ABC’s Shark Tank Wants Black Businesses

The Shart Tank CastThousands of minority- and women-owned entrepreneurs will have the chance to audition to appear on ABC’s Shark Tank, providing them an opportunity to gain much needed capital for growing their businesses. Casting directors will hold an open call on Friday, August 23, in Washington, DC during the Kingonomics Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Investment Conference. The event’s organizer, Rodney Sampson, recently signed on with Shark Tank Executive Producer Mark Burnett as head of diversity and inclusion at One Three Media, a joint media and production venture between Burnett and the Hearst Corporation.

Kinganomics is the title of Sampson’s book, which is an interpretation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s economic vision for jobs and financial freedom for all Americans; through his lens as a serial entrepreneur and accredited investor primarily in technology and new media. The Kinganomics Conference, done in collaboration with the SCLC Poverty Institute, will bring together experts in capital raising strategies including crowdfunding, angel investment, and venture capital. The daylong forum and Shark Tank casting call also coincides with activities on Capitol Hill surrounding the 50th Anniversary celebration of the historic March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Now in its fifth season, Shark Tank is a competition reality-based television series that features a panel of self-made multimillionaire and billionaire entrepreneurs/judges who consider offers from aspiring entrepreneurs seeking investment capital for their businesses or products. The Emmy Award-nominated series features investor billionaire Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks; business mogul and brand expert Daymond John, founder of FUBU clothing line; inventor and “Queen of QVC” Lori Griener; real estate mogul Barbara Corcocran; technology innovator Robert Herjavec; and, venture capitalist Kevin O’Leary.

Sampson was tapped personally by Burnett (Survivor, Celebrity Apprentice, The Voice) to spearhead his television production company’s diversity efforts. The two had worked together on the hit television miniseries The Bible; the 10-hour drama that ran on the History Channel in March 2013. Burnett and his wife Roma Downey scripted and produced the show. Sampson served on the show’s advisory board in a diversity and inclusion role to insure conversations around people of color were authentic.

Burnett sought Sampson’s assistance when he learned the ratings for the Shark Tank revealed a larger African American and female audience on Friday night at 8 pm ET.

“The challenge he said is that most of the companies that pitch are white males,” recalls Sampson. “He decided that he wanted diversity and inclusion to be intentional not just on Shark Tank or one show but all of his properties. That is what led to me becoming the first head of diversity and inclusion inside of the organization.”

Sampson is charged with identifying and attracting a more diverse pool of inventors and entrepreneurs.

“Our goal is for at least 20% of the companies that pitch on the show to be minorities.”

The Shark Tank open casting call is a great forum he says especially given that access to capital remains the most important factor limiting the launch, expansion or growth of minority-owned businesses. Moreover, less than 3% of venture capital is invested in women owned and operated enterprises; less than 1% goes to African American run businesses.

ABC’s Shark Tank Wants Black Businesses

The Shart Tank CastThousands of minority- and women-owned entrepreneurs will have the chance to audition to appear on ABC’s Shark Tank, providing them an opportunity to gain much needed capital for growing their businesses. Casting directors will hold an open call on Friday, August 23, in Washington, DC during the Kingonomics Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Investment Conference. The event’s organizer, Rodney Sampson, recently signed on with Shark Tank Executive Producer Mark Burnett as head of diversity and inclusion at One Three Media, a joint media and production venture between Burnett and the Hearst Corporation.

Kinganomics is the title of Sampson’s book, which is an interpretation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s economic vision for jobs and financial freedom for all Americans; through his lens as a serial entrepreneur and accredited investor primarily in technology and new media. The Kinganomics Conference, done in collaboration with the SCLC Poverty Institute, will bring together experts in capital raising strategies including crowdfunding, angel investment, and venture capital. The daylong forum and Shark Tank casting call also coincides with activities on Capitol Hill surrounding the 50th Anniversary celebration of the historic March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Now in its fifth season, Shark Tank is a competition reality-based television series that features a panel of self-made multimillionaire and billionaire entrepreneurs/judges who consider offers from aspiring entrepreneurs seeking investment capital for their businesses or products. The Emmy Award-nominated series features investor billionaire Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks; business mogul and brand expert Daymond John, founder of FUBU clothing line; inventor and “Queen of QVC” Lori Griener; real estate mogul Barbara Corcocran; technology innovator Robert Herjavec; and, venture capitalist Kevin O’Leary.

Sampson was tapped personally by Burnett (Survivor, Celebrity Apprentice, The Voice) to spearhead his television production company’s diversity efforts. The two had worked together on the hit television miniseries The Bible; the 10-hour drama that ran on the History Channel in March 2013. Burnett and his wife Roma Downey scripted and produced the show. Sampson served on the show’s advisory board in a diversity and inclusion role to insure conversations around people of color were authentic.

Burnett sought Sampson’s assistance when he learned the ratings for the Shark Tank revealed a larger African American and female audience on Friday night at 8 pm ET.

“The challenge he said is that most of the companies that pitch are white males,” recalls Sampson. “He decided that he wanted diversity and inclusion to be intentional not just on Shark Tank or one show but all of his properties. That is what led to me becoming the first head of diversity and inclusion inside of the organization.”

Sampson is charged with identifying and attracting a more diverse pool of inventors and entrepreneurs.

“Our goal is for at least 20% of the companies that pitch on the show to be minorities.”

The Shark Tank open casting call is a great forum he says especially given that access to capital remains the most important factor limiting the launch, expansion or growth of minority-owned businesses. Moreover, less than 3% of venture capital is invested in women owned and operated enterprises; less than 1% goes to African American run businesses.

How Startups Can Ruin Their Customer Relationships

ruin customer relationships

Many startups go through growing pains, but customer relationships shouldn’t suffer from a company’s internal stress and adjustments. Establishing a loyal client base and solid brand reputation should be the highest priority for a startup, since those customers will sustain it as it moves into various levels of growth.

A firm can avoid a number of common pitfalls by taking precautions, watching analytics, and improving its operational systems.

Startups Mistakes That Can Ruin Customer Relationships

1. Miscommunication

Both internal and front-of-house miscommunications can break customer relationships. Leadership should be transparent with their teams, and impart accurate product and service information so employees can represent the brand effectively. Inaccurate retail information can lead to a negative purchasing experience.

In order to combat issues like these, make sure all website and social media communications are clear and candid. Include a Frequently Asked Questions page to provide answers for clients who need additional assistance. Your company may also wish to hire trainers and HR professionals to craft training programs, guidelines, and workflows for employees.

2. Inaccurate Records

There’s nothing more embarrassing than calling an important client and learning that your company has the wrong phone number on file. This can lead to unacceptable business delays in communication, which will have a negative impact your company’s pipeline.

Customer records should include precise information and relevant notes, such as purchasing trends, product preferences, and marketing campaigns.

Even if you believe a customer’s records are accurate, take the time to update them. You may learn that a customer has recently changed his or her address, which is crucial information if you are shipping a product to that person or firm. You can take a few moments during each phone call, email interaction, and in-person meeting to verify records and customer information.

3. Lack of Planning

A startup cannot adjust to its opportunities and success if the company is not measuring efforts and results. Analytics can provide invaluable metrics with regard to web, staff, and product performance. Marketing professionals, project managers, and leadership teams can get ready for upcoming product launches, industry conventions, and other substantive events by using business analytic software.

4. Delayed Responses

Startups can lose revenue if they do not dedicate enough staff to customer service needs. Clients who encounter a busy dial signal on the phone, automated email response, or closed door may decide to take their business elsewhere.

If your company is struggling to respond promptly to inbound queries, consider hiring an IT helpdesk and customer service specialists. If clients email, call, or drops in with a question, do your best to connect them with the best resource to fit their needs.

5. Disorganization

Once a startup gains enough of a following, it will need to purchase CRM software to manage contacts, develop pipeline, and close sales. Companies that neglect to invest in these solutions will soon run into organizational problems as data needs overwhelm them.

Excel spreadsheets can do only so much before they become bogged down with convoluted and unnecessary information. A CRM solution empowers teams to collaborate on client accounts, build invoices, and establish sales.

Another way for companies to avoid disorder is to go paperless. Explore servers, cloud solutions, and offsite backups to keep documents safe and secure. Protect CRM databases and other sensitive information by backing data up regularly. IT departments may add another level of security by performing routine technology maintenance, rotating passwords, and repairing technology.

Startups rely on word-of-mouth, online reviews, and client perception to grow their business. These relationships may be placed in jeopardy if your organization suffers from miscommunication, disorganization, or poor planning.

Avoid these stressful situations by investing in staff resources and technologies that fulfill startup needs.

Frustrated Photo via Shutterstock

The post How Startups Can Ruin Their Customer Relationships appeared first on Small Business Trends.

Recognizing The Signs of Financial Infidelity

It’s endless fodder for reality crime shows—especially those leading to the murder of one spouse or another, or that of an extra-marital love interest. Surprise! She’s a compulsive shopper! He has another wife and family in another part of the country! She’s living under a false identity! He’s perpetrating massive securities fraud! While not every act of duplicity in a marriage results in a capital crime being committed, most are murder on healthy relationships. More important, most of them could be avoided if people simply accepted the wisdom of television court Judge Judith Shiendlin of Judge Judy fame: “If it doesn’t make sense, it’s not true.” And in my experience, that goes double if you think you’re falling in love.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is to avoid talking about money before entering a marriage or other long-term committed relationship, and often even after doing so. The result: financial issues are a leading factor behind break-ups and divorce. Even more dangerous than failing to talk about money: lying and engaging in, or failing to recognize, financial deceptions. It’s important for you to know the warning signs of financial infidelity, so you can address the issues before it’s too late—or delay, call off or get out of the marriage before further damage is done. Here are common signs of money secrets that kill marriages:

One or both spouses are in the dark about their financial histories. You may say what’s in the past should stay there. But that back-tax obligation, child support order, outstanding student loan, home foreclosure or bankruptcy filing from before you tied the knot can and likely will come home to roost on your marriage. Look at it this way: commingling your finances without knowing each others’ financial (including credit) histories is like having unprotected sex without knowing each others’ HIV status. If you’re intimate in every way but financially, that’s a problem.

Bills, credit card offers and other mail gets intercepted by one spouse before the other gets to see them. This is nearly always an attempt to hide income, debt, expenses or spending. Another sign: Doing all financial transactions, including spending, online, with no paper trail and no way for a spouse to see or check the accounts. Someone could be hiding a gambling problem, compulsive spending addiction, crazy debt, an extra-marital affair—or absolutely nothing. Or it could be an unhealthy power play, with one partner withholding financial information in order to control the other, or unfairly making one spouse responsible for all the financial obligations of the marriage (and the stress that comes with that) alone. Whatever the reason, marital trust will be at serious risk, if not damaged beyond repair.

Hiding or lying about income. Some people understate how much they actually make. Others hide income from other sources, such as a bonus or raise, freelance work, a second job, or gifts from relatives. On the other hand, people may pretend they make more money than they actually do, or even lie about having income when they actually don’t have a job at all. You or your partner may be tempted to lie about your job situation due to shame, or fear that being unemployed may cause a break-up. Some pretend to work, desperately trying to find a new job before their spouses know they’ve lost the old one. In any case, hiding the truth about your income status puts both your household finances as well as your relationship at risk, in part because to maintain the charade you must continue to spend in ways that make no sense based on how much money is actually coming in. All of these issues can create major problems in an otherwise healthy relationship.

One or both spouses keep details of their income and expenses secret from each other, budgeting as singles even though their finances are intermingled in the eyes of the law. Failing to work from a combined household budget and to manage finances jointly and openly is a recipe for financial infidelity. Must you have joint banking, credit card and other accounts? Not necessarily. But both of you must be fully aware of all accounts, what’s in them and what’s owed on them. More importantly, you need to be in agreement on what they’re for and how they are to be managed. Income deception is nearly impossible to maintain when both spouses are involved with managing the household budget, which should always be the case. If one of you is always in the dark about when, how and whether expenses are being paid—or worse, even what they are—that’s a problem.

Knowing each others financial history is especially important if this is not your first marriage, if you or your spouse have children from other relationships, or if you have assumed legal or fiduciary responsibility for a parent or other relative. That’s because a former spouse, a parent of your child, or some else outside of your marriage could have rights or make decisions that could directly impact your current financial situation—and of course, cause stress, arguments and other threats to peace in your marriage. For example, your spouse needs to know that you co-signed on your mother’s mortgage from you, not from the banker who ran your credit reports and is now rejecting your mortgage application for your own home purchase because of it.

Better to get all issues out on the table up front, so that together you can decide how you will handle them and plan accordingly. Ideally, you should do this before you put a ring on it. But if you are already married, you need to come clean about the details of your financial history, information and obligations right away. Remember, a marriage is a financial contract as much as it is an emotional and spiritual one. Lies about money violate the trust necessary to hold a healthy relationship together. Don’t let financial infidelity murder your finances and kill your marriage.

Audit Finds Government Paid Millions to Dead Farmers

black farmers

An audit which found that the federal government paid millions to deceased farmers said that the Department of Agriculture is at fault because it lacks the ability to track the funds, according to a report in the New York Times.

It’s news that comes as the House and Senate are set to hammer out a deal that could expand assistance to farmers. The findings also has critics up in arms over the federal government’s controls over subsidies.

“The Agriculture Department generally agreed with the findings in the report but said it disagreed with the characterization that it did not have sufficient controls in place,” the Times report says.

White House Recognizes Tech Leaders As ‘Champions of Change for Tech Inclusion’

(Image: ThinkStock)

The White House gathered a group of non-profit workers, educators, and startup founders to be honored on Wednesday as “Champions of Change for Tech Inclusion.” As part of the White House Tech Inclusion initiative, the event recognized tech leaders working to expand opportunities within the tech field for young innovators, specifically minorities, women and girls, and individuals underserved or underrepresented.

Kimberly Bryant, founder and executive director of Black Girls Code, Kathryn Finney, founder and managing director of digitalundivided, and founder and executive director at iUrbanTeen Deena Pierott are among the 11 change-agents that were honored during the event.  President Obama and his administration are committed to expanding opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), vowing to increase the number of STEM graduates by one million over the next ten years. That prompted the chief executive to launch White House Tech Inclusion efforts, which are geared toward providing tech skills and opportunities to the next generation of innovators in the United States. Comedian and author of New York Times bestseller How To Be Black Baratunde Thurston served as moderator for the Champions of Change discussion.

In January, the Obama administration organized the White House Tech Inclusion Summit where five new programs were announced.

If you missed today’s live stream of the event, scroll through the #whchamps Twitter stream:

Tips on Home Buying from Egypt Sherrod

Egypt Sherrod

From Uptown Magazine

Few urban radio personalities have managed the double duty of holding down their spot on the dial while also branching out into television—but Egypt Sherrod is a notable exception. Currently, the former New York City Power 105.1 morning show host heads On Air with Egypt, a hit midday show on Atlanta’s top-rated radio station V103. And the married mother of one is also enjoying her fourth season as the host of HGTV’s long-running Property Virgins, which caters to first-time homebuyers.

The Philadelphia native—a fixture on the radio waves for almost two decades—launched her career in her hometown at just 19 years old and has never looked back.

Once a regular on The Maury Show, Sherrod seized the HGTV opportunity when original host Sandra Rinomato moved on. “When they began their search for a new face and voice,” Sherrod shares, “my team and I felt that I was a good fit for HGTV and vice versa.”

Read more at Uptown Magazine


 

Study: Facebook Hashtags Aren’t Driving Engagement…Yet

hashtags on facebook

Since rumors first emerged of possible Facebook hashtags in March, there has been considerable excitement. Brands, marketers and business owners have known for some time how effective hashtags can be at driving engagement on platforms like Twitter.

So it might surprise you to learn that an initial measure of their effectiveness on the social networking site has been disappointing. In fact, a recent study of activity on the Facebook pages of the world’s top 100 brands shows there is no sign of increased engagement from hashtags on Facebook at all.

At least not yet, that is.

Hashtags on Facebook: Use is Up

The Facebook study by analytics firm Simply Measured looked at the Interbrand Top 100 Brands on Facebook between May 1 and June 30, 2013. It examined a range of methods these companies are using to drive engagement with their fans, and at which industries were most successful at driving that engagement.

Still marketers have understandably focused on how the new hashtags on Facebook are faring after their official launch June 12.

The study shows brands have increased their use of Facebook hashtags by about 20 percent since they were introduced, observes Amy Gesenhues of Marketing Land.

But the study also shows no evidence they have been effective so far in driving engagement among fans.

Conclusion

It may be too early to come to an absolute conclusion about the effectiveness of hashtags on Facebook.

The study suggests a better measure may need to wait until more brands are using hashtags and more Facebook users and fans get accustomed to finding content in this way.

The post Study: Facebook Hashtags Aren’t Driving Engagement…Yet appeared first on Small Business Trends.

Want Your Product on a Wal-Mart Shelf? Check Out Our ‘Get on the Shelf’ Series

walmart-shelf-employeeBlack Enterprise and Wal-Mart have joined forces with a campaign focused on education minority business owners how they can get their products on Wal-Mart shelves.

The campaign will highlight articles that focus on supplier diversity, profile individuals who landed their products on Wal-Mart shelves, gaining access, finding mentors, growing your business and much more.

Check out the ‘Get on the Shelf’ series and more articles on supplier diversity here