Online Course: Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Private Businesses, Part II Jan 12 – Feb 12

This course is presented by University of Virginia Darden School of Business

About the Course

Most entrepreneurship courses focus on how to start a business. Few focus on the next big entrepreneurial inflection point: how do you successfully grow an existing private business? This is the focus of this Course. It is based on the instructor’s research and thirty years of real-world experience advising private growth companies.

This Course will focus on the common “people” challenges private growth companies face as they grow. You will study stories of how six different private businesses faced their growth challenges.

While strategic focus and operational excellence are necessary to build a great growth company, they are not sufficient. Growth requires the right kind of leadership, culture, and people. My research clearly showed that many entrepreneurs struggle with personal challenges presented to them by growth, as well as the challenge of hiring the right people and building the right management team that can play well together. The research shows that every growth business faces common challenges. You can learn from others’ experience—you do not have to “reinvent the wheel”.

The Course format is story based. Each case tells a compelling story. You will learn from Barbara Lynch, Ryan Dienst, Steve Ritter, Randy Bufford, John Gabbert, and Mike Cote. In addition, each week, we will discuss a different content theme. In Week 3, you will engage in a Workshop where you will be asked to apply the Growth System Assessment Tool. You will have the opportunity to create a Course Community of fellow students to learn from each other as the Course progresses.

You will learn how entrepreneurs must grow, too; the “secret” of high performance; people-centric leadership; how to create high employee engagement; how to create an internal Growth System; and how to build a senior management team.

Online Course: Subsistence Marketplaces Jan 12 – Mar 7

This course is offered by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Subsistence Marketplaces

Gain knowledge about subsistence marketplaces and use it in different parts of the world to make a difference. The broader aim of this course is for you to consider the global challenge of poverty and envision a better world by designing solutions based on sound understanding.

About the Course

The foundation for this course lies with unique synergies between pioneering research, teaching, and social initiatives through the Subsistence Marketplaces Initiative. Unique to this approach is a bottom-up understanding of theintersection of poverty and the marketplace.

The goals of this course are to help youdevelop an understanding of marketplace activity in the radically different context of subsistence where much of humanity resides and survives, and for you to design solutions that can be implemented by individuals, businesses, and social enterprises through economically, ecologically, and socially sustainable products for subsistence marketplaces.


Lowell Hawthorne Founder of the Successful Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill

Lowell-Hawthorne200 Jamaican-born Lowell Hawthorne is the Founder and CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill. The company which started in New York in 1989 now has over 120 stores restaurants across 9 states with revenue of over US$100M. Here is his success story.

In the small hamlet of Border, in rural Jamaica, a young boy named Lowell Hawthorne, cut his entrepreneurial teeth at the tender age of ten with his first small business; raising pigs, rabbits and chickens. From the proceeds of this early enterprise Hawthorne saved enough money by age 16 to purchase a mini-bus and begin his next business endeavor of picking visitors up at the airport and dropping them off at various destinations around the island. Eventually, assisted by an older sister he immigrated to the US. The year was 1981. He was 21 and his head was filled with new possibilities as he embraced life in America. In a short eight years he would be married with children, own his own home and be the CEO of what would become the most successful Caribbean inspired business in the United States.

Living the dream …

Lowell initially found work doing inventory and stocking shelves for the New York City Police Department while beginning his studies at Bronx Community College. After a brief stint working for H&R Block the business savvy Hawthorne saw yet another opportunity and his new company L&H was formed. Still working for NYPD he found many clients for his tax preparation services amongst the police officers that surrounded him in his day-time job. Armed with his college education he eventually moved up the ranks into the NYPD Pensions Department, as an accountant. However by the end of the eighties he was ready for change and that’s when the idea for the Golden Krust Bakery was hatched.

Over the years Lowell’s father Ephraim Hawthorne, who owned a small bakery in Jamaica, would come to visit. While spending time with family at the Bronx house he would bake his special Easter buns. These buns were a family tradition, the recipe handed down through the generations from father to son.  Soon the Hawthorne clan were selling these buns to neighbours, local businesses and their colleagues at work.  Eventually the basement of Lowell’s house was turned into an ad hoc bakery.  As the eighties drew to a close the family pooled their resources to raise the funds needed to purchase the appropriate real estate to take the fledgling business to the next level and so …. the new dream found a home and the first official Golden Krust Bakery came into being.

The Golden Krust touch

The original bakery produced buns, breads and cakes but quickly expanded its repertoire to include signature meat patties. Featuring island spices and a flaky pastry crust the patties quickly became a best seller but the road to success wasn’t entirely smooth sailing. Initially the Hawthornes purchased their beef patties from a New York competitor and just when Golden Krust was becoming a serious competitor in the local market, their wholesale supplier decided to abruptly cut them off from their beef patty supply. It was a huge crisis for the company but by using typical Hawthorne common sense coupled with some good advice from dad, Lowell was able to save the day. In fact, this stumbling block created a perfect opportunity to grow the business. This is what happened ….

Lowell was actually visiting in Jamaica when the bad news from the supplier was delivered. When he got off the phone he was devastated but his father, Ephraim, didn’t see things in such a dark light. He counselled his son to rise above the disaster and to see it as an opportunity. Being the local pastor he believed that God would lead the way and his faith bolstered his son’s next decisions. Lowell hopped on a plane to London where he tracked down the information he needed to create a perfect pastry for his own meat patties and quickly found exactly what he needed. The end result has become that deep golden pastry we all associate with the Golden Krust brand.

Next Lowell went back to Jamaica to sleuth out a well-known cook named Mel, famous on the island for his perfectly spiced meat patty fillings. Then on he went to Chicago to purchase the necessary bakery equipment; and just like that, the crisis of the meat patties was solved.

Independence is sweet and from disaster the phoenix rose. The new signature Golden Krust beef patties quickly garnered the company customer attention and today has literally become the “Golden Standard” in the beef patty niche.

In fact these beef patties have been so successful that the Golden Krust Bakery now churns out up to 20,000 patties a day. One of their largest contracts entails supplying the New York City educational system with a variety of beef patties for lunch programs. Today’s children are being provided healthy food at lunch time while developing a taste for Caribbean flavors that they will, no doubt, continue to savor as adults.

Drive, discipline, determination and desire

Lowell Hawthorne uses something he calls the four d’s to fuel his success; drive, discipline, determination and desire.  By keeping it real, Hawthorne has been able to develop a clear mission statement that has guided the Golden Krust brand through crises and successes to become the strong community focused company it is today. What began in 1989 has blossomed into a franchised business with over 120 restaurants.

The tenets that have brought the Golden Krust brand to the forefront are simple and straightforward. This company is grounded by an old fashioned value that places its main emphasis on the customer who is at the very core of the company’s success.  Lowell Hawthorne believes in approaching business with an emphasis on:

  • integrity
  • providing real value to real people
  • always having fun

Together with his family, Lowell has created a recipe for success; a recipe that has taken them from humble beginnings in a Bronx basement to thriving contender status, in a very competitive niche.

The Baker’s Son

The company-honored value of giving back to the community continues to be one of the strongest links in the backbone of the Golden Krust Bakery & Grill enterprise. This company responds to their community constantly; seeking feedback, acting on perceived needs and supporting community organizations. The Mavis & Ephraim Hawthorne, Golden Krust Foundation (MEHGKF), named in honor of the family matriarch and patriarch was established in 2005. It focuses on, “creating and bringing awareness of educational opportunities to the youth of our communities nationally and internationally through scholarships, internships and mentorship.”

Always true to his faith, his roots, his family and community, Lowell Hawthorne has penned a memoir, The Baker’s Son: My Life in Business which charts his remarkable journey from a boyhood in Jamaica to his present-day life in America. For all aspiring entrepreneurs this book is a worthwhile read. From the MEHGKF website:

“The Baker’s Son is a deeply moving account that tells the story of an immigrant family from rural Jamaica that relocated to the Bronx in the 1980s. Starting from humble beginnings, and after weathering several major crises along the way, personal as well as professional, the Hawthorne family has scaled the heights of success to achieve the American Dream to an unprecedented degree. Not content to rest on its well-deserved laurels, the family has, in addition, established an innovative and very successful philanthropic foundation to give back to the community.”

All proceeds from the sale of the Baker’s Son support the work and scholarships of MEHGKF.

Jamaican Entrepreneur Deika Morrison Promoting the Benefits of Early Childhood Education

DeikaMorrisonThe Jamaica’s Parliament recently approved a new Charter of Rights with increased focus on the rights of our precious young ones. Section 13 (k) of the Charter declares it a right of every child, “who is a citizen of Jamaica, to publicly funded tuition in a public educational institution at the pre-primary and primary levels”.

Deika Morrison is helping fill a need for simple and effective tools in the classrooms. Through her “Crayons Count” Project she provides about 2700 basic/pre-schools with starter learning kits, to help boost literacy and numeracy at the level of early-childhood education.

To see exactly what she does and how you can help please see the following video:


Crayons do count

$30 Million Makes Crayons Count

Crayons Count Gets Back To Basics

Basic, infant schools now receiving Crayons Count learning kits



Trend: Putting Customer Back in Customer Service

When 1,620 consumers were tested under laboratory conditions, 63% said they felt their heart rate increase when they thought about receiving great customer service.

For 53% of those tested, receiving great service triggered the same cerebral reactions as feeling loved.*

The takeaway? When it comes to customer service, it’s not about what consumers think. Great service is about feelings.

…There are plenty of new technologies, clever concepts and even trends that could help brands offer better service to consumers. But too few brands understand that amid all this rapid change, the fundamentals of great service remain the same. It’s about the feeling of being recognized. Listened to. Valued and cared for. Continue

Inspiring Story of How One New College Grad Made $66,000 In One Month

After his junior year at Brigham Young University, Nick Walter, now 25, landed a great summer internship in the Seattle office of Pariveda Solutions, a Dallas-based tech consulting firm. Though he enjoyed the work and liked his clients and colleagues, he felt stifled. Used to jeans and t-shirts, he didn’t like wearing khakis and polo shirts and most of all, he says, “I hated that I had to be at this office every day for X amount of time doing what they said I had to do.”

So instead of heading down the career track he’d always expected of himself—he’d envisioned the security of a steady paycheck and benefits—he decided to go to BYU part-time for the next two years, while hiring himself out as a consultant and developing his own apps for the iPhone including seven how-two apps he wrote with a friend. One of them, called simply Weight Lifting Videos, has helped net $1,200 a month.Then he stumbled on a more lucrative possibility. Read more

SOURCE: Forbes

Medical ganja company targets $4b in revenue by 2019

LOCAL medical marijuana company, Medicanja Limited, expects to generate approximately $4 billion in sales within four years.

“Revenue from the sales and services of over 18 products that we have planned from Medicanja limited, including six product lines, will be in excess of $4 billion,” said the executive chairman of Medicanja Limited, Dr Henry Lowe.

What’s more, during the first quarter of next year, Medicanja plans to launch an initial public offering (IPO) to raise funds from the market to continue product development and research.

“This will give Jamaicans at home and in the Diaspora a chance to invest” in a product that shares a strong brand association with the country, he said. Continue

SOURCE: Jamaica Observer

What it Takes to Navigate the Marijuana Industry

Colorado’s first cannabis business summit focused on helping companies learn how to run better and comply with the nascent industry’s many regulations.

The recreational marijuana business is in full bloom in Colorado. In just the first three months since marijuana was legalized, the state has raised $25 million from businesses for taxes, licenses, and fees, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.

Looking forward, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper predicts combined sales from recreational and medical cannabis (which has been legal for 14 years) will reach $1 billion by 2015, with $134 million going to the state. These numbers make clear that the nascent industry is not some Cheech and Chong joke; it’s a serious business with well-defined rules and laws.

To help startups and small businesses navigate regulatory issues, cannabis industry tech firm Surna held the first Colorado Cannabis Summit on Thursday in Denver, featuring panels on state and federal laws, taxes and banking, branding, and employee training and safety.

Meg Collins, the executive director of Colorado-based trade group Cannabis Business Alliance, says about 500 companies have launched around the recreational marijuana industry since the law changed in January, including growers, dispensaries, and tech firms providing seed-to-sale tracking software. Continue


Greater Demand for Cassava?

LOCAL brewing company Red Stripe will be establishing its US$800,000 ($90.4 million) starch processing plant by January 2015.

The facility will allow Red Stripe to make its flagship beer with at least five per cent cassava by next March.

Ultimately, the local brewer wants to replace 20 per cent of its imported barley with locally grown cassava.

The company has secured a lease contract for 250 acres of land at Wallen, St Catherine, that will bring its total farmland under production to 286 acres.

Around 2,500 acres are needed to meet its target. Read more

SOURCE: Jamaica Observer

Jamaica Has a Startup Scene Worth Watching

When contemplating top tech and startup ecosystems in Latin America and the Caribbean, Jamaica isn’t exactly the first locale that comes to mind.

Listed 94th on the World Economic Forum’s 2013-2014 Global Competitiveness Index, the country gets low marks in macroeconomic development (ranked 141 out of 148), quality of math and science education (115), and venture capital ability (130). However, it’s got a number of things going for it as well – such as number of days to start a business (listed at 25), availability of latest technologies (42), quality of scientific research institutions (48), and nature of competitive advantage (46).

Jamaica’s economy is certainly making strides, and while some factors are still lacking, other indicators demonstrate advances. This is good news for entrepreneurs, startups, investors and other members of the country’s tech community indeed. Continue