Top 10 places to spend your golden years. As U.S. News and World Report puts it, entrepreneurs never really retire, they just move on to their next project. In fact, according to a recent study by the Kauffman Foundation, people between the ages of 55 and 64 had the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity over the past decade. With that in mind, the magazine recently put together their list of the Top 10 Places for Entrepreneurs to Retire. So what makes a good retirement locale for entrepreneurs? US News searched for places with strong job growth, low unemployment rate, low business tax rate, reasonable home prices, and an affordable cost of living, among other factors. They also looked for places close to college campuses, which often share their incubators and research labs with local entrepreneurs. Topping the list is Arlington, Virginia, whose proximity to Washington, D.C. (and its lucrative government contracts) makes it a prime place for entrepreneurs who aren't quite ready to take up shuffleboard full-time.
Twitter users give British company a scolding. In a cautionary tale about the etiquette of using social media for business purposes, British furniture company Habitat was lambasted by Twitter users last week after it tried to link a gift-card promotion to the ongoing conversations about the violence in Iraq. The company tagged their gift-card posts with the marking "#mousavi", which normally indicates that it was part of the larger discussion related to Iranian opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi. Needless to say, Twitter users were vocal in expressing their outrage. Habitat quickly posted an apology, saying, "We've been listening and we know 140 characters aren't enough for a full apology." (Via NY Times.)
Entrepreneurial missteps of college basketball stars. The story of athletes turning to the business world after their careers end is not uncommon. But a detailed look at their entrepreneurial missteps is. To that end, the The News & Observer digs into the business ventures of Christian Laettner and Brian Davis, former teammates on Duke University's basketball team who also played in the NBA (Laettner for 13 years; Davis for one.) In the mid-1990s, the duo, along with a third partner, launched Blue Devil Ventures and set out to convert abandoned tobacco factories in Durham to apartment buildings. The initial project was a success, inspiring grad students and others to move downtown. But troubles soon crept up. "Buoyed by initial success in Durham and an increasingly fluid lending environment, Laettner and Davis shifted their gaze to restoring crumbling buildings in the blighted parts of other inner cities, rather than focusing on finishing in Durham first," the paper writes. The company went on to buy properties in Baltimore and Philadelphia. But now, their expansion plans for the Durham property--which includes planned office space, retail shops, and more apartments--are delayed and the city of Durham isn't happy. It's refusing to release more than $1 million in promised tax incentives until deadlines are met. Worse, the Blue Devil Ventures are at the center of at least five lawsuits, with former associates and friends (including Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman) seeking more than $6 million in unpaid loans. (Hat tip to peHUB.)
Howcast steps out from Google's shadow. If you've ever wondered how to grow grass in someone's keyboard, you're in luck thanks to Howcast.com, a new DIY video-sharing site. That topic and others of equal uselessness grace the startup founded by three former Google colleagues. Howcast was intended to be a more humorous take on "how-to" than its predecessors, such as About, eHow, Expert Village, Videojug and 5min. "Coming from Google where you automatically have millions of eyeballs on your product to where you start something from scratch has been extremely challenging," said Sanjay Raman, Howcast cofounder. Nevertheless, he must have known what he was doing. Despite the current economic situation, the startup has garnered $10 million in funding, 80 percent from a VC investment.
A greener end for retired office electronics. New laws across 18 states require electronics manufacturers to recycle consumers' outdated equipment rather than allowing its hazardous chemicals to seep through landfills and into the groundwater. While residents in states like Washington, where The New York Times reports more than 15 million pounds of electronic waste have been collected, have responded enthusiastically, manufacturers are less than giddy. "We think it is unreasonable that an individual industry be designated as trash collector," one Panasonic executive says. Many manufacturers would rather adhere to a national statute than try to keep up with wide-ranging laws that differ between municipalities. Environmental specialists, however, suggest the potentially poisonous problem could be dealt with earlier on in the process. "Maybe since they have some responsibility for the cleanup, it will motivate them to think about how you design for the environment and the commodity value at the end of the life," says one manager of the electronic waste program in Maine.
How to avoid the next Bernie Madoff. Bernie Madoff's 150-year prison sentence, which ranks fourth on the list of longest white-collar prison sentences, closes the book on one of the uglier business stories to emerge in recent history. The Chicago Tribune takes the lessons learned from Madoff and lists some tell-tale signs to help ensure you are not placing your funds in the hands of a Madoff financial doppelganger. In her blog, Gail MarksJarvis details nine tips every business owner, entrepreneur and investor can and should do to avoid similar schemes.
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