Category Archives: Business

This Dynamic Duo Travels To Exotic Destinations Proving Love Doesn’t Have To Slow You Down (Photos)

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

It’s no secret your soulmate makes the ultimate travel companion.

If there’s one couple that knows this, it’s Jay Alvarrez and his 22-year-old girlfriend, Alexis Ren.

We first introduced you to this dynamic duo with their incredible GoPro video that captured the couple living the California dream.

If you thought that looked amazing, you’ll be glad to know their adventures aren’t confined to the state of California.

In fact, these sun-kissed love birds have explored all sorts of exotic destinations across the globe and managed to capture some incredible Instagram photos of their epic journey along the way.

Whether Jay and Alexis are hitting up the beaches of Hawaii, hiking through the mountains or hovering through the skies in a helicopter, it’s pretty obvious being in a relationship hasn’t slowed these two down or tamed their desire to travel the world together.

Meet Jay and his girlfriend, Alexis.

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

When this Cali couple isn’t soaking up the sun at home…

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

…they’re going on grand adventures…

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

…as they travel all over the world together.

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

These two prove love has no boundaries…

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

…and being in a relationship doesn’t mean you have to tame your adventurous spirit.

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

Whether these two are hovering over beautiful cities…

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

…jumping out of planes…

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

…catching a few waves…

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

…or simply rolling around in the sand with man’s best friend…

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

…it’s not hard to see the experiences they share during their travels…

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

…only bring them closer together.

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

It’s never long before these two head to the airport and gear up for their next exotic endeavor.

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

Sometimes you’ll find them exploring sandy shorelines…

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

…and snapping a few selfies in the sea…

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

…or climbing a few oceanside cliffs.

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

Other times they’ll hit up the hiking trail…

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

…or just spend some downtime together.

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

All of their adventures look absolutely amazing…

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

…and prove the best travel companion is your soulmate.

Couple Travels The World And Proves Love Doesnt Have To Slow You Down Photos

Check out the video below to see Jay and Alexis living the California dream.




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Whole Foods CEO: Obamacare Is ‘Like Fascism’

via Huffington Post: 

John Mackey Obamacare

Whole Foods founder and CEO John Mackey would like to revise a previous accusation that Obamacare is a form of socialism.

“It’s more like fascism,” Mackey recently told NPR. “In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it — and that’s what’s happening with our health care programs and these reforms.”

Mackey, a libertarian, compared Obamacare to “socialism” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed he penned in 2009. Obamacare would “move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system,” he proclaimed.

Are you a Whole Foods shopper? Does CEO John Mackey’s stance on Obamacare change your perception of the company? Let us know by emailing

The op-ed infuriated Whole Foods’ liberal customer base, Time reported at the time.Some customers boycotted the organic food chain in protest, according to ABC.

Whole Foods could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Other CEOs have criticized Obamacare for intervening in the health care market.Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told the Seattle Times last year that although more Americans should have health insurance, “the pressure on small businesses, because of the mandate, is too great.”

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini has said that health insurance premiums could double because of Obamacare. And Cheesecake Factory CEO David Overton said in December that Obamacare “will be very costly” and force most businesses to raise prices or “cheapen their product.”

Some business executives plan to pass higher costs on to employees and customers.

Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter said last year that he plans to raise prices and cut employee hours because of Obamacare. A Wendy’s franchisee in Omaha, Neb. is cutting employee hours in an attempt to sidestep the Obamacare requirement that businesses employing more than 50 workers provide health insurance to full-time employees.

John Mackey

via Business Insider:

Outspoken Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who describes himself as a libertarian, once again addressed the topic of President Obama’s healthcare legislation, which he equated with socialism in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published in 2009.


In an interview with NPR’s John Inskeep, pointed out by ThinkProgress, Mackey was asked about his earlier characterization, and responded with this:

Technically speaking, it’s more like fascism. Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it — and that’s what’s happening with our health care programs and these reforms.”

The law’s been controversial, particularly among smaller retailers that will have to provide healthcare benefits to employees for the first time.

Despite his objection to that particular law, Mackey told Inskeep that he sees room to cooperate with the administration on changing the way America eats, saying that Americans are “addicted to sugar, and to fat, and to salt.”

Find the interview at
via NPR: 

Whole Foods has more than 300 stores and continues to expand.

Whole Foods has played a key role in propelling organic foods into the mainstream. The specialty supermarket chain has more than 300 stores and plans to continue expanding. But outspoken founder and co-CEO John Mackey is not the crunchy granola liberal one might conjure while perusing aisles of earnestly labeled blue corn chips and gently misted red peppers.

In fact, he’s a self-styled libertarian: a vegan who sells sustainably raised meat, a man who compares the government’s health care overhaul to “fascism” but wants to improve American diets.

And he thinks big businesses have an obligation to change customers’ perception that big corporations are “primarily selfish and greedy.” (Not that he’s opposed to profits. In fact, Whole Foods posted a 49 percent boost in quarterly earnings in November.)

Mackey sat down with Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep to discuss his philosophy and the new book he co-authored, Conscious Capitalism. Part 1 airs Wednesday, Part 2 on Thursday.

Mackey tells Inskeep that companies must have a higher purpose than just making money.

John Mackey is co-CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods Market and co-founder of the nonprofit Conscious Capitalism, Inc.

Whole Foods Market/Courtesy Harvard Business Review Press

For example, when Whole Foods decided it wanted to stop selling overfished species of cod and octopus at its seafood counters, it didn’t just abruptly cut off its suppliers. Instead, the company gave its suppliers three years to come up with a better way of fishing; during that time, the seafood stayed for sale — but with a label of “unsustainable.”

In the end, Whole Foods, working with the Marine Stewardship Council (we’ll have much more on them later), was able to find one supplier of sustainable cod.

“You take a risk when you do that because some of your customers … who don’t care about sustainability, they’re going to go shop at your competitor’s store who has the fish, so you lose some business that way,” Mackey says. “But it was the right thing to do.”

What he doesn’t think is right is President Obama’s health overhaul and the new costs that coverage requirements will place on businesses.

Conscious Capitalism

When Inskeep asks him if he still thinks the health law is a form of socialism, as he’s said before, Mackey responds:

“Technically speaking, it’s more like fascism. Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn’t own the means of production, but they do control it — and that’s what’s happening with our health care programs and these reforms.”

Still, Mackey sees room to cooperate with the administration on another front: efforts to reform the American diet, a pet project of first lady Michelle Obama.

“People in America are addicted to sugar, and to fat and to salt,” he says, and as a nation, it’s holding us back. “Food is intensely pleasurable, and people are afraid that if they change the way they eat, they’ll stop having pleasure.”

Still, he acknowledges how hard it can be to stick to a health-conscious diet. Restaurant meals, he says, rarely meet his personal dietary rules — not just no meat, but also no oil or refined flour. Luckily, Mackey jokes, there’s a Whole Foods to be found wherever he travels.

So our question to you, dear readers, is this: How big a role does a business leader’s personal philosophy play in your decision to buy products from his or her company? Tell us in the comments section below.

New Samsung Galaxy S III Ad Touts Sex Video Capabilities

via Business Insider: 



Rather than focusing on Apple-bashing, Samsung’s new ad for the Galaxy S III uses an different but equally edgy pitch: the new phone is good for making, and viewing, sex videos, the company suggests.

The ad follows a husband who is leaving for a business trip. To show how easy it is to share videos and other data — you just rub the back of your phones together — his tutu-wearing daughters tell him that they made him a video to watch when he’s gone. Then his wife bends over to his open taxi window and whispers that she made him a video too, but he “probably shouldn’t watch it on the plane.”

And we know what that means! “The next big thing is here.”

72andSunny does Samsung’s advertising.

These Are The 13 Most Terrifying Ads Ever

via Business Insider: 



It’s that time of year again! Time to take out your pumpkin carving supplies, overdose on candy, and watch as many horror flicks on Turner Classic Movies as you can handle. 

To help everyone get into the spirit of Halloween we put together this slideshow of the most terrifying ads ever, from around the world.

Not all of the ads were specifically created with Halloween in mind. Some of them are PSAs.

And, of course, they’re ads, so many of their chills are rounded off in a tame ending.

A couple of them, however — including our No.1 choice, the incredibly original trailer for the video game “Dead Island” — will totally creep you out.


13. Agent Provocateur — “Fleurs du Mal”

It all starts with a solitary woman receiving an unsettling prank phone call. Reminiscent of campy 1970’s horror films, the 2012 Agent Provocateur ad by Epoch London then follows the woman as she is attacked by a mob of lingerie clad models. (Warning: there are brief flashes of nudity in this ad.)

Initially the ad was challenged by offended viewers, but ultimately the U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), not known for its leniency, ruled that though borderline, the ad was still fit for public viewing.

12. LG Electronics — “So Real It’s Scary”

SuperHeroes, Amsterdam, created this ad for LG Electronics to promote the new high-def flat screen televisions. The LG team covered the floor of an elevator with nine flat screens and then tricked unwitting elevator riders into thinking the floor of the car was falling apart beneath their feet.

11. Dirt Devil — “The Exorcist”

Andrea Roth directed this devilish ad for Dirt Devil in 2011, in which a genuinely creepy priest is called to perform an exorcism and as he gazes upon the possessed woman he cleverly professes, “you know when it’s the devil.” The shot then pans up to the apartment above where an old woman is vacuuming.

10. Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario — “Heart of Darkness”

Agency59 created this PSA for the Heart & Stroke Foundation featuring CPR trained zombies. Throughout this ghoulish spot, a mass of zombies resuscitate a heart attack stricken woman in order to, first, teach audiences CPR, and second, to eat the woman.

9. The Meth Project — “The Deep End”

This chilling ad for The Meth Project by Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky, follows a young woman from her hazy meth induced state to the ugly realities of her meth addicted life. The gory and startling 30 second spot is one of a four part awareness campaign targeting at-risk teenagers. Digital marketing agency Organic worked with The Meth Project on the campaign.

8. Fragile Childhood — “Are You a Monster When You’re Drunk?”

Euro RSCG Helsinki created this unsettling PSA for the charity Fragile Childhood, a resource for children with alcoholic parents. The ad features the adults turned “monsters” that children see when they look at their drunk parents.

7. Axe — “Hot Girl vs Zombie”

It wouldn’t be an Axe commercial if even a zombie couldn’t get a hot girl. In this case, all the frightened girl needs to do is spray the zombie with Axe to turn her worst nightmare into her greatest desire.

6. Nike — “Chainsaw”

Playing off classic slasher movie tropes, this spot stars a young woman who is attacked by a chainsaw murderer whom she successfully out runs because … well, she is wearing Nike’s.

The 60 second spot by Wieden & Kennedy, Portland ran during the 2000 Summer Olympics.

5. Activision — “Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombie Labs Rezurrection”

More zombies. This ad, for the final installment of Activision’s gaming saga was created by TBWA\Chiat\Day, Los Angeles in 2011. The essential premise of the gory commercial is a graphic demonstration of zombie killing techniques. Gross.

4. Frezza — “Gas Chamber”

In this 2010 ad for Frezza, an Indonesian mouthwash company, the viewer watches a pitiful prisoner on his way to execution in the gas chamber for the offense of bad breath —”bad breath kills.” The spot was created by by Ogilvy & Mather, Jakarta.

3. Snickers — “Halloween Grocery Store Lady”

The concept is simple: two kids dress up like an old woman to trick their mother into buying a bunch of Halloween candy. What’s weird is the disturbing costume these children were somehow able to create. BBDO New York designed the ad in 2010.

2. Barnados — “Break the Cycle”




1. Techland / Deep Silver — “Dead Island”






via Business Insider:


Amazon’s Q3 earnings are out. The company missed on estimates for sales, earnings, and forward guidance.

jim bezos, amazon,

Amazon announced Q3 EPS of -$0.60 versus expectations of -$0.08.

Click here for live updates >

$0.37 of the loss was related to a writedown taken on the company’s investment in LivingSocial.

Sales came in at $13.81 billion versus expectations for $13.9 billion.

The company gave guidance for Q4 below analysts’ estimates, citing a range of $20.25-$22.75 billion, versus expectations of $22.82 billion.

The stock is trading down over 2.5 percent after hours at last check, but shares are volatile.

Instead of addressing the loss on the LivingSocial investment, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos chose to talk up Amazon’s Kindle e-reader device.

“[T]he $199 Kindle Fire HD is the #1 bestselling product across Amazon worldwide,” said CEO Jeff Bezos. “The next two bestselling products worldwide are our Kindle Paperwhite and our $69 Kindle. We’re selling more of each of these devices than the #4 bestselling product, book three of the Fifty Shades of Grey series.”

Here is the full release:
————————————- Announces Third Quarter Sales up 27% to $13.81 Billion

Operating cash flow increased 8% to $3.37 billion for the trailing twelve months, compared with $3.11 billion for the trailing twelve months ended September 30, 2011. Free cash flow decreased 31% to $1.06 billion for the trailing twelve months, compared with $1.53 billion for the trailing twelve months ended September 30, 2011.

Common shares outstanding plus shares underlying stock-based awards totaled 469 million on September 30, 2012, consistent with 469 million one year ago.

Net sales increased 27% to $13.81 billion in the third quarter, compared with $10.88 billion in third quarter 2011. Excluding the $348 million unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, net sales grew 30% compared with third quarter 2011.

Operating loss was $28 million in the third quarter, compared with operating income of $79 million in third quarter 2011. The unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter on operating loss was $3 million.

Net loss was $274 million in the third quarter, or $0.60 per diluted share, compared with net income of $63 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, in third quarter 2011. The third quarter 2012 includes a loss of $169 million, or $0.37 per diluted share, related to our equity-method share of the losses reported by LivingSocial, primarily attributable to its impairment charge of certain assets, including goodwill.

“Our approach is to work hard to charge less. Sell devices near breakeven and you can pack a lot of sophisticated hardware into a very low price point,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of “And our approach is working – the $199 Kindle Fire HD is the #1 bestselling product across Amazon worldwide. Incredibly, this is true even as measured by unit sales. The next two bestselling products worldwide are our Kindle Paperwhite and our $69 Kindle. We’re selling more of each of these devices than the #4 bestselling product, book three of the Fifty Shades of Grey series. And we haven’t even started shipping our best tablet – the $299 Kindle Fire HD 8.9” ships November 20.”


  • Compared to the iPad mini, Kindle Fire HD 8.9” has:
    • 193% more pixels (2,304,000 pixels vs. 786,432 pixels)
    • 56% more pixels-per-inch (254 vs. 163)
    • Watch HD movies and TV – cannot on iPad mini (iPad mini is an SD device)
    • Better audio with dual stereo speakers and Dolby Digital Plus
    • Wi-Fi with dual band, dual antennas + MIMO
    • Costs $30 less
  • Compared to the iPad mini, Kindle Fire HD 7” has:
    • 30% more pixels (1,024,000 vs. 786,432 pixels)
    • 33% more pixels per inch (216 vs. 163)
    • Watch HD movies and TV – cannot on iPad mini (iPad mini is an SD device)
    • Better audio with dual stereo speakers and Dolby Digital Plus
    • Wi-Fi with dual band, dual antennas + MIMO
    • Costs $130 less
  • introduced the fifth generation Kindle e-readers: Kindle Paperwhite is the most advanced e-reader ever constructed with 62% more pixels and 25% increased contrast, a patented built-in front light for reading in all lighting conditions, up to 8 weeks of battery life, and a thin and light design for just $119; Kindle Paperwhite Wi-Fi + 3G — never pay for or hunt for a Wi-Fi hotspot with the all-new top-of-the-line Kindle e-reader with free 3G wireless for just $179; and the new latest generation Kindle, the lightest and smallest Kindle, now with new, improved fonts, faster page turns for just $69.
  • launched the Japanese Kindle Store, offering customers a vast selection of over 50,000 Japanese-language Kindle books. In total, the store offers over one million titles, including the largest selection of bestsellers in English and other languages.
  • announced a new licensing agreement with EPIX for movies including The Avengers, Iron Man 2, The Hunger Games, Super 8, Thor, and more, expanding its catalog of title offerings for Prime Instant Video to more than 30,000 movies and TV episodes.
  • Amazon announced significant updates to Cloud Player, including scan and match technology which provides customers a fast and easy way to get all of their music from their computers to the cloud. Cloud Player customers can then enjoy their music on their favorite devices, including Kindle Fire, iPhoneiPod TouchAndroid devices, Sonos home entertainment systems, and any web browser. Amazon also expanded Cloud Player to the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.
  • Amazon announced it is hiring for more than 50,000 seasonal positions at its fulfillment centers across the U.S. this holiday season. Amazon employs more than 20,000 people across its 40 U.S. fulfillment centers and pays its full-time, permanent employees 30 percent more than what traditional retail store employees earn.
  • Amazon has announced 19 new fulfillment centers worldwide to be opened in time to support this year’s holiday demand.
  • North America segment sales, representing amounts earned from retail sales of consumer products (including from sellers) and subscriptions through North America-focused websites, and including amounts earned from Amazon Web Services (AWS), were $7.88 billion, up 33% from third quarter 2011.
  • International segment sales, representing amounts earned from retail sales of consumer products (including from sellers) and subscriptions through internationally-focused websites, were $5.92 billion, up 20% from third quarter 2011. Excluding the unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, sales grew 27%.
  • Worldwide Media sales grew 11% to $4.60 billion. Excluding the unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, sales grew 14%.
  • Worldwide Electronics and Other General Merchandise sales grew 36% to $8.56 billion. Excluding the unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, sales grew 39%.
  • The NASDAQ OMX Group announced the launch of FinQloud, a cloud computing offering powered by AWS and exclusively designed for the financial services industry. FinQloud provides efficient management and storage of financial data to help market participants streamline operations and meet regulatory compliance requirements without making costly capital expenditures for their underlying infrastructure.
  • AWS announced that more than 300 government agencies and 1,500 education institutions are leveraging AWS for a wide range of uses including big data analytics, high performance computing, web and collaboration applications, archiving and storage, and disaster relief. AWS also announced new services and features available in the AWS GovCloud (U.S.) Region, including the addition of high performance computing capabilities.
  • AWS announced Amazon Glacier, a secure, reliable and extremely low cost storage service designed for data archiving and backup. Amazon Glacier is designed for data that is infrequently accessed, yet still important to retain for future reference, and for which retrieval times of several hours are suitable.

Financial Guidance

The following forward-looking statements reflect’s expectations as of October 25, 2012. Our results are inherently unpredictable and may be materially affected

by many factors, such as fluctuations in foreign exchange rates, changes in global economic conditions and consumer spending, world events, the rate of growth of the Internet and online commerce and the various factors detailed below.

Fourth Quarter 2012 Guidance

  • Net sales are expected to be between $20.25 billion and $22.75 billion, or to grow between 16% and 31% compared with fourth quarter 2011.
  • Operating income (loss) is expected to be between $(490) million and $310 million, compared with $260 million in the prior year period.
  • This guidance includes approximately $290 million for stock-based compensation and amortization of intangible assets, and it assumes, among other things, that no additional business acquisitions, investments or legal settlements are concluded and that there are no further revisions to stock-based compensation estimates.

A conference call will be webcast live today at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET, and will be available for at least three months at This call will contain forward-looking statements and other material information regarding the Company’s financial and operating results.

These forward-looking statements are inherently difficult to predict. Actual results could differ materially for a variety of reasons, including, in addition to the factors discussed above, the amount that invests in new business opportunities and the timing of those investments, the mix of products sold to customers, the mix of net sales derived from products as compared with services, the extent to which we owe income taxes, competition, management of growth, potential fluctuations in operating results, international growth and expansion, the outcomes of legal proceedings and claims, fulfillment center optimization, risks of inventory management, seasonality, the degree to which the Company enters into, maintains and develops commercial agreements, acquisitions and strategic transactions, and risks of fulfillment throughput and productivity. Other risks and uncertainties include, among others, risks related to new products, services and technologies, system interruptions, government regulation and taxation, payments and fraud. In addition, the current global economic climate amplifies many of these risks. More information about factors that potentially could affect’s financial results is included in’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including its most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent filings.

Our investor relations website is and we encourage investors to use it as a way of easily finding information about us. We promptly make available on this website, free of charge, the reports that we file or furnish with the SEC, corporate governance information (including our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics), and select press releases and social media postings.


ORIGINAL: Minutes away from Amazon’s Q3 earnings announcement after the closing bell.

Analysts polled by Bloomberg revealed consensus estimates for a loss of $0.08 per share, down from EPS of $0.01 in Q2.

However, sales are expected to rise to $13.9 billion in Q3, up from $12.83 billion in Q2.

Current guidance for Q4 is for EPS of $0.53 and $12.83 billion in sales.

The stock has made some pretty big moves in both directions following the last few earnings releases.

Kaitlyn Keirnan of Dow Jones Newswires reports this afternoon that options traders are positioning for upside in AMZN resulting from the release:

In a sign of the heavy bullishness, as of early Thursday afternoon, nearly half of all trades in Amazon options involved contracts that require shares to add at least 10% to profit, according to option data firm Trade Alert.

Eight of the 10 most-active Amazon option contracts on Thursday were “call” contracts, which grant the right to buy shares at a set price by a set date. The majority of the contracts expire next Friday or on Nov. 17.



The 25 Coolest New Businesses In Chicago

via Business Insider: 



With its burgeoning restaurant scene and its vibrant startup culture, Chicago is one of the best places in the country to start a business. 

We spoke to friends and colleagues and polled readers to bring you the coolest and most innovative new businesses in the Windy City.

The winners, listed in alphabetical order, have all opened since (or just before) Fall 2011 and include a donut shop run by an alum of one of Chicago’s best restaurants, a personal shopping service, an Argentinian empanada shop and a startup that’s changing how the service industry hires.

Thanks to our readers who took the time to send us nominations. Abby Rogers and Rob Wile contributed to the list. 


Au Cheval

800 West Randolph Street

What it is: European-inspired diner food.

Why it’s cool: Au Cheval’s not your typical diner, with dishes like a fried homemade bologna sandwich, duck heart hash and a pork porterhouse. They also have an excellent burger.

This diner has more than 30 international beers on tap.

bethie b.

bethie b.

bethie b.


What it is: The one-year-old company buys and sells recycled interiors, furnishings, and art. Their specialty, however, is pillows—hand-painted and custom-made.

Why it’s cool: The founders of bethie b. are Meg Goldberg and Beth Barron, a mother and daughter “pillow-creating design team” with an eye for the unique, creative and custom made.




4 East Ohio, Studio 12

What it is: A personal shopping service founded in November 2011 that strives to give women more free time.

Why it’s cool: The CakeStylists work with clients’ different budgets, work dress codes, and preferred designers. You can also buy CakeStyle as a gift for friends and family.


Citizen Made

Citizen Made

Citizen Made

3717 North Ravenswood Avenue

What it is: A custom sales software company that helps Chicago-based online businesses build their online stores by making it easier for their customers to personalize, visualize, buy and share products in different colors, styles, and designs.

Why it’s cool: Citizen Made gives its primarily local and small business clients the option for their customers to share their purchases through social media in order to increase brand awareness.

Do Rite Donuts

Do Rite Donuts

Do-Rite Donuts

50 West Randolph Street

What it is: High-end donuts and coffee.

Why it’s cool: One of the chefs is an alum of L2O, one of Chicago’s most renowned fine dining restaurants. The donuts, ranging from classics like Boston Creme Pie to more arcane flavors like Banofee Pie and Candied Maple Bacon, are so popular that the owners are reportedly contemplating a second location.

Daily specials like S’more donuts and rum glazed pineapple fritters make each visit a bit different. There are vegan and gluten-free options available every day.

EL Ideas

2419 West 14th Street

What it is: A micro-restaurant named one of the best in Chicago.

Why it’s cool: EL has only one seating a night at a communal table. Dining here is an interactive experience, with each of the dishes explained by the chef and his small staff. If the idea of eating with 16 or so strangers makes you nervous, the food might convince you otherwise.

Recent inventive dishes include “cherries” (pictured; which are made from sea grapes, katsuobushi and umeboshi) and “French Fries and Ice Cream” (potato with leeks and vanilla).


1366 North Milwaukee Avenue

What it is: A combination bar and arcade.

Why it’s cool: Rather than a lonely Deer Hunter machine at the back of bar, Emporium has a huge variety of classic arcade games from The Simpsons to Galaga, as well as a variety of pinball machines. There are more than 20 craft beers on tap.

The games are next to convenient shelves to hold your drink during particularly competitive gaming sessions.

5411 Empanadas

2850 North Clark Street and a roaming truck 

What it is: Argentinian-style empanadas on the go and in a new storefront.

Why it’s cool: After several years running a successful food truck, 5411 Empanadas recently opened its first storefront. Named for the dialing code for Buenos Aires, they offer classic Argentinian-style empanadas.

However, flavors like ratatouille and banana nutella are anything but classic.

Flowers For Dreams

Flowers For Dreams

Flowers for Dreams

Online, in Chicago and Boston

What it is: A florist company founded in March 2012 that donates a backpack full of school supplies to a student in need for every bouquet purchased.

Why it’s cool: The company’s flowers are sourced organically, grown sustainably, and delivered locally in and around Boston and Chicago. After their first six months of operating, Flowers for Dreams had donated 1,750 backpacks in Chicago, and 525 in Boston after the first three months, according to an email from one of the co-founders.




Online and at various area retailers

What it is: A curated online marketplace for local and vintage furniture.

Why it’s cool: Anyone who’s had a bad experience with Craigslist can see where the idea came from.

Furnishly makes the process of finding and buying great furniture from individuals and a variety of partner stores easier and more reliable.


2656 West Lawrence Avenue

What it is: Contemporary American prix-fixe restaurant.  

Why it’s cool: Named the year’s best new restaurant by Chicago Magazine, Goosefoot is named for the genus of plants that include beets and swiss chard. The food often looks more like art than something to eat.

The dishes are described simply with the ingredients that make them up, like the “angus beef/cauliflower/goosefoot/trumpet royale/shallot jus” that appeared on a recent menu.




47 East Oak Street

What it is: A new men’s boutique in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood.

Why it’s cool: Everything sold at the store is made in the USA.

Some of the brands include Engineered Garments, Post Overalls, Gitman Vintage and featured footware from local company Oak Street Bootmakers.


JoJo & Sofia

JoJo & Sofia

Jojo & Sofia


What it is: A company that makes handmade, vintage-style accessories—tie clips, cuff links, etc.—mainly for men, but also vintage and steam punk-style jewelry for women.

Why it’s cool: Sarah Sebastian, founder of JoJo & Sofia, named the business after her two grandmothers. Aww!!

Madame Zuzu’s

Madame Zuzu's

Richard Shay//Madame Zuzu’s

582 Roger Williams Ave. in Highland Park

What it is: Madame Zuzu’s is a 1930s-style Chinese tea house which opened in mid-September 2012.

Why it’s cool: Zuzu’s was started by Billy Corgan, frontman of the Smashing Pumpkins. Patrons who visited the tea house for its grand opening on September 13th wer

e able to meet Corgan and hear him play some acoustic sets.





What it is: An education startup that curates online learning.

Why it’s cool: MentorMob allows users to create online “learning playlists” for a variety of subjects and skills you can learn like new languages, instruments, or school subjects. Anyone who browses MentorMob looking to learn something new will be able to see the best demos and how-tos on the internet, and “bypass all the junk.”

Proper Suit


What it is: A bespoke suit service that recently arrived in Chicago.

Why it’s cool: Already a hit in Silicon Valley, Proper Suit takes the hassle and pretentiousness out of great custom-made suits.

Once you’ve been measured by one of the company’s tailors, all you need to do is send a photo or explanation of what you’re looking for and the team will get to work.




222 W. Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 1212

What it is: Rentalutions is an online property management platform that helps landlords manage their properties. It was founded in Chicago in April 2012.

Why it’s cool: The founders created Rentalutions to bring more landlords into the digital age. Landlords can manage their property rentals online and run background and credit checks on tenants with this program.



What it is: An online hiring and job search engine for the service industry in Chicago.

Why it’s cool: Shiftgig makes it easier for applicants to find service industry jobs—from sommeliers and pastry chefs to general managers—and for Chicago-based companies to find the right employees.

It’s almost like a social network or dating site for the industry, giving applicants a “fit score” for different opportunities and offering more “gigs” as they make their profile more complete.     

Slurping Turtle

Slurping Turtle

Slurping Turtle

116 West Hubbard Street

What it is: A restaurant that serves delicate Japanese comfort food.

Why it’s cool: Slurping Turtle offers delicious, comforting dishes like noodles and grilled meats. The owner, Takashi Yagihashi, won “fan favorite” on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters.



What it is: An app that allows people to find and reserve parking spots in Chicago.

Why it’s cool: Parking in Chicago can be, well, difficult. SpotHero allows users to view rates, get deals and reserve spots wherever they might be headed in Chicago. Users can just flash their phone at a partner garage and park.

The app also takes some of the agita out of parking at giant events.


151 West Erie Street

What it is: A new, popular Spanish/Latin small plates restaurant that’s made for sharing.

Why it’s cool: Tavernita offers really great deals to its customers, including $1 shucked oysters on Wednesdays from 5 to 7pm, and special educational nights for wine and Spanish food.

The Barrelhouse Flat

2624 North Lincoln Avenue

What it is: Craft cocktail bar.

Why it’s cool: The recently opened spot has more than fifty classic and original cocktails and a kitchen run by a Charlie Trotter’s alum that’s open until four in the morning.

Dishes include pig face poutine and a popcorn and cotton candy of the day. House cocktails like “Taking Care Of Fizzness” are listed with their inventor on the menu.

The Drinkingbird

The Drinkingbird

The Drinkingbird

2201 North Clybourn Avenue 

What it is: A ’60s inspired retro cocktail bar in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.

Why it’s cool: Classic drinks, bowls of punch, “swanky decor,” and great snacks make this recently opened bar a favorite for people frequenting the nearby Webster Place movie theater.

The bar also hosts fun ’60s-inspired events like card night, complete with retro-styled decks.

The Hotel Lincoln

The Hotel Lincoln

Hotel Lincoln

1816 North Clark Street

What it is: Like the North Side neighborhood its located in, The Hotel Lincoln is “historic yet fresh, fun though eccentric, active but relaxed.”

Why it’s cool: The Hotel Lincoln is close to the Lincoln Park Zoo, Green City Market and Second City, the comedy club that produced actors like John Belushi, Tina Fey and Steve Carrell.

The Ivy Boutique Hotel

The Ivy Boutique Hotel

Ivy Boutique Hotel

233 East Ontario Street

What it is: The Ivy is a boutique hotel that is centrally located, close to great shopping, restaurants and the Miracle Mile.

Why it’s cool: The hotel’s rooms are designed with soothing earth tone hues and are decorated with fine art by local artists.

The 10 Best Countries For Growing A Business [RANKED]

via Business Insider: 



Management consulting firm Grant Thornton recently released a ranking of countries by how well they encourage “dynamic growth” for businesses. 

We caught up with Stephen Chipman, CEO of Grant Thornton U.S., who says that “dynamism can be largely defined by a business’ ability to act with speed, agility and flexibility. It’s about an organization’s knack to move relatively fast in a productive manner, to grow, to take action without significant barriers — internal or external — getting in the way.”

It’s not all about the economy. A variety of factors went into the model, including the availability of private credit, the regulatory environment, and support for research and development.

The U.S. barely makes the list at #10.


10. The United States

Dynamism score: 64.1

Strongest area: The United States has the world’s eighth-best financing environment.

While strong in many areas, the U.S. doesn’t come out front in any. Polarized politics and sluggish growth are holding the country back.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

9. Germany

Dynamism score: 64.8

Strongest area: Germany comes in ninth for science and technology.

A center of manufacturing, engineering, and organizational expertise, Germany has stayed strong through the Euro crisis.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

8. Korea

Dynamism score: 64.9

Strongest area: Ranked fourth in science and technology

Korea’s large, vertically integrated conglomerates help it stay in front in terms of technological innovation.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

7. Switzerland

Dynamism score: 64.1

Strongest area: Switzerland comes in fifth for science and technology.

High quality infrastructure and the presence of some of the world’s leading engineering firms make Switzerland very appealing.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

6. Australia

Dynamism score: 65.6

Strongest area: Australia comes in seventh for business operating environment, and labor and human capital

Students in Australia and neighboring New Zealand spent more time being educated than any other country in the survey.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

5. Austria

5. Austria

Dynamism score: 66.1

Strongest area: Austria came in 4th place for its financing environment

Despite Euro area troubles, Austria manages to provide liquidity and a favorable regulatory environment to businesses.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

4. Israel

Dynamism score: 69.3

Strongest area: Israel has the world’s most dynamic science and technology environment

Despite its tiny size, Israel has the third most companies listed on the NASDAQ in the world.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

3. Sweden

Dynamism score: 69.6

Strongest area: Sweden came in third for both business environment and science and technology.

Sweden has an open and transparent business environment, strongly supports research and development, and has world class IT infrastructure.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

2. Finland

Dynamism score: 70.5

Strongest area: Finland has the world’s best operating environment for businesses

Finland’s extremely open economy and its transparent regulatory and competitive environment make it a great place to grow a business.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

1. Singapore

Dynamism score: 72.1

Strongest area: Singapore has the world’s best financing environment.

Light regulation, low corporate taxes, access to fast growing Asian markets, and readily available private credit get Singapore the number one ranking.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

The 10 Worst Countries To Grow A Business

via Business Insider: 



Skyrocketing inflation, widespread corruption, a continent-wide economic crisis, and poor IT infrastructure are some of the problems for the 10 lowest ranked countries in Grant Thornton’s Global Dynamism Index. 

Every country doesn’t have all of those problems, but these 10 have had the poorest performance in the measures that business leaders consider most important over the last 12 months.


10. Indonesia

10. Indonesia


Dynamism score: 50.7

Weakest area: Indonesia’s science and technology environment was the third worst in the survey.

Indonesia’s economic expansion is weighed down by poor research spending, problems finding financing, and an unfriendly operating environment for businesses.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

9. Colombia

Dynamism score: 50.2

Weakest area: Colombia’s science and technology environment was sixth from the bottom.

Poor infrastructure and minimal research spending hurt Colombia’s ranking.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

8. Russia

8. Russia

Ktoine at

Dynamism score: 50

Weakest area: Russia was third from the bottom for its financing environment.

High levels of corruption hurt Russia, despite its relatively strong economic growth. Getting financing can be an issue as well.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

7. South Africa

Dynamism score: 50

Weakest area:  South Africa had the world’s second worst ranking for labor and human capital.

Extremely high youth unemployment is just one of the things that has made South Africa less attractive for businesses.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

6. Portugal

Dynamism score: 49.2

Worst area: Portugal had the second worst economic environment on the list, behind only Greece.

Europe’s disastrous growth outlook and the prospect of further austerity in the future make Portugal a risky place to be in business.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

5. Philippines

Dynamism score: 47.6

Worst area: The Philippines was ranked sixth from the bottom for its labor and human capital environment.

Having a young work force is important; business leaders weigh school life expectancy and productivity higher, and that’s where the Philippines falls behind.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

4. Egypt

4. Egypt


Dynamism score: 41.2

Worst area: Egypt had the second worst science and technology score and the third worst for labor and human capital.

Weak schools, unemployment and an underdeveloped IT infrastructure hurt Egypt’s standing in the rankings.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

3. Greece

3. Greece


Dynamism score: 40.2

Worst area: Greece had the world’s worst economic and growth outlook.

Greece, in the throes of a massive recession and harsh austerity program, had the lowest score for economics and growth by more than 26 points.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

2. Nigeria

2. Nigeria


Dynamism score: 40.2

Worst area: Nigeria had the world’s worst operating environment for businesses.

High youth unemployment and a risky business environment outweigh a young workforce and energy resources.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

1. Venezuela

1. Venezuela

Oscar Sabetta/Getty Images

Dynamism score: 37.4

Worst area: Venezuela had the worst science and technology environment on the list, and the second worst business environment.

High inflation, low research and development spending, and a hostile business environment land Venezuela in the bottom spot.

Source: Grant Thornton LLC

How To Get Customers To Become Advocates For Your Product

via Business Insider: 

This is the seventh of a ten-part series called “Small Business: Big Results.” This series offers small businesses tips on how to achieve goals with limited resources. “Small Business: Big Results” is sponsored by Staples.


Brands know they’ve succeeded once consumers begin to sell the product themselves — in the way that Apple products have become status symbols.

Rob Candelino

But it’s not easy to turn consumers into advocates. Usually, it involves taking some bold risks to create an aura of authenticity surrounding the brand.

To provide some advice for entrepreneurs looking to create an inspiring product, we spoke with Rob Candelino, vice president of brand building for Unilever Skincare. He played a major role in Dove’s popular “Real Beauty” campaign, which completely changed the company’s image.

Below is a slightly-edited transcript of our conversation:

Most brands would like to inspire. What is your definition of an inspiring brand?

A product is a transactional thing; it’s an item that serves a purpose in your life. A brand can be that same item but with an emotional engagement. And I think often times, what makes brands exceptional, what makes brands inspiring is that that emotional engagement is so deep, is so profound, and so relevant to that individual who is interacting with that brand, it transcends the functional purpose it serves.

How do you connect emotionally with your consumers?

I don’t think you can do what we’ve done in beauty related self-esteem issues unless you have a tremendous relationship on which to build. So we took what was a really good strong relationship and made it even stronger because we were advocating to the very issues that mothers and girls are wrestling with in living rooms around the country and around the world.

For startups on a budget, is it worth investing in expensive marketing talent?

The point is you have to be contextually relevant. Where you send your money, make sure you get a commensurate impact for the investment you’re making. If you’re spending $50,000 on a local program that is reaching however many dozens of women and girls, that needs to be as powerful per interaction as that ad you do in Times Square or at the Super Bowl.

How do you integrate a social cause into your brand?

I’ll come back to my point about contextual relevance. I see a lot of brands in all industries recognizing the importance of having a very overt social relevance in addition to their commercial presence. Where we think brands sometimes get it wrong is when that social objective does not sync up to who they are as a business. That’s why when we do things for Dove, if we partner for an event it has to be consistent and authentic to the values that we ascribe to as a brand and our commitment to building positive self esteem for women and girls. If its not, we want no part of it.

How do you know if your campaign has resonated?

When you put six women in their underwear on a billboard in Times Square and challenge conventional norms of beauty imagery, you know instantaneously. That work originally was so groundbreaking and so profoundly inspiring to women, that we knew right away. Women would call us. Women would come up to us. It was immediate.

What are the potential pitfalls of promoting an inspiring brand? What can go wrong?

There’s a tremendous amount that could go wrong. I think if you think of the risk my predecessors took: “We’re going to spend a few million bucks to do a Super Bowl ad and we’re not going to talk about product. We’re going to talk about a philosophy and a philosophy that takes on the very industry that we are a part of.” Think of how risky that was, how groundbreaking that was. But that context which everyone understood, is exactly what lent more credibility and power to the message itself. We were conscious of that and it was a deliberate choice.