Wall Street giving to Main Street. No matter the motive, $500 million is one solid gift for the 10,000 small businesses that will receive funding from two of Corporate America's most well-known names. So who are the big backers? They just may surprise you.
Small businesses team up to profit. Owning a smaller independent store or restaurant can be a double-edged sword. Your outlets have more personality than a major chain but they can't offer customers the sweet deals that come with economies of scale. Enter Original Restaurants, Fast Company reports, an umbrella organization that allows its member restaurants to reach out to consumers in their area through marketing programs, Rewards Card Programs, and customer satisfaction management tools. All these resources give the average participating restaurant a 2 to 5 percent spike in its bottom line, and the model can definitely work for other small businesses. See how restaurateur Danny Meyer saved hundreds of thousands of dollars through group buying and how other companies have pooled their resources to offer child care benefits.
Poor Twitter etiquette on display at Web 2.0 Expo. Techies have flocked to New York City's Javits Center this week for the Web 2.0 Expo, but apparently many of the conference's attendees need a refresher course in Twitter etiquette. Internet Evolution reports that during a keynote address given by Microsoft researcher Dana Boyd, a giant Twitter screen behind her was flooded with snarky tweets from the audience lambasting Boyd's delivery. The flow of tweets caused the crowd to start laughing and Boyd to stumble through her presentation. Ironically enough, Boyd's presentation was entitled "Streams of Content, Limited Attention."
The top mobile applications of the future. Amid the thousands of different apps for smartphones, picking one area for a profitable mobile start-up might be a daunting task. Fortunately, according to Read Write Web, technology research firm Gartner has compiled a list of the top ten mobile applications -- for 2012. While most of the categories are growing steadily, such as mobile music and instant messaging, Gartner predicts some newer technologies will see a huge jump. The user base of location-based services like Yelp or Loopt, for example, will surge from its current count of 96 million to 526 million. A noticeable omission from the list? This year's much-hyped virtual interface: augmented reality. "AR needs to grow out of being a technology you use 'because you can' to one you use 'because you have to," the post says. What area will you choose?
Teenage entrepreneurs hit the big screen. Young entrepreneurs are coming to an AMC theater near you and, this time, they are the stars. In the documentary Ten9Eight, high school students raised in low-income communities tell their stories as they compete for the top prize in the NFTE business plan competition. Former Olympian Mary Mazzio, the director and producer of the film, tells us why she thinks Ten9Eight can help inspire future entrepreneurs everywhere.
RIP to an RV entrepreneur. Anyone who has ever answered the call of the open road might bow their heads in a moment of silence for the passing of a man who helped revitalize America's RV industry. As the Wall Street Journal reports, Wade Thompson, who died last week at the age of 69, purchased the iconic Airstream brand of RVs in 1980 and turned it from a dying business to a money maker within a year. As one of the founders of Thor Industries, Thompson and his partner brought a dozen RV manufacturers under their company umbrella and eventually became the biggest RV manufacturer by sales. At its peak in 2006, Thor Industries had sales of $3 billion. When speaking of the prospects of the RV business, Thompson was fond of saying, "As long as there's a Grand Canyon, there will be an RV industry."
Obama administration to hear from small businesses. Bankers, policy makers, and business owners will meet with Obama administration officials today to discuss the collapse of small business lending. SBA head Karen Mills and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, among others, will be meeting in response to a recent Treasury report that found that the nation's largest banks have decreased lending to small businesses by more than $10 billion during the past six months, CNN Money reports. With some small businesses in a bind, owners are looking everywhere for lending. But if you're an affected business owner now looking toward your family for financial help, you may want to read this first.
JASON DEL REY was a senior reporter covering technology, branding, and company culture for Inc. magazine. Before joining Inc., his work appeared in Newsday, The (Newark) Star-Ledger, and the Staten Island Advance, and on ESPN.com. He lives in New Jersey. @DelRey