Fashion tech startup raised funding round entirely over Zoom during Covid - Tech Insider

Fashion tech startup raised funding round entirely over Zoom during Covid - Tech InsiderFashion tech startup raised funding round entirely over Zoom during Covid - Tech InsiderPosted: 26 May 2020 03:30 AM PDT E-commerce platform Blackcart is set to launch later this month having raised $2 million in venture funding, solely over Zoom, during the coronavirus pandemic. The try-before-you-buy fashion startup has fast-tracked its launch process with Covid-19 closing physical clothes stores across North America."We were going to keep the platform in beta for a few more months, but then Covid came along," Blackcart founder and CEO Donny Ouyang told Business Insider in an interview. "We messaged all potential investors to fast-track the fundraising process to launch, it was five weeks of back and forth, 100s of emails and five or six meetings every day." Click here for more BI Prime stories.E-commerce platform Blackcart is set to launch later this month having raised $2 mil…



How Can Businesses Best Deal With Digital Disruption? - Forbes

Posted: 01 Mar 2019 03:03 PM PST

What business strategies are necessary for dealing with digital disruption? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Michael Wade, Cisco Chair in Digital Business Transformation, on Quora:

This is a question that we addressed in our previous book, Digital Vortex, and expanded in Orchestrating Transformation. We have identified four strategies for responding to digital disruption: Harvest, Retreat, Disrupt, and Occupy. We refer to these, collectively, as the Strategic Response Playbook. The first two options are defensive strategies—they help to enhance or protect existing business lines. Defensive strategies are used to fend off value vampires, as well as more modest threats, and to maximize the useful lifespan of businesses under attack.

The Harvest strategy is about learning from disruptors and improving core products and services. It can also involve blocking the disruptor, as we have seen with responses to disruptors like Uber and Airbnb. The Retreat strategy is really about deciding when to exit a sector under attack, or moving into a niche area where it is very hard for the disruptor to enter. Both Harvest and Retreat are very important approaches to extend the lifespan of a business under disruptive attack.

Occupy is the battle win in the new marketplace created by disruption. Who is going to win the music streaming battle? Spotify looks in good shape, but it faces heady competition from Apple, Amazon, Google, Deezer, and others. Disruptors like Spotify do not always win the day. This is the Occupy battle. The final strategy is Disrupt, which is when a new technology or business model significantly impacts a sector by creating new forms of cost, experience, or platform value for customers.

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In business proposals, D.C. Council member Jack Evans pitched influence to legal and lobby firms - Washington Post

Posted: 01 Mar 2019 01:23 PM PST

D.C. Council member Jack Evans has repeatedly emailed business proposals to law firms that lobby District officials, offering his connections and influence amassed as the city's longest-serving lawmaker.

In a January 2018 pitch to Nelson Mullins, a law firm that had lobbied his office on behalf of a client just months before, Evans said the firm should employ him because as an elected official and chairman of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, he could engage in "cross-marketing my relationships and influence to Nelson Mullins clients."

Using her government email account, Evans's chief of staff sent similar proposals on his behalf in 2015 to the firms Venable and K&L Gates, as well as to Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, which hired him.

Evans, a Ward 2 Democrat, and his chief of staff, Schannette Grant, did not respond to requests for comment.

The pitches — obtained by The Washington Post through a Freedom of Information Act request — show how one of the District's most powerful public officials sought to simultaneously work in the private sector on behalf of companies looking to navigate the landscape of local government.

And they come to light as federal prosecutors scrutinize Evans's business affairs. In September, a federal grand jury issued a subpoena to D.C. officials for documents relating to legislation Evans promoted in 2016 that would have benefited a digital sign company, Digi Outdoor Media. Evans had received and has said he returned money and stock from the company.

"While I would not be able to directly lobby the District government, I could certainly use my knowledge of local government to strategize with someone looking to do business locally," Evans said in the 2015 pitch.

D.C. law permits elected officials to hold jobs in the private sector. But of the 13 members of the D.C. Council, just one other — Mary M. Cheh — reports significant and ongoing outside income on required financial disclosures. Cheh, a Ward 3 Democrat, is a constitutional law professor at George Washington University.

Throughout his 28-year tenure on the council, Evans has engaged in outside legal and consulting work. In required disclosures, he has listed law firms for which he's worked but has not named his clients. D.C. ethics rules require him to identify clients only if they have a contract with the District or stand to benefit from pending legislation.

As chair of the committee on finance and revenue, Evans has significant sway over the city's tax policy, finances and tourism industry. As chairman of WMATA, Evans oversees contracting and policy for a regional transit agency with a $3 billion budget.

From 2001 to 2015, Evans worked at the powerhouse law and lobby firm Patton Boggs, where his focus included "government and Congressional relations, business law and corporate securities," according to his résumé. He has said he earned $190,000 per year from the firm in outside income. He earns $140,161 annually as a council member.

Evans sent his 2018 proposal to Nelson Mullins lawyer Timothy Fitzgibbon, who did not return a request for comment. There is no indication the firm hired or retained Evans.

In the pitch, Evans remarked that the District's government "is the flattest political organization in the country."

"There are just 15 elected officials in the city: one mayor, 13 councilmembers, and one attorney general," Evans wrote. "A contract, bill, or regulation can go from idea to consummation in a matter of months."

Evans continued: "Despite this fertile ground, no local firm has yet to establish itself as the "Go-To" government relations firm. The opportunity to claim this mantle is clear."

Among the recipients of Evans's 2015 pitch was John Ray, a former council member and a partner at Manatt. Ray or an associate had lobbied Evans on behalf of energy giant Exelon only months beforehand. He did not return a request for comment.

That proposal included the District of Columbia in a list of potential clients Evans said he could help attract. The list also included businesses he'd dealt with as a councilman, such as Xerox, Uber, Fort Myer Construction and Marriott.

"I am looking to continue my law practice while continuing to serve on the City Council," Evans wrote.

Evans began working for Manatt in October 2015. That month, his signature was the first among seven council members who, under D.C. Council letterhead, urged the Public Service Commission to approve a merger between Exelon and Pepco. The letter did not disclose a relationship between Evans and Exelon's lobbying firm. A spokeswoman for Exelon declined comment Friday.

Evans was reelected to his latest four-year term in 2016. He stopped working at Manatt in October 2017, according to his financial disclosures. By that time, he had created his own firm, NSE Consulting, which was named in the grand jury subpoena in September seeking information relating to Evans and the digital sign company.

The Boss? You’re Looking at Her: 7 Women in the Building Business - The New York Times

Posted: 01 Mar 2019 02:02 AM PST

It is no longer exactly groundbreaking for women to work on construction sites, to develop or design retail and commercial spaces, or to fill those spaces with tenants.

Women, for example, occupy 43 percent of commercial real estate positions industrywide, according to data from CREW Network, a networking organization for women in commercial real estate. And more women than ever now fill senior vice president, managing director and partner slots in commercial real estate businesses.

Still, women who work in male-dominated sectors of the industry sometimes discover that a hard hat is a hard hat to wear. They tell of being locked out of deals, of being condescended to, of having to prove their skills and then prove them again.

"None of us are looking for a handout. We're just looking for a level playing field," said MaryAnne Gilmartin, the chief executive of the development company L&L MAG, which she co-founded in early 2018 after 23 years at Forest City New York, the last five as chief executive.

"Where I feel concerned," she added, "is that the #metoo backlash will mean that women won't get opportunities because the men doing the hiring don't want to open themselves up to confusion or claims about their behavior."

But Ms. Gilmartin said she also sees cause for optimism: "As women become more common in the real estate workplace and move up the ladder, we're in a position to influence who makes up the team."

She is also hopeful because "there's pressure on the all-male lineup to diversify," she said. "This is an industry that changes because it has to, not because it wants to. The failure to address the women issue will cost them money and opportunities, so companies will do what they have to do."

Here are a few women who endured workplace slights because they were in places dominated by men, but who thrived nonetheless and now run their own corners of the real estate world.

Leslie Baltes began climbing the shelves of the industrial supply company Carter, Milchman & Frank when she was a child. Ms. Baltes is now 46 and the president of the Long Island City-based company — and she's still climbing the shelves.

But while her grandfather Herman Milchman was one of the founders of the company, and her mother and father took over the business in the 1980s, Ms. Baltes chose a different path — accounting. Half a dozen years ago, when her parents wanted to retire and pass the baton to her, Ms. Baltes's response was quick and to the point: No way.

"I don't know how they got me," she said.

She now supervises a staff of 40, and almost half of them women. "I'm all about girl power," Ms. Baltes said.

Not everyone got the memo. When she started at the company and would order her drivers to get going with deliveries, "they looked at me like I had two heads," Ms. Baltes said. "I had to be tough."

Then there was a lunch with, among others, the general contracting team for a large developer. Ms. Baltes had been asked to prepare a quote for some equipment and was told "the guys wanted to meet me," she said. A casual lunch was set up, and over burgers, Ms. Baltes got a grilling.

"Were you a manicurist or a hairdresser before you got this gig?" the men asked. "And who did you have to sleep with to get it?"

"I said, 'You guys are idiots. A manicurist? Look how bad my nails are. Look how bad my roots are,'" she recalled. "I made a joke. I said that my grandfather slept with my grandmother."

But sometimes being a woman is a bit of an advantage. "When my competitors and I are talking about our products, and there are 12 men and one me, and when I make my follow-up phone call, potential customers will remember me," Ms. Baltes said. "And that's important."

Granted, there is still a level of "you are the owner?" "But it's getting better," she said. "Every time I go to a job site, I see more women, and there's an ease about it that wasn't there five years ago."

She continued: "There's a way to go. But now, even if men are thinking negative things, they don't say them anymore."

"As the architect on a construction site, I had to learn to yell and raise my voice," said Elizabeth Roberts, the founder and president of the architecture firm that bears her name. "Contractors can be fiery, and I find I have to equal their tone of voice and style of communicating."CreditAlex Wroblewski/The New York Times

Elizabeth Roberts is the founder of a 20-person architecture firm in Brooklyn that bears her name. And although she has done some cultural and commercial projects, her concentration is on residential work.

"I made a decision early on that I wanted that to be my focus," said Ms. Roberts, 50, whose clients include the fashion designer Ulla Johnson and many in the entertainment industry, among them Maggie Gyllenhaal and her husband, Peter Sarsgaard. "I prefer working with families and helping them create a home."

Ms. Roberts said she experienced no gender bias whatsoever when, early in her career, she worked at the architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle. And she said she has experienced it only rarely as the head of her own firm, whose staff, for the record, is 50 percent female.

"I tend to focus on the positive side," she said. "I tend to think that being a woman helps me in my job, because there's a lot of balancing that needs to be done hourly and daily, and a need to keep your cool under pressure, and I think a lot of those things come with being a woman."

But, she added, "I wonder if I try to pretend that gender bias isn't an issue." Here, she is thinking of the surprised look she gets from contractors when they learn that not only is she the architect of record on a project but that she is also the boss of the team the contractor has been working with for the past year.

She is thinking also about the difficult conversations she must sometimes have with clients about why the fearsomely expensive renovation has suddenly become even more expensive, and why the 18-month project is sliding past year two.

"These clients are understandably stressed," Ms. Roberts said. "But when I feel I'm being put in my place or talked down to or spoken to in a particular way, I often wonder: 'If I were a 75-year-old man, would you be lecturing me about how things should have gone?' I do think about that often."

"I've noticed my female staff is uncomfortable taking on new challenges when it requires them to get in the limelight," said Robin Zeigler, the chief operating officer of Cedar Realty Trust, a real estate investment trust. "As their leader, I push them, because I see their ability."CreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times

Robin Zeigler's degree in accounting took her to a job at Ernst & Young, as an auditor for Coca-Cola, in 1994. When, a few years later, she wanted to make a transition out of accounting, one of the female partners at the firm offered Ms. Zeigler the chance to move into the real estate group.

She was eager, but unschooled. "I didn't know what a real estate investment trust was. I went to a bookstore and bought every book they had on the subject and spent the weekend reading up," said Ms. Zeigler, 47, who is now the chief operating officer and executive vice president of Cedar Realty Trust, an R.E.I.T. that owns, manages and redevelops grocery-anchored shopping centers in the Washington to Boston corridor.

"Part of what helped my trajectory," she said, "was taking advantage of opportunities, of saying yes to something and figuring it out later."

Ms. Zeigler quickly learned some things that weren't in the books she read so diligently: Real estate is a relationship business, and people (that is to say, men) tend to form those relationships with people who are just like them (that is to say, other men). They develop those relationships on golf courses and in cigar bars, negotiating on the back nine and firming up the deal over a Cohiba.

"It can be a challenge when deals are happening in places where females are not invited," Ms. Zeigler said.

It can also be a challenge even when females have every reason to be there. "I've experienced things like walking into a meeting that I've called and I've been asked by a man to get coffee," Ms. Zeigler said. "I've responded, 'I like mine with a little bit of cream and sugar, and I'm Robin Zeigler.'"

She can't make those annoyances vanish, she said, but she controls what she can: "I do make sure people know what I bring to the table and try to make my voice heard. When you're the only woman in a room full of men, that can sometimes be difficult."

Keeping quiet at the conference table, she has learned, is often not the way to go. "If you have enough experience having a thought and not sharing the thought, and then having someone offer the thought that was your thought, you get the courage to share that thought when the thought occurs to you," she said. "It's not an issue for me anymore."

"There are no men running this company," said Barbara Kavovit, the founder of Evergreen Construction. "There is no one but me making the final decision. The buck stops with me."CreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times

Barbara Kavovit was 9 when her father handed her a Stanley hammer. "He wanted me to help him make bunk beds for my sister and me," she said.

"Thanks to my dad, who thought it was important for a girl to be independent, early on I had a taste of what it felt like to have self-esteem and to accomplish a goal," said Ms. Kavovit, who has built on that childhood success, and then some.

Soon after college graduation, she started her first business, Stand-Ins, a home-improvement company in Westchester County. After three years, Ms. Kavovit shuttered Stand-Ins, established a new company, Anchor, and moved her base of operations to New York City to take on corporate and retail construction projects. These included the construction of iVillage headquarters and Carnegie Hall Towers, and the build-out of Coty headquarters.

In 2015, Ms. Kavovit, who is now in her late 40s, started Evergreen Construction, now a $30-million-a-year business with 22 employees (six of whom are women) and a focus on interior construction for corporate and retail projects. Evergreen's client list includes companies like Bandier, Exhale Spa and the ceramics studio BKLYN CLAY.

Despite such accomplishments, "I get challenged every day by men," said Ms. Kavovit, who will likely face a fresh set of challenges as a supporting cast member on the new season of "The Real Housewives of New York City." She recalled walking a potential client through a job site last year and stopping to ask her field supervisor a question. The field supervisor had a question of his own for the boss: "Do you know how to read a blueprint?"

Yes, Ms. Kavovit knew how to read a blueprint, how to sign a paycheck and, come to think of it, how to fire a benighted employee. She proved it by sacking that supervisor posthaste.

"It's almost like there are some men who don't want us to be on the job site," she said. "Thank God there are companies and clients that do want me there."

"I get up every day and thank God for being so lucky," said Joanne Podell, the executive chairwoman of the commercial real estate company Cushman & Wakefield. "But coming up in the business was harder than it needed to be."CreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times

Joanne Podell, the executive chairwoman of Cushman & Wakefield, describes her career in commercial real estate as an accident. Previously she owned several thriving furniture stores.

But because of a real estate blunder involving a storage facility and crippling rent, those stores went out of business.

"I had chosen the locations for my stores and had negotiated all my leases," said Ms. Podell, who is now in her 70s. "And a friend and mentor who worked in the furniture business told me, 'If you can do it for yourself, you can do it for others.'"

Well, sure she could, but first someone had to give her the chance. "Coming up was harder than it needed to be," said Ms. Podell, who has been in the business for more than 25 years. "The problem was that everyone teamed up. It was a boys' club, and it's not that different today. I had no one to talk to and no one to mentor me. I had to learn on my own."

In particular, she remembers looking at a building with a school on the ground floor. "I thought, 'Wow, that's prime real estate. Maybe we can ask the school if it wants to move.' How naïve to get involved with the Department of Education."

Because Ms. Podell failed to appreciate the complexity — and futility — of such an undertaking, she spent days and weeks calling people. "I wasted all that time on something I couldn't realistically realize," she said. "And for a broker, all you have is time."

Back then, the only real advantage to being a woman in the business was that there were very few women brokers, "and landlords would remember me," she said. "The retailers had no problem with my being a woman. I had been a retailer; I understood the great risk they were taking, and they knew I was interested in doing the right thing for them."

Ms. Podell has now done enough deals — her clients include Nike, TD Bank, Ann Taylor and Luxottica — that the gender issue is no longer an issue. "But," she added, "it only stopped being an issue about eight years ago."

"If I'm at an inspection, and a guy is putting me down a bit, I don't worry about it. I know I'm good at what I do," said Dina Miller, a founder and the chief operating officer of the real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel.CreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times

In 1986, when Dina Miller, her brother, Jonathan, and other family members founded the real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel, "there were very few female appraisers," said Ms. Miller, 56, whose specialty is specialty work — determining the value of a common hallway that a co-op shareholder wants to buy, for example, and handling stratospherically expensive property, including the top-floor apartment at 432 Park Avenue.

"The high-end and the unique are difficult to appraise. Obviously, there's nothing to compare them to," Ms. Miller said. "It's not like a one-bedroom, where there are half a dozen similar sales in a building. You have to know the market and the nuances. I like that challenge."

And, of course, like a doctor who goes to a party and is buttonholed by strangers with questions about their ailments, Ms. Miller is frequently quizzed by friends about the value of their real estate. "They'll say to me, 'What is the market doing? What is my apartment worth? Do you think it's listed too high?' I'm happy to give them insight."

Sometimes, however, she is the one being appraised. "There's the attitude of 'Here comes this woman and what does she know?' Fifteen years ago, I went to a high-end apartment and the wife opened the door. She looked at me, looked around to see if there was a man with me, then turned to her husband and said, 'Look, honey, it's a female appraiser,' as if I were from the circus."

Matters have improved, because there are more female appraisers now, Ms. Miller said. "But you have some people who are very old school."

When, for example, she is on a site with a male trainee, "clients will often think the trainee is my boss," Ms. Miller said. Questions about when the appraisal will be ready or whether they know about other sales in the building will be directed to the man.

"We have to correct people and explain that he's in training and I'm the owner of the company," she said.

"As time goes on men are getting used to having strong women in their lives whether as family member or colleagues, and it's no longer unique for a man to have a woman boss," said Leslie Winkler, president of Halstead Management.CreditGeorge Etheredge for The New York Times

It was 1975, and Leslie Winkler was working on her doctorate in American history. She and her husband, a dentist, were out one night with another dentist and the dentist's wife, who ran her family's real estate business and who announced during dinner that she needed a managing agent.

Ms. Winkler, disenchanted with academia, was intrigued. A managing agent — what's a managing agent? A managing agent, she was told, was someone who visited people's beautiful apartments. That sounded good to Ms. Winkler; she said she could start on Monday.

She quickly learned that being a managing agent was not only about visiting beautiful apartments. It was about leaks, broken boilers, tenants who were hot and tenants who were cold, and tenants whose stoves and refrigerators were on the blink.

"But it was such a problem-solving job and such a learning experience," said Ms. Winkler, now 71 and the president of Halstead Management, with 200 residential properties under her supervision. "You'd go up on the roofs of these buildings and see the landscape of New York City and think, 'This is really good.'"

If Ms. Winkler was one of the few women in the property management business back then, it was fine with her. "I wasn't intimidated at all," she said. "I wanted to learn and put myself right out there."

It's true that when she went to a meeting with a male colleague, most of the questions were directed to that colleague. "Even if you did have the answers, there was no presumption that you knew anything or were good at your job, but that was how it was. That was the business," said Ms. Winkler, who is very much of the "if you don't want ants in your food, don't go on picnics" school of thought. "Either you accepted it and proved you were better than your male colleagues, or you got upset."

At least in part because of her own experiences, she has made a point of bringing women into the business and mentoring them, she said: "I hope I'm a role model to show them you can reach the top of your profession."

For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.

Yelp Launches Women-Owned Businesses Feature - Inc.

Posted: 01 Mar 2019 05:44 AM PST

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Yelp Launches Women-Owned Businesses Feature  Inc.

The local reviews company is giving consumers a way to find women-owned companies.

Anti-vaccine movies disappear from Amazon after CNN Business report - CNN

Posted: 01 Mar 2019 03:35 PM PST

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Anti-vaccine movies disappear from Amazon after CNN Business report  CNN

Amazon has apparently started removing anti-vaccine documentaries from its Amazon Prime Video streaming *service*. The move came days after a CNN ...


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