A Quick Thought About A Common Dilemma

I don’t think I’m the only person who regularly gets asked for money by homeless people. On any given day, I can be hit up by one when I get on I-5, one when I get off I-5 and anywhere between 1 and 3 within 20 yards of the Wallingford QFC. So long ago I drew a line in the sand and just decided not to give out dollar bills to guys who may simply take my dollar bill and buy some cheap booze.

So here’s what I’d like to have. I’d like to be able to donate $100, $200, $300, however much to a shelter. I’d like them to mail me a bunch of $1 “gift cards” that can only be redeemed at that shelter. And I’d like the shelter to make the recipient do something to redeem it. Work in the kitchen, take a skills class, whatever. And then I’d like all the “gift cards” they’ve collected to be put towards something they need. Or let the shelter act as a bank and hold the cards for them. In fact, I’d even have the cards contain a # to a taxi company where the person could ride to the Mission for free and have the ride paid for as part of this program.

I know, this can’t work for a hundred reasons. But I’d like it to. I’d feel way more comfortable giving a card to someone than 1/2 the money he needs for a 40.

Join Me With a Bunch of Ad Folks Thursday

Thursday, September 25 will be a busy evening for advertising professionals.

You *could* go drink free beer and play bocce ball up on Capitol Hill. But for those of you who like some education with your alcohol, and prefer a more refined audience, I invite you up to Pike Place Market’s Atrium for the AAF Seattle panel entitled: MARKET INSIGHTS: MOBILE FIRST.

Here’s how they describe the content:

With Twitter machines in every pocket, mobile is key to consumers’ experiences today. How are you incorporating it into you clients’ brands—and into yours? We dialed up a bunch of experts in the mobile biz and asked them to share their secrets, strategies and insights on the topic.

We’ll look into what customers expect from mobile interactions with a brand, when you need an app (and when you don’t), thinking beyond responsive design, and plenty more.

Oh, and I’ll be moderating this group of experts. I’m not an expert myself, and I’ll have as many questions as you do, so it should be a fun time.

Some Funny Tweets From the Roger Goodell Press Conference

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell held a press conference today, effectively spending 30 minutes saying nothing but, “I’m sorry and we’ll do better.” Thankfully we have the internet, which is not letting him off the hook so easy. Here are some top tweets about the event.

Goodell Tweet 15 Goodell Tweet 16 Goodell Tweet 17 Goodell Tweet 18 Goodell Tweet 19 Goodell Tweet 20 Goodell Tweet 21 Goodell Tweet 22 Goodell Tweet 23 Goodell Tweet 24 Goodell Tweet 1.1 Goodell Tweet 1 Goodell Tweet 2 Goodell Tweet 3 Goodell Tweet 4 Goodell Tweet 5 Goodell Tweet 6 Goodell Tweet 7 Goodell Tweet 8 Goodell Tweet 9 Goodell Tweet 10 Goodell Tweet 11 Goodell Tweet 12 Goodell Tweet 13 Goodell Tweet 14


MKTG 555 Students – Here’s What You Need to Know

One difference between graduate school today and 10 years ago is that you can go to Google (or Bing) and find out a little about your instructors before you show up for class. And when your instructor pays his mortgage by helping clients with their marketing strategies, then he’ll probably be pretty easy to find.

So excellent work in finding this blog. This is the kind of entrepreneurial drive that will make you successful in the class. If you read enough, I bet there are some things that can be helpful. Like, you’ll probably learn that the quickest way to a low grade is to say anything positive about the Oklahoma City Thunder in my class.*

*Legal Disclaimer – This is not a true statement. I will not alter your grade based on which NBA team you support. It’s more correlation than causation.

It’s should be another fun quarter. I’ll do what I can to introduce you to the people and events that make Seattle a vibrant scene for start-ups. And we’ll all look at a ton of entrepreneurial marketing strategies that can be emulated. I’m looking forward to meeting all of you.

PS – Here’s a reward for being proactive. The first trivia question for determining group priority is this: What is the name of the City of Seattle’s Startup Liason?

Calling All Startups

It’s that time of the year again – almost the beginning of school.

Once again, I’ll be teaching the Entrepreneurial Marketing Class, MKTG 555, at the UW Foster School of Business. While I’m switching up the curriculum a good deal, I’m still incorporating hands on work for students.

If you work with a start-up and have an interesting problem for an MBA student to solve, or just want to have your company profiled, let me know. I’d love to have your company involved.

A Visit to MakerBot

Everyone has different ways to enjoy time visiting a foreign city. Some people love trying restaurants. Some like museums and sightseeing. I like going to cool companies I have heard about and talking with the people who work there.

I think 3D Printing is one of the next big things and will eventually have a huge effect on the global supply chain and how we produce and purchase everyday materials. Sure, it’s still in its infancy today, but the potential opportunities are limitless.

Makerbot Screenshot

So when I was in New York and found out an old colleague of mine worked at Makerbot, a leader in 3D printing, it was like someone else hearing they could get a private tour of the Louvre.

Makerbot Prototype

I was under NDA when I was there, but I think I’m allowed to say that there are now more than 600 Makerbot employees (and they’re hiring a ton more.)

Makerbot 3D Printer

I think I’m also allowed to say that people are doing more than just printing little toys. People are designing and printing their own iPhone cases at home, theatre companies are printing custom masks, architects are printing full scale models and industries across the board are coming up with their own ideas.

Makerbot Spool

So if you are a doubter in the technology, I’d ask you think about 3D printing the way people looked at cell phones in 1980. Back then it may have been big, slow and only apply to a few people. But look at how the world has changed now that everyone in the world can have a mobile broadcasting and computing device in their pocket.

Makerbot Large Machine

Thanks for the tour of the office. Lots of cool stuff is coming from them soon.

Looking for Some Teachers to Give Insight on a Website to Help Teachers

There’s a little company based in New Jersey called PortfolioGen. Started by a teacher and a Vice-Principal, its mission is simple – To make it easier for teachers looking for jobs to find employment with schools who need their skills and expertise.

Traditionally, teachers have had to lug around an offline portfolio when they go interview. Teachers don’t always have the web expertise of a marketer, so they don’t all know how to build a blog or social presence. Plus, they may not want to be easily found by students and parents. PortfolioGen is a safe and secure place for teachers to create an online presence, upload their portfolio and lesson plans, and one day, communicate with schools who are hiring.

PortfolioGen Screenshot

The site is still in in infancy, but does have more than 14,000 teachers on board. If you’re a teacher or administrator, we’d love to get your feedback and insight. You can help the founders shape the site into something that is tailor made for teachers. Just email me for info.  Thanks.

Why I Think I Think Jess Spear is Wrong

No, the title isn’t a typo. I think I think this. I need to do more research, but maybe someone can enlighten me.

All over Wallingford, I see political lawn signs for candidate Jess Spear and her tagline of something like, “We Need Rent Control.” I did a little research on her web site to learn more. Other than finding out she’s a socialist who got arrested for protesting the transportation of oil from Seattle to other distribution centers via train, I didn’t see too much detail on her call for Rent Control.

So here’s a business perspective on why I think Rent Control is probably a really bad idea.

1) I don’t see anything in her proposal that says Property Taxes can never be raised again, or that any increase in the appreciation of property value won’t cause building owners to pay more in taxes. You see, if the property owners see an increase in their taxes, but can’t raise revenue, then they won’t have any way to stop themselves from losing money. Since real estate is a long term game, if you make the long term riskier without any chance of increased profit, there’s no incentive to get involved. You’d simply build somewhere else.

2) So, if people don’t have financial incentive to build apartments here, then they won’t. So that will cause a lack of supply. In normal economic theory, this lack of supply would create a rise in prices that normalizes everything. But since we’ll have frozen rents, we won’t be able to correct the curve. Thus, people with these scarce resources (apartments) won’t have incentive to ever give them up. They’ll now inhabit places that they shouldn’t be able to afford.

3) Meanwhile, companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, etc… who want to hire people who could afford these apartments, will now have a harder time bringing in out-of-staters since they won’t have anyplace to live.

4) Now we’ll have driven away the people who want to build new buildings AND the people who want to move here and take good paying jobs. Companies have obligations to shareholders, not cities. So it’s in their best interest to leave Seattle and move their offices to places where employees can actually live.

5) So this will mean we’ll have fewer good paying jobs, which means a less robust economy. As companies leave, the people who have the good paying jobs will leave with their companies to these new locations.

6) But here’s the bright side. With all the high paid employees leaving town, property values will fall. Demand and supply will come back into equilibrium. Rents will be much lower since the only people still around will be those making lower wages. (However, anyone who had a job supporting one of these companies, such as waiters, baristas, bartenders, janitors, security guards, parking attendants, delivery people or construction workers will have lost their jobs as well. So we’ll still need to figure out how they will be able to afford these new lower rents.) But the rent controls will seem kind of silly since those people with apartments to rent are fighting for the people who are still here.

Anyway, that’s what I think my MBA classes in economics and my exposure to the real world tell me. But maybe I’m missing something. If I am, let me know what it is. Otherwise, I’m curious why Ms. Spear is using this as her main Marketing message.

My Crazy Idea For the Month

So it’s been a while, but here’s a new and ridiculous idea that might not be so ridiculous.

1) The problems with trying to build a profitable business delivering food or items with same day service (such as Eat 24), are the extreme set up costs to buy a fleet of vehicles, the complexity of hiring drivers who know the area, and the ability to launch branches in every key neighborhood.

2) The U.S. Postal Service is losing tons of money every year. But they have a fleet of delivery vehicles that go unused every evening, drivers who know the area and an existing branch in every neighborhood.

It seems to me that a forward thinking postal service with a strong CTO could figure out a way to deliver mail during the morning, and same day local deliveries in the afternoon and evenings.

Would love to hear why this couldn’t work.

How Bad Will the 2022 Qatar World Cup Team Be?

The 2022 World Cup has been a controversial subject for a few years now, and will only become more so as more people call upon FIFA to change the location from Qatar. But here’s a sub-topic that came up in discussion last night, and I haven’t seen too much on it yet.

As host country, Qatar gets an automatic bid to the tournament, the same way Brazil, South Africa, Germany, Korea & Japan, France, the USA and Italy did, going back to 1990. Now, most of those teams were WC regulars or had at least been to a Finals before, so it was no big deal.

But we’re in uncharted waters, er desert, with Qatar. Let’s look at the Qatar National Team and some World Cup history.

  1. Qatar is currently ranked #100 by FIFA. For comparison that is between Zimbabwe (99) and Moldova (101).
  2. The lowest ranked team at the 2014 World Cup was Australia at #62. Australia went 0-0-3, scoring 3 goals and giving up 9 to the Netherlands, Chile and Spain. The next lowest seeded teams were Korea (57), Cameroon (56), Japan (46), Nigeria (44) and Iran (43). Those teams combined to go (1-4-11) with a Minus 18 Goal Differential.  (Note: Iran and Nigeria tied each other so if you pull those games out the 5 teams went 1-2-11.)
  3. In the history of the World Cup, the host nation with the worst ranking was South Africa in 2010. South Africa tied Mexico 1-1, got drubbed by Uruguay 3-0 and finished by beating a French team that had sent some of its players and a coach home early, 2-1.
  4. In 2014 World Cup qualifying, Qatar was ranked as the #8 Asian team, and survived a 3rd round group of Bahrain (5 ), Iran (7) and Indonesia (24.) Their record of 2-4-0 netted them 10 points to finish 2nd behind Iran (3-3-0), and advanced them to the 4th round, eliminating the favored Bahrain (2-3-1) in the process. In the 4th round, they finished out of contention in 4th place (at 2-1-5) behind Iran (7), South Korea (2) and Uzbekistan (9), and ahead of Lebanon (20.)

So what might happen in the next 8 years? Is it conceivable that a country investing Billions into hosting a World Cup might also invest in strengthening their National team? Could money talk and lure some of the top 14-18 year-olds in Asia and Africa to train in a newly developed Qatar Football Training Facility? Could Qatar become close to par with the top Asian Football squads – Japan, South Korea and Australia?

Perhaps. My friend Alex posits that Qatar will simply pay their Group Stage competitors not to drub them too badly. Give them $1MM for a 3-0 loss, $500k for a 4-0 loss and nothing for 5-0 or worse.

But barring a miracle, it seems that Group A in 2022 will be wide open, with all the other teams being assured an easy win over Qatar, and it could be important how much they win the game by.  It’s also conceivable that we’ll see the worst showing ever by a World Cup Finals team.

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