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There is an entrepreneur-sized hole that could make the herbal industry whole

(ENTREPRENEUR) If you’re looking for a market to break into, the world of herbs is sorely lacking in quality products.

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Herb enthusiast

Something you may not know about your humble narrator: I am way into herbs.

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No, not that kind of herb. I did write about that kind one time, but that’s because I’m interested in emerging business and its social consequences. I don’t touch the stuff myself.

I’m talking serious herbs

Because I seem to be shooting for some kind of Fluffy Hippie Stereotype Bingo, I make my own seasonings and herbal teas. I have bulk quantities of chamomile, damiana, Darjeeling, mugwort, skullcap and valerian in my cupboards right now, which I’m pretty sure qualifies me as at least an adjunct professor of Potions. Hogwarts, call me.

Alas, that also qualifies me to tell you that BS of the kind Catlin Industries just got called on is way more common than it should be.

In case you haven’t had time to deep-dive into the latest herbals news, Catlin Industries promised an herbal supplement that would alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal, specifically opiate withdrawal and dependency on opiates. Yikes.

Opiate withdrawal is absolutely brutal

In fact, opiate withdrawal is on the less-than-wonderful shortlist of types of withdrawal that can straight up kill you. That’s a rarity, thank your deity of choice, but even tapered, monitored, “healthy” withdrawal means tremors, panic, your circulatory and digestive systems going nuts, and sundry other flavors of suck. Other forms of withdrawal, such as from alcohol or tranquilizers like Xanax, are equally godawful, even when carried out under healthy circumstances.

Healthy circumstances, of course, means health care.

In case this is your first day in America (welcome! It’s rad here!) health care costs money, often a great deal of it. As most people do not have a great deal of money, over-the-counter herbal supplements that make withdrawal survivable would be a gift from the heavens.

If they worked. Catlin’s don’t. They say they do, they just don’t. Supplements like Catlin’s do that a lot.

Legally, the supplement industry runs on the honor system

By law, “dietary supplements,” a legal category including virtually all OTC herbal treatments, do not have to be proven effective, or even proven safe, before they hit market. Swear to the heavens, in 2015 a review of supplements available at fly-by-night operations like GNC, Target, Walgreens and Wal-mart found only 20% even contained the advertised ingredient in a functional form.

As a rule, the FDA, FTC or anybody else in the alphabet soup is only allowed to look at supplements, let alone sanction or ban them, after a claim of negligence has been made.

That is to say, usually after they’ve hurt somebody. Or a lot of somebodies.

Dear foot, meet door

Grim as all that is, it represents an extraordinary opportunity for entrepreneurs and adventurous venture capitalists. You want an industry to disrupt? Get into herbs. Trust me. I’ve got Severus Snape on my LinkedIn, remember? I literally enjoy this, and I still find it a pain to buy herbs in bulk, weigh them out, mix them up and bag them in muslin before I even start to produce a half decent herbal tea for insomnia.

Do it for me. I’ll pay you. Take the slight hit on overhead, run studies, and manufacture herbal products that can legally make medical claims, because, you know, they actually do things. Be Uber for Catlin, with ad narrative to match. Show them how it’s done.

#Herbs

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

Business Entrepreneur

Cowrkr gives you accountability while you work solo

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) Being accountable for your own accountability is a tall order. Join Cowrkr and let someone else do it for you.

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My boyfriend and I have always had a great appreciation for film and television, as well as the writing that goes into it. We always talk about different project ideas, but never get too far in execution with the busyness of real life.

Last night, I finally thought of a way that we can help each other bring our projects to completion, and that is simply by holding each other accountable. I suggest that each week we could have a new task that is due by 10 p.m. Sunday night.

We both have ideas for scripts, so the plan is to start off with having a plot synopsis and character list due the first week, having an outline due the second week, and so on. This will not only help keep us on track but will also help in terms of formatting ideas.

While I’m grateful that this little plan has come together, I know that most people aren’t working on similar projects to people they are close with. Therefore, they may need to look elsewhere for accountability.

Now freelancers and entrepreneurs have the opportunity to be matched with a fellow freelancer or entrepreneur to help hold each other accountable for their respective projects. Meet Cowrkr.

“This is an initiative to help makers keep themselves socially accountable by getting them to build publicly,” says cowrkr developers.

Users sign up and give some info regarding what project they’re working on and what they’re shipping. It works by connecting two makers at a time and cowrkr works to help each maker keep the other accountable until each project is completed.

Once a project has been completed, the makers then end their accountability relationship. When their next project comes along, they will then be assigned a different maker.

Cowrkr’s website does not give a ton of insight as to how the algorithms and matching systems work, but it is an intriguing idea for freelancers and entrepreneurs looking to take their individual projects to the next level.

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Business Entrepreneur

The top 10 startup cities in America

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) If you’re thinking about launching a startup anytime soon you may want to check out this list on the top 10 cities for startups.

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The digital revolution is in full swing, and some cities are setting themselves up to capitalize upon these innovations by supporting startups.

In order to “better understand the U.S. cities driving the digital revolution,” several groups have come together to rank which cities are making the most of the tech startup boom.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 1776, the U.S. Chamber Technology Engagement Center, and FreeEnterprise.com have teamed up to publish a report called Innovation That Matters (ITM).

The report analyzes and ranks U.S. cities on such factors as startup capital, the connectivity of startups, startup culture, the availability of worker talent and specialization, and more. Data was taken from surveys of entrepreneurs and businesspeople, startups, and leaders in public and private sectors.

J.D. Harrison, senior director of strategic communications at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says that the “digital revolution has the potential to make winners of some cities and leave others behind.”

The study aims to find out which cities “embrace this shift to a digital economy and actively support technology startups,” arguing that these cities “will be the best positioned to unleash the power of high-impact innovation and cultivate vibrant, thriving communities.”

The top ten ranking cities are as follows:

10) Portland, Oregon because every city needs a nickname, has been dubbed the Silicon Forest, referencing its leadership in green tech.

9) New York City, New York. The largest tech hub on the east coast.

8) Seattle, Washington. Home to Amazon.com and several other tech firms, with Microsoft’s headquarters in nearby Redmond.

7) Dallas, Texas. Dtown moved up significantly by increasing startup connectivity and tapping into a large, diverse workforce.

6) Atlanta, Georgia. The “most improved” city on the ITM list, moving up 15 places to number six due to a surge in financial, educational, and health tech industries.

5) Austin,Texas. Home of The American Genius, Austin has become a “haven for tech-savvy millennials seeking good-paying job opportunities.” Besides hosting many tech startups, Austin still has a relatively affordable cost of living.

4) San Diego, California. San Diego is full of cybersecurity, Big Data, robotics, and software startups.

3)Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Also known as Philicon Alley, moved up from number eight by deregulating and becoming more business-friendly.

2) San Francisco Bay Area. The Bay also ranked number two last year. The seaside neighbor to the Silicon Valley has been doing a great job attracting seed funding these days.

1) Boston, Massachusetts. This is the second year in a row that Boston has topped this list, due to its large number of startups and robust entrepreneur population.

How does your city rank?

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Business Entrepreneur

Customer surveys tell more than just satisfaction

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) While they can be annoying for the consumer and cost time for the company, customer feedback surveys are crucial to your business.

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While Richard Dawson, Louie Anderson, and Steve Harvey may not be able to personally help you with customer service, what they have in common can. Surveys, and personalized follow-up attention in general, help clients and consumers know that they mean something to your business.

For the sake of this article (and the fast-paced, technological world we live in) I am going to be speaking about surveys. However, I want to share this anecdote first.

I used to work front desk at a salon and part of my job was to follow up with new guests about a week after their appointment.

Now, most of the time, my calls went to voicemail, which were never returned; but every once in awhile a human answered.

After going through the spiel of why I was calling, I could almost always sense a sound of surprise from the other line before the person answered my question. One conversation in particular left me realizing how important this seemingly useless task was.

I called an older woman and asked her about a recent appointment she had at the salon. She thanked me for calling and then went into detail about how great the appointment was and how much getting her hair done meant to her.

Before we hung up she said, “thank you again for calling. A salon has never done this before.” It then hit me like a ton of bricks just how significant something as small as a callback is.

If you have the time, definitely make those callbacks to clients as it could be very meaningful. However, it’s understandable that most of us may not have the time in our schedule for personalized phone calls.

So if that’s the case, don’t forget about surveys. I know most of them will either go to spam or go unanswered, but the mere fact that you’re sending it out shows clients and customers that you care about their business.

And, for those surveys that do receive responses, it can be extremely beneficial for your company as you can get insight into what works and what doesn’t. There’s really no disadvantage to this tactic, so remember to make time for that follow up with existing clients rather than just focusing on getting new ones.

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