Entrepreneurial Hotline Coming, The Tech Supporting a Salad Chain, and a ‘Fleet of Rolling Love Dens’

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Good Wednesday Morning,

Daylight – Are you ready for that infamous 3 a.m phone call? At the Oxford Center, it’s long been Cliff who has taken those emergency calls. With Cliff stepping back, we’re preparing to create a 24-hour Entrepreneurial hotline to deal with those emergencies.

The plan is to always have someone ready to field calls from Oxford Members, assess the emergency, and connect the member to an appropriate expert we will have on call. If you have questions or suggestions or want to be considered to be one of our experts-on-call, let us know.

Technology – Researchers who study hospitality and technology in the United Kingdom have concluded that once autonomous vehicles arrive and people no longer have to keep their eyes on the road, they may engage in creative activities: “Free of driver costs, companies could invest more in the customer experience. Interiors may become more spacious. Cabs could come with bedding or perhaps a massage chair, analysts forecast. Passengers might tap an iPad to hear Marvin Gaye. Enter ‘hotels-by-the-hour’ on wheels, Cohen said – a fleet of rolling love dens.”

Venture Capital – The SweetGreen salad chain just raised $200 million and is being valued at $1 billion – as if it were a tech company: “Leveraging blockchain technology to improve supply chain visibility and traceability is on Neman’s radar, and personalization is a big priority for the company, too.

“Sweetgreen has long been tech savvy – the chain went entirely cashless last year, and its consumer-facing app and kitchen technology (‘Sweetgreen OS,’ as Neman calls it) have been built and carefully honed in-house over the past decade … Sweetgreen gets its consumer insights in large measure from its site and its app, which boast more than one million users and process nearly half of all Sweetgreen orders.”

Simple Habit, a stress relief app, raised $10 million. It’s a five-minute meditation app companies have been using to break up their busy days.

SmartRent, a smart home company, raised $5 million.

Checkmate, a platform that integrates multiple online ordering services into POS systems for restaurants as nations, raised $3 million.

Retail – Maybe brick-and-mortar isn’t dead. According to The New Yorker, walking the streets of Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood is like walking through a Google search come to life: “The online clothing juggernaut Everlane has a showroom on Prince Street, where solid-colored linen shirts gently kiss wide-legged pants on sturdy hangers.

“On Mercer, the mattress company Casper opened The Dreamery, a new ‘nap bar’ where you can pay twenty-five dollars to change into pajamas and sleep for forty-five minutes on its proprietary foam technology. Just down the way, on Lafayette, the beauty brand Glossier recently opened a pastel-pink flagship, filled with plush, undulating curves that make the space feel not unlike an Instagram-friendly womb.”

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Hot – Flavored e-cigarette maker Juul shut down its social media pages save for limited testimonials on YouTube and Twitter. This comes after the FDA raided the company’s offices after concerns it was marketing to underage teens. It also is not accepting any more orders for flavored vape pods from retail. Feds shook them deep.

By the way, Princeton Review just released a list of the 25 best colleges for Entrepreneurs. They were ranked based on their undergraduate programs. List includes Baylor, Northeastern, NC State with Nashville’s Belmont at No. 2 and Drexel in the top spot.

Human Resources – Walmart has announced a new focus on hiring military spouses: “While 77 percent of military spouses want or need work, the Department of Defense Military Spouse Employment Partnership says frequent relocation is often a barrier to finding and maintaining a rewarding career. ‘We have a duty to honor veterans and military families,’ said Retired Brig. Gen. Gary Profit, senior director of military programs for Walmart. ‘But, more importantly, they are tremendous assets to our business.’”

Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari has some advice for companies having a hard time filling openings because of the tight job market: “Try paying more.”

As it struggles with a highly competitive coffee market, Starbucks announced it’s laying off 5 percent of its corporate workforce: “The company on Tuesday said it will lay off 350 employees. That number doesn’t include any employees who work in its cafes. In a memo sent to employees on Tuesday, Chief Executive Kevin Johnson said the areas impacted include marketing, creative, product, technology and store development.”

M&A – Amid a reorganization, Kellogg put out feelers on selling its cookie brands Famous Amos and Keebler. All meant to ensure “profitable growth” which in regular English means these brands are not selling the same way they used to. Sticking to their bread and butter which is their milk and cereal.

From M&A Guru Zack Eller – BlaBlaCar, the French ridesharing, firm will acquire Ouibus, a division of France’s national railway. Although this is outside of the United States, I would be wary of a government entity selling one of its divisions. The only way this will get momentum is if BlaBlaCar can translate its ridesharing expertise to bus sharing. Harder than it sounds.

Chevron, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips and others are all said to be in the running for Endeavor Energy Resources. The company provides oil and gas resources to companies in the United States. Endeavor is expected to fetch about $15 billion. However, with industry giants interested, you can expect the final sale price to be a little higher. With the volatility of oil prices, this could mean big profits for whoever lands the energy company.

HollyFrontier agreed to acquire Sonneborn, a maker of purified white oil, from One Equity Partners for $655 million.

Celestica agreed to acquire Impakt Holdings, a provider of design, engineering, and agile manufacturing solutions, from Graycliff Partners for $329 million.

Montagu Private Equity acquired Eastman Kodak‘s flexographic packaging division.

International – Peter Jackson, known for his “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “King Kong” has gone from epic filmmaker to film historian with his newest project, the WWI documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old.” The filmmaker used modern methods to restore photos and battle footage of the war to end all wars.

Jackson’s branding pivot from hobbits and goblins to historical archivist shows he’s following a trajectory to be New Zealand’s Steven Spielberg. Spielberg in 1990 joined the Film Foundation with Scorsese, Kubrick and Robert Redford to preserve classic cinema and historical documents. Expect a period piece soon.

Stepping Down – Flipkart CEO Binny Bansal stepped down after allegations of personal misconduct. Parent company Walmart said an investigation revealed no evidence, but uncovered serious lapses in judgment.

Snappy Decline: Snapchat’s VP of content Nick Bell will also be stepping down. Bell’s role at Snap was working with media partners to produce original content for the platform, which included ten-second videos and flashy graphics teasing articles in their Discover section. Partners include VICE, Daily Mail, ESPN and Barstool Sports. Discover not as popular as the board would’ve hoped.

Culture – Atlanta ranked best for singles. Out of 150 of the America’s largest cities, WalletHub analyzed 34 factors in their ranking including nightlife, restaurant options and average cost of one date. Relative proximity to the University of Georgia doesn’t hurt either.

Singleness might be counterproductive to Entrepreneurship as one report indicates the limitations from married or spoken-for life can force someone to focus and make the most of their time.

Investment Banking – SoftBank will invest $3 billion in WeWork even as the coworking real estate giant continues to post losses. Not much focus on turning a profit just yet, as the company wants to continue to expand.

SkyKnight Capital invested in WhiteWater, a car wash operator.

Hedge Funds – Perella Weinberg Partners Growth Equity invested in Quick Med Claims, a solution covering the medical claims cycle.

Spotlight – Thursday on Sirius XM 132’s Mind Your Business, Loren will be taking calls and talking with Gene Marks about the technologies companies used to run their businesses. Loren and Gene will be talking pay-per-click, new trends in CRM, why business owner confidence is fading and why smaller businesses struggle with social media marketing. Got a question about your technology needs? Call during the show at 1:00 p.m. ET: 844-942-7866.

And that’s what’s ahead.

Please send comments and suggestions to mattg@oxfordcenter.com and lfeldman@oxfordcenter.com.