WBEZ | entrepreneurship http://www.wbez.org/tags/entrepreneurship Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago's Chance The Rapper Joins with Nonprofit to Give Coats to Homeless http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-chance-rapper-joins-nonprofit-give-coats-homeless-114229 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/ap_281839177204-6287b4d0541f0681c2601cf9d9b7c326de3333ac-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="Donating $100 to the Warmest Winter 2016 project sponsors the full cost of making one high-tech coat. It also enters the donor in a drawing to meet Chance The Rapper, who co-created the project." class="img" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/ap_281839177204-6287b4d0541f0681c2601cf9d9b7c326de3333ac-s800-c85.jpg" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 14px; line-height: 15.5556px; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; vertical-align: baseline; max-width: none; display: block; height: 464px; width: 620px; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);" title="Donating $100 to the Warmest Winter 2016 project sponsors the full cost of making one high-tech coat. It also enters the donor in a drawing to meet Chance The Rapper, who co-created the project. (Robb D. Cohen/Robb D. Cohen/Invision/AP)" /></p><p>The goal of&nbsp;<a href="https://www.crowdrise.com/warmestwinterchicago/fundraiser/empowermentplan">Warmest Winter 2016</a>, a project co-created by Chicago artist Chance The Rapper and a Detroit-based nonprofit called The Empowerment Plan, is to give 1,000 coats to Chicago&#39;s homeless.</p><p>This project, though, isn&#39;t your ordinary coat drive.</p><div id="res460316926" previewtitle="The Empowerment Plan says it can produce 1,000 of these high-tech coats on a budget of $100,000."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="The Empowerment Plan says it can produce 1,000 of these high-tech coats on a budget of $100,000." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/12/18/_dsc8124_custom-bb11a112a9d8f6c040004ffe2c65626634a07875-s400-c85.jpeg" style="height: 347px; width: 300px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="The Empowerment Plan says it can produce 1,000 of these high-tech coats on a budget of $100,000. (Courtesy of CrowdRise and The Empowerment Plan)" /></div><div><div><p>For one thing, the coats manufactured by Warmest Winter 2016 are high-tech creations that the project says can save lives.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;The EMPWR coat is a water-resistant and self-heating jacket, which can transform into a sleeping bag, or be worn as an over-the-shoulder bag when not in use,&quot; the website says, adding that the coats can reduce the number of deaths of homeless people due to hypothermia by 20 percent.</p><p>Additionally, the coats are manufactured at the Empowerment Plan factory in Detroit, which hires &quot;homeless parents from local shelters to become full-time seamstresses so that they can earn a stable income, find secure housing, and gain back their independence for themselves and for their families.&quot;</p><p>Though distributing coats to people experiencing homelessness in Chicago is the project&#39;s immediate plan, the ultimate goal of the partnership is to open an Empowerment Plan factory in Chicago to bring jobs to the city as well.</p><p>Chance The Rapper, who was a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/08/01/428016618/not-my-job-chance-the-rapper-gets-quizzed-on-saran-the-wrapper">guest on NPR&#39;s Wait, Wait Don&#39;t Tell Me</a>&nbsp;in August, has been promoting the project on his&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/chancetherapper/status/677916602617233409">Twitter page</a>. According to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-chance-rapper-homeless-jackets-chicago-20151216-htmlstory.html">Los Angeles Times</a>, more than $7,500, or 75 coats, had been raised within hours of the artist&#39;s first tweet about the project. By Friday afternoon, nearly $25,000 had been donated.</p><div><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">This coat is a self heating jacket, sleeping bag and creates jobs. Bring them to Chicago <a href="https://t.co/pgLTSXr7kR">https://t.co/pgLTSXr7kR</a> <a href="https://t.co/ZEV3nHg1yd">pic.twitter.com/ZEV3nHg1yd</a></p>&mdash; Chance The Rapper (@chancetherapper) <a href="https://twitter.com/chancetherapper/status/677916602617233409">December 18, 2015</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script></div><div id="res460297777">&nbsp;</div><p>The project runs from Dec. 16 through Jan. 13. Donors can give various amounts and are entered in raffles to win tickets to Chicago Bulls games, White Sox games or Chance The Rapper shows.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/mo-kvh1w60w?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/18/460296647/chicagos-chance-the-rapper-joins-with-nonprofit-to-give-coats-to-homeless?ft=nprml&amp;f=460296647" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 18 Dec 2015 17:43:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-chance-rapper-joins-nonprofit-give-coats-homeless-114229 How Maasai Women in Kenya are Helping to Make Your Cosmetics http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-12-17/how-maasai-women-kenya-are-helping-make-your-cosmetics-114214 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/15446551817_936259a48b_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_main/public/story/images/aloecutting_169.jpg?itok=znAWry5x" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="Priscilla Lekootoot shows how she harvests leaves from the aloe secundiflora plants at Twala Cultural Manyatta. (PRI/Anne Bailey)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><div><p>It&rsquo;s a day-long drive from Kenya&#39;s capital&nbsp;Nairobi to Twala in Laikipia County. The last 50 miles is along a dusty road, and then you arrive at the farm of the Twala Cultural Manyatta. It&rsquo;s oasis-like, and the moment you enter the gate, the fresh smell of greenery strikes a contrast with the aridity&nbsp;you leave behind.</p></div><div><article about="/stories/2015-12-16/how-maasai-women-kenya-are-helping-make-your-cosmetics" typeof="sioc:Item foaf:Document"><p dir="ltr">Even more striking for me are the two dozen Maasai women lined up in front of the mud wall of their compound, bedecked in brightly colored beaded jewelry. The second my car door opens, they break into song.</p><div><img alt="Maasai women tend to 40 acres of aloe at the Twala Cultural Manyatta." src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/_MG_3068.jpg?itok=UAk1p_y1" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Maasai women tend to 40 acres of aloe at the Twala Cultural Manyatta." typeof="foaf:Image" /></div></article></div><p>I had inquired how much press they&rsquo;ve received. &ldquo;Not much,&rdquo; was the answer from Joseph Lentunyoi, the agronomist from the&nbsp;<a href="http://permaculturenews.org/2013/01/24/laikipia-permaculture-centre-a-new-centre-for-kenya/" target="_blank">Laikipia Permaculture Project</a>. He&#39;s&nbsp;crucial in many ways to the success of the women in Twala.</p><p dir="ltr">Publicity or not, they are eager to talk about what they have done at the Twala Cultural Manyatta. In four years, the 140 women have turned an overworked scrap of land &mdash; 40 acres actually, a not-altogether-inappropriate echo of the false promise of property to freed slaves after the Civil War &mdash; into a model of sustainable agriculture.</p><p dir="ltr">After all, stats indicate that women own barely one percent of the land in Kenya, even though they haul the firewood, till the fields, fetch the water, raise the children, and more.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><div><img alt="Agronimist Joseph Lentunyoi has been working with local women's groups in Laikipia to grow and sell aloe to LUSH cosmetics." src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/joseph2.jpg?itok=abzDeWvH" style="height: 380px; width: 620px;" title="Agronimist Joseph Lentunyoi has been working with local women's groups in Laikipia to grow and sell aloe to LUSH cosmetics in England for the past two years. (PRI/Anne Bailey)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><p>But here more than 15 years ago, the women organized themselves into the Twala Cultural Manyatta (&ldquo;manyatta&rdquo; means &ldquo;settlement&rdquo; or &ldquo;compound&rdquo; in Maasai), and they pressured their husbands and men in their village to give them some land. They got that scrappy, arid 40 acres. And they got to work. They say their husbands like what they&rsquo;re seeing.</p></div></div><p dir="ltr">That&rsquo;s because women like Florence Larpei and Priscilla Lekootoot are making money growing aloe, and selling the leaves to the British cosmetics company Lush.</p><p><a href="http://www.lushusa.com/Melting-Pot/article_melting-pot,en_US,pg.html" target="_blank"><img src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/thumbnail/public/charity%20pot.jpg?itok=jQ3TRAgv" style="height: 150px; width: 150px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="SUPPORT THE TWALA WOMEN: Part of the proceeds from every Charity Pot go to Lush's &quot;sLush fund.&quot; The Maasai women have used this money to invest in fencing to protect the aloe from being trampled on by wild elephants and camels." typeof="foaf:Image" /></a></p><p dir="ltr">They&rsquo;re also harvesting honey.&nbsp;And growing food. And raising goats&nbsp; It&rsquo;s a sustainable ecosystem.</p><p dir="ltr">More specifically it&rsquo;s permaculture.&nbsp;&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a human system, a people system,&rdquo; explains Letunyoi. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s about soils, the environment and fair share. How do we take care of ourselves?&nbsp;How do we get our food? And make sure that our soils are not degraded. We don&rsquo;t use chemical fertilizers. We have to look at alternative livelihoods for all locals. We have to take care of the culture.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/story/images/169lead_lush.jpg?itok=Px53i0_A" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="More than 140 Maasai women harvest aloe secundiflora leaves at the Twala Cultural Manyatta in Laikipia to export to LUSH cosmetics.(PRI/Anne Bailey)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><div><div><p>I really got along with Letunyoi.&nbsp;He reminded me of a Senegalese farmer I met in Togo, where&nbsp;I was a Peace Corps volunteer, who believed in this kind of farming system &mdash;&nbsp;only at the time, it didn&rsquo;t have the name &ldquo;permaculture.&rdquo;</p></div></div><p dir="ltr">When Letunyoi helped create his project about two years ago, he says it was not easy to preach the gospel of permaculture to the Maasai. They&rsquo;re pastoralists &mdash; herding cattle and goats and sheep &mdash; and not really prone to growing crops.</p><p dir="ltr">But among the Maasai, he says,&nbsp;&ldquo;The women&rsquo;s groups are easy to work with because they&rsquo;re already organized,&rdquo; he points out. &ldquo;They are ambitious and they are patient.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Aloe <em>secundiflora</em><em>&nbsp;</em>leaves were already known to the Maasai as a cure to wounds, for deworming animals and people, and as the source of a local wine. All the womens&rsquo; groups needed, says Letunyoi,&nbsp;was a little nudge.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The aloe was already growing all over and they know about it, so when we brought the idea of soap-making, selling leaves to whatever companies and other places, they clicked very fast and they said, &lsquo;Yeah, this is exactly what we wanted &mdash; an alternative to pastoralism.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><div><img alt="Some of the Maasai women working at Twala Cultural Manyatta" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/_MG_3133.jpg?itok=HoHtlwO-" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Some of the Maasai women working at Twala Cultural Manyatta. (PRI/Anne Bailey)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><p>When Lekootoot showed me around the Twala aloe field, she did so with the reverence of someone who unlocked the gate to a personal Eden. After all, this field of aloe is bringing the Twala women more than $3000 each year. That&rsquo;s more than double the per capita GDP in Kenya.</p></div></div><p dir="ltr">The Twala women are focused, they&rsquo;ve got a vision that includes bee-keeping, growing food for themselves, selling aloe to Lush and making money.&nbsp;And they have managed to maintain their cultural connections to pastoralism.</p><p dir="ltr">It shows what can happen when you&rsquo;re organized, and then you get a little boost from the outside.</p><p dir="ltr">&mdash;<a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-12-16/how-maasai-women-kenya-are-helping-make-your-cosmetics" target="_blank"><em> via PRI&#39;s The World</em></a></p></p> Thu, 17 Dec 2015 16:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-12-17/how-maasai-women-kenya-are-helping-make-your-cosmetics-114214 How Does Your Life Stack Up Against a Kenyan Woman's? http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-12-17/how-does-your-life-stack-against-kenyan-womans-114193 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.wbez.org/" alt="" /><p><header><div><figure><div id="file-94871"><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_main/public/story/images/kenya-quiz-lead.jpg?itok=6hYmqs1D" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="(PRI/Faye Orlove)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div>&nbsp;</div></div></figure></div></header><aside><aside><div id="dfp-ad-pri_ros_atf_300x600-wrapper"><div id="dfp-ad-pri_ros_atf_300x600"><div id="google_ads_iframe_/1009951/PRI_STORY_ATF_0__container__">The Across Women&#39;s Lives team is currently on the ground in Kenya reporting&nbsp;stories about women and entrepreneurship&nbsp;for a special series we&#39;re calling&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pri.org/series/owning-it">#OwningIt</a>.</div></div></div></aside></aside><div><article about="/stories/2015-12-14/how-does-your-life-stack-against-kenyan-womans" typeof="sioc:Item foaf:Document"><p>You might already know that Kenya trains the world&#39;s top distance runners, produces some of the most sought-after coffees, and is home to several of Africa&#39;s most popular wildlife parks and safari destinations.&nbsp;</p><p>But did&nbsp;you know that Kenya is expected to be the world&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-25/the-20-fastest-growing-economies-this-year" target="_blank">third fastest growing economy</a>&nbsp;in 2015, after China and the Philippines?&nbsp;Or that its capital, Nairobi, has become Africa&#39;s &#39;Silicon Valley,&#39; attracting regional tech start-ups, venture capital firms and international tech giants?</p><p>What about Kenyan women? How&nbsp;much do you really know about them beyond what you&#39;ve seen in the news? Time to test your knowledge! Check out our&nbsp;interactive quiz below to see how your home country stacks up against Kenya and its women.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div style="text-align: center;"><iframe align="left" frameborder="0" height="10450" scrolling="no" src="http://admin.pri.org/sites/default/files/kenya-quiz-2.html" style="width: 620px;" width="620"></iframe></div></article></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 14 Dec 2015 10:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-12-17/how-does-your-life-stack-against-kenyan-womans-114193 The Outsized Optimism Of The Entrepreneur http://www.wbez.org/programs/weekend-edition-sunday/2016-01-25/outsized-optimism-entrepreneur-114592 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/fish-business_wide-f78effd00c5cbae6b561a46894edfcd98dfa90e7-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It is part of the American dream, the notion that if you have a good idea and a fire in your belly, you can turn an idea into a successful business. It&#39;s that entrepreneurial spirit that drives the global economy.</p><p>That message is everywhere in our culture. President Obama echoed it at a summit on entrepreneurship at the White House.</p><p>&quot;We have a lot of brainpower here,&quot; he said. &quot;We&#39;ve got innovators and investors, business leaders, entrepreneurs. We&#39;ve even got a few Sharks.&quot;</p><p>He was referring to the hit show&nbsp;<em>Shark Tank</em>&nbsp;&mdash; because Americans love the idea of making it big so much that we watch the drama unfold on TV night after night.</p><p>Even if an entrepreneur can secure some investment to get up and running, the odds of it working out are low. The Small Business Administration says that 50 percent of all new businesses fail within the first five years.</p><p>This week on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/tags/399382645/for-the-record" target="_blank">For the Record</a>: two entrepreneurs who risk it all to make it big. One&#39;s business succeeds; the other&#39;s does not.</p><div><hr /><p><strong>Jane Chen, San Francisco</strong></p><div id="res407446668" previewtitle="Jane Chen"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Jane Chen" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/05/17/jane-chen-4716e60813711306c251c29e6e77a26dbff05d4f-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 232px; width: 310px; float: right;" title="Jane Chen" /></div><div><p>Chen started a company called Embrace, that sets out to save premature babies in developing countries with a product that keeps them at exactly the right temperature.</p></div></div><p>&quot;It looks like a little sleeping bag for a baby,&quot; she explains. &quot;You can heat it either through a hot water heater or through an electric heater that only requires 30 minutes of power.&quot;</p><p>She and three friends came up with this idea when they were students at Stanford&#39;s business school. They researched the market and in the end, &quot;We thought to ourselves, &#39;Hey, if we don&#39;t do this, no one else is going to.&#39; &quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Jeff Martens, Portland, Ore.</strong></p><p>Martens&#39;s &quot;aha&quot; moment came in 2001. He was obsessed with the idea of harnessing the power of millions of home computers for large, single tasks.</p><p>&quot;We could split it up into many pieces, send those pieces to many computers and do it faster than if the client submitted that workload to just one single server,&quot; he says.</p><p>It was an idea he couldn&#39;t shake. Then in 2009, Martens got his big break.</p><p>&quot;I was laid off,&quot; he says &quot;It turns out that was probably one of the best things that happened to me.&quot;</p><div id="res407383363" previewtitle="Jeff Martens"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Jeff Martens" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/05/17/martens-jeff-db9b20a4cdcce59e59fe29605df6568421376341-s400-c85.jpg" style="height: 232px; width: 310px; float: right;" title="Jeff Martens" /></div></div><p>He got a severance package so he could afford to take a few months off to turn his idea into a business.</p><p>Most entrepreneurs hit a low point in any new enterprise, and Martens and Chen both had theirs. Chen&#39;s came last year, when national elections in India created instability in the country where she and her partners were selling a lot of their products in India.</p><p>For Martens, the low point came when a member of his team quit.</p><p>That didn&#39;t happen for Martens.Here, the two stories start to diverge. To climb out of her low point, Chen found an investor, someone she randomly met in a meditation class who happened to be really interested in neonatal health. That investor kept her going.</p><p>&quot;We kept saying, &#39;Oh, there&#39;s just this new investor around the corner, or this new customer that&#39;ll sign up and it&#39;s going to happen,&#39; &quot; he says. &quot;I think after telling ourselves that a number of times, we just couldn&#39;t believe it ourselves anymore. And to my surprise, the day that my co-founder and I decided to shut down our company, it was one of the easiest decisions we&#39;d ever made.&quot;</p><p>Martens is on solid footing now. He got a job with a tech company as a product manager. He likes the steady paycheck and even likes the work. He figures his start-up cost him friends, his bank account and his marriage &mdash; but he is absolutely convinced that he&#39;ll strike out on his own again at some point.</p><p>Chen is still making baby warmers. She admits to being perhaps irrationally optimistic &mdash; believing, despite the odds, that everything will just work out. That&#39;s the thing that entrepreneurs all have in common.</p><p>&quot;Once we finish one thing I&#39;m always thinking, well, what&#39;s next?&quot; she says. &quot;And thinking, well, it&#39;s 150,000 babies now. How do we get to a million babies?&quot;</p><p><strong>Three Takeaways</strong></p><p>First, entrepreneurs don&#39;t talk about failure like the rest of us. In this world, it&#39;s considered almost a badge of honor to have started a few companies that tanked. Of course, that only holds as long as the next company you start is a huge success. But they see failure as an almost necessary step to making it big.</p><p>Second, entrepreneurs have to believe in their idea and in themselves. They simply don&#39;t allow self-doubt to creep in. They are eternal optimists, which is helpful, because the risk they have to tolerate is enough to turn the stomach of the rest of us mere mortals.</p><p>Last, entrepreneurs have little room for work-life balance. The work is all-encompassing; they put their personal lives on hold. But until when? Based on our conversations, entrepreneurs are also super ambitious, so how do they know when to stop and say, &quot;This is good. This is enough.&quot; There&#39;s always another good idea, another big investor around the corner.</p></div><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/05/17/407380631/the-outsized-optimism-of-the-entrepreneur?ft=nprml&amp;f="><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 22 May 2015 11:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/weekend-edition-sunday/2016-01-25/outsized-optimism-entrepreneur-114592 Risk-taker embraces failure to find success http://www.wbez.org/news/risk-taker-embraces-failure-find-success-108912 <p><p>Terry Howerton is giving me a tour of his latest business venture, which he recently moved to the Civic Opera Building downtown. TechNexus is a tech collaborative that helps launch startups.</p><p>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;re walking through right now, this space will be what we call grow suites. A grow suite is designed to have room for a two person or a four person company,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The office walls can literally move to adjust to a start-up&#39;s needs as it grows.</p><p>Outside on the 15th floor, contractors built a rooftop deck with a bird&rsquo;s eye view of the Chicago River.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a barbecue and a bar area. And the idea is that most of the people who build companies at TechNexus, these are startups. These are entrepreneurs,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re here 12, 15, 18 hours a day, and in some cases 24 hours a day and sleeping on the floor of the office,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Failure%201.jpg" style="height: 263px; width: 350px; float: left;" title="Terry Howerton stands outside on the rooftop deck of TechNexus. He’s building out his tech incubator. (WBEZ/Susie An)" />Deciding where the bar should go on a new company&rsquo;s rooftop deck isn&rsquo;t a decision most would&rsquo;ve thought Howerton would be making at this point in his career. A few years ago, another high profile business of his took a nose dive.</p><p>But in Howerton&rsquo;s words, starting new businesses is simply part of his DNA -- even when they sometimes fail. He&rsquo;s always considered himself an entrepreneur, as far back as the second grade.</p><p>&ldquo;I realized the pencil machine outside of the principal&rsquo;s office that sold pencils two for a quarter, you could buy all the pencils out of the machine. It took the principal two weeks to restock the machine,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So if you cornered the market on pencils, you could sell them for a quarter apiece.&rdquo;</p><p>Howerton said he must&rsquo;ve started 20 to 30 companies over his lifetime. He dropped out of college his freshman year because he wanted to work on a business idea, instead of sitting bored in class.</p><p>In 2001, he moved to Chicago to launch a tech firm called Fast Root. It was a company that delivered software on the Internet. Things were going well for the business. So Howerton started launching other projects, like a tech incubator that would later become TechNexus.</p><p>But after awhile he found himself losing zeal for FastRoot. And maybe that was the tip of the iceberg.</p><p>&ldquo;We were very ambitious at FastRoot, and had planned on building several new data centers, had projects underway, very expensive projects we were spending money on,&rdquo; he recalled. &ldquo;When the market shifted in 2008, because I wasn&rsquo;t really focused completely on the business, I think we weren&rsquo;t agile enough to respond.&rdquo;</p><p>One of the other ventures he was juggling back then was a charter school that he helped build. It taught inner city kids about entrepreneurship and technology. Howerton said as FastRoot starting tanking, he found himself telling the students that failure was part of entrepreneurship. But here he was unable to accept it.</p><p>&ldquo;I think there&rsquo;s a thin line between entrepreneurs who think people telling them something is impossible is completely plausible,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The idea that I&rsquo;m going to fight that battle until I win that battle, which is something that&rsquo;s just ingrained in an entrepreneur. And the idea of being able to accept failure fast enough.&rdquo;</p><p>For something that could&rsquo;ve been over in 60 days, the FastRoot failure dragged out painfully for a year and a half. Howerton said he began doubting himself and had no energy to create new things.</p><p>&ldquo;I think a part of that time, as the Titanic was sinking, as the business was failing, and a part of that time was licking my wounds after that failure. And that&rsquo;s what failure does to an entrepreneur. It really distracts them from other opportunities for success,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>And then Howerton faced a kind of crossroads. He was offered a job at another company, a good position with a nice salary. He turned it down.</p><p>&ldquo;What finally helped me break out of the cycle was to realize that that wasn&rsquo;t me. It had never been me in 25 years of being an entrepreneur, and I didn&rsquo;t want it to be me for the next 25 years,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Howerton doesn&#39;t remember this period fondly.</p><p>&ldquo;It was pretty visible, and lots of gossips and gadflies and bloggers like to write about it and poke fun about it, but it&rsquo;s made me stronger,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Strong enough even to face his old failures. After he finishes the TechNexus build out, Howerton said he plans to give FastRoot another try.</p><p><em>&ldquo;At What Cost?&rdquo; is made possible in part by the John A. Wing Society, an initiative of the Illinois Humanities Council to improve dialogue about business and the common good.</em></p></p> Mon, 14 Oct 2013 10:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/risk-taker-embraces-failure-find-success-108912 Chicago retailer credits ignorance of risk for its success http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-retailer-credits-ignorance-risk-its-success-108911 <p><p>Sometimes risk can be masked by a lack of experience and knowledge. But that doesn&#39;t mean someone can&#39;t find success. More than 10 years ago, Jon Cotay took a chance on a venture he knew nothing about. Today, it&rsquo;s paying off.</p><p>Cotay&rsquo;s a man with a lot of energy.&nbsp; If he&rsquo;s not managing 400 vendor accounts or keeping tabs on 270 employees, he&rsquo;s likely at a fashion event.</p><p>&ldquo;The funny part is all three of us are really not the most fashionable people out there. If we had to look back, we were just like what the heck were we thinking?&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Eleven years ago, he and two college friends founded Akira, a fashion retail company. Cotay said fashion still doesn&rsquo;t come naturally to him. His assistant had to tell him not to wear shorts and flip-flops to our interview. Instead, he wore a sharp blazer and jeans.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/success%203.jpg" style="float: left; height: 234px; width: 350px;" title="Akira’s Block 37 store. The company has opened 17 stores since 2002. (Photo courtesy of Akira)" />In just over a decade, he and his two partners Erikka Wang and Eric Hsueh built Akira into 17 stores across the Chicago region with an online shop that sells internationally. And yet when they all attended the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign not one of them studied fashion or business. Hsueh and Wang studied Management Information Systems. Cotay majored in nursing.</p><p>&ldquo;We actually bonded around food. All of us are Asians. Different people worked in different restaurants. The three of us would get together and barter food,&rdquo; Cotay said.</p><p>After graduation, all three worked in fields related to their majors. Cotay had multiple nursing jobs, including a full time shift at a hospital just to keep busy. Then, one day, Erikka Wang wasn&rsquo;t feeling satisfied with her job. She wanted something new. So she presented Eric Hsueh and Cotay with a crazy idea, a career in fashion retail.</p><p>&ldquo;We started laughing. We&rsquo;re like,&rsquo;really, the three of us would open something in retail.&rsquo; And we didn&rsquo;t even know what the scope of retail was. We didn&rsquo;t know about brands. We didn&rsquo;t know anything about distribution. We didn&rsquo;t know anything about how the retail market worked,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We just thought it was kind of like a cool idea to get started.&rdquo;</p><p>Cotay was 28-years-old at the time. After a few years of nursing experience, his parents expected him to go to med school, not run a business. But he decided to take a chance. He and his partners opened their first Akira store in Bucktown in 2002.</p><p>&ldquo;For the first three years, I didn&rsquo;t actually tell my parents I owned the business. My parents are conservative and everything like that, so I didn&rsquo;t want to put them on a lot of stress,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Cotay never really officially told his parents he had started a business.</p><p>&ldquo;Over time, they just realized, &lsquo;what is Jon doing at this store. Why are you always there?&rsquo; Every time they asked me why are you always there a lot. I say, &lsquo;oh, I work there part time,&rsquo;&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Actually, he and his partners worked overtime. They noticed most stores in the area sold luxury goods and were only open from 11 to 5. They tried something different. They brought in more affordable options and kept the doors open until 9, sometimes later if they were just hanging out on a Friday night.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/success%202.jpg" style="float: right; height: 233px; width: 350px;" title="From left to right, Eric Hsueh, Erikka Wang and Jon Cotay. The three college friends founded Akira 11 years ago. They were successful despite knowing little about fashion or business. (Photo courtesy of Akira)" />&ldquo;We didn&rsquo;t even think about the risk factor. We just had the mentality like &lsquo;well, we have to pay our bills.&rsquo; So we have to make sure whatever we can do, we just do it,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Cotay said it was an immigrant work ethic that drove them. Before he was born, Cotay&rsquo;s grandparents emigrated from China to the Philippines. He watched them work hard to keep their own small business going. That stuck with him when he came to the U.S.</p><p>But his parents still wonder about his career in medicine.</p><p>&ldquo;I think even 7 years into the business they asked me if I would still consider going to med school. And I&rsquo;m like I don&rsquo;t think that&rsquo;s going to happen now. This is it. This is my baby right now,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Cotay&rsquo;s parents might&rsquo;ve worried if they knew their son put his savings into opening a clothing store without having a business plan. This is the first year the company brought in business consultants. And Cotay said they all question how Akira got where it is today without a set strategy.</p><p>&ldquo;We were all in some way ignorant about it. We kind of like had more confidence in ourselves to get it done. But if we knew now how challenging it was, we would probably talk ourselves out of it,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>It all seems pretty risky in hindsight. But Cotay and his partners may have been too busy building a successful business to notice.</p><p><em>&ldquo;At What Cost?&rdquo; is made possible in part by the John A. Wing Society, an initiative of the Illinois Humanities Council to improve dialogue about business and the common good.</em></p></p> Mon, 14 Oct 2013 10:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-retailer-credits-ignorance-risk-its-success-108911 Millennials, risk and the economy http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/millennials-risk-and-economy-108886 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/niala.PNG" alt="" /><p><p><em>Above is a Google hangout between fellow WBEZ blogger Britt Julious and Afternoon Shift host Niala Boodhoo, discussing how millenials are taking risks in today&#39;s economy.</em></p><p>Oh, those millenials. Generation Y, made up of people born between the late &#39;70s and early &#39;90s, is often called the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/13/opinion/sunday/the-entrepreneurial-generation.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=1&amp;" target="_blank">&quot;entrepreneur generation,&quot;</a>&nbsp;due in large part to the plucky startup models, risk-taking mentalities and personal branding strategies that have come to define success at work in the new millennium. Rapidly transitioning from one career to another also has emerged as a frequent practice for Gen Y, and <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/born-digital-millennials-change-workforce-much-more-115241544.html" target="_blank">&quot;sidepreneurism,&quot;</a> the increasingly popular trend of employees creating and running their own businesses while still engaged in a full-time job, is perhaps even more common.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">However, millennials of the Internet Age also have been dismissed by think piece writers, political pundits, and baby boomers ad nauseam. They have been labeled lazy, bratty, pretentious, entitled and self-absorbed. Framed in a stereotype, the millennial&#39;s fingers are perpetually glued to an electronic device, watching life go by through the glow of a smartphone screen.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p>I am 24, and clearly a millennial, but not a single one of the condescending &quot;kids these days&quot; stereotypes applies to me. I was raised to work hard, take responsibility for my actions, embrace change, and never burn bridges. I spend more time reading books then scrolling through filters on Instagram. I also have learned that failure&mdash;big, crushing, spectacular failure&mdash; is often a necessary pathway to success.&nbsp;</p><p>So, which scenario carries more risk for millenials in today&#39;s economy: starting a business from scratch or climbing the corporate ladder? Personally, I would relish the opportunity to work my way up at an organization that fulfills my needs as a young professional&mdash; especially since post-grad <a href="http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2011/01/02/Permalancing-The-New-Disposable-Workforce" target="_blank">permalancing</a>, while popular among the twenty-something set,&nbsp;is not the most financially stable of pursuits. Health benefits are frustratingly difficult to come by, and nearly impossible to obtain as a freelancer. Any semblance of job security? Even less so.</p><p>Still, I find myself drawn to the romance and excitement of innovation. I am propelled by Chicago&#39;s recent crowning by Forbes as the new <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnhall/2013/08/30/why-chicago-is-a-new-hot-spot-for-entrepreneurs/" target="_blank">&quot;hot spot for entrepreneurs</a>,&quot; and inspired by the dream teams who came before us. I think of&nbsp;Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak building the first Apple computers in Jobs&#39; Los Altos garage, ushering in a new wave of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/jun2010/id20100610_525759.htm" target="_blank">startup culture</a>&nbsp;and a new generation of people&nbsp;working to&nbsp;elicit powerful, meaningful, and life-altering change from their own backyards, and on their own terms.</p><p>Perhaps millennials need to learn how to fall down in order to get back up again: to create, innovate, and <em>try </em>with boundless enthusiasm. After all, isn&#39;t putting ourselves out there&mdash;at least being able to say that we tried, that we didn&#39;t settle&mdash;better than remaining frozen in stifling, unfulfilling work environments for the rest of our lives, wondering, &quot;What if?&quot;</p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. You can find her on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a>&nbsp;and<a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">&nbsp;Tumblr</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 10 Oct 2013 13:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/millennials-risk-and-economy-108886 Listeners share their ideas for a better Chicago http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-12/listeners-share-their-ideas-better-chicago-93079 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-12/idea.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>World leaders, captains of industry and innovators of all stripes gathered in Chicago throughout the week for the first-ever <a href="http://www.chicagoideas.com/" target="_blank">Chicago Ideas Week</a>."The talks and tours—or "labs"—were open to the public for $15. But for those who missed the opportunity to hear ideas from President Clinton or take a tour of Millennium Park with former Mayor Daley— all hope was not lost. <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> asked listeners to share their ideas for how to make Chicago a better city. Expert Robert Wolcott, executive director of the <a href="http://www.kinglobal.org/" target="_blank">Kellogg Innovation Network</a>, was in studio to help develop ideas. Wolcott is also a senior lecturer of entrepreneurship and innovation at the <a href="http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/" target="_blank">Kellogg School of Management</a> at Northwestern University.</p><p>Full disclosure—Professor Wolcott’s firm, <a href="http://clareopartners.com/" target="_blank">Clareo Partners</a>, is one of the many Chicago Ideas Week partners and WBEZ is a co-Media partner of the weeklong series.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 12 Oct 2011 14:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-12/listeners-share-their-ideas-better-chicago-93079 Immigrant entrepreneurs: New Chicago office should cut red tape http://www.wbez.org/story/immigrant-entrepreneurs-new-chicago-office-should-cut-red-tape-90722 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-17/forweb.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago has a reputation of being a tough place for small business owners.&nbsp;Everything from obtaining a business license to hanging an awning requires time and a tolerance for red tape.&nbsp;Well, navigating these difficulties can be even more trying if you’re new to the country.&nbsp;Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has promised to fix that by creating an “Office of New Americans” to identify and clear barriers to immigrant entrepreneurs.</p><p>Two things. The Office of New Americans, or “ONA,” is still just a concept. There’s no director, there’s no staff, there’s no budget yet. And second, it’s not just about businesses.</p><p>It’s supposed to help immigrants adjust to all aspects of Chicago life. Whether that be using the library, or navigating the city’s school system. But the business component will be a big part of it.</p><p>Matt Fischler is a Policy Associate in the mayor’s office.</p><p>FISCHLER: Actually, immigrants are 50 percent more likely to start new business in the city of Chicago than current Chicago residents.</p><p>Fischler’s helping create the office. He says other cities have them, and he’s looked to them for guidance: Boston, Los Angeles, Houston and especially New York City.</p><p>You can tell how important immigrant businesses are in Chicago just by visiting the neighborhoods. Many are defined by their unique ethnic flavor.</p><p>Emanuel says encouraging mom and pop shops is just as important as wooing the General Electrics and Boeings.Small businesses help drive job growth in the City of Chicago.</p><p>FISCHLER: if you’re an immigrant come to our shores, you want to start new business, that you either have the educational opportunities available, the mentoring available, and the easiest process available to get the licenses you need, the permitting you need to start your business.</p><p>Here’s where those entrepreneurs go when they want those licenses. Chicago’s office of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. It’s lunchtime on Monday, and it’s busy. Three-quarters of the seats in the waiting area are taken. People are watching local news on a television screen as they wait to be called up.</p><p>Efrat Stein is the office’s spokesman.</p><p>STEIN: If there are individuals that have special needs with language, we have 6 business consultants that speak Spanish, we have one business consultant that speaks French which particularly is helpful to Haitian and African business communities, we have one employee that speaks Mandarin, we have an emploiyee that speaks Cantonese, and we also have an employee that speaks Polish.</p><p>And if someone comes in speaking Gujarat? Hindi? Vietnamese?</p><p>STEIN: Typically here we’re seeing somebody who may have a language barrier is preparing themselves by bringing an interpreter with them.</p><p>Stein says sometimes on-site translation is a challenge. But it’s not the only challenge.</p><p>NGUYEN: Most of the people, the problem is they don’t know how to do the paperwork.</p><p>This is Tam Van Nguyen. He’s helped hundreds of Vietnamese businesses get started in Chicago.&nbsp;This used to be his paid job. It isn’t anymore, but people in the community still go to him for help.</p><p>Nguyen says the license forms are pretty simple. The problem is that they’re in English. In fact, the only foreign language that the city offers the forms in, is Spanish.&nbsp;So Nguyen helps Vietnamese entrepreneurs fill the forms out in English, and then he has to coach them on what to do when they bring them to the city.</p><p>NGUYEN: “be careful when they ask you this question, this question, this question, you know. And if when they ask the question you should answer something like that.</p><p>Nguyen actually used to be able to go to the BACP office himself and file the paperwork on behalf of those businesses, but in 2008 things got complicated. The city started requiring people like Nguyen to have a something called an expediters license.</p><p>Since Nguyen does this on his own time, and doesn’t get paid, he doesn’t have the expediters license. But he’d like to see the city get rid of that requirement. Barring that, he'd like to at least get the paperwork translated into Vietnamese, and have Vietnamese-speakers in the BACP office.&nbsp;If those are things that the ONA will help to start, Nguyen thinks it’s a grand idea.</p><p>NGUYEN: If the City of Chicago to do like that, maybe it (will) make many different ethnic groups, many different immigrant groups feel comfortable and feel happy to do the business with the City of Chicago. That’s my opinion like that.</p><p>Nguyen says for immigrants, this whole process can be confusing and scary, and more than anything, it can just drag out.&nbsp;The city has promised to hire a director for the Office of New Americans at the end of this month, and have the office launch this fall.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 24 Aug 2011 10:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/immigrant-entrepreneurs-new-chicago-office-should-cut-red-tape-90722 Venture: Is starting a business in a downturn crazy - or savvy? http://www.wbez.org/content/venture-starting-business-downturn-crazy-or-savvy <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-30/IMAG0687.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-11/Ashley housing_WBEZ_Ashley Gross.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 502px; margin: 5px;" title=""></p><p>Against the backdrop of a poor job market, more people are making their own jobs, starting up businesses, even in industries that might surprise you. Brian Brunhofer is showing off his company's first home under construction.&nbsp; Wait a minute, did he say home? Under construction?</p><p>BRUNHOFER: We started this house about 30 days ago. We’ve done first and second-floor framing.</p><p>The homebuilding industry has fallen off a cliff, so who thinks, 'Yeah, now’s the time to start a homebuilding company? Now’s the time to put up more houses?'</p><p>Brian Brunhofer and his wife Karen do. They started their own company, Meritus Homes, a year ago.</p><p>That’s after their executive-level jobs with one of the nation’s biggest homebuilders, Pulte, were eliminated.</p><p>Karen says land prices had dropped so low they jumped on the chance to go into business for themselves.</p><p>KAREN BRUNHOFER : We saw a unique opportunity to go in and start buying really good locations, where there’s great accessibility to transportation and employment, the school districts were good and there wasn’t a lot of supply in the area. And we were buying them at the distressed current pricing versus at the boom time.</p><p>So actually when you think about it, from that perspective, it makes sense.&nbsp; They can buy low from other builders and banks who want to bail on their projects.</p><p>That’s what happened here in this subdivision in the northwest suburb of Inverness.</p><p>KB Home pulled out and the Brunhofers came in, buying 27 empty lots, with another real estate partner.</p><p>Okay, the supply side adds up, but what about the demand side?</p><p>The number of new homes selling these days is just a quarter of what it was in 2005. New home sales have risen a bit this year from last year but are still lower than half a century ago. Brian says they weren’t pollyannas about a market rebound.</p><p>BRIAN BRUNHOFER: We were very realistic in putting together a business plan that said we can sell one a month at this price and that has been something that has met our expectations.</p><p>STEVE ROGERS: If you can find the market that will buy your homes, why not pursue that right now?&nbsp;</p><p>I went to see Steve Rogers to get his perspective. He teaches entrepreneurship at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. I wanted to know if a downturn, like the housing morass we’re in right now is a good or a bad time to start a company.</p><p>ROGERS: History shows that during tough times, entrepreneurial ventures actually increase. And we see, for example, historically that companies in the Fortune 500 like Eli Lilly, RadioShack, Burger King, Microsoft were founded during tough economic times. So some advantages to starting a company during a downturn - one, you have a bigger pool of employees to pick from. During a downturn, as we all know, unemployment is high and therefore you can hire the best of the best at good prices. So that's one of the advantages. Another advantage is that we see more capital being available for entrepreneurs, especially in the private equity category and the equity category. You know, we had an issue with debt capital being somewhat limited to us, but more equity capital is available because of how the public markets are responding to entrepreneurial ventures like Groupon, the fastest-growing company that in fact was started during a downturn.</p><p>GROSS: What about people's ability to spend? A lot of people don't have work, they don't have a ton of money.</p><p>ROGERS: Entrepreneurial ventures will be successful because they're different, and if you start something different and it meets a market need, even during a downturn when people don't have loads of cash, you still can prosper. Yes, you may not be able to get people spending lavishly, but even during tough times, we look at companies like Whole Foods - and I call it 'Whole Paycheck' - very expensive products that they sell, and right now they're booming. So just because there's a downturn does not mean that people will not spend.</p><p>GROSS: I'm thinking of people who might be listening to this who are saying:&nbsp; I'm just scraping by, I can't even contemplate starting a company now. What about those people?</p><p>ROGERS: The reality is these are tough times, these are scary times, my resources are limited, but some people may be faced with no other option and that is - when you don't have the option to take a job, your focus has to be on making a job for yourself and possibly even others.</p><p>Karen and Brian Brunhofer made their own jobs and now have four employees. Karen says quite a few people have told them they’re crazy to start up now.</p><p>KAREN: I think some people think this was not the right time, I think we think the exact opposite.&nbsp;</p><p>They say so far they’re on track with their plan, lining up buyers at a rate of about one a month. And Karen says more people tell them working with your spouse may be even crazier than starting a homebuilding business in the middle of a housing slump.</p><p>I’m Alex Keefe, with our Windy Indicator, where we measure the larger economy by examining one fragment of it. This week…Actually, this one’s intended for mature audiences only, so I’ll give you a second to send the kids out to play.</p><p>So, we adults have all heard the adage “sex sells.” But for the pornography industry right now – it’s more like “sex gets stolen.”</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-11/adult entertainment_WBEZ_Ashley Gross.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 375px; margin: 5px;" title="The adult entertainment industry faces many of the same challenges other parts of the entertainment economy. (WBEZ/Ashley Gross)"></p><p>PHELPS: When we’re trying to charge money for a product, if somebody’s giving it away for free – because they stole it – that kills everybody.</p><p>Jesse Phelps, with hotmovies.com, was one of several porn industry pros at the traveling Exxxotica expo that stopped in Rosemont over the weekend.&nbsp;</p><p>And when you got away from the throbbing music, the women dancing in cages, the vendors selling unmentionables, a lot of the talk was about piracy.</p><p>That’s due to the recent proliferation of so-called “tube sites,” websites that rip down copyrighted skin flicks, then post them online free of charge. About the same time tubes were sprouting up, the recession was cutting into porn sales.</p><p>The combination has caused big headaches for porn production houses like Evil Angel, where Justin Rich is a sales manager.</p><p>RICH: Our company has hired an agency, and all they do all day is go online and they send cease and desist letters to the tube sites and make them take everything down.</p><p>Nevertheless, the porn industry’s trade group says, in the last few years, revenue declines of 40 to 50 percent have been commonplace.</p><p>ANGEL: When you steal music, it’s a pain in the ass. When you steal porn, it is so easy.</p><p>Porn starlet Joanna Angel – she goes by her stage name – is taking another tack: make people want to pay.</p><p>ANGEL: It’s like the answer to the problem for not making as much money is to spend three times as much money to hope to not lose what we have.</p><p>While other companies fight piracy, she says hers is investing in high-definition video, social networking, and live chat rooms.</p><p>And she says it’s working.</p><p>ANGEL: I am a business woman. I just like to take my clothes off and, like, have sex with people on camera sometimes. (laughs)</p><p>Next week on Venture:&nbsp; Ah, the adventures of first-time home buying.</p></p> Mon, 11 Jul 2011 05:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/venture-starting-business-downturn-crazy-or-savvy