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$100m reimagined convenience store startup to open 25 stores in 2022

(BUSINESS) Foxtrot is looking to redefine the convenience store as we know it. This startup is looking to make it a whole new experience.

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Laptop with Foxtrot convenience store locations in Chicago.

Move over 7-11, there’s a new player in town! There’s always room for competition, even in the world of convenience stores. Yes, you read that right, Quick Trip has some serious competition from a newcomer, Foxtrot.

Foxtrot is a curated, modern convenience store offering a brisk 30-minute delivery and 5-minute pick-up. It was created by Mike LaVitola and Taylor Bloom in 2014. These stores will undoubtedly be popular in walkable areas, but also with their online ordering convenience. This modern version of a convenience store offers the combination of an upscale corner store with a digital-first e-commerce platform. Sounds pretty glorious, right?

However, the original convenience store is safe as long as people are traveling and need to stop for gas or a restroom break.  If you’re from Texas, then you know and love, Buc-ee’s, the Texas-born chain. Buc-ee’s have been creating their own in-store products garnering a cult following among their customers. Still, Buc-ee’s doesn’t have an online ordering or delivery option unless it’s offered through a third party.

Foxtrot has raised $160 million in Series C funding and they are expecting to open 25 locations in many cities in 2022. There are a few different levels of funding. If a company makes it to Series C funding, they are already successful and looking to expand or develop new products per Investopedia.

According to Retail Dive, “About half of the new stores will be in Chicago, Dallas and Washington, where all of the 16 stores Foxtrot currently operates are located, LaVitola said. The tech-focused retailer is also planning to begin operations in Boston and Austin, and intends to open four or five new stores in each of those cities during the next year and a half, he said.”

Foxtrot is testing out technology equipment that would allow customers to leave the store without stopping to checkout at the counter. They plan isn’t to go entirely self-service, but as the creator LaVitola stated, “the more hours we can allocate towards sampling and storytelling and interacting with customers and less [on] tasks that don’t add on to value, like checkout, that’s great.”

Foxtrot is redefining convenience by including carefully curated products. They aim to offer local popular products as well core pantry items. They aim to make the commonly unpleasant experience of convenience stores enjoyable. Let’s hope they succeed.

Jessica Martin escaped from Texas to Austin to receive her degree in English from the University of Texas. When she isn't writing, you can find her outside playing with her kids, camera in hand.

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Business News

Cybersecurity: Russia cyberattacks pose concerns for US hacking red lines

(BUSINESS) Governments are beefing up their cybersecurity in the midst of Russian cyberattacks. What does this mean for the US’s hacking red lines?

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Lock in computer keys representing cyberwarfare, cyber attacks, and threats against Cybersecurity..

Digital lines in digital sand in cyberspace – how does one define what across the line means? As governments around the world bring cyberwarfare into their wheelhouse, what does this mean for defense and cybersecurity? The US government is making moves to define policy around these topics in the face of known Russian government malicious activities and fears amass around the consequences of the Ukraine conflict. What is our government doing and how worried should we be?

I think we should absolutely be concerned about what the government is getting up to in this arena. We are entering an era of a sort of “cyber arms race” where who has the best hackers, best defenses, etc. is in a constant state of flux. The sands are constantly in motion, which makes drawing lines all the more challenging.

First of all, how do you define cyberattacks and responses? A lot of people envision whole electric, sewage, and other utility grids going offline without warning. There are proposals to add digital attacks against any critical civilian infrastructure as a crime in the Geneva Conventions.

I spoke with an IT and Cybersecurity consultant and he stated,

That stuff shouldn’t happen. Not to mean that it can’t, but it shouldn’t. Critical systems like that should be abstracted from the internet. What that means, is it there should be no way from the internet to connect to those internal systems. They should be oh, if not completely isolated, then have a few very, very secure layers in between, and should those be compromised or cut off, then the system should continue to run without issue.

So what would a war inciting cyber-attack entail exactly? Access to certain parts of the internet could be disrupted. You could theoretically attack news sites, government sites, or websites that provide the public with information. You could also hijack those, sending out your own messages, propaganda, whatever. However, this is fairly easy to disrupt.

Our consultant cited an instance from several years ago where a county website in Kentucky frequented by lawyers, mortgage companies, builders, and landscapers to get property info was compromised once, and it took them weeks to acknowledge the problem, much less fix it. It was ill-preparedness, pure and simple. How much spyware got onto computers and law firms and construction company systems? We’ll never know.

This sort of happening could become a big problem if we look to compromising systems for use in information gathering and reconnaissance. If your target is critical infrastructure, infecting a construction company with spyware and stealing architectural drawings might be a big deal.

The most logical plan of attack is the financial sector. If you cut off people’s ability to purchase things online, transfer money reliably or securely, or do banking, you can cripple a lot of the economy of a country, if nobody trusts the internet anymore. Hit too hard, all at once, it could be devastating because people, simply, are not careful and if too many of them lose faith in a system at the same time, it’s going to put a kink and everyone’s day-to-day life. If someone took out PayPal or Venmo, who declares war on who?

However, most tensions around cybersecurity are founded in psychological manipulation, threats to financial security, and the disruption of services impacting day-to-day life. A big permanent, catastrophic strike, comparable to the nuclear arms race,  is difficult to imagine. The military approach of treating cybersecurity like a nuclear mutually assured destruction, or MAD scenario is inherently misleading and caricatures the wrong end of the crisis spectrum. The real threat is in more sublime ongoing interactions, and targeted attacks compromising commercial systems

Lastly, some food for thought lest we forget: this conversation is focused on government versus government conflict. Attacks against multi-national corporations, special interest groups, and cyber activity by known terrorist hotspots aren’t even on the table, but arguably compose a larger proportion of risk. The question “When does one country declare war on another?” has many layers. Can a corporation request a government response to an attack against them by a third party?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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Business News

How a Supreme Court ruling ending Roe v. Wade would affect businesses

(EDITORIAL) A leaked draft from the Supreme Court shows a possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade, affecting both businesses and employees across the US.

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Pregnant person representing reproductive rights being challenged in the Supreme Court.

When the news of the Supreme Court leak hit last week, my intentions of writing to you about introverted leadership faded, and I found myself researching the impacts of the potential ruling.

Over the past several years, companies have taken stands regarding race and gender identity. Many companies are offering parental leave that extends beyond the mother and beyond birth. Yet, when this issue came to a head. Crickets. Very few organizations are voicing any opinion in the wake of the information detailed in the Politico article.

Women’s health is critical to any work environment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, 57.4% of all women participated in the labor force, and as of December 2019, women held 50.04% of jobs in the United States.

What can leaders do? What should leaders do? LISTEN. If you are uncomfortable taking a stand or making your opinion known. LISTEN. This issue is complex, and there is fear. Louisiana lawmakers are already authoring legislation that could criminalize some forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization by defining a fertilized egg before implantation as a person, according to various news sources.

Women’s reproductive care is complex and fraught with challenges. Upon sharing my own experiences attempting to secure the birth control I wanted, I was shocked at the number of women who responded, echoing their own struggles.

Although the Supreme Court ruling is said to shift legislation on reproduction to the states, away from the federal level, 13 states already have trigger laws in place if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

No one knows what is going to happen. People’s feelings are valid. The wonderful thing about listening is you can listen with empathy regardless of your own feelings. You can show compassion and acknowledge someone even if you do not share their feelings.

If you are a leader or a decision-maker and want to support choice, QZ.com posted an article listing companies who are actively supporting choice that provides a brief synopsis of what companies including Amazon, Levi’s, Salesforce, Uber, Lyft, and GoDaddy are doing.

I do not pretend to know the answers here, but I believe we need to be having conversations, even if those conversations are uncomfortable. An issue that dramatically affects half the population physically and the other half by proximity cannot be ignored due to discomfort.

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Business News

Supply chain issues cause baby formula shortage – what sector is next?

(BUSINESS) Baby formula is the newest supply chain shortage, causing “crisis” levels, affecting families across the US. Is your business sector next?

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Grocery store representing supply chain issues.

Baby formula is the latest casualty of the supply chain crisis.

According to Fox News, Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS have limits on how much baby formula that customers can purchase at one time. Supply chain issues had already created a shortage. In addition, Abbott Laboratories recalled some of its baby formula after two infants died, exacerbating the problem. This led many parents to stockpile formula, which hasn’t helped the situation. CNN reports that “manufacturers are producing at maximum capacity.” Abbott is hoping to resume operations at its Michigan plant, which was shut down because of the recall. In the meantime, parents are struggling to find baby formula, which is much harder to find alternatives to than toilet paper.

 Why should a baby formula shortage concern business owners?

Wondering why your business should be aware of this if you don’t have babies or toddlers? This particular supply chain issue may not affect you or any of your staff. But supply chain issues are impacting every industry. We can joke about the toilet paper shortage that occurred early in the pandemic, but the shortages are stacking up. It’s no longer just pasta, but eggs, beef, pork, and more when you’re at the grocery store. Building supplies are more difficult to find. Computer chips are in short supply, impacting car repairs and offices both.

Business owners should be paying attention to items in their own industry that may be impacted by supply chain issues. While we don’t want to encourage stockpiling, it is important to keep your customers aware of potential problems. If you are seeing items that are being delivered slower than normal, find in-house solutions or workarounds. Communicate to your consumers. It might be time to make product changes or use tools that boost productivity. Maybe you need to make new relationships with other suppliers. Supply chain issues aren’t going to go away overnight. Don’t let your company’s reputation suffer because you can’t solve your customer’s problems.

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