who’s going to watch our videos? Who’s going to use our service, buy our products and be as specific as possible with those answers? 

Entrepreneurs who are thinking about starting versus entrepreneurs who have already started. Those who haven’t started aren’t afraid of failing because everyone fails eventually. It’s actually because they don’t know how to take charge. When you are your own CEO, it’s like getting a blank piece of paper for an essay but with no question. Everything is already set, what time you go into the office, the dress code, etc. with your business, no one is there to tell you. Don’t be afraid to get help.

What are some benefits the 76ers Innovation lab offer that can’t be found anywhere else?

I think Rhyan Truett, Innovation Lab Director of Operations, and I make a great team, along with Philadelphia 76ers CEO Scott O’Neil, and other people on our team can be really insightful for your business. We also offer free housing, free food, and free office space for about three months. In which there’s also access to free snacks and the gym. Also, we have a marketing agreement with strategy branding for companies, possible free legal services, and lastly, you can play basketball here.

How does startup apply for the opportunity to pitch?

Interested applicants can submit an application form through www.sixersinnovationlab.com.

What industries have you seen so far?

Everything, from cyber security, foot apparel, you name it. Our owner has a really broad network. If we can add value to your company then be let’s be a part, but if we can’t help you then it doesn’t make sense to apply.

Tips for entrepreneurs who are interested in being at Lab?

Always be willing to learn, companies who are in here are different from when they first came in. Be interested in improving. Companies who just need a check are not for us. There are three things we look for: first is what you take in, how smart, how focused, and how intense you are. Your team is a major aspect. For me, a team is the most important. I have members who studied in Wharton and are way smarter. Second, is the idea. Something you can protect and is unique. Lastly, how can we help you? If the company already had parts one and two, then how can we support you.

What is the piece of advice that helped you throughout your career?

In the fall of ‘93, when we were selling team shorts. I met Michael who owned a record company. He started his business by doing 45s. Back in the day, they used to do single records of songs of TV show songs like The Flinstones, The Munsters and all of the sudden his business blew up. He asked me, ‘Why do you want to be in business? Why do you wanna make a difference in kids’ lives?’ I said, ‘I think this business can reach kids and I can make a little money on the way, I also get to spend time with friends.’ He assured me then that you’re in business to make money, you’re not in it for your ego, you’re not in business to make friends, and you’re not in business to change who you are. And he was right. For awhile we thought we served kids as opposed to our consumers. When I got with our accounts, I asked, am I going to make enough and do I need more? If I bring in people who are around me and they get a piece of what I have or more, it’s okay. If you’re giving them pieces of yours, then they’ll eventually give more back to you. If you’re not giving your team a piece and think you have to be more in control, then it won’t work out. Like I said before, teamwork is the most important aspect of a business. Be willing to give.

Jie writes about influencers and startups in various industries. She is a designer turned techie, and when she is not writing, you can find her in her workshop working on her next big project.

Business

Increase Business During The Holiday Season

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The holidays are quickly approaching and when running a business there is plenty to do to get ready. The holiday season is a busy time for shopping, gift giving, and should be a busy time for sales in your business. This is the time to ramp up with marketing in creative ways because of the influx of sales that will be coming your way. Making sure that your business is prepped for the return of loyal customers and for any new customers that may come your way will be vital. Here are some tips to prepare your business ahead of time for the holiday season.

 

Make sure your information is up-to-date

During the holiday sales rush, especially during Black Friday and Christmas you may see an influx of new customers. In order to prepare for this you must make sure that your information is up-to-date. Your website must have accurate contact information on it and your social media must be customer appropriate. If you have an office or location is the address on the website correct? You do not want to risk losing out on potential business because of careless errors or typos that could quickly make the customer lose interest. If someone is taking time to visit your website, making yourself easily accessible takes the hassle off of the customer.

 

Holiday Promotions

It never hurts to treat your current and new customers to discounts or promotions. In fact, this is an effective way to get customers excited about what is to come and gives incentive to loyal customers to return. Find creative ways to promote the deals through social media, giveaways, or contests so that it keeps people engaged. This will help your sales and also potentially bring a new wave of clients through the doors. If you have loyalty or rewards programs, modifying them during the holidays is a good idea, even if you need to offer bigger rewards or discounts.

 

Update your website

Many people want to avoid going out to stores during the holidays and do the majority of their shopping online. This growing trend can be an advantage for you if you have a functional, optimized, updated website. If you sell products or services online you need to have your website prepared for traffic. There are a number of factors that need to be in place before your website is ready. Your images should be high quality and related to the products, your content should be optimized for SEO, and your inventory should be up to date. You should be paying close attention to what items are available so that you can quickly re-stock what sells out. Having deals for online shopping customers only is another way to present incentives to customers and bring traffic to the website.

 

Create a gift guide

Creating a gift guide is a fun way to get customers excited about your products. The holidays are the time that people are searching extensively for what to buy their loved ones. There are even holiday gift guides for pet owners! In this case, a gift guide is a great way to influence those decisions. Getting a spot in the gift guides of influential websites and blogs can be huge for your brand’s marketing campaign! In some cases you may have to pay for this promotion, but in many cases it can be earned through general interest in your product.

 

Engage on social media

It is great to have a holiday gift guide, an up-to-date website, and marketing campaign but without an audience these things are pointless. If you have a brand that has been running for awhile the rise of social media should be one of the biggest outlets that you use for promotion. Your campaign cannot market itself, and social media is key for expanding your reach in a fast way. A creative visual campaign on social media can go viral and cause your business to blow up in hours. Take advantage of the direct connection to customers and engage your base while humanizing your brand.

 

The holiday season is a festive time and can be a great time for your business if you make sure that all of these things are in order, this holiday season can be a successful one for your business. Some things to remember: reach out on social media even when you are not in promotion mode, create a visual campaign, promotions and loyalty rewards programs go a long way, and make sure your website is updated. If your holiday sales season goes great that can snowball into bigger and better things for the rest of the year and the new year.

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Lo & Sons Introduces The Hanover Deluxe Tech Backpack

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Every techie entrepreneur needs a backpack equipped to handle a variety of gadgets, devices, and other miscellaneous travel items. Whether you are going on a short business trip or just need something to hold your laptop, the Hanover Deluxe provides the necessary versatility. The tech backpack is lightweight and ideal for traveling.

The Deluxe is an upgrade from the original Hanover and now has more storage space, which is good for fitting in a larger laptop. The original Hanover could fit a 13” laptop, while the deluxe can accommodate up to 15”. The Deluxe can be used by men and women and is perfect for everyday traveling, or even to be used as a spacious carry-on bag during a flight. The original Hanover weighed in at 1.75lbs and the Deluxe weighs in at only 2.2lbs but has a lot more storage space. If you decide to use the Deluxe as a carry-on during a flight the unique minimalist design can not only store all of your travel necessities, but can also fit comfortably under most airline seats.

Hanover Deluxe

Lo & Sons definitely hit the mark with the creation of the Hanover Deluxe. Similar to the original, the deluxe is also eco-friendly. The bag is made from recycled poly which, in a nutshell, is a highly resistant form of polyester made from recycled plastic water bottles. The poly is reinforced in a way that it prevents any unnecessary tears or rips that can occur from excessive travel or commuting. The process to making the bag is simple, yet effective and is part of their greater mission to protect the environment. The plastic bottles are collected, then they are washed and cut into small pieces. The plastic is melted and woven into fabric, and then turned into the Hanover travel backpack. Not only is the bag durable, it is spacious, lightweight, and convenient for commuters and consistent travelers.

Hanover Deluxe

Lo & Sons is dedicated to keeping the environment clean by removing plastic bottles that are clogging up landfills at an alarming rate. Recycled poly is a fairly new fabric which has given new life to plastic bottles. The goal is to take those plastic bottles and turn them into fabric in order to lengthen the lifespan of Polyethylene Terephthalate (often known as PET), and ultimately contribute to cleaning up the Earth. Lo & Sons is using the initiative to not only create products that are eco-friendly but to also purify some of the destinations that their customers will travel to with these backpacks. Recycling plastic makes a long term difference in ways such as producing less greenhouse gas emissions, keeping animals safe by having less plastic in the ocean, and keeping landfills clear.

Though the Hanover Deluxe incorporates some new and useful features, they kept some of the features from the original. The Hanover Deluxe still has padded shoulder straps, easy to use storage pockets for water bottles and such, a key leash to keep track of your keys, and removable inserts for easy storage. The Lo & Sons website even has a new cool feature that lets you look at different heights of people to see how the bag will look according to your particular body frame. Some of the changes include outer pockets that are easy to access using one hand (perfect for people rushing to catch a train, bus, etc). The new insert in the front compartment is now gray and see-through so that you can easily view the things that you’ve packed.

The Hanover Deluxe boasts a more organizational design than the original due to the complexity of the compartments that it has. The tech backpack now has removable pouches for your items, and are easy to remove to pack for the work week. The pouches in the front are more organized than the original and include a zippable compartment for smaller items that you may need but don’t want to forget. The tech backpack is engineered where the zippers can be opened using one hand. So, if you have your hands full you can easily reach and grab your water bottle or umbrella. The zippers were also woven together in a secure fashion so that they will endure constant traveling.

The Hanover Deluxe retails for $148.00 and is available through Lo & Sons official website. If you are looking for an affordable, durable, and eco-friendly tech friendly backpack, the Hanover Deluxe is perfect! Supporting the long term mission that Lo & Sons has to clean up the Earth is not only admirable, but also solves a big problem. Recycling plastic creates less gas emissions which leads to less waste in the environment and conserves natural resources. Not only is this bag convenient for traveling, but is spacious enough to fit all of your tech related equipment and even light clothes and accessories. The backpack is a great gift for the entrepreneurs in your life who are always on the go, and need a lightweight source to transport all of their precious devices.

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Dreampad: Sleep Technology That Calms Anxiety

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Some people can fall asleep anywhere in any situation. Unfortunately for others, that is not the case. Randall Redfield, Co-Founder of Dreampad is trying to solve this problem. He appeared on Shark Tank to pitch Dreampad. Not only did he create a pillow, Randall Redfield is on a mission to create products that uses neurotechnology to improve brain function. Dreampad is a pillow that converts music into vibrations that travels internally to your inner ear at prices starting at $149. It can be set to play your favorite soothing music or even sounds of waves as it guides your mind into relaxation. You can control the volume, music, and timer through an app. They even allow you to test out the music for Dreampad so you’ll know exactly which one is right for you.

What’s fascinating is the technology and science behind the pillow. You’ve heard of devices like the Fitbit measuring your sleep, but Dreampad has a goal to put you to sleep. As stated on their Kickstarter, “The Dreampad plays music through Intrasound Technology™, which converts sound into gentle vibrations that travel directly to your inner ear. This process signals the nervous system to relax, calming your body and mind. It’s safe, comfortable for all ages, supported by research, and it works.” Not only that, but they also make the music in-house for the Dreampad, like their rhythmic breathing breathing program that mimics the sound of a wave.

There may be nights where you’re stressed about your startup, thinking about how to get your next 100 customers or how you will make your employees lives easier. The best thing to do in this situation is usually to relax so you can tackle those business details with an open mind. Startup leaders suffer from multiple levels of anxiety. The technology that Dreampad introduced is trying to cure your sleepless nights. The Dreampad pillow is scientifically proven to reduce stress and engage the nervous system’s relaxation response. So instead of sitting at your desk at home basking in the glow of your computer, take a moment to free your mind.

 

We gave the pillow a try to see if it lives up to the hype. And, IT DOES! The music is very much contained to the pillow itself, and anyone laying next to you will not be able to hear it. It works in any sleeping position, so you don’t have to alter how you sleep. We received the medium Dreampad and it was delightfully fully and comfortable. It was like sinking into a cloud while listening to beach waves. The bluetooth option is fantastic if you don’t want your phone directly next to you. The only concern was having a pillowcase to fit the pillow. Not only is there a fear of getting it dirty, but it always makes your hair staticky. However, the material feels very high-end and soft to the touch. Overall, Dreampad really helped with falling asleep and decreasing anxieties.

It may take a few tries before getting use to the Dreampad pillow, as with any pillow. Knowing your favorite type of pillow is key when choosing one that fits your comfort. Dreampad comes in slim, medium, firm, and memory foam. Because of the technology that’s inside the pillow, it cannot be machine washed, so having a pillow case for it is something to keep in mind. As the hard-working entrepreneur that you are, it’s definitely worth a try. There are many things that you need to think about during the day. Figuring out how to fall asleep should not be one of them.

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