Give a Little, Make a Lot

In a time where inhibited growth and revenue decline are the norm, it is hard to envision a segment that manages to derive value from a trying economic climate. Social entrepreneurship – involving ventures which place emphasis on addressing a social issue over turning a profit – has actually been viewed as increasingly favorable during the recession. In stark contrast to the negativity, there is inherent value for a brand that remains focused on doing good on a local, regional, or global scale. Businesses dealing with helping the impoverished, improving a community, or preventing social delinquency are all models, along with others, that constitute the industry. Ecopreneurship also falls under this category.

Social entrepreneurs are somewhat of a misunderstood group. In order to make an impact, social enterprises require equal if not greater effort than for-profit businesses and are costly to initiate. At a minimum, social enterprises struggle to maintain a universal goal of sustainability. Some may be initially or later become profitable, but how a social business chooses to reinvest its profits varies substantially from conventional businesses.

TOMS, a footwear retailer, embodies the principles of a successful social enterprise. Blake Mycoskie, the founder, created the business, which matches every pair of shoes with a pair donated to a child in need, as a means of addressing an issue which he personally witnessed while traveling in Argentina. With a boom in popularity from media exposure over the positive change the company was enacting, the company has now sold and donated more than 1 million pairs. TOMS is profitable, but utilizes its proceeds to support its mission.

Sarvajal, a franchised business which leverages water filtration technologies to bring clean drinking water to rural areas, is an example of another type of social enterprise: a highly profit-driven company which maintains an aspiration of social change. The model offers franchisees the potential to profit hundreds of thousands of dollars annually while dramatically improving the lives of the people they serve.

There is money to be made, but profitability doesn’t influence the decisions of these businesses on the same order of magnitude as their responsibility towards their mission.  Sometimes, as in the case of Kiva, a vastly successful micro-lending website hailed by many as the ‘poster child’ for modern social enterprise, they come under great scrutiny due to common conceptions of business ethics derived from the behaviors of for-profit companies.

Building a successful business in a poor economy is a daunting endeavor. Then again, so is changing the world. With strong support to help tackle both, social entrepreneurship remains a durable and meaningful industry.

Junction CEO Shares Insights into Strategy, Impact on Blog Talk Radio

Julie Gareleck, CEO & Managing Partner, Junction Creative Solutions (Junction), appeared earlier this afternoon on The Compassionate Capitalist on Blog Talk Radio, broadcasted on the web to listeners across the country.

Julie and host Karen Rands discussed the values, philosophies, and methodologies that make Junction a leader amongst the large number of firms touting ‘consulting services.’ During the interview, Julie explained Junction’s unique value to its clients, which range from entrepreneurs and startup business to Fortune 500 companies. The pair discussed what constitutes impactful strategy and how Junction is able to effectively map out and execute on the strategies it designs to drive value and achieve results.

Rands, who herself works to bring entrepreneurs together with members of the capital community in order to gain access to capital, touted the power of expert strategic partnerships such as that which Junction offers its clients. Julie spoke to the fact that companies, large and small, often undervalue the value that the right partner can drive. She pointed out that, as Junction often tells its clients, “[business owners] don’t know what you don’t know,” and can benefit greatly from a relationship with a strategic partner.

The full interview is available for listening at

Junction CEO to be Featured on Blog Talk Radio Show

Julie Gareleck, CEO & Managing Partner, Junction Creative Solutions, will appear as a guest on The Compassionate Capitalist with host Karen Rands on Blog Talk Radio on Friday, September 23rd, at noon ET to discuss the spirit of entrepreneurship and insights she has gained from years from working with entrepreneurial companies and the investment community.

Junction Creative Solutions (Junction), founded in 2008, is a hybrid strategic firm that combines the intellectual capital of a business consulting firm with the creative execution of an advertising agency.  Junction prides itself on developing and implementing key strategies and solutions that drive real impact for its clients.  Junction, as a rising leader in the industry, grew 300% in 2010 and is positioned to reach 400% growth in 2011.

Gareleck has consulted with hundreds of pre-seed, early stage, and established companies throughout her career with proven results.  Her portfolio includes measurable, integrated strategies for start-ups, Fortune 500, and Fortune 100 companies across various industries.

Tune in to to listen.

Get In the Fast Lane

The 21st century has brought the world to the fingertips of consumers. Blazing internet speeds, ultra-capable and portable computers and devices, and an increasingly demanding population has ushered in an era of amenities unlike any the developed world has ever experienced. Today’s end users live in a culture of convenience, and they insist upon products and services that cater to their fast-paced lives.

Redbox, a subsidiary of Coinstar, exemplifies the importance of considering the wants of the end user. As foreseen by McDonald’s venture division, which initially funded the company, Redbox’s hyper-convenient kiosk model, placed thoughtfully within grocery stores and pharmacies as part of the consumer’s normal routine, took merely 4 years to surpass industry leader Blockbuster in number of locations. Along with other alternatives like Netflix, with mailing and instant streaming designed to eliminate the hassles of the the video rental process, Redbox has now forced traditional video rental retailers like Blockbuster into obsolescence and even bankruptcy.

Likewise, Domino’s and Pizza Hut have elevated the humble pizza-delivery industry, bolstering their already powerful businesses by incorporating online ordering via computer, mobile device, or even text messaging, and allowing customers to follow up with the status of their order with tools like Domino’s pizza tracker. Pizza delivery has always been a convenience-based service, but now more than ever, simplifying and expediting the process is crucial. Millions of dollars are spent annually by these companies in efforts to better cater to their customers.

Convenience-oriented design in a product or service is an absolutely essential ingredient for building a successful enterprise. Consumers are simply more interested in a product that suits their lifestyle, and are willing to invest more in that brand. Most importantly, ease of use and speediness of service builds strong brand affinity. Design your business anticipating the needs of the end user, and distinguish your brand from competitors to achieve wins. Isn’t that convenient?

Innovative Ways to Avoid the Queue

Market research has always been a useful tool for companies across industry, providing insights into user needs and wants. For decades, the standard procedure for conducting and reacting to research has been to gather data, analyze, and strategize changes to adapt to what has been learned. Despite the ubiquity of this process, the greatest successes have come outside the traditional method, from visionary leadership that chooses to innovate in order to influence users, rather than being influenced by them.

True innovation is the driving force of changes in consumer desires.  The banking industry in the 1990s was a prime example; the internet was a new dynamic in the business of banking. Market research at the time suggested that bank customers found the web irrelevant to their personal finance. Obviously for most banks, the smart play was to ignore web integration.  Leading banks of the era like Citicorp and J.P. Morgan & Co saw the situation differently; noticing potential to revolutionize banking with new capabilities that the internet offered. Internet banking boomed from 2000-2004 and a decade later, online services are the preferred banking method of the majority of bank customers; Bank of America and Chase even offer mobile banking through smartphone platforms.

Bank customers also proudly show their loyalties and advocate for their bank’s brand on social media websites. Other trends in the social media space, arguably the most influential emergent industry in the modern era, mirror the banking industry’s display of a need for progressive thinking. Aside from the negative stigma collected through years of issues like cyberbullying and hacking,, once on the forefront of social media, was ultimately crippled by its inability to innovate. By contrast, Facebook’s rise to becoming undisputed standard-bearer for social media has been marked by its consistency in offering new services and integrations. As time passed, Facebook’s offerings became the new benchmark for the expectations of social media users.

In order to maintain a competitive edge, it’s best not to react to the latest market research once it’s published. Try to stay ahead of the market. Innovate. Why wait in line for the teller when you can make a deposit using your iPhone?

LAUNCHfn’s Fast Pitch Event Brings Atlanta Entrepreneurs and the Investment Community Together

On Tuesday, September 13th, Launch Funding Network, Inc. (LAUNCHfn) hosted an elevator pitch workshop for entrepreneurs at The Hub in Atlanta, GA. The day-long session included a number of activities designed to help maximize the impact of the short-format introduction and provided an open forum for questions and discussion. The workshop was followed by an evening networking event, allowing the attendees an opportunity to practice their pitch to an audience of investors and members of the capital community.

“Junction is committed to advancing opportunities for start-ups companies and growing businesses.  We were so impressed with the quality of companies emerging in the region, “said Julie Gareleck, Managing Partner, Junction. “Karen provided quality content and an ideal environment for the entrepreneurs to pitch to the investment community.”

Guests enjoyed drinks and light hors d’oeuvres as the room buzzed with newly improved pitches. The entrepreneurs also had the chance to address the entire group, which many did to great effect, utilizing the tips, tricks, and insights that LAUNCHfn President Karen Rands had shared throughout the day.

“We had really pleased with the turnout and the quality of the people in the room,” commented Rands. “Creating an effective elevator pitch is critical to the success of entrepreneurial CEOs, and days like today are so valuable in helping them refine and perfect it. It wouldn’t be possible without the support of the community here in Atlanta and our fantastic sponsors.”

Visit Junction’s Flickr page to see more photos from the event.

Junction Sponsors LAUNCHfn’s Fast Pitch Workshop and Networking Event

September 13, 2011 – ATLANTA, GA: Junction Creative Solutions (Junction), an Atlanta based strategic firm, actively supports organizations focused on advancing opportunities for entrepreneurs in the Atlanta community.  Junction will sponsor the Fast Pitch Workshop and Networking Event, hosted at The Hub in Atlanta, GA on September 13, 2011 by Launch Funding Network, Inc. (LAUNCHfn).

As a venture catalyst, LAUNCHfn accelerates the success of growing companies through a unique access to capital system that includes strategic services necessary to position the company for sustainable and scalable growth. The workshop will offer insights directly from the experts on pitching to attract investors, hands-on activities to craft and perfect an ‘elevator pitch’, and strategies to take the pitch back to an entire team to master. Registrants will have the opportunity to practice their pitch during a networking event to follow the workshop, and deliver directly to investors from the local capital community.

“Mastering one’s elevator pitch…basically their 90 second ‘infomercial’, is critical to success for an entrepreneur,” says Karen Rands, President, Launch Funding Network. “Mastering communicating one’s value proposition so that is easily understandable and compelling will attract investors, customers, and partners/influencers, and this workshop has been proven to help do just that.”

“We are happy to support LAUNCHfn and the entrepreneurs participating at the event,” comments Julie Gareleck, Managing Partner, Junction.  “It’s refreshing to see new companies and entrepreneurs starting up in the region. We look forward to following the growth in 2011.”

Registration for the Fast Pitch Workshop and Networking Event is still open for entrepreneurs and investors. Visit for more information.

Don’t Be Content with Bad Content

In the digital age, where competition for consumer’s attention is high, reinforcing existing brand value and establishing loyalties is vital to the success of any brand. The creation and distribution of highly customized content, such as blogs, videos, and advertisements, serve as a blend of journalism and marketing designed to engage consumers at every brand touchpoint.

Well-targeted content is an incredibly powerful catalyst for driving traffic. Users seeking extended interaction can bolster a brand’s position in the space, but with identifying more than 170,000,000 blogs in existence and YouTube hosting billions of hours of video, content must be both attention-grabbing and carefully tailored in order to break through and truly captivate an audience.

Comcast’s Xfinity page offers the company’s 14 million plus subscribers with a large selection of original news, sports, and entertainment videos that are heavily branded within their own embedded media player. The content is juxtaposed with the users’ email access, keeping them on that page. This is the modern evolution of the approach taken by AOL when it dominated the ISP market, combining the primary services of the application (email, chat, and web browsing) with a portal for extended engagement using news headlines, games, and other multimedia.

Companies like Nike, Burger King, and Yahoo! all have leveraged branded custom websites for targeted ad campaigns, drawing existing customers into deeper relationships with their respective brands. ESPN, already a powerful media originator, recently launched its supplementary Grantland website, where users can find extended reading, broadening their interactions with the sports news giant.

Even small and startup businesses can benefit from creating or sourcing custom content. A few important tips to follow:

Be original. There is little motivation for a reader to choose a blog over a major media outlet if the story is the same.

Deliver value. Be diligent to include relevant statistics, infographics, and visual enhancements to tell users something relevant and new.

Focus on the target audience. The research and the voice in which the content is presented should fit the philosophy and interests of the users.

Invite discussion. The internet is the ultimate social platform. Include users in the conversation to give them a voice, encouraging advocacy for the brand.

Whether you decide to manage content generation or hire an external firm, focus on providing meaningful and engaging content to grow brand affinity and attract new audiences. It is time well spent.

Junction Creative Solutions Making Waves in the Northeast

Further extending its reach into the northeastern United States, Atlanta-based Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) hosted a series of networking events aboard Freedom Yacht, sister ship to the Presidential Yacht Sequoia, to build relationships between clients, colleagues, and partners.

Junction, founded in 2008, has seen its sphere of influence achieve considerable growth, aiding clients in bridging the gap between strategy and execution as they grow sustainable businesses. A recent two week foray into the northeast corridor has provided Junction the opportunity to further develop relationships with companies in New York City, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia.

Philadelphia based Realtime Media, one such collaborative partner, cosponsored an event on September 1st. Realtime, recognized as North America’s top technology-drive marketing promotion specialist, is an example of how a collaboration can drive maximum impact and provide comprehensive solutions to clients.

“The northeast offers a number of opportunities to drive new business and create more sustainable businesses. What we do at Junction has no geographical borders; companies everywhere can benefit from creating a sound strategy and executing on marketing solutions,” comments Julie Gareleck, CEO and Managing Partner, Junction.  “Impact is impact, regardless of location.”

To view a snapshot of the networking events, visit Junction’s Flickr photostream at .

Atlanta Based AcuteCare Telemedicine Launches New Online Presence

AcuteCare Telemedicine (AcuteCare), led by 4 expert neurologists, launches its new online presence.  AcuteCare, an emerging telemedicine provider, offers hospitals 24/7 high quality neurological emergency support, accreditation support, and programs for the advancement of healthcare providers.

“We have already seen over 60% growth so far in 2011, and we are poised to add new hospitals in neighboring states, allowing us to extend our expert services to underserved areas,” said Matthews Gwynn, M.D., CEO, AcuteCare.“The launch of the website marks another significant milestone for our business as we continue to grow. It is a useful tool, and we hope it will be a spark for the future of the company.”

The new online experience highlights a unique value proposition for hospitals and administrators complete with information and testimonials to support the company’s ongoing mission of providing expert care using remote presence technologies.

“We are excited to be working with an emerging leader in telemedicine,” commented Julie Gareleck, Managing Partner, Junction Creative Solutions. “The partners have built not only a brand, but a valuable company.  We hope the launch of this new website will increase visibility for the company and present more opportunities for continued growth.”

Visit the new site at