Home Renovations with the Tap on the iPhone

RoomScan App

It’s not a bad idea to measure the room, before you go out and buy a bunch of new furniture. After all, who among us has not gotten that really great looking piece of furniture delivered only to realize it won’t fit the room.  But even if you have mastered tape measuring 101, sketching the dimensions of any room into a rendering that reflects reality can be a skill that can elude even the most coordinated of us.  Now, for iPhone users, this task becomes less of an ordeal because you can trade the tape measure, ruler and graph paper for a slick new app that automatically generates floor plans by simply tapping your iPhone on every wall of a room. Called RoomScan, the app relies on the iPhone’s built-in GPS and gyroscope to determine distances and the orientation of walls. It is accurate to within about half a foot, but can be coupled with a laser measure to refine the accuracy of the dimensions, and it easily places doors and windows into the sketch.

The free version of RoomScan is great for scanning single rooms and RoomScan Pro, available for just five dollars, offers many advanced features. The finished floor plan on either version appears in just seconds with approximate wall lengths and floor area, and can draw floor plans of L-shaped and complex rooms just as easily as small rectangular rooms. Numerous rooms are automatically connected together to create a plan of the whole floor. The app is sure to be a favorite for the architecturally challenged “Do It Yourselfer” who is looking for a simple rendition to help redecorate the outdated family room. But the professional interior designer and layout architect need not worry about being replaced by the app and its companion smart phone, just yet.

RoomScan’s simplicity is great for the weekend laymen, but it lacks the sophistication for identifying and marking specific details necessary to generate a workable, professional document. Features like applying applicable building construction codes, wall thickness, electrical receptacles, switches and fixtures as well as the ability to identify the differences between structural and astatic elements are just a few features that still require personal, hands-on attention of a trained professional. But for those who long to draw and connect series of straight lines or pre-place furniture and objects within a given space, the RoomScan promises to be a great addition to the handypersons tool box and may save many hours of suffering sore, painful muscles brought on by “let’s see how it will look over there, honey” syndrome.

Valuation: What is your business really worth?


We have all heard the stories of rags to riches success in business. The tales always seem to have some commonality in the story-line; started in the garage, by a starving but determined character; while waiting tables or digging ditches to make ends meet. The result, of many hours, months and even years of hard work, failure and small success, the product finally goes to market in the face of unimaginable odds for success but succeeds beyond even the budding entrepreneur’s wildest dream. The stories prodigy sells the successful business for an unbelievable valuation and lives on – wealthy forever after. While some creative literary license is obvious in the stories telling the basis for the scenario is experienced and repeated many times over every day, with various points of difference and similarity, throughout America. The life and times of every of business, like every story, has a beginning, a middle and an end with each transition punctuated with hard work, risk and adversity. So in the end, what is the real value of all the effort?

Business valuation, the process and a set of procedures used to estimate the economic value of an owner’s interest in a business is used by financial market participants to determine the price they are willing to pay or receive to affect a sale of a business.  The process encompasses a wide array of fields and methods that include review of financial statements, discounting cash flow models, and similar company comparisons. Regardless of the methods employed in evaluating the worth of a business and the timing of the divestiture, the most successful plan to getting out of a business begins at the beginning.  Employing an effective, well-formed exit strategy should be an integral part of the every business plan.

The most common valuation methods include three basic approaches:

  • Asset-based approach – This business valuation approach totals up all the investments in the business and lists the business net balance sheet value of its assets and subtracts the value of its liabilities.
  • Earning value approach – This method is based on the idea that a business’s true value lies in its ability to produce wealth in the future. The most common earning value approach is Capitalizing Past Earning. With this approach, a valuator determines an expected level of cash flow for the company using a company’s record of past earnings, normalizes them for unusual revenue or expenses, and multiplies the expected normalized cash flows by a capitalization factor. The capitalization factor is a reflection of what rate of return a reasonable purchaser would expect on the investment, as well as a measure of the risk that the expected earnings will not be achieved.
  • Market value approach – The market value approach to business valuation attempts to establish the value of a business by comparing the business to similar businesses that have recently sold and most often works well when there are a sufficient number of similar businesses to compare.

Although the Earning Value Approach is the most popular business valuation method, for most businesses, some combination of business valuation methods will be the fairest way to set a selling price and while the science is important, the ultimate determination of value is dependent on some other important factors including: The life cycle position of the business, the customer base, existing supplier chains, product and service exclusivity, uniqueness, competition and potential for growth.

It is important to understand that real value is rarely as high as the seller’s perception or as low as a buyer’s expectations.  While many tech start-ups have shown that valuation can be based on the number of users or followers, the majority of businesses must develop and exit strategy with a clear understanding of valuation.

How Will You Pay It Forward?

Pay It Forward

When his teacher set a challenge to his class to come up with a plan to change the world for the better, twelve-year-old Trevor McKinney’s idea was simple: Do a good deed for three people and ask each of them to “pay it forward” to three others who need help. At first Trevor’s project seemed valuable only as a lesson on the dark side of human nature. But then something amazing happened: a vast movement of kindness and goodwill spreading beyond Trevor’s small California town and across the world.

The internationally acclaimed book by Catherine Ryan Howard, Pay It Forward, brought Trevor’s sensational project to the attention of millions of readers, beginning a movement of spontaneous giving. The book and the subsequent movie resulted in the formation of the Pay It Forward Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting kindness and generosity to others. This year the Foundation has declared April 24, 2014 as Pay It Forward Day, an international initiative that embodies the power of giving.

Always occurring on the last Thursday in April, Pay it Forward Day encourages people from around the world to intentionally do a good deed for someone else without expecting anything in return. The concept of Pay it Forward is that the recipient of the altruistic good deed will then be asked to continue the chain of kindness by doing something nice for someone else. The goal this year is to inspire more than three million acts of kindness around the world. While many may think such acts of kindness need to be of significant in size, effort and scope to be effective, changing people’s attitudes about the world may require relatively small, unobtrusive acts like; paying for someone’s cup of coffee or treating another person to a meal.

Businesses can participate by supporting employees efforts to help a charity of choice or encourage staff members to participate in the day and promote a departmental challenge whereby each department competes with each other to make a positive contribution to the community.

Spread the word to family friends and co-workers and encourage them to join in on a day of kindness and giving. How will you PAY IT FORWARD?

The Buzz around Experiential Marketing

The Sprite Shower

As the internet began its journey of prominence in American culture, businesses where disappointed with their inability to connect their brands marketing efforts with the new popular technological social revolution. Enter the concept of “contextual marketing”. Around since the mid 70’s, it was term that had not yet found a meaningful, real-world connection with its own definition. In practice, contextual marketing refers to advertising that’s designed to align with the media property in which it appears. For example, if you’re browsing Cosmopolitan Magazine you most likely will see ads directed to the female market. If you’re watching Chasing Classic Cars then you might see ads for car care products and specialty, collector-car, auto parts. The standard ad formats for TV, print and radio were set in previous marketing generations but the Internet, with its social media, mobile revolution, user tracking capabilities and interactive dialog with consumers, was a chance for a marketing do-over in which the lines between advertising and editorial were blurred. Advertisers have done a great job conversing with consumers and using behavioral targeting to find people who are in the market for products, but they’ve dropped the ball when it comes to giving them relevant offers. In the opinion of some marketing professionals tangible results have not caught up with all the contextual messages.

Enter “experiential marketing”.  Touted as a unique approach to the task of marketing goods and services, experiential marketing, like a contextual experience, is a concept that integrates elements of emotions, logic, and general thought processes to connect with the consumer. The goal of experiential marketing is to establish the connection in such a way that the consumer responds to a product offering based on both emotional and rational response levels. Appealing to a variety of senses, experiential marketing seeks to tap into that special place within consumers that has to do with inspiring thoughts about comfort and pleasure, as well as inspiring a sense of practicality. This means that the marketer needs to have a firm grasp on the mindset of the target audience he or she wishes to attract. By understanding what the consumer is likely to think and feel, it is possible to get an idea of how to steer the customer in a direction that will relate with the product, and entice individuals to act on that impulse to purchase.

In order to engage in experiential marketing, it is necessary to engage as many of the senses as possible. Striking displays with powerful visual elements, such as websites, and visual media such as print ads should not only be visually appealing, but also conjure up daydreams of locales and reminders of sensations that are enjoyable to the individual. Experiential marketing attempts to connect with the consumer on multiple levels. The strategy is ideally suited for contemporary sales and marketing campaigns. Shortened attention spans demand that any ads on the Internet, in print media, and on modern billboards must immediately catch the attention of prospective clients and hold that attention long enough to make an impact. By appealing to all the senses, and making the connection quickly and seamlessly, the experiential approach ensures that businesses can still attract and satisfy the needs and desires of consumers.

While traditional marketing has its basis in volumn of target market impressions, experiental marketing seeks to motivate its target by connecting and engaging propective consumers  to “feel” the brand rather tha simply being exposed to it. The premise is that companies that have a deeper, more genuine connection with their target audience will experience a greater value to their marketing efforts. “An experience has much more impact than an exposure,” says Brian Martin, Sr.VP Marketing and Communication for Project.

American Express is embracing the experiental concept of marketing by creating numerous eperiental events in an attempt to strengthen its bonds with exisitng customers and introduce its brand of services with potential new customers.  The company has been a long-time sponsor of the U.S. Tennis championship. The American Express Fan Experience is housed in a 20,000 square foot inteactive space located at the event sight. John Hayes, CEO of American Express says, “Experiental Marketng for us is about getting people to feel what it is like to be a member of American Express. Some marketers have recognized the benefits to experiental marketing and are increasing their event budgets for 2014. A survey conducted by Event Marketing Institute, indicates that budgets will likely grow by 4.7 percent for experiental projects in the coming year. Even though brands are best experienced at live events, the digital revolution is helping to extend the reach of the experiential events to the digital world by linking the effort to social media channels, resulting in the extention of the experiential “shelf life”.

Some industry insiders predict that experiental marketing will continue to grow in popularity, particularly with brands that seek to engage consumers at a much deeper, more personal and emotional level. While the desire for a much more touchy, feely relationship with customers is seeing some companies experiment with experiential events, the full effectiveness of these tactics has not yet been fully realized. Like “institutional marketing”, another term from the now distant past, the present day interactive communication approach requires a much longer period of time from implemetation to harvest. Will the promise of a more personal connection between brands and consumers result in greater brand loyalty and sales, or will the buzz of expierential go the way of contextual experience?