Google+ Followers

Friday, March 23, 2012

Health insurance rate hikes in nine states deemed excessive by HHS

This morning started with viewing pictures of my new twin granddaughters at their morning feeding.  A wonderful start before I viewed the attached document from HHS.  It appears to be another nail in the coffin of free enterprise.  I cannot understand how the ability to exercise dictatorial control over a publicly owned corporation can happen under our Constitution and Bill of Rights.  It appears that every day we see signs of  random orders to control the vital aspects of American Capitalism.  Clearly our President believes that to overcome the will of the American people, the abrupt CHANGE to socialism requires a Dictatorship.  Maybe someone can tell me it is just my nightmare?


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Health insurance rate hikes in nine states deemed excessive by HHS
Secretary Sebelius calls on insurance companies to drop unreasonable rate hikes
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today that health insurance premium increases in nine states have been deemed “unreasonable” under the rate review authority granted by the Affordable Care Act.
"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act consumers are no longer in the dark about their health insurance premiums," said Secretary Sebelius.  "Now, insurance companies are required to justify rate increases of 10 percent or higher.  It’s time for these companies to immediately rescind these unreasonable rate hikes, issue refunds to consumers or publicly explain their refusal to do so."
Secretary Sebelius also released a new report today showing that, six months after HHS began reviewing proposed health insurance rate increases, consumers are already seeing results. Since the rate review program took effect in 2011, health insurers have proposed fewer double-digit rate increases. Furthermore, more states have taken an active role in reducing rate increases, and consumers in all states are getting straight answers from their insurance companies when their rates are raised by 10 percent or more. As of March 10, 2012, the justifications and analysis of 186 double-digit rate increases for plans covering 1.3 million people have been posted at HealthCare.gov, resulting in a decline in rate increases. According to the report, in the last quarter of 2011 alone, states reported that premium increases dropped by 4.5 percent, and in states like Nevada, premiums actually declined.
In the decisions announced today, HHS determined, after independent expert review, that two insurance companies have proposed unreasonable health insurance premium increases in nine states—Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.  The excessive rate hikes would affect over 42,000 residents across these nine states.
In these nine states, the insurers have requested rate increases as high as 24 percent. These increases were reviewed by independent experts to determine whether they are reasonable.  In this case, HHS determined that the rate increases were unreasonable, because the insurer would be spending a low percentage of premium dollars on actual medical care and quality improvements, and because the justifications were based on unreasonable assumptions.
Most rates are reviewed by states and many states have the authority to reject unreasonable premium increases.  Since the passage of the health care law, the number of states with this authority increased from 30 to 37, with several states extending existing “prior authority” to new markets.
The report released today shows that:
* States like Texas, Kentucky, Nevada and Indiana are reporting fewer requests for rate increases  over 10 percent.
* States like California, New York, Oregon, and many others, have proactively lowered rate increases for their residents.
* The rate review program has made insurance companies explain their increases, and more than 180 have been posted publicly and are open for consumer comment on companyprofiles.healthcare.gov.
This initiative is one of many in the health care law to ensure that insurance companies play by the rules, prohibiting them from dropping coverage when a person gets sick, billing consumers into bankruptcy through annual or lifetime limits, and, soon, discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition.

Information on the specific determinations made today is available at: http://companyprofiles.healthcare.gov/ 

The rate review report released today is available at: http://www.healthcare.gov/law/resources/reports/rate-review03222012a.html 
General information about rate review is available at: http://www.healthcare.gov/law/features/costs/rate-review/

Councilwoman Refuses to Pledge Allegiance to Our Flag

By Darla Dawald


According to WABC TV NJ,  Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs doesn't like the fact the councilwoman Rebecca Williams doesn't want to say "The Pledge of Allegiance" before meetings.
In fact, part of the controversy is whether or not everyone should stand for the pledge or sit because Councilwoman Williams remains seated. Apparently both stated their position at the last meeting.
"My exercising my right as a citizen to not pledge allegiance to a flag is my right as an American citizen, and for anyone to mock that I would question their allegiance to anything," Plainfield Councilwoman Rebecca Williams said. WABC
The Mayor is upset because Councilwoman Williams will not participate in the prayer either. The mayor see both as disrespectful and a sign of defiance.
"There are many officials who believe if you go by strict Jeffersonian interpretation there should be a separation of church and state," Williams said, "People have the right to their religion and their beliefs and I would never step on anyone's toes on that."
It is clear she does not understand what the founders intended nor the consequence for their sacrifice and stand that has given her the opportunity as a woman to be a councilwoman in a free country.


I don't care what city you are a councilman or woman for, if you are in America we Pledge Allegiance to Our Flag meaning we pledge allegiance to our country, our Constitution, our Republic for which it stands. Remember many have fought and died for you to have such freedom that you so easily disregard.


I remember a saying: "if you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything". I pity Councilwoman Williams as she obviously doesn't stand for anything of value.


Shame on Councilwoman Rebecca Williams!

Do you believe Councilwoman Williams should participate in the pledge as a City Elected Leader?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What makes gasoline prices rise?

 This seems to be the best description of the drivers of the cost of gasoline. Unfortunately, it says no one can change it...simply supply and demand...real or imagined.

 

Q&A: What makes gasoline prices rise?


AP Energy Writer
Published Thursday, March 22, 2012
0 comments
Email Article  |  Print Article  |  RSS Feeds  |   Bookmark and Share   |  Search the Archive

Watching the numbers on the gas pump tick ever higher can boil the blood and lead the mind to wonder: Why are gasoline prices so high?Many stand accused, including oil companies, the president, Congress, and speculators on Wall Street. Others assume that the earth is just running out of oil.
The reality, economists say, is fairly simple, but it isn't very satisfying for a driver looking for someone to blame for his $75 fill-up. Last year, the average price of gasoline was higher than ever, and it hasn't gotten any better this year. The average price nationwide is $3.88 per gallon, the highest ever for March. Ten states and the District of Columbia are paying more than $4.
Q: What determines the price of gasoline?
A: Mainly, it's the price of crude oil, which is used to make gasoline. Oil is a global commodity, traded on exchanges around the world. The main U.S. oil benchmark has averaged $103 per barrel this year. The oil used to make gasoline at many U.S. coastal refineries has averaged $117 per barrel.
Oil prices have been high in recent months because global oil demand is expected to reach a record this year as the developing nations of Asia, Latin America and the Middle East increase their need for oil. There have also been minor supply disruptions in South Sudan, Syria and Nigeria. And oil prices have been pushed higher by traders worried that nuclear tensions with Iran could lead to more dramatic supply disruptions. Iran is the world's third largest exporter.
Q: How are gasoline prices set?
A: When an oil producer sells to a refiner, they generally agree to a price set on an exchange such as the New York Mercantile Exchange. After the oil is refined into gasoline, it is sold by the refiner to a distributor, again pegged to the price of wholesale gasoline on an exchange.
Finally, gas station owners set their own prices based on how much they paid for their last shipment, how much they will have to pay for their next shipment, and, perhaps most importantly, how much their competitor is charging. Gas stations make very little profit on the sale of gasoline. They want to lure drivers into their convenience stores to buy coffee and soda.
Oil companies and refiners have to accept whatever price the market settles on - it has no relation to their cost of doing business. When oil prices are high, oil companies make a lot of money, but they can't force the price of oil up.
Q: Are oil prices manipulated by speculators on Wall Street?
A: Investment in oil futures contracts by pension funds, mutual funds, hedge funds, exchange traded funds and other investors who aren't going to actually use oil has risen dramatically in the last decade. Much of this money is betting that oil prices will rise. It is possible that this has inflated the price of oil - and therefore gasoline - somewhat. But investors can also bet that prices will go down, and they do. Studies of the effects of speculation on oil markets suggest that it probably increases volatility, but that it doesn't have a major effect on average prices.
Q: Are politicians to blame for high prices?
A: Politicians can't do much to affect gasoline prices because the market for oil is global. Allowing increased drilling in the U.S. would contribute only small amounts of oil to world supply, not nearly enough to affect prices. The Associated Press conducted a statistical analysis of 36 years of monthly inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and U.S. domestic oil production and found no statistical correlation between oil that comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump. Over the last three years, domestic oil production has risen and gasoline prices rose sharply. In the 1980s and 1990s, U.S. production fell dramatically, and prices did too.
Releasing oil from emergency supplies held in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve could lead to a temporary dip in prices, but the market might instead take it as a signal that there is even less oil supply in the world than thought, and bid prices higher. Any price relief from a release of reserves would be temporary.
Politicians can, however, help reduce the total amount drivers pay at the pump. They could lower gasoline taxes and they can help get more fuel efficient cars into showrooms by mandating fuel economy improvements or subsidizing the cost of alternative-fueled vehicles. The first new fuel economy standards since 1990 are just now going into effect. Last summer the Obama Administration and automakers agreed to toughen standards further in 2016.
The U.S. fleet is now more fuel efficient than ever, and gasoline demand in the U.S. has fallen for 52 straight weeks. The U.S. is never again expected to consume as much gasoline as it did in 2006. That means that while drivers are paying more than they used to, they would have been paying much more if they consumed as much gasoline as they did in the middle of the last decade.
Q: Are prices high because the world is running out of oil?
A: Not yet. Prices are high because there's not a lot of oil that can be quickly and easily brought to market to meet demand or potential supply disruptions from natural disasters or political turmoil. Like most commodities, the need for oil is so great that people will pay almost anything, in the short term, to get their hands on what might be the last available barrel at any given moment.
But substantial new reserves of oil have been found in shale formations in the United States, in the Atlantic deep waters off of Africa and South America, and on the east coast of Africa. Canada has enormous reserves, and production is growing fast there. The Arctic, which is largely unexplored, is thought to have 25 percent of the world's known reserves.
All of this oil, however is hard to get and expensive to produce. That leads analysts to believe that oil will never stay much below $60 a barrel for an extended period again. As soon as oil prices fall, producers will stop developing this expensive oil until demand, and high prices, return. Current high prices have fueled a boom in oil exploration that is sure to bring more crude to the market in coming years. But it is not here yet, so for now, pump prices - and frustration - are expected to remain high.
Jonathan Fahey can be reached at http://twitter.com/JonathanFahey.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I wonder if we can ever get back to honest, unbiased news reporting.  It seems that news has become an entertainment production aimed at a particular audience.  The result is that we don't get all sides of a story and this tends to amplify the the growing rift among Americans.  Any thoughts on how or if we can bring back the truth and objectivity in news reporting?  Please post.


'Daily Show' Producer: 'All of [GOP Presidential Candidates] Are Insane'

22 hours ago post a comment

"The Daily Show" executive producer/writer Rory Albanese tried mightily to deny his program's liberal biases this week during a symposium on political humor.

But Albanese merely reinforced what conservatives already know about the current humor industry - Obama jokes aren't welcome.
Albanese, joined on stage at the South by Southwest festival in Austin by The Huffington Post's Comedy Editor, Carol Hartsell, and comedian/author Sara Benincasa, attempted to rationalize why the vast majority of political comedy attacked the right.
Suffice to say they stumbled and bumbled their way through some dishonest answers.
Albanese admitted that after eight years of making jokes about President George W. Bush, it was difficult at first for "The Daily Show" to take aim at Obama. He said Obama's measured statements aren't easy targets for parody.
"There's funny stuff on the left, but sometimes you have to dig a little deeper. I can't say all the lies in politics come from the right. I think a lot of them come from the left," he said during the event Friday. "I do think it's important to try and come at things from all sides. What we do is poke fun at the [political] system, poke fun at the process...."
Albanese said the 2011-2012 Republican primary campaign, with such colorful candidates as Rick Perry and Hermain Cain, has been comic gold for "The Daily Show" and other jokesters.
"With all due respect to the candidates, there is the view that all of them are insane. A guy like Santorum, who's taking an anti-college stance? That's funny. I mean, who the f--- is against college?
Should political comedians want to find the funny from the left they can just tune in to Rush Limbaugh on any given afternoon. Or, listen to President Obama offer his latest silly defense for the wilting economy or how algae will help power the nation.
"The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart would have teed off on a GOP candidate who talked about algae in such a fashion. When it comes from Obama's lips, you can hear the crickets.
The sooner comedy writers like Albanese admit that they have little interest in mocking the left, the sooner we'll see comedy programs like "Saturday Night Live" and "The Daily Show" tackle politics in an unbiased fashion.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Justice Department Files Objection To Texas Voter ID Law | Fox News

Justice Department files objection to Texas voter ID law

Published March 12, 2012

| FoxNews.com

ballot_texas_110210.jpg

AP

FILE: Voters are shown in this Nov. 2, 2010, photo casting ballots in Texas.

The Justice Department is objecting to a new photo ID law in Texas for voters, saying the state has failed to demonstrate that the the law is not discriminatory by design against Hispanic voters.

The department's head of the civil rights division, Tom Perez, wrote a a six-page letter to Texas' director of elections saying that Texas has not "sustained its burden" under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act to show that the new law will not have a discriminatory effect on minority voters. About 11 percent of Hispanic voters reportedly lack state-issued identification.

Perez wrote that while the state says the new photo ID requirement is to "ensure electoral integrity and deter ineligible voters from voting" the state "did not include evidence of significant in-person voter impersonation not already addressed by the state's existing laws."

Perez added that the number of people lacking any personal ID or driver's license issued by
the state ranges from from 603,892 to 795,955, but of that span, 29-38 percent of them are Hispanic.

"According to the state's own data, a Hispanic registered voter is at least 46.5 percent, and potentially 120.0 percent, more likely than a non-Hispanic registered voter to lack this identification," Perez wrote.

"Even using the data most favorable to the state ... that disparity is statistically significant," he said.

A spokesman with the Texas Secretary of State's office, which runs the Elections Division, was not immediately available. However, a Democratic state lawmaker told the Houston Chronicle that he was thankful for the decision.

"Throughout the pre-clearance process, Texas consistently failed to produce information showing the law would not have a discriminatory impact on minority voters. The Voting Rights Act exists for this exact purpose: protecting the ability of all Americans to access the ballot box," Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, told the newspaper.

Perez noted that the Texas law allowed voters to show military ID, a U.S. citizenship certificate, a U.S. passport or a license to carry a concealed handgun, but the state did not provide any statistics noting how many people lack state ID but have the other allowable forms.

"Nor has the state provided any data on the demographic makeup of such voters," Perez wrote.

Texas is the second state to have its voter ID law challenged. The Justice Department already blocked a similar law from taking effect in South Carolina -- the first time a voter ID law was rejected by the department in nearly 20 years.

South Carolina sued Holder in response, arguing that enforcement of its new law will not disenfranchise any voters.

As for the Texas law, Perez wrote that while lawmakers offered to make election identification certificates available to protect low-income voters who don't already have any ID, the documents are not free, and it creates the additional burden of traveling to a driver's license office, undergoing an application process that includes fingerprinting and finding supporting documentation to prove one's identity.

Using Census data, the Justice Department argued that the law creates an undue hardship on Hispanic populations that don't have the means to get a vehicle, live extremely far from a driver's license office or can't make it during the offices' limited operating hours.

Upon a federal court order, Texas recently changed its March 1 primary date to May 29 after a months-long fight over redistricting.

Christians have no right to wear cross at work, says Government - Telegraph

Christians have no right to wear cross at work, says Government
Christians do not have a right to wear a cross or crucifix openly at work, the Government is to argue in a landmark court case.
Christians have no right to wear cross at work, says Government
The Government has refused to say that Christians have a right to display the symbol of their faith at work Photo: PA

By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent

9:00PM GMT 10 Mar 2012

CommentsComments

In a highly significant move, ministers will fight a case at the European Court of Human Rights in which two British women will seek to establish their right to display the cross.

It is the first time that the Government has been forced to state whether it backs the right of Christians to wear the symbol at work.

A document seen by The Sunday Telegraph discloses that ministers will argue that because it is not a “requirement” of the Christian faith, employers can ban the wearing of the cross and sack workers who insist on doing so.

The Government’s position received an angry response last night from prominent figures including Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

He accused ministers and the courts of “dictating” to Christians and said it was another example of Christianity becoming sidelined in official life.
Related Articles

Bishops defend cross wearers
05 Feb 2012

Christians take prejudice row to Strasbourg
05 Jun 2011

Christian's battle over Sunday shift
19 Feb 2012

Britain failing to stand up for Christians, say MPs
26 Feb 2012

Crematorium removes cross so it doesn't upset other faiths
28 Feb 2012

The Government’s refusal to say that Christians have a right to display the symbol of their faith at work emerged after its plans to legalise same-sex marriages were attacked by the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain.

A poll commissioned by The Sunday Telegraph shows that the country is split on the issue.

Overall, 45 per cent of voters support moves to allow gay marriage, with 36 per cent against, while 19 per cent say they do not know.

However, the Prime Minister is out of step with his own party.

Exactly half of Conservative voters oppose same-sex marriage in principle and only 35 per cent back it.

There is no public appetite to change the law urgently, with more than three quarters of people polled saying it was wrong to fast-track the plan before 2015 and only 14 per cent saying it was right.

The Strasbourg case hinges on whether human rights laws protect the right to wear a cross or crucifix at work under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

It states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.”

The Christian women bringing the case, Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin, claim that they were discriminated against when their employers barred them from wearing the symbols.

They want the European Court to rule that this breached their human right to manifest their religion.

The Government’s official response states that wearing the cross is not a “requirement of the faith” and therefore does not fall under the remit of Article 9.

Lawyers for the two women claim that the Government is setting the bar too high and that “manifesting” religion includes doing things that are not a “requirement of the faith”, and that they are therefore protected by human rights.

They say that Christians are given less protection than members of other religions who have been granted special status for garments or symbols such as the Sikh turban and kara bracelet, or the Muslim hijab.

Last year it emerged that Mrs Eweida, a British Airways worker, and Mrs Chaplin, a nurse, had taken their fight to the European Court in Strasbourg after both faced disciplinary action for wearing a cross at work.

Mrs Eweida’s case dates from 2006 when she was suspended for refusing to take off the cross which her employers claimed breached BA’s uniform code.

The 61 year-old, from Twickenham, is a Coptic Christian who argued that BA allowed members of other faiths to wear religious garments and symbols.

BA later changed its uniform policy but Mrs Eweida lost her challenge against an earlier employment tribunal decision at the Court of Appeal and in May 2010 was refused permission to go to the Supreme Court.

Mrs Chaplin, 56, from Exeter, was barred from working on wards by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust after she refused to hide the cross she wore on a necklace chain, ending 31 years of nursing.

The Government claims the two women’s application to the Strasbourg court is “manifestly ill-founded”.

Its response states: “The Government submit that… the applicants’ wearing of a visible cross or crucifix was not a manifestation of their religion or belief within the meaning of Article 9, and…the restriction on the applicants' wearing of a visible cross or crucifix was not an ‘interference’ with their rights protected by Article 9.”

The response, prepared by the Foreign Office, adds: “In neither case is there any suggestion that the wearing of a visible cross or crucifix was a generally recognised form of practising the Christian faith, still less one that is regarded (including by the applicants themselves) as a requirement of the faith.”

The Government has also set out its intention to oppose cases brought by two other Christians, including a former registrar who objected to conducting civil partnership ceremonies for homosexual couples.

Lillian Ladele, who worked as a registrar for Islington council in north London for 17 years, said she was forced to resign in 2007 after being disciplined, and claimed she had been harassed over her beliefs.

Gary McFarlane, a relationship counsellor, was sacked by Relate for refusing to give sex therapy to homosexual couples.

Christian groups described the Government’s stance as “extraordinary”.

Lord Carey said: “The reasoning is based on a wholly inappropriate judgment of matters of theology and worship about which they can claim no expertise.

“The irony is that when governments and courts dictate to Christians that the cross is a matter of insignificance, it becomes an even more important symbol and expression of our faith.”

The Strasbourg cases brought by Mrs Chaplin and Mr McFarlane are supported by the Christian Legal Centre which has instructed Paul Diamond, a leading human rights barrister.

Judges in Strasbourg will next decide whether all four cases will progress to full hearings.

If they proceed, the cases will test how religious rights are balanced against equality laws designed to prohibit discrimination.

Andrea Williams, the director of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “It is extraordinary that a Conservative government should argue that the wearing of a cross is not a generally recognised practice of the Christian faith.

“In recent months the courts have refused to recognise the wearing of a cross, belief in marriage between a man and a woman and Sundays as a day of worship as ‘core’ expressions of the Christian faith.

"What next? Will our courts overrule the Ten Commandments?”

Growing anger among Christians will be highlighted today by Delia Smith, the television chef and practising Roman Catholic, who will issue a Lent appeal on behalf the Church’s charity, Cafod, accusing “militant neo-atheists and devout secularists” of “busting a gut to drive us off the radar and try to convince us that we hardly exist”.

ICM Research interviewed an online sample of 2,001 adults between March 7 and March 9. Interviews were conducted across the country and results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9136191/Christians-have-no-right-to-wear-cross-at-work-says-Government.html

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Climate for Starting Businesses is Improving

Pain and Passion: 2 Factors That Make VCs Invest

By STAFF, Knowledge@Wharton
March 10, 2012

In 22 years of working with venture capitalists, Steven M. Cohen, co-manager of Morgan Lewis’s emerging business and technology practice, can only remember one time when a venture capitalist returned feedback to a presenter and ultimately invested. With the odds that slim, “how do you get that first meeting and give yourself the best shot at getting a potential investor?” he asked.
Knowledge@Wharton

Cohen moderated a panel entitled, “VC Confessionals: Why We Funded, Why We Passed,” during Wharton’s recent 2012 Entrepreneurship Conference, whose theme was “Turning Pain Points into Opportunity.” In explaining that tagline, the conference organizers noted that “pain has often been embedded in entrepreneurship. The pain of a personal frustration inspired a new venture. The pain, sweat and tears of an idea turned it into a viable business. The growing pains of the startup helped it morph from being in a league of its own, to one in which it became an industry leader. Pain has often revealed opportunity.”

RELATED: 7 Reasons Why It’s Never Been Easier to Start a Business

Perspiration has helped, too. As conference panelist Gil Beyda, founder and managing partner of Genacast Ventures, a venture capital firm in partnership with Comcast Ventures, noted, “I like to paraphrase Thomas Edison, who said that genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. To me, a startup is 1 percent a good idea and 99 percent perspiration and execution.” According to Beyda, while millions of people have good ideas, it’s about the execution.

Gauging the Risks
To bring an idea to fruition, Cohen reminded the audience of the importance of evaluating various types of risk: the size of the market, the potential for market penetration, the ability to secure financing, adequate technology development, and an assessment of barriers presented by the competition.

RELATED: 10 Hot Startups from People in Their 20s

All risks are not equal, said venture capitalist Josh Kopelman, who has helped found many companies, including Half.com, Infonautics and TurnTide. As a seed stage firm, his current company funds prelaunch concepts. “We bet on the team,” he said. “The bulk of what you are selling in your first pitch is yourself. The investor has to have confidence in you and in your ideas.” Then Kopelman looks at the product and its market through the “lens of the entrepreneur ... how you prioritized your key decisions.”

To Beyda, it’s about evaluating the risk-reward ratio. The more an entrepreneur can reduce the risks – including team risk, market risk, competitive risk, product risk, etc. – the more interested his company will be. Also, considering that it is so easy to start many businesses on the web or in the cloud, he asked, “Why not find a technology co-founder and build a prototype?”

Panelist Rob Coneybeer, co-founder of Shasta Ventures, which focuses on mobile and web start-ups, noted that for his firm, “a high quality introduction” reduces some of the risk; “it’s a test of whether you are any good at partner building.” He doesn't care where you went to school; what he is looking for are “entrepreneurs who understand storytelling to build brand.”

An entrepreneur who fits the model that Coneybeer outlined – i.e., a good storyteller – is panelist Joe Cohen, co-founder and CEO of Coursekit, an academic social network, for which he has raised two rounds of capital to date. “I spend all day, every day, selling to venture capitalists, to recruits, to our team. Everything is sold, not bought,” said Cohen, who came up with the idea for his company when he was a freshman at Wharton. In his sophomore year, he left school to make his vision, a product that gives instructors the tools they need to manage their class, a reality. His ability to tell his story, in a compelling way, was key to his success securing funding.

Coursekit’s website describes the company’s product as combining “tools like ... file management, communication, and calendaring with social networking features so students can communicate with each other.”

RELATED: The Startup Delusion: A Trap for College Grads

To bring the storytelling process into focus, Kopelman asked the audience: “How many of you have read Stephen King, John Grisham or Danielle Steele?” Many raised their hands. “And how many of you have read those books twice?" The number of hands significantly declined. That was his pitch for Half.com, which sold used books and was eventually acquired by eBay. “I could have said that I was going to create a person-to-person marketplace for used consumer mass media products,” he said.

According to Coneybeer, your story is not a novel; it’s a short story or a two-minute elevator pitch. Talk about your product, not yourself. Your product is a lens for who you are and for your company’s sell.

Other Ways to Evaluate Ideas
For a company that evaluates ideas at the seed stage, Kopelman noted that it is easier to evaluate a “save time” product, such as Uber, which enables users to request a car from their mobile phones, than it is to evaluate a “kill time” product, such as YouTube. “When we saw Aaron Patzer, the founder of Mint.com [an online personal financial management service], he pulled out his laptop and we understood the benefit that was there. The same was true when we saw Uber.” He added that “kill time” products can make money, but it’s harder to see until after the product is built.

One of the lenses that Coneybeer uses to evaluate products is mobile. Some products, such as Facebook and other social networking tools, are strictly in the mobile environment. Other products have been strongly influenced by mobile, such as Uber or Cherry, which he described as an Uber for car washing. Car washing, he added, is an example of an industry that hasn't experienced significant innovations for a long time but that is now being woken up by mobile.

As a venture capitalist with a lead limited partner, Genacast’s Beyda uses Comcast’s resources to evaluate companies for his firm to consider supporting. The companies he chooses to invest in do not need to have any connection to Comcast, but “Comcast NBC Universal is a great platform for diligence.” When Genacast’s executives looked at a fashion e-commerce company, they checked with Comcast’s E! and Style networks; when they looked at a social marketing research company, they talked with the NBC research division.

All the panelists left attendees with a final thought. “The most frequent reason we pass is not because a business is not a good business, but because it may not fit the profile of what a VC is looking for ... [in terms of] expected returns or performance or market size,” Kopelman said. “One of the biggest challenges I have is to say, ‘I think you will make a lot of money, but I don’t think I will make a lot of money. That’s why I’m not going to fund you.’”

For Beyda, the last take-away was the need for entrepreneurs to ask themselves the tough questions first. He is surprised by the number of startups that have gaping holes in their business model or their research. “You have invested your time and life in this. Don’t you want to know the competitive landscape?” Coneybeer, for his part, cautioned the audience to always prepare well for presentations, to make sure they understand their competition, their product and their customer. Coneybeer says he spends at least 40 minutes trying to understand each idea and or product he is asked to review.

The conference ended with the straightforward advice of entrepreneur Joe Cohen: “In starting a company, you need a new idea, a team, product, capital. What happens is because you don’t have one, you don’t do it, or because you only have one of out of three, you don’t. There is inertia, so you go to school or do something else. These are excuses.” In the words of a famous Nike advertising slogan, Cohen’s parting words were: “Just do it.”

Republished with permission from Knowledge@Wharton , the online research and business analysis journal of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

????????

The purpose of this blog is to create serious discussion on what is changing in America and why. Where will it lead us? Who controls the change? Who should control it? Too slow? Too fast? Is it necessary? Is it good? Bad? What does it cost? Is it worth it? Please join in and make your opinions known. Our intent is to be constructive and open to all constructive ideas and comments.
The more ideas we generate, the more impact our opinions will have on our Country's direction!
We have no limits on what kind of change is discussed. Political, Environment, Social, Personal.Education, Religion, etc.. In fact whatever type of change you feel deserves attention or discussion.....bring it on !!

7 Reasons Why It’s Never Been Easier to Start a Business

7 Reasons Why It’s Never Been Easier to Start a Business