December 1, 2013

Although many people can think of a great business idea, not everybody has the time or money to see their product come into fruition. That is unless they’re lucky enough to have their idea produced by crowd-sourcing manufacturer Quirky. The New York-based company has built a $50 million business by turning user-submitted blueprints into marketable goods.

Each week Quirky receives more than 2,000 invention ideas from its community of approximately 500,000 members. Staffers then select the best ideas of the Continue reading

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November 30, 2013

 

People today are becoming less and less dependent on cash, though you wouldn’t know it from looking at most vending machines. More than 40 percent of American adults said in a recent survey that they could go a week without paying for something in cash. Meanwhile, many of the nation’s vending machines continue to accept only bills and coins. This reluctance to change likely led to the vending industry’s 18.3 percent drop in sales between 2007 and 2011. When Continue reading

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November 27, 2013

Recruiting capable and contented employees remains one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today. In fact, hiring represents a $400 billion global industry as companies the world over vet candidates on their education and experience. But according to a new generation of HR upstarts, the traditional methods used to evaluate potential hires are in desperate need of updating. After all, 70 percent of American workers claim they are dissatisfied in their jobs, and as recently as 2007, 3 million people Continue reading

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November 24, 2013

Coming up with innovative products and services is no simple task for companies to accomplish. After all, most new item that businesses roll out takes years of research and development, a costly investment that’s not guaranteed to succeed. In order to avoid R&D burnout, many companies have held competitions in the hopes of finding a great idea from outside the organization. And according to a new MIT study, this might just be the most efficient way for companies to innovate. Continue reading

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November 19, 2013

 

For many image-conscious consumers, product customization provides a way to stand out from the crowd without searching high and low for something totally unique. At Big Shot Bikes, for instance, customers can choose the color and shape of up to 10 parts of the Colorado company’s fixed gear bikes. Once customers select their preferences, Big Shot assembles the bicycles and ships them to the buyers for under $500. With such a relatively reasonable price tag, the company wants consumers Continue reading

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October 23, 2013

Last autumn the Weather Channel officially became the Weather Company, signaling the start of a major rebranding effort. The meteorological media firm didn’t pull the plug on its long-standing TV station, though. Instead, the change reflects the Weather Company’s new position as a data and analytics outfit concerned with all things weather. Over the course of 75 years the Atlanta-based company has amassed huge amounts of atmospheric information concerning dew points and cloud cover percentages. All this data combined with Continue reading

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October 20, 2013

For the last year or so, many of the articles about retail featured in this newsletter mentioned the perceived scourge of showrooming. This thoroughly modern phenomenon occurs when shoppers visit a brick-and-mortar business solely to browse before they ultimately buy a product for cheaper online. Fear over showrooming has gripped much of the retail world, leading at least one company to start charging people to look around their stores.

According to a recent Harvard study, however, the threat of showrooming Continue reading

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September 2, 2013

When it comes to pulling off a corporate comeback, there’s nobody quite like Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. He’s had to fend off detractors at every juncture, beginning with those who denied his company’s ability to compete with the traditional video store. After almost singlehandedly ending that era of home video distribution, Hastings nearly lost it after he split Netflix’s streaming and DVD delivery services in two. The schism cost the company millions of subscribers and sent stock tumbling from $298 Continue reading

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July 10, 2013

In the business world, companies aren’t the only ones who are concerned with attracting top tier talent. Governments, too, have a vested interest in either retaining their most skilled individuals or attracting the best from elsewhere. After all, an innovative and educated workforce can only sustain itself by remaining desirable to other capable candidates. For countries like India, this means keeping doctors and engineers local so they can help a homeland in need rather than travel abroad for greater fortunes. Continue reading

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In today’s modern economy, statistics are supreme. GDP, unemployment and interest rates all play dominant roles in the allocation of the government’s budget. No spending bill can hope to pass into law without a battery of statistics and figures charting how such legislation will benefit the country. But just how accurately do those numbers reflect the world we live in?

Take GDP, for instance. The famous figure has only been reliably collected in the U.S. since the 1930s and didn’t Continue reading

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