Tag Archives: entrepreneur

Green News Roundup- Alternative Energy Sources, Bioplastics and more

Green News Roundup – Alternative Energy Sources, Bioplastics & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about green entrepreneurs, alternative energy sources, bioplastics and more.

Feel free to send along any stories you’d like to see in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state.

Body Heat: Sweden’s New Green Energy Source
This article will make you think twice the next time you’re sweating it out at the gym or simply walking to work. Swedish engineers have figured out a way to harness body heat and transfer it to energy for an office building. Though using excess body heat to warm a building isn’t a new concept, transferring it from one building to another is. The future for this new energy source is exciting!

Entrepreneurs Ditch Day Jobs to Create Green mobile apps
Two University of Arizona graduates developed a green application for the iPhone geared toward the environmentally conscious consumer. iGoGreen offers green tips for hundreds of situations.

Solar Inspired, Eco-Friendly Gallery Opens at Arizona Science Center
Arizona Science Center announced the grand opening of its newly renovated gallery, Solarville. This hands-on gallery is focused on sustainability including exhibits on how to harness and distribute sustainable green energy, exploring ways to utilize solar and renewable energy in your everyday life and more. The exhibit opens May 23 and will offer daily demonstrations.

The Promise and Pitfalls of Bioplastic
In a previous post I wrote about petroleum and its strong presence in our everyday products. Since petroleum-based plastics do not biodegrade, bioplastics are hoping to fill the gap. This article discusses the future of the environmentally friendly plastic and its role in a petroleum-based world.

Green World

Green News Roundup-Sustainable Haiti, Economic Development & More

The catastrophic events that have stricken the people of Haiti demonstrate — quite lamentably — that in a world of nanotechnology, Google-enabled mobile phones, double tall soy lattes, and proposed universal healthcare, there remain societies on the brink of social, economic, and environmental collapse. For comparison sake, recall the 1989 earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay Area; a 7.0 geological shift took the lives of 63 people. The same magnitude befell the people of Haiti on Jan. 12; while estimates vary, 100,000 could be dead. That is half of the population of the City of Tempe.

International aid organizations have begun to alleviate immediate suffering; there has been a nationally televised charity concert where people could “text-message” help from the comfort of their own home; myriad countries have sent physical and monetary support. However, there remains a normative question that should be on our minds:

What should we do to ensure a more sustainable Haiti, in the future?

Consider these:

Expand education efforts:

In a nation where 38 percent of the population is under the age of 14, developing intellectual capital will allow good ideas to originate, blossom, and be implemented in a country that is in dire need of them.

Economic development and investment:

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. By advancing an equitable combination of foreign direct investment, NGO/nonprofit work, and domestic revenue producing opportunities we can ensure that Haitians are placed on a path of economic self sufficiency;

Further micro-lending networks and opportunities to allow access to entrepreneurial capital and development. Jobs starting from bottom up will empower individuals and reduce the economic stratification that is rampant in the country.

Establish legitimate governance systems:

Haiti’s government has utilized 8,000 U.N. peacekeepers to maintain some semblance of order and control since 2004. While a future government does not have to be a veritable paragon of representative democracy and efficiency, the people of Haiti deserve a government that will work — vigorously and in earnest — to advance their well-being. Imagine there were a comprehensive and enforced modern building code prior to the earthquake; would Haiti have fared more like San Francisco?

The world is not a mutually exclusive place anymore. We, a global people, are connected to one another in innumerable ways. As such, we need to demonstrate our solidarity and resolute commitment to creating a more sustainable Haiti. I challenge you to ask what else you, your business, organization, or nonprofit can contribute towards the economic, social, and environmental revitalization of Haiti.

Let’s start a thoughtful and innovative conversation about how businesses, organizations, and nonprofits can move beyond status-quo assistance and be truly entrepreneurial and ground-breaking in their aid. I look forward to making positive change happen, together.

angel statue

New Angel Investment Group Targets Women Entrepreneurs

A new angel investment group called the Catalyst Committee is gearing up to invest in local startup companies that focus on consumer goods such as apparel, high-end furniture and cosmetics. Heading up the new committee is Dee Riddell Harris, president of the Arizona Angels, a group of private investors that has been funding startup, technology-based companies in Arizona for nearly a decade.

“The Arizona Angels have rejected a number of applications from women entrepreneurs over the years because their ideas weren’t technology based or have a patent behind them,” Harris says. “So the point of the Catalyst Committee is to be supportive of entrepreneurs, particularly women, who have good ideas, as well as businesses that are not tech-based.”

Harris started building the framework for the Catalyst Committee about nine months ago. The group met for the first time in November 2008 and now has 35 potential women investors from around the state. During the kickoff meeting, the founders of three local startups talked to the group to provide an idea of the type of companies that could eventually apply for funding. High-end fashion designer Debra Davenport talked about the fashion industry in Phoenix, her couture collection, which she launched in November 2007 during Phoenix Fashion Week, and her hopes of one day raising $1.7 million that would allow her to participate in fashion shows around the world. She also showed a number of garments from her couture collection.

“Being able to participate in key fashion shows in Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Paris, Milan and London is a fashion designer’s primary marketing tool,” Davenport says. “But it’s not cheap. It can run anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 per show when you figure in pattern making, fabrication, manufacturing and all the specialized notions, materials and threads that have to be brought in from places like Paris and Italy.”

Last year, Davenport was able to show her luxury collection during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Los Angeles. It’s the second largest and most prestigious fashion week in the United States next to New York Fashion Week. Davenport was also the first and only designer to show from Arizona, according to IMG, the production company that puts on the show. Now, Davenport was invited to show her fall collection during the most recent New York Fashion Week.

“I’m hoping that with the significant achievements we’ve been able to accomplish over the last 15 months, we will catch the eye of some savvy investment people who think this is a winning proposition,” Davenport says.

She is planning to launch her first signature fragrance later this year or in early 2010. She also plans to expand her design offerings to shoes, handbags and china patterns. The 50-year-old fashion designer has already completed designs for china patterns, shoes and luxury handbags that will be manufactured in Italy.

Kathie Zeider, senior vice president of Legacy Bank and a member of the Catalyst Committee, says there are many worthwhile businesses in Arizona like Davenport’s that serve women, or are women owned, and poised for high growth of $5 million to $50 million.

“We’re in a service and tech economy, so for Arizona to grow and prosper we need to nurture both sides of the economy,” Zeider says. “Kudos to Dee Harris for seeing this gap in the Arizona marketplace and developing an initiative to fill this need.”

Committee member Connie Jungbluth also believes early-stage investors are critical to the state’s economic vitality. “It’s important to infuse capital into early-stage companies in our community, especially in this economy,” she says. “Women are also big consumers, so overlooking businesses that serve them is not a good idea.”

The Catalyst Committee is still in search of investors to join the group. Its goal is to have 100 investors and to help one local startup company a month. Investors must meet state and federal accreditation standards. Individual investors need an annual income of $200,000 for the current year and the past two years. Couples require an annual income of $300,000 for the current year and last two years. A net worth of $1 million is also acceptable in lieu of the income standard.

Entrepreneurs can submit their applications and business plans to the Catalyst Committee via the Arizona Angels Web site. Harris says entrepreneurs seeking angel investment need to be well prepared when applying for funding; they need a strong business plan with important information aimed at investors.

“Angels are extremely interested in the management team that gives credibility to the firm, so oftentimes they read the first paragraph of a business plan, then skip straight to the management team because it’s so important,” he says. “They also want to know about the company’s marketing and sales strategy and whether the company has some type of competitive advantage.”

www.arizona-angels.org

Dependable Solar Products - One Arizona Small Business Going Green

Dependable Solar Products: One Arizona Small Business Going Green

The year was 1976. Before “going green” was the worldwide movement that it is today, Lane Garrett left his job to become an entrepreneur in energy management and conservation. By 1992, he had formed ETA Engineering, a distribution and engineering business specializing in various solar products. After distributors suggested that forming a separate company for installation would be a wise strategic marketing move, Garrett founded Dependable Solar Products in 2005.

Although ETA had been in business for more than a decade by the time Dependable Solar Products was founded, like any new business it ran into some difficulties.

“The challenges were capitalization to build the company, which was provided by stockholders,” Garrett says, adding that “getting the word out and getting some name recognition” was another issue.

Luckily, since ETA had been operating for several years, “we had all the technical expertise, engineering and experience, so that wasn’t a problem,” Garrett says.

Together, ETA Engineering and Dependable Solar Products have helped to put Arizona on the map for solar energy. ETA Engineering offers a full line of renewable energy products and services, and also designs systems such as photovoltaic power plants. They currently have projects in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, with more on the way including three in South Africa. Dependable Solar primarily installs solar modules (panels), as well as conducting some wind work.

“We do installations for power companies, industrial applications, as well as homeowners,” Garrett says.

The sizes of the systems vary, ranging from smaller systems that are just over a kilowatt in size, all the way up to large megawatt-plus size.

“If we look at the range of systems depending on size of homes and how much energy people use, it would go from usually 3 kilowatts (as a small system) to 10 kilowatts or more for some of the local people located in the mountains. Typically three to four range in size,” Garrett says.

In addition to the solar services it provides, Dependable Solar Products offers a multitude of green products.

“We provide a range of conservation — green — and energy-generating products such as wind turbines, lighting of all types, swimming pool circulation pumps, remote systems (off the utility grid and running 100 percent on solar), photovoltaic modules, high efficiency air conditioning, insulation (and more),” Garrett says.

The company also installs high-efficiency appliances, solar-powered golf cars, and even self-composting toilets. Essentially, the company has the ability to work in any area where electricity is used.

Currently, Dependable Solar Products has two locations, one in Scottsdale and one in Mesa. However, Garrett hopes to expand significantly in the coming year.

“We are planning this year to set up locations in Tucson, Denver, Albuquerque (N.M.) and Northern Mexico,” he says. “We hope to continue to grow at a rapid rate.”

While Arizona has sunshine to spare, incentives in other states make them more appealing solar energy destinations. However, in recent years this has changed significantly. Tax credits and the return on investment for solar energy are increasing, giving consumers more reasons to switch to solar.

“With the corporation commission and a lot of push through the Legislature, that situation is changing and now Arizona is much more competitive with other states.

“GPEC (Greater Phoenix Economic Council) and other organizations in the state have been working to change (incentives). The Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association has been active in changing incentives. I think chances of additional improvements are looking much better,” Garrett says.

With the rising cost of energy, solar is becoming the leading alternative for many and Garrett is thrilled to see that his long-time passion is finally becoming a reality.

“It’s one of the best investments you can make,” Garrett says. “I’ve been wishing for the coming growth, and to see it now is my favorite aspect.”

Lisa Nisleit of Color Repro Consulting

Color Repro Consulting

Lisa Nisleit
Color Repro Consulting
Title: President
Est.: 2001 | www.colorrepro.com

Lisa Nisleit was working for a large format printing company in 2001, when a client suggested she branch out on her own. She liked what she was doing and her accounts were satisfied with her performance, but Nisleit was frustrated that all the services she wanted to offer her clients weren’t available.

That’s when she decided to take the leap and launch her own business.

“The first thing I did was go out and visit as many accounts as I could. I wanted them to know that I would be the one-stop contact,” Nisleit says.

Color Repro Consulting’s primary services include printing for large format projects, trade shows, pamphlets and any other printing needs. Instead of customers dealing with a variety of vendors, Color Repro is responsible for every aspect of the project, from recognizing the types of services needed to completing the job and locating the suppliers and products, to printing and finishing the job on time.

“It’s project management, not just printing,” Nisleit says.

Her determination and focus on vendor-client relationships has helped transform her idea into a successful business.

“We depend on (vendors) to assist us with taking care of our clients. They depend on us to bring them work. Our clients depend on us to complete their project on time and on budget. Everyone is happy,” Nisleit says.

After holding a variety of jobs, including positions in retail and even in the semiconductor industry, running her own business was not something Nisleit expected to do.

“I’m still amazed that I’m still here after all this time. At the beginning, it was a week-to-week thing, but I’m still here,” she says.

The early hurdles of running a business, such as cash flow problems, were something Nisleit encountered but overcame. Now, Color Repro has developed a reputation as a dependable printing company that will work hard to meet its customers’ needs.

“We find ourselves always being the go-to people. So many projects are last minute. One of the biggest industries we deal with is construction and architecture. These companies put together their proposal projects to submit, and then we’ve only got a couple hours to print it,” Nisleit says.

Delivering on her promise to get the job done on time and on budget is a key ingredient to the success of Color Repro.

“It is our job to know who is in this town who can turn things quickly on a budget,” Nisleit says.

Through hard work and determination, Nisleit was able to lead her company to success. Her future plans for the business include moving to a new, larger location and hiring more employees.

For all the potential entrepreneurs out there, Nisleit has these simple words of wisdom: “Take the risk. If it’s something that you really want to do and it’s something that you love, you’re going to be successful at it.”

Susie Baldwin of Arizona Greens

Arizona Greens Brings Artificial Turf To Arizona

Arizona Greens
Don Baldwin, founder and president
Susie Baldwin, founder and COO
Est. 2005

Taking the plunge to open your own business is always a difficult endeavor, but for Don and Susie Baldwin, the leap turned into a wildly successful venture with Arizona Greens. In fact, in 2005, only three months after launching their synthetic turf and putting greens business from their home, the couple had so many appointments that artificial turf was stored in the rafters of their garage.

“The phone rang so much we could not even answer it fast enough,” Susie Baldwin says.

Arizona Greens specializes in complete landscaping and hardscaping with an emphasis on low-maintenance, low-water synthetic turf for both residential and commercial properties.

Lifelong Arizona residents, Don and Susie have witnessed the dramatic changes to the state first hand. They realize water conservation is more important than ever, making synthetic grass a wise alternative for many.

“In this day and age of trying to be green and trying to conserve, this is just such an easy way to accomplish all those issues at one time,” Susie says.

In addition, due to numerous landscaping requests from customers, the Baldwins added a dual commercial and residential general contractor’s license to the company’s resume.

With the incredible success of Arizona Greens, one would never guess that the Baldwins previous careers were miles away from the landscaping industry. Don had worked as a long-distance truck driver and Susie was in corporate banking.

“The subtotal of our experiences was taking care of our yard,” she laughs.

Yet, they persevered and quickly learned the ins and outs of owning a landscaping business. The rapid growth of the company forced them to address numerous issues, including problems with adequate staffing and maintaining positive customer relations during delayed installations.

Now, with the tough economic times, the Baldwins are facing their next big hurdle in entrepreneurship.

“The first three years we were in business was cash flow heaven … then things changed virtually overnight,” Susie says. “In light of what has happened with the economy, it is imperative to look as forward as possible.”

Though the nonstop action of the early days of the business has slowed significantly, Don and Susie are positive that Arizona Greens will weather the storm and learn a very valuable lesson along the way. The energetic couple has learned to balance their personal and professional lives without a hitch, and they look to the future to forge ahead with their work.

“We just want to continue to make an impact on our environment and keep it as pure as possible,” she says.

Evolution Tea Team

David Watson Revolutionizes Tea Industry

Revolution Tea — the name of the company says it all. In the late 1990s, after watching a rise in tea plarity at his wife’s tea room in Scottsdale, Larry DeAngelis recognized that the tea industry would soon experience a transformation, and he wanted to get involved prior to the “revolution.”

In 2001, he was joined by David Watson, who acquired majority ownership. Today, DeAngelis continues to serve as CEO, while Watson is chairman.

Watson is no stranger to making a company successful. He has dipped his hand in several industries, including real estate and cosmetics. In fact, he was president of BioMedic Clinical Care, which was sold to L’Oreal in 2001.

Watson says that when he joined Revolution Tea, he “saw what Starbucks did for coffee has happened (for tea at Revolution Tea).”

The company revolutionized the industry with its Infuser tea bag, which contains full-leaf teas and a carefully researched blend of natural fruits, herbs and spices. The special bag produces a fuller-bodied flavor due to its larger size and material. It now has 26 flavors to choose from; the five best-selling blends are Tropical Green, Sweet Ginger Peach, White Pear, English Breakfast and Earl Grey Lavender. They even have several organic flavors, including Organic Scottish Breakfast Tea and Organic White Chai Tea.

“The biggest challenge,” Watson says, “was educating the consumer they can have better packaged tea.”

They not only educated the consumer – they changed an industry. Today, more than three-dozen companies use the Infuser bag.

In May, the company continued making headway with the launch of Revolution 3D, which was introduced, Watson says, as a healthier alternative to soda and energy drinks. The canned beverage is a blend of fruit juice, multivitamins, and white tea, and is available in green apple, blueberry, mango and pomegranate. It is currently only available in Arizona and California, but it will be rolled out to the rest of the U.S. over the next 18 months.

The company has experienced rapid growth since 2002. In both 2005 and 2006, it grew 40 percent and its 40 employees work in a 37,000-square-foot warehouse in Phoenix. Watson is quick to give credit where credit is due, and says Revolution Tea would not be where it is today without all of its employees.

“Surround yourself with experts,” he recommends to other entrepreneurs. “Be humble to know what you’re not good at.”

The company also works out of contract warehouses in three other states that help distribute the products throughout the U.S. and to more than 40 countries worldwide. In addition, the products can be found in approximately 2,500 restaurants and 6,000 grocery stores. Every new product launched, however, is initially only offered in Arizona and California.

“Arizona historically has been a testing ground for new products and services,” Watson says. “It has a makeup of diverse constituencies. … If (a product) will work in Arizona, it will work anywhere.”

ethics scale

Making Ethics An Essential Part Of Doing Business

The challenge of building an ethical climate in businesses is not new. However, in the last decade, the importance of such a climate, and the heavy costs of ethical transgressions, have been prominent in the daily headlines. They reveal the impact of decades of ethical mismanagement that goes beyond explicitly breaking laws. Rather, the issue is the systematic failures of businesses in developing, executing and maintaining an infrastructure that fosters ethical decision-making.

By ethical decision-making, we mean the ability of employees to recognize and detect decision situations that risk damaging operations or investments, negatively impacting shareholders and other stakeholders, or harming the business’ reputation.

Business ethics are complex; we cannot trivialize the work of developing a culture of integrity. Nevertheless, here is a list of key guidelines that managers in companies of any size can use to build an ethical system of “doing what is right.”

The prerequisites
Start at the top — You are the ethical leaders of the business. Chief executive officers must formally commit to incorporating ethical behaviors as a guiding principle within their business’ mission statement and goals. Ethical core values should be consistently communicated, embraced and reinforced to stakeholders.

Know key laws and regulatory issues — Employees must know relevant laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley, Occupational Health and Safety, intellectual property, etc., that impact their responsibility areas. Many employees should know labor laws to avoid discriminatory behaviors. And, they should know that violating laws or trying to “get around them” will not be tolerated.

Standardize policies and procedures — This is where ethical lapses frequently occur, especially in small businesses. There is a tendency to ignore or resist putting in place formal codes of behavior because they can make the members of an entrepreneurial enterprise feel constrained, or worst of all, bureaucratic. But without written common rules and procedures for such areas as itemizing expenses, accepting gifts, incentive programs, days off, or handling customer communications, businesses lend themselves to problems of cheating, fairness and misrepresentations. This is not to suggest developing detailed manuals, but rather identifying key areas of inconsistencies that can cause financial, reputation or stakeholder harm, and then developing proactive communication to avoid potential ethical misconduct.

Implement a formal system to handle potential ethical problems — Employees should know where they can go within the company if they have or notice an ethical dilemma, particularly if they believe they cannot go directly to their manager. If a business has a human resources department, that is a logical place to go if employees are concerned about the risks of “whistle blowing.” Some businesses have designated an ethics officer, a hot line, or a suggestion box to foster an environment of integrity. Whatever approach is taken, employees must be assured that they will not suffer negative consequences for consulting with appropriate parties to discuss their concerns.

Conduct behavioral interviewing with potential employees — How do you hire employees who are ethical? Unfortunately, there are no valid and reliable “ethical behavioral” tests. Some businesses have job prospects take written exams that include questions addressing fictional ethical dilemmas; others ask those questions in interviews. These approaches may provide insights into a potential hire’s ethical reasoning and decision-making. While no one can guarantee a recruit’s future ethical behavior, the processes described above will help integrate him or her into the ethical climate of the business.

Building a foundation
Incorporate ethical behavior into performance expectations — This is a very new area. To ensure that the values of the organization are aligned with an employee’s conduct, ethics could be included as part of the performance appraisal process. Employees then become accountable not just for achieving business results, but also for how they went about accomplishing them.

Provide employees with mentors — One way to help employees in ethical decision-making is to provide them with colleagues who can offer advice and support. This can be done by establishing a formal system of mentors, or by actively encouraging employees to seek out others within the organization.

Hold periodic employee training sessions — Learning about ethics within a business context is an ongoing process. Holding periodic employee meetings where they can learn from one another about ethical dilemmas they faced and how they were resolved, situations where they should not push boundaries, and how to talk about ethical issues with others, can be invaluable in developing a collective ethical identity.

Identify and develop ethical leaders — As your business identifies employees who “do the right things,” the company should highlight their performance, reward them and promote them as role models to others.

Commitment to an ethical climate
Respond quickly to reports of unethical behavior — Investigate, and if confirmed, work to resolve them. You will want to do this, not only to reinforce a climate of ethics, but to prevent any possible escalation of an unaddressed ethical problem.

Establish and follow through with consequences for both positive ethical behaviors and misconduct — Reward employees who demonstrate sound ethical behavior, and be clear on the consequences if employees violate a law or policy, are deceptive in their dealings with others, do creative but dangerous manipulation of data or information, etc. Rewards and punishments can be tangible or intangible, but they must be consistent and appropriate to the potential or actual harm that results from the situation at hand.

Monitor ethical activity — If possible, do ethical audits. Like any business-result area, measurement is fundamental. One can accomplish this through looking at the number of ethical instances reported, doing a survey, compliance reports, etc.

Keep up to date on laws and compliance issues — Ensure that managers are current on any revisions.

CEOs have to be the ethical leaders. They need to stand for and drive the values they want their business to be known for as it succeeds in its performance. To do this, they must be clear on what their values are, communicate them regularly, establish checks and balances to ensure value commitment, and reinforce a culture of integrity. This is not an easy process, but it is a necessary condition toward building an ethical climate. And this is the ultimate leadership challenge.

Dale Kalika is a lecturer and Barbara Keats is an associate professor in the department of management in the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. They are conducting research on Generation Y, their entrance into the work force, and ethical decision-making.

Mack Newton, AZ Entrepreneur

AZ Entrepreneur, Mack Newton of Newton Fitness And Mack Daddy’s

Mack Newton, Founder

Newton Fitness, Mack Daddy’s

Industry: Health & Performance
www.macknewton.com
Est: Newton Fitness, 1986; Mack Daddy’s, 2006

“Show up, be who you are and do what you do.” — Mack Newton

Spending most of his formative years in Chicago, Mack Newton says he participated in martial arts as a way to keep on the “straight and narrow.” Little did he know this activity would eventually be the stepping stone for his future career.

Newton opened a small martial arts studio in Chicago, and eventually expanded to six locations. In 1983, he moved to Phoenix and has “loved every minute of it.” He says “the freshness, the newness, the endless possibilities” have helped him tremendously in his own ventures.

Newton’s Phoenix studio laid the groundwork for a successful martial arts business that has in turn expanded to a thriving niche in the health and performance industry.

“It taught me how to dream, and entrepreneurs need that,” Newton says.

Along the way, Newton has taken on the role of a true entrepreneur, expanding his position from martial arts instructor to author, conditioning coach, restaurant owner, radio show host and more.

Today, Newton continues teaching martial arts, but is focused on his restaurant, Mack Daddy’s, which features a menu sans traditional flavorings such as salt, sugar and white flour. Though some may ask how food lacking such integral ingredients can be flavorful, Newton is not worried about the fare being bland. The unique 3-2 menu, derived from the diet plan Newton created, offers a wide range of dishes prepared with only fresh herbs and spices.

With so many accomplishments already under his belt, Newton shows no signs of slowing down.

“I don’t look at myself as a finished product. I’m a work in progress,” he says. “Things are supposed to be tough, if it was easy, everyone would do it!”