B-Tank Business Publication

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Most Valuable Player in a Vast Media & Entertainment Empire


talks about fumbling the ball — and finding his stride.

Theme Section: All about Amazon. Grow your wins along with the e-commerce conglomerate Teenage Chef Eitan Bernath talks about how he garnered over a million followers New Column! Biz Brains: Which Billionaire Am I? Adaptive fitness equipment in the Tank Interest Rate Hysteria: What are the Feds up to now?





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Fidelity Payment Services celebrates its move to a magnificent 20,000 square foot facility with a live BizTank show, produced by Joel Klein CPBC. Both companies share a mission of empowering entrepreneurs and are proud to help bring businesses to the next level. Select corporate partners and company agents will be joining us at the live BizTank show for an evening of entertaining business education, where entrepreneurs will pitch their business idea to panel of industry-leading investors.

FEBRUARY 13, 2019 To pitch your idea for the live BizTank show email us at: info@btankmoguls.com

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Guest Contributor


Biz Brains


News Roundup


Tech Time


Marketing Musings


Hot Off LinkedIn


Through the Magnifying Glass of a Banker


Budding Entrepreneur


Frank Talk: A Roundtable Discussion on Employee Issues


Biz Tools


Vision from the C-Suite




Real Estate Pulse


Contributor Directory


Wow Moments




Dave Meltzer

Barbara Finkelstein


Sports marketing maven and one of Forbes "Top 10 Keynote Speakers" Dave Meltzer talks about fumMost bling theValuable ball — andPlayer finding his stride. in a Vast Media &


6 | B-TANK • FEBRUARY 2019


Amazon is expected to Amazon is expected to drive 80% drive 80% of e-commerce ofgrowth e-commerce this year. This growth this year. collection of Amazon tips This collection of Amazon tips and andtricks tricks will help you be a be Sports marketing maven Davea Meltzer talksof to B-Tank will help you part that part ofabout thatfumbling win. the ball — and finding his stride


SHVAT 5779 • B-TANK | 7



Where other 16-year-olds can be found chilling in the few minutes between classes Eitan Bernath uses his “spare” time in school to run his business. It is very likely the drive to utilize every moment, as well as the pride and joy in what he does that has helped Eitan garner over a million followers – and make it onto Instagram's home page.




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On December 19, the chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, spooked the markets with his announcement that the Fed will be raising interest rates. What is the Federal Reserve? What interest rates did Powell hike? Why did he do it? How will this affect the economy? Read an in-depth look at the Federal Reserve System and what is in store for American economics.

4 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019


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Dear Readers,


hen you think about the cold shoulder, or the bitterly cold weather, you feel the negativity right there and know that weʼre talking about something uninviting. How do perceptions change when we use the word cold next to beer? All negativity disappears and the connotation becomes quite positive. As I write this, weʼve been hit by the most brutal evening the East Coast has seen this winter, and Iʼm thinking about how we can turn the cold into something positive. While I cannot switch the connotation so easily on this one, Iʼve come to the conclusion that surrounding yourself with warmth and shielding yourself as much as possible from unwanted elements goes a long way in allowing warmth to penetrate. In business, the cold comes in form of rejections, skepticism, criticism, and stagnancy. Itʼs important that we dress well to shield ourselves from these elements so that we can thrive — and not just survive. If this is true for seasoned businesspeople, it holds true even more so for young entrepreneurs. In conjunction with The Tamid Group, an organization that develops the professional skills of undergraduate students through hands-on interaction, Iʼve been on campus at Yeshiva University and Lander College. I believe that the skills weʼre giving the students will go a long way in preparing them for success, despite the difficulties they may face in business. In this issue, we feature a young entrepreneur, celebrity chef Eitan Bernath, who has over a million followers. When you read his piece, youʼll notice how positive his outlook is. And you may come to the same observation I did: It is his positivity that buffers him against disappointment. Zeroing in on what matters and cutting out the distractions is yet another essential for business success. I recently had the privilege of meeting Dave Meltzer, when he flew into New York to speak at the annual Entrepreneur conference. Dave sits in on Entrepreneurʼs Elevator Pitch

B-Tank Inc. ― A project of the

investment panel, which allows only 60 seconds per investor pitch. Presenters who do their act well in those 60 seconds have a good chance of getting into the investor boardroom to present a longer ask. This, indeed, proves how those with the right focus can get far. Moving with the times is probably one of the most important actions to take in business. As e-commerce replaces retail, many people have found their source of livelihood to be in related spaces. For this issue, we chose to partner with Ed Rosenberg — who is not only one of the most respected Amazon experts, but also someone who truly wants sellers to succeed — to bring you a special Amazon-themed section. In real estate, the latest talk of the day is Qualified Opportunity Zones. Our December issue featured a comprehensive Q&A with EisnerAmperʼs Richard Shapiro, an expert in the field. In this issue, we have a simulated case study so that you can see the actual opportunities it presents. While the market is still emerging, one of BizTankʼs presenters, Zale Tabakman, is already taking advantage of Qualified Opportunity Zones by shifting some of his vertical gardens to those zones! BizTank attended Rockland Countyʼs LinkedIn last month, where we presented a business panel consisting of some of our most popular contributors. Our contributors and participants at the event had a great time connecting — and learned how to make business rock. For those of you who couldnʼt make it, weʼve brought you some great takeaways in this issue. Finally, Iʼd like to wish Fidelity Payment Services much luck on their move to their magnificent new headquarters. Since B-Tankʼs inception, Fidelity has partnered with us in a shared mission of empowering entrepreneurs. Weʼre taking things to the next level with a live BizTank show at Fidelityʼs new headquarters. While seats at the show are limited to corporate partners and sponsors, weʼll make sure to bring you our reports in B-Tankʼs next issue. Joel Klein President and Founder of the BizTank and B-Tank platforms


219 Havemeyer Street Brooklyn, NY 11211 | 718.855.5850 | info@btankmoguls.com © 2017 B-Tank, Inc. | All rights reserved. The information contained herein is produced and copyrighted by B-Tank, and any unauthorized use, duplication, redistribution, or disclosure is prohibited by law and can result in prosecution.

6 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019


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More on Cryptocurrency Dear Editor, Thank you for a wonderful magazine. I consider myself quite well-read in the world of business, and I have yet to find a magazine that competes with both the quality and content of B-Tank magazine. I like your mix of light and in-depth topics, and especially appreciate the BizTank section, which offers real entrepreneurial education in an entertaining way. A couple of months ago, when bitcoin was the talk of the day, you had a very comprehensive article on the topic. At the time things looked very positive for cryptocurrencies, and many people were sold on the idea. Since then, bitcoin has plummeted (perhaps it is no longer even relevant) and no other cryptocurrency has picked up speed. I know that there still is a lot of talk about cryptocurrency, and we will surely see much more talk and application of cryptocurrency in the future. However, I — and Iʼm sure many others — have lost faith in cryptocurrency and weʼre staying far away for the time being. Sometimes I do get that niggling doubt that perhaps Iʼm losing out on buying into something big at the initial stages, but having lost a couple of thousand dollars on Coinbase, Iʼm wary about looking into cryptocurrency too seriously. Iʼm wondering if you can have a follow-up article on the topic, to tell us about what went wrong with bitcoin (and the other

popular coins people were buying into at the time), as well as what the future of cryptocurrency holds. All the best, Larry Shain Brooklyn, New York

Marketing Musings and Business Regrets Dear B-Tank, I really enjoyed Abraham Breeʼs “Marketing Musings” in the December issue. His language is rich, the style hints of humor, and the content is insightful in a way that truly makes the reader think about important marketing topics. In my opinion, this equals an absolutely inimitable piece. Iʼm looking forward to seeing more of it. I also want to comment on the article titled “7 Business Decisions Companies Regret.” It was very interesting to read about how global companies have had their share of corporate mistakes. Though hindsight gives people 20/20 vision, Iʼd like to think that many of us have learned from their mistakes and we will not fail the way some of these companies have. I do think that the business community today — especially the ones led by millennials — has changed many mindsets in the business arena. For example, while there are still many old-school employers around, I think that many young employers today would hold onto Mark Cuban with both

hands — even with the free spiritedness he showed. For better or for worse, while following instructions to the T was once a very important value, employers today look for “out of the box” thinkers to begin with. While that has some risks, its also taken some companies really far. What Kodak did by refusing to disrupt their film sales and going digital is an absolute no-no today and everyone knows it! Itʼs important to always move forward, and remain at the forefront of your industry. As entrepreneurs, its important to surround ourselves with supportive people who see that vision, and encourage us to move forward. Of course we need a reality check, but constant gloom and doom predictions will not get us far. Thank you for a fantastic magazine, Y. L. A B-Tank reader

B-Tank expresses deep condolences to the family of

Mr. Ervin Hoffman He left a legacy of true compassion and humbleness and will greatly be missed by all who had the honor to know him.

B-Tank invites you to submit your comments and suggestions to inbox@btankmoguls.com. B-Tank reserves the right to edit all letters. 8 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

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OP-ED Steven Sandler

Health-Care Stocks Seem Healthy Health-care stocks have been on a roll lately, and for many reasons. First of all, many sectors are currently hot as the general economy is booming. But health care i s something that can thrive with great e arnings in all economic environments — both good and bad. People try to take care of themselves, and popping pills and having procedures is easier than exercising daily, eating healthy, and living a healthy lifestyle. Especially because a bulk of the s pending is being paid for by insurance companies. Additionally, the American population is growing old, and older people need three t o four times the amount of drugs and health care as folks under the age of fifty. A s more people hit that threshold, their health-care spending goes up. A nother reason for the rise in healthcare stocks is that many third world count ries around are emerging, and growing their middle class, who are able to spend more on health care. A n issue with health-care stocks, | FEBRUARY2019 2 | | B-TANK 10 B-TANK• FEBRUARY 2019

though, is that they can be extremely volatile. Biotechnology companies trying to develop cures for illnesses like cancer and Alzheimer’s can be hit or miss — which res ults in major swings in the stock price. Bigger pharmaceutical manufactures like Merck and Pfizer are often caught up in the crosshairs of drug-pricing regulations. The best way to invest in these stocks is in a mutual fund or an exchange-traded fund (ETF). For general exposure to the healthcare sector, look at Fidelity Select Health Care (FSPHX) or T. Rowe Price Health Scie nces (PRHSX), whose annualized total return over the past five years is north of 17%. However, there’s a niche in the healthcare industry in particular that I want to touch on. This isn’t for the faint of heart, but the potential is pretty much unlimited. I’m talking about gene editing. This uses DNA therapy, but instead of using DNA to identify the best drug treatment options that doctors are already using, this potential breakthrough allows doctors to edit a

p atient’s personal DNA to both prevent d iseases and use healthy DNA to repair damaged cells. This breakthrough — if research is successful — can prove to heal many diseases and illnesses. In the case of cancer, let’s say, instead of doctors treating it with chemotherapy or surgery, they simply cut the cancer-causing mutations out of a patient’s DNA and replace them with healthy DNA that repairs the mutated cells. W e’re just in the beginning of human trials; if these trials fail, it’s very likely that these companies will fail too. But by getting into these companies now, you’ll be getting in on the ground floor of one of the biggest possible breakthroughs in medical history. T here are currently three companies who have licensed the foundational patents to research this spectacular opportunity: CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP), Intellia T herapeutics (NTLA), and Editas Medicine (EDIT). Which company of the three will come out in front? I don’t know. So to

Biotechnology companies trying to develop cures for illnesses like cancer and Alzheimer’s can be hit or miss — which results in major swings in the stock price.

p lay this opportunity, you can either invest v ery small positions in all three, or you can invest in ARK Genomic Revolution Multi-Sector ETF (ARKG), an actively managed health-care ETF that holds a sizable position in all three of these names. Don’t expect for this investment to produce major returns overnight, as this is a long-term process. But if things work out, this investment has the potential to save many lives and fill many pocketbooks. Disclaimer: All investing should be done with a licensed advisor. The author has shares in Fidelity Select Medical Technology and Devices Portfolio, and ARK Genomic Revolution Multi-Sector ETF.

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*Since inception 12/27/2012 | Source: Yahoo Finance as of 12/31/18 B-TANK SHVAT |5779 ADAR• B-TANK 5779 | | 113

GUEST Joshua Kohen

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act How tax reform will affect you as a small-business owner


The 20% QBI deduction is not a free-for-all territory and comes with a plethora of limitations.

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New law

C corporation tax rate

A reduced tax rate of 21%

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Corporate alternative minimum tax


Business interest



Section 179 increased to $1 million

Net operating losses

Can only be carried forward

Cash method of accounting

Allowed for business up to $25 million in receipts 5 SHVAT |5779 B-TANK ADAR• B-TANK 5779 | | 13

Biz Brains


Who Am I I grew up in the housing projects of Brooklyn, New York. The word “no” has been said to me more times than “yes,” but I never let that stop me from building the fifth largest food chain in the world. I am now the 232nd richest person in the United States with a net worth of $2.9 billion.


was born on July 19, 1953, to a family that didnʼt have a lot of money. In fact, money was a real challenge. My mother was a receptionist and my father was a World War II veteran working as a diaper delivery driver. They didnʼt have college educations, but they did work hard for the family and they loved their work. I donʼt know if they were ever able to enjoy life, though. When my father fractured his ankle while working, it brought us to a new low. With little money in our pockets and medical bills to pay, we lived hand to mouth. Seeing hardworking people struggle for survival was extremely difficult. I promised myself it wouldnʼt happen to me. Most people worked their first job at 18. My first job was at 12. I sold newspapers and worked in a local café. I guess you could say my childhood wasnʼt really much of a childhood. I wasnʼt a straight-A student or voted “most likely to succeed.” However, I worked hard and became the first person in my family to go to col-

14 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

lege — and subsequently graduated from college. I worked various jobs, determined to succeed at each one. At 26 years old I became vice president in charge of sales for a Swedish houseware company. (No, not Ikea, if thatʼs what youʼre thinking.) In some peopleʼs minds this would have been seen as successful. I mean, vice president isnʼt a job title to sneeze at, at such a young age. But I didnʼt feel happiness, joy, or fulfillment — not until I visited a shop that was placing large orders for one of our items: a drip coffee maker. The two owners were selling whole coffee beans, teas, spices, and coffee-making accessories. I felt their passion and love for something as simple as coffee. Keep in mind this was 1981, when coffee was a quick drink to get you through the workday. I knew this was where I belonged. I fell in love with what theyʼd created and the passion they had for something that was overlooked.

Yaakov Astor

When my father fractured his ankle while working, it brought us to a new low. With little money in our pockets and medical bills to pay, we lived hand to mouth. For one year I called, nagged, visited, and asked to join their team. I must have annoyed them really badly because later that year I became their director of marketing. One year into the job I went on a business trip to Milan and I saw a scene very different than the American coffee-drinking culture. People actually sat down and enjoyed their drinks. It was more than a drink. It was a relationship, a place where people went to meet, talk, and appreciate a finely made coffee. This is what we need, I thought. I told the owners of my vision, but they wanted to stay true to their current business of selling bulk items, not individual drinks. I didnʼt blame them; they were Americans. At the time, American citizens didnʼt even know what a latte was. I decided I would create my own coffee shop. The challenge was trying to raise $1.6 million in one year. I spoke to 240 people and 217 said “no.” That was a 90% “no.” They told me it wasnʼt worth the money; it wouldnʼt work; there was no real profit in such a business. I wonʼt lie. I was discouraged, and I questioned my idea. Yet I wanted my dreams to become a reality. I didnʼt get my full $1.6 million but I got what I needed to open my first shop.

I made many mistakes in that first store, and I learned very quickly to pick myself up until we were making annual sales of half a million dollars. I was one step closer to my goal but something was still missing. Remember that coffee shop I had worked for as a kid? Well, the owners decided to sell their business. I had a deep relationship with that shop and I just couldnʼt let it go, so in 1987 I bought their six stores for $3.8 million. I combined my company with their six stores and became the CEO of Starbucks Coffee. You heard it correctly. Starbucks was the first coffee shop I walked into, worked for, and eventually bought. Although it wasnʼt the Starbucks you know today, over the years I transformed it into the drink shop I always imagined. There were people who said it was dumb, a bad idea, and it wouldnʼt work. Itʼs grown to be a place that is more than specialty coffee drinks; itʼs also a place to study, meet friends, and feel comfortable. There are now more than 26,736 Starbucks stores in more than 75 countries and we employ over 300,000 people, but thatʼs not where my successes is. I found my success when I was finally able

to give back to every Starbucks employee — or partner, as I call them — with stock options, free health care, dental care, retirement plans, adoption assistance, and paid college tuition. My father passed away before he could see what Iʼd done. I think heʼd have been proud to see Starbucks providing working-class people with benefits he wasnʼt able to enjoy or provide. Although I wasnʼt the original founder of Starbucks Coffee Company, I had the goal to build a relationship between man and coffee, and I made it into the Starbucks you know today. Most of all, I had the dream to build a type of company that my father was never able to work for, a company that treated their employees how my father and family wanted to be treated. It was never about the money, the profits, or the possible wealth. It was about the people I would help. That is my success. My name is Howard Schultz and Iʼm the rags-to-riches guy who built Starbucks Coffee Company into one of the worldʼs most recognizable brands.  Yaakov Astor, founder and editor of Zman magazine, has written and co-written more than 30 books as well as hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics. B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 15



TOP 5 BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC STORIES OF THE MONTH Sears once again staved off liquidation. At the last moment, Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert was able to put together a $5.2 billion funding plan to keep the company in business. But sales numbers continue to fall and it’s not clear how many of the roughly 500 Sears stores will remain open or for how long.

The high cost of living and housing in areas dominated by the big tech companies has caught those companies’ attention. In Seattle, Microsoft has pledged to spend $500 million to build lower cost housing and provide low-interest construction and mortgage loans. In the Bay Area, Facebook and other companies also pledged $500 million for similar programs. 16 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

Jake Novak

The partial federal government shutdown dragged on for most of January and left 800,000 government workers without pay. The impact on the economy is hard to measure, but the stock market did not suffer. The broad-based S&P 500 gained 12% during the 36-day shutdown.

The US economy continues to show strength and maintained growth. Perhaps the most encouraging sign came from the first round of corporate earnings reports. Most of the major companies reported better than expected profits and revenues, Even companies like Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, and Starbucks who raised prices still grew sales. Consumer spending makes up 75% of the US economy, and that spending is strong.

China’s economy continues to show real signs of continuing weakness, something the investment and political world is not used to at all. The latest evidence came from an official announcement from Beijing that the Chinese economy grew by only 6.6% last year. That would be very robust growth for most any other country, but it was the slowest growth rate for China in 28 years. It’s the latest evidence that the trade war with the US is hurting China more than America. But it’s also the result of other factors — most notably, China’s bursting real estate market bubble and reduced sales of everything from cars to smartphones. So far, China is mostly responding by injecting more money into its economy with stimulus packages. But that means expanding China’s deficits. The best case scenario for Beijing is a somewhat quick resolution to the trade dispute with the US and some kind of pledge from foreign companies to continue to make their products in China. Jake Novak is a senior editorial columnist for CNBC.com. Prior to joining CNBC, Novak co-created and oversaw programs for FOX Business and CNN.

B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 17

Tech Time

tidbits to keep you tech fit

Tech Trends M O R D ECA I H O LTZ


As technology advances, the financial industry is experiencing its own version of a revolution. Many traditional financial institutions are changing their service model to better suit technologically savvy customers, providing them with improved digital experiences, and revamping their company to be more financially advanced. This does come with the challenge of dealing with a system thatʼs heavy on legacy mindsets. This means proponents of financial technology (fintech) need to work around regulations, a global scale of traditional institutions, and the need to edu-

cate their consumers on integrating complicated technologies. It isnʼt just fintech thatʼs contributing to the revolution; technological finance (techfin) also plays a role here. Whatʼs the difference between the two? Fintech generally refers to technology used by established financial institutions that enhance usersʼ experiences; techfin is where outsiders use technology to improve financial services. As Jack Ma, co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group said, “There are two big opportunities in the future financial industry. One is online banking, where

all the financial institutions go online; the other is internet finance, which is purely led by outsiders.” The success of both fintech and techfin are dependent on their ability to collect, monitor, and analyze large data sets, and deliver a personalized, optimized, and engaging user experience. For the entrepreneurs, itʼs time to look at how emerging tech can be adapted to the fintech industry.

Think of Google Docs, Gmail, or QuickBooks Online. Though you never installed those on your computer, you use them while theyʼre running in the cloud. Why is it called a cloud? Primarily because cloud drawings were used in the past to represent the internet in computer network diagrams as an abstraction of the underlying infrastructure it represents. Another reason is that good marketers wanted us to associate cloud software with the warm, fuzzy feelings clouds conjure. Yet, cloud software doesnʼt really

have anything to do with real clouds. The upside of using cloud-based software? You can access your data from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. This brings us to its downside. Without a good internet connection, the service is useless. Another concern is security, as youʼre basically putting all your data out there as an easier target for hackers.

Mordecai Holtz is part of the global network of key opinion leaders for Huawei, Chinaʼs largest and fastest growing tech company.

Tech Terms E F R A I M WAC H S M A N


Whatʼs fluffy and white and floats in the sky? Clouds. The cloud Iʼm referring to, though, isnʼt in the sky, nor does it drift with the wind. “Cloud” is a fancy term for software thatʼs accessible via the internet. While traditionally most software is installed and run locally on your computer, like Microsoft Word or Photoshop, cloud software isnʼt installed on your computer. It runs on servers in some data centers across the country, and you can use the program through a browser such as Chrome or Firefox. 18 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

Efraim Wachsman is a full-stack software developer at Maven Software Solutions, a full-service custom software development company.

Tech Productivity CHAIM POLLAK


Keyboard shortcuts have the potential to greatly improve efficiency when working on a computer. At first, they may be hard to remember, but as you begin using them, theyʼll become second nature and youʼll notice your productivity increase. Here are some valuable Windows editing keyboard shortcuts, sure to save you a bundle of time. If youʼve never used keyboard shortcuts before, start with this one: Copy: 1. Select (highlight) the text to be copied.

2. Hold down the CTRL key. 3. While holding CTRL press C. The highlighted text will be copied. Cut: To move text from one place to another, select the text you want to move, then CTRL X will cut and copy the text. Paste: Once you copied or cut text, click where you want to paste the text, and hold down CTRL and press V to place it where you want it. Undo: To undo the last thing you just did, press CTRL Z. In many programs you can undo multiple steps back by pressing

CTRL Z repeatedly. Redo: To redo the last undo, such as if you hit CTRL Z accidentally, or more times than you intended, press CTRL Y to fix that. Keep in mind that once you start typing again, CTRL Y will not reverse the undo. Underline Text: Select text and press CTRL U. Bold: Select text and press CTRL B. Italics: Select text and press CTRL I.

security upgrades are needed and differentiate your company from the competition. It also provides a “double check” to ensure antivirus and patching (updates from the software company) are working and to discover network misconfigurations (settings that arenʼt set right). Cyber Hawk combines machine learning and intelligence to identify anomalous activity, suspicious changes such

as unauthorized logins, mysterious wireless access, changes to a userʼs security clearance, activity during unusual hours, threats caused by misconfigurations, and so on. A small investment in Cyber Hawk will yield a huge return in increased security — and serious peace of mind for business owners.

Chaim Pollak is the founder and CTO of Solvv, LLC, where he streamlines construction businesses using custom software.


Cyber Hawk is an extremely effective device (available in software or hardware form), which delivers high-value cybersecurity services. The reason Cyber Hawk is so potent is that it resolves various processes with one device. Cyber Hawk scans a network, detects security threats, and alerts the appropriate people who need to be alerted when thereʼs a problem. Cyber Hawk will help you identify when new

Leah Freiman is CEO of ITCON, your cybersecurity experts.

B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 19

Marketing Musings


Waging #War with the @Twitterization of Society:

Can Authentic Brands Really Be Built in 160 Characters or Less?


ast Fact #362: People no longer write, read, or appreciate longform copy. Those lengthy paragraphs of flowing text, inevitably typed out in Helvetica or Baskerville, have officially taken the same moribund route as The Pony Express. Take a peek at some of the brusque messages blasted out recently, by everybody from our hashtag-happy commander in-chief to wholly hedonistic Hollywood celebrities, for an immediate dose of livestreamed literary proof. @realDonaldTrump: I will not be going to Florida because of #Shutdown — staying in White House! #MAGA @realDonaldTrump: #AMERICA IS RESPECTED AGAIN! @MarthaStewart: Catch me on @QVC to see my great Faux Fur Coat and Scarf in 2 great colors. Will keep you #warm from fall to winter… @realDonaldTrump: Will be having lunch in White House residence with large group concerning #Border #Security.

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@BillGates: Iʼm excited to share a #project Iʼm involved with to bring Leonardo da Vinciʼs work to life. @realDonaldTrump: Mitch, use Nuclear Option and get it done! Our #country is counting on you! Am I the only one finding this cacophonous exchange of digital drivel to be soberingly scary? The classic Bernbach Volkswagen Lemon ads, the iconic Ogilvy Rolls Royce masterpieces, and the symbolic Rubicam Steinway Piano soliloquies donʼt stand a chance against this anarchic Frankestein-esque ensemble fashioned by the Mark Zuckerbergs, Jack Dorseys and Reid Hoffmans of Silicon Valley. But itʼs not just the fabled communicatory heroes of yore whoʼll be getting the short of the digital stick. The hundreds of legendary protagonists gracing the pages in modern history books — undoubtedly published on ethically printed, recycled materials, and renewable sourced paper — will certainly go down as unassuming victims and contemporary casualties of the Twitterization of society. Even good ole Abraham Lincoln would have had a hard time standing out in the crowd — and the man was 6ʼ4" for crying out loud. After all, who today has patience to read a speech

The hipsters flooding Madison Avenue would love to have you believe that it始s not about what you say; it始s about how you say it. But reality indicates otherwise.

containing 272 whole words? Why not take those somber thoughts and blast 始em all out as easy-to-digest tweets? Just imagine. Standing solemnly at the bloodstained battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, our revered 16th president holds a wounded soldier in one hand and clutches a battered iPhone 8 in the other. Typing at a furious pace, sending hashtags and handles echoing wildly through the crowd, President Lincoln proceeds to mesmerize the hordes with shorthanded prose and hyperlinked hyperbole. And, just perhaps, the resulting tweets of his remarks will inevitably go down in the digital history books for posterity. @HonestAbe: 4 score & 7 years ago our @foundingfathers created @newnation with #liberty4all. @HonestAbe: Now in civil war. on battlefield!!! brave men, living & dead, will #never #forget :( @HonestAbe: One nation, under @G-d. This nation will have new birth of #freedom! @HonestAbe: @government of the ppl, by the ppl, for the ppl. #gettysburg

@HonestAbe: Thx for attending. @washingtonpost plz DM if you need #speech copy. @HonestAbe: @uber waiting 10 min already for horse & buggy! Something about this epigrammatic exchange leaves me feeling...empty. Where is the inspirational prose, paying testament to the supreme sacrifice made by brave warriors who gave up their lives so the glorious Union might survive? Have these pithily abbreviated words properly consecrated the hallowed ground upon which hundreds of soldiers valiantly gave their lives? Can a simple tweet pay homage to the importance of the legendary Battle of Gettysburg? #No! #Way! Brevity certainly has its place and time. Indeed, Twitter is proving to be a dynamically game-changing medium, one that始s extraordinarily useful. The digital medium has undeniably created celebrities, influenced elections, and changed the way we communicate. But when relaying pivotal pieces of information to others or while inspiring the masses to uphold feelings of firm assurance, logic dictates that longform copy is indeed the most effective way to get the message across. The totality of the Magna Carta or impact of the Declaration of Independence can only be imparted with hundreds of meticB-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 21

Marketing Musings

ulously premeditated, intentionally deliberated words. These pearly strands of flowing sentences, replete with commas and apostrophes and hyphens, are designed to convey lasting importance and historical permanence. Contrast the gravitas and robust solemnity of such treasured communiqués with the puffery and inane uselessness of the shorthand messages being touted by @MarthaStewart and @realDonaldTrump. Which leads me to believe that people are not necessarily averse to reading longform copy; they are simply opposed to reading longform copy consisting of utter nonsense. The hipsters flooding Madison Avenue would love to have you believe that itʼs not about what you say; itʼs about how you say it. But reality indicates otherwise. Itʼs primarily about what you say — because thatʼs what the world will ultimately remember and judge you by… for posterity. Famed English author, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, nailed it brilliantly when he proclaimed — way back in 1839, millennia before the advent of Evernote and Verizon 4G — the following factual insight: “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Jamming a budding kernel of delicate thought into a stuntingly small tweet does more than just cheat us out of a lifetime of communicatory capability; it deprives us of our ability to clearly transmit the promising hopes and bold dreams of our very future. @AbrahamBree: BTW, no insult #intended @MarkZuckerberg & @ JackDorsey.  Abraham Bree is the Creative Director at C+A Global. His no-holds-barred musings have been featured in various print and online publications. He resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his lovely wife, three colicky children, and pet goldfish.

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The big short on how to choose your copy style Short Copy: Turn Heads, Command Attention Short, punchy copy performs best when, rather than trying to make a sale or convey information of importance, you simply look to generate attention for low-risk, low-cost, low-commitment purchases. In fact, studies from the direct mail industry show that nearly 60% of the most effective headlines are eight words or less. Think about Blowout Sale Ads, Social Media Giveaways, and Basic Landing Pages — they all benefit from short copy.

Long Copy: Spark Dialogue, Generate Sales Long, immersive copy is ideal for situations when the audience has minimal awareness about your product and, in addition to focusing heavily on landing a sale, your product or service requires a high-commitment investment. The reality is, Hall of Fame copywriters like Gary Bencivenga and Gene Schwartz claim that “the more you tell, the more you sell.” Think about Product Brochures, Client Testimonials & Reviews, Case Studies, and White Papers — they all benefit from long copy.





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Stacey Gindi

Graphic designer - Beautiful branding - Specializing in book, brochure, and magazine design

Show pricing or not? 1. Service-based businesses, do you put pricing on your website (or any other marketing materials)? Or do you need to have a conversation with potential clients before giving out your rates? 2. Consumers, would you rather see the pricing right in front of you, or speak to the service provider first? Currently, I have my design and branding package rates on my website, but Iʼm wondering if I should leave them there or not. Iʼd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Ballpark pricing. Itʼs definitely helpful for a consumer to know roughly what the pricing is. Itʼs perfectly legitimate to give a general number, or a range, if there are variables that could affect the final price.

While I do believe in ballpark pricing, thatʼs when a client asks for it. As a consumer, I think ballpark figures can be great. In the case of a website, I think itʼs a question of whether thatʼs part of the business strategy: What are you trying to accomplish with your website? Are you trying to inform? Weed out prospects?

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The rates that I have on my website are just packages I created — logo design, logo design plus business card and stationery, social media packages, etc. Itʼs much harder to have standard rates for different graphic design jobs.

I advise people to write: “Price starts at ___.” Start low and be ready to offer additional options for higher prices. This will allow you room for negotiation and increasing your profits.

Pricing is good to help weed out leads that wonʼt work. Iʼd do “starting at $____,” and put your minimum there, so you donʼt waste time, but leave space for customized quotes.

I left out pricing on my site. Because of all the variables involved, there can be different pricing for different projects. Also, I want to have the option to go up in pricing.

Iʼm in the midst of adding pricing to my website, because as a consumer, if I donʼt see pricing, I move on and donʼt bother finding out more. I think that giving a range or outlining a standard package is best. State somewhere to be in touch for a custom quote.

This is a great question that I go back and forth with as well. Itʼs a bit easier when itʼs a product, such as a business plan, but even that can have many different pricing tiers depending on depth and complexity. I find that if I set a price point, I might run the risk of trying to make the project fit within that range, which isnʼt necessarily beneficial to the client.

As a consumer, I like to see everything up front.

Why not put pictures of your work on LinkedIn? If people out there see your amazing talent and beautiful work, costing will be an afterthought!

On the one hand, showing pricing gets you a more qualified prospect — and I think thatʼs okay for simpler projects. But Iʼd leave room for inquiries that are more involved, so you donʼt fall into the package trap and get stuck losing time and money.

I often find that if youʼre selling a product, pricing is good. If youʼre selling a service, especially if itʼs hard to describe online, then pricing is harmful. Many graphic designers will consider their work a product, and that might work.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation at info@btankmoguls.com. B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 25



elieve it or not, many people donʼt have a bank account and they wonder how to cash their checks. Why donʼt they have a bank account? Because they live from paycheck to paycheck and find it easier to “cash” their check at the supermarket to pay toward their running account. However, grocery stores are no longer accepting these checks so easily. Many other companies have stopped accepting third-party checks from their customers altogether. Why? Whatʼs going on? Third-party checks may be a sign of money laundering, black-market currency deals, payment for smuggled or diverted goods, tax evasion, fraud, or bribery/corrupt payments. Letʼs review some forms of the money-laundering processes: J Placement — Physically depositing “cash” into banks and non-bank financial institutions such as currency exchanges. J Smurfing — a form of placement where the launderer makes many small cash deposits instead of a large one to evade regulatory reporting requirements. J Layering — Separating the proceeds of criminal activity from their source through the use of layers of financial transactions (multiple transfers of funds among financial institutions, etc.) to disguise the origin of the funds, disrupt any audit trail, and provide anonymity. J Integration — Placing the laundered proceeds back into the economy in such a way that they reenter the financial system as apparently legitimate funds. If the purpose is to carry out an illegal activity or to avoid reporting requirements, it is illegal to transport, transmit, or transfer — or attempt to transport, transmit, or transfer — a monetary instrument or funds in excess of $10,000 either into or out of the United States.

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Penalties include up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. The US Customs Service requires a person to file a Currency and Monetary Instrument Report (CMIR) report upon physically transporting, mailing, or shipping funds or monetary instruments in an aggregate amount of $10,000 or more, either into or out of the United States. (Itʼs not worth it — donʼt do it!) From the standpoint of risk — not only of laundering money, but also of landing the bank in the crosshairs of regulators or the Justice Department — banks that allow third-party cash deposits are “running with scissors.” Failure to comply with the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) carries significant civil and criminal penalties. As regulations and vigilance increase, you may find yourself being asked many more questions about third-party checks. You may have even had the experience of being asked to close your bank account for simply taking in a friendʼs check. Itʼs important for you to create appropriate controls, document the due diligence review, and then implement appropriate risk mitigation measures. In short, stop accepting third-party checks unless you get approval from your banker in writing in advance. An example of an approved deposit would be a bank client that is a research institute and the employees are all poor, humble graduate students, supported by grant money, and their meager source of income leaves them nothing at the end of the week. The local fruit and vegetable store owner explains to his banker that he has this customer whose 21 researchers pay for food with their paychecks each week; they are paid on the books and everything is above board. The bank is able to verify this information and then allows them to deposit these third-party checks.

On October 26, 2001, President Bush signed the USA Patriot Act into law, triggering greater scrutiny by banks. The prior law — The Bank Secrecy Act — required financial institutions to report certain transactions and made money laundering a crime.


Banks might not let you deposit third-party checks at ATMs. At TD Bank, for example, youʼll have to see a teller and fill out an Endorsement Authorization and Release Form. Depending on your bankʼs policy, you may also have an extended hold on the funds until the check clears the issuing bank.


A third-party check is one signed over by the intended recipient to someone else to deposit or cash. The original recipient must endorse the check first, ideally signing it over as “pay to the order of” followed by the name of the person heʼs giving to. That recipient then endorses it and deposits it into his own account. These checks are usually harder to deposit or cash than two-party checks. They represent a higher risk to the bank.


Third-party checks are risky to accept. In a guide on money laundering, the US Treasury Departmentʼs Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said that cashing a large number of third-party checks or using them to pay for services might be a sign of a money-laundering scheme. If youʼre given such a check by someone you donʼt know and trust, thereʼs a chance that youʼll be an unwitting party in check fraud.

Writing a postdated check may put you in legal jeopardy if the check doesnʼt clear.

Money launderers keep trying to find holes in the banking system and running illegally collected funds into the system. One way of doing so is through third-party checks. There are legitimate reasons for third-party cash deposits (such as parents sharing money with children or business managers banking receipts). Most of those checks are kosher, but John Tobon (who plays a key role in US efforts to combat cartel money laundering and is an assistant special agent in charge of ICE Homeland Security), said in an interview that he would prefer banks stop allowing the transactions.

Companies that receive payments for invoices have to scrutinize who is paying the company. For example, if I send ABC Co. an invoice for $1,000, and I receive a payment for that invoice from an unknown third party from a galaxy far away, I may be conducting a financial transaction involving suspected proceeds of illegal activity. Due diligence of a third-party payment from a different or unknown entity is important in order to answer the following questions: J Who is the third-party payer? J What is the relationship between the customer and third-party payer? J Why am I receiving a payment from this person? Assuming I find out who owns the third-party payer and I verify the legal existence of the entity and the absence of any red flags related to that entity, I have to ask my customer why they need to use a third-party payer to pay my bills.

Third-Party Money Launderers (3PML) are individuals or businesses who often sit outside the financial sector but offer services or products that present a big risk of abuse for money laundering. Attorneys, for example, are in a position of trust, but recent court cases have exposed an increasing number of legal professionals engaged in facilitating money laundering. In January 2016, a nonprofit activist group conducted an undercover investigation that revealed several New York real estate lawyers providing advice on how to move suspect money into the United States.

B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 27

Aron Kaufman

Business Journey

with a Budding Entrepreneur

I’ve spent years reading business advice and getting guidance on how to turn a business in the right direction. From sales to marketing to finance, brilliant books and blogs authored by successful professionals abound; what I, and many of my friends in the start-up stage, struggle with is finding advice for those still testing the waters. We have a hard time figuring out where to start. In this column I’ll share how I went from being the clueless guy who needed a parnassah to a hustling business owner. We’ll schmooze about roadblocks which spring up out of nowhere, struggles which seem insurmountable, deals that go sour, and how to overcome them and move toward success.


n our last issue, I told you about how I made the mistake of not properly defining the category my product fit into. Though a product may be enjoyed by many people, failing to pigeonhole where it belongs often leads to a product's failure because it ends up being overlooked. That's exactly what happened to my Aron's. Inventors and entrepreneurs may often be blinded to the faults in their process because they fail to see things objectively. Luckily for me, I knew enough to know that I needed more insight to help me understand why all the time, money and sweat (not to mention that of my family) wasn’t bringing the results I'd hoped for. After quite a bit of introspection and discussion, I decided to take the rebranding route. Simply letting go of a product I'd invested in, and very much believed in, wasn’t an option. This time, I turned to the experts: a large and trusted marketing agency. After hashing out the many possibilities, we came to two conclusions: Aron's was too much of a generic and uninviting name. It would have to go. We replaced it with Bubby Bailee, and designed an adorable mascot-like image to go along with it. Bubby Bailee and the accompanying image connoted a warm, bubbly grandma who everyone would love to invite into their kitchen for a fun baking experience. Bubby Bailee would have three distinct lines: Healthy muffins in the health category; “yumballs” for children; and cookies and muffins for anyone and everyone who isn’t necessarily 28 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

watching their weight. All of my products are on the shelf in supermarkets, but most of my efforts are focused on the yumballs. Yumballs are a food product similar to rum balls, which don’t need to be baked. These are the most unique product, and children are a fantastic market to sell to. The yumballs also have the advantage that they have many different points of sale. They can be sold in supermarkets, as well as craft stores (because they are shelf-stable and don’t need to be baked). I'm hopeful that this will become not only a trend, but a classic staple in the craft category. I'm also working on getting my product into craft chain stores — after which I'll have a large supply to fill and will most likely outsource production and packaging. First, I put together a list of contacts for buyers at the chain stores I was hoping to get my products into. Then, I emailed them with a pitch on how my product was the right fit for their store. As anyone who is in sales will tell you, there are many non-responses, some cold receptions; and, if you're lucky, a bit of interest. Dealing with the first two calls for courage to continue: The latter gives a bit of hope that things will take off. Luckily, I got several tentatively interested buyers, and I sent them samples for review. Some buyers already responded positively and I'm waiting for more to follow. I hope to do a large run sometime soon, and fill those big-box stores with thousands of Bubby Bailee's products. 



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Communicated M. C. Millman

SBA Loan Group Let’s You Get Down to Business SBA Loan Group can get the job done when it comes to taking care of your loan package. SBA Loan Group offers your business exactly what it needs: the ability to work on your business, while SBA Loan Group works on your loan. SBA Loan Group has been doing business since 2012 and is now one of largest SBA loan package companies in the country. SBA Loan Group’s success is based on positive client experience and the ability to partner with businesses to get the job done on a variety of fronts. One of the advantages we have is that one of the partners, Yanky Markowitz, is a board member of one of the largest Community Development Corporations (CDC) in the country as well a member of the CDC loan committee.

WHY DO I NEED SBA LOAN GROUP? SBA Loan Group fits perfectly in the picture when your business is seeking funds. An SBA Loan Group’s loan manager will utilize his complete expertise in the field to structure the loan and its terms in the most favorable way possible for you as our loan manager serves as both the broker and the consultant working for you while being the go-between representing your best interests to the bank. SBA Loan Group offers the best deals available. With working capital, the interest rate would be prime plus 2.75% (current prime rate is at 5.5%) for up to a $5 million loan. For real estate loans of 90%, LTV interest rates would be between 5.5%–6%, for up to a $14 million loan. Both loans come with extended repayment terms. WHAT DOES SBA LOAN GROUP DO? SBA Loan Group brokers any kind of small business loan. One of SBA Loan Group’s most popular facets is refinancing high-interest loans with lower interest rates and better terms for a 10-year 30 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

amortization. For instance, SBA Loan Group takes over high interest, short payment Amazon loans. SBA Loan Group will then create more flexible terms over more extended periods. An average Amazon loan charges a 12%–16% interest rate and is due in six- to twelve-months’ time. SBA Loan Group can offer a rate that is 2.75% above the prime rate and that extends over 10 years for a more manageable monthly charge with the possibility of being able to request further loans on top of the newly redone one. You can add working capital and inventory to this loan, and the total loan gets amortized over 10 years. SBA 504 SBA 504 is SBA Loan Group’s loan program for those seeking funding for small business real estate purposes with the best terms possible. The SBA 504 will only work if your business is going to occupy 51% or more of the new building’s space. If, for instance, an Amazon seller wants to buy a brick and mortar building to either sell or store his Amazon store offerings, SBA Loan Group will help the business owner secure the necessary loan. The SBA 504 program option is that the buyer puts down 10% and by doing so, gets 90% financing at 5.5%–6% amortized over 25 years. Buying a building means that instead of paying someone else the rent money, the rent funds can go towards your building’s mortgage and therefore is an investment in you, the owner, as your building appreciates over time. SBA 7A SBA 7A is a loan program for those businesses seeking any kind of loan for working capital for purposes such as marketing, advertising, buying inventory, equipment, refinancing debt, hiring employees, buying out a partner, for business acquisition, etc. Such a loan the rates would be 2.75% above the prime rate and amortized over 10 years with equal monthly payments.

Another option is that the buyer can obtain additional money on top of the cost of the building he is buying. For instance, if the buyer is purchasing a million-dollar building, he can potentially get $1.5 million without having to put anything down. Instead, the extra $500,000 can go into the business; the buyer will get 100% financing plus the money on top of that from a full loan amortized over 25 years. Given that small business, loans are never 25-year loans. Buying a building and adding the extra funds will allow the business owner to get the equivalent of a 25-year small business loan on top of the loan for the building without stressing his cash flow. THE PROCESS S BA Loan Group can usually qualify you with a 10-minute phone call after receiving minimal business and personal documentation. SBA Loan Group will then perform a thorough and e xtensive pre-approval process, which usually takes 24 hours once we receive your documents. This process will help to accelerate the underwriting and packaging of the loan. If needed an SBA Loan Group representative would come to your business for an initial meeting with you or your accountant to help structure the loan with the best terms possible by planning together on how to best go about achieving your goals. SBA Loan Group has offices in Brooklyn, NY and Stamford, CT. W e are here to help you structure your small business loan in the best way possible. SBA Loan Group understands that a lot of assistance is needed in this industry to make sure the process is a smooth one and that the result is the successful one your business is looking for.

V isit www.sbaloangroup.com for more details on this u nique program or call any of SBA Loan Group’s qualified loan managers at 484-SBA-LOAN (722-5626) with your questions. SBA is ready and willing to help you with your specialized business needs.

FOUR CRITERIA TO GETTING A BUILDING LOAN FROM SBA LOAN GROUP Credit score above 680, although exceptions can be made for lower credit scores. No tax liens, judgments, collections or prior bankruptcies for personal and business. Cash flow: Enough to demonstrate to the bank t hat your business will have the ability to pay back the loan. This needs to be after salary covers personal living expenses. Adequate collateral • Collateral should come from the business. • Depending on the loan amount though, a business might need additional personal collateral. • Even if you don’t have enough personal collateral, SBA Loan Group can still usually secure a loan up to $1 million.

B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 31

| FEBRUARY2019 6 | | B-TANK 32 B-TANK• FEBRUARY 2019

Dave Meltzer

Barbara Finkelstein

Most Valuable Player in a Vast Media & Entertainment Empire

Sports marketing maven Dave Meltzer talks to B-Tank about fumbling the ball — and finding his stride B-TANK SHVAT | 5779 ADAR• B-TANK 5779 | | 337

“The only time I remember being unhappy as a kid is when I saw my mom cry,” Dave Meltzer tells B-Tank and an entourage of young sports agents at a boutique hotel on Brooklyn’s East River. Meltzer and his crew were on hand this November to open the New York office of Sports 1 Marketing, the media company he cofounded in 2010 with football Hall of Famer Warren Moon. “My mom’s car had broken down,” Meltzer recalls, “and she worried about how to pay for repairs and send us six kids to school with food. I wanted to buy her a house and a car.” Indeed, the wealth that Meltzer’s $21 million-a-year media and entertainment empire has generated could buy his then-single mother houses and cars many times over. Meltzer credits her struggle to support her family on a $17,000-a-year teaching job and a second shift stocking greeting cards at a convenience store as his inspiration to get rich. In the eight years since its inception, Sports 1 Marketing has developed several lines of business including sponsorship and branding opportunities for athletes, transitional counseling for sports figures, and business consulting services. Meltzer and Moon have also spun off charitable organizations that fund children’s

Be More Interested Than Interesting

From the get-go, getting rich was going to be a challenge. “My siblings were intellectual and focused,” Meltzer says. “I was athletic and hyperactive. When it came to college, I chose Occiden| FEBRUARY2019 8 | | B-TANK 34 B-TANK• FEBRUARY 2019

education; a video podcast called The Playbook, in which Meltzer interviews athletes and celebrities about the challenges of championship; and an Entrepreneur Network show called Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch, where Meltzer and three other venture capital investors evaluate the seaworthiness of new products and services. He has also written a number of personal development books. Every one of these bricks in the House of Meltzer exists in part because of Meltzer’s ebullient sales personality — and paradoxically because of some missteps that once put his fortune and family life in jeopardy.

tal in Los Angeles because they gave me a scholarship to play football. I still consider playing football there one of the greatest achievements of my life.” A self-proclaimed pragmatist, Meltzer learned pretty fast that at 5’7”, he wasn’t going to be a professional football player. He began exploring a

Every one of these bricks in the House of Meltzer exists in part because of Meltzer’s ebullient sales personality — and paradoxically because of some missteps that once put his fortune and family life in jeopardy.

career in medicine. “At 18 I visited my brother in the hospital where he was doing his residency,” Meltzer says. “The first thing I told him was, ‘I hate hospitals.’ My brother almost fell over. He was, like, ‘You hate hospitals and you want to be a doctor?, I said, ‘Yeah. I want to be a sports doctor.’ My brother looked me in

the eye and said, ‘Be more interested than interesting.’ Man, that resonated with me.’” His brother’s words gave Meltzer an approach to life and work that stays with him to this day. “I started looking for people with ‘situational knowledge,’ like my brother, and I made them my men-


tors,” he says. Based on advice he got from them, Meltzer finished up college and decided to study law at Tulane University in New Orleans. Despite having to take on significant financial debt, Meltzer felt he was now on an upward career trajectory. But the rain that falls into every life suddenly poured down in a torrent on Meltzer and his family. First, a beloved stepbrother died. Next, in an effort to start a business, a close family member maxed out Meltzer’s credit cards, ultimately destroying Meltzer’s credit rating. With no way to pay for law school, Tulane threatened to kick Meltzer out. “In a matter of two weeks, everything that I had dreamed about and worked so hard for was gone,” Meltzer writes in Connected to Goodness.

One of Meltzer’s uncles rushed in to save the day. He co-signed on education loans and Meltzer went back to law school. In his third year there, he won a jury trial for a prison inmate in Louisiana’s 5th Circuit Federal Court. The award — one of the largest judgments in a case brought by a Tulane student — led to two employment offers. The first was a job to work as an oil and gas litigator. The second was an opportunity to sell legal research online at the dawn of the internet era. Meltzer asked his mother which path to take. “Without blinking, she said, ‘David, you need to be a real lawyer,’” Meltzer says. “‘This internet thing? It’s a fad.’” Meltzer says he learned a second valuable lesson: Just because someone loves you doesn’t mean they are

qualified to give you advice. Meltzer sought more knowledgeable counsel from his brother’s Harvard friends and his own law school professors, all of whom predicted the explosive growth of business on the internet. He seized what he calls a oncein-a-lifetime opportunity with Westlaw, a Minnesota-based online legal research company for legal professionals in the US and UK. By the early 1990s, Westlaw learned what it took so many other companies years to fathom: One, how to leverage the internet in order to monetize its products, and two, how to make money selling access to valuable content. “Thanks to Westlaw,” Meltzer writes in Connected to Goodness, “I understood the business issues of the internet. I knew how to sell

the internet.” That first internet job became a springboard for a career in technology. After seven years at Westlaw, Meltzer joined an Accenture startup called Everypath. The company developed computer applications made to converge with mobile devices. Within two years, Everypath grew from a company of 12 to 350 employees — 52 of them managed by Meltzer. Thanks to his “relationship capital” — his personal social network of clients, partners, media contacts, and community liaisons — Meltzer met people working with Samsung. Eager to run his own organization, he accepted a job developing and selling the world’s first smartphone — the PCEphone.

Just because someone loves you doesn’t mean they are qualified to give you advice.

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Is That All There Is?

Inevitably, external forces turned Meltzer’s life in a new direction. In 2002 federal regulations mandated that individual executives were responsible for the accuracy of corporate financial information. “This made me very nervous,” Meltzer writes. Now that he might be held personally liable for financial inaccuracies, Meltzer thought the time right to leave the workplace and become an entrepreneur. He was off to a propitious start: Throughout his tech career, he had bought up failing rental properties in popular summer locations and rehabbed them. He had a plan to pay off his various 30-year mortgages in sixteen years — a schedule that worked well until 2008 when the “market went crazy,” leaving real estate investors like Meltzer in the lurch. Several investments made in conjunction with family and friends didn’t pan out either. He retreated almost entirely into domestic life, building a “dream house” for his family in San Diego County. “However, the very first night we moved in, lying in bed, I felt empty for the first time in my life,” Meltzer says. “Here I was with this 10 | B-TANK • |FEBRUARY 36 FEBRUARY2019 2019

multimillion-dollar house, something bigger and more expensive than I would ever have wanted to own. The house had no meaning. The expensive cars and expensive trips no longer had meaning.” To the half dozen people in the Brooklyn Bridge hotel room, Meltzer acknowledges that he was living with “an emptiness.” Almost without noticing, he says, he embarked on a path of self-sabotage. He would soon hit rock bottom. Part of the problem? The lifestyle milestones came early. By his mid-30s, Meltzer says, he was all about the opulence. “I overextended myself with properties,” he says. “I had 33 homes, a golf course, a ski mountain. My life was

I went through millions of dollars of cash to prove that I was right. one big swagger. I got into a lawsuit with a neighbor. It didn’t matter that in law school I learned that no good lawyer gets into a lawsuit because nobody wins. I went through millions of dollars of cash to prove that I was right. I figured I could always sell off a property or borrow against the equity. Even as the economy was failing, I kept borrowing money. Finally the bank told me ‘no.’” During his buying spree and court battles, Meltzer drifted into a coterie of

wealthy men who fueled their days and nights with drugs and alcohol. He convinced himself that binging once or twice a week did not pull him down. He could not convince his childhood sweetheart and wife, Julie. After a night spent carousing with a popular record producer, she read her husband the riot act. “‘David, I’m not happy, and you’d better change,’” Meltzer says. Meltzer did not want to lose her and his family. He sobered up.


Radical Humility and Laughter Yoga

Now that he was open to a “quantum shift” in his lifestyle habits, he sought out mentors. Arguably, his first was Theodore Roosevelt. The 26th US president had delivered a powerful speech in 1899 in which he said that the highest form of success comes to “the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil.” “I looked back on my life when I hadn’t shrunk from hardship or toil, and I knew in my heart that my personal struggles had given me courage and purpose,” Meltzer says. He sought out mentors in his contemporary life too. He met an investor in Virginia who offered him a 25% partnership in a golf course. “This man turned out to be an extremely educated, spiritual, and enlightened person,” Meltzer says. He was the first person Meltzer met who had amassed a fortune while actively looking to “give back” to the world. By reading and networking, Meltzer encountered other individuals who pursued wealth while practicing his golf course partner’s “radical humility.” Many of his influences were self-help authors, wealth experts and philanthropists. On a flight to India, where he founded a software-as-a-service solution called Compliant

Company, he sat next to Sangeeta Sahi, a medical doctor and practitioner of holistic healing therapies — including laughter yoga, which she believed strengthened the body’s immune system. By the time Compliant went under, Meltzer was no longer the rabble-rousing night bird of his drinking and drugging days. Despite the collapse of his financial empire, he took a page from his new mentors’ playbooks and began volunteering his time with Big Brothers Big Sisters, a mentoring network. He also accepted an offer to be division president of a large European telecom — a job he never ended up doing. A more transformational opportunity was in the offing.

representation, marketing, and consulting firm. From day one, Meltzer was in for a shock. Steinberg was in rehab for alcoholism. Meltzer found himself in the hot seat, forced to negotiate the purchase of a billion-dollar football team. It was trial by fire, even though the deal never came to fruition. Still, within six months, Steinberg named him CEO. Three years into running the business, Meltzer saw the writing on the wall: Steinberg’s addiction was going to sink the company. He asked company partner Warren Moon to become his partner in a new sports marketing agency called Sports 1 Marketing. Their mission: “Make a lot of money, help a lot of people, and have a lot of fun.” The company was profitable right out of the gate.

In the Deep End

It was two weeks to airtime in Europe when an old high school acquaintance involved with a reality show called Showtime got in touch with Meltzer. He asked him to negotiate a deal with Leigh Steinberg, a high-profile sports agent. Meltzer agreed to talk with Steinberg; he liked him. Steinberg liked Meltzer too. Twenty-four hours later, he asked Meltzer to be chief operating officer (COO) of Leigh Steinberg Sports and Entertainment, a lucrative athlete

Solving a Big Problem

Unless you follow the business of sports, you probably will not appreciate the multimillion-dollar deals Meltzer has crafted for his athlete clients. You will get a picture, though, of the business acumen that has made Meltzer a smart judge of character and entrepreneurship if you look at his TV show and listen to his podcast.

In TV’s Entrepreneur Elevator Pitch, Meltzer and an alternating panel of an additional three wealthy entrepreneurs watch a video in which an individual or small team has 60 seconds to make their business pitch. The most successful presenters quickly describe the product, the consumer marketplace, the competition, actual sales and then make the funding ask. After a brief discussion amongst themselves, the panel members vote the pitch up or down. If they like the pitch, they open the elevator doors and welcome the presenter in. If they don’t buy the pitch, the presenter leaves empty-handed. Viewing the presentation and the panel reaction is like watching a tennis match: You follow the verbal relay with bated breath. Most stunning about the series is how fast Meltzer and his panel-mates interpret the diverse array of pitches. “It’s TV!” Meltzer says. “We judges have to make a decision quickly. To open the elevator doors and move on to make the ask, you have to do something to stimulate my interest — and the interest of at least two of three other judges. Just getting in front of us will not guarantee our investment.” In the case, for example, of a social media app that records where and when you met potential business contacts, and also lets you exchange cryptocurrency with them, the panelists were immediately skeptical about a $25 million ask — this despite the presenter’s assertion that he already had | ADAR 11 B-TANK SHVAT 5779 • B-TANK 5779 || 37


25 million users and two big signed deals. “He either has a killer idea or he’s full of it,” Meltzer tells his co-inves-

tors. The panel opens the elevator doors only to discover that the presenter based the company’s worth

on the number of users, not on an objective company valuation. Indeed, some post-mortem due diligence

reveals that the presenter’s claim about the two signed deals was false. Game over!


STIMULATE INTEREST. People say they buy for logical reasons, but the greater truth is that they generally buy based on emotion. Meltzer urges presenters to connect with investors emotionally. “Whatever energy you naturally bring to your presentation — double it. Your passion and belief need to come through in your pitch.” TRANSITION THAT INTEREST. Meltzer insists that the pitch has to address what millennials call “FOMO”: Fear of missing out. “If an aspiring entrepreneur illustrates how you efficiently solve a big problem, you’ll have more statistical success in your elevator pitch, and your investor will want in,” Meltzer says. He reminds pitchers that they have to address sales, distribution, revenue, and awards/successes. SHARE A VISION. Meltzer advises you, the pitcher, to tell investors exactly what you want, why you want it, and what you’re willing to give in return. “You should have already proved your valuation when transitioning interest, then reiterate that valuation as you progress in the pitch,” he says.

Whatever the outcome of the pitch, the viewer knows that Meltzer and his team have given the presentation an expert and fair hearing. Meltzer brings the same respectful attention to The Playbook, his award-winning and Entrepreneur-hosted audio podcast. Some episodes highlight celebrities — such as Leigh Steinberg, tennis great Maria Sharapova,

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speed skater Apolo Ohno, and Pro Football League Hall of Famer Ray Lewis. Others are thematic, focusing on what it takes to win an Olympic gold medal, how an athlete transitions to entrepreneurship, or how an individual overcomes educational or physical deficits. Because the podcast deals with the road to individual or team glory, Playbook interviews have

featured not only athletes but also authors, serial entrepreneurs, documentary filmmakers, and fashion marketers, to name a few. “With every interview I do, I try to emphasize the gratitude, empathy, accountability, and effective communication it takes to go from wanting something to executing on a plan,” Meltzer says. His business philosophy

really does seem to work. The boy who wanted to get rich so that he could reward his mother’s goodness is always ready to throw out the first pitch and wait for the resounding crack that comes when open-heartedness meets opportunity. Barbara Finkelstein has contributed to B-Tank since 2017. She is currently working on a book about mental illness and housing in the Bronx.



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Amazon is expected to drive 80% of e-commerce growth this year. This collection of Amazon tips and tricks will help you be a part of that win.

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Leveling the Playing Field How sellers can take responsibility for their success Dear Seller Performance: I’m writing to kindly request the reinstatement of my selling privileges. I have four unmanaged accounts in addition to my main account, no invoices, and no excuses. However, I’d like to inform your team that I do have a guy who will supply me with any invoices required for reinstatement, so kindly inform me which ones you’ll be needing. Kind Regards, Mike Sellerton Dear Seller: LOL, This is a joke… right? Kind Regards, Seller Performance Team “Ed!!!? Can you help me? What do they want from me?” Every seller should take a look back on how the marketplace has treated them this year. Some sellers succeeded greatly. Some failed miserably. And still, far too many sellers are confused as to why they haven’t yet gotten a response from Jeff (he’s been busy). It’s important for every seller to ask themselves a tough question: How much of the trouble I faced on Amazon this year was actually not Amazon’s fault? Is it possible I could have done a few things to avoid them? No one wants to answer this — we all know it’s true. Sellers make mistakes. But unlike Amazon, there’s much more for a seller to lose when mistakes happen. Can we level the playing field for sellers in 2019? We know Amazon’s rules are unpredictable. It’s true; Amazon does make mistakes that cause innocent sellers to get caught in the crossfire of massive intellectual-property (IP) battles when they didn’t do anything wrong at all. But how many suspended Amazon sellers are truly innocent? Being engulfed in the world of suspensions, it seems like there are far more “bad” sellers on the marketplace these days, including sellers doing millions a month. But overall, most Amazon sellers are doing exactly what they should be: pioneering the way to a stable income without slaving away at a nine-to-five. Unfortunately, it’s the fraudulent sellers who treat the marketplace as nothing but a monopoly board — a game — making things difficult for their peers. This year, the sellers community and Amazon need to meet in the middle and acknowledge certain truths. Sellers need to quit trying to knock each other off the platform — it’s much more powerful to present a united front, especially to a mammoth corporation like Amazon. And finally, every seller must try to understand Amazon’s point of view, too. Sellers generally want to discuss what’s fair — but selling on 42 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

Amazon isn’t always fair. We can’t petition Jeff Bezos to read an email once in a while without portraying how we believe Amazon as a corporation should treat marketplace sellers. What do sellers need to know? A lot has changed to make it easier for good sellers to sell. Don’t act like this is 2014. This past year, Amazon has given sellers a multitude of tools to keep track of their account health. The account health dashboard (although still quite glitchy) provides every seller with a real-time snapshot of their account health. Infringement complaints, item condition complaints, restricted products, inauthentic, and more is right there on your account health dashboard. This was a pipe dream a few months ago. If you do get suspended, you generally should have seen it coming. Amazon has also given sellers the option of using paid account managers, who can help with these thorny issues. The price is high,

Sellers generally want to discuss what’s fair — but selling on Amazon isn’t always fair.

Ed Rosenberg but this program has come a long way from its inception. It’s primarily for larger sellers. It’s much more uncommon for a perfectly good seller to be suspended for no reason than a few years ago. When it does happen, there are processes in place to quickly reinstate a wrongfully suspended account if the seller can show that a false positive occurred. For the first time, Amazon have clarified exactly what the various

infringements are that may cause suspension. Furthermore, they has clearly defined all buyer-seller messaging rules. The information is right there — ignorance is not a defense. Additionally, the communication of what’s missing in an invoice (i.e., supplier not verifiable) or which part of a POA needs refining has improved (still a way to go). These are huge improvements and shows Amazon is actively working on fixing the seller experience.


I didn’t have high hopes for this team initially, but they’ve grown on me. This team gives you a heads up (24 to 72 hours) when you’re about to get suspended and will actually accept a POA before they suspend you. The execution of this team started off poorly but has gotten significantly better with real information being offered, and real pointers on how to get reinstated. They also allow you to call during the suspension and can let you know if your POA is being reviewed.


Believe it or not, seller performance is just a team at Amazon. They’re people, and they actually want to help you if you’re suspended. Speak up — not every email is a vague template response. As long as you don’t put “I am sorry I sell fake products” in an email, it won’t hurt your case to reach out. Understand what you signed up for. Most of us tend to skim over the terms and conditions of anything, but if you’re an Amazon seller, you might want to have a second look. The business agreement will tell you exactly what you signed up for: a tumultuous ride that might end at any moment.


Please. Just. Stop. It’s so much easier to talk your way out of a violation if you haven’t submitted forged documents. Keep your real invoices ready in case you’re asked for them, and never try to alter an invoice to send to Amazon. They’ll catch you almost every time. There is no difference between forging, modifying, touching up, or fixing an invoice. Only the supplier can revise an invoice in their accounting system and reissue it should something need clarification.


For years, sellers have been saying we need to have multiple accounts, since enforcement with Amazon is so random. Amazon in 2019 will make it even harder to operate multiple accounts. Focus instead on one healthy account. (It’s against terms of service to open multiple accounts without permission.)


This is by far the biggest change to the Amazon sellers’ landscape the last couple of years — Amazon seller groups. These groups are significantly more useful than Amazon seller forums, and the level of expertise seems much higher. You can essentially find the answer to every question without the sense that Amazon is lurking over you as in seller forums. The information is extremely accurate and offered in real time. I highly recommend joining a Facebook group, which has become ground zero for seller-performance issues. You are selling blindfolded if you’re not in a group such as this one, and are at a major disadvantage over everyone else who is.

Ed Rosenberg is a longtime Amazon and eBay seller and founder of ASGTG, the largest Amazon Sellers group in the world. Ed helps suspended sellers get back onto the platform and offers coaching to help businesses remain compliant on Amazon. B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 43

Amazon experts share their

TOP TRICKS on how to work effectively

Amazon recently launched an anti-counterfeiting barcode program, Transparency, which is the only foolproof method for brand owners to prevent counterfeiters from “hijacking” successful listings. My own brand has suffered from counterfeiters, and we’ve been able to stop it by enrolling in Transparency. Unfortunately, some brands are using this program to block legitimate resellers from listing authentic products, and sometimes the sellers are even suspended. This may happen if a brand enrolls a product in Transparency and doesn’t put Transparency labels on the merchandise they wholesale. This means the resellers are stuck with unsellable merchandise and are in danger of being suspended by Amazon for supposedly selling counterfeit. Sellers should be aware of this pitfall and ensure that when they buy authentic items that are enrolled in Transparency, the items have proper barcodes. Judah Bergman started his Amazon career as a reseller and now exclusively sells his own brand. He also runs an advanced Amazon Sellers WhatsApp group.

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One thing many people don’t realize is that Amazon doesn’t allow for one person, company, or even IP address to have multiple accounts. So, even if you set up your first seller account three years ago, if you start a new business with different business partners and use the same laptop in the same place to create a new account, without asking for permission and being granted permission first, you’ll get shut down. This is because it’s against seller terms of service (TOS) and often, both accounts will be shut down by Amazon without warning and without an appeals process. Amazon requires you to ask for permission ahead of time and explain the need for more than one account. Jeff Wilcox is a partner at Elevate Growth Group, a full-suite Amazon account management provider.

Just like any business, systems play an important role in building a successful Amazon business. Buy or create systems for each part of the business, including sourcing, shipping, listing creation, marketing, customer service, reviews, etc. Don’t be afraid to spend money on tools or automation when it positively impacts your ROI. In many cases, these tools can multiply your revenue and more than pay for themselves, while growing your bottom line much more quickly. Andrew Arnott is a seven-figure Amazon seller and also helps thousands of sellers with his launch platform, Amzblitz.com, and his optimization platform, Sellerseo.com.

Amazon is no longer the “place your product online and grow sales” marketplace it was a few years ago. Today, Amazon sellers have to be more sophisticated when it comes to running their business to ensure they remain profitable. The keys to success on Amazon are simple: Find a good product, develop a strong brand, create a following, and expand. While easy to state, it’s hard to replicate. My advice to a business that’s growing on Amazon is to understand what you know and what you don’t know. It’s not possible to be an expert on everything — so if you’re not an expert, find someone who is. For example, Amazon Advertising is complicated and requires strategy, time, and attention. Many sellers try to follow a system, and when it doesn’t work, they give up. We manage over $10 milion in advertising spend every month. For the clients we manage, each one has a unique strategy based on their company’s goals. If we tried to apply a single approach to every client, they wouldn’t be successful. Jeff Cohen is an international keynote speaker, and the CMO for Seller Labs, a software company that helps Amazon sellers with advertising, reputation management, and listing optimization.

As an Amazon seller, you should know that Amazon has a fully operating safety team which tracks down listings of items that need to meet international safety standards, and requests testing reports and data sheets. Amazon’s safety team is directly in touch with the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and both share data of importers and sellers. By having safety testing done, you kill two birds (customs and Amazon) in one shot, as both need the same documents. Mel Singer, CEO at Madison Safety & Inspection Inc., provides product safety, quality, and regulatory and compliance guidance.

Treat Amazon like a business, not a hobby: Although it often sounds like selling on Amazon is an easy way to make lots of money, the reality is a little different! Amazon has a set of rules called terms of service, and following those rules is really important. Though not every rule applies to everyone, you should always make sure everything you sell is brand-new, keep good records of your inventory purchases, and keep track of your costs. Sticking to those basics is a great starting point for success on Amazon. Abe Chomali is the founder of XP Strategy, an agency that helps Amazon businesses grow. B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 45

“ When shipping small parcels to FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon), always make sure to pack the boxes as tight as possible, using bubble filler if necessary, since they go through a tremendous amount of tossing in the truck to the fulfillment centers, etc. However, sending shipments on pallets is always a safer and better option. When selling private-label products, make sure to have good packaging so they arrive at the customer in decent shape. I recommend purchasing your own product to see for yourself in what condition the customer receives it. You’ll be surprised to see how certain products get beaten through the handling process; sometimes, all you need is a thicker bag. As a private-label seller, keep in mind that if you’re doing high volume it might be worthwhile to have custom bags printed with your logo (there are many companies that don’t require large minimums). For products that don’t move as quickly, you may want to do custom labels. This can make a world of a difference and build brand recognition. Occasionally, go through all your products in FBA inventory and make sure Amazon has the correct dimensions. If you find product measurements that are incorrect, contact Amazon seller support and have them remeasure your product. Products that have been packaged by your manufacturer as oversized in the past (according to Amazon standards) might have changed and been packed in standard-size packaging. You may be able to repackage some of your oversized products in a way that they won't fall under the oversized category. This will save you overhead expenses, giving you a possible edge over you competitors. You’re also very likely to save on extra shipping, as Amazon often sends oversized packages to farther warehouses. Fred Engel is the CEO of EZ Repacks LLC, a product prepping and co-packing facility

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Here are some pros and cons to using Fulfillment by Amazon. Pros: Simpler logistics — Instead of shipping individual customer orders, third-party sellers can ship goods in bulk to Amazon’s fulfillment centers (FCs). From there, Amazon will move products around to the FCs that most need those products, and also ship the individual orders to Amazon shoppers. Better search result placement and higher Buy Box percentages — This typically means greater sales volume on FBA items versus items that are fulfilled by the third-party sellers directly. Customer service and feedback — For FBA sales, Amazon will take care of customer service messages and phone calls. Amazon will mostly take responsibility if customers leave negative feedback on FBA orders. Cons: Purchasing and replenishing — The process of purchasing goods to send to Amazon’s FCs takes a lot of calculation and advanced planning. Business capital that is spent can’t be used until stock is sold through. Items which sell faster than expected can have out-of-stock periods as the seller races to replenish. Items which sell slower than expected have capital tied up and will need to be sold at discount or a loss. Items that still won’t sell will need to be removed at an added cost. Items removed from Amazon FCs will typically be in worse physical condition than when they arrived. Fees — Amazon charges monthly storage fees and long-term storage fees for items left in their FCs for more than a year. These fees are significantly higher in Q4. If items don’t sell, they’ll need to be removed or destroyed. Both of these options incur fees as well. Logistical Control — Once items have been shipped, the movement of the goods is out of the seller’s control. There may be periods of time where inventory is unavailable for selling due to receiving delays at an FC, transfers from one FC to another, bin checks for expired or damaged items, and items stuck in Amazon’s mysterious “reserved” status. There is a newer, third option in which third-party sellers can ship from their own warehouses. These orders must be shipped on the same or next day, and arrive at the customer’s door within two days. This process is called Seller Fulfilled Prime, and has its own unique challenges, including setting up the correct nearby regions which can be shipped to within two days, and negotiating great two-day (or less) shipping rates with the shipping carriers. While SFP sellers will enjoy some of the benefits of FBA, they probably won’t be able to serve the whole country. Also, sellers will need to provide their own customer service. Barry Lampert is a long-time e-commerce seller. He is ranked in the top 250 Amazon sellers in the United States.

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It’s unfortunate that most Amazon sellers research the product, not the problem. A low Amazon Best Sellers Rank (BSR) shouldn’t be the highest priority for determining whether you sell a product. If we all use the same BSR tools and analyze the same categories for the hottest BSR, we’ll all end up with the same product. That’s what’s happening all too frequently on Amazon’s marketplace with private-label merchants. There are over 10,000 toilet-paper holders on Amazon! Instead, tap into a hungry market and have an intense focus on the definite problem you’re trying to solve. Obsessively read negative reviews on Amazon, find untapped keyword demand through Amazon A9 Autosuggest that have no matching products (supply). Don’t research the product; research the problem. And solve it.

Shelly Meier serves as vice president of account management at Flatworld Group, providing solutions for increasing Amazon performance and brand visibility for Amazon 3P brands.

Chad Rubin is the CEO and co-founder of Skubana, a company that builds award-winning e-commerce software.

Factory Audits

If you’re a brand owner or manufacturer and you’re not controlling your distribution channel right from the beginning of the product life cycle, you’ll (to comply always be running a step with behind. WithAmazon requirements) out rock-solid agreements in place with distributors or other wholesalers, preventing them from selling on Amazon (or selling to other wholesalers who will sell your products on Amazon), large-scale unauthorized sellers can eventually destroy not only your minimum advertised price (MAP), but negatively affect your wholesale pricing and relationships with retailers, not to mention your bottom line.

Safety Lab testing

Amazon tracks many account metrics to rate you as a seller. The rank Amazon assigns to your seller account can impact your Amazon sales by affecting your Buy Box percent both positively and negatively. One of the items Amazon monitors for a seller’s overall health is the speed of response to buyer messages. Unfortunately, when you go on vacation or can’t answer these messages, this can negatively affect your seller rank. Amazon doesn’t count auto replies as a response in their Contact Response Time calculations. However, if you set up your reply with a delay, they’ll consider it as a regular reply. The software automation company EZ Cloud provides a Gmail extension that will provide this delay for you. Another key metric Amazon monitors is Merchant Fulfilled shipping times. You can easily turn off your listings when you go on vacation to keep from missing shipment deadlines, and you can customize your vacation settings to automatically go active in advance of your return. For example, if you’re on vacation until Monday morning, you might like sales to restart on Sunday for processing upon your return. You can also go through your SKUs and set some of them on vacation mode (i.e., the ones you’ll have to ship on your own) while leaving the rest (i.e., those packaged by a fulfillment center) available for sale.

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If you’re a brand owner or manufacturer and you’re not controlling your distribution channel right from the beginning of the product life cycle, you’ll always be running a step behind. Without rock-solid agreements in place with distributors or other wholesalers, preventing them from selling on Amazon (or selling to other wholesalers who will sell your products on Amazon), large-scale unauthorized sellers can eventually destroy not only your minimum advertised price (MAP), but negatively affect your wholesale pricing and relationships with retailers, not to mention your bottom line. Shelly Meier serves as vice president of account management at Flatworld Group, providing solutions for increasing Amazon performance and brand visibility for Amazon 3P brands.

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It’s unfortunate that most Amazon sellers research the product, not the problem. A low Amazon Best Sellers Rank (BSR) shouldn’t be the highest priority for determining whether you sell a product. If we all use the same BSR tools and analyze the same categories for the hottest BSR, we’ll all end up with the same product. That’s what’s happening all too frequently on Amazon’s marketplace with private-label merchants. There are over 10,000 toilet-paper holders on Amazon! Instead, tap into a hungry market and have an intense focus on the definite problem you’re trying to solve. Obsessively read negative reviews on Amazon, find untapped keyword demand through Amazon A9 Autosuggest that have no matching products (supply). Don’t research the product; research the problem. And solve it. Chad Rubin is the CEO and co-founder of Skubana, a company that builds award-winning e-commerce software.

Amazon tracks many account metrics to rate you as a seller. The rank Amazon assigns to your seller account can impact your Amazon sales by affecting your Buy Box percent both positively and negatively. One of the items Amazon monitors for a seller’s overall health is the speed of response to buyer messages. Unfortunately, when you go on vacation or can’t answer these messages, this can negatively affect your seller rank. Amazon doesn’t count auto replies as a response in their Contact Response Time calculations. However, if you set up your reply with a delay, they’ll consider it as a regular reply. The software automation company EZ Cloud provides a Gmail extension that will provide this delay for you. Another key metric Amazon monitors is Merchant Fulfilled shipping times. You can easily turn off your listings when you go on vacation to keep from missing shipment deadlines, and you can customize your vacation settings to automatically go active in advance of your return. For example, if you’re on vacation until Monday morning, you might like sales to restart on Sunday for processing upon your return. You can also go through your SKUs and set some of them on vacation mode (i.e., the ones you’ll have to ship on your own) while leaving the rest (i.e., those packaged by a fulfillment center) available for sale. Moshe Rottenberg is the CEO of EZ Cloud, a software company which provides business automation and solves complex business issues with custom software, apps, websites, plugins, and the like.

Did you know that Amazon has many more marketplaces worldwide with an FBA option than just the US? Start selling on Amazon’s international marketplaces to instantly increase your revenue. Marketplaces such as Amazon UK have the potential to add another 25% to your overall sales. Why the UK? Less competition, the opportunity to earn more with the currency difference, and a very similar culture to Americans. Products that sell well in the US have a great chance of being successful in the UK as well. For example, all schools need supplies, whether they’re in the US or UK. Other very successful international marketplaces include Souq Amazon, Amazon Canada, and Amazon Japan. How can you make it happen? A. Set up an account with Amazon for that location. B. Proper registrations: For the UK you’ll need to register for a VAT number. In Canada you’ll need a Canadian business number. In Japan, Australia, and Dubai, registration currently isn’t necessary. C. Find an Amazon-savvy shipping provider to help you ship your product to the Amazon FC in that forwarding country according to Amazon or customs regulations, since Amazon doesn’t provide international shipping services. Pearl Ausch is the director of sales and marketing at First Choice Shipping, a company that works directly with the Global Expansion team at Amazon to help Amazon sellers expand internationally.

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Investing in high-quality product content on Amazon ensures that your business controls the message sent to customers related to your products. Descriptive product titles, detailed content regarding the product, and multiple high-quality images all lead to customers being able to get an idea prior to purchase of what they’ll be purchasing. This investment also ensures reduced returns because your information provides customers with detailed answers before they purchase your product on Amazon. Hendrik Laubscher has worked for some of the largest e-commerce businesses in Africa and is currently the marketplace research director and lead writer for Buy Box Experts.

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Tax Matters Judah Fish

Most people encounter sales tax when they go to a store to buy something. This means that stores do the heavy lifting; they need to be registered with the state to collect sales tax and must remit or pay the sales tax collected to the state and then file a periodic (i.e., monthly, quarterly, or annual) sales tax return. When it comes to Amazon sales, things are a bit different. Here are some important questions I’m often asked about Amazon sales.

What does the tax man look like for Amazon sellers?

How does a store or seller know if they need to be collecting sales tax? The rule of thumb is that state sales tax applies to tangible (i.e., physical) property, not services. But there are plenty of exceptions. For example, interior decorating services in New York State may be subject to a 4% sales tax. States list the types of property or services that are subject to sales tax on their websites. What is this “use tax”? Sales tax is really a consumption tax, meaning that it’s a tax on the end user of the product being sold, i.e., a “use tax.” In fact, many states refer to it as “sales and use tax.” Since it would prove too difficult to get all consumers to report their purchases and pay use tax, the states obligate the seller to collect the sales tax at the point of sale. So technically, if the seller didn’t charge sales tax, the consumer wasn’t obligated to pay the use tax. What if someone is selling to customers in another state? Prior to 2018, in order to be liable to collect sales tax, a seller needed to have “nexus,” or a connection, with the state. That was traditionally understood to mean a physical presence created by people or property in the state. So if you were a retailer, you could sell to customers in other states and not have to charge them sales tax. Then the Wayfair case was decided by the US Supreme Court, turning this long-standing principle on its head. Now, if an online seller is doing “substantial business” in a state, even without a physical presence, he or she needs to collect sales tax from the buyer due to “economic nexus.” Economic nexus is based on sales in a state and the number of transactions — even if there’s no physical presence. Now multi-state retailers must forecast and plan for the cost of sales tax regis-

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trations and compliance in running their businesses to mitigate tax risk on uncollected sales tax. States are aggressively focusing on this issue right now. But “‘no sales tax” was why consumers loved shopping online. You’re not alone. Many people preferred to shop online because out-of-state retailers did not charge them sales tax. However, as we mentioned before, if the online store didn’t charge you sales tax you’re obligated to report the purchase to your home state and pay use tax. This is rarely done, however (and sorely regretted when it’s use-tax audit time). So, states must have been losing a lot of sales tax revenue from shoppers like me? That’s exactly right. It’s estimated that the states were losing billions of dollars a year in lost sales tax revenue. Brick-andmortar stores on Main Street were losing too. Local retailers were losing sales and states were losing sales tax revenues. For this reason, states passed laws requiring retailers to collect sales tax even if they had no physical presence in the state but had a significant amount of sales to customers in the state. The Supreme Court recently ruled (June 2018) that these laws are constitutional. Now, over 30 states have “economic nexus” laws generally requiring sellers to collect sales tax if they have more than 200 transactions, or $100K of sales, in the state per year. So, shopping online isn’t as much fun anymore? From a sales tax perspective, most sites that you buy from likely have more than 200 sales in your state and should begin charging sales tax. This is true even if the seller is located outside the US. What about Amazon sellers? In general, e-commerce sellers fall into two categories: those

who have a physical presence in the state and those who don’t. In other words, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) sellers and Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) sellers. We mentioned before that physical presence in a state creates nexus for sales tax. States maintain that having inventory in the state, even in an FBA warehouse, creates nexus. According to the states, FBA sellers should have been registered for sales tax when they first had inventory in the state. FBM sellers, on the other hand, who didn’t have inventory in a state should register to collect sales tax when they meet the economic nexus thresholds. Uh-oh. I know some FBA sellers who never registered for sales tax. Are they in trouble? Many FBA sellers weren’t collecting sales tax for a long time. They may have exposure for uncollected sales tax plus interest and penalties. California just sent a letter to thousands of FBA sellers asking them to register for sales tax from the date they “started doing business” in California. These sellers are caught in a pickle. If they register from the day they had inventory in California, they may owe a lot of back taxes. If they don’t register for sales tax, their liability may continue to grow. Uncollected sales tax liability becomes an issue especially when someone wants to sell their company or online store. This exposure may reduce the value of the business. How does Amazon know when to collect sales tax? Amazon collects sales tax on products it sells. On products sold by third-party sellers, in some states (currently eight) Amazon is required to collect sales tax on all sales. In the other states, Amazon collects sales tax only when the seller instructs Amazon to do so via Seller Central. Judah Fish is a tax director at VPTax, a full-service corporate tax accounting firm. Their main office is in San Francisco and Judah is located in Jerusalem.

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Making Dollars and Sense The Connection Amazon Sellers Have Been Missing


onnectBooks helps Amazon sellers understand their financials like never before. B e yo n d a cco u n t i n g o r number crunching, ConnectBooks’ unique software automatically tracks, manages, identifies and syncs all of a seller's Amazon transactional data so that Amazon sellers can grow their businesses confidently. While there are many e-commerce integrations out there, none have succeeded in completely capturing the complexities of selling on Amazon until ConnectBooks arrived on the scene. ConnectBooks has created the Amazon sellers most comprehensive system capable of unifying all Amazon invoice data and QuickBooks with 100% accuracy, whether a seller chooses to import data automatically or manually. Finally merchants everywhere can trace seamless automation built specifically for the Amazon market!

Why do I need ConnectBooks? Everyone knows running a successful business is a challenge. In order for Amazon sellers to face this challenge head-on, they need to know how their business is doing at any given point in time. ConnectBooks will bring a seller’s Amazon sales, fees, etc. directly 54 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

into QuickBooks with complete accuracy. ConnectBooks was built by a financial expert with one thing and only one thing in mind: FINANCIAL CLARITY. In QuickBooks, a seller can see a clear picture of his business as a whole, or broken down into pieces or categories: The seller can have the ability to view profits by multiple channels or items at any given time. To fulfill Amazon sellers’ unique needs, ConnectBooks assembled a team of brilliant financial experts with first-hand experience working in e-commerce who developed a proprietary software product focused on what matters most: Money. That is where the difference is between ConnectBooks and other companies who have tried to create similar programs. ConnectBooks’ founder, Nachman Lieser, brings the mindset of an accountant to the unique ConnectBooks program. “I not only hired the best programmers to create the automation process specially designed for Amazon,” says Lieser, “but I also reviewed and audited the process more than 400 times, and continue to do so with every new program development.” Having an accountant at the helm was fundamental to creating a program that does not just import the data from Amazon to QuickBooks, but it brings a clarity of that data to the Amazon seller.

This kind of precision could have only been created by the mind of a professional accountant to the point that every ConnectBooks recorded dollar matches the Amazon seller’s bank account and can be traced and referenced back to the sellers’ linked Amazon account. “When clients come to me saying that according to their calculations the number do not match,” says Lieser, “I show them how ConnectBooks has every single line item carefully tracked and listed. After that, clients readily admit that there are no mistakes with ConnectBooks.” Having every line item clearly represented allows ConnectBooks to offer rich insight. Where other systems only import data by settlement, ConnectBooks keeps sellers in control offering tracking flexibility with the ability to invoice financials and other stats compiled per day, per week, per order, or per settlement. Additional automation features help sellers understand their business’s strengths, identify weaknesses, check daily activities and optimize future sales.

ConnectBooks’s Innovative Features An Amazon seller is in the business to succeed. In order to do that, he has to closely follow each item he lists. He

Customer Testimonial

knows the initial cost of the goods he is selling. He also knows the price he is selling it for, and from there, he can calculate the markup. But what he can’t easily find out and calculate per item is all the other fees associated with the listing and sale. Amazon provides reports for its fees, but each report needs to be calculated separately and is not broken down per item. Costs include advertising expenses, inventory storage fees, and freight forwarding. These are all listed in different places on Amazon, leaving sellers overly confused as to what their actual profit or loss per item actually ends up being after a sale. This is where ConnectBooks’ innovative feature comes in. ConnectBooks will take every one of those hard to track down Amazon’s fees, and break it down per item so that Amazon sellers can clearly see each item’s true value. ConnectBooks provides a detailed fee breakdown with itemized details for every product in QuickBooks so sellers can see with the click of the mouse which items are making money and which aren’t. This, in turn, creates stronger sales and a more profitable business, building on the foundation of good business practices simply by making the right connection: the ConnectBooks connection.

How is ConnectBooks superior to other programs? ConnectBooks offers superior customer support with one on one onboarding sessions for each Amazon seller. We walk sellers through the process from A-Z, making sure they have a clear picture of what is going on. Once the seller has completed the setup process with ConnectBooks, he will get a walkthrough in Quickbooks of which reports are important for his business model to keep an eye on. For example, customer support will make sure he is aware of all the ins and outs of tracking his particular inventory, sales reports, etc. in QuickBooks. ConnectBooks ’s goal is that Amazon Sellers will get the most out of the program. We also look over each client’s Quickbooks to make sure it is in line with ConnectBooks across the board so that our program can be used to the best advantage.

How complicated is it to get started with ConnectBooks? There is nothing in any way complicated about ConnectBooks. From launching the

As someone who coaches many Amazon sellers on how to grow their businesses, I was recently introduced to Connectbooks. After setting it up with a number of my clients, I was very impressed with the visibility the program provides. The clarity that a business owner gains through Connectbooks is invaluable. I have not yet come across another program as sophisticated and this one which offers itemized breakdowns for each detail to gain a deeper understanding of which products are profitable. It is crucial for business owners to get the details of the numbers right in order to make the rights decisions – and Connectbooks enables exactly that. Meny Hoffman CEO, Ptex Group

program to running it, ConnectBooks’ simple features make crunching Amazon seller numbers a breeze. Only an initial few and small, easy installation steps are required to create an account linked to a seller’s Amazon account in order to begin the simple flow process. Setup can take as little as five minutes, depending on the number of customized features required. But after that, the entire process is achieved with the simple click of a single button. The hardest part of that process is taking the initial step – which actually is not that hard at all either. For more information simply go to ConnectBooks. com or call 845-751-1600.  B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 55

20 19 Advertising in

What sellers should know about Amazon’s advertising trends

Around a year ago, I wrote an article in B-Tank about advertising on Amazon. In that article I pointed out that Amazon is placing a huge emphasis on their advertising revenue and this would only increase with time. It’s now one year later, and Amazon is gobbling up market share for online advertising at an unprecedented rate. Agencies are now transferring hundreds of millions of dollars in ad spend from Google to Amazon! Amazon’s ad business is now worth approximately $4.2 billion according to the company’s second-quarter earnings, a year-over-year increase of 129%. Amazon has even rolled out a little-known advertising platform accessible to big brands looking to target their customers on Amazon’s various apps. This is called the Amazon “demand-site platform” (DSP), and it includes mobile banners, videos, and desktop and mobile web display. (The Amazon DSP program is the only way outside advertisers can purchase advertising space on Amazon’s websites.)

The Branding Factor Amazon’s market share has grown exponentially, with more brands shifting their attention to Amazon Advertising. Brands can no longer ignore the power that Amazon has when it comes to marketing directly to consumers. More product searches are done on Amazon than on Google, and .51 of every e-commerce 56 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

dollar is spent on Amazon. In other words, Amazon has become the third-largest advertising platform — and for good reasons. While years ago, simply having your product on Amazon was enough to help win sales, today, if you want to be successful on Amazon, you must participate in their advertising programs due to the competitive marketplace.

Why should brands focus on Amazon Advertising? The Amazon search algorithm is extremely complex; lots of variables come into play when products are ranked in the Amazon search, and sellers need to use every tool at their disposal in order to sell successfully. A lot of marketing resources that were previously spent on SEO and reviews

Joel Wolh

Agencies are now transferring hundreds of millions of dollars in ad spend from Google to Amazon. have shifted to advertising on Amazon, as Amazon has been cracking down on reviews and rank manipulation for the last year or so. Now the only real option available to sellers are sponsored ads. Brands will use Amazon Advertising to get initial orders. This leads to product sales and hopefully product reviews, and as the sales velocity goes up, the ranking begins to go down (the lower the rank, the closer you are to the front page). Initially, after launching a product, it’s good to rely heavily on Amazon Advertising to rank your product on the first page. However, if your product is optimized correctly (see sidebar), your reliance on Amazon Advertising will decrease with time or, at the very least, your ad costs will begin to decrease. Generally, when working with products on Amazon, combining Amazon Advertising with different promotional offerings that Amazon offers (i.e. clippable coupons, daily deals, etc.) will help overall conversion and ranking. Typically, the vast majority of sellers still need to carry on some advertising even after their products have ranked organically to protect their digital “shelf placement” from competitors who use Amazon Advertising. Sponsored Products There are way more features than ever to help your product appear on Amazon search and product pages. You can now not only target keywords, but also specific categories or products, formally known as the Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN), so when your product comes up in a search, you can have your ad placed below

its listing. Or if a search is done in a specific category (like products grouped for similarities), you can have your product show up as an ad in the results for that search. When setting up these targeted campaigns, Amazon will suggest to you ASINs and categories that you can select. You also have the option of further refining these suggestions by price, brand, and reviews, allowing you to narrow your results into directly similar products to the one that you’re selling. You can also add negative product targets for brands or ASINs; this is an advanced strategy that prevents your ad from displaying in specific search results or product detail pages. I’d recommend that you lower bids for those items and categories prior to turning them negative. In automatic ads there are now four new targeting features. Two of these four features are keyword based and match for keywords that are closely or loosely related to your ad. The other two are product based and match for products that are substitutes or complementary to your ad. For automatic ads too, I’d recommend lowering the bid for an underperforming target default before turning them off altogether. Applying this knowledge can hopefully help Amazon sellers up their game and break away from their competition — while understanding that this is but one in a toolbox of strategies to help one grow on Amazon. Good luck! Joel Wolh is the CEO of Boutique Seller Services, a boutique marketing house that specializes in Amazon ad management.

OPTIMIZE YOUR SALES Though advertising is essential, before you think about advertising, here’s what you need to do: optimization. It’s crucial for each product listing to be optimized in two respects: for Amazon, and for the customers. Optimizing your listing for Amazon and for customers means using keywords and on-page Amazon SEO to make sure your listing ranks highly on search results. You want to ensure that your listings are covered in these two areas: Aesthetics: creating pictures, video, enhanced brand content (EBC), and an appealing storefront SEO copy: writing the listing and back-end keywords in a way that makes sure your listing comes up and is properly indexed for the right searches Conversion rates are important, not just because these mean immediate sales and revenue for your business, but because they’ll improve your rankings, drive more sales, and so on. Don’t forget that Amazon is a business and has a vested interest in promoting listings that are most likely to make money, so it ranks listings with high conversion rates. Improve conversions on your listings with keywords that convert, engaging images that explain product benefits, persuasive copy, and including as many details about your product as possible, communicating how these benefit your customer.

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Understanding the A9 Search Algorithm to Maximize Your Sales

Nearly 50% of US online transactions take place on Amazon. The e-commerce giant continues to grow its market shares exponentially, yet Amazon sellers have a hard time understanding what impacts their products’ visibility to the millions of Amazon buyers. Here are some clearcut rules on how to make Amazon’s algorithm work for you.

What Is the Amazon A9 Algorithm?

A9 is the name of the division that builds, maintains, and improves Amazon’s search engine. As half of the battle of selling on Amazon is making sure your products get found by your potential customers, understanding how the A9 algorithm works and what it takes to rank high is very important both in terms of driving incremental sales for your business and for launching new products. If you’re concerned about understanding algorithms, never fear. Just like you don’t need to be a mechanic to drive a car, you can benefit from Amazon’s algorithm without being a programmer. All you have to do is make sure that your seller account and your listings are fully optimized so you can show the algorithm that your product will make them the most money. After all, Amazon’s core metric is money. If you make Amazon lots of money, they’ll rank you higher — so they can make even more money from your sales. So, how do you generate money for Amazon?

Here’s a list of direct and indirect factors that influence Amazon’s search algorithm: Direct FactorsConversion Rate — Amazon uses both predicted and real conversion rates for product rankings. Examples of conversion-rate factors include quality of your listing copy (i.e., great title, feature-rich bullet points, and engaging description), images, reviews, and pricing. Text Match Relevancy — This is an assessment of how well the content in your listing matches the keywords searched by consumers. The greater your text match relevancy, the better your ranking. This factor is the reason why professionally optimizing your listings is so crucial to your Amazon success. Customer Satisfaction — How do you make the most money from a single customer? Make them so happy that they keep coming back. It’s a lot harder to get someone to spend $100 once than $10 ten times. Customer-retention ranking factors include customer service, seller feedback, and Order Defect Rate. Sales Velocity — Sales velocity is a measure of conversion 58 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

Mac Schlesinger

and is hands down the most important factor Amazon A9 takes into account when determining rankings. When assessing sales velocity, Amazon compares a seller’s velocity to that of its competitors for the same search terms. The seller with the higher sales velocity will almost always win. Price — A9 is optimized to display not only the most relevant and best-selling products, but also those at the best price. This one is tricky because the algorithm looks for the best price for their customers, and it also seeks the listings

that represents the best margins for Amazon’s share. Try to strike a balance between selling value and pricing fairly without getting caught up in the “race to the bottom.” Your primary competitors are the sellers who do this well. In-Stock Rate — If you run out of stock, you disappoint customers and Amazon alike: Amazon doesn’t like to lose out on sales. If you use FBA, make sure your products are well stocked so that you don’t risk letting Amazon — and the algorithm — down.

While the above are the most important factors the Amazon A9 algorithm uses to assess your listings, there are several things you can do to influence these factors. Indirect Factors: Advertising — As mentioned above, Amazon’s core metric is money. Since one of Amazon’s richest income streams is from sponsored ads, Amazon will “gift” your rankings if you use pay per click (PPC). Though it comes with a cost factor, it’s one of the most powerful tools you can use to increase your sales velocity. Promotions — As we’ve already discussed, sales velocity is the most important factor monitored by Amazon’s search algorithm. But how do you increase your sales velocity? Giveaways are one of the most popular and effective methods that’ll increase your sales velocity and get your listings to the front pages quickly. Premium Content — Utilizing A+ Content (for Vendor Central) and Enhanced Brand Content (EBC) (for Seller Central) can result in a more than 5% increase in sales thanks to increased traffic and conversion. Premium content not only provides consumers with a better understanding of products, it also helps project professionalism — which results in lower returns and greater customer satisfaction. Time on Page and Bounce Rate — Amazon believes that the amount of time a customer spends on your listing page is a good measure of how interested they are in your product. That’s another reason why it’s important to have well-optimized listing copy to excite the customer to read and then click “Add to Cart.” Order Processing Speed — Amazon knows that one of the best ways to make customers happy is with fast and accurate

shipping. Therefore, a vendor or seller who has shown consistent and efficient order processing is more likely to rank higher than a vendor who’s had complaints of inaccurate or slow shipping. Fulfillment Method — Besides for achieving featured merchant status, using FBA is known to have significant ranking impact. It also increases your reach to Prime members and betters your chances of achieving the Buy Box. Perfect Order Percentage (POP) — POP is a measurement of how many orders go perfectly smoothly from the time a customer clicks “Add to Cart” to the product arriving at their home. If you have a high POP, that means you have a high instock rate, accurate product listings, and prompt shipping — with a higher ranking than lower-POP sellers. Order Defect Rate (ODR) — ODR is basically the opposite metric of POP. Every time a customer claims a shipment problem, credit card chargeback, A–Z guarantee claim, or leaves a negative review, that’s considered an order defect. If this happens too often, it will affect the rankings on all your listings. Exit Rate — How often does a customer view your listing and then exit? That’s your exit rate. If your page has an above-average exit rate, Amazon takes that as a sign that you have a low-quality listing. Usually a high exit rate is because your product has a low in-stock rate or because your listing isn’t fully optimized.

Please note: While the complete inner workings of the algorithm may never be known, implementing as many of these tips as you can is a good way of setting yourself onto a path of Amazon success.

Mechy (Mac) Schlesinger, founder and CEO of Best Seller Listers, helps online sellers get into top-category sales with list-writing and ranking tactics.

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United States

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Source: webretailer.com

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“We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: put the customer first, invent, and be patient.” —jeff bezos

18% of the top sellers on Amazon.com have their main category as electronics, and 15% claim clothing, shoes, and jewelry as their main category. Marketplace Pulse In Amazon’s early days, when it sold only books, a bell would ring in the office every time someone made a purchase. Buzz Feed Amazon.com facts show it took almost seven years for Amazon to start making any real money. It was January 2002 before it reported its first profitable quarter, making a modest $5 million. MSN Amazon is the tenth most visited website in the world. World Economic Forum An average of 9,644,400 seller feedback reviews are left each month on all Amazon marketplaces. Of these, approximately 4% are negative. Marketplace Pulse 66% of the top 10,000 sellers use FBA. Marketplace Pulse B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 61

Don’t Let a Stuffed Bunny Get You Sued The coverage Amazon expects from its sellers

As a long-time insurance agent, it’s hard to get people to listen to me when I try to “sell” them on the benefits of buying insurance. Most people will cut me short, bring up another topic, or suddenly remember that they want to use the restroom. Let’s just say insurance agents are not typically the life of the party… Well, until now. I’m a totally different type of insurance agent. I promise I’ll never try to “sell” you insurance in these articles. But I will help you understand why e-commerce sellers would need a policy and what the benefits are to having a policy, as well as share some stories on what happens when you don’t have a policy. Well, here we are, and I’m going to toss some crazy news your way. If you’re a Professional Seller on Amazon and you don’t have a general liability policy, you’re breaking your terms of service (TOS). Wow! Jaw drop, I know. Don’t believe me? Read this excerpt from the policy page on Amazon.com: 62 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

Ashlin Hadden Sellers with professional selling plans on Amazon.com must provide proof of Commercial General Liability insurance. This insurance, obtained at the seller’s expense, shall cover up to $1,000,000 per occurrence and in the aggregate and must include products liability, bodily injury, or personal injury, property damage, and other requirements as stated in the participation agreement. The insurance must indicate that “Amazon.com, Inc., and its affiliates and assignees” are added as additional insureds. The Certificate of Insurance must be the original document, contain an additional insured endorsement, list all seller’s subsidiaries or DBAs (doing business as — which means operating under a name other than the legal business name) covered by the certificate provided, provide at least 30 days’ notice of cancellation, modification, or non-renewal; show complete insurance carrier names as listed in the A.M. Best Property & Casualty Guide, be completed in its entirety and signed. You may also satisfy the insurance limits by using any combination of Commercial General Liability and Umbrella and/or Excess Liability insurance. What does this all mean? Blah, blah, blah… Buy a general liability policy! Now, I know that insurance is complicated and confusing. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you have an agent who knows what you know and does not do what you do! You need an agent who knows how you source, where your sourcing is from, and what it really means to be a Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) seller. If you ask your agent if they insure FBA and they say, “What’s FBA?” run the other way! They can’t properly protect you if they don’t understand what you’re doing. What Is a Commercial Liability Policy? In layman’s terms, a commercial liability policy will help pay for lawyer fees, court costs, and damages when you’re sued for property damage, and bodily injuries, advertising injuries, reputation damag-

If you’re a Professional Seller on Amazon and you don’t have a general liability policy, you’re breaking your terms of service (TOS). es, and copyright infringement if you’re sued or listed in a lawsuit. This is America; people sue everyone for everything. And as a private-label seller, you have a huge target on your back. Why do private-label sellers have such a huge target? Once you put your label on a product, you are now taking responsibility for the product and any claims that arise from it. You’re saying, “This is my brand,” and in the insurance world you’re now considered a manufacturing risk. Even though you physically didn’t put the product together, if you put your label on it, put your brand on it, or sell the product as your brand, you’re responsible for that item. So, let’s say you private-label a wireless charger and that charger catches someone’s house on fire. Guess who’s getting sued? Yep, you guessed it — you. Now they’re also going to list the true manufacturer of the product and probably Amazon. But you bet you’re going to be listed first on that lawsuit. And if you don’t have a commercial liability policy, you could be paying for that lawsuit and any judgments out of pocket. How about that new logo you created?

Nike says it looks way too close to their Swoosh and decides to sue you. Do you have a checkbook big enough to take on Nike? Well, the insurance companies do. Your liability policy will help defend you in the lawsuits that are brought against your company. As you know, insurance companies typically don’t like to part with their money, so they have some of the best attorneys to defend you from the lawsuits. Their goal is to get your name dropped from the lawsuit or settle for as little as possible. What happens when the claim is completely false or absolutely ridiculous? The insurance company still defends you! Let’s say you sell an item to an Amazon client. For the sake of this article, let’s say it was a harmless, fluffy stuffed bunny rabbit. Amazon ships that item to your client via FedEx. FedEx places that cute, adorable, harmless stuffed bunny rabbit on your client’s front porch. The client walks out the front door and doesn’t see the FedEx box and trips over it. The client breaks his clavicle and his hip. He decides to sue. Unbelievable? Well, it really happened. Guess who he sued? FedEx? Yep. Amazon? Yep. And guess who else? Yep, the third-party seller. Luckily enough, the seller did have a commercial liability policy and the insurance company was able to get his name dropped from the lawsuit. If that third-party seller didn’t have a commercial liability policy, then they would’ve had to retain an attorney and have them defend them from this ridiculous, frivolous law suit. Do you have $36,000 sitting around to hire an attorney? I didn’t think so! Well then, you know what needs to be done. Just make sure that your agent understands your unique needs and knows how to build a policy to fit your risks and liabilities. Ashlin Hadden is licensed in every state, and works with clients from all over the country. Within e-commerce, she focuses on general liability, products liability, workers compensation, directors and officers, errors and omissions, professional liability for consultants/ coaches, 3PLs, and warehouse and commercial auto

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Tuvia Rotberg

Mark Berkowitz

Gary Eisenkraft, CPA

Essentials for Your Partnership Agreement Putting IP

MUSCLE Behind Your Amazon HUSTLE

A national or international Amazon busi- has recouped his or her investment, if adA provision providing for the dissolution ness with friends and/or colleagues can be ditional work is performed, etc.). Additionof the partnership, and formation of a highly rewarding. You and your partners ally, this agreement should specify when corporation or LLC for your Amazon busishare a common vision and similar values, and how the profits of the partnership will ness if the partnership business reaches and work together to achieve business suc- be shared, as well as how losses will be disome milestone. cess. However, disputes arise even among vided. the best of friends and a well-crafted partOther terms that should be included in Buy-Sell Agreement nership agreement can help you avoid any written partnership agreement include: The partners should also execute a buythose pitfalls. Partnership agreements sell agreement to address the issue of the aren’t required by law. If you don’t have a Term of the partnership; transferability of their partnership interAmazonagreement, is a game It has, toof athe large extent,(Amazon revolutionized theanway we buy andcontrary, Purpose partnership written partnership thechanger. laws of est. Absent agreement to the sell Amazon sellers are withbusiness the many benefits and challenges that are salesfamiliar or also other activities) your state willproducts. prevail, and you’ll be obligata partner may freely transfer his or her uniquely accompanied by “selling privileges” on Amazon, including exposure to consumand what outside competitive activities partnership interest to another person. ed to follow them. the partners may engage in; are unaware In addition, absent a buy-sell ers around the globe. Many of these sellers, however, of the paradigm shiftagreement, that Initial capital contributions of the partIssues That Should Be Addressed in the death, incapacity, bankruptcy, Amazon has created with respect to the enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights. resignaners (including money, services, and tion, or expulsion of any partner may auEvery General Partnership Agreement Take, for minimum, example, aa dreaded scenario that every business a simple rights owner complaint property); form, whichthe is free. Amazon typAt a very written partnertomatically dissolve partnership. For Subsequent capital contributions thecomplaints owner fears: Youshould wake up one morning a competically acts on (If such within 24 to 48 hours. Tocan putprothis ship agreement propose the pur-to discover continuity, a buy-sell agreement partnership capital,awill itor off your product, copying your images, needs using additional in perspective, rightsvide owner on Amazon obtain atoresult for poseknocking of the partnership and precisely effective buyoutcan provisions address be obligated to make your oreach committing some other the typepartners of IP violano cost and inaddilittle time thatsituations. would otherwise cost hundreds what’strademark, expected of partner in terms various capital contributions?); tion. You duties, want toand stopfinancial your competitor tracks. Immediof thousands of dollars Whatever and take form manyyour weeks, not months. of time, contribu- in itstional newifAmazon partthecourt partnership profits andto losses ately! initiate a lawsuit federal and The key leveraging Amazon’s reporting tools,you howevtions. Traditionally, For example,you’d will one partner be in How nership takes, it’s crucial that have will be allocated partners, seek an up injunction (a typecapital of court order certain con- among er, is the being prepareda before violation occurs. This that means putting the financial while therestraining writtena partnership agreement is and when; isn’t you need to proactively duct). This is aputs very injunction thinkbyabout ways ofThis protecting your other partner in expensive the work? process, Sales andand an drafted an attorney. is true even How the partnershiprights will be managed, always guaranteed. In all events, immediate. before you begin selling — and certainly beforeWhile any marketing activities on Amazon arerelief a lotis seldom if your partner is your best friend. including will make the day-to-day theSo Amazon platform, onwork, the other a rightswho owner problem arises. In this respect, can take the affirmaof On work. is administrative such hand, you don’t wantsellers to go overboard, more decisions, who be responsible for andetailed may obtain the equivalent of an by filling outwill tive steps to build IP portfolio that’s tailored for Amazon. as bookkeeping, purchasing, andinjunction inven- merely your partnership agreement, the what duties, and what acts will require better off you’ll be in the long run. tory control. There may be times when majority approval or unanimous conthe person doing all the work feels they‘re sent; entitled to a bigger piece of the pie, and Gary Eisenkraft is the principal of Eisenkraft CPA I. Register and Enforce Yourtime Trademarks to Protect Your Business’s Goodwill How much each partner is expecttimes when the financial partner feels the & Consulting Services in New York City. His firm A enough. trademark ed stands for to a thevice. to devote Amazon business and Trademark rights arise mark registration is a necessity, other partner isn’t working hard specializes in creative professional practices, company’s it en- through other— partnership business; use, i.e., by selecting a engineering, particularly for Amazon sellers. For this reason, it’s critical for each part-goodwill including architecture, visual arts, Whether new partners beusing added, and capsulates repmarkcan and it in commerce. As most Amazon sellers know, ner to know what’s expected of them froma company’s and marketing. Mr. Eisenkraft has spoken to various on specific topics of to so how; utation in the ifmarketplace. Under the law, a business can groups a federal registration is interest a prereqthe beginning. business andfor not-for-profit circumstances partner can the A trademark be awhat word, develop aand maintain tradeuisite enrolling incommunities. the Amazon The partnership agreement should canUnder He has written and spoken before expelled; symbol, phrase, be color, or any mark rights without ever filing Brand Registry program.various Brand also specify whether additional compenaudiences including Workshop in Business How withdraw; other thata partner desig- canfor a trademark registration. Registry provides brand owners sation will be paid to a partner whoidentifier perOpportunities, the Industrial Designers Society meansortoserresolve a deadlock or con- a of nates source ofAgoods However, in practice, tradecontrol over their forms work at a specific time (e.g.,a after America,with andincreased The New York Times. flict; and so many years, after the financial partner


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listings, which helps ensure that consumers will receive only accurate information regarding your products, e.g., product features and warranties. Brand Registry also provides a set of tools that help brand owners (and their attorneys/agents) more easily identify and report listing hijackers and counterfeiters. We see Amazon sellers making several common mistakes with respect to trademark registration. The first relates to timing. Obtaining a US trademark registration will take at least six to eight months. Therefore, you should file a trademark application as soon as possible. In fact, it’s possible to file an application even before you’ve started to use a mark (called an “intent-to-use” application). In order to expedite the process of obtaining Brand Registry, many Amazon sellers procure trademark registrations from foreign countries (e.g., Germany), some of which can issue a trademark in a matter of weeks. However, it should be noted that a foreign registration provides no legal rights in the US (i.e., it has no value other than


Rather than simply “play defense,” successful Amazon sellers should be proactive in securing and enforcing their IP rights. for Brand Registry purposes). Second, Amazon requires that any trademark meet certain requirements in order to be eligible for Brand Registry. For example, the mark must be registered on the “principal register” and must include words, letters, or numbers (a graphical logo is not eligible). All too often, sellers file trademark applications on their own, or through attorneys and agents unfamiliar with Brand Registry. This may result in a trademark that doesn’t meet Amazon’s requirements, and cause unnecessary delay and additional costs that could

be avoided. Finally, an Amazon seller’s trademark endeavors shouldn’t end once it’s secured Brand Registry. Changes to logos and the creation of new product lines and product sub-categories all require review of existing trademark registrations. Notably, a trademark owner must continually monitor and police the marketplace for infringement. If you sit on your rights and allow a third party to use your mark without authorization, your brand and your business’s goodwill can be irreparably harmed.

II. Register Copyrights to Protect Your Listing Content and Product Packaging Copyright law protects original works of al that you created, or is just an outright authorship, such as books, photographs, counterfeit. videos, and webpage content. Under US Although, technically, no formal regislaw, a work is given protection as soon as tration is necessary for copyright protecit’s stored in some format from which it tion, registering your work with the U.S. can be perceived, reproduced, or other- Copyright Office provides many added wise communicated. legal benefits, both in a court of law and As an Amazon seller, you likely have al- in the form of swift action by Amazon. ready created copyrights. For example, For example, in the context of litigation, a the content of your product detail pages, copyright owner who files its application including photographs, graphics, bullet early enough may be entitled to an award points, and product description, are pro- of counsel fees against an infringer. On the tected by copyright law. Likewise, prod- other hand, if you wait too long to register, uct packaging, which may include pho- you’ll lose some of these benefits. tographs, graphics, and text, may be In the context of Amazon, reports involvcopyrighted. ing unregistered copyrights often result in Correspondingly, Amazon allows copy- requests for additional information from right holders to submit a variety of copy- Amazon, causing delay. Compared to other right infringement complaints. For exam- types of IP, registering a copyright is relaple, you can report a third party that’s tively fast — about three to four months. using your images or text on their prod- However, when every day of infringement uct detail page without your permission. by a competitor is causing you lost sales, You can also report a third party if their several months can seem like an eternity. product or packaging contains materi- Here too, preparation and advanced plan-

listings, which helps ensure that consumers will receive only accurate information regarding your products, e.g., product features and warranties. Brand Registry also provides a set of tools that help brand owners (and their attorneys/agents) more easily identify and report listing hijackers and counterfeiters. We see Amazon sellers making several common mistakes with respect to trademark registration. The first relates to timing. Obtaining a US trademark registration will take at least six to eight months. Therefore, you should file a trademark application as soon as possible. In fact, it’s possible to file an application even before you’ve started to use a mark (called an “intent-to-use” application). In order to expedite the process of obtaining Brand Registry, many Amazon sellers procure trademark registrations from foreign countries (e.g., Germany), some of which can issue a trademark in a matter of weeks. However, it should be noted that a foreign registration provides no legal rights in the US (i.e., it has no value other than

© 66 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

Rather than simply “play defense,” successful Amazon sellers should be proactive in securing and enforcing their IP rights. for Brand Registry purposes). Second, Amazon requires that any trademark meet certain requirements in order to be eligible for Brand Registry. For example, the mark must be registered on the “principal register” and must include words, letters, or numbers (a graphical logo is not eligible). All too often, sellers file trademark applications on their own, or through attorneys and agents unfamiliar with Brand Registry. This may result in a trademark that doesn’t meet Amazon’s requirements, and cause unnecessary delay and additional costs that could

be avoided. Finally, an Amazon seller’s trademark endeavors shouldn’t end once it’s secured Brand Registry. Changes to logos and the creation of new product lines and product sub-categories all require review of existing trademark registrations. Notably, a trademark owner must continually monitor and police the marketplace for infringement. If you sit on your rights and allow a third party to use your mark without authorization, your brand and your business’s goodwill can be irreparably harmed.

II. Register Copyrights to Protect Your Listing Content and Product Packaging Copyright law protects original works of al that you created, or is just an outright authorship, such as books, photographs, counterfeit. videos, and webpage content. Under US Although, technically, no formal regislaw, a work is given protection as soon as tration is necessary for copyright protecit’s stored in some format from which it tion, registering your work with the U.S. can be perceived, reproduced, or other- Copyright Office provides many added wise communicated. legal benefits, both in a court of law and As an Amazon seller, you likely have al- in the form of swift action by Amazon. ready created copyrights. For example, For example, in the context of litigation, a the content of your product detail pages, copyright owner who files its application including photographs, graphics, bullet early enough may be entitled to an award points, and product description, are pro- of counsel fees against an infringer. On the tected by copyright law. Likewise, prod- other hand, if you wait too long to register, uct packaging, which may include pho- you’ll lose some of these benefits. tographs, graphics, and text, may be In the context of Amazon, reports involvcopyrighted. ing unregistered copyrights often result in Correspondingly, Amazon allows copy- requests for additional information from right holders to submit a variety of copy- Amazon, causing delay. Compared to other right infringement complaints. For exam- types of IP, registering a copyright is relaple, you can report a third party that’s tively fast — about three to four months. using your images or text on their prod- However, when every day of infringement uct detail page without your permission. by a competitor is causing you lost sales, You can also report a third party if their several months can seem like an eternity. product or packaging contains materi- Here too, preparation and advanced plan-

Putting IP

MUSCLE Behind Your Amazon HUSTLE ning are key: (1) identify copyrighted material that you have created; (2) obtain ownership of any copyrighted material created

for you (e.g., photographs taken by a freelance photographer); and (3) file copyright applications.

III. File Design Patents to Protect Your Products and Unique Packaging When entrepreneurs and business owners hear can take several years and easily cost tens of thouthe word “patent,” they typically think of a “utili- sands of dollars. As an initial matter, businessty patent” — that is, a type of patent that covers es should consider these time frames and costs the functional aspects of a product (how it works) against the anticipated life cycles of their products. or related manufacturer methods (how it’s made). It should be noted that Amazon will seldom take Undoubtedly, such patents can be of great value. action on reports of utility patent infringement. However, the process of obtaining a utility patent Typically, Amazon will simply leave it to the parties to resolve their dispute. As alluded to above, litigating a utility patent case in federal court can be an expensive and uncertain proposition. Amazon sellers should be aware that there’s another type of patent, namely design patents. Design patents protect the ornamental aspects of a product (e.g., shape) or packaging (how it looks). For many years design patents were overlooked, but their popularity is now surging. In contrast to utility patents, they can be prepared and filed relatively inexpensively — expect to pay $2 to 3k for a good-quality application — and can usually be obtained in one to two years (expedited options are available for additional cost). Significantly, Amazon will readily take action upon receiving a report of design patent infringement. As a result, an Amazon seller armed with a portfolio of design patents can easily stop an unscrupulous competitor who copies their product designs. Bear in mind, however, that design patents are only available for products that your company has designed, and that they must be applied for within one year of the first commercialization of the product. Rather than simply “play defense,” successful Amazon sellers should be proactive in securing and enforcing their IP rights. Too many small business owners associate patents, trademarks, and

copyrights with the likes of Apple, IBM, and Disney. In reality, IP is the lifeblood of every business and can be leveraged by Amazon sellers with only a modest investment of time and capital.

Mark Berkowitz and Tuvia Rotberg are attorneys with the New York law firm Amster, Rothstein & Ebenstein LLP and practice all aspects of IP law.

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Global Returnz: The Simple Solution for Amazon Returns


ccording to Entrepreneur magazine, an estimated five million businesses sell merchandise on Amazon Marketplace, contributing $135 billion dollars to Amazon sales. In fact, about half of the items bought on Amazon are purchased from small- or medium-sized businesses. With 310 million active customers and 90 million Prime subscribers, it’s easy to see how Amazon can be an attractive and ultimately lucrative platform for any small business. By and large, Amazon sellers are thriving. But they also must deal with the complexities of customer service and customer returns. Amazon offers its customers a generous return policy which translates into return rates of about 5% to 15%, and even higher for some products like clothing and shoes. For most Amazon sellers, returns are a costly and time-consuming headache. Global Returnz offers a simple solution. The company, run by partners Sam and Matt, is dedicated to handling returns for its clients, lifting the burden once and for all. “We take care of everything,” says Sam, “from the processing and storing to refurbishing and repackaging.” Sam says that Global Returnz started almost by accident. Originally, he had an online wholesale business with plenty of extra warehouse space. One day, a customer of his who sold electronics asked Sam if he could store a palette of returned printers. Sam was happy to help him. “After it was sitting in our warehouse for a while,” says Sam, “I offered to resell the printers for him, and he liked the idea.” It turned out to be a mutually beneficial venture. “And that’s when we realized

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there’s a real need for this in the industry and we began to offer this service to other customers as well.” Overstock and returned products are a huge issue for small businesses who sell on Amazon and simply don’t have capacity to store extra or returned products. With its massive warehouse facilities, Global Returnz stores these items by processing them through their inventory control system which keeps a record of everything. In fact, says Sam, they will soon install a computerized inventory system with which their customers can search the portal themselves and keep track of their merchandise in real time. Most overstock and returned products aren’t necessarily defective. Global Returnz can offer resale services as well. The company has a large network of connections in the global market, opening up tremendous resale opportunities for refurbished goods. “We do a brisk business in resale,” says Matt, “via eBay, Groupon, and a number of retail stores that market refurbished goods. We not only store your products, we can also make them profitable.” With two locations — in Toms River, NJ and in Montreal, Canada — Global Returnz has the unique ability to service businesses in both countries. “Most sellers,” says Matt, “don’t know what to do with their returns and they just accumulate, usually at Amazon’s warehouses where they will eventually be destroyed.” Global Returnz offers a better alternative. With its ever increasing commitment to please its millions of customers, Amazon recently revised its return policy for Marketplace products, making it easier than ever for customers to return products at

We not only store your products, we can also make them profitable.

the merchant’s expense. That’s good news for the shopper, but not for the seller who often has to deal with damaged, broken, and sometimes even empty returned boxes. Usually, Amazon reimburses the customer at the seller’s expense. Sellers can appeal but it’s a time-consuming and costly process, and most small companies don’t have the manpower or the patience to deal with it. Global Returnz can do it for them. “We open the packages and, if there’s reason to believe the refund isn’t justified, we can help them resolve the issue.” Global Returnz represents a win-win situation for any Amazon seller, especially for small companies who purchase directly from a vendor and have no warehouse space at all. “We have lots of manpower,” says Matt, “as well as multiple options for export or resale.” They will personalize and customize their services according to a seller’s needs. After helping dozens of companies with their returns, Matt offers this advice to Marketplace sellers: “The biggest mistake people make,” he says, “is that they purchase an entire inventory of products when they think they’ve discovered a good deal.” He urges sellers

to be more conservative and to do their homework. “Do some research before you jump in.” Most importantly, Matt advises that sellers calculate the return rate on the items they wish to sell, which can easily be verified online. “Remember to check the customer reviews on the product. If it gets only two or three stars, proceed with caution. You may sell a lot but will lose out in the end because of rate of return. And then you’ll have to call us for help.” As Amazon continues to grow into a mighty behemoth, it offers plenty of opportunity for businesses to grow along with it. But sellers must play by the company’s strict rules and regulations, and that can be frustrating and overwhelming. That’s why Matt sees his work as a mission. “We’re here to help the little guy,” he says, “who needs us to help him navigate the complex system of returns, storage, and resale. He just wants to focus on building his business, and he doesn’t have time for this. We can handle it for him and even help him recoup his losses. And it’s our greatest pleasure to do this.”

Start the process today: Email: sales@globalreturnz.com or call: 201.301.1444.

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Gary Eisenkraft, CPA

Essentials for Your Partnership Agreement A national or international Amazon business with friends and/or colleagues can be highly rewarding. You and your partners share a common vision and similar values, and work together to achieve business success. However, disputes arise even among the best of friends and a well-crafted partnership agreement can help you avoid those pitfalls. Partnership agreements aren’t required by law. If you don’t have a written partnership agreement, the laws of your state will prevail, and you’ll be obligated to follow them. Issues That Should Be Addressed in Every General Partnership Agreement At a very minimum, a written partnership agreement should propose the purpose of the partnership and precisely what’s expected of each partner in terms of time, duties, and financial contributions. For example, will one partner be putting up the financial capital while the other partner puts in the work? Sales and marketing activities on Amazon are a lot of work. So is administrative work, such as bookkeeping, purchasing, and inventory control. There may be times when the person doing all the work feels they‘re entitled to a bigger piece of the pie, and times when the financial partner feels the other partner isn’t working hard enough. For this reason, it’s critical for each partner to know what’s expected of them from the beginning. The partnership agreement should also specify whether additional compensation will be paid to a partner who performs work at a specific time (e.g., after so many years, after the financial partner 72 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

has recouped his or her investment, if additional work is performed, etc.). Additionally, this agreement should specify when and how the profits of the partnership will be shared, as well as how losses will be divided. Other terms that should be included in any written partnership agreement include: Term of the partnership; Purpose of the partnership (Amazon sales or also other business activities) and what outside competitive activities the partners may engage in; Initial capital contributions of the partners (including money, services, and property); Subsequent capital contributions (If the partnership needs additional capital, will the partners be obligated to make additional capital contributions?); How the partnership profits and losses will be allocated among the partners, and when; How the partnership will be managed, including who will make the day-to-day decisions, who will be responsible for what duties, and what acts will require majority approval or unanimous consent; How much time each partner is expected to devote to the Amazon business and other partnership business; Whether new partners can be added, and if so how; Under what circumstances a partner can be expelled; How a partner can withdraw; A means to resolve a deadlock or conflict; and

A provision providing for the dissolution of the partnership, and formation of a corporation or LLC for your Amazon business if the partnership business reaches some milestone. Buy-Sell Agreement The partners should also execute a buysell agreement to address the issue of the transferability of their partnership interest. Absent an agreement to the contrary, a partner may freely transfer his or her partnership interest to another person. In addition, absent a buy-sell agreement, the death, incapacity, bankruptcy, resignation, or expulsion of any partner may automatically dissolve the partnership. For continuity, a buy-sell agreement can provide effective buyout provisions to address various situations. Whatever form your new Amazon partnership takes, it’s crucial that you have a written partnership agreement that is drafted by an attorney. This is true even if your partner is your best friend. While you don’t want to go overboard, the more detailed your partnership agreement, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Gary Eisenkraft is the principal of Eisenkraft CPA & Consulting Services in New York City. His firm specializes in creative professional practices, including engineering, architecture, visual arts, and marketing. Mr. Eisenkraft has spoken to various groups on specific topics of interest to the business and not-for-profit communities. He has written and spoken before various audiences including Workshop in Business Opportunities, the Industrial Designers Society of America, and The New York Times.

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Secrets in Copyrights AS AN AMAZON SELLER, you may be concerned that other, unscrupulous sellers may decide to copy your product images. Now, copying Amazon images is an intellectual property violation (per USC title 17 of the United States Code), but most of us don’t have the time or wherewithal to go after violators of the law. What we can do instead is protect ourselves against violators in a proactive way. I include irrefutable protection against such violations with every product picture I shoot. Since I regard this method as more or less a trade secret, I won’t get into the technical details about how it works, but I will share how it provides absolute copyright protection to Amazon sellers so that the legal expense of a federal lawsuit, injunction, and order of restraint is eliminated. How is that? Because my method proves to Amazon that fraudulent action has occurred in violation of clear Amazon policy and copyright law. When Amazon is provided with the embedded information in the photograph, they’ll issue a warning to the violator, which requires them to immediately remove the pictures in question. In some cases, they’ll suspend their account or completely ban them because they’re undeniably guilty of Federal Copyright Law (which can result in prison time and/or fines). A rights owner may obtain the equivalent of an injunction merely by filling out a free, simple rights-owner complaint form on Amazon. They’ll then typically act on such complaints within 24 to 48 hours. Compare this to the time it takes to register a copyright, which is about three to four months. For an Amazon seller, three to four months can be an eternity of compromised sales. My method gives you instant protection as soon as your image 74 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

is live on Amazon. However, you must be able to prove ownership before Amazon will act on your behalf. I address this by providing my clients with cloud storage of the original pictures as taken directly from the camera, and these contain embedded information regarding the original creation date, photographer’s name, and GPS location, in addition to the actual finished images that are uploaded directly to Amazon (and I include this information, as well as additional embedded information pertinent to the product). An added benefit is that search engines will read this information and provide free optimization for rankings, without any additional expense for search engine optimi-

zation (SEO) on your products. While it’s possible to hack this information in a copy of the original, it’s highly unlikely a seller will attempt this, as it’s also a serious federal crime. In any case, the original photograph is preserved, with all the information, on non-internet connected storage as well. (As a decades-long member of the Department of Homeland Security and United States Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force, my extensive experience in cybersecurity forensics and search engine algorithms is invaluable when it comes to all these techniques). Here’s an actual screenshot revealing the embedded information in the photograph, which allows for the indisputable ownership, copyright, and SEO.

Ron Benvenisti

While the above embedded information is enough to validate your infringement claim (as well as give you free SEO for your products), I offer additional protection. I use a technique whereby a copyright warning is shown when the picture is opened with a special cybersecurity encryption program, and the correct password is entered. Here’s an example of a protected Amazon “lifestyle picture”:

When one accesses it without the correct password, the picture turns into this message: Accessing this message indicates that the picture is subject to copyright by proving ownership due to the fact that it came up after the correct password was entered. When hackers attempt to access the image and enter an invalid password, they get a message that reads: “Access Denied.”

To summarize, using these techniques, images are instantly protected, you get SEO as a bonus, and you only require an email to Amazon to expedite and eliminate fraudulent use by competitors on Amazon. This can help Amazon sellers gain protection and higher rankings without any additional expense or legal battles. Ron Benvenisti has won many industry awards from prestigious organizations such as Communication Arts, The American Institute of Graphic Arts, and more. His work has been featured in many publications including Popular Photography, Modern Photography, and Camera Magazine. His work is exhibited in galleries around the globe, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Ron currently does photography for Amazon and other e-commerce sites and maintains a studio in New Jersey.


Take Back Control of Your Brand in Mere Minutes Amazon sellers know the importance of having their own websites and the many benefits associated with having that website linked to their Amazon account at the same time. M. C. Millman

Mr. Moshe Paneth, Founder and CEO of ZazoSell.com, describes how Amazon sellers can create their own website with ease and present their products online with all of the numerous benefits related to having a website but without any of the headaches usually associated with creating it.

What are the benefits of an Amazon seller having his own website other than having an additional sales channel? Amazon owners spend thousands of dollars on getting the right logo, the right label, and the right look for their products. Yet, the best and simplest way to build and legitimize a brand can also require only the smallest investment and that would be to have a website for your Amazon products. Having your own website establishes trust and confidence in your brand, giving buyers the ability to build confidence in your product through your website. A lot of times buyers will look up your brand on google to look into who your company is. Buyers have learned to trust Amazon, but they need to trust your brand as well which means setting up your own website to gain that sense of trust. Having your own website enables customers to find and purchase your product, even if it is no longer listed on Amazon. Another benefit is that having your own website gives customers another avenue to utilize when they want to contact you regarding your product. For instance, if they have complaints, it is to the seller’s benefit to be able to handle those complaints from their own website rather than through Amazon. Handling customer service issues in this way gives more flexibility and the seller is also then able to respond in a less public way. By having a

website, there is a much higher chance of customer complaints going through that website rather than through Amazon. If you are doing advertising via social media, your goal is to bring the customers to your website first and then send them to Amazon after they have seen your presentation and what you have to offer. This will prevent them from flipping over to your competition which is what happens when you do not have a website and the buyers end up searching through Amazon for products similar to yours after your social media ad led them there. Another benefit is having the ability to create a legitimate email list can help launch a new product or push out more inventory over time. It can help you build a direct connection to customers – in the easiest way, through a website.

seller’s Amazon store providing a critical, seamless integration process at all times.

In which way is ZazoSell.com a unique platform for Amazon Sellers?

Can any Amazon seller sign up to make their own website on ZazoSell.com?

We developed ZazoSell.com as an exclusive platform for Amazon sellers to help them save time, money and frustration. It connects to the seller’s Amazon storefront where he has already spent hours creating bullet points, categories, prices, and pictures of each product. He should be able to import all of the data right from Amazon that he has already painstakingly arranged into a website. With ZazoSell.com, he can do just that. The platform was created with a total focus on Amazon seller and their needs. ZazoSell.com’s intuitive features are constantly updating. ZazoSell.com is unique in that it is the only e-commerce platform developed specifically for Amazon.. This unique focus gives Zazosell.com its success as the program is constantly beings synced and integrated to the ever changing Amazon channel and the

Who is ZazoSell.com geared towards? ZazoSell.com is for those Amazon sellers who recognize the value of having their own website but who are not technical enough on their own to build that website.

What is the toughest challenge ZazoSell.com presently faces? sellers do not actually believe that through ZazoSell.com, they can have a perfectly functioning website in such a short time. But the truth is that in less time than it takes to create your own website through any other method, ZazoSell.com has Amazon sellers up and running with the website they knew they needed all along. It’s amazing how it works, but in five minutes and ten clicks, you are there.

No, not everybody can sign up and make their own website at this point in time as keeping up with the overwhelming demand has been challenging, but ZazoSell.com has opened its waiting list. We are gradually on-boarding a limited number of sellers at this time as Beta testers. Those who sign up on the waiting list now will get two months of ZazoSell. com free when they complete their ZazoSell.com website. To sign up as part of the ever-growing waiting list of Amazon sellers eager to set up their website through the simplified, money saving, time-saving method ZazoSell offer, visit https://www.zazosell.com.


Your Amazon Account is On Fire, Selling Well. With threatening changes by Amazon that can destroy sellers in a moment’s notice, how can you protect yourself? B-Tank talks with Zishe Abraham, CEO of ListOnFIRE, about how sellers can fight back, protect themselves — and win. M. C. Millman


eet Zishe Abraham. A mere two years ago, Zishe was an Amazon seller, just like so many others. He had started getting into e-commerce early on, before it was the buzzword that it is today. And, after five years on the platform, he migrated to Amazon and watched as Jeff Bezos and company brought the world to his door. Traffic, and a spike in sales, followed soon after. “Listing on Amazon was a fairly easy process,” he says. “Compared to the amount of work it took to sell on eBay, it was a breeze, as eBay involved labor-intensive work caused by time-consuming detail requirements.” So while Zishe made adequate profits on Amazon, he knew there were tremendous profits to be made on eBay too. He mused, if only… if only… somehow, he could take all the good parts of selling on Amazon; the ease of listing, the backend of shipping and inventory management, and “marry” it to eBay, he could profit so much more by getting sales from both channels with zero extra effort. “Amazon aficionados forget that there are many people who prefer eBay to Amazon-- they forget just how big the world of online selling really is,” Zishe says, “and with the entry of Amazon into so many different markets with their own brand names, and with every seller worried about what tomorrow’s changes to Amazon’s terms might be, it is only

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What Does ListOnFIRE Do? the prudent hishtadlus to make sure your entire business isn’t an Amazon based, ListOnFIRE allows users to create and one-trick pony show, but diversified across manage multiple listings in a multitude of multiple platforms.” ways. Sellers utilizing ListOnFIRE’s multiWithin a short time Zishe had created function capability can list, revise, or an exciting solution that worked for his delete eBay listings with ease and minineeds and the concept behind ListOnFIRE mize unnecessary fees. When it comes to was born.Seeing how important this could the ordering processing, sellers can easily be for all Amazon third party sellers (and track, manage and export shipping status just how easily this would enable them and profit information for orders. to make more money and sleep better at All fulfillment related processes are night knowing they weren’t solely depenautomated through ListOnFIRE. Not limitdent on Amazon’s whims) ListOnFIRE was ing himself to just Amazon and eBay, Zishe tweaked and released for Amazon Sellers created a platform that also integrates with at large, so they could benefit and profit ShipStation and Walmart as well. from the product as well. And from that Sellers can set cost and the desired point on, it was easy to get Amazon sellers profit margin once, and ListOnFIRE will excited about how ListOnFIRE could help suggest the exact amount to list the prodthem profit from additional sales channels uct for in order to make that desired at the mere push of a button. profit taking into account every possiPut in professional ble fee that the seller lingo, “ListOnFIRE is a The seller can choose will encounter including cloud-based solution Amazon Multi-Channel for multi-channel list- their profit margin Fulfillment, eBay and ing, inventory and order by selecting the PayPal fees. The seller management that works percent they want to can choose their profit with just the click of a margin by selecting the button. The pent-up earn or by the dollar percent they want to earn demand and success- amount they want or by the dollar amount ful launch of ListOnFIRE they want to make for to make for each and the importance each listing. ListOnFIRE of client trust for listing. automatically updates ListOnFIRE vendors tracking of all items prompted Zishe to end his Amazon seller across all channels saving sellers time in career and focus exclusively on ListOnFIRE. an efficient and cost-effective manner. Sellers are able to set exact quantities

through ListOnFIRE for all listings to sync on eBay to avoid maximizing or surpassing the preset eBay account limits. In addition, the number of items the seller has available is also synced across all channels, so that sellers don’t have to worry about overselling. Multiple Amazon accounts can be added easily and automated to maximize sales and profits. Titles and descriptions can be changed across all channels as well. In only a few hours, ListOnFIRE has sellers up and running, creating the ability for a seller’s SKUs to be ready to be listed on the market in record time after the simple application process is complete. ListOnFIRE sends out an email when the seller’s products are ready to go for the first time, and within minutes after that notification is received, the listings can go out across multiple channels. Efficient and friendly customer support is available to sellers round the clock via chat, email or call-in options.

Shipping Sellers have the option of ShipStation integration with ListOnFIRE which means that when an order comes in, the seller can ship it out himself. The quantities will sync through this method as well as through Amazon shipping which is another option for sellers. Sellers can keep their stock with Amazon and ListOnFIRE will make sure that the items ship from Amazon without any action required from the seller - even if the item sold on another channel.

Seller Tips & Tricks from ListOnFIRE • Make sure the title of your product is easy to read and clearly and accurately describes the product being sold. • Don’t use random keywords, and don’t use all caps in the title or description. • Show limited quantities of your products. • When a buyer sees 500 sold with only 3 still available, they will be more eager to jump in and make a purchase. This feature is available from ListOnFIRE. • Start a new listing at a low price. • As sales come in, gradually bring up the price over time. • eBay gives many options for marketing and promotions. Depending on your product, create a promo and then you can remove the promo once the listing takes off. • Offer free shipping to enhance sales. • Offer free returns to make customers comfortable with purchasing • Give feedback to buyers so they will offer feedback in return • If your product comes in multiple color variations, make the first image one which displays all of the color choices so when buyers begin their search, they can see all the choices. • Use as many of the item’s specifics

describing your item that you can to answer all of your buyer’s questions as many will not take the time to ask. • Offer an expedited shipping option for last-minute buyers since many buyers look mainly at price, and then choose expedited shipping because they need it right away so with expedited shipping, they’ll still choose your item over another.) “A healthy business is one which is based on multiple pillars supporting it,” Zishe says. “All sellers ideally want to be on multiple platforms to increase sales and have a broader base. In the past, what has been holding people back has been the time, effort, and expense required in making that happen, but no more!” With ListOnFIRE, sellers are one click away from multiple platforms with zero hassle. Sellers can sign up for a 14-day trial to see how simple it is to have additional profits start rolling in with no extra effort required. BTank readers are eligible for FREE setup of their account (a $250 value). Email support@ListOnFIRE.com and mention code BTANKOFFER. Limited to the first 250 respondents to this offer.

Set your List on Fire with ListOnFIRE today! www.listonfire.com support@listonfire.com 718-831-2492 B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 79

Frank Talk Discussions about employee issues

Esther Zohn, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

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Should I Trust HR?

In this column, Esther Zohn, a human resource expert, moderates a roundtable discussion on relevant employee issues. This month she discusses if an employee can trust HR: What does an employee need to think about before talking to HR and when can they trust HR to keep things confidential?

Barry Ackerman, SHRM-CP

Chaim Book


is the HR director for Adar Medical Uniforms Corp. in Brooklyn. He started his own company, Supportive HR, and helps small companies get a proper HR infrastructure in place.

is an employment lawyer who has been practicing employment law for 25+ years. He has represented employees, employers, and served as a mediator between the two.

has 40 years of work experience, primarily in large multinational financial institutions. She is currently a director at a financial institution.

The HR Role Esther: Debbie suggested the topic of what role HR plays in a company, and she's expressed her concern that people may trust HR too much. Debbie, can you please start the roundtable by telling us why you distrust HR?

Debbie: There was a woman right out

of college who joined the firm where I worked. She got married and had a baby within her first year at the job, and ended up on maternity leave before she even qualified for benefits. While sheʼd received exceptions to work from home for a very

short time, that time was running out. When she asked me if she should call HR to discuss the issue, I thought: HR is not your friend. HR is not really there for you unless your leave is important enough to put the company at jeopardy. Many people are under the impression that HR is actually there for them as an employee — but they arenʼt, and I think itʼs important for people to realize that. HR actually represents the company; at the end of the day, theyʼre not there for you. Thatʼs why I think itʼs important for people to realize that everything said to HR can and will be used against them in a court of law.

Esther: That's a very interesting perspective, Debbie. Does anyone have comments on this? Chaim: I respectfully disagree with Debbie. I donʼt think you can make a general rule with respect to this type of thing. HR can mean those in charge of training, benefits, interviewing, and recruiting, or HR can be those who are taking complaints from employees with respect to harassment or bullying. I think that we have to be a little bit more specific. At the same time, I do agree with what sheʼs saying and that it is a mistake for somebody to walk in thinking that HR is there as an advocate for the employee. That isnʼt B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 81

Frank Talk so, and I donʼt think that itʼs intended to be so. Barry: Whose team HR is on is an old question. Some people assume that HR is there only for the employees, and others say no, you canʼt trust HR at all because they only work for the company. I believe that weʼre all on the same team. We can look at an organization as a machine: There are different parts of the machine, which you can equate to the different departments within a company. Every part of the machine — every department — must be working properly. You need to have the right people in the right places, properly greased, if you will. If parts of the machine are rusty or are in the wrong spot, the machine wonʼt work well. HR works to ensure that all the parts are in the right places and properly greased. Debbie, in your example of the woman who was on maternity leave and wanted to work from home, the company probably had rules in place about working from home. HR has a responsibility to the company to ensure that the rules are followed. It canʼt be a free for all, and just because somebody asked, doesnʼt mean that they automatically get to work from home. The company has reasons why they donʼt want everybody to work from home, but sometimes they have to make exceptions. HR is that go-between to keep things in check. Esther: Debbie, I think you pretty much defined HR as the employers' friend. Is that correct? Debbie: Iʼm not saying I havenʼt had good experiences with HR; I rely on them tremendously when it comes to issues that I might have with my own employees. I just think that there is a sense of 82 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

Some people assume that HR is there only for the employees, and others say no, you canʼt trust HR at all because they only work for the company. naiveté, for lack of a better word, with people who think that HR is exclusively for the employee. An employee coming to HR may not be careful with the way they word things when they do have a complaint. They donʼt realize HR is a good mediator, but at the end of the day, HR is directly responsible for protecting the company they work for. There are limitations to how much you can — or should — rely on them for anything of a personal nature that is impacting you at work. Chaim: I think thatʼs an excellent point. Iʼll put on my employee representative hat for a moment. Often I get calls from people who have complaints about things at their company. What an employee should understand is that in that type of situation, one of the roles that HR has to play is the position of authority. If you want to

preserve your rights, you need to notify someone, and most of the time that is HR. For example, if someone is being harassed, the role of HR for that person is that theyʼre a venue to utilize in order to preserve future rights. This may not necessarily solve the problem, but itʼll give you an official record of what happened. If you donʼt talk to HR about this, youʼre at a disadvantage later on if you want to exercise your rights. At that point, the company can simply take the position that you had the availability of resources and didnʼt avail yourself of them. The role of HR is a tough role. The nature of a good HR professional is to want to help the employees and be an advocate for them, but they also have a responsibility to ensure legal compliance and to protect the employer. An employee canʼt simply put their trust in the HR person to look out for them, but sometimes it is the avenue you have to go to, to address whatever your grievances, concerns, or issues you have. Barry: Itʼs interesting that some people feel that HR is always on their side, but conversely, I feel that when some people see my number on the caller ID, their heart rate jumps. “Oh no! Why is HR calling me!?” It shows the stark difference of opinion that exists regarding the role of HR. Some people will run to HR about every issue, no matter how trivial; others avoid HR and even have a fear of speaking to them.

When to Talk to HR Esther: Chaim touched on this a little bit when he said that HR is the place to go when an employee has an official complaint they need to

make. Are there other times when you would recommend that people should talk to HR? Chaim: HR is a necessity in situations that call for accommodations for disability or religious purposes. The employer has an obligation to enter into an interactive dialogue with you to talk about what accommodations you need and whether they are feasible. Medical issues and family leave are also areas you are going to have to interact with HR to understand what it is that you can and canʼt do regarding taking leave. In a lot of companies youʼll have an employee handbook that you can refer to, but youʼre best off confirming with HR that your understanding of the handbook is correct so that you can properly calculate how much time you can take off and what type of documentation you have to provide to the employer. Barry: HR also deals with interpersonal interactions that donʼt necessarily have to be harassment. Often HR gets involved when employees have trouble working together. An example that comes to mind is someone who came to me because they

felt that their coworker was always looking at their computer screen. It sounds childish, but ultimately issues like these need to be resolved so people can work together. Everyone has their idiosyncrasies and HR can help work things out if teams canʼt do it themselves.

HR Confidentiality Esther: When would you recommend that an employee not go to HR about something? Debbie: I am not necessarily saying that people should not talk to HR, but I do think that you need to be careful about how you present an issue to HR and make sure that you recognize that the decisions HR makes are being done for you, as well as for the company. Even things like medical or religious accommodations. HR certainly wants to help, but that department is really there to ensure that the company doesnʼt get sued. You really need to be careful about what you tell HR and how you present your case and realize that, as much as HR needs to maintain some level of confidentiality, I donʼt think itʼs

If push comes to shove, for something very serious, HR isnʼt trustworthy. purely confidential all the time — except for things like medical information, which is restricted by law. Anything that is said has the potential to be made available to the company and can be used in the event of a lawsuit. People need to be aware of that. Esther: Debbie brought up an interesting point about confidentiality. When does HR have to keep things confidential? Barry: Confidentiality is definitely someB-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 83

Frank Talk

thing that people have a misconception about. Certain things will be kept confidential and certain things absolutely must not be kept confidential. Often the first thing people say when they sit down in my office is that they want our talk to remain between the two of us. I tell them that it might be just between you and me, or it might need to be told to others. HR is a representative of the company, and by notifying HR, you have now officially informed the company of this problem and the company has a responsibility to act. If itʼs confidential, and HR canʼt talk to anyone about it, they canʼt act on it. HR needs to be able to investigate when itʼs warranted, speak to witnesses, and mention the allegations when necessary. I try to communicate to people that I will keep some things confidential to the extent possible, but we also have to have to act to everyoneʼs best interests. Chaim: I donʼt think itʼs a good idea for an HR person to even say, “Iʼll keep this confidential to the extent possible.” The fact of the matter is any employee should understand that when you speak to an HR person, there is no duty of confidentiality whatsoever unless itʼs health-related and there are HIPPA issues involved. If someone has to fill out a form with respect to medical information, thatʼs something that HR has to keep confidential. Often when Iʼm counseling an employee, I will ask the employee to send me a draft of what theyʼre going to send to HR so that I can go over it and make sure that theyʼre not giving away too much or saying anything that might hurt them later on. The reason is because once they communicate 84 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

Companies have to be careful about bending rules too much because you can get into discrimination issues if you start bending rules for one person and not for someone else.

ous, HR isnʼt trustworthy. Yes, trust your HR person up to a point; they are there for you, and they listen to you. But donʼt trust them 100 percent. Theyʼre not your mother; theyʼre not your best friend. While they try and give the perception that they are there for you, realize that that trust goes only so far. And, I donʼt even know why HR should necessarily foster more trust. They have a pretty well defined role for people who aren't somebody whoʼs not necessarily naive about it. I think trust is a bit of the wrong word. Barry: I agree HR is not your best friend and that you shouldnʼt assume that thereʼs confidentiality. When you speak to HR, though, does that mean thereʼs no trust? I donʼt think so. Debbie: I canʼt trust HR not to speak to my manager if thereʼs a situation in my department. I certainly will trust HR if I have a medical issue and I need to take leave. The HIPAA rules give me confidence about that. Chaim: What can HR do to generate more trust? I think that HR should be good at communicating. The HR department should make it known to employees that they serve different roles and purposes.

it to HR, it is no longer confidential.

Trust vs. Respect Esther: I think we can agree that HR needs to be trustworthy. What can HR do to gain the trust of the employees? Debbie: Thatʼs an oxymoron there. If push comes to shove, for something very seri-

When someone is unhappy with whatʼs happening in the workplace — whether itʼs a harassing boss, an annoying coworker or anything else — if HR wants to generate respect, they cannot be dismissive or quick to judge a situation, but rather listen to the employee, take good notes, look into the situation, show that they take it seriously, and then get back to that employee about what was discovered. I

think that would be a good way to generate respect. Debbie: “Respect” is a better word than “trust.”

What Makes for Good HR Relations? Esther: Are there any other traits or behaviors that make a good HR person deserving of respect? Barry: Approachability is very important, as HR needs to build a rapport with the employees. It is also very important for HR to be visible, accessible, and approachable as a department and as individuals. Esther: Do you have any examples of when HR went above and beyond their call of duty for an employee, or sided with the employer at the expense of an employee? Barry: Companies have to be careful about bending rules too much because you can get into discrimination issues if you start bending rules for one person and not for someone else. With that in mind, HR does sometimes have to pull off amazing feats on behalf of employees to resolve sticky situations. Iʼve seen a situation where there was a problem employee that was creating a toxic environment for their department and, for whatever reason, this employee was considered to be untouchable and beyond reproach. It took time, but eventually HR was able

to remove the toxic employee. It helped the rest of the team that felt trapped and wasnʼt able to be successful because of this one employee. Debbie: I think the size of the company might dictate when HR has the ability to go above and beyond and when they canʼt. I think itʼs much easier to go above and beyond at a small firm when you know all the employees and are attuned to the dynamics. Itʼs potentially much harder in a large company where you canʼt set precedents and make exceptions. Esther: What advice would you give employees working with HR — and on the flip side — what advice would you give HR on how they should work with employees? Debbie: You should definitely make HR aware of a situation that is warranted. Use your judgment when speaking to them. Be aware of the professional nature of what they do and their limitations as to what they can and canʼt do for you. I think that itʼs your responsibility as an employee to know what HR is and isnʼt there for. And for HR, being available, listening, and asking questions to understand people who are less articulate or very emotional, is very important. This is a skillset that HR needs to foster. Chaim: Iʼll focus on one particular area and that is accommodations. I would tell an employee whoʼs looking for accommodations, whether itʼs for a disability or if

itʼs a religious accommodation, you have to go into the meeting with reasonable expectations. You also have to have your medical paperwork, a clear description of what your limitations are, what you can and canʼt do as it relates to your job, and where you can compromise. On the flip side, for HR, itʼs your legal obligation, but itʼs also practical to be flexible and to take the time to really understand what it is youʼre being asked to accommodate. Try to be creative in what accommodations can be reached. Understand where the personʼs coming from and what their needs are. If you canʼt come up with the accommodation in the initial interaction, do some research and get back to the person. That is an area where a lot of mistakes can be made by HR that end up putting the employee in a very difficult legal spot. Barry: I would tell employees to bring things to HR with caution. Donʼt be the employee who cries wolf, bringing every little thing to HR. Save it for the important stuff so theyʼll take you seriously. Understand that weʼre all on the same team and weʼre all being paid by the company. HRʼs job is to help the company thrive, not only to help you as an individual. That is HRʼs overall goal. 

Esther Zohn, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, is the director of talent strategy at Audible, a subsidiary of Amazon. She has worked as an HR director and business partner to many different industries, most recently in high tech.

Want to see an employee issue addressed? Send your questions to info@btankmoguls.com. B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 85

Raizy’s 6 Picks

2 1 Well Said

Lift Raizy Ciment

“Eat that frog.” — Mark Twain This quote is also the title of Brian Tracy’s powerful book on productivity. The short, quirky phrase is a fantastic analogy for how to beat procrastination. Imagine you had to eat a frog every day… The best way to get over with it as quickly as possible and go on with your day, would be to swallow it first thing in the morning. “Eating the frog” simply means just do it. Otherwise, the frog will eat you with that nudging conscious. The same goes for daunting tasks. Get your hardest project out of the way by attacking it first thing in the morning and you’ll feel a lot lighter the rest of the day.

Raizy Ciment is the creator of the Goal Crusher productivity planner, the owner of Vivid Studios NY, and an Adobe professor at TTI Career University

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Tackle It Here’s a great exercise I do every night when mapping out my schedule for the following day: I prioritize my tasks on my to-do list in order of importance by placing a number next to each line. I then decide what my “frog” for the day is, and put that as top priority. As simple as this sounds, hyper-focusing on completing one task at a time in numeric order, and not moving on to the next thing till the assigned task is done, assures me that my most important duties are achieved at the end of each day, and my time is spent moving forward in my business instead of being filled with tasks that can be delegated.

Biz Tools

3 Start Fresh Eighty percent of people don’t use or look at their goal planners past the month of March — when the goal-setting time of year fades. What I found very motivating is printing a fresh monthly calendar that gives me the chance to “start over” every 30 days. This aligns my daily schedule with my annual goals into something tangible. (The monthly planner I use incorporates SMART [an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely] goals into my daily task management list and is available for download at www.vividstudiosny.com/ shop.)



Tuning into Tech OFFTIME has been a game changer in helping me with my work/life balance. The app is designed to let you unplug without missing urgent matters. It allows you to set your whitelist contacts, who can break through your downtime, like your spouse or children, but otherwise shuts down apps, calls, texts, and emails. I turn this on when I know I want to block out a few productive hours at work to really focus, or in the evening to wind down with a disciplined bedtime — and no screen time. To override it, you have to either find an outlet or wait five minutes till you can continue using it.

Manning the Social Media Game

5 Under Lock and Key The Kitchen Safe is a great tool for work/life balance. It’s essentially a time-locked container designed to help fight temptations. While some people use it to control cravings, I use it to lock my device during family time. USA Today and Time magazine call this safe “brilliant!” Once you press the button to activate the lock, the Kitchen Safe cannot be opened until the timer reaches zero. Seriously, there are no overrides; once it’s locked, it’s locked.

Later.com is a fantastic way to make sure you’re on top of your social media game without having to waste much time on the platforms. It allows you to schedule your posts in advance so you can push out content while focusing on the more important parts of your business.

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Vision from the C-Suite

Yitzchok Saftlas


Business Show

Strategic business advice and insights from C-level executives who appeared on a 77WABCʼs Mind Your Business with Yitzchok Saftlas


ichael Houlihan is the cofounder of Barefoot Wine, initially born as a start-up out of a rented laundry room, and today, internationally renowned as the worldʼs largest wine brand. Barefoot Wine prides itself on quality and affordability, with some of their most popular wines retailing at just $6 a bottle. Together with his business partner, Bonnie Harvey, he co-authored the book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built Americaʼs #1 Wine Brand. After selling the company in 2005, Michael has gone on to coach young entrepreneurs on how to develop successful businesses.

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Never waste a perfectly good mistake. Michael, youʼre the cofounder of Barefoot Wine, today the worldʼs largest wine brand. What can you tell us about your journey from your humble beginnings in a laundry room to building an internationally renowned brand? Barefoot Wine began when a friend of mine told me about a client of hers who had been selling wine for three years, and still hadnʼt gotten paid for his work. She asked me to go down to the winery and get her client the money he was owed. When I went down to the winery, I got to the guard, who said, “I hope you arenʼt here to collect money, because we declared Chapter 11 this morning.” I thought to myself: Well, this is not a great day for the home team. I went into the winery and instead of retrieving the $300,000 owed, I was able to negotiate a trade for bulk wine, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, and bottling services. I was able to get ownership over the deal, and got to work. My first thought was that all we had to do is come up with a label and a marketing plan, and put it into a supermarket. Looking back now, 20 years later, I know that building a national brand requires a lot more.

The wine business is very competitive; how did you access this extremely limited market? We had two things going for us: For one thing, we were broke. And for another, we had no knowledge of the industry. Now, most people would think that that would be a big deficit in our business, but the way it worked was that because we didnʼt have much industry knowledge, we had to go out and ask questions. We spoke to the people driving the forklift, the people buying for the stores, and the people stocking the shelves. Theyʼre the ones doing the work, and so they know whatʼs really going on in the industry. We asked them questions like: Whatʼs missing in the industry? What can we do? How should we package our products? Once you built some knowledge of the industry from the blue-collar workers, what was your next step? We went to the top buyer in California, and asked him what was missing in the space. He said, “I need a salt and pepper act, and I need it better than Bob, cheaper than Bob, and I want you to put it in a pig.” And I said, “No problem. You got it.” I, obviously, B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 89

Vision from the C-Suite

had no idea what any of that meant, but I did some research and it turns out that a salt and pepper act was a red and white varietal. “Bob” referred to Robert Mondavi — the Robert Mondavi who built a vineyard empire and a new standard of wines — and a “pig” referred to a large 1.5-liter bottle. So the top buyer was asking for a lot, but he had just handed us the keys to the kingdom: He told us exactly where there was a hole in the industry. You often speak about the mistakes youʼve made, what was your biggest mistake? I think the biggest mistake I made is one that affects many young entrepreneurs today. I fell in love with my product. I started to believe that because I had a high-value proposition, the value was there for the dollar, and that somehow, the product would sell itself. At first, I didnʼt put enough money in my budget to really make that sale and to maintain that sale. We said, a gold-medal-winner bottle of wine for $5? Itʼs a slam dunk! You know thereʼs nothing like it in the market. But no, it was an uphill battle, and we had to keep working to make those sales, over and over again. I believe that mistakes afford a good learning opportunity. I always say, “Never waste a perfectly good mistake.” What we like to say at Barefoot is: “Make mistakes write.” Write them down. Learn from them, find out why they happened, and implement changes so you never make that mistake again.

It sounds like you put your heart and soul into your company, so why did you sell it? Thatʼs a great question. You know, I listen to people talking about their businesses and how much they own. But at a certain point, the business owns them. It demands more attention, more money, and more vision to plan ahead. Thereʼs only really one reason to be in business and that is to build a brand equity to the point where you can monetize its value. While youʼre working in the business, you have to be 100% invested in growing your company, but you also have to have the knowledge that one day, at the right price, youʼd be willing to sign the contract. Michael, any final business thoughts youʼd like to share? If thereʼs one major takeaway, I would say itʼs okay to be underfinanced. Itʼs okay to be an amateur. You need to ask questions and not be afraid to make mistakes. Because with hustle, hard work, and the drive to succeed, anything is possible.  Yitzchok Saftlas is the founder and CEO of Bottom Line Marketing Group, an awardwinning marketing agency helping hundreds of corporate, political, and non-profit clients since 1992. Yitzchokʼs book, So, Whatʼs the Bottom Line? published by Morgan James, contains timeless advice for marketers, seasoned executives, and entrepreneurs. He is the host of the weekly business radio broadcast, “Mind Your Business” on 77 WABC in the New York/New Jersey metro area as well as on C-Suite TV.

Want more tips from the experts? Catch their interviews on MYBradio.com and tune in to 77WABC every Sunday at 10:00 p.m. (ET). 90 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019


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Interest Rate

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Jacob Halberstam

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n December 19, the chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, spooked the markets with his announcement that the Fed will be raising interest rates. This brought a sea of red in financial markets around the world. What is the Federal Reserve? What interest rates did Powell hike? Why did he do it? How will this affect the economy? And why is President Trump fed up with the Fed? Hereʼs an in-depth look at the Federal Reserve System and what is in store for American economics.

History of Central Banks To properly understand the Federal Reserve and the central banking system, letʼs first go back to how it all began. Central banks date back to the 16th century, when the Swedish and British central banking systems were established. A central bank is an institution that manages a countryʼs currency. They issue the currency and set monetary policy by increasing or decreasing the amount of money in circulation, and setting interest rates, to make sure the economy is stable. With the establishment of central banks came a banking method known as “fractional reserve banking.” Before the banking system existed, the main currency was gold. The difficulty lay in the fact that gold is hard to transport or to divide into smaller sums. With the banking system in place, people were able to take their gold to the banks and get “bank notes” representing their gold. With time, bankers saw that people rarely asked for the return of their gold so bankers wrote bank notes without any gold backing it. This meant that bankers were able to manipulate money — and by extension, economies worldwide — by printing more or less money, turning them into one of the most powerful forces in the world. As they printed money, they would lend it out on interest, even if there 94 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

wasnʼt really any gold to represent it. Thus, the rich became richer. For instance, as financiers of wars, they lent governments money to finance wars, and were repaid with tax money from the citizens. Shrewd bankers would finance both sides of a war, raking in riches in repaid interest.

Pre-central Bank Days On North American shores, the Founding Fathers were against the idea of a central bank. Benjamin Franklin (who youʼll recognize from the $100 bill) wrote in his autobiography: “The refusal of King George II to allow the colonies to operate an honest money system, which freed the ordinary man from the clutches of the money manipulators, was probably the prime cause of the revolution.” For the first 150 years or so of the USʼs founding, there was no central bank and the monetary situation of the United States was extremely volatile. The money system changed many times over; all forms of bank notes and currency were used (some were even issued by drug stores!), while presidents and political leaders tried to implement a fair and stable monetary system. Bankers around the world and in the US wanted to turn the American money system into a centralized policy. But efforts by the likes of President Andrew Jackson in

the 1830s and Abraham Lincoln in the 1860s, who were opposed to such strategies due to the power issues inherent in banks on other continents, fought this tooth and nail. The main issue with the banking system was that without a proper backbone it was unstable, and there were many bank failures. With these failures came panics. When people heard rumors that banks were struggling, everyone ran to the banks to withdraw their funds. However, due to the fact that vaults were often in other cities, many werenʼt able to get their money. This shut down businesses and caused other chaotic situations. The most famous panic happened in 1907. The Panic of 1907 (also known as the Knickerbocker Crisis), was a country-wide financial crisis that had people rushing to withdraw their funds. The widespread panic also caused the New York Stock Exchange to fall almost 50% from its peak the previous year.

Central Solutions After that, bankers around the country turned to the biggest banker of them all, John Pierpont Morgan (J. P. Morgan). He dominated corporate finance and industrial alliances in the US at the time. Mr. Morgan and some other big bankers in the US proposed the creation of a central bank — and controlled money. In November of 1910, six men — including Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, his assistant, and a few prominent bankers — attended a secret meeting on Jekyll Island, to discuss the implementation. One of the bankers present, Frank Vanderlip of City Bank, wrote:

“We had disappeared from the world onto a deserted island…. We put in the most intense period of work that I have ever had.” Attendees at the meeting returned from their self-imposed seclusion with a basic plan: They called for a Reserve Association of America, a single central bank with a few branches across the country. A board of directors — to be elected by member banks in each district — were to govern each branch to make sure everything ran efficiently. The branches would be responsible for issuing currency, holding the reserves of their member banks, transferring balances between branches, check clearing and collection, and retiring worn money. The national body would set interest rates for the system and buy and sell securities (in the form of government bonds, as will be mentioned later), thereby controlling how much money would be in circulation. When the idea was first proposed, Congress wouldnʼt accept it. In 1912, however, when Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the presidency and the Democrats took control of both the Senate and the House, things began to move. On December 23, 1913, the Federal Reserve Act was signed into law.

Early Beginnings Right after its creation, World War I broke out, causing economic strain for the Federal Reserve Act. Soon thereafter, America found itself hit by the Great Depression of the late 1920s — which many economists claim was caused largely by the newly enacted B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 95


The only thing backing the US dollar is the trust and credit in the United States of America.

Federal Reserve Act. Economists who donʼt go so far as to blame the Feds for its cause still agree that the Fed didnʼt do enough to stop the Great Depression. Money in the US also went through other changes, in regard to its connection to gold. The dollar was on a gold standard when it was created, and every dollar represented the gold backing it. During President Franklin Rooseveltʼs presidency in 1933, a new law prohibited Americans from owning gold. The main purpose of the law was to alleviate the mess America was in, where people were hoarding their gold after the Great Depression because they didnʼt trust financial institutions. This brought trade and lending — and as a result, the economy — to a standstill. In 1971 President Richard Nixon took the dollar off a gold standard completely, turning the US dollar into a fiat currency (legal tender that isnʼt backed by a physical commodity). Since then the only thing backing the US dollar is the trust and credit in the United States of America.

The Fed Makeup The Federal Reserve is run by seven board members 96 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

known as governors who are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The Fed isnʼt one big bank; it consists of 12 district banks and 24 regional branches across the country, so that no one state or region can exert too much control. Then there is the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which consists of 12 members: the seven members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and four of the remaining eleven Reserve Bank presidents, who serve one-year terms on a rotating basis. So out of the 12 seats, eight are steady and four are on a rotating basis. The FOMC is in charge of running the day-to-day monetary decisions. Though the banks are run like a government agency to a certain extent, the Fed is really an independently owned corporation. Each district bank is owned by the member bank in their district, with each bank president being elected by vote. But the stock they hold in their Federal Reserve bank isnʼt traded on the market: Only member banks can be shareholders, dividends are paid only to shareholders, and prices donʼt fluctuate. The banking method the Fed operates, is a “debtbased” system — meaning, when they print money, they donʼt simply distribute it into circulation; they lend it to borrowers. Letʼs pause for a minute, and explain how the money cycle works. If 10 people want new cars and only seven cars are available, the dealer can increase the price because some will be willing to pay more to get a car. Then, people — including the workers manufacturing the cars — demand higher wages, so they can afford to buy a car. The rise in prices is called inflation. Then the cost of car manufacturing rises, and the price of cars goes up

even higher. Now, cars are no longer affordable, and many people stop buying cars. Since the demand is low, car dealers and manufacturers are left with cars in their showroom and employees they have no work for, and the layoffs begin. Unemployed people buy less of everything, so the economy slows down. This is known as a recession. Car dealers desperate to sell their inventory start offering their stagnant stock for much lower prices. Now that prices are extremely cheap, we have ten people wanting to buy seven cars, so the cycle begins again. These are the booms and busts of an economic cycle. It sounds small when we use the car-dealer narrative. In real life, though, the entire economy is affected. When the economy is booming, people feel rich. They buy houses without thinking about how they will pay for them when things get bad. They buy cars. They also buy investment properties and stocks, at extremely high prices, thinking the good times are here to stay. But when things get bad, everything goes sour. People buy much less, stock prices fall like a rock, and homes around the country go into foreclosures. Part of the Fedʼs job is to manage these cycles, and to keep inflation in check. To do this, the Fed has a few tools in their toolbox.

Keeping Check As mentioned, the Fed is the one that decides when to put more or less money into circulation. When the Fed puts money into circulation, they make it easy and inviting for people to borrow. They do that by pumping more money into circulation and lowering interest rates. When there is a lot of money, people buy — so profits are high and unemployment is low. When

things start looking inflationary (meaning people start buying at prices that are too high), the Feds reduce the money supply (by raising interest rates, and making it less desirable to take out loans). This alleviates the influx of money in circulation. There are a few ways the Fed controls the money supply. One way the Fed holds control is by setting a minimum that banks must hold in reserves. (The amount now is 10% for most banks, depending on their size if the Fed writes them a check of $100 million banks can only lend out $90 thousand.) If the Feds ever want to “tighten” money in circulation, they can decide to increase the minimum that must be held in reserve so that banks can no longer lend out as much money. Another way the Fed can control the money supply, is setting the interest rates. As we already know, there is a minimum reserve that the Fed requires member banks to hold. If a bank doesnʼt have that amount, they need to borrow that money from other banks. The rate of interest these banks pay each other for holding money in their reserves is set by the Fed and called the “discount rate.” This has a domino effect on higher or lower liquidity: When this rate goes up, banks borrow less from one another, and as a result banks lend less. While the Fed doesnʼt set the interest rate for loans borrowed from banks, the ripple effect of less money being available and rates being higher filters down to every person walking into the bank for a loan. An additional tool in the Fedʼs toolbox for them to put money into circulation and control liquidity is by buying government securities, usually bonds. Meaning, if the Fed feels liquidity is too tight and more money is needed in the economy, they buy government securities on the open market from banks and clearing B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 97


Dirty Secrets of the Federal Reserve Act


here are many scandalous conspiracy theories regarding the creation of the Federal Reserve. A common theory of those opposing the central bank system say that the banking crisis in 1907 was deliberately caused by the bankers to create the need for a central bank. Even if you give little weight to conspiracy theories, this story has many disturbing details. For starters, participants denied the meeting at Jekyll Island ever happened, until 1930, when Vanderlip wrote about it. Another disturbing detail is the fact that Senator Nelson Aldrich, who was close to the Rockefellers, one of the most powerful families in finance, as well as to many big bankers, was involved (behind the scenes) in pushing the proposition to Congress on December 23, 1913, after most senators had left for the holiday recess and were promised that no voting would be brought to the Senate floor. Years later, Senator Aldrich admitted that before passage of this Act, the New York bankers could only dominate the reserves of New York; afterward, they could dominate the bank reserves of the entire country. Hereʼs another thought: Did you know that there was no income tax prior to the creation of the Fed? And oh, who do you think sponsored the Sixteenth Amendment, which allowed for a direct federal income tax? None other than Senator Nelson Aldrich. According to most economists, the two

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bills are directly related, since the tax allows the government to pay its dues to the Feds. Imagine things would be different and youʼd be taking home the agreed pay, without Uncle Sam taking a huge chunk. Milton Freidman, an American economist, blamed the Fed as the direct cause for the Great Depression. To that, Ben Bernanke, a Federal Reserve chair in 2006 responded: “I would like to say to Milton: ʼRegarding the Great Depression, youʼre right. We did it. Weʼre very sorry. But thanks to you, we wonʼt do it again.ʼ” Bernankeʼs words were a bit premature. Just a year later, right before the recession of 2008, banks around the country took huge risks by lending money to borrowers who werenʼt necessarily creditworthy. When the borrowers failed, the Federal Reserve printed more money to bail them out — an act that caused all of our money to lose value. Many believe that our money system is out of the hands of the people and of the government; rather, it is in the hands of the few who own the central bank. Since its creation, there has yet to be a full audit on the Federal Reserve. Despite the fact that their decisions affect the entire country, decision-making takes place behind closed doors. All that being said, the Fed has become way more transparent than they once were. The Fed offers regular media interviews, with Powell appearing on national shows to update the nation about timely happenings.

When the economy is booming, people feel rich. They buy houses without thinking about how they will pay for them when things get bad.

houses, which puts more money into circulation. When the Fed feels there is too much liquidity and they want to reduce the money supply, they sell government securities and all that money they take in is retired from being lent and used.

The Fed in Action The FOMC gets together behind closed doors about eight times a year to discuss the state of the economy. There they decide the monetary policy. Are they going to tighten liquidity or loosen it? Raise interest rates or lower them? These decisions depend on whether the Fed is “hawkish” or “dovish.” When the Fed thinks the economy is booming they need to be hawkish, hovering on top to shield the economy from inflation. When the Fed thinks the economy isnʼt doing so well, they are dovish, protecting the economy from falling into a recession. After each meeting, the Fed chair issues a statement. A lot of weight is put into the Fed chairʼs commentary, regarding where the economy stands. The Fedʼs statement can be a double-edged sword. If you recall, we started with a piece of news from mid-December, when Fed chair Powell wasnʼt dovish. Shouldnʼt everyone be happy? He said the economy is doing well. Why did the stock market hate it? The answer is that sometimes good news is bad news. There are many moving parts to the economy: When interest rates go up the economy contracts, there is less money to go around, and we may find ourselves in a recession.

Debt and loans also end up being expensive, cutting into profits. On top of that, investors take their money out of the stock market and buy CDs or government bonds because returns go up when interest rates are high. Although the returns are less than that of stocks, the risk is almost zero. The reason that the stock market tanks when people flee is like the rest of economics it is a game of supply and demand. When more people want a stock, the price goes up, and vice versa. When many people sell their stocks, demand is low and so are prices.

In the News Although President Trump is the one who appointed Fed chair Jerome Powell, the president was extremely unhappy with the rate hike. President Trump made the stock market the gauge on his economic policies. So itʼs not surprising that Trump would be upset with the rate hike, as it tanks the stock market on a short-term basis. But the independence and carte blanche of the Federal Reserve is critical, as the decisions they make can have far-reaching effects. Whatʼs important for you to know is that when making a large purchase or investment, take into account where in the cycle we are, and whether you can endure the recession when it hits.  Jacob Halberstam is a finance enthusiast who loves reading anything and everything related to politics, finance, and economics. B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 99

BOOKMARKED The Business Book You Want to Read Naftali Tessler

Profit First

By: Mike Michalowicz

Profit First works because it doesnʼt try to fix you. You work hard, you have good ideas, you already give 110% to your business. Profit First is a system designed to work with who you already are. You donʼt need to be fixed; the system does.” —Mike Michalowicz

About Me Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine promises your business — no matter its nature or status — permanent profitability, starting from your very next deposit. The book shows you the difference between making money (income) and taking home money (profit), as well as how to do this through natural, actionable steps.

About the Author By his 35th birthday, Michalowicz had founded and sold two multimillion-dollar companies. Confident that he had the formula to success, he became an angel investor…and proceeded to lose his entire fortune. Driven to find better ways to grow healthy, strong companies, he started all over again. He realized that growing a business is the easy part; managing the growth is the hard part. Mike is a popular keynote speaker on innovative entrepreneurial topics and is also the author of The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, The Pumpkin Plan, Surge, and Clockwork. 100 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

The Read Whom:




Small business owners J Entrepreneurs J CEO J COO J CFO


Early start-up phase J Struggling with cash flow J Striving to make more profit

The financial picture of your business J Business philosophy and structure




Publishing Date: 2014

Quick View Building and growing a business Financial peace in business J Establishing a healthy cash-flow rhythm J J

In Review You decided to go into business because you didnʼt want to be a slave to others. Most likely, you also believed you could make more money than anyone could pay you. Yet youʼre a slave to your own business; your boss even comes along with you on vacation. You think that if you can just work harder, longer, or better — if you can just hold out — something good will happen one day. In fact, many businesses survive month by month, deposit to deposit. That, in essence, equals failure. The number one reason businesses like this fail is lack of profitability — and lack of owner profitability. The system for profitability weʼve been using since the beginning of time (income – expenses = profit) doesnʼt always work. The solution? Itʼs simple: Take your profit first. How does this help? Itʼs all about natural human behavior. Think about how, on an airplane, the flight attendant urges you to put your own oxygen mask on first. In business, you have to do the same: You have to take care of yourself before you can fully show up to serve your business. Parkinsonʼs law is when work expands to fill the time available for its completion. This is why when weʼre given two weeks to do a project, it takes two weeks, and when weʼre given eight weeks to do the same project, it takes eight weeks. The same law applies to handling money in your business: with less money available, youʼre forcing frugality, creativity, innovation, and growth. Accordingly, the new formula is income – profit = expenses. You will only ratchet up as many expenses as you can afford. Then business will go from kinda-breaking-even to having an actual, hard, bottom-line profit.

A small, profitable business can be worth much more than a large business surviving on its top line.”

Hereʼs a glimpse at what the book offers: Natural Human Behavior

It is our natural human behavior to look at our current bank account and make decisions based on what we see there — even though we know (and are warned by our accountant) that we have to check the balance sheet and cash-flow statements. The Profit First principle doesnʼt try to change habits (which is nearly impossible to do); rather, it works with your existing habits. By first allocating money to different accounts, and then removing the temptation to “borrow” from yourself, your business will become fiscally strong and you will benefit from regular profit distributions.

Donʼt Use One Big Serving Tray to Eat Off; Set Up Lots of Small Plates

Sales and income are the big serving trays, but you canʼt eat from them. First distribute income to smaller plates, i.e., savings and checking accounts designated exclusively for monies such as owner profit, taxes, owner pay, operating expenses, etc. — and only then eat from B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 101


need training, train. When you would need some grace, give some grace. Wheninyou wouldtoexpect a the accounts youʼve decided advance withdraw reprimand, give one. from. The key here is to serve the healthy food and If you treat your employees with dignity, they’ll vegetables first. This means pre-allocating a percentrepay you with loyalty and motivation. So respect age of your for profit business them and go income out of your way toand please them.expenses and using only the operating expense account to is pay Unity, like so many other things in this book, bills. This ensures you have your expenses covered, seldom found in companies but is always found in get your salary onPeople time, keep your operating expenses great companies. don’t naturally unify; they must be led do take so. Unity be created in check, andtoeven homecan additional profitonly at the when the team not only knows the company cares end of each quarter. for them but when the team members care for each other. Take Action Here’s how you can amplify the success of your Once you open relevant accounts, start by implebusiness through recognition and inspiration: menting the Profit First system slowly — even if you holding employees accountable, coaching, leading, cheerleading, motivating, inspiring, and creating a

Expert Talk Expert

great work environment. All of the above will pay off with interest. put as little as 1% to the accounts. The point is to start the habit. If you were able to run your business Building a Business Bigger Yourself on $1,000, youʼll be able to run it on $990. Gradually, At some point as your business grows, you have to youʼlldelegating increase the amount to of others. money youʼre putting start decisions Delegation is into those accounts. Even if the profit by the end of of one of the most misunderstood and abused areas the quarter is minimal, youʼll be able to slowly build leadership. And when it’s done wrong, it actuallyit up to themore percentage youand wisha to out mess of your—busicreates work — lottake more for everyone involved. ness. When profit comes first, itʼs the focus — and itʼs Thisforgotten. book will show you how to properly delegate, never which allow you partner to focus on this growing your Find anwill accountability to do with; itʼs so business instead of concentrating on everyday simple — anyone can do it with you. If needed, there tasks. The key to that is to make sure you’re are Profit First advisors who can help you with setting surrounded by people who share your perspective up the process. on how the business should be run and that you trust to make decisions that are good for the business.

My TakeMy Take

People who talk business meabout can feel the First: passion “Like believe a business isn’t good “Not Dave, only isI Mike onethat of the most Hereʼs why I tell every business owner with I know Profit I have formula for leadership and helping natural others develop. unless it also does good — for its employees, innovative small-business authors Itʼs a super simple that acknowledges human I attribute a large part of that to this system book. partners, andhisthe A of our time, Profitcommunity First systemit serves.behaviors and helps business owners run passion their financial Dave taught me that the bad news is… “I am the business cannot have true success without also — simple to apply and impactful in efficiently and profitably. problem” and the good news is… “I am also having a soul. In this book, Dave shows us how to its results — can be the difference Still not sure if Profits First is for you? Ask yourself: the solution.” I can decide to grow. Grow my have both: great leaders who are also great people; between constantly walking the 1. Am I making a profit every month? abilities, my character, my education, and my great companies that are also great families. I plan financial tightrope or being predict2. Am I paying myself a consistent salary? capacity. on applying these lessons to my own small ably profitable. And a predictably 3. Do I have money to payImy taxes at thethis endbook of theso quarter/ The reason recommend highly is business — I only wish he’d written about them profitable business is not only less year? years ago. Entrepreneurs are needed in America because the author utilizes his real-life experience to stressful more gratifying, it allowsa big difference 4. Are my monthly expenses than mywork revenue? now moreand than ever — but there’s make people andmore businesses like a well-oiled you to focus on what really matters… 5. Am I living the life I dreamed of when I decided to start my between starting a company and leading one. And machine. there’s an even bigger difference between aown business? This book helped me be more productive in the serving your customers!” company that’s valuable and one that has values. workplace, build morale,then and with time —Bob Burg, named by the American If you answered no to any ofemployee these questions, Profitmy First But Dave has figured out the recipe to being management. I’m an employee, not an employer. Management Association as one of the is for you. both things at once, Leaders, and his lessons But,author as a leader within a large organization, found 30 Most Influential and byare invaluable. I like how the starts with why, goes onto how to fixI the In fact, my only complaint is that if he’d published this book to be very helpful. Richtopia as one of the Top 200 Most lack of cash flow, and then goes into detail about what to do, this a few years ago, he would’ve saved me a lot Influential Authors in the World. giving practical advice that can be implemented right away.  of sleepless nights trying to figure this stuff out on Naftali Tessler is on the leadership team at Hamaspik of Kings my own.” County, an organization that provides community health and —Glenn Beck, New York Times Best-Seller author human services. He has a strong passion for leadership, is successful in creating an environment of team collaboration, and is very influential in motivating people to grow and become better Naftali Tessler is on the leadership team at Hamaspik of Kings County, an organization that provides community health and human services. He Naftali is also a very community activist advocating has a strong passion for leadership, is successful in creating an environment of leaders. team collaboration, and is influential in motivating peoplefor to the community and its people. grow and become better leaders. Naftali is also a community activist who advocates for the community and its people.


Real Estate

PULSE News Tidbits


Real Estate Start-ups


Real Stakes in Real Estate


Case in Point


Construction Corner


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News Tidbits in Real Estate Tech in NYC Heats Up Google announced in mid-December, that it would be opening a $1 billion office in the Hudson Square Office campus. This will turn the tech giant into one of the cityʼs largest office tenants. The new 1.7 million square-foot campus — to be called Google Hudson Square — will hopefully be inaugurated by 2020. Coming alongside Amazonʼs recent resolution to locate its second headquarters in Long Island, this represents a radical shift in the cityʼs economy, which for decades has been dominated by the financial sector. In the coming years, Googleʼs occupancy could grow further as the company has recently purchased another 3 million square-foot office for $2.4 billion. There are many tenants with outstanding leases, and as leases come due, the tech giant will stake its claim. Only Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Citibank, JP Morgan, Chase, and the co-working giant WeWork have more space. Perhaps soon, though, “the new kids on the block” — Google and Amazon — will beat the cityʼs top space occupiers. These two big moves bring in a new era of technology to the city and take the city from a once nascent player to one of the top players in the industry. New York may be one of the hottest on the tech market, right behind San Francisco.

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Modular Housing Modular construction, which may help alleviate housing issues, faces slow success in the US. While modular construction methods are quick, cheap, and efficient, they have yet to grow sufficiently in volume for production prices to drop, and for the model to feasibly feed its own success. Until this happens, developers are wary of using modular models. It seems as if the UK may yet be the one to show the rest of the world how to accomplish this successfully. Experts in the field at Bisnowʼs London Residential and Affordable Housing Outlook claim that the advantages of using modular housing are clear, and theyʼre willing to implement modern methods of construction. Legal and General Group, a financial service company, built a 550 kilometer factory near Leeds, from which it aims to deliver 3,500 homes a year. Alongside this comes the news that Berkeley, the UKʼs most successful volume house builder, has also announced plans to open its own modular factory. And Countryside, a successful construction company, is currently investing in a modular facility. Besides the obvious advantages for developers, in terms of the potential to be cheaper and more efficient, there are benefits for the resident, especially those at the bottom end of the socio-economic scale who need the most help. These housing units are warm and dry, thereby reducing heating costs.

Rob Feingold

iBuying Platforms See an Upsurge in Traffic A shocking number of companies are investing in iBuying, a platform where homeowners can list their available property. In most cases, the homes listed receive an offer within days. The iBuyer then quickly flips the home. In addition to venture-backed iBuying firms such as Opendoor, there are public startups like Zillow and Redfin who are also getting in on the digital real estate action. Although most of these buyers are in beginning stages, they are increasingly expanding. Those new platforms are already rankling brokers and can cost sellers higher commission fees. As of now, none of these players has broken into the New York market. However, since 2018ʼs first quarter saw an unprecedented number of home flips, logging in 1,000 (a 20% increase from the previous year), this might change. The big number of homes being bought and sold quickly may be an indication that the Big Apple is ready for the change. Traditional brokers are somewhat threatened with the change on their turf, with 32,000 agents in Las Vegas and Orlando signing a petition opposing Zillow last year. When Zillowʼs Instant Offers program (where sellers receive cash immediately upon posting their listing) began locally, opponents asked the National Association of Realtors to intervene and stop Zillow. Their claim was that these platforms are baiting sellers to accept below-market offers without the guidance of experienced agents. With the median number of days from when a home is listed and bought being much quicker than traditional methods, and the convenience of online buying platforms, only time will tell whether any claims against iBuying will be able to dissuade, stop, or halt the flow of potential sellers.

Developers Spend More Money on Open Spaces to Lure Tenants In the heart of Midtown Atlanta, lies a sprawling mini-city — Atlantic Station — home to office towers, condominiums, hotels townhouses, and a string of retail shops. While its owner continues to add commercial space, he is now planning to spend $20 million to upgrade space that will not add a single dollar in rent. Plans include tearing down existing buildings, making room for space with a massive LED screen overhead, as well as new designs for pedestrian-only roads. No more is a shop just here to serve you: Shoppers now want to enjoy the space on its own merit. Similar to the way the renovations of a lobby in an office building are upgraded to remain attractive, open spaces are now being developed as a selling point. Many large realtors have been pumping big money into creating public spaces in private, mixed-use developments. Spaces that could have easily generated more income are being exchanged for places where people can congregate, host movie nights, music concerts, yoga classes, and the like. According to a recent Urban Land Institute study, properties adjacent to parks and open spaces can see as much as a 40% increase in value. Nearly 80% of those real estate investors and landlords surveyed in the study saw open spaces as a “crucial catalyst for economic development.”  B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 105

Steve Sears


Real Estate Start-ups:

In a quest to unveil the hottest start-ups in the real estate game, B-Tank magazine did some homework and came up with eight winners. We unveil them here.

Exiting Your Lease or Finding a New Place, These Folks Can Help










Knotel are expert workspace designers and builders of office spaces specifically tailored to the client brand, with components such as design and furnishings based on work style. Stated simply, everything is taken care of in a work space, and they don’t lock you into a long-term lease. The company deals with firms of 50 or more employees, and it more than tripled its worldwide footprint in 2018. It now has 100 locations and two million square feet. The momentum is expected to continue, with a similar surge predicted for 2019.

Bowery Valuation

Utilizing advanced technology to best appraise properties of all types, Bowery is modernizing the appraisal process by using a cloud-based software platform that speeds up the process. Their 11 appraisers have over 75 years of accumulated commercial real estate experience, ensuring that Bowery users get 106 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

quality information. Tasks that used to be completed manually — either by searching through public records or going down to properties — are all done in technologically refined ways. Information includes ownership, property taxes, land use, etc. Bowery taps into public records for information on property taxes and ownership, land use, rental and sales comps, and the like, in addition to using mobile apps for inspection. This allows them to deliver less expensive and more accurate reports in less time. As the world’s first technology-driven appraisal firm, they’ve turned a notoriously “old-fashioned” part of the industry into something that fits into our tech-driven world, cutting down turnaround time, as well as time spent on appraisals.


Flip, founded in 2015, affords renters, landlords, and property managers the convenience to assign or sublet their rented space to others, thereby transferring their lease without heavy termination fees. Flip also handles communication and approval between landlords and prospective new tenants

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via certified mail, including initial listing and application preparation, as well as the financials like initial deposit and monthly rental-fee agreement. Those wishing to list their apartment on Flip do so free of charge and they don’t have to chase rent dollars; Flip guarantees on-time rent payments from sub-leasers. Should the new tenant have an issue with a payment, Flip steps in and pays. They also guarantee a rental within 30 days of the tenant’s departure, ensuring that you don’t lose money on unused space.


Is 2019 the year you buy a home, or sell your current residence? Knock to the rescue! The Trulia.com folks are the brain trusts behind this venture, where homeowners are guided by Knock pros with years of experience to get a proper price for a home and expedite the buying and selling process — all accomplished with the latest technology using an algorithm for home pricing. Both homeowner (especially) and buyer benefit from the Knock home trade-in platform. Knock will pay cash for the new house the homeowner wishes to buy, allowing the homeowner to move into their new home prior to listing their old home on the market. Knock also takes care of repairs on the old house in order to sell it at the best price, and settles with the former homeowner at closing.


Rentberry focuses on long-term rentals and offers a complete process for doing so across the globe. It aids tenants in the application process and offers savings in the security deposit realm. Rentberry operates in over 5,000 US cities and plans expansion beyond the country’s borders. Rentberry is a rental-application and price-discussion vehicle which automates personal info, offers, rental-agreement signing and more. All is offered on a platform in addition to applicant number and bid amounts. Both landlords and prospective renters win here as Rentberry ensures smooth information delivery, application submission, e-signing agreements, and online payments.


“Co” is the key here, as in co-living and co-everything. Common is focused on co-living and community-focused shared housing, 108 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

including private furnished bedrooms in gorgeous suites. No longer do renters have to surf Craigslist and go through brokers to find a place to live, as that can take months. Common, located in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., has created the solution. Applications are handled online or in-person, and then you have a chat regarding your needs with a Common home specialist. If local, in-person tours are the option, otherwise tours are virtual if remote. Rooms can be reserved immediately while Common conducts a background check. If successful, a lease is then signed. All in the interest of money saving, and meeting and living with the right people, Common provides free utilities, weekly cleaning services, high-end appliances, supplies, and high-speed Wi-Fi; members save over $500 compared to a studio apartment — in addition to saving on a broker fee.


VTS, founded in 2011, works with commercial real estate companies, gathering and analyzing important data for all in the real estate industry. Transaction time for commercial real estate transactions and asset management is reduced by almost 50%. VTS focuses on helping brokers and landlords increase revenue while decreasing risk, with a smoother and more productive process. VTS aids the customer by setting up an account, on-site training, system integration, and deployment. What formerly was committed to paper and archaic software programs now lives in the specialized VTS platform. All is properly streamlined by the VTS team for easy access and preferred results.


Cribdilla offers real-time listings, and information about current available rentals from the current, departing occupant, not an agent or broker: This is dwelling-hunting minus headaches. Cribdilla serves both the renter and the prospective renter. As the tenant, there’s the opportunity to earn money when renting your apartment before the lease is up. Inform Cribdilla that you want out of your lease and provide apartment access for viewing, and Cribdilla awards the occupant a third of the next month’s rent when the apartment is leased prior to the end of their lease term. An additional perk on Cridbilla is that once an application for the apartment is submitted, the listing is removed from the site. No nervousness wondering if someone else has eyes on the space you prefer. 

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Real Stakes in Real Estate

Harry Dublinsky


n this column, moderated by Harry Dublinksy, we’ll be interviewing real estate giants, and providing B-Tank’s readers with industry insights and analysis. Over the past two decades, Harry Dublinsky has been actively involved in many high-profile and complex transactions advising clients on launching start-up companies to major real estate transactions. Thanks to Harry’s knack for facilitating strategic introductions, many of his clients have forged viable new business partnerships. An avid networker, Harry has developed strong, working relationships with key industry leaders, public officials, investment banks, entrepreneurs, family offices, and high net worth individuals. Harry routinely gathers the brightest business minds to participate in business events. He’s currently produced over 60 events throughout the past eight years, ranging from intimate roundtables to cofounding large R/E Private Summits (600+ attendees). Such events are often referenced in major media outlets. Harry, a managing director at EisnerAmper LLP, is a CPA and member of the prestigious Counselors of Real Estate (CRE). He is also a past chair of the Real Estate Committee of the New York State Society of CPAs.

Prepared for print by Jake Novak

New York Landscapes and Unified Sales Teams


ow does one begin an epic career in real estate that over 20 years results in over 400 sales and transactions worth more than $4 billion? If you’re Avison Young’s James Nelson, you start by answering a job posting in your college career services office. Nelson saw the listing for Massey Knakal just

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before his graduation from Colgate University in 1998. Six years later, not only was he still with the firm but he had been named the company’s youngest partner. When Massey Knakal was acquired by Cushman & Wakefield, Nelson’s success continued during his three years at the combined firm as he rose to the position of Vice Chairman. Since 2016, Nelson has been the Principal and

James Nelson

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Head of Tri-State Investment Sales at Avison Young’s New York City office. Nelson recently spoke with B-Tank about the current state of the overall economy, the real estate business, and more. B-Tank: Tell us more about how you got into this business. James: I was a student at Colgate University and didn’t have any real idea of what I wanted to do or about the real estate industry. But fortunately, Massey Knakal's cofounder Paul Massey had posted a job application at the student center and I thought it sounded interesting. We joked later that there were only two students who applied for the job and I was the second choice! They hired both of us and it turned out the other associate phased out about six months later. Here I am 20 years later still in the business. It was a great fit for me because it was a smaller operation that focused on mid-market sales and it had a unique approach of carving the city into territories. I ended up taking on the Chelsea neighborhood where I was able to make the most of becoming a full-fledged broker. B-Tank: You spoke about carving the city into territories. If you look at New York today, which are the most up-and-coming areas from a real estate perspective? James: All of the outer boroughs outside of Manhattan have been gaining in sales, but Queens is the biggest mover now. And now with the news that Amazon is putting its second headquarters in Long Island City, Queens it’s only going to make the borough more attractive. And it’s not just Long Island City, but I would focus on any area along the #7 subway train that leads to and from Long Island City. Jamaica, Queens is especially attractive because it has the most subway options and the Long Island Railroad. The hottest areas and the areas with the most potential all have great transportation. B-Tank: What’s your take on the Amazon move and how do you respond to some New Yorkers who are protesting the new headquarters coming to Queens? James: To quote Bill Rudin, (CEO and cochairman of the Rudin Management Co.): "Getting Amazon here is like being given the Super Bowl for the next 50 years." The positive impact we’ll get from Amazon’s 25,000 jobs is unprecedented in New York City’s history. And it’s not just the Amazon jobs, but there may be three or four jobs that come with each Amazon job from other businesses that will provide 112 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

services to them. Unlike other tech companies, Amazon doesn't provide free food as they want to encourage their employees to get out and support the local communities. B-Tank: What about the effect Amazon and all e-commerce has on real estate when it comes to brick and mortar stores and their challenges? James: Even with the rise in online shopping, New York City is in a strong position to maintain its commercial real estate strength. For example, the city brings in 50 million tourists per year alone and they are here to shop in physical stores, etc. But the retail challenge in New York was a lot less about e-commerce and much more about what happened here with retail rents. From 2010 to 2015 or so, retail rents in New York doubled, tripled, and in some cases even quadrupled. And the rents far outpaced retail sales growth. Now, many of those rents are coming back to more reasonable levels. E-commerce certainly didn’t help, but that’s not why you saw a number of stores closing up for good in Midtown Manhattan. B-Tank: What’s your take on the overall real estate market right now? James: What we’re seeing on the residential side is just a slowdown on the ultra-higher end of the price scale and that’s just a small percentage of the market. That slowdown was mostly because there was some overbuilding in that space. In New York we’re seeing rents coming back, but to get tenants to sign a lease landlords are having to give them a month or two of free rent and other perks. So it’s important to look past the face value of the rents and see what the real prices are. B-Tank: Besides the job market, is there any other major outside factor that affects the real estate market? James: The stock market still plays a big role. Right now, we’re seeing a lot of volatility in stocks so that can make it difficult for people to get a handle on where stocks are going. Volatility like this makes people prefer hard assets like real estate, where they get not only the rental cash flow but also the security of the brick-and-mortar property. New York and London are just almost always great real estate investment plays. They’re liquid, and they will continue to attract both domestic and foreign investment. B-Tank: Tell us what you expect from the new Qualified Opportunity Zone program and the Qualified Opportunity

Zone investment funds that are connected to them. There are a lot of conflicting opinions out there on how this will impact real estate, construction, and the economy overall. James: There are still some questions we need cleared up from the Treasury Department on how the zone rules will really work, but we are now at a point where some action is starting. I’m even hearing that there’s upwards of $6 trillion in capital gains that are embedded in the US economy that will now be available for investments in these zones. But a key thing to remember is that to get the tax benefits, the investments in the zones need to be for substantial improvement to a business or property. For non-real estate professionals that can be a tricky proposition and challenging to execute on that. So, this new tax rule is best for known real estate developers and projects that already have market demand behind them. I am nervous about the funds because putting money in funds with multiple properties in them could make it hard for investors to meet the time limits associated with the tax breaks. There are 6 months after the capital gain to complete the purchase (unless purchased in a partnership which could extend to the next tax year). Then the substantial improvement must take place within 30 months after construction. But as anyone who knows how real estate works, delays and other problems can always get in the way. So, I think it will work better for deal-specific investing, as opposed to a big fund encompassing many pending projects. As far as regions that will benefit from this, once again the outer boroughs of New York City will be in a sweet spot. Because you have to stay with the Opportunity Zone investment for 10 years to get the maximum tax benefit, and New

York City offers investors the best chances of that zone still being an in-demand and profitable area in 10 years. And when it comes to places like the Bronx that are up-and-coming areas, it’s reasonable to believe that properties there will be worth much more than the 20 cents on the dollar per square foot compared to Manhattan a decade from now. This new law really works best for companies that want to work in a specific community and grow their businesses there. The tricky part is that the law requires those businesses to provide goods and services primarily to those local communities, and that will be hard to do for tech and internet companies. If the law can be changed to fix that issue, it will have a much bigger impact overall. B-Tank: Tell us about what you’re doing at your new position at your brokerage. James: Right now, I’m very excited about how we’re doing things at Avison Young, where I’ve been for about a year. This is a Canadian company that wasn’t even in the US until 10 years ago and now has 50 offices in this country. I worked to create a plan to reinvent the brokerage business. What we looked at was how, in a typical real estate brokerage, you have people competing with each other all the time for business and that makes it hard to share information and work as a team. So what I did to change that was to build one unified sales team and I have three dozen people with a unified commission pool that everyone shares in. That sets us apart from the competition, and it’s been working well. In our first year, which was last year, we started from scratch and we ended the year with 72 exclusive listings; we had 18 properties that we had sold or put in a contract valued close to $400 million.  B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 113


Case in Point Opportunity Zone Funds

Dovid Preil

Since late 2018, Opportunity Zones have been the real estate talk of the day. In B-Tank's last issue, EisnerAmper's Richard Shapiro gave us the rundown; this month, we're dissecting a simulated case study.

JANUARY 2019 Name: Josh Green Real Estate and Stock Portfolio: $300,000 Profit in the Portfolio: $200,000 Real Estate Exit Deal: $200,000 Profit in Real Estate Exit Deal: $100,000 Total Amount of Profit: $300,000 Tax Rate (according to Josh's income bracket as a successful lawyer): 23.8% Total Amount of Taxes Potentially Owed on Real Estate and Stock Portfolio and Real Estate Exit Deal: $71,400 Funds Available for Investing: $428,600 While Josh would like to diversify his holdings, the thought of reducing his investible funds by close to 15% isn’t that palatable.

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After doing his research, Josh assesses the profit targets of both 1031 exchange and Opportunity Zone Fund (OZF) deals, taking into account the tax benefits. He decides to invest $100,000 into an OZF, and invests the rest with a 1031 exchange and other alternatives. Due to the tax deferral, Josh is able to invest an additional 31% ($100,000 instead of $76,200) at this point. Josh visits CDFIfund.com, where he finds an interactive map to figure out what neighborhoods are considered opportunity zones. Investing in an opportunity zone allows him to defer paying $23,800 in taxes for up to seven years.

JANUARY 2024 Josh's funds have been invested in the Opportunity Zone Fund for five years and he's about to receive a bonus. At this point, his cost-basis on the funds he invested in the Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOF) increased by 10%. Effectively, his tax bill on the original capital gains is reduced from $23,800 to $21,420.

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Those who invested in Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZ) before the end of 2019 now receive an additional 5% increase to their original cost-basis. Effectively, Josh's tax bill of $23,800 is reduced to $20,230. Paying Up: The seven-year QOZ deferral window is over and Josh owes the remaining balance of $20,230 to the IRS. He cuts a check and leaves his investment intact. Profit: The investment returned 10% annually. After seven years, his investment is worth $194,871 instead of $148,492. Because he invested in a QOF, he has made an additional $26,149 or 17.6% over seven years. Review: While this is a nice amount, Josh realizes that another investment he'd heard about that was targeting 13% a year, even after paying all the taxes up front, could have netted a better return. Next steps: The tax benefits on his original capital gains have been fully realized and Josh wants to sell out his position and find a new investment. His CPA reminds him that at this point he has $94,871 in unrealized capital gains that are now taxable (he already paid taxes on the first $100,000 of capital gains from the sale seven years earlier). If he were to close the position today, he would have to pay 23.8% (or $22,579) on these gains. If he were to hold the position for another three years, he can sell the position tax-free (as the QOF regulations dictate that a 10-year hold allows for a full waiver on capital gains taxes). Josh decides to wait it out.

Conclusion: Josh has now held his investments for 10 years. At this point, he can sell his positions in the opportunity zone funds and the profit is 100% tax-exempt. After reviewing the investments, Josh realizes that the most significant benefit is the waiver on capital gains tax, which required him to hold his positions for 10 full years. How much has he actually gained? Rate of Appreciation (for final three years): 10% Current Investment Value: $259,374. Without the OZF benefits, Josh would have a tax bill of $37,931. Instead, he has $239,144 in his pocket (remember, he paid $20,230 in taxes three years earlier). To match this performance without the benefits of the OZF, he would have had to earn about 14.25% per year on his investment in order to turn his after-tax initial investment of $76,200 into the same $239,000. This is because he would have paid taxes before he started and after he sold out the position. Final Analysis: Josh concludes that because he was comfortable having his funds locked up for 10 years, and he didn't have any opportunity better than the Opportunity Zone Fund, this worked out well for him. Additionally, unlike his 1031 exchange funds, Josh is now free to use the proceeds for whatever he likes. Josh keeps his 1031 exchange funds in real estate and uses his OZF proceeds to expand his home, pay for a child's wedding, and reinvest in the stock market.

GLOSSARY Cost-Basis Cost-basis is the original value of an asset for tax purposes, usually the purchase price, adjusted for stock splits, dividends, and return of capital distributions. This helps determine the capital gain, which is equal to the difference between the asset's cost basis and the current market value.

Internal Rate of Return The internal rate of return is a widely accepted metric used to measure the annualized profit from an investment and accounts for all cashflows in and out of an investment.

Unrealized Capital Gains An unrealized gain is a profit that exists on paper, resulting from an investment. It is a profitable position that has yet to be sold in return for cash, such as a stock position that has increased in capital gains but still remains open. A gain becomes realized once the position is closed for a profit.

Dovid Preil is the CEO and founder of Citadel Holdings, a real estate investment firm. Dovid's mission is to empower professionals who are interested in generating passive income while growing their wealth through diversified commercial real estate investments and resources that help bring people from knowing nothing about real estate investing to a place of knowledge and confidence.

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What is the Connection Between JEP/Nageela and Real Estate? Over 30 years ago a group of young people had a also successful in the field, to offer a networking vision to make youth groups like Pirchei and Bnos event to build on their success and an opportunity for non-observant children. The youth groups of supporting something desperately needed — a would give these children the same opportunity place for all types of Jewish children to discover to explore Torah and mitzvos in an open and fun their purpose in life. atmosphere. That’s how JEP of Long Island began. This year marks our 4th Annual JEP/Nageela Real For many years the program consisted of volunEstate Networking (REN) event, on February 4th. teers going to different venues and interacting with We’re excited to greet around 300 attendees — all non-observant children. Several years into the projin the real estate industry — who will join us for the ect they realized that the best venue possible would best of kosher food from Catering by Michael Schick be a summer camp; Camp Nageela was born. and wine, and a ton of fun at the trending new locaFor the first 15 years Camp Nageela occupied tion, 26 Bridge in Brooklyn. numerous different shared campuses. The owner Over 22 companies are sponsoring this event, of one of those campuses, a hotel, urged Camp including: Meridian; Riverside; BK Venues; Ramer & Nageela to buy a campus of their own. This idea Saperstein; Chutes Plus; Catering by Michael Schick; seemed way beyond the capabilities of the orgaDH Property Holdings; Berdon LLP; DJ Associates; nization at the time. This owner located a piece of The Battery Group; Billet, Feit & Preis PC; Mark Sklar real estate in Fallsburg that was in distress. Several & Olive Hill; Westwood; Ariel; Fire & Building Code people worked hard to arrange a deal where the Services; Area 53 Laser Tag; Harborview; Artimus; owner would donate the property in exchange for Lionstone Capital; The Berkshire Bank; Simkowitz the mortgage being written off. Another real estate Co.; and B-Tank. mogul, at the urging of Rav Pam, We’ll also be featuring a panel ztz”l, took care of the mortgage of leaders in real estate for the first This idea seemed time, presented by The Riverside and the deal was finalized. Thus, began the first of numerous real Experience. Panelists include Ralph way beyond the estate deals that would eventuZucker of Somerset Development ally produce the beautiful Camp capabilities of the and Phil Rosen of Weil, Gotshal & Nageela campus. The campus is Manges LLP. organization at in the heart of the Jewish vacation Thanks to our generous sponthe time. area of the Catskills and its value sors, board members, JEP REN has gone up exponentially. event chairs — Sam Berry, Meyer Mintz, and Looking back at what was clearly the hand of Shmaryahu Ryback — and our committee for Heaven guiding Camp Nageela, we realize that making this our best JEP REN yet! For more inforthe vehicle that Hashem used to make the work of mation and to donate, visit jepren.org or call Camp Nageela possible was real estate. 516-374-1528, ext. 240. Therefore, it was natural to go to others who are

Izzy Wasser Joel Klein Rabbi Dovid Shenker

From left to right: JEP REN’s Shmaryahu Ryback, Izzy Wasser, Michael Schick, Rabbi Dovid Shenker, Rabbi Yitzchok Wurem, and Meyer Mintz.




hen you started your construction business, it was simple and fun. You were in control of your destiny, priced estimates yourself, presented bids in person, signed every contract, made all the important decisions, negotiated subcontracts, ordered materials needed, supervised most jobs, handled the paperwork, created invoices and paid bills, met with customers, handled problems, and got things finished. It was satisfying being the busy business owner doing everything it took to win work, build it, and get paid. Because you were a good contractor, did excellent work, and provided great customer service at a fair price, you got more referrals and landed more projects to build. To handle the growing volume of work, you hired a few more field workers and an assistant supervisor. All employees reported directly to you and were under your constant supervision and direction. You continued to get busier and busier and therefore had to hire even more people to handle the multiple jobs you were contracted to complete. As you grew, however, cash flow got tighter and tighter and it turned out the people you hired were not the most experienced — or what you really needed — to help you do more.

When you do work, you donʼt grow! As your company grows, you eventually reach your personal limits and realize you canʼt handle much more work than you already have. Your calendar is full, your day is packed, youʼre working all week, twelve hours a day, and it gets more stressful every day. Youʼre unable to keep up with all the tasks, orders, contracts, inspections, meetings, demands, employee questions, paperwork, and problems you have to take care of. Your to-do list is too big to complete, and youʼve reached the limit of what you 120 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

can control and do yourself — the level at which you are about to explode.

Are you at the stuck level? When you spend all your time doing the work, you get stuck and canʼt grow beyond what you can personally do. Most companies stop growing when the business owner reaches the maximum level of what they can do themselves. Micromanage, supervise, and control. It is like a valve that stops all work flow at a certain level. Has your company stopped growing? Look at the many companies you do business with. Most stopped growing at a certain size or level. Some stop at 10 employees, 3 crews, 25 people, or in some cases as many as 50 or 75 total workers. Whatever the level is, theyʼre stuck at a level thatʼs determined by what the owner can control, manage, and do. And when the company reaches this level, the owner is usually overworked, stressed-out, underpaid, and has no life. And the company doesnʼt make enough money for all the effort and stress it takes to keep all the balls in the air.

Are you the problem? Bad things continue to happen at the “stuck” level. When all you have time for is to do work, you donʼt have time to go out and get enough work to keep your company growing. This downward cycle eventually destroys a potentially great company. Obviously, you canʼt do more work yourself. You have to free yourself from the day-to-day supervisory activities that bog you down and hold your company back. And you canʼt continue to hire inexperienced managers to run your projects or cheaper workers to do field tasks required.

To get out of the "do" role, you must delegate the work responsibilities required to build projects from start to finish.

What is the solution? To get your business growing, you must realize the problem is likely you. You are holding your company back with an overbearing, controlling management style and your unwillingness to let go or delegate most decisions to key managers to run the do part of your business. Again, look at successful companies who continue to grow and make lots of money. What do they do that your company doesnʼt? Successful construction companies have a strong, experienced management team of key leaders who know how to run a business, manage projects, and supervise productive crews efficiently. The owners of these top companies donʼt do work, negotiate subcontracts, supervise work, schedule crews or equipment, order material, or get involved with project details. The owners, however, manage the management team with a series of meetings, targets, and scorecards to keep the team accountable and responsible for achieving the desired results needed to hit the overall company goals.

Get in the grow business When I coach construction company owners to help them grow, the first step is to determine the growth barrier that exists in their business. They generally have a “lack of the right people” problem. It could be a weakness in accounting, estimating, office management, project management, supervision, or out in the field. Take a hard look at what you need to free you up and get out of the do mode. Where do you need to delegate activities by handing them off to experienced, professional managers who can get things done right without your constant supervision and micromanagement? To get out of the do role, you must delegate the work responsi-

bilities required to build projects from start to finish. Great companies have accountable project managers, detailed contract administrators, experienced supervisors, and take-charge foremen who get things done per the contract, on time, and under budget. Where is your weakness? If you donʼt fill the void and cut out the deadwood in your organization, you canʼt let go and will never get out of the do role! Growing companies have a major focus on growing their business. They have a business development strategic plan, marketing plan, sales plan, and a biz-dev activities calendar that lays out all the sales and marketing activities for the year. They also have a pinpointed customer target list of potential high-profit customers they want to find, attack, and acquire. Each of these targeted customers has a detailed action plan to stay in touch and convert them from first-time customers to repeat customers to loyal, regular clients.

Are you the best salesperson in your company? The best salesperson and business development director for most construction companies is the owner. After getting your company properly organized with the right people in place to handle the do part of your work, you, the owner, can then spend up to 50% of your time getting work and growing the business. Remember, the more you do, the less your company makes! Do what you need to do to get your company growing. 

As a professional construction business coach and popular speaker, George Hedley helps contractors grow, make more profit, and get their companies to work! He is the best-selling author of Get Your Construction Business to Always Make a Profit (available on Amazon.com). B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 121

Teen Mark-It

CHEF EITAN – A Surefire Recipe for Success at Sixteen M. C. Millman

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here other 16-year-olds can be found chilling in the few minutes between classes, Eitan Bernath uses his “spare” time in school to run his business. “I use that time to edit pictures, respond to correspondences, work on scheduling, or write recipes and blog,” he says. Eitan Bernath — known as Chef Eitan Bernath — is a creative teen entrepreneur, using talent, creations, and intellectual property to work as a self-described foodie, food blogger, YouTuber, food photographer, and recipe developer. Eitan achieved almost overnight fame when he was only 12-years-old. He’d filled out an application to get onto Chopped, a reality-based cooking television game show series, never quite believing that he would be chosen. But make it he did, and today he credits this appearance as having turned his passion for cooking into a career. The appearance on Chopped led to cooking demos across the tristate area and eventually across the whole United States. But that was just the beginning. “If you would have asked me back then,” Eitan says, “what my vision for the future would have been, it would be very different from where I see myself in the future based on where I am today.”

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The Beginnings of a Business and a Passion Eitan specializes in what he describes as international — and often exotic — comfort food. “I am all about flavors, techniques, and spices from around the world,” he says. “My mother used to cook very traditional Jewish food, while I was into different flavors like Mexican and Indian or deep-fried food. I would ask my mother to make the food I liked until she finally said, ‘Why don’t you go into the kitchen and try yourself?’” Eight-year-old Eitan did just that. His family quickly got used to the fact that while other boys Eitan’s age might have a passion for sports, Eitan’s passion was cooking. Today, Eitan’s mother doesn’t make dinner quite as often as she used to: Eitan frequents the kitchen — his favorite room in the house — developing his own recipes and making dinner and snacks for family and friends. The Process “The majority of cooking I do is recipe development for my YouTube channel and Instagram page,” says Eitan. “That means I have to make each recipe multiple times. I make a test recipe two or three times and then make it again for the photo shoot, and then a fourth or even a

fifth time for the video shot since I don’t do it all the shooting on the same day, and I need the food fresh for each step. “I put a lot of thought and planning into all of the pictures and videos I post. They aren’t just random, spontaneous shots but are carefully considered and planned. I need to plan a recipe a month ahead to get the best content possible.” That explains why Eitan’s Instagram page was chosen to be featured by Instagram itself on its @Instagram page with over 230 million followers. “Putting yourself out there is scary!” says Eitan. “There will always be someone who is ready to criticize what you are, how you talk, or what you believe in, but I’ve grown a thick skin over the past five years. I’ve heard everything, and things don’t get to me anymore.” Rebranding Eitan originally branded himself as a kosher food blogger, and presented videos, recipes, posts, and the like accordingly. Two years ago Eitan made the conscious decision to rebrand himself as a food blogger who happens to be kosher. He doesn’t hide that he keeps kosher. He also wears his yarmulke in all of his cooking demos and talks about cooking kosher, and upcoming Jewish holidays. “The Jewish part is just not the forefront of my brand,” says Eitan, who feels super honored to be serving as an ambassador for the Jewish People through his work that reaches hundreds of thousands of people. When he gets comments like, “It’s so cool you’re so proud of your religion!” or “I was so proud to see you wearing a kippah on TV!” he knows he is doing something right. “The kosher market is only so big, but the market of people interested in food is open to billions,” he says, explaining the power of his branding efforts. “The majority of my followers are not Jewish, and I am probably the only Jewish person these people know.” In this past year alone, Eitan’s social media market has expanded by 100,000. Growing Pains When Chef Eitan was featured on @Instagram last year and published a post about Chanukah, he experienced a strong blast of anti-Semitic feedback. “The same thing happened when I went to Israel last summer and posted about it. But I don’t let it affect me. Anytime you put yourself out there you are going to find hate, whether it’s about what you wear, what you believe in, your religious beliefs, or if you misspelled a word. People will find what to hate. I don’t let it get to me.” Recipe for Success Unlike your average 16-year-old, Eitan gets up every morning (besides for Shabbos) at 5 a.m., the time he feels he is most productive. Each morning, Eitan is excited to start his day and get to work on what he sees himself doing for the rest of his life. “There’s a lot of scheduling involved,” Eitan says. “I am a very organized, scheduled person. In the past few months, I found I was spending too much time on business. I knew I needed to make more of an effort to make time for friends so I eliminated some things from what I do.” Some of those “things” included giving cooking demos, as Eitan realized that they were cutting into his weekends and absorbing the time he would have hung B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 125

out with friends. “Friends are a priority,” says Eitan. “They are supportive, and as an added benefit, they get food!” Actually, Eitan’s 2019 goal is to plan even more time for friends. This might have gotten more challenging as Eitan won the Vidcon Creator Grant during the last week in December of 2018. He plans on using the grant to create even more incredible content via his vlogs, but given Eitan’s exceptional planning skills, there is hope his friends won’t suffer too much. “I make sure to plan things ahead,” says the eleventh grader. “If I have a YouTube shoot on a Sunday, I am going to do my homework early on Thursday or Friday.” And friends are part of that focus — even if in Eitan’s world that means putting them on the schedule. How does Eitan have time for school? The key, Eitan says, is balance. “I’ve learned a good balance over the past five years. I don’t do sports or whatever extracurricular activities others do. Blogging is a full-time focus — weekends, before and after school. This is my priority.” Given that Eitan does everything himself when it comes to editing his work — his pictures, his videos, and his cooking — he sure needs that time. How does Eitan come up with the recipes and food videos he posts twice weekly? “It’s whatever I’m craving,” he says. “I might be in the middle of doing homework when it hits me that I need a gauc burger, or deepfried mac and cheese balls or… I get intense cravings and whenever that happens, I write it down to make later.” On the Horizon Looking toward the future, Eitan hopes to continue doing exactly what he is doing — though he is hoping to expand to larger platforms in order to reach millions. “The older generation doesn’t realize how profitable this is, and that I can do what I do now, but for a living — earning money on social media from paid advertisements and sponsors and from speaking engagements. People don’t recognize that there are so many more jobs for people involved in food outside of being a chef or caterer. I can’t even see myself as a chef, stuck cooking in the back of a restaurant. I can see my career going many different directions.” 126 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

Eitan’s Instagram page was chosen to be featured by Instagram itself on its @Instagram page with over 230 million followers.

EITAN’S GUIDANCE ON SEEKING SUCCESS Don’t limit yourself. I don’t let the idea that people will criticize me limit me in what I will do and how I will grow. Be passionate about what you do. If you are passionate about something, there is no reason you can’t do it. Success is not an accident. Each recipe I make might look easy, but it takes hours and hours of work and planning to conceive of the idea, create it, and simplify it for use at home. Listen to the happy people. Don’t listen to the haters and don’t waste time with people who hate other people they have never met. Respect yourself. If you are doing the same work as an adult, you should expect to be treated and paid as an equal. Don’t let your age, or anything else stop you from what you want to do. When you hear, “You’re just a kid!” realize that you’re not just a kid. You are human, and you can do it. Dream big. People will tell you that your dreams aren’t possible. Realize that they are putting their own negative thoughts and limitations on you. If they tell you that you can’t succeed in your dream, it’s because they can’t.

To nominate a candidate for Teen Mark-It,email us at info@btankmoguls.com. B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 127

Contributor Directory Accounting


Eisenkraft CPA & Consulting Gary Eisenkraft

Hard Hat Presentations George Hedley

212-689-2655 eisenkraftcpa.com

949-633-2240 GH@HardhatPresentations.com www.HardhatPresentations.com



Wise CPA Group Samuel Wise Chicago, Illinois Samuel.wise@wisecpagroup.com

Amazon Marketing services Best Seller Listers Mac Schlesinger 1 intrernational blvd mahwah nj 07495 845-662-4827 info@bestsellerlisters.com bestsellerlisters.com

Amazon Sellers Services Amazon Sellers Group TG/ ASGTG Ed Rosenberg 2329 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11210 844-427-4844 sellersgrouptg@gmail.com asgtg.com

Business Consulting, Planning, Financials, and Graphic Designing

Bardos Business Breakthrough, LLC Isaac (Yitz) Bardos Boca Raton, FL and Worldwide 702-703-4097 Isaac@IsaacBardos.com IsaacBardos.com

Hamaspik of Kings County, Inc Naftali Tessler

Legal (Intellectual Property)

71 E. Eckerson Rd, Spring Valley, NY 10977 845-445-7300 efraim@mavensoftwaresolutions.com mavensoftwaresolutions.com

Amster Rothstein & Ebenstein LLP Mark Berkowitz

Digital Marketing

90 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016 212-336-8063 mberkowitz@arelaw.com www.arelaw.com

Blue thread marketing Mordecai Holtz

Legal (Intellectual Property)

Yehuda 7, Elazar Israel 914-775-5541 Mordecai@bluethreadmarketing.com Bluethreadmarketing.com

E-commerce consulting

Cape Town, South Africa (2)783-282-4243 hendrik@bluecapeventures.com

Commercial Photography (Amazon and all other media)


Maven Software Solutions Efraim Wachsman

7001 N Route 309, Suite 169 #240 , Coopersburg, PA 18036 810-252-6435 michael@envisicore.com www.envisicore.com

19 Oregon Ave Jackson NJ 08527 732-606-2882 Info@k2photo.net

14 N. Madison Avenue, #201 845-738-1661 ext. 200 lfreiman@itconinc.com www.itconinc.com

Custom Software & Websites

Blue Cape Ventures Hendrik Laubscher

K2 Photography Chaim Friedman

ItCon Leah Freiman

4102 14th Avenue 718-483-3752 NTessler@Hamaspikkings.org www.Hamaspikkings.org

Envisicore, LLC Michael Collischan

Commercial Photography (Amazon and all other media)

IT Consulting, Networking, Security, Management

Ecommerce Insurance Ashlin Hadden Insurance Ashlin Hadden 317-771-9185 ashlin@ashlinhaddeninsurance.com www.ecom.insure

Entrepeneur Aron Kaufman ari kaufman <arikaufman4@gmail.com>

Amster Rothstein & Ebenstein LLP Tuvia Rotberg 90 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016 212-336-8175 trotberg@arelaw.com www.arelaw.com

Mental Health Mordechai Weinberger LCSW PLLC Mordechai Weinberger 718 633-1755 Winnerformula@gmail.com

Photography (Training) Vivid Studios NY Raizy Ciment 845-608-9744 info@vividstudiosny.com www.vividstudiosny.com

Product Prepping and Co-packing EZ - REPACKS LLC Fred Engel 725 Airport Rd Lakewood NJ 08701 732-666-9191 ezrepacks@gmail.com www.ezrepacks.com

Real Estate Investments and Education Citadel Holdings Dovid Preil Jerusalem, Israel 201-357-7656 dovid@citadelholdings.co.il www.citadelholdings.co.il


Tax Accounting Advisory

Bottom Line Marketing Group Yitzchok Saftlas

Joshua Kohen CPA PC Joshua Kohen

2076 Flatbush Avenue, Marine Park, NY 11234 718-412-3505 ys@bottomlinemg.com BottomLineMG.com

23 Robert Pitt DR Suite 102-F, Monsey, NY 10952 845-517-4250 joshua@kohencpa.com www.kohencpa.com

Marketing C+A GLOBAL Abraham Bree 1236 E. 35 Street Brooklyn, NY 11210 347-439-0270 abrahambree@gmail.com www.abrahambree.com

Tax Accounting Advisory VPTax Inc. Judah Fish 929-249-4065 jfish@vptax.com www.vptax.com

Ron Benvenisti Photography Ron Benvenisti 1005 Princewood Avenue, Lakewood NJ 08701 917-709-1228 ron@ronbenvenisti.com ronbenvenisti.com


B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 129

MEET THE MOGULS Founder and managing partner of ASM properties LLC., is involved in real estate dealings and developments across the US, and has invested in multiple start-ups in the fields of communication, craft beer, and entertainment, among others.

Mortgage and real estate industry guru and angel investor to dozens of businesses from food to fashion.

Anthony Pinkesz

Founder and CEO of 5WPR, one of the 15 largest independently owned PR firms in the US, and early investor in JetSmarter and other start-ups and ventures.

Founder, managing partner at DiamondRock, LLC., invests in public companies and is primarily responsible for developing investment strategies.

Ronn Torosian

Founder of Anthiem Ventures, an angel investment fund company investing in disruptive early technology start-ups, seasoned business leader and philanthropist, highly active in Jewish communal and educational spheres.

Founder and CEO of Logix ITS, an accelerator and incubator of companies in traffic, parking, and enforcement space. He's previously run a private equity fund, and written the business valuation manual for predecessor to Deloitte & Touche.

Aaron Herzog

Michael Schwartz

Dan (Daniel) Bock is currently the managing director of Infinity Investments, LLC. Prior to forming Infinity, Dan practiced law in the areas of complex commercial transactions and litigation. He also serves on the Arizona Board of Advisors and National Council for AIPAC, as well as on Jewish National Fund's Arizona Board of Trustees.

CEO and an owner of Curtis International, a consumer product manufacturer, and an investor in companies.

Dov Elias graduated as an attorney from NYU, has practiced real estate law, and is currently a real estate investor. He co-runs several charities including Avigdor's Helping Hand, Yad Chaya, and Hashevaynu.

Michael Schwartz founded and grew Ramapo Wholesalers into a multi-branch distributor with 7 locations before selling to Ferguson Enterprises. He is currently a business consultant and investor.

Vice-president of RIK Enterprises. RIK invests in commercial real estate and private equity and hedge funds, as well as in other industries. Nathan serves on the board of several international Jewish organizations.

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Shlomo Drazin

Louis Newman

Nathan Klein

Graduated from Sy Syms Business School in 1996 with a major in finance, and worked at HSBC. He later partnered with a cousin to buy Splash Home, an import company, while dealing in real estate together with his father. Drazin also serves as president of ebrew Academy of Montréal., and is involved in many other worthy organizations throughout Montréal.

Investor in dozens of start-ups and represents an investment group looking to fund exciting new companies.

Founder, president, and CEO of Holand Automotive Group. He built one of Montreal's largest automotive groups, encompassing Holand Leasing, Omega Leasing, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Québec, and Karma Montréal. Gad Bitton

Active investor in funds and real estate and early stage companies, film producer and venture capitalist.

Srully Wolfson

Ezriel Rappaport

Gedaliah Weinberger

Dan (Daniel) Bock

Eli Verschleiser

Adam Margules

Neil Rock

Founding partner and chairman of the Multi Group of Companies, philanthropist, financier, real estate developer, and investor in commercial real estate and business ventures.

Dov Elias

Tanya Rosen is the founder and owner of Nutrition by Tanya and she's helped over 30,000 clients in 10 locations reach their weight loss and health goals. She also started the TAP food line which sells over 100,000 items a month.

Tanya Rosen

NEW INVESTORS Alan Wink is the director of capital markets at Eisner Amper, one of the largest advisory and accounting firms in the US, and a leader in the firmĘźs technology group. Alan has 20 years of financial and consulting experience, having served as Director of the Interfunctional Management Consulting Program at Rutgers Graduate School of Management. He also maintains an active contact base with angel investors, venture capital funds, private equity funds, and devises strategies that allow both entrepreneurs and their investors to achieve desired return thresholds.

Alan Wink

Elie Y. Katz is president and CEO of National Retail Solutions (NRS), one of the nationĘźs fastest growing POS networks. He has invested in and owned close to twenty food venues and his real estate portfolio includes commercial, mixed use, and land properties. Elie is also the deputy mayor in Teaneck, New Jersey. He has held several political positions in Teaneck, and helped bring the town millions of dollars in new revenue.

Elie Y. Katz

Yisrael (Freddy) Friedman is an alumnus of both RJJ Yeshiva in Edison, NJ and Brisk Yeshiva in Israel. He was hired by the Gateways organization over a decade ago to assist in their shidduchim division and has since made several hundred shidduchim. In addition to bringing couples together, Yisrael utilizes his experience as a matchmaking negotiator to broker and invest in several business sectors, including healthcare and real estate. Several years ago he joined Riverside Abstract to build relationships and expand their networks.

Yisrael (Freddy) Friedman

Shaul C. Greenwald, Esq. is the CEO of The Riverside family of companies which includes Riverside Abstract, Riverside 1031, Riverside TACS, and The Riverside Experience. Riverside has become a full-service, national title agency servicing the real estate industry with over 5,000 files closed and over $13 billion in transactions in 2017.

Shaul C. Greenwald

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Anthony Pinkesz

Dan Bock

Alan Wink

Tanya Rosen






JT Salamon

Ultimate Workout and Recovery

A complete adaptive home

$830K to $1.25 Million


gym for anyone at home needing fitness or rehab

With Pierre Woods,Former New England Patriot Linebacker who played under Bill Bellichick from 2006 to 2010,and product endorser and Ambassador from 2015

JT Salamon has been a personal trainer and wellness specialist for 15 years and has helped hundreds of clients of all ages including geriatric, bariatric, injured, and disabled patients. He has been an inventor of adaptive home fitness equipment since 2013. His interests include being a voice for the millions ignored in regards to fitness and creating solutions to the common, yet neglected difficul132 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

ties. He is also the chairman at Ultimate Workout and Recovery and on the board of In Bed and Chair Recovery Foundation. The two other partners in this ventures are Vlad Feldman, who has been a successful mechanical engineer for dozens of years, and Dr Salamon who has been one of the top cataract and eye specialists in Ohio since 1985.

JT Salamon

THE PITCH JT: Good afternoon, investors. I've identified a huge need in a wide ranging and largely ignored market, and invented something very unique to fill that gap. It's called a 100-use adaptive exercise, fitness, and wellness system that goes over a wheelchair, bed, and recliner or even a den's La-Z-Boy. I worked hard to bring this idea to reality and obtained strong patents for the product. Caregivers and moms can purchase this for clients, friends and family members who are in bed, wheelchairs, and recliners, and cannot get up due to surgery, injury disability, or disease — whether this is short or long term — have a very difficult time working out or strength training safely or doing any other critical physical activity. This includes seniors, children, veterans, and adults of all ages who are

Samuel M. Salamon, MD, FRCSC, FACS

Founding Partner, CFO, Ultimate Workout and Recovery practicing ophthalmologist in Greater Cleveland for over 30 years

homebound due to any kind of situation — cancer, PTSD, post-surgery, obesity, injury — any kind of issue where they cannot — or don't want to — leave home. They have a very difficult time accessing effective fitness and recovery care. They are then in very real danger of finding their muscles atrophied or getting depressed, and run risks of getting into issues that can lead to major heart issues or strokes, in addition to all the other ills that come from being sedentary for a long amount of time. Our product is cutting edge and provides an exciting solution to this issue. We bring a complete fitness and recovery exercise right where the person is — at home or in a facility — and our product gives the full workout in a quick, fun manner. Our true goal, though, is to really help as many kids, seniors, veterans, etc.

Vlad Feldman

Partner and Mechanical Engineer consultant for Ultimate Workout and Recovery

as possible with this product. It’s an adaptive specialty, and adaptive sports – and working out in general — is a very hot today. We see a market in the health and fitness, possibly medical, adaptive/rehab spaces, schools, and home care. We have a lot of material online, including videos, photos, PR releases, endorsements and testimonials, but we have to get it out there in a big way. Once we do that, we believe sales will take off in a really explosive manner. We're looking for active, engaged, and connected investors with a big hearts and forward thinking, creative minds to help us fund sales, marketing, and advertising. We know that there's a global market for millions of people that need this game changer; they just need to hear about our product.

Adaptive sports are competitive or recreational sports for people with disabilities. However, they allow modifications necessary for people with disabilities to participate and many sports use a classification system that puts athletes with physical challenges on an even playing field with each other. B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 133

THE QUERIES ALAN: How many pieces would a typical 200–300 bed facility acquire? JT: If we can clear the insurance reimbursement angle, every floor at any facility can have between three to five. This'll typically mean 10–15 pieces for the average facility. TANYA: How far along are you with this? JT: We already brought the idea from concept to creation — including IP patents — to sales and endorsements. Now we're looking for the right partners to help us reach a major level of sales nationally and globally. DAN: How have you been funded to date? JT: There are three owners and we invested approximately $450,000 in the past five years. DAN: I think you have a good idea, but you've been around a while, and you haven't had the kind of traction that you thought you would. However, I'm a firm believer in the fact that things cost more money and take a lot longer than most people think. TANYA: Do you have inventory? JT: Very little is needed, since these pieces are made to order. ALAN: Are these identical or custom made?

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JT: Both. The functionality is identical, but we customize it to make it fit specific beds or chairs and the reach of individuals in the beds or chairs. WE'RE also thinking that whoever invests with us will get their name plates on each product we manufacture. So, every product that is out there in a facility or a home or whatever it is, will have the investor’s nameplate on it. This is a great way to co-brand and create marketing power to facilities, organizations and individual consumers. ANTHONY: What is the production cost? JT: If we do one at a time, it's $750; if we make 100 at a time, it goes down to $500; If we make 1,000 at a time, cost goes down to $425 per manufactured and fulfilled unit, made in the US. TANYA: How has your growth been during the past five years? JT: Our growth has been very good in terms of adding a lot of assets to our business. We've gotten amazing feedback and endorsements from top Pilates professionals, influential physicians, celebrities, and institutional ambassadors around the world. These can all be seen on our website at www.workoutandrecovery.com

ANTHONY: How many have you sold already? JT: We have only sold individual units but that is because we have been to only ten or so shows In the first two years. If we are not in shows all the time or really heavily advertising it's tough to get major bulk sales by the hundreds or thousands at a time. That's what we need funding for: To promote this product to the correct mass markets consistently. ANTHONY: How much have are you selling each piece for? JT: Approximately $1,200-$1,750. This is what experts told us it’s worth, but we hope to be able to bring down the price as we scale – which we will be able to do. ANTHONY: Any plans for more products? JT: Yes, there are prototypes of many different sizes for different ages and conditions. However, this product serves everyone. And yes, part of ongoing development will be to innovate more mobility products down the road. We also offer invention coaching and fitness consulting services surrounding the product for those looking to invent their own product, and we believe this is a major added bonus to our valuation.

TANYA: What was the growth like of the individual units that you sold? Did it increase over time? JT: It's very tough to really hammer that down because we haven’t focused on selling one by one in the past 18 months. Lately we focused on growing relationships where we can focus on selling huge quantities exclusively and building up stronger content.

to sell in bulk quantities — and the organization will donate them to families in need of the products use. We sold a few at $1,500 each, at our first couple of expos. The only reason we haven't sold many thousands and even hundreds of thousands of these as of now is because we have not had the right funding

capacity to advertise to the right venues consistently. TANYA: Does insurance cover the equipment at all? JT: As more of a wellness and fitness system we aren’t covered by insurance now; if somebody has good relationships to high-level

ALAN: Where are you located? JT: In the Cleveland area. ALAN: And where is the product made? JT: In the Cleveland area. ALAN: In your own facility or third-party manufacturer? JT: Third-party manufacturer. We have a small manufacturing company in Chesterland, near Cleveland, and we have a major manufacturer in Youngstown who is ready to make 1,000 or more for us as we speak. DAN: You've piqued my curiosity. I live in Phoenix now, but my wife is from Cleveland and my mother-n-law is in an assisted living facility there. All anyone does there is sit around and watch TV all day long. I believe that there is a market for this product. But, you can have a great product, yet without a good sales, marketing, and revenue model you're not going to get anyplace. JT: That is why we are working with BizTank and other avenues simultaneously. We haven’t tried the one-by-one sales recently because we don't have the funding we want to go after those small projects. So, we focused mainly on partnerships with organizations. We donated a product to OHEL in Flatbush, for example. We sent the product to Abu Dhabi to the king's special needs organization called Zayed Higher Organization. Going after organizations such as these may allow us B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 135

JT: Between 25% to 49%, and you can be on the advisory board. We can also have every product that is manufactured get the nameplate of the investors — however they want it — on each unit. There are a few different things that we add in. We can also offer the right, connected investor to get 90% of our entire company and all assets at $2 million. The investor can then take over the entire operation while giving us 10% royalties. This investor would obviously have to be well connected with aluminum manufacturing and sales distribution. DAN: How would you use the money?

people at insurance companies they may be able to push it through.

one having a physical therapist coming to their house, which insurance would cover?

TANYA: I feel like if doctors were recommending it and insurance was covering at least a part of it, there would be so much more going for it.

JT: This product means that you don't have to rely on a physical therapist or be dependent on anyone coming over. Having this at home empowers people to get their fitness strength training done in dozens of fun and exciting different ways on their own, or with the help of an aide or family member. It also helps every problem associated with the fall risk, and eliminates the risk too. You can also have a PT come in and integrate the product in their services, and the visit can be a regular part of the billing process, which can be a major added bonus.

ALAN: How do you sell the product? JT: Online. ALAN: You have a sales force reaching out to hospitals? JT: Right now we don't have great inside salespeople because we don't have the funding we want for that. We do have some outside salespeople. Our true focus should be hiring people to sell to schools and their physical education departments since we know this will be a grand slam sale for any school. DAN: What is patented? JT: The design and attachments of the device. TANYA: How does this differ from some136 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

TANYA: Is there a way to convert it? Like let's say someone is temporarily unable to go exercise and recovering. Is there a way to later convert it to something functional, so it's not laying around being wasted? JT: Yes. There are a few different ways to do this. ALAN: If I write a check for a million dollars, what am I getting?

JT: Some of it would go towards heavy promotions and advertising to the all the right markets through social media and other digital marketing such as Google AdWords that are caregiver- and senior-focused. We're also putting money toward hiring the right national sales recruiters and national sales reps so that they can go after facilities, schools, and organizations very aggressively. We’d put $250,000 towards manufacturer fulfillment, so that we have the product set and ready to go. The remaining $250K would go towards anything else necessary, with the input of the investor. We're open minded and ready to hear how investors want to see the money allocated. We believe once the product is out there to the right segments, the $1 million can potentially grow to someplace between $15–$20 million or more, possibly within the first year – if done correctly. All we need to sell for this to happen is between 2000 -2,500 units nationally or globally. Once we have the right funding, this isn’t a lot. ALAN: What are additional potential uses for this product? JT: The product can help with mobility. So, if somebody needs to get into or out of bed or a chair, the product is strong and can support someone to do that. It also

has wheels, so it can be used instead of a walker to walk down a facility's long hallway, for example. It can also help kids learn fitness early, at home, in a safe manner. This will help them get into the habit, build strength, and prevent obesity. A gymnast can use it for gymnastic routines. Kids can use this thing from their La-Z-Boy as a swing or to get fit and strong. As mentioned above, this can be used for a family activity of just five minutes a day for everyone in the family – able bodied or disabled – the return on the investment for a consumer or mom buyer is immeasurable. TANYA: What inspired you invent this? JT: Here's how I came up with this idea: Vladimir Feldman, our mechanical engineer consultant and business partner, was at a nursing home and there was someone there who was depressed. He was ignored and wasting away, while the aides were just standing around in the hallway chattering on their phones. Knowing my background in regards to fitness and wellness, he asked me if there's anything available in terms of exercise for

the population that doesn’t have much mobility. Daily fitness isn’t always a priority in nursing homes. People don't realize that ten minutes a day is nothing for the population above the age of 65. They're in danger of losing muscles and bones at a very fast rate, and it’s important for them to be on top of their game in the best and safest way possible. I started looking into what could be done for people confined to bed, wheelchairs, and even recliners, at home or facility, and this is the product we came up with to help them. We have a whole fitness system that goes over a wheelchair, bed or recliner. It can serve and fix so many issues like strength, mobility, fitness, cardio, weight loss, atrophy, and so much more. I believe that we're looking at a market now of 10–20 million people in the US who are actually confined to a bed or chair, short or long term. This includes bariatric — people who are over 400 pounds — as well as the very large ill and geriatric population. We are also seeking to reach out to the able-bodied market of millions of moms who have families and could absolutely

utilize this for their kids, or for themselves as a fast, fun, and convenient workout right from their den’s La-Z-Boy. Kids having fitness contests, for example, is the best way possible to get them excited about healthy habits and routines early on in their life. We provide that option. DAN: Many places have one vendor outfitting their gym. Have you approached any of the big manufacturers out there to see if you can sell it to them or partner up with private labeling for them? JT: We did try the company Precor for example, but I haven’t gotten through to any decision makers and didn’t feel like pursuing that avenue at that time. ALAN: How difficult is it to assemble? Once you have it set up in your home, do you need someone to help you to design an exercise program? JT: Once you have it set up in your home, we recommend you watch our videos to see how to use it or download our assembly and exercise information from our website links. We also have links on our web-

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site pointing you to local handymen or personal trainers in your area. We do this as a courtesy. ALAN: What are the early reviews? JT: We've gotten amazing reviews at expos and have never had a complaint — which is highly unusual — because which market doesn’t have its share of complainers? We have an incredible review from the new Flatbush OHEL about how it's utilized in their DayHab program. We have from Dr. Michael Roizen, who is a top wellness physician, co-author with Dr Oz on multiple wellness books on health from the world famous Cleveland Clinic too. Celebrity fitness expert Darci Bawdon, who has trained Sally Field and Salma Hayek also endorses us. We have many more fitness coaches highly recommend us. We have a nice number of testimonials on our website, www.workoutandrecovery.com. Our favorites though is New York

Times best-selling author, and creator of top-selling fitness workouts who has sold millions of videos, Kathy Smith. An endorsement like Kathy Smith is literally worth $1 million dollars. We also have other high- level endorsers who specialize in Pilates and yoga. They are all directly related to our product’s uses. ALAN: And what has been the talk among the physical therapy community on this? JT: We sold a couple to a physical therapist, but it’s tricky because physical therapists sometimes see it as a threat. However, I believe that if they get educated, and put their fears on the side, they'll embrace it as a win that can help them not only stand out from competitors when it comes to their services but also as a swiss army knife in bag of tricks. The education is another thing we need funding for. Personal trainers, though, and caregivers love the product thus far.

DAN: In a nursing home, do you need someone who is trained to work the equipment? JT: This is more of fitness product than a medical product, so we don't need to do that. But yes, they can become familiar with the product on their own using our website. And it’s not just nursing homes that we're thinking about penetrating; we can go after all the senior centers around the country — even the YMCA, home health care organizations, and anything to do with the aging population. ALAN: How difficult is it to assemble this? JT: Not very; takes around five minutes. TANYA: How compact is it, for example when someone isn’t using it daily? JT: It comes apart and can be stored in a closet, or under a bed. However, it’s not just for people who are bound to bed; it’s a great strengthening tool for everyone in the family to use for all kinds of reasons.

THE OFFER TANYA: I really like what you said about the product's use — about how it takes away the shame and depression of having to rely on the therapist to lift your leg. This product definitely has a lot of potential. However, I am concerned by the fact that you've been

working in the business for five years and have only done very little sales. JT: Tanya, the fact is we have sold successfully when we have been at expos. Also, you should be in because you have the widest market that can buy these — literally by the



We have already connected JT with professionals in the field to start intensive PR and begin the first steps in the marketing plan. JT has already gotten in touch with some key people, potential buyers and influential people in the healthcare/veterans industries. BizTank is also actively in talks with investors in the SNF industry. The BizTank team is dedicated to doing the heavy lifting in terms of bringing the product in front of the right people.



Since the show, we have tirelessly been working on the Ultimate Workout and Recovery gym on a daily basis. We have so far studied the insurance approval process and have been working on a detailed go-to market plan and strategy.

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thousands. You could potentially make five times your money back in the first year. You don't need insurance and doctors when it comes to selling these; this can do extremely well in the fitness space, especially with the mom consumer market which is extremely large especially in the NYC area.

I disagree with those who claim that ‘'so little was done in five years’’. The opposite, in fact, is true. We’ve created a lot of content regarding the product’s innovation: We have photos, videos, IP, influencers testimonials and other weighty endorsements. We also built a 501c3 Foundation, which most start-ups cannot do so easily. That adds a lot to the valuation. We are very proud of our unique and innovative life changing solution. This took a lot of time and effort, as well as the right people’s involvement. I believe we can and will be a $50 million company shortly. I've relayed to Tanya and Alan that we are open minded to doing whatever it takes to bring this product to the hundreds of thousands of people who need it, thereby increasing their quality of life.

The thing is that if this would be a $20 accessory, then I agree that if you haven't sold more than 100 of those little boot accessories, your track record isn’t very impressive. However, what's different here is this we have an incredible piece of life changing equipment that costs around $1,500. It took time to invent it and getting it out there is going to take effort and major funding more so than time. I believe that once we get the funding, the right marketing will help us get the money back in a very short time. All we would have to do to make the investor's money back — or double his money back — is sell only 2,000-2,500 or so of these pieces. And we can do so by test selling across many different platforms. I believe that we can make the money back — or even more — during the first year. After that, the investor will be looking at profit already. With a $20 item, you'd have to sell a 50,000 to see the money back.

Season 11


TANYA: If I’m in it, I’m in it to sell them in the millions. I think you’re a great inventor and your focus should be inventing and innovating more. Your best way would be to license the technology. I’m willing to consider a licensing deal based on due diligence. DAN: As I said earlier, I do believe that things cost more money and take a lot longer than most people think. That being said, I believe in betting on the jockey and here I differ with the strategy and vision set forth by the jockey. I'm also concerned that so little was done in five years. Therefore, I'm out. ANTHONY: I'd like to explore this a bit more. I have some friends who are in the SNF (Skilled Nursing Facility) industry that may benefit from your product. I'm going to speak to them about what they're currently using so that I can understand where your product fits in. ALAN: I’m still in. Here is what I think: You figured out the product and the potential targets but you haven’t figured out the step-by-step. I would like to work with you and Joel to create a step-by-step process and go-to market strategy. Once these details are worked out, I am willing to start the investment process. One off the bat suggestion I have for you is that : I believe you should change the name to The Ultimate Workout GYM. JT: Thanks for your time. 

Episode 51 Upperide Mendy Werzberger is the founder of Upperide, a commuter and helicopter ride-sharing operation. A potential area of expansion within his space includes real estate in the form of landing pads, which can then be rented to other companies. His company had a successful pilot season, and heʼs currently seeking a seed investment round of $8–$9 million for 50% of his company. The money will be used to finance aircraft and develop backend technology for a mobile app and CRM. Two moguls, Alan Wink and Shaul Greenwald, both expressed interest in investing in the company, based on the real estate angle.

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BIZTANK ON CAMPUS BizTank partnered with The Tamid Group, an organization that develops the professional skills of undergraduate students through hands-on interaction with the Israeli economy, to bring an immersive business experience to future entrepreneurs. This month, students paired up at Lander College for Men, a division of Touro College, and presented a suite of solutions on how to bring Spitball to the US market. Spitball is a free, Israel-based platform that enables users to work together on assignments, find the study materials they need, test their knowledge, and discuss ideas and texts. The students then presented before a panel of judges, who selected a winner based on sound strategy, clarity, and proof of concept. The panel of three judges included Lander College Assistant Dean Herb Ratner; BizTankʼs founder and publisher, Joel Klein; and CEO at Quad Construction, Dov Roth. Each team of students had done thorough research on the company and its competitors, and they were then tasked with

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Students compete in a Spitball spinoff

creating slideshows on their strategies for how to move the company forward. All strategies were data based, and presented in a clear and convincing fashion. “Every team made a compelling case,” Samuel Yudelzon, founder and president of Tamid at Touro says. “Even though there was only one winner, I think everyone gained tremendously from the experience. Before announcing who won, the judges gave everyone invaluable feedback on how they presented and what could be improved.” Yudelzon says that the goal of this competition is to encourage students to think like management consultants. This means conducting research, coming up with the best strategy, and convincing the client. “I am confident that our members will take what they saw and learned from the experience,” he adds, “and use it as a building block for their future careers as entrepreneurs, consultants, and professionals.”


tudent Benjamin Shtuyak was the winner of the Spitball case study competition. He did extensive research on the differences between Israeli and American students, identifying cultural, financial, and logistical challenges awaiting Spitball upon their attempted entry to the US market. Shtuyak explained how ramping up its artificial intelligence would allow Spitball to compete with American competitor Chegg by providing a larger platform, more academic resources, and friendlier subscription plans. Looking at the price points of other subscription-based services, which managed to keep students as long-term customers, Shtuvak proposed a $9.99 price point (based on Amazon Prime Time subscriptions). This would allow students to easily sign up, and then remain on board after seeing Spitballʼs value. Though the revenue per student each year wouldnʼt be great, a low price point would provide easy entry to the market, and would almost guarantee that students remain customers for their four years of college. The detailed data and on-target application Shtuyak used to prove his points were extremely well presented and showed a thorough understanding of Spitballʼs barrier to entry to the US market, as well as strategies for how to work around it.

HONORABLE MENTIONS Yomi Dubin, Netanel Alyeshmerni, Yonatan Meissner, and Nissan Meissner presented Spitballʼs core benefits, while proposing a creative plan on how to expand the platform with a reward system based on “Spitball currency.” Ezra Suss, Shalom Vanderhoof, and Samuel Yudelzon focused on the benefits of the serious student. In addition to proposing the addition of value through academic resources and peer and professor support, they also proposed several subscription plans with enticing features (such as ad-free feeds, study guides, a tutor exchange, etc.). Baruch Kimmel and Avi Pekarsky identified the space in the market (Chegg dominates most of the American scene) and its weaknesses. Since Chegg has wide name recognition, most students will choose them over a newer competitor. But, by identifying their weaknesses and promising to build upon Cheggʼs mistakes (such as customer service, pricing, customer feedback), they have a good chance of winning students over to Spitball. 

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Alan Wink Director of Capital Markets at EisnerAmper 142 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

Benny Rivkin

Sometimes, a company will expect to generate $60 million in sales in the next five years. The problem is, they know that there is only a $70 million market. They expect to earn close to 90% market share in five years.


etwork, Network, Network!” Alan advises. “Thatʼs what I would tell any budding entrepreneur. Build your Rolodex. Acquaint yourselves with people of similar age, and as your career grows, you can grow together.” This advice was tried and true for Alan Wink, director of capital markets at EisnerAmper. (EisnerAmper, a global accounting and advisory firm, has offices in the US, UK, Ireland, Singapore, and Israel.) As someone who slowly rose through the ranks of various investment firms, Alan believes that his mentors and colleagues gave him the experience necessary to achieve a successful career. Alan grew up in New Jersey and studied at Rutgers University. He holds an undergraduate degree in accounting and an MBA in finance from Rutgers Business School. His first foray into finance was a position as a staff accountant at Price Waterhouse, one of the Big Eight. (The top eight accounting firms in the world in the ʼ70s and ʼ80s were known as “The Big Eight.”) From there, Alan moved on to Wall Street, where he worked for City Investing for 13 years, as director of financial analysis. At City Investing, he dealt mainly with mergers and acquisitions. City was a $26 Billion holding company with strategic investments and equity in other companies. Alan participated in the successful acquisition of over $2.5 billion in transactions, and proudly executed three significant investments for City. He was involved with the acquisitions of Imperial Premium Finance, an insurance finance company; Gruntal Financial, a Wall Street brokerage firm; and Carteret Savings, a savings and loan institution in New Jersey. In his current position, Alan deals with clients on issues of corporate finance and capital formation. His vast experience in the world of finance gives him an edge when advising clients on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic alliances, and other private equity and venture capital opportunities. B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 143


“One of my best learning experiences,” Alan says, “was working with a senior consultant at BCG [Boston Consulting Group, one of the largest consulting firms in the United States]. He taught me superb analytical skills. Thanks to my experience and knowledge, I am able to ask the right questions and get to the essence of a business quickly, arriving at the right conclusions.” These skills propelled Alan to the top of his field, and he became known in the business world as someone who truly understands the nuts and bolts of the financial aspect of any business. Alan currently sits on the board of two technology organizations — the New Jersey Technology Council and Florida Venture Forum. Though Alan was involved with analytics and large corporations for most of his career, he is still intrigued by small start-ups. Alan considers it an honor to sit on BizTankʼs board of moguls and advise young entrepreneurs. “I like to help a start-up bridge the gap from being ʼentrepreneurially managed,ʼ to being professionally managed,” Alan explains. “Most entrepreneurs think product, product, product. They focus on building their product, raising capital, and finding customers to buy their product. But in reality, there is so much more involved in building a successful company. You use the same financial fundamentals in running a multi-million-dollar corporation, as you do when running a small business,” Alan explains. “The only difference is the number of zeros.” Seeing the maturation process of a seed stage company, and watching it go to the next level is something Alan takes special pleasure in. “Iʼve been with this ecosystem of venture capital and start-ups for a long time. Itʼs all about blocking and tackling. You need to develop a product, market it, hire qualified people to join your team, and of course, you need to finance it. Whether itʼs IBM or a small start-up, every business uses the same principles.” Alan lives in North Edison, NJ, with his wife, a pharmacist, his son, a plastic surgeon, and his daughter, who works in the education technology space. He supports the University of Pennsylvania, where both his children went to graduate school, and is active on the board of trustees of Rutgers Prep, an independent school. He was also their chairman of the finance committee for six years. 144 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

Since Alan takes advising companies seriously, he spends much time guiding company management teams to achieve their goals. When advising a new company, Alan, like a seasoned investor, looks more at the management team than the actual product. “Oftentimes,” he says, “a start-up will pivot a few times until they find their sweet spot in the market and are able to prosper.” If the team is not qualified to make those pivots successfully, the business will fail. “At the end of the day,” Alan quips, “a good investor invests in the jockey and not the horse.” He looks primarily at two characteristics when considering investing in a company: the CEOʼs educational background and prior experience. Even if the CEO had failures in the past, a good investor will see the value in that experience. A smart entrepreneur will learn from his failures, and many times, his experience can lead him to his next success. Alan will also look at the temperament of the team. Do they take criticism well? Can they be managed by others? Can they accept guidance from someone else? Do they understand who their target customer is? Do they understand how to target those customers? All these factors can play into a smart investment decision. “There are many times when a start-upʼs goals are shortsighted,” Alan says. Sometimes, a company will expect to generate $60 million in sales in the next five years. The problem is, they know that there is only a $70 million market. They expect to earn close to 90% market share in five years. It doesnʼt work like that.” Alan believes that the best business model is to sell into a large market. This way, even if you have a relatively small market share, you can still grow a sizable business. Sometimes, the founder of a start-up wonʼt understand why an investor says “no.” There are an infinite number of reasons. But in order for an investor to take a serious interest in a company, he has to see that the financial metrics are in place for a successful exit. A final piece of advice for the budding entrepreneur? “Find a mentor. Find someone smart who had a successful career. Go to him for advice.” One thing is certain — if you get Alanʼs advice on your business plan, itʼs worth millions. 

EXPERTS SPEAK Business Emotions

Mordechai Weinberger, LCSW

Business Growth Isaac Bardos

Business Sourcing Cynthia R. Darrison




Business Pitches


Business E-commerce


Business Games


Michael Collischan

Chaim Freidman

Bob Sager

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Business Emotions Mordechai Weinberger, LCSW

Dear Mordechai, Until two years ago, Iʼd been working at a very low-key, nonprofit office where a large part of my job required verbal communication, and virtually no computer or technology skills. Whenever necessary, the secretary would help me out with email or online assistance. In retrospect, neglecting to learn technology tools wasnʼt a smart idea. Two years ago, the non-profit closed due to infighting, and I was left without a job. Iʼve been haunting “help wanted” ads ever since and sending out my résumé, but I havenʼt seen any results. I believe that the reason for this is that Iʼm close to retirement age, and have absolutely no technological skills.


My income is important to my family, and I feel stuck. Do you think Iʼll be able to learn technology at this age? I sort of believe that you “canʼt teach an old dog new tricks” but my children tell me that Iʼm feeding myself the wrong message and that if I really work hard, I will succeed. My concern is twofold: 1. I donʼt know if I will actually succeed in learning technology. 2. Even if I do succeed, Iʼm afraid that it will take me so long, I might be past retirement age at that point — and how marketable will I be then? Aside from the factual issues, I feel despondent and useless. How can I strengthen myself in this area?

hank you for pointing out this very real issue that many people face as they grow older. Hiring a mature employee presents several issues to potential employers; some of these may be real and some are simply worries based on preconceptions. One of these concerns is the employerʼs discomfort with hiring someone who is older than he is (perhaps by decades). He worries that he wonʼt feel comfortable giving direction and criticism to someone who could be his mother or father. He might also realize that older employees will have a firmer sense of self-worth and boundaries, thereby making them more likely to say no to requests that intrude on their private time or other priorities. The overriding theme with these issues is the younger bossʼs fear that he wonʼt be able to exercise authority over an older employee. Another issue employers consider is the one your question presents: People who are older are sometimes more set in their ways, less flexible, and harder to teach. However, maturity has many selling points as well.

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Someone with a lot of life experience can help a boss refine his ideas and expand his horizons. Also, mature workers tend to be more meticulous, even if a bit slower, in their work. They know that rush jobs and last-minute efforts fall victim to the saying that “thereʼs never time to do it right but thereʼs always time to do it over.” Mature employees also set a more refined, professional tone in an office. The truth is that refusing to hire a qualified person on the basis of age is considered job discrimination, and is therefore illegal. Although we arenʼt advising anyone who is having trouble finding a job to start legal proceedings, the existence of the law should be enough to awaken employers to the unfairness of making negative assumptions based on an applicantʼs age. In short, your concerns are warranted. However, they are by no means the end of the story. Aging is a process that starts the day we are born and its fundamental feature is change. As a newborn, you canʼt hold up your head, and then one day you can; you see the world from a whole new perspective. You learn to walk, to run, to read, to take


B Empowered responsibility, to help others and ultimately, to allow others to help you. Aging successfully means being open to change. The day you stop learning and growing is the day you lay your potential to rest: “Some people die at 20 but theyʼre buried at 90.” The ability to learn any new skill, including computer skills, is a mind-set, not an age-set. It comes from the willingness to do whatever needs to be done. I have a good friend who lost his job at age 50. To pay the bills, he started driving taxis. He worked every day at this job with diligence and pride in his ability to continue supporting his family, never knowing if heʼd be driving for another week, month, or year. It took him six months to find a new job, and it paid significantly less than the one heʼd lost. He knew that he was better off taking what was available and adapting to the situation than waiting around for the perfect job. In fact, two years later he was earning as much as he had earned before he lost his job. The question is not your age or your skills. It is your willingness to look at the choices in front of you right now, take one, and adapt to the new reality. If at this point that means learning computers, you can choose to pay someone to teach you computers, web design, QuickBooks, or whatever will qualify you for the kind of job you want. You may find more options if youʼre willing to take a lower salary at a position thatʼll offer you the opportunity to grow. In my book Alive! there is a chapter called “New Beginnings,” which addresses the process of growth and change that is inherent in our lives. The key is to overcome your fear of failure. If you canʼt stand to fail then you canʼt stand to try anything outside your present comfort zone. Failing is a great sign that a person is alive and growing. If you take a computer course and find it hard at first, donʼt despair; give yourself a medal for bravery and keep marching! I would remind anyone reading this column that if your industry is changing and you are not, your livelihood is at risk. Even if you think youʼve seen it all, it pays to open your eyes and take a fresh look. Imagine the surprise at Microsoft when Google came on the scene and altered the map of the internet. Microsoft executives never thought search engines would become popular! Once they saw what was happening, they invented their own engine — Bing. Have you ever heard anyone say, “I needed to do some research so I Binged the topic?” The latecomer rarely rises to the top. To succeed, we need to always look for new potential in our businesses and in our lives. We need to be able to accept advice rather than brush it off because we know better. Lastly, I want to address your term “retirement age.” Unless youʼre talking about Social Security or a specific job that mandates retirement at a certain age, there is no such thing. People live decades longer than they once did, and if they have the blessing of good health and a sound mind, they can remain active in their professions either full-time, part-time, or as a consultant; or they may find a new line of work that theyʼve always wanted to try. I know several police officers who hit “retirement age” in their 50s and went to law school, reasoning theyʼd have at least another decade in which to practice. Itʼs never too early and never too late to try something new.  Mordechai Weinberger, LCSW, is a life and business coach and the director of the Mordechai Weinberger Center for Wellness, a six-therapist practice that sees more than 200 clients weekly. He is also the author of two books, Alive! and Mastering Relationships, as well as the host of four weekly international radio programs promoting mental health awareness.

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Business Growth Isaac Bardos



any people talk about goals. They say, “Set them, achieve them, and repeat.” But, in business and in life, either youʼre moving forward, or youʼre not. Goals are meant to be clear mile markers that help you objectively assess whether you are moving forward. They are meant to drive you to take action you have never taken before, so that you feel so energized in the process that youʼll be consistently compelled to take actions beyond your comfort zone. There is no “repeat.” Done right, powerful goals compel you to take risks and face your fears, forcing you into uncharted territory. My clients know their comfort zone is expanding because they see consistent results in their business, their life, and their profits. They feel the emotional impact of their growth in achieving their goals. Not feeling fulfilled upon achieving a goal is a result of not being clear about the emotional destination.

By contrast, goals are also destinations, and without having full weight of knowing the emotional outcome that is driving your goals, they remain goals. Similarly, itʼs been said that “dreams without goals are just dreams.” Goals combined with the emotional weight of your dreams are what propel your goals. Have you ever achieved a goal and wondered, “I thought it would feel different when I finished, graduated, or achieved, whatever it was”? Why werenʼt you satisfied with how you felt upon achieving that goal? Thatʼs because itʼs important to factor in both goals and the desired emotional outcomes of those goals. “What if I have many people in my business? How does my emotional destination impact them, since employees may have different emotional destination than the business owner?” Great question. Once you are crystal clear on your emotional destination and goals, youʼve taken the first step to having your business thrive, and can go on to the next steps.

Here are three simple steps on how to achieve that: Purpose Over Practice Itʼs About Your Destination People travel long distances to visit Disney World because they imagine the feeling and experience of being there. If youʼre physically in Disney but on the phone, distracted, stressed, or your mind is worrying or wandering while youʼre there, youʼve missed the entire emotional destination of the trip. Your destination is the desired emotional outcome of a decision you make. The trip to Disney is not actually about Disney; itʼs about the emotions you want to experience as a result of the trip. Your desired emotional outcomes outweigh the cost, travel, and logistics involved in putting the trip together. Your emotional destination is equally at play in everything you do in your business. 148 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

Knowing why you do something is more important than knowing how to do it. I have clients who are constantly moving beyond their comfort zone and donʼt always know what specific things to do or how exactly to do them, but they have a very clear purpose; they know exactly why their product or service is critical for the target clientele. That is what drives them to face their fears and proceed despite their unknown. Their emotional destination is determined by their “why.” (There is a separate process to clarify what to do and how to do it, beyond the scope of this article). You have to know your emotional destination before you can figure out what to do to get there. Letʼs say you have an upcoming presentation with millions of


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In business and in life, either you're moving forward, or you're not. dollars on the line. What do you say at that presentation to get the best outcome? You first have to be clear on your “why,” the purpose of the meeting, and from there we can start to prepare what to say and exactly how to present it. What and how come after why. What action steps have you taken recently toward your “why”? People switch careers, jobs, relationships, commitments, friendships, houses, cars, you name it. And those are all “what” they are changing, but if they simply figured out clearly their “why” — or what their purpose is — they will wake up every day with a hop, skip, and a jump because they are driven by purpose.

Process Over Content Have you ever read a book on a topic and then found yourself looking for another book, article, or podcast, wanting to learn more about the specific topic? We live in a time of information overload; weʼre swimming in information, yet starving for wisdom. Information alone is akin to an appetizer— it whets your appetite. What you really need is the entrée, which is a clear process to apply the knowledge. If all you needed was more information, then you could read another book, article, or blog, and that would satisfy you. The problem is whatʼs most valuable is not information, itʼs process. Process shows us exactly how to translate information into improvements, and improvements into increased income. Remember this: Itʼs not about what you know. Itʼs how well you execute it. Millions of books, blogs, articles, and webpages with practical ideas and wisdom wonʼt transform your business. Itʼs the process of how to put all the factors in place, maximize your

skill, and consistently leverage your time, money, and resources that will get you to the next level of success. The profit is in the process. The gold is in having a customized, systemized process. If you offer a service or product, I challenge you to ask yourself, “How can I make this a process that people will pay for?” When the process is seamless, the products sell better. Amazon introduced Amazon Prime and Best Buy sells more computers by utilizing Geek Squad services. Iʼve helped people model their company after these successes to help save time and money through creating a customized, systematic process that answers the quandary of: “How do I achieve ___________?” (Yes, it often starts with clarifying your purpose.) People pay for “how” to do something. Even when you buy products, you are paying for the process. You believe that a product will improve the process of looking good (cosmetics), the process of feeling good (exercise apparel), or the process of knowing what to do (educational product). People will even pay for services that have no product offered because the information (or process) they will learn from that service is where the value is. And the customer buys these items because of the emotional outcomes that result from feeling they look good, feel good, or know what to do.  Isaac (Yitz) Bardos, BS, CPC, is a business coach, trainer, and corporate speaker. He helps business owners of 6, 7, and 8-figure companies gain clarity, productivity, and a roadmap of the best next steps to experience breakthrough growth and profits, while freeing up their time, so they can enjoy emotionally and financially wealthy lives. He lives in Boca Raton with his wife and family. B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 149

Business Sourcing Cynthia R. Darrison

NONPROFITS AND GOVERNMENT FUNDING All you need to know about garnering the government grant

It's That Time of Year Itʼs February. The US has just been privy to the State of the Union speech in Washington, the State of the State speech times 50, and every State of the County/City/Town/Village across the country. Elected officials have set forth their agendas for the coming year and previewed their funding priorities. How does your nonprofit fit in with all of this, and how do you go about getting a piece of the government funding action? First, remember one of the golden rules of fundraising: Itʼs not about what you need; itʼs about what the funder needs. In the US, the relationship between most nonprofit organizations and government is inextricable. Itʼs not limited to — but itʼs largely centered on — financial support. Nationally, nearly one-third of nonprofit revenue comes from government grants or from fees for services and goods that are paid for by government. There are some nonprofit organizations that receive as much as 80 to 90% of their funding from government grants and contracts. Taxpayers expect a lot from their elected officials. In addition to the military, police, firefighters, sanitation, and other uniformed services delivery, the public wants education, health care, affordable housing, and job training, and services for children, the elderly, the disabled, and those in our communities who need a social safety net. The first group of services is largely performed by government personnel. The second group of services (with the exception of public schools, public hospitals, and public housing) is almost entirely contracted out to nonprofit or for-profit organizations. Government isnʼt a direct provider of most services; itʼs a contractor looking for vendors. This is where the opportunity for nonprofit organizations lies. In this case, government is a funder and it needs a supplier. 150 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

Hereʼs one example: The elderly now account for one of the largest shares of social-care resources. Itʼs estimated that 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day. Because of changes in family structures, employment patterns, and insurance, and in the policies and economies of helping seniors age in place rather than in nursing homes, thereʼs a greater need for assistance for the elderly. On the political side, senior citizens vote. So politicians will allocate funding for programs for seniors — but government isnʼt a direct service provider. Thus, nonprofit organizations can go after grants and fee-for-service contracts for senior centers, adult day care, home visitation programs, meals-on-wheels, home attendants, therapy services, and more. As in most areas, it pays to be creative and think of collaboration (government and other funders love that!). One nonprofit saw that New York City wanted to contract for services in “naturally occurring retirement communities” (NORCs) — housing developments where most tenants were young when they moved in decades ago, but because they stayed in place, most are now elderly. This nonprofit had never run a NORC program before, but theyʼd run senior centers. They decided to partner with a local hospital and a local college to provide an array of services to the elderly residents. The newly formed collaboration answered a request for proposal (RFP) and they won the contract: It was a win-win situation for everyone.

Apply for Grants — but Do Your Groundwork First Every year, the New York City Council goes through a budget process in which individual council members and specific caucuses give out millions of dollars in discretionary funding. Thereʼs


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an online form to be completed and submitted. Is it that simple, And, to stay out of trouble, youʼll need to know the rules and regand will it result in the awarding of money? Probably not. ulations of lobbying for government funding. This is a permissible Itʼs imperative that nonprofits get to know their elected offi- activity for a 501(c)(3), but thereʼs a framework for it. cials on all levels of government — city, county, state, and federal. Budget time is not the best time to start this process. Instead, Are There Downsides to Government Funding? invite your representatives to visit your organization throughNonprofits need to be careful about basing too much of their out the year to get to know your mission, people, and programs. budget on government funding — it can be very slow in coming Photo ops sound gimmicky, but letting a politician speak at an and is usually reimbursement rather than up-front money. event and take a photo with your board or a group of your mem- Make sure you have the funds to pay for programs and can withCOLLEGE bers — who are hopefully voting constituents — is a TOURO great way stand inevitable bureaucratic delays until the check is received. Where Knowledge and Values Meet to cement a relationship. The Lobbying and Advocacy Handbook Additionally, most government grants and contracts pay for profor Nonprofit Organizations, edited by Marcia Avner (Fieldstone grams, but not for overhead. The organization still needs to pay Alliance, 2013), is a good how-to guide for establishing and main- the rent, utility bills, and general payroll. taining relationships with elected officials. Organizations are also cautioned to pay attention to their mission and not go after government funding that isnʼt really releWhere's the Money and How Do You Seal the Deal? vant to what they do. “Mission creep” has an “opportunity cost.” Different levels of government issue RFPs for contracts and While youʼre spending time and resources fulfilling the requiregrants, and notices of application periods for discretionary ments of the government funding, you may lose the opportunity funding. There are also different forms of funding, including to do the work that fulfills your organizational mission. There are tax-exempt bond financing, tax credits, loans, and more. Whether also added reporting and compliance costs involved in having youʼre a one-person shop or part of a development or govern- government funding streams. ment relations department, make sure to sign up for all relevant Another caveat: Political power changes, the economy can email and newsletter subscriptions — from your local council tank, and government funding can disappear. Todayʼs funding member or state legislator; city and state social service agen- stream can be gone tomorrow. Thereʼs a real danger in an orgacies or procurement agencies; Grants.gov and FederalRegister. nizational budget overly reliant on government funding without gov, etc. Stay in touch with your elected officials and their staff other funding sources. because they should be able to help you with this. Between the potential delays in receiving anticipated funding, If you can afford it, it may also be worthwhile to engage the the lack of sufficient funding to cover overheads, the added costs services of a government relations firm (also known as a lobby- involved, and a failure to diversify funding sources, a number of ist) to help you identify different government funding streams. significant Jewish nonprofits have gone under in recent years. “Government can be complicated. Our job is to help you build Going after government funding — and deciding on the type of and manage relationships, match your objectives with the right funding to pursue — involves considering all factors involved. strategic funding sources, and create the space so you can do Sometimes, it just may not be worth it. your job,” says David Weinraub, a founding partner of leading In general, nonprofits are incubators of ideas, model programs, New York State government relations law firm and strategic advi- and solutions. The government should be eager to invest in, partsory, Brown & Weinraub, PLLC. ner with, and fund your organization.  To apply for funding, you should start collecting data now on the people you serve and the efficacy of your programs. Youʼll need to be able to explain the need youʼre addressing Cynthia R. Darrison spent 25 years working in electoral politics and now focuses her and demonstrate how your organization offers a solution. The consulting practice on advising nonprofits and for-profit entities. She taught graduate Foundation Center (foundationcenter.org) has very good publi- courses in campaign finance and nonprofit management at NYU for many years. She cations, seminars, and webinars on metrics and proposal writing. can be reached at cdarrison@darrisonbarrett.com. B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 151

Business Pitches Michael Collischan



ver wonder how business owners and entrepreneurs prepare to pitch their business to a bank, investor, or potential client? The answer is a pitch deck. A pitch deck is an analytical and engaging presentation that provides an audience with a critical overview of the business to help raise capital. While it is important that the pitch deck emulates the information in your business plan, there are distinct differences between the two. Notably, the pitch deck should be more concise, visually appealing, engaging, and ensure that critical financial components that funders are looking for are included. The ideal pitch deck contains a vast amount of information that allows your audience to make informative decisions, yet is concise enough that it doesnʼt cause information overload. Here are some of the most common — and important — components your pitch deck should include.

The Problem Define the problem your business is going to solve. While the information included here may vary, itʼs important because it will legitimize why your business exists.

The Solution This is where you want to demonstrate how your idea, product, service, or business will provide a solution to the problem you defined earlier. Be clear on how it will solve the problem, why your solution is needed, and why it is better than items already on the market.

Market Opportunity Those who are interested in your business will want to see that there is a large market opportunity for you to go after. You want to be specific in this section by quantifying the market size, identifying trends, and defining what you will go after.

Market Validation Any information you can provide that will prove your solution works will help you gain confidence with the prospects youʼre pitching to. It will also illustrate that youʼre able to mitigate the risk of their investment.

Competition Here, you need to very thoroughly explain your advantages 152 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

over the other businesses in your space. Letting investors know that you have done your homework about your competition furthers their confidence in your business.

Business Model Itʼs important to describe your business model to your audience. They will want to know how your business works and if you understand the details as well. Some of the questions that need to be reviewed in this section are costs of doing business, pricing, sourcing, processes, channels, and customer acquisition (and retention) costs.

The Team This section is important because it gives investors additional confidence by being able to review your team and their experience. Itʼs also good to show your management team so there is a personal connection as well. You might want to include your organizational chart in this section so there is clarity about your organizationʼs hierarchy.

Financials Outside of clearly defining what your business is about, financials are the most important information as they demonstrate your understanding of your business. A lot of information can be included in the financial section, but be sure not to have so much analysis that your points get lost. Generally, the documents included are a five-year financial forecast, pro forma, cash flow model, break-even analysis, and key metrics report.

The Ask Pull it all together by defining what you want from potential investors, funders, or clients. You need to be able to explain why you need the amount you are asking for and how you plan on using it. Investors will want to know how their money will be used and how it will help you achieve the goals you have set for your business. Going through the process of developing a pitch deck will help you have a deeper understanding of your business, prepare for pitch presentations, and assist in developing your “elevator speech.” While a great pitch deck cannot guarantee that your business will be funded, or that you will sell to someone, it will certainly help the likelihood of you achieving that goal.


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POWER PITCH Use the PITCH acronym to compose a power pitch deck

Powerful Capture your investorʼs attention with compelling data that is accurate and makes sense. J Have great visuals throughout, including relevant charts, graphs, and photos. J Ensure your deck has graphic design consistency to ease the transition between slides. J

Interesting What is your “wow” factor that will keep your audience super engaged? J Interesting or memorable stories about your business are a good way to demonstrate your passion. J

Technical Include as much information as possible throughout the deck but present it in a manner that does not confuse or lose the interest of your audience. J List the technical market components that illustrate that the opportunity is large enough for your business to do very well. J Financial details are critical, particularly if someone is going to invest in your business.



Concise J

Get to the point quickly: No one has time to read through a thick book of data.

Utilize great graphic designs and illustrations to take the place of verbiage; it will help make slides concise, informational, and appealing to the eye.

Honest Be honest and realistic about your business financials: No one will back “wishful thinking” or worse yet, totally unrealistic goals. J Transparency on opportunities or weaknesses is just as important as highlighting your strengths; it will show that you have done your homework and that you have a plan for adversity.  J

Michael Collischan is the owner and business consultant of Envisicore, LLC, business partner with FIRE Restaurant Group, LLC, and partner with nonprofit organization, Hope Without Color, Inc. Michaelʼs expertise includes business analysis, planning, strategy, financials, and graphic designing. B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 153


Business E-commerce Chaim Friedman

AMAZON ADVANTAGES Increase your Amazon sales with these up-and-coming trends

Enhanced Brand Content What is EBC? Enhanced Brand Content (EBC) does exactly what its name suggests: It enhances your brand. Itʼs a tool that Amazon provides to sellers so that they can share more information about the benefits of their brand or product. On the right is a sample of an EBC. Instead of just offering images of a pretzel gift platter, the brand can display other products it offers and write about their brandʼs story in order to showcase its high quality. Other sellers take advantage of EBC to show special features about a specific item. EBC clearly communicates what your brand has to offer. In your Amazon listing, EBC is intentionally located right below Sponsored Products and right above Product Details. Amazon places it there to give the sellers another chance at grabbing a customerʼs attention before going to check out the competition. Many sellers know about EBC, but they donʼt realize the full extent of its power. Hereʼs what you should know about EBC in order to take full advantage of its offerings. 154 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

EBC is free. Itʼs specifically designed for brands that are registered with Amazon. Amazon may eventually charge for this service, but while itʼs still free, thereʼs no question it should be on every listing. You donʼt need any extensive web-coding expertise to set it up. All you have to do is log into your Seller Central account > advertising > enhanced brand content, and start choosing templates, inserting pictures, and adding descriptions. Itʼs important to view your listing from the consumerʼs point of view. Remember that a homemade EBC usually falls flat, and can make an entire brand look amateur (which is worse than having no EBC at all). Itʼs smart to arrange for a professional to design your EBC unless you have the graphic skills needed. Ultimately, the investment in professional EBC listings translates into increased conversion rates.

EBC Power Amazon uses different rating systems to rank sellers. Amazon has algorithms to track how long a consumer stays on a productʼs page. The more time spent on the page, the higher the product gets rated. If you have between one and three basic


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images and no EBC, you can assume the consumer will be off your page real soon. If you work hard on your listing and have several attention-grabbing images with “infographics” and “lifestyle images” (weʼll address these features in future articles), then customers will probably stick around your page for longer. If the customer scrolls down and your EBC grabs his attention, heʼs likely to spend even more time on your page. That extra time demonstrates to Amazon how valuable your page is, which in turn will give it organic (i.e., free, unpaid!) space on the first listing page. Additionally, youʼre also helping your consumers make better choices. With a detailed EBC you can really tell them everything about your product to give them a clear idea of what theyʼre getting. This helps minimize returns and bad reviews, which often happen as a result of customers not understanding exactly what theyʼre buying. Lastly, you can also sell your brand in a way that wasnʼt previously allowed; you can choose to have a product comparison chart and link it to a few of your other ASINs. Your new buyer can then get hooked on your “virtual Amazon store!”

The SEO Factor Keywords are always on our minds. You know that if you use Amazon templates to insert text, itʼs readable by search engines. However, if you insert graphic images with text embedded in the image, you lose out on keywords. Thatʼs one factor you have to consider when setting up your EBC. Many professionals recommend displaying WOW images in your EBC to grab customers with sharp and powerful graphics, and keep keywords in the title and bullets.

The Verdict EBC is a no-brainer for anyone with an Amazon brand registry. Look around Amazon and take note of how many successful sellers have already taken advantage of EBC. If you donʼt have EBC yet, set it up and see how you keep potential buyers buying your brand instead of bouncing off to another seller.  Chaim Friedman is the director of K2 Photography, which provides Amazon consulting services, commercial photography, and graphic services for Amazon businesses. B-TANK | ADAR 5779 | 155

Business Games Bob Sager



n todayʼs world of increasing competition, itʼs more important than ever to position your company, products, and services in a way that makes customers perceive them as different, better, and more valuable. I call this “wow-factor positioning.” I call it that because doing something as part of the customer experience thatʼs pleasantly surprising and unexpected makes customers say "wow". Hinges are small. Doors are large. However, doors swing on hinges. So it is with customer decisions. These wow factors donʼt have to be anything huge.

156 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

They do have to be an unexpected value and differ from what your competitors are doing. So, how do you figure out what to do in order to provide this wow-factor customer experience? Use your imagination! For many people, thatʼs easier said than done. Weʼve developed habitual ways of thinking and doing things that are ingrained and have become our comfort zone. The imagination stimulation exercise below will help you break out of that zone of thinking. Itʼll help you see the invisible, so you can do the impossible.


B Fun

Play Hard Game:

From Our Client Files:

Anchor Term Method The Anchor Term method of innovative/creative thinking is simple, yet very productive. Itʼs meant to create some astounding breakthrough ideas and strategies.

Company: Car dealer

Setup Get the popcorn popping and invite your team to wear their thinking caps and bring their best gaming spirits to the boardroom.

Game: Anchor Term

Instructions 1. Decide upon the area within your business youʼre getting ready to expand and explode with new ideas and solutions. Decide upon an anchor term to identify this area. Write the anchor term on a whiteboard. 2. Example: If youʼre in the retail automobile sales business, and want to increase sales, use “car sales” as your anchor term. 3. Ask each person to write down or call out the first noun that comes to mind. Make a list of these on the whiteboard. 4. Have each person in the room mentally combine each noun with the anchor term. Give them a time limit of three minutes and have each person write down any ideas that occur to them through the combining process. 5. At the end of the three-minute idea creation period, have each person talk about their ideas, how they work, and their benefits to the customer and company. 6. Allow the group to build on the basic idea and massage it into something even better. Then, vote on a winning idea. General warning You might find yourself inundated with creative ideas and youʼll have a hard time choosing. Thatʼs okay. Put away some ideas for another time. Note Ideas are fleeting. I strongly recommend that you record an audio of each idea and the discussion of it. This will make them easy to review later and ensure that nothing important gets forgotten. The other advantage of doing this is, if the idea has merit, when your team reviews the audio later, theyʼll often see ways to improve upon it and perhaps how to effectively and efficiently implement the idea(s). The Winner Every single team member is a winner. Youʼre bringing creativity to the boardroom, innovation to the business, and a winning potential for cash flow and generous bonuses. The Anchor Term method gives you an edge in the marketplace by utilizing the knowledge, experience, and imagination of your team to create competitive advantages and unlock previously unopenable doors. Utilizing the Anchor Term method of innovative thinking will always keep you one step ahead.  Bob Sager is the founder of SpearPoint Solutions, curator and contributing author of Living a Wealthy Life: Stories of Gaining an Abundance in All Five Forms of Wealth, as well as the creator of Whatʼs The BIG Idea?™

Challenge: The company is looking for a way to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Results: A dealer works with a professional caricature artist and provides each customer with a color caricature art of them with the car theyʼre buying. The customer gets the original and a color copy is made to hang on the dealership wall. Naturally, the dealership sign is in each piece of art. Strategy for Success: 1. The artwork adds value to the purchaser and greatly enhances the overall experience. Since most customers will hang the art up in their house or office, it becomes a topic of conversation — and referrals. It also adds value at the time of purchase and, as a result, the dealer will sell most vehicles for more of a net profit than they otherwise would have without this “caricaturization program.” Net result: higher margins. 2. A copy goes up on the wall of the dealership. Potential customers see those and, when they learn that every purchaser gets one, they want one. It helps to solidify the value of doing business with that dealership. 3. The customer receives a digital copy of the caricature art. Overwhelmingly, people share (brag) on social media when they get a new vehicle. This gives them a unique and cool way of doing that. This is also featured on the dealershipʼs social media pages. Once again, this drives awareness, sparks conversations, and generates referrals. 4. Because of increased referral-based sales, less money can be spent on advertising. Net result: higher profitability. Though thereʼs a cost to the dealer up front to provide these caricature pieces to the customer, many benefits are reaped.

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HST Sales Tax rebates for qualifying people who rebuild or remodel their homes

Impactful Coaching & Consulting



Nechemia Polansky 483 Oak Glen Rd Howell NJ 07731 (732) 444-8880 ext. 103 Nechemia@virtualsecurityus.com www.virtualsecurityus.com

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We use the latest technology to integrate and monitor your whole property, providing peace of mind to property owners nationwide.

Naphtali Hoff 127 Aycrigg Ave Passaic NJ 07055 (212) 470-6139 info@impactfulcoaching.com www.impactfulcoaching.com

We work with understaffed entrepreneurs and small businesses to identify their challenges, goals, and the breakthrough actions that will lead to their success.

Keep n Kool Inc HVAC

Nathan Apfelbaum 79 Parkville Ave Brooklyn NY 11230 (718) 853-1001 keepnkoolinc@aol.com

Rollerwall LLC



saul elbaum 11924 Gainsborough Rd, Rockville Potomac MD 20854

(301) 838-0450 saulelbaum@gmail.com www.rollerwall.com

"We are a Full-Service Commercial Hvac and Refrigeration company. We offer Great Quick and Affordable services


With Rollerwall you can choose from 100s of patterns to paint beautiful walls that look like just wallpaper. Applies easily and within 20 minutes to any wall.

Perfect Estimates

Rafi Rosenberg 17100 Ne 19Th Ave C2 North Miami Beach FL 33162

(786) 514-3464 rafi@rafirosenberg.com www.rafirosenberg.com

I help people focus on what they need to do and love to do, by planning & executing digital strategies around clear goals.

Cyber Insurance Experts.com



Shia Gluck 141 Division Ave 3-R Brooklyn NY 11211 (347) 572-3139 shia@perfectestimates.com

Complete takeoffs for construction companies and all your architectural plans including drywall and framing, interior and exterior, flooring, insulation, etc.

Boutique Seller Services Joel Wolh (732) 523-1102 info@boutiqueseller.com www.boutiqueseller.com/

(845) 302-1600 Service@CyberInsuranceExperts.com www.cyberinsuranceexperts.com

Fat Owls E-Commerce


149 Newington Ln Toms River NJ 08755

Shaye Blumenberg 873 Route 45 Suite 202B New City NY 10956

We manage sponsored ads, create content, product-photography and video, amazon bookkeeping, consulting, product sales and more. Less talk. More work.

Eli Hefter 2805 Bartol Ave Baltimore MD 21209 (410) 985-1330 eli@fatowls.com

We help businesses get proper insurance coverage for financial losses occurred by Cyber Attacks or Data Breaches. Contact us for a free 15 min consultation.

FAT OWLS We sell Health and Beauty, office supplies, grocery, Home and Kitchen, Pet, Clothing, Toys, and Baby categories through Amazon (retail and wholesale).

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Supportive HR

Moxie Bookkeeping And Coaching Inc



Barry Ackerman 43 Joseph Ave Staten Island NY 10314-5013

(917) 791-0801 barry@supportivehr.com

Provide HR services to companies of all sizes.

Brunner Consulting Usher Brunner (718) 431-0101 info@brunnerconsultinginc.com www.brunnerconsultinginc.com

Our experts help you evaluate your business's everything from finances to company structure and more. We'll promote your strengths and eliminate weak areas.

(732) 930-5871 Office@ProfoundBusiness.com www.securetechnyc.com

We help our clients strategize and plan in all areas of marketing & communication, portraying their products and services properly and creatively.

32472236655 info@gingertipple.com www.gingertipple.com

Kosher for Passover & Gluten-free brewer of beers.

(347) 255-0071 support@skycaremedia.com www.skycaremedia.com

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Avigdor Ehrenfeld 1650 45Th St Brooklyn NY 11204 (718) 854-3820 parkvillefood@gmail.com www.parkvillefoodcenter.com

Full Service agency for private label Amazon sellers.


Food Center

Grocery with exceptional customer service.

Feigin And Fridman LLC

Health Care Rehabilitation

Judah Gutwein

(424) 269-5478 Info@bestsellerlisters.com www.bestsellerlisters.com


Sky Care Media

149 South Pkwy Clifton NJ 07014

mac schlesinger 2 Milrose Ln Monsey NY 10952

Parkviile Food Center


Sint-Thomasstraat 51 Antwerpen Vlaanderen 2018

info@alifavorites.com www.alifavorites.com

An online marketplace to find all the greatest deals.


Ginger Tipple Jeremy Sulzbacher

Chaim Frankel 5100 15Th Ave #6O Brooklyn NY 11219

Best Seller Listers


Y. H. (Izzy) Levovitz

(347) 414-8286 ext. 407 tracy@moxiebookkeeping.com www.moxiebusiness.com


Profound Business

1072 Madison Ave Lakewood Township NJ 08701

147 Prince St Suite 311 Brooklyn NY 11201

We provide accurate, reliable, full-charge bookkeeping so you can focus on your business. We understand your bookkeeping and leave it better than we found it!

Ali Favorites


3611 14Th Ave Suite 555 Brooklyn NY 11218

Tracy Stanfield

Legal Services

We are a full service digital marketing firm specializing in the Healthcare industry.

Moshe/Michael Feigin 1037 Us-46 #107 Clifton NJ 07013 (973) 685-5280 michael@PatentLawNY.com

Patent and Trademark Attorney


Chaim Krausz Design Marketing / Design


yechiel zidell 1380 North Ave Apt 422 Elizabeth NJ 07208

mylabelssupport@gmail.com www.smartsimcha.com

Smart Simcha is an online system that manages all the guest info for any type of simcha. We also provide custom, personalized invitations for each guest.

Trumper Insurance Asher Grossman (845) 356-1899 jay@trumperinsurance.com www.trumperinsurance.com

You’re in better hands! All forms of P&C Insurance.

(201) 222-3100 support@aboveflood.com www.aboveflood.com

david konigsberg 418 Clifton Ave Lakewood Township NJ 08701

Branding and Ads with message.

(732) 987-7700 Brandhero@getot.com

Optimal Targeting


Davey Seidenfeld

(347) 578-4646 orange@chaimkrauszdesign.com www.chaimkrauszdesign.com

Marketing / Design

Above Flood Zones

1325 59Th St Brooklyn NY 11219

Lemme o'range it for you.

Brand Hero


Pobox 913 Monsey NY 10952

Chaim Krausz 1227 43Rd Street #3 Brooklyn NY 11219

Marketing / Design

Remove the lender's requirement to buy flood insurance.

david konigsberg 12 Hillridge Pl Lakewood Township NJ 08701

Digital Marketing Agency

(732) 987-7700 david@optimaltargeting.com

Smartpay Payroll

Mark Weisz Graphics And Design LLC

Payroll Service

Marketing / Design

Mark Weisz 84 Finchley Blvd Lakewood Township NJ 08701

(973) 815-5200 mark@markweisz.com www.markweisz.com

We help our clients leverage the power of marketing their brand. Simply put, we create packaging that works.

Bizbuzz Promos

Good To Go Shipping / Freight


Efraim Miller 4509 14Th Avenue Suite 1 Brooklyn NY 11219

(718) 705-7733 sales@bizbuzzpromos.com www.bizbuzzpromos.com

Yossi Hettleman 250 Cedar Bridge Ave Suite 280 Lakewood Township NJ 08701 (732) 987-3996 info@smartpaynj.com www.smartpaynj.com

BizBuzz Promos provides printed promotional items, such as pens, mugs, t-shirts, and virtually anything else you can imagine.

Amrom Einhorm 4313 15Th Avenue Brooklyn NY 11219 (718) 484-0885 goodtogoez@gmail.com

SmartPay provides everything you’ll need for your payroll – direct deposit, tax management, unlimited payroll runs and more.

GOOD TO GO Shipping, Receiving, and Packaging for Amazon businesses.

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Goldstar Design

Eastern Equity Advisors Real Estate

Marketing / Design our passion, your success.

Shea Stern 5415 19Th Ave Brooklyn NY 11204

Product & Packaging Designer

Boruch Mandel 222 Carol St Lakewood Township NJ 08701

(718) 972-3262 goldstard@gmail.com @goldstardesignny

(732) 552-4661 bmandel@easterneq.com www.easterneq.com

Optimal Targeting

Marcus & Millichap Real Estate

Marketing / Design

David Konigsberg 418 Clifton Ave Suite 100 Lakewood Township NJ 08701 (732) 987-7700 info@optimaltargeting.com

Gleam N Clean LLC Office

Shaya Moskowitz 61 S Clover St Lakewood Township NJ 08701

(718) 887-5892 shaya@gleamncleannj.com

Fancy Inc Retail

Arthur Zelenkov 1996 Ocean Ave Brooklyn NY 11230 (718) 759-7824 info@furnitureassemblynyc.con www.furnitureassemblynyc.com

We are a full-scale Marketing Agency, geared towards meeting any and all of our clients marketing needs.

GLEAM N CLEAN LLC We specialize in janitorial and commerical cleaning, our goal is to have gleaming results. Our reputation is spotless.

FANCY INC We provide full service in the furniture industry. We receive, deliver, and install furniture.

The Travel Store Moshe Mittelman (718) 218-8489 mail@thetravelstores.ocm www.thetravelstores.com

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Chez Eider 2 Rudi G Way Lakewood NJ 08701

New Jersey Multifamily Real Estate

(201) 742-6177 chez.eider@MarcusMillichap.com www.marcusmillichap.com

Citadel Holdings Real Estate

Dovid Preil 15 Ha-Kfir St Apt 2 Giv'At Ze'Ev Israel (201) 357-7656 dovid@citadelholdings.co.il ww.citadelholdings.co.il

Invest in carefully vetted Commercial US real estate in $20,000 increments.

Simple Forwarding Inc Shipping / Freight

Abraham Orgel 14 Zenta Rd 112 Kiryas Joel NY 10950 (212) 203-5575 sales@simpleforwarding.com www.simpleforwarding.com

We do international shipping by air and sea. We ship from the manufacturing warehouse to the final point of destination (including Amazon FBA).

New York Fulfillments Shipping / Freight


908 Driggs Avenue Brooklyn NY 11211

Equity raises for commercial real estate.

Luggage, Bags, Travel Accessories & Beyond - Free Same Day Delivery in NYC

JOEL STERN 320 State Route 208 Unit 12 Monroe NY 10950

(845) 782-2301 Info@newyorkfulfillments.com www.newyorkfulfillments.com

Full service thirdparty logistics warehouse & distribution company.

Accentuations Kallah Furniture

Qualmax Supplies Supplies

ualmax supplies


Yocheved Youngewirth 1501 60Th St Brooklyn NY 11219 (718) 972-2300 ACCENTUATIONSBYDESIGN@GMAIL.COM

We help Kallahs furnish their dream homes by providing affordable package deals for dining rooms and bedrooms.



894 Bethel Church Rd Jackson NJ 08527

(917) 826-0348 MR@Qualmaxsupplies.com www.qualmaxsupplies.com

Wood Crafts Manufacturer

Avigder Pinkesz 7 Perlman Dr Spring Valley NY 10977

(732) 363-4077 woodpeckerscrafts@gmail.com


Secure Tech

Get Peyd

1528 51St St Brooklyn NY 11219 (347) 294-5665 info@securetechnyc.com

Travel Agency. We get you from here to there.



Yonah Weinstock

We Sell Janitorial Supplies and Paper Goods.

Starlit Travel

Woodpeckers Crafts Joe Tober

Moishe Rosenberg 103 Arlington Ave Lakewood Township NJ 08701

We specialize in the planning, implementation, and maintenance of all the IT infrastructure needs for small to medium-sized businesses.

Eli Schreiber

600 Bayview Ave Inwood NY 11096

(646) 801-7393 (PEYD) info@getpeyd.com www.getpeyd.com

We help customers navigate the credit card industry by advising them on all related matters and redeeming their rewards points from various reward programs.

Miles Cashing Inc. Travel

Avi Kahan 279 Rutledge St Brooklyn NY 11211 (212) 260-2274 Gelt@MilesCashing.com www.milescashing.com

Buying airline miles and credit card points , selling up to 70% off business class airline tickets



Business Moments that Inspire.

While traveling I worked remotely to meet a pressing deadline. When the wifi rental device I'd been using suddenly stopped giving me connectivity, Iocals told me to stop in at D&G Communications in Montreal, Canada. Instead of selling me onto a pricey plan, the service guy asked to see my rental device and worked for quite some time to sync it with my laptop and get it working properly.

Noticed an exemplary business practice? Were you made to feel like a valued client? Want to name an employee who outdid himself? Send your Snapshot Moment to wow@btankmoguls.com. All submissions should include photo, anecdote, and contact information. 166 | B-TANK | FEBRUARY 2019

Credits: Art & Story by Yoel Judowitz / YJ Studios team

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05.29.19 MEADOWLANDS EXPOSITION CENTER SECAUCUS, NJ TIME: 9:00AM - 6:00PM An exposition and convention for construction, management and real estate professionals throughout Brooklyn, New York City and its neighboring boroughs. A prosperous opportunity to network, trade and gain valuable insights from leading experts in one day – under one roof!

A project by:


Discover. Network. Prosper.