Businessmen/Charitable Leaders/Business Leaders Giving Back

Donors like Dick DeVos are Making the Kennedy Center Expansion a Reality

Posted by JacobT on

Washington D.C.’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has recently announced a benchmark in their current fundraising efforts to bankroll an approved expansion projection. They have reached their primary goal of $125 million and have set a new target of adding another $50 million to that number. The Kennedy Center, which issued a press release in September, thanked their donors, who have been actively donating for this project since 2013. The hope is that the expansion will be completed by 2018, and will feature a number of enhancements to the center.

But who are these generous donors? I, for one, was surprised to see the list, if only because Dick DeVos — a businessman, philanthropist, and author — appeared on it. This may not surprise you, as DeVos is currently valued at over $5 billion and is a regular contributor to the arts, but it caught my eye. Because prior to his $1 million donation to the Kennedy Center, he and his wife gifted $22.5 million to the Kennedy Center in 2010 through the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation. 

This kind of generosity from a Michigan-based family got my curiosity going, so I researched DeVos and his background. It turns out that Dick is the son of Rich DeVos, the co-founder of the privately held Amway Corporation, now known as Alticor. DeVos began his career at Amway in 1974, eventually becoming vice president in 1984, and expanding the business internationally. 

In 1989, DeVos left Amway to start his own business, named The Windquest Group, and later became President and CEO of the Orlando Magic, a team the DeVos family had recently required. In 1993, he took over as president of Amway and began a restructuring process in 2000 to transform Amway Corporation into an umbrella firm called Alticor Corporation.

In addition to all of his charitable efforts, Dick founded the first aviation-geared high school that makes the dream of flight attainable to young men and women in Michigan. DeVos himself is an accomplished airplane and helicopter pilot as you can see demonstrated in the video of his landing in downtown Grand Rapids below.

Another interesting tidbit to me about DeVos is that this businessman has put effort, in equal measure, into both politics and philanthropy. In 2006, DeVos ran for the governor seat of Michigan, losing to Democrat Jennifer Granholm. 

The loss has not affected DeVos, however, who has seen fit to sway politics with the use of philanthropy, most notably through the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation. DeVos currently serves on the boards of several Michigan-based businesses and charities, helping to revitalize his state while providing money for education and arts endeavors. He has also sought the time to write a book, Believe!, which was published in 1985 to great acclaim.

While many billionaire philanthropists may seem out of reach, I have found DeVos is not. He has a Twitter and Facebook account that is updated at regular intervals, keeping him in touch with people who might very well have benefitted from his philanthropy or business pursuits. And in a time where too many of the rich seem to be out of reach, Dick DeVos is the only one I have found to be amicable, approachable, and genuine in his love for people.

Healthiest Dog Food

Beneful has been Leading in the Premium Dog Food Market for Years

Posted by JacobT on

An article in the Daily Herald recently discovered there a surge in sales in dog food. This surge, which began in 2009, is underway because of the demand of dog owners. Owners are demanding healthier food options for their dogs. Companies like Colgate-Palmolive is making food focused on helping dogs lose weight. Mars’ Cesar Home Delights is focused on making dog food more like human food with items like beef stroganoff and lasagna. Existing companies are jumping into the pet food market too. J.M. Smucher Co. recently made an acquisition to buy Big Heart Brands in 2015. Big Heart Brands sells grilled beef burger and jerky for dogs with the artificial colors and flavors. The Premium Dog Food Share Increased to 45 Percent The premium dog food market is now focused on providing healthy foods for dogs based on their age and weight. No longer is dog food a one-size fits all market. There’s even a line of healthy dog food devoted to senior dogs. One brand of dog food that has always been devoted to maintaining dog’s health is Purina Store’s Beneful. Beneful is made with real meats and vitamin-rich veggies. So dogs receive a healthy meal along with plenty of taste. Beneful has always used the highest quality, premium products in its dog food. From wet food and dry food to treats, Beneful has been a leader in the pet food industry in providing the best, healthiest food for dogs. For dogs and their owners, the pet food market is becoming more of what they want. Wall Street is skeptical about this new market in premium dog food. It doesn’t believe that it will maintain its surge because of the expensive meat like beef and chicken. For Purina Beneful, a leader in the premium dog food market, it doesn’t worry about Wall Street. It’s been devoted to making the highest quality and healthiest dog food on the market.

Web Search

Shopping’s Future According to Visual Search And AI

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The company Slyce is simplifying the way individuals shop for products. Their usage of the latest software technology known as image recognition allows individuals to browse through items like shoes, a tea set and more by simply using their laptop, desktop or mobile device. Slyce offers various packages for retailers that allow customers to comfortably search on-line, than trigger items that they particularly like. For example with Slyce’s Neiman Marcus app known as Snap Find Shop, when you take a photo of an item, such as a handbag that you fancy, this app will quickly provide you with items resembling that in your photo.

Slyce has even created another tool called the Universal Scanner to make shopping easier! How this gadget works for instance, is if you see a necklace you like (or any item), you would have the option to either scan or take a photo of it. Than when you go on-line you will receive photos of similar styles or a duplicate match. With this product, Slyce offers images that are 1, 2 or 3 dimensional to provide customers with a realistic view. Much of their search image recognition technology allows customers to purchase various products that they see on billboards, magazines and more.

Thanks to the newest Slyce technology, shopping on-line can come very close to shopping in person, plus avoid having to drive from store to store. Referred to as “visual search,” this method allows users to draw a square around something that you saw on a website page and locates items that are similar from an enormous index. These images from the index will feature items with specific characteristics. For instance if you came across a lamp on a web page that caught your eye and after drawing a square around it, several images (plus close-ups) will come up for you. Depending on the item viewed it may offer a “buy” feature. In November 2015 and Pinterest began testing this new deep learning software from AI on their web sites.


Skout and its Placement as a Top Dating Application

Posted by JacobT on

Finding true love can seem like a challenge but it doesn’t need to. There are plenty of online dating applications and accounts available to individuals if they want to test the waters. Each dating application is going to provide a slightly different service, so people should test out what they like and what they don’t. Skout is one of the available applications individuals should check out. As listed, it has several fun features that simply are not found on other dating applications.

As TCPalm points out, there are different applications available for use on mobile devices. The most downloaded application is by far Tinder. This is a free and easy to use application, although it is known more as a “hook-up” application more than anything else. Basically, people rate one another based on pictures. If two people like each others photographs they are able to then talk. Whatever happens from there is up to them.

Let’s Date is a newer application although it is only available on iOS, so for Android users, it simply is not available to individuals. For the most part though, it is known as the “Instagram” of online dating. This is because users can create an account and then upload a wide range of different photographs. This is a younger dating app as 55 percent of those using the app are between 18 to 24 years of age, with another 40 percent between 24 and 35. This means only five percent of users are older than 35. Zoos, on the other hand, is a more established application that is available on both iOS and Android. It is an easy to use application that has a few more features than the other dating options listed so far.

Badoo is another dating application that has been around for a while. In fact, it is approaching its 10 year anniversary. It has nearly 200 million members and is located in 180 countries around the world. It is an application that is more popular in other countries than the United States, but it can be a fun way to meet new people. POF, or Plenty of Fish, is another long standing dating application. It is a bit traditional and doesn’t have too many flashy features, although it is one of the apps that really created the industry.

Skout, as mentioned earlier, is a major application that is a fantastic opportunity for individuals to use. This app has been around since 2008, so it does have experience building a following. It is why the app is now available in over 100 countries around the world and can be used on both iOS and Android based devices. This is a great app for meeting both friends and finding dates.

CEO Life/Businessmen

Shaygan Kheradpir Returns To The Boardroom With Coriant

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The technology startup Coriant has been growing at a fast rate since the purchase of optical development departments from Nokia by Merlin Equity Partners. Merlin rolled a number of companies under the single Coriant umbrella to create an optical hardware and software delivery company that it is hoped will rival the giants of the industry, such as Cisco. The company has been developing under the leadership of Pat DiPietro who is now moving to the role of vice-chairman. In his place as CEO comes former Barclays and Verizon executive Shaygan Kheradpir who will look to use his more than 20 years of business experience to develop the business in the coming months and years.

Shaygan Kheradpir should be in a strong position to push forward the Coriant brand as he has a wealth of experience in the technology industry. Kheradpir began his career with GTE Labs and continued as a research and development specialist when the company merged with Verizon. Kheradpir was at the forefront of developing many of the practices that lowered both development costs and the ability of Verizon to create new hardware at a fast pace.

After finding success in lowering both the research and development costs for Verizon and developing a number of strategies that lowered the costs of IT for the company, Kheradpir moved on to the financial giant Barclays. The position of Kheradpir at Barclays was so strong that he became the first technology executive to sit on the board of the company and developed a number of technology based products that are now financial industry standards.

The role Shaygan Kheradpir is taking up in the Coriant organization is closely linked to that he held at Verizon. The announcement that Kheradpir is joining Coriant as the new CEO was accompanied by news that he has been working on an overall review of the company with Coriant executives for a number of months. The executive will look to maximize profits for Coriant while still providing a high quality product for the brand.

Real Estate Industry

The Increasingly Hot Real Estate Market is Challenging Buyers

Posted by JacobT on

The real estate market has been increasingly hot and the increase in prices has been leading to increasing challenges for buyers of real estate. This is not a challenge confined to just Manhattan but rather to the entirety of New York City.

Brooklyn is the new hot spot for real estate in New York and sales prices are even approaching the heights that are typically only for sale in Manhattan. Part of the problem has been that the supply of Brooklyn apartments has been constrained. A report this week has indicated that over half of the new development home inventory has been sold with approximately $1.7 billion on the market sold during the month of September. Only 550 homes are available on NYC Apartments for rent.

Town Real Estate can provide you with access to some of the best real estate in the competitive New York real estate market. Town Real estate has significant experience finding apartments for those who are looking for one of these Brooklyn real estate apartments as well as those in Manhattan. Some relief is possible as there are 1400 units with submitted plans for Brooklyn that are expected to generate a significant amount of interest. Recently, the average unit price has accelerated to over $4 million per unit in some parts of Brooklyn.

Brooklyn isn’t the only market that has been hot. Manhattan real estate has continued to climb with over seventy apartments being sold in Manhattan with prices over $4 million. This is the best period of time for home sales in Manhattan since 2006 during the heights of the market. The increase in the real estate market in Manhattan is partly on the heels of a decreasing stock market, with the highest unit reaching $38 million in value.

Locating an home in this time of increasing home prices is difficult which is why it is essential to find an unit that is effectively priced. Town Real estate has extensive contacts that can help you to locate units that are effectively priced in this market and can help you to locate the home that you are looking for. Reach out to them and get the assistance of their qualified real estate agents who can set out on finding the apartment that you are seeking.


The New Era of Newark CEDC

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Newark Community Economic Development Corporation is the main economic development catalyst in Newark, New Jersey. It was formed to help in the development of different economic activities like attracting and growing businesses, spurring real estate development in all 20 neighborhoods of the city and enhancing small business capacity. It operates as a business development company it works in collaboration with other development bodies of the city in sectors like housing development and economic empowerment.

Working in tandem with the City’s Department of Economic and Housing Development, it initiates and executes economic empowerment activities. This aims at producing, and sustaining growth, creating wealth for all residents of the city and generating employment opportunities

The development corporation, previously known as The Brick City Development Corporation, was renamed to incorporate new developmental policies. Speaking at the re-launch gala, Councilman Joe McCallum reiterated that the main reason behind the name change was to incorporate new culture of the organization. Its offices were also relocated to 111 Mulberry Street from the previous site 744 Broad Street at an estimated budget of $250,000.

The new changes come in the wake of new board members who assumed office earlier in the year. This board voted to instigate new operating changes to make the agency more effective. It also made changes to ensure transparency in the organization’s operations. The changes have seen the prohibition of any sitting city official from heading the board. This ensures independence. The changes come in the wake of a critical report that was investigating the organization’s loan program. It revealed that almost $3.4 million of all total loans was lost as bad debts.

Earlier on in 2015, Newark CEDC announced Kevin Seawright as a new addition to the management team. Seawright has vast experience in diverse capital management, operations and accounting. His 13-year experience has seen him gain financial expertise, perfectly evident on his Xing profile. He has worked in different management capacities including Fiscal Officer of the Aging and Retirement commission in Baltimore, Payroll Director at Housing Authority, Baltimore City, Financial Director at Homeless Services, Department of Housing & Community Development. He has worked in other different financial management capacities. He was also recognized for his executive leadership skills by the University of Notre Dame.

Seawright has been instrumental in every position he has held in developing effective and efficient financial systems that have helped to streamline operations. These systems have also helped to save on unwarranted expenditure and costs. He is experienced in human resources management, financial operations as well as capital management. He is a team player and continually enhances proficiency using information technology systems.

CEO Life

Forefront Capital Opens Doors To Non-Accredited Investors

Posted by JacobT on

Since the Forefront Group was founded in June 2009, Forefront Capital Management and its subsidiaries, focused their efforts on accredited investors. At that time, to be considered an accredited investor, clients must meet certain financial criteria established by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC states that an accredited investor must be a corporation or one of the following:

1. A natural person who has an individual net worth, or joint net worth with their spouse, that exceeds $1 million at the time of the purchase, with the exception of the value of the primary residence of such person.

2. A natural person with income exceeding $200,000 in each of the 2 most recent years or joint income with a spouse exceeding $300,000 for the same years and expectancy of a similar income in the current year.

After 30 years the SEC realized there had been an exuberant amount of increased knowledge and stock market oversight. This led to updating the definition of an accredited investor. The Dodd-Frank act actually mandated that this happens every four years now. This recommendation from the SEC Investor Advisory Board led to the replacement of income and net worth tests and replaced that system with a newer one that takes into account financial sophistication such as an individual’s education, investment experience, and other criteria.

Brad Reifler, CEO of Forefront Capital Management, is switching gears after a couple of personal experiences opened his eyes to the 99 percent of possible investors that were not on the radar. After Reifler lost 40 percent of his 529 college fund he had set up for his children years prior, he realized this was an epidemic affecting many Americans. He also began to see that this problem led to a huge economic disaster which has added up to over $1 trillion dollars in student debt and almost half of Americans with less than $6,000 in savings. Reifler was also faced with trying to invest his 80 year old father-in-law’s life savings only to realize he was not considered an active investor. Thus, Forefront Income Trust was born. Reifler and his team began developing a fund that the 99 percent could invest in. This gave the non-accredited investors, or middle class, and opportunity to invest $2,500 that could be added to or withdrawn from every quarter.

Brad Reifer graduated from Bowdoin College as CrunchBase shows, with a degree in Economics and Political Science. He began his first company, Reifler Trading Corporation in 1982.

Reifer went on to found Pali Capital and under his leadership made over $200 million in profits. He had offices in the U.S., U.K., and Australia during his tenure. Reifler is now the CEO of Forefront Advisory where his 30 years of experience has given him a reputation of excellence.