Breakfast With Richard Branson
Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
Everything you've ever wanted to know about Richard Branson. And probably some stuff you didn't as well. The American Express OPEN Forum has a wide-ranging Q & A with Sir Richard, the British entrepreneur, adventurer, and man behind the Virgin empire. In addition to some slightly mundane questions, like what he eats for breakfast (fruit salad and muesli), the post dives into a handful of business-related questions such as what are the keys to his success and what motivates him to carry on. When asked if he were given $60 to start a business, how would he do it? The ever-clever Branson replied, "If I was still well known, I'd sign the dollars and sell each of them for $20. I would then sign the $20 and sell them for $40, etc."
The return of the business trip. Tight grips on travel budgets appear to be loosening, according to reports and surveys released last week and synthesized by the Los Angeles Times. Statistics released by the International Air Transport Association, the trade group for airlines, revealed that traffic on first- and business-class sections increased by 14 percent in July over a year earlier. And the majority of travel firm owners and agents said business travel bookings were up for the year, though most said they haven't returned to early 2008 levels. This is good news for the travel and hospitality industries, but some corporations are skeptical of airlines' extra fees, including McDonald's Corp. and Goodrich Corp., which, along with nearly 300 other companies planned to deliver a letter to airlines urging better disclosure of fees for bags, seat assignments, and ticket changes.
A new kind of buzz at Google. Free housecleaning for employees and in-office laundry pick-up: these are perks we love. But we're not quite sure what to make of Google's recent hiring of a beekeeper, who directs a company-sanctioned club called The Bee Group. The mission of the club, as explained by the San Jose Mercury News (hopefully with tongue planted firmly in cheek), "was to use the honey as a social glue, binding together strangers from different divisions of the massive company." So much for simple after-work happy hours.
Five geolocation trends. Mashable has been keeping a close eye on the evolving space of location-aware apps and social networks. Why should you be using geolocation for business? Well, Hollywood has come knocking (and checking-in), for one. Second, location is becoming integral to mobile users' search experience. The piece also makes a strong argument for marketing potential and increased brand exposure through partnerships.
Crowdfunding an education. The micro-financing site, Kiva.org, which links entrepreneurs in developing nations with investors abroad is expanding its crowdfunding efforts to education. Now, according to Fast Company, people from any country in the world can donate as little as $25 to students in Lebanon, Paraguay, and Bolivia seeking a college education. This pilot program will last a year, after which, Kiva hopes to expand to 15 other countries. The nonprofit organization plans to take its time with this new initiative, after learning the hard way what so many other small businesses before them have learned: Rushing into partnerships can have disastrous effects. Now, says president Premal Shah, "We're in a place where our own due diligence is really strong. We believe we have the basic model really working, and this next phase is to do some innovating on top of the general model."
Where start-ups and journalism collide. Er, aside from right here at Inc., that is. CUNY's Graduate School of Journalism, already offering a course in "entrepreneurial journalism," aims to take the term a step further, the New York Times reports. The school will announce the initiation of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism today, founded on the premise that entrepreneurship can save traditional, quality journalism. Primarily, the program will focus on managing media and the study and creation of new media business models. It will also offer students apprenticeships at New York City start-ups, where they can combine their journalism backgrounds with the demands of today's increasingly innovative and business-centered media.
Boston's start-up spat. Are West Coast entrepreneurs more successful at collaboration than their counterparts on the East Coast? Scott Kirsner, writing for The Boston Globe, responds with a resounding "no!" The question arose when the "Innovation Economy" blogger became irked by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick's comment that the "spirit of collaboration is not as robust" in Massachusetts as elsewhere. "I wanted to jump out of my seat," he writes. Kirsner then lists the various elements of his proof that the streets of Boston provide fertile ground for the growth of small companies. Namely, the MIT Startup Bootcamp, the meetings for Web Innovators Group in Cambridge, and the Mass Technology Leadership Council, which organizes the the annual Innovation Unconference. So, what do you think, innovative readers? Dare we ask: Is Boston the new Silicon Valley?
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CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer
Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.