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This Tech Entrepreneur’s Success Strategy: Slow and Steady

There’s an inflection point for nearly every growing small business, when they reach the point at which it’s no longer possible to handle their information technology (IT) strategy on their own. Daniel Kalai has built his own growing small business around that very inflection point. Kalai’s company, Helix Systems, offers flexible IT support to small and medium-sized organizations, giving businesses high quality support that doesn’t require them to hire a full-time person or even start building their own internal information technology team. We recently chatted with Kalai about the early days of his business and how those formative years shaped the foundation and future plans of Helix Systems. How did Helix Systems get its start? In the early 2000s, I was studying computer science and programming. If you could do some basic HTML and coding, you could get paying customers, so that’s how I got my first clients. When I […]

This Tech Entrepreneur’s Success Strategy: Slow and Steady

America at work

How Entrepreneurship is Helping Baltimore Bounce Back

Sometimes referred to as America’s Charm City, Baltimore has recently become an increasingly charming destination for innovators and entrepreneurs, and those groups are in turn helping the city emerge from the economic doldrums. Every month, Free Enterprise takes stock of one of America’s up-and-coming Silicon Cities; that is urban hotspots where small businesses are helping to foster innovation and build a vibrant technological sector. In September, we looked at how Baltimore is getting back on its feet after decades of decline in its once-robust manufacturing and shipping industry, with a little help from a growing startup ecosystem and technological innovation. Here’s what we found: A Community-based Approach to Entrepreneurship Between 2000 and 2010, the number of 25- to 35-year-olds with college degrees living within three miles of Baltimore’s downtown business district rose 92 percent. Part of the reason for that fast growth is a strong sense of local community support […]

How Entrepreneurship is Helping Baltimore Bounce Back

Silicon Cities

Can Technology Solve the Refugee Crisis?

Around the world, more than 60 million refugees have abandoned their homes to flee from desperate circumstances. Notably, six of every 10 Syrian citizens, an estimated 12.5 million people, have become refugees, an unprecedented number for a single country, according to the Pew Research Center. The Syrian refugee crisis is a complex political and humanitarian issue that has left many policymakers and public citizens searching for answers and desperate for a solution. Naturally, in our increasingly digital age, that has raised the question: What role can technology play? It turns out, a big one. A number of innovative mobile apps and online platforms have emerged in the U.S. and elsewhere to help migrants connect with lost loved ones, find aid, and even assimilate into new countries. Here are five startups that are using technology to help refugees. EmergencyBnB Inspired by Airbnb’s sharing model, Washington, D.C. resident Amr Arafa built a […]

Can Technology Solve the Refugee Crisis?

Doing good

How Black Entrepreneurs are Rebuilding Baltimore’s Struggling Neighborhoods

By some measure, Baltimore’s entrepreneurship economy is heading in the right direction. Startup activity in the city has increased by 7.4 percent since 2010, more than double the national average over that period, according to a report by the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore. Meanwhile, 51 companies in the greater Baltimore area made Inc. magazine’s 2015 Top 5,000 list, which ranks the fastest-growing private companies in the country. However, those promising economic figures mask some serious economic and racial challenges that linger in America’s Charm city. More than a quarter of the city’s African-American population, for instance, still lives below the poverty line, almost double the rate for Caucasians. In addition, Baltimore’s African American population faces a markedly higher unemployment rate, according to Al Jazeera. Previously under the radar, the well document riots last year (fueled by the death of local resident Freddie Grey) cast the national spotlight on some […]

How Black Entrepreneurs are Rebuilding Baltimore’s Struggling Neighborhoods

Silicon Cities

This Small Business is Helping Boeing Build America’s New Spaceship

Welcome to #BizUnited, a new series highlighting innovative partnerships between large corporations and small businesses across America. Check back periodically for new installments. Collaboration between two of America’s most innovative companies – one relatively small and largely unknown, the other a century-old, globally renowned corporation – is helping pave the way for the next generation of American space travel. Through a partnership forged by NASA, Houston-based Bastion Technologies, a technology and engineering company, is working hand-in-hand with aerospace and defense giant Boeing to build the CST-100 Starliner, a next-generation crew capsule that will allow the space agency to send American astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil. Currently, NASA relies on Russia’s space agency to help transport U.S. astronauts to the space station at a cost of $70 million per roundtrip. While Bastion has been a Boeing supplier since the company was founded in 1998, this new partnership […]

This Small Business is Helping Boeing Build America’s New Spaceship

True innovation

Fashion’s Next Top (Startup) Model is All About Menswear

Looking good has never been easier for men, thanks to a new generation of startups that are shaking up how the average Joe finds new clothes and accessories. Over the past few years several e-commerce businesses aimed squarely at men—such as Proper Suits and JackThreads— have become more popular as they cater to what was once an oft-overlooked consumer segment. It’s no surprise fashion entrepreneurs have zeroed in on the male consumer in recent years. The menswear market is slated to hit $40 billion in sales by 2019, according to last year’s report by research firm Euromonitor International. Meanwhile, men’s clothing sales in the U.S. increased at an annual rate of 17.3 percent between 2009 and 2015, found newswire service AFP. In fact, the menswear market has seen such huge growth over the last six years that the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) announced last year that it […]

Fashion’s Next Top (Startup) Model is All About Menswear

True innovation

How This Smokin’ Hot Small Business Went from Homemade to Global Trade

For Tim Bader, variety is the spice of life. Maybe that’s because his life is all about the variety of spice. The Nebraska chili pepper grower has turned a salsa-making hobby into one of the state’s most unique specialty food businesses. His company, Volcanic Peppers, which he started back in 2009, currently grows about 6,000 plants with 15 varieties of peppers – including the infamous ghost pepper. Bader didn’t always expect to be a business owner. He started his career doing IT consulting for hospitals, and he gardened as a hobby. At the time, the obscure pepper varieties he grew were relatively unknown. He also grew other plants, like tomatoes and strawberries, all of which he and his youngest daughter sold at a local farmer’s market. The entrepreneurial spark struck when several nationally televised cooking programs started featuring specialty pepper varieties, including the so called ghost pepper, which helped bring […]

How This Smokin’ Hot Small Business Went from Homemade to Global Trade

Creating opportunity

One-for-One: Doing Good for the World (and the Bottom Line)

Making money and making the world a better place don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, they can (and often are) both be at the heart of a company’s business model. In order to pursue this double bottom line, more companies are adopting what’s known as the buy-one-give-one model, or “one-for-one” model, in which they donate products or services to some those in need every time a customer makes a purchase. Here’s a closer look at the work some of these companies are doing and the level of impact they have had around the world. Related: Four Companies that are Doing Good by Giving Back

One-for-One: Doing Good for the World (and the Bottom Line)

Doing good

4 Companies That Are Doing Good By Giving Back

It’s no secret that more and more for-profit companies are finding ways to make a positive impact on the world and give back to their local communities at the same time.  Here’s a look at four companies spearheading life-changing initiatives designed to make the world a better place. MGM In keeping with its mission to protect and preserve the Earth’s natural resources, MGM Resorts International partnered with NRG Energy to install a massive solar panel system on the roof of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Comprising 20 acres of space, these solar panels generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 1,000 homes throughout the year. But this is just the latest development in MGM’s ongoing work to leverage the blazing Las Vegas sun as well as other natural energy sources: In only the past five years, MGM Resorts International’s conservation efforts have saved enough energy to power 22,000 U.S. […]

4 Companies That Are Doing Good By Giving Back

Doing good

Her Startup’s Goal: Breaking Down the Biggest Barrier to Playing Lacrosse

Welcome to Becoming the Boss, our series celebrating small business owners who have made the transition from solo-entrepreneur to employer. Check back periodically for new installments. Lacrosse has been surging in popularity over the past decade, joining gymnastics as the only two team sports to see participation grow among children age 6 to 17 since 2015. However, there is an important obstacle standing in the way of the continued growth of the sport: High-quality lacrosse gear is so expensive that many families would struggle to afford it. Where others might have seen a hurdle, 15-year-old lacrosse player and former “Shark Tank” contestant Rachel Zietz saw an opportunity to make the game more accessible. “I’ve learned from many leaders that when you see a problem, you can translate it into an opportunity,” Zieitz said in a recent interview, sounding every bit the seasoned entrepreneur. Gladiator Lacrosse, the sports equipment business Zietz […]

Her Startup’s Goal: Breaking Down the Biggest Barrier to Playing Lacrosse

America at work

The Innovative Technologies That Helped Keep Athletes & Spectators Safe in Rio

In the months leading up to the 36th Olympic Games, there were countless concerns about health and safety for the thousands of athletes and supporters who would descend on Rio; understandably so, with threats ranging from Zika and water quality issues to violent crime and terrorism. That prompted Olympic officials and Brazilian government leaders to seek out the world’s most advanced health and security innovations in an effort to keep Rio’s millions of visitors as safe as possible during the two-week event – and much of that technology was provided by American businesses. While several notable incidents took place outside of the confines of the Olympic arenas (most notably, the saga that continues to unfold with the four American swimmers), the Games wrapped up on Sunday without any major security breaches and no reported terrorist attacks (despite several credible threats). Some, if not much, of the credit falls on innovative […]

The Innovative Technologies That Helped Keep Athletes & Spectators Safe in Rio

True innovation

This Startup Crowdfunded 36 Olympic Dreams in Rio

Crowdfunding has become increasingly popular across a number of disciplines, with ambitious entrepreneurs, cash-strapped artists and political hopefuls all turning to new online funding portals to raise money to finance their dreams. Thanks to one up-and-coming startup – and with a little help from Coca-Cola and POWERADE – that’s now a possibility for Olympic athletes, too. In fact, three dozen of them are in Rio right now thanks to crowdfunding. Started in 2013, Sponsorise.me has emerged as the leading sports-focused crowdfunding site in Europe and recently started gaining popularity in the United States. In short, the site allows fans, friends, family members and any one else to financially back an athlete’s or team’s journey in exchange for unique rewards, ranging from autographed memorabilia to meeting the athletes in person. Check out an example campaign below: “Every day, millions of athletes and teams are looking for sponsors to finance their project, […]

This Startup Crowdfunded 36 Olympic Dreams in Rio

Creating opportunity
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