Thursday, December 14, 2017

Ken Davenport: Broadway Producer and Entrepreneur

Regular readers of entreVIEW (all 3 to 5 of you) know that I have spent every Thanksgiving for the last 30 years or so in NYC. While that means an occasional glimpse of the Macy’s parade or the activity at Rockefeller Center, and the chance to see my in-laws, it mostly means seeing Broadway musicals—seven this year (in four days), which is about average.

As I was contemplating a musical-related post on my latest trip—yes, there have been many over the years, including this one about "Hamilton"this one about "Finding Neverland" (produced by Harvey Fierstein, who you may have noticed has been in the news lately), and this one about "Here, Lies, Love" (a recent favorite musical)—I was surprised to realize that I have never written about Ken Davenport, who is the producer behind my favorite musical of my latest trip, the high acclaimed revival of "Once On This Island" that just opened on Broadway (a really terrific and innovative production of one of my all time favorites).

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A New Way to Interact With Your Favorite Furry Friends! - Pet Tech Start-up Takes the Pet Products Industry by Storm

As a dog owner, the hardest part of my day is seeing those sad puppy eyes every morning when I leave for work, so naturally I wanted to find a solution to this heart-wrenching problem. I researched dog-walking services and “doggy daycare,” but these options were expensive and the thought of letting a stranger into my apartment every day was less than appealing.

Luckily, my friend (also a dog owner) told me about a new pet camera, called Furbo, which not only allows you to keep an eye on your pet during the day, but also provides interactive capabilities. While the concept of pet cameras is not exactly new, the interactive features of Furbo really set it apart. Furbo is much more than a camera synced to an accompanying smartphone application. It is also equipped with two-way audio so you can talk to your furry friend. The device even sends push notifications to your cell phone that notify you when your dog is barking. The best feature, though, is the device’s treat-tossing system, which allows owners to toss treats to their pets from the mobile app.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Who’s hungry? I know I‘m not . . . . After two family dinners, approximately six food comas (officially known as “postprandial sleep,” according to a study of fruit flies who overate), countless hours of  football, and a fridge full of leftovers that seems like it will keep me fed all the way to Christmas, another Thanksgiving holiday is in the books. After a long weekend traditionally filled with family, friends, revelry, giving thanks, eating, eating and more eating, we wouldn’t typically take the time to consider just how massive the Thanksgiving operation in the United States really is. So, as I waddled to work a couple of days ago, on a warmer than usual Monday morning, I decided to do just that. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Tax Reform to the Rescue?

Over the last several years, entrepreneurs have learned that 409A is not just a different version of a household cleaning product but, rather, an important IRS regulation relating to deferred compensation. If you thought deferred compensation was a narrow and obvious category of compensatory arrangements, 409A helped convinced you otherwise because of its impact on simple things like granting nonqualified stock options.

If you were hoping that tax reform would simplify the issue of deferred compensation for businesses, the bill introduced by the House Ways and Means Committee on Nov. 2, 2017 may fall under the category of “be careful what you wish for.” Effective Jan. 1, 2018, the House bill would repeal Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code, the often onerous section governing most forms of deferred compensation. Sounds like good news, right? 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Look Before You Link

How often each day do you send an email, post a Facebook message, or tweet? Add content to your business website? Write a blog?

In those communications, how often do you include a link to third-party material that directs someone to information or an image that is referenced in your communication, supports your conclusion, illustrates your point, or is simply interesting or beautiful or funny?

If you are paying attention to the congressional testimony of social media giants regarding questionable political advertisements and phony accounts, you may (should) now pause before you insert a link to consider whether you are referring to material that is “real” and worthy of repeated disclosure. But how often do you consider whether your linking might constitute copyright infringement?

Early in Internet history, it was accepted that linking to a third-party’s home page did not require permission, and not long thereafter, deep linking (bypassing the home page to go directly to specific material) was generally accepted as not constituting copyright infringement. Ten years ago, the Ninth Circuit determined that in-line linking and framing of photographic images (elements from another site appear on the website being viewed) by Google did not constitute copyright infringement because Google servers did not actually store the images. The Google link merely instructed the user’s browser where to find the images that were then displayed directly from the third-party server(s) on the Google page. Under this “server test,” only the third party is actually displaying and distributing the material directly from its server. The party that merely provides the link is therefore not liable for copyright infringement. The Court expressly noted that it didn’t matter if users thought they were viewing the images from the Google web page as unlike trademark law, copyright law does not protect against consumer confusion.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Welcome to gener8tor

Twin Cities Startup Week, which was held for the third time early last month, has evolved into a one-week showcase of the creators, innovators, hackers, investors and others who are driving the Twin Cities startup scene. There were events from early in the morning to late at night, and all hours in between.  There were intimate gatherings of people focusing on specific topics (healthcare, AI, IoT, etc.), and other larger general purpose events, including the Minnesota Cup’s final awards event, a Beta.MN showcase event, Techstars Demo Day and MinneDemo. As in years past, there was plenty of enthusiasm and energy on display by the Twin Cities startup community.

One new event on the Twin Cities Startup Week calendar was gener8tor’s premiere night launch event. Held on October 10th at the Minneapolis Event Center, it was the coming out party for the 5 cohort companies that participated in gener8tor’s accelerator program beginning this past summer. For those of you who don’t know, gener8tor is an accelerator program that was started in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin in 2012. The program graduates one cohort group from each of their Wisconsin locations annually (Madison in the spring and Milwaukee in the fall).  gener8tor launched its Minneapolis program this past year and has been a welcome addition to the Twin Cities startup community.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halo Top: The Most Popular Pint in America

Have you tried Halo Top Ice Cream yet? While it’s had a strong cultlike following since it hit the shelves four years ago, it exploded into market dominance last summer.

Halo Top is low-calorie, high-protein, and low-sugar ice cream, made from all-natural ingredients. Consumers are drawn to it as a healthy alternative to full-calorie ice cream that actually tastes like ice cream. You may want to eat the whole pint, and you can, relatively guilt-free, because all of the pints range from 240 to 360 calories for the entire pint. For reference, a pint of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla has 1,000 calories, three times more than the same vanilla pint of Halo Top!
This summer, during the height of ice cream season, Halo Top became the best-selling pint of ice cream in U.S. grocery stores, surpassing popular brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Breyer’s, and Haagen Dazs. “The reason we’ve taken the number one spot is simple: We have amazing fans. We are eternally grateful to them for even allowing us to exist, let alone thrive,” said CEO and Founder, Justin Woolverton. “Our promise to our fans is to maintain the quality they expect from Halo Top and, of course, to bring them some exciting new things in the near future.”  

Based in Los Angeles, Halo Top Creamery was founded in 2012 by Woolverton, a former lawyer turned ice cream aficionado. In the beginning, Halo Top had a strong following of superfans, but in the last couple years, the business has skyrocketed. According to Woolverton, sales jumped about 2,500% from 2015 to 2016.  Halo Top is No. 5 on Inc.’s 2017 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S., boasting three-year growth of 20,944% with revenue of $49.1 million.