Category Archives: Entrepreneur

Blanq Commercial Real Estate

WIMS Client Spotlight: Blanq Commercial Real Estate

Blanq Commercial Real Estate is a commercial real estate firm specializing in buying, selling, leasing, and Property Management of commercial real estate located in Charlotte, NC, with operations across surrounding counties. They also recently expanded to the Research Triangle Park area and opened an office there.

Blanq Real Estate is focused on providing diligent work on every project from the beginning of the transaction through completion. When dealing with commercial real estate projects, Blanq takes a holistic approach to maximize the value and understand the needs of clients. Operating this way serves as a valuable asset in the real estate industry since the ability to connect with clients and understand their needs sets good commercial real estate firms apart from great firms. Blanq combines knowledge and expertise in the commercial real estate industry with a firm foundation including strategic partnerships with vendors and service providers.

Clifford Blanquicet, Jr has sold over 20 properties and executed over 70 leases over the last three years in the Charlotte Region. This expertise and diverse experience across a range of different types of real estate holdings allows Blanq to serve clients across different industries handling commercial transactions as they purchase or lease real estate.

From a financial standpoint Blanq provides services which are extremely beneficial to their clients by maximizing the value of each property managed. This is accomplished through a personalized approach where time and energy is spent to ensuring clients’ interests are aligned with the specific location of their real estate holding. The Net Operating Income (NOI) of each property Blanq manages has grown over time through a mixture of findings cost saving measures and leasing vacant spaces to maximize revenues. The ability to focus on measures to cut costs and grow revenues directly relates to the effectiveness of the Blanq team in communicating and responding to clients and strategic partners.

Blanq also offers a shared coworking space called BlanqCanvass CoWork for those looking to looking to have a professional address, professional office, and conference room to meet clients for their business? It’s located right near uptown Charlotte, offers free parking, use of conference room, craft beer and more, it’s what is needed to take your business to the next level.

WIMS Client Spotlight Sourceree

WIMS Client Spotlight: Sourceree

Sourceree is a cutting-edge technology company aiming to foster innovation and the collaboration of bright minds across industry, government, military, and academia. They are growing rapidly and looking to expand and bring on new professionals with a variety of open positions (check out the website). They have offices in the Pittsburgh/Johnstown, PA area, Arlington, VA, and Washington D.C.

They have an environment where they make things happen. Fast. They have the atmosphere to urge collaboration and idea development. Fun. They strongly desire to drive innovation over the edge. Exciting.

Sourceree supports programs across offices in the U.S. Department of Defense and Commercial Enterprises cross pollinating ideas to lead change, adding value by introducing proven techniques in management, implementing habits to increase productivity, and providing leading edge engineering support to meet any challenge. Sourceree is comprised of program managers, engineers, cyber security experts, and analysts who are experts in their respective fields. Together they make a team with expansive experience and complementing skill sets that enable us to deliver simple innovative solutions.

Their service offerings include the following:

STRATEGY AND MANAGEMENT

Sourceree works with all levels of an organization to develop a comprehensive strategy and implementation plan, by assessing the client’s strengths and weaknesses. Our group advises the client on the best way to achieve their goals and manage their program or business more efficiently. Some of the ways we accomplish this is by building a flexible operating framework that will improve policies and practices, team collaboration, and information delivery.

CYBER SECURITY

Sourceree uniquely assists clients in strengthening their systems in the face of a cyber-attack by implementing an agile lean management approach to design, and managing cyber security operations with program managers and stakeholders. Our expert team members have extensive experience in addressing risks to critical Defense programs, and can support clients in fortifying their information systems and technology at any criticality level.

SYSTEMS ENGINEERING

Sourceree employs well-versed engineers to effectively manage, lead, and support large and highly visible programs. Sourceree assists clients by developing systems, computer hardware, and/or applications. Using a lean management approach allows us to deliver solutions that meet client needs quickly and cost effectively. Sourceree also provides understanding on how the system works, what best approach aligns with a client’s strategy, and how to take advantage of it.

SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT

Software Development includes research, development, prototyping, modification, reuse, re-engineering, and maintenance to build a software product. Sourceree pushes to use agile methods, short design, development, and test cycles to deliver as quickly, and often, as possible to meet clients’ needs and desires by developing applications for client use.

ANALYSIS

Sourceree, led by an all-source analyst, conducts intelligence analysis for clients in the areas of supply chains, commercial maritime shipping, and financial networks. By pulling resources from various data sources and systems, Sourceree analysts investigate commercial operations, industry trends, counterfeit products, and network connections to meet the objectives of its clients.

PLATFORM CONSULTING

Sourceree works with clients to create solutions for single and multi-sided technology platforms. Platforms, in this instance, are technologies, products, and services that create value by enabling direct interactions between two or more clients—or participant—groups. We work with clients to not only define their Platform Strategy, but also develop the solution to fully exploit their platform.

Building Personal Growth and Development

The New Year is well underway and here in Charlotte the past week actually feels like winter. The warm Spring-like weather that started the year is a fleeting memory. The beginning of the year is a good time to think warm thoughts of a beach somewhere or the fact that spring is coming. It is also a good time to think about some goals and steps to make 2019 a more productive year.

I am sure many of you have seen your fair share of articles on life hacks and ways to increase productivity to make 2019 the best year of your life on social media, another blog, or an online publication. I think the best way to move through these articles is to focus on some smaller changes that can be made to improve your outlook on life, productivity, and health. I might suggest you check out “Your Future Self”, Fast Company’s series on improvements that can be made, some simple and others more time intensive to improve your life.

These articles are worth exploring since they include topics that are relevant to growth across professional and personal skills. For the entrepreneurial spirit, might I suggest reading “Your 12-month guide to building your side hustle this year” by Lindsay Tigar. Tigar uses this article to highlight some specific monthly calls to action over the next 12 months from building your side hustle. For example, January begins the year long journey with a period of Self-Assessment. The beginning of the year should serve as a time to outline and consider what exactly having a side hustle means for you and how it will affect your loved ones, taxes, and full-time job. Having a side hustle is hard work but by following some self-evaluation during the first three months of the year this will help build the foundation for a new side hustle or improve your existing strategy before heading into April and Q2 with an improved idea and the right attitude to succeed.

The final article, “How to redesign your days to give you back a few extra hours every week” by Elizabeth Grace Saunders outlines what steps to take to get more out of your time during 2019. While this sounds like a lofty concept, the steps to follow are quite simple. Saunders breaks down how to gain time into these categories quitting something, limiting something, pausing something, delegating something, adding something. I have chosen to limit my time on social media while filling that time with the addition of re-reading some of my favorite books to get a new perspective on them. I urge you to take a step back and see if there is an aspect of your life where you could add, delegate, limit, or pause tasks to make your overall week more rewarding and fulfilling.

As 2019 is already two weeks old which is hard to believe. In this New Year, taking a few minutes each day to focus on personal or professional development can reap many benefits. Instead of trying to stick to rigid resolutions see if making a few small changes will help improve your mindfulness and productivity going forward.

Reading List:

Tigar, Lindsay, “Your 12-month guide to building your side hustle this year” Fast Company. Retrieved 14 January 2019 from https://www.fastcompany.com/90279105/your-12-month-guide-to-building-your-side-hustle-this-year.  

Sounders, Elizabeth Grace, “How to redesign your days to give you back a few extra hours every week” Fast Company. Retrieved 14 January 2019 fromhttps://www.fastcompany.com/90280742/how-to-redesign-your-days-to-give-you-back-a-few-extra-hours-every-week.

“Your Future Self” Fast Company. Retrieved 14 January 2019 from https://www.fastcompany.com/section/your-future-self.

-Craig Oliver

WIMS, Inc.

The Power of Blockchain



I want to take some time and walk you through an interesting interactive project about Blockchain from the Reuters Graphics department with sponsorship from Barclays. This post is from June 2018 and I came across it while scrolling through a 2018 Reuters Graphics Best of List. This article shows where the news industry is heading, merging visual interactive content, with narratives to tell a story. The blockchain follows a story where information is shared on a shared ledger.

This article shows how to easily understand what the blockchain is and how the technology can be harnessed through words and infographics. The piece begins by discussing how the blockchain, at its core, is a database where no one entity holds ownership of the information, be it a banking record or information on the tracking of a tomato through a supply chain. This decentralizing of record keeping is the core of what the blockchain is. Since the information on the blockchain is held on a network that is shared changes are noticeable and it is difficult, not impossible, to distort the information.

For most of history information was controlled and distributed by organizations who could sway decisions and make a good sum of money through being the only forces involved in selling and distributing goods or services. When information is placed on the blockchain, the system is constantly scanned for any changes making sure that all copies of members on the blockchain have the same accurate information. This means as the scale of the blockchain network increases the necessity of scanning and accurately identifying the information across the system also grows and becomes more complex. While much of the media hype surrounding blockchain surrounds bitcoins and the changes in bitcoin prices other useful applications of blockchain range of monitoring food supply to helping make the energy grid smarter.

Now that the foundations of blockchain technology has been outlined the Reuters article walks through a scenario where blockchain can be used to track a transaction. The core of the blockchain, as alluded to earlier, is the database with information on it. This is implemented by having records added one after another to the chain.

Here is a case study where the blockchain would be used across a supply chain. In this example a restaurant owner makes a deal for a restaurant company to purchase tomatoes from a large farm. The structure can be summed up as the record holds the information on the transaction.

If a restaurant wanted to track the location and quality of food through its supply chain the record would be the deals made with suppliers while the block is the collection of records involved and the chain is the link of the blocks. If a restaurant in North Carolina wanted to purchase an order of tomatoes, the order would be placed on the record showing that an exchange was initiated. This is followed by having the system go ahead and scan to ensure the record is authentic. This is followed by having accepted records added to a block which contains a unique hash as well as the prior hash in the system in a specific order.

With all this protection the tomatoes in the salad are ensured to be of high quality as they move along the system. The hash codes along the blockchain serve as an encryption where the information is not control by any one individual and a key is needed to access the information of the transaction. With possible uses from healthcare record keeping to tracking that diamonds are mined without blood diamond warlords and move through a supply chain without forced labor. The blockchain is much more than a cryptocurrency fad and should be something on your radar during 2019.

Sources

Arnold, Andrew, “How Blockchain Can Help Increase The Security Of Smart Grids” Forbes. Retrieved 4 January 2019 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewarnold/2018/04/16/how-blockchain-can-help-increase-the-security-of-smart-grids/#2ffea9a4b489

Murphy, Maryanne, “A Reuters Visual Guide: Blockchain Explained.” Reuters. Retrieved 3 January 2019 fromhttps://graphics.reuters.com/TECHNOLOGY-BLOCKCHAIN/010070MF1E7/index.html

Institute of Food Technologist (IFT), “The Potential of Blockchain Technology Application in the Food System.” Retrieved 4 January 2019 from http://www.ift.org/Knowledge-Center/Learn-About-Food-Science/Food-Facts/The-Potential-of-Blockchain-Technology-Application.aspx

2019 Perspectives

I might be a little late to the game, but I want to start off and wish everyone a Happy New Year! By now most of you will be back to work after what I am sure was some much-needed time with family and friends. Instead of the typical Resolutions or Trends for 2019 I want to share something different with you. A look at some perspectives of what will happen over the next 12-months with a focus on events ranging from local developments with an impact on the Charlotte area to national factors.

Instead of making predictions I want to outline a few important issues which I think will generate news throughout the year and define the year for countless households. These topics are by no means definitive and I think it will be interesting for me to look back at the end of the year to see how this post holds up after a year. Some of these includes events that will create economic impact in Charlotte including the hosting of the NBA All-Star Game. Financial topics are sure to be discussed often and I see student loans as a topic which will continue to impact the purchasing power and economic decisions of millions of Americans.

This is first year that I can remember when I will not be in a traditional classroom. After years of having classes through the winter months and spring I am now entrenched in the working world where January begins an exciting new year. In this aspect it is like how September begins a new and exciting chapter for students and teacher alike. My friends from college have graduated and are either continuing their education and working in research labs or beginning their careers. Not everyone has successfully found a career that uses their degrees and college skills.

The news shares many stories of how as the economy has grown many have been forced to work multiple part time jobs to make ends meet. A great deal of time, discussions, and stress is placed on how to payoff student loans among friends. Education is well worth the investment, but I do see some people left behind suffering from the student loans burden and stuck in situations where they face an uphill battle. I will leave the issue of student loans with the following question: Will this be the year when students loans take more of the headlines like the housing bubble did in 2008?

I want to continue with some trends that I think will be greatly talked about from the media to boardroom from a national perspective. One trend which I have increasingly seen is that people are taking a break from social media to start the year off with a different perspective and away from the clutter and mess of social media. I myself have decided to use social media less this year and allocate some of the time I would spend online away from screens and instead read. This brings up privacy and data security, issues which are increasingly important as 2018 progressed and I can only imagine will stay important into 2019. I will be interested in seeing how tech companies’ stocks will perform into 2019 and what this will mean for the stock market. No market predictions on my end but I imagine investors are in store for another roller coaster ride of a wild year. Some other terms that I think will continue to be in the lexicon include sports betting, increasing marketing for Generation Z, and digital detoxes.

I want to highlight a few local topics from the Charlotte area. Basketball is big in North Carolina and the NBA All-Star game is coming next month with expectations of economic impact that could cross $100 Million. While North Carolina lost out on Amazon to suburbs of Washington, D.C. and New York other important economic news made headlines to end 2018 including IBM’s purchase of Raleigh based Red Hat. November also saw news in Charlotte when Honeywell announced moving its world headquarters from New Jersey to Charlotte which will eventually create 750 jobs. Charlotte is a great city to build and grow a company landing on Inc’s 50 Best Places to Start a Company at 22 with an emphasis on fintech growth.

I believe that companies will continue to invest in the Charlotte area as building projects through Uptown Charlotte and across the region continue to show the robust economy from new building to the continued need to build affordable housing for all the new employees moving into the area. Charlotte has a chance to show its new design to the world during the All-Star game and this year will see continued development and investment centered in Uptown Charlotte. Like across the country growth is focusing on major metro areas with access to universities and transportation which I believe will shape future investment in 2019 and beyond.

Growth and volatility are not often said in the same sentence but those are two words which I think are two words which will shape the next 12-months. Issues that have been under the surface for years will continue to impact the purchasing power of Americans including student loans and greater need for affordable housing. At the same time growth at companies and investment in education will continue across Charlotte and the nation. As privacy concerns continue Americans will decide to take control of their data which is one of the most marketable and valuable pieces of information they hold. The place social media has in our culture will likely be shaped by how it is used throughout the year.

Beginning the path towards growth

     Hello there, my name is Craig Oliver and I am new to the WIMS, Inc. team. I will be helping with operations and project management in addition to contributing to this blog and other publications with a focus on growth. I graduated from American University in May with a degree in Business Administration. Now as I begin my career, I am applying some of the concepts from my education into practice. I have moved beyond the classrooms of business school of learning through case studies and into the real world.

     I have become involved with the Project Management Institute here in Charlotte. I have gained an interest for helping grow business value through a successful portfolio of projects. Every successful organization must be able to work in some capability on teams and delegating work to create a path towards success.

     As a sports fan, I have watched my fair share of games decided not by athleticism but by the decisions of coaches on who to put in the game and what plays to run. The implications of running smooth projects goes beyond the play calling of the Rams or Patriots.  Project management includes simple decisions made every day including which staffer to put on your audit at work to what to watch on Netflix when you get home.

      It is now mid-December and Thanksgiving has long come and gone. Now the busy holiday season and end of year has arrived.  End of the year reports and project planning for 2019 create long hours in addition to the holiday season. Here at WIMS the end of 2018 is an exciting time where the old is meeting the new as projects are winding down while planning for 2019 and new ventures continues to ramp up.

WIMS Client Spotlight: IntellyDoc (AI Contract Management/Automation for Lawyers)

Meet IntellyDoc (website/platform is going live this week): The platform designed specifically for lawyers that serves all your end-to-end contract management needs, and will soon leverage artificial intelligence (AI) technology as well. IntellyDoc easily solves every lawyer’s greatest problem – time management.

You can manage your contracts – from start to finish – without having to leave the IntellyDoc platform. IntellyDoc empowers you to leverage and take back the greatest commodity in the practice of law – your time. Which means you’ll draft contracts, automate document review and approvals (including e-signature functionality), gain critical insight with contract analytics, and close deals faster and more efficiently than ever before.

On the IntellyDoc platform, you get access to the following powerful capabilities:

  1. Smart Contract Template Design
  2. Automated Contract Review
  3. Custom Workflows
  4. Collaboration
  5. E-Signatures
  6. Data Analytics/Reporting and Extraction

The Real Benefits of IntellyDoc:

  • Less email tra­ffic
  • Less legal grid-lock and pressure
  • Less time in the weeds
  • More time to practice high value, meaningful work
  • More efficient workflows
  • More metrics to inform decisions & ensure compliance.

Here’s how it works:

  • Create, review, negotiate, execute, and store a document without leaving the cloud-based platform.
  • The built-in, smart workflows automate document review and approval, enhancing speed and accuracy of your workload.
  • Collaborate securely within the platform to edit and track changes, manage several versions of documents, and execute documents with electronic signatures.
  • Gain powerful insight into your contract repository with real-time reporting and analytics.

Why it works:

  • Our simple set up with on-going, hands-on support means zero installation rigmarole but on-boarding training support is here, if needed.
  • The platform supports various file types you interact with daily on Macs or PCs including: doc, docx, and pdf.
  • The secure and compliant cloud-based approach delivers metrics and transparency.

The website is being finalized this week, but if you’re interested in learning more about the platform, please email sales@intellydoc.com or click here to schedule your demo today.

Seed Round Capital

Notes on Raising Seed Round Capital

Throughout the past year I’ve helped lead a couple of seed round funding for company’s that I’m a co-founder of. While I’ve assisted and consulted many startups prior to that with raising money, doing it from this perspective was quite different. I won’t admit to knowing absolutely everything, but I’ve certainly learned a few things along the way that are worth sharing if you’re in a similar situation or considering it.

Seed round funding takes significantly longer than you think it will, even if you’re just going after “friends and family”. Start reaching out to potential investors at least 6-9 months before you think you’ll need the funds as it can easily take that long to close the deal and collect the check.

How are you going to structure your company, and the investment? Delaware C-Corp’s are a common favorite structure and get a ton of attention, but you don’t necessarily need to structure it that way. Do you want to offer a convertible note or do a straight equity investment (or equity crowd funding – which is a whole other game)? There are pros and cons to each of these decisions, so it really just comes down to preference and seeking expert counsel.

Get serious about documentation as there’s a ton of it required. These deals are a negation, so anticipate there to be red lining for edits on a term sheet contract, additional concessions will be asked for, etc. Secure an attorney to assist you with this side of things. While you can start with a template, always get approval from a professional before executing the deal and finalizing documentation. It will help you later.

Your valuation is likely too optimistic. But even then, a valuation is always subjective. Your true valuation is essentially what you can convince someone your company’s worth. Remember no business plan or pitch book in the history of the world was 100% accurate with their projections. Make sure your work comes across as thoughtful and realistic however to show the potential investor that you did the work and aren’t just flying by the seat of your pants.

A “yes” isn’t really a yes until the money has been transferred. Don’t count your chickens and start deploying capital until you have received it. You can get a yes (or what you perceive to be a yes) on a deal but then when it comes time to complete a wire transfer the investor can get a little gun shy. Things happen, whether they get push back from their spouse, the market takes a downturn, or perhaps it’s some other random unexpected occurrence, a deal isn’t truly closed until you have the money in hand.

Collecting the funds isn’t where it ends, rather it’s just the beginning. After you receive the investment capital, then you have to execute the vision, deliver on what you said you were going to, provide further documentation along the way, communicate progress regularly, and ideally turn a profit so you can return the capital back along with a sizable return on their investment. Not sure which is the hard part? They all are.

What are some of the things you’ve learned along the way? There are so many others to consider. I always love hearing, and learning from, a good case study about your personal experience raising funds if you’re willing to share.

SMALL BUSINESS WEEK 2018

WIMS Celebrates National Small Business Week 2018!

In honor of Small Business Week I’ve put together a collection of resources, information, articles, etc. for you to check out whether you’re currently an entrepreneur, if you’re considering becoming one, or if you simply want to support your local crazy roller coaster rider like myself. Also, to celebrate WIMS Consulting is offering a 20% on all services/projects for other small business owners. Just reach out and mention it during your consultation!

What is SBW?

From April 29th to May 5th, 2018, it’s National Small Business Week where the SBA (Small Business Association) recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs and small business owners from all across the 50 states and U.S. territories.

About: “Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.

As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories. Every day, they’re working to grow small businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America’s global competitiveness.”

 

For North Carolina Companies:

Charlotte Business Resources – it’s Small Business MONTH for the CBR and the city of Charlotte (thanks Mayor Vi Lyles)! Check out everything going on. They’re using #31DaysofBiz too if you want to follow along.

Check out NC IDEA, they’re expanding the long-standing NC IDEA SEED grant program by introducing a Micro-Grant Pilot Program to award micro-grants to deserving companies not yet positioned for their traditional $50K seed grants. “The NC IDEA SEED Micro-Grant Pilot Program will award project-based, micro-grants in the amount of $1K – $10K to young companies looking to validate and advance their idea; or if further along, validate scalability where a small amount of funding would make a significant impact. Grant recipients will also receive mentorship and assistance from NC IDEA, as well as access to its wide network of advisors, partners and investors.”

 

Other SBW2018 Resources Worth Checking Out:

Entrepreneur Magazine SBW2018 HQ

Amazon Business Small Business Week Page

They also created: The Small Business Office Playbook is a resource endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as part of its commitment to continually support small businesses’ needs and growth opportunities.

Vista Print 33% off entire site with code SMALLBIZ

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program

Top TedTalks for when you want to start a business.

Consider These 9 New Ideas For Small Business Week PR (Forbes)

Why National Small Business Week Matters Now More Than Ever (Business.com)

Small Business Week 2018: Need money to get started? We’ve got you. (USA Today)

43 Reasons You Should Support Small And Independent Businesses (Forbes)