BUSINESS TRAVEL

Floating "Start-up America"

Behind the White House's efforts to boost entrepreneurship. Plus, Groupon's "daunting" ad buy, and the rest of the day's news.
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Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:

White House proposes more small business aid. Picking up where President Obama's State of the Union address left off last week, the White House announced several proposals aimed at boosting small business and entrepreneurship, including permanently eliminating capital gains taxes on investments held by certain small businesses for more than five years, The Wall Street Journal reports. The tax breaks were part of the small business jobs bill passed in September, but are set to expire at the end of this year. Other ideas floated, collectively called "Start-up America," the Journal says, include a $2 billion commitment by the SBA to private-sector investment over the next five years; new or expanded mentorship and education programs from the Department of Energy, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and several private and nonprofit groups; and a series of roundtable discussions hosted by the SBA to figure out which government burdens are stifling growing firms.

Business trip? Don't forget the rubber bands. Whether it's rolling clothing or sending packages ahead of time, every road warrior has his or her own treasure chest of secrets for traveling lightly. Today's OPEN Forum outlines a few quirky tips for business travelers who rack up thousands of frequent flier miles, like using rubber bands to compress clothing and "unique" ways of "streamlining" one's beauty routine. Check out this Inc. guide for more tips on beating airport delays and getting to your destination faster.

Micoworking goes big. Call it crowdsourcing, human cloud, or microwork: short-term work done over the Internet by many workers is no longer a small trend. Big companies are tapping the cloud for financial efficiency—whether it's using the wisdom of the crowd to complete simple tasks, like a security test Microsoft tapped 100 people, or for low-level office tasks, like creating a PowerPoint (Pfizer) or coming up with creative slogan or app idea (Tongal, which works with companies such as Mattel and Popchips), BusinessWeek reports. The idea of breaking a large project into smaller pieces is still the same, only the crowd's being entrusted with more significant work, such as entire advertising campaigns, or programming of complete iPhone apps.

Groupon hits the prime time. The ads on Super Bowl Sunday traditionally feature companies with broad appeal and widespread brand recognition. After all, who else could afford the nearly $3 million for each 30 seconds of commercial time Fox charges? Well, it appears Groupon can. According to The New York Times, the three-year-old coupon power-seller has "decided it was time" to expose the brand on a national level. So how does a (relatively) new start-up feel about advertising on one of TV's most-watched—and scrutinized—events? "It daunts the heck out of us," said Rob Solomon, Groupon's president and chief operating officer.

Google and Twitter team up to help Egypt. Twitter, Google, and SayNow, a company recently acquired by Google, are collaborating to help the people of Egypt stay in contact with their loved ones, despite the internet blackouts enforced by Egypt's government. The service allows users to call any three international numbers to leave a voice message. The message will instantly be posted to Twitter and include a link to listen to it. CNN reports that those without internet access can call the same number to listen to other voice messages left by friends and family.

Apple tightens its grip on the App Store. If you were hoping to read those books you bought off the Sony Reader Store on your iPhone or iPad, you're out of luck. According to the New York Times, Apple rejected Sony's Kindle-style iPhone application for its Reader Store, and vows that from now on, all in-app purchases must go through Apple. Steve Haber, president of Sony's digital reader division, expressed his disappointment over Apple's move, stating "[Sony] wanted to bring the content to as many devices as possible, not one device to one store." Apple's move may worry Amazon Kindle readers who currently access their Amazon-purchased content for free on the iPhone or iPad.

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Last updated: Feb 1, 2011

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.




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