When a Product Gets the Obama Effect
Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
How the Slurpee got street cred. Easy: President Obama mentioned it. In recent campaign speeches, Obama said Republicans stood around drinking Slurpees while Democrats did tough legislative work. And at Wednesday's day-after-the-election press conference, he joked that he might hold a "Slurpee Summit." 7-Eleven is jumping on the opportunity for additional buzz. Officials representing 7-Eleven contacted White House officials proposing to cater a real Slurpee Summit with red, blue, and purple (a politically ambiguous mix of red and blue) Slurpees, USA Today reports. The company is also re-evaluating its brand strategy, and launching an ad in newspapers Friday that plays on the idea of Slurpees bringing people together. "We don't want to be opportunistic, but nothing has ever been this big for Slurpee," said Margaret Chabris, a spokesperson for 7-Eleven.
Britain to introduce an entrepreneurship visa. In a move designed to spur innovation and allay fears over a planned immigration cap, British Prime Minister David Cameron will announce today that the U.K. will introduce a new "entrepreneur visa." As stated in a press release, Cameron says, "If you have a great business idea, and you receive serious investment from a leading investor, you are welcome to set up your business in our country." While the details of the new visa won't be announced until next year, the general idea is similar to a movement in the United States currently being championed by the likes of Paul Graham, Fred Wilson, and Brad Feld. You can read their arguments on why a start-up visa program will be good for the country here and here.
Small business lending heats up - for some. The third quarter of 2010 saw many small-business banks increase lending to small businesses, but the biggest small businesses fared much better than their smaller counterparts, The Wall Street Journal reports. "The larger the business, the better they are doing," said Kathie Sowa, who handles small-business credit at Bank of America. At the same time, businesses with revenue of less than $1 million "are not recovering at the same place," she said. So how can the smallest of businesses still get help from their banks if denied loans? Bank of America, for one, says it hopes to recruit tiny businesses to offer them cash-flow management assistance.
Customer service goes social. Today Mashable came out with its list of five tips for improving "social customer service," a.k.a. the latest way businesses can show customers they care. Topping the list is the consideration that influence doesn't matter all that much, because a customer is a customer no matter how high the Klout score. Other tips include providing complete support in real-time by analyzing social data, getting everyone on the team involved so that nothing gets lost, and distinguishing between public and private customer information. The article points to Zappos as the archetype in the field, providing an "equally awesome" experience via Twitter, phone, or chat. To learn more, check out our live chat with Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh.
Start-ups move downtown According to today's Wall Street Journal, many Silicon Valley start-ups are opting for office space in urban areas where rents are cheaper and bars are nearer. Downtown Redwood City, one of the areas in the San Francisco Bay Area that has experienced a recent revitalization, is seeing more and more start-ups. Rents there are around $2.25 to $2.50 per square foot, versus about $6 per square foot in Palo Alto. The article also notes that "demand for downtown office space is being driven by start-ups wanting better access to public transportation and to be in walking distance to restaurants."
What does it take to be a teenage millionaire? What causes the entrepreneurship bug to bite early? Business Insider compiled seven things that 25 teenage self-made millionaires have in common. Turns out, well, they're not much different than traits adult entrepreneurs share. Example: gaining experience by trial and error. Failing repeatedly. Taking on a manageable project. One interesting trait, though, is that most of the young entrepreneurs interviewed were born sellers: each had hawked some random goods (Pokemon cards, bubble gum, whatever) in grade school.
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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.