Posts tagged with "company"

5 Tech Trends For Businesses

5 Tech Trends That Businesses Can’t Afford To Ignore

With technology evolving at such a rapid pace, some business owners are left digitally disoriented as they try to figure out which of the latest innovations they need to invest in and what they can ignore.

It can make for confusing times.

All that bewilderment aside, though, these fast-developing advances also create opportunities that can help small and medium-sized businesses become more competitive – if they understand how to seize them.

“Technology exists today that at one time was available only to large corporations with huge technology budgets,” says Chris Hoose (www.choosenetworks.com), an IT consultant who works with small businesses.

“Every year, technology becomes even more accessible to companies of all sizes.”

Hoose says businesses that want to stay on top of their games should make sure they invest in these technological trends, if they haven’t already:

The Internet of Things. Many Internet of Things-connected devices, such as smart refrigerators and thermostats, are designed for home use, but there are also applications for small businesses, Hoose says. Some examples: smart locks use digital keys that can’t be lost or stolen, and log a record of who uses a door and when; RFID tags on merchandise can prevent theft and automatically update inventory; and mobile-card readers can replace cash registers.

Artificial intelligence. Don’t be fooled into thinking that AI is something only the big organizations can afford to use, Hoose says. “It’s making inroads into technologies accessible for businesses of all sizes,” he says. “AI can help you offer increasingly personalized experiences to customers by maximizing your time and automating manual tasks, like data entry.” AI also can be used to improve decision making, Hoose says. Essentially, AI will help you take that jumble of data most businesses have and analyze it in a way that allows you to make better-informed judgments on the actions you need to take.

Telecommuting. The office world is changing and more workers spend at least a portion of their work week telecommuting. “In many cases remote employees use their own equipment, which can eliminate some of the company’s costs with purchasing and maintaining computers, printers and mobile phones,” Hoose says. Video conferencing, instant messaging and other advances are helping to make telecommuting a viable option, he says.

Customer-relationship-management (CRM) software. Any application that a business uses to interact with customers, analyze data, or recommend products and services to customers is “part of the CRM family,” Hoose says. “This type of software helps your team manage, control and build customer relationships,” he says. “It can log your team’s touchpoints with prospects, including emails, phone calls, voicemails and in-person meetings. You can have a complete record of your team’s interaction with a prospect that’s easy for anyone to access.”

Voice search. Consumers increasingly are making use of such AI assistants as Siri or Alexa to help them do internet searches using their voices. “Voice search is changing the way people find information because these queries are structured differently than when we type terms into a search engine,” Hoose says.

“Organizations of all types can benefit from optimizing their content to improve where they fall in a voice search.”

“To help propel your business going forward, it’s important to stay abreast of technology innovation,” Hoose says. “These technologies will help you expand your customer base, create more efficient in-house processes, and increase engagement from both customers and staff.”

About Chris Hoose

Chris Hoose (www.choosenetworks.com) is the president of Choose Networks, an IT consulting firm for small businesses. Hoose started the company in 2001 to give large-scale solutions and support to businesses that can’t afford their own in-house IT department. He earned a Master of Information Systems Management from Friends University.

Instagram Founders Resign

According to The New York Times, Instagram co-founders CEO Kevin Systrom and CTO Mike Krieger announced their departure from the company in September 2018.

In creating a photo sharing app that allows users to select filters for photos and share them with the world, Instagram became one of the world’s most successful mobile apps. Six years ago Facebook acquired the startup with $715 million and with Facebook’s resources, including anti-spam and internationalization, Instagram continued to grow into having one billion monthly active users.

According to sources at TechCrunch, tension had risen this year between Instagram and Facebook’s leadership regarding Instagram’s autonomy. While Facebook had agreed to let it run independently as part of the acquisition deal, in May, Instagram’s VP of Product Kevin Weil moved to Facebook’s new blockchain team and was replaced by former VP of Facebook News Feed Adam Mosseri — a member of Zuckerberg’s inner circle.

Systrom and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg historically got along, but they had occasional diverging opinions. One of which involved overly aggressive ad tactics and invasion of privacy including getting both Facebook alerts inside their Instagram notifications tab, and seeing a Facebook button with red notification counts inside Instagram’s settings menu.

The stress imposed by Facebook had an impact in other departures last year including Instagram’s director of public policy Nicole Jackson and AR/Camera product lead Keith Peiris.

In a statement, Systrom and Krieger wrote, “We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again. Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do.” Who knows where Systrom and Krieger’s next endeavor will take them?

11 Facts on CES 2019

11 Facts On The Backstage of CES 2019 Innovation Awards
 
The final list of the CES 2019 Innovation Awards Honorees has been revealed. And “Competition has been especially tough this year”, says one jury member. Here are ten surprising facts that can be deduced from the public data released by CES this year – via Pixminds: 
 
[1] Over 6,000 companies applied – less than 300 made it to the honoree bracket. 
 
[2] As opposed to last year, the CES jury decided to give each product no more than one innovation Award. 
 
[3] 270 honorees out of 300 were awarded one Innovation Award only. Some point out that they are one-shot startup stories that will not make it to the next CES edition, but their award can also highlight their star product promoting a wider range.
 
[4] Companies had to apply for one of the 29 product categories, some tougher than others: the “Computer Peripherals” category awarded 18 products, while only nine made it to the “Computer Accessories” honorees. 
 
[5] Industry leaders got stronger than ever this year, each of them releasing up to 17 award-winning products (see the industry leaderboard at the end of this note). 
 
[6] The industry leaderboard surprisingly misses big, ageless manufacturers (HP) as well as all of the software giants attempting to jump into the hardware field such as Google and Amazon. 
 
[7] Instead, the industry leaderboard is ruled by the usual South Korean and American giants such as Samsung (1st) and Motorola (5th), but Germany stays strong with their champion Bosch (4th).
 
[8] France jumped in the leaderboard above Germany and US with Pixminds (3rd). 
 
[9] Even though their electronics industries are amongst the strongest in the world, China, Japan and Israel did not make it to the leaderboard. 
 
[10] While every other company in the leaderboard has 10,000+ employees, surprisingly Pixminds only got 50. This is one more signal to the industry that innovation tends to come from small companies more than ever.

 
*** [11] With 17 awards, Samsung is the CES 2019 World Champion. The silver medal goes to MSI (12 awards). Finally, the third place goes to Pixminds (France) with 6 innovation awards.
 
ABOUT PIXMINDS
Pixminds is French group working in multimedia, specialized in human – machine interactions, and all their business applications. At Pixminds, we stand for innovation as we believe it is the seed of progress. The projects we develop are tightly linked to augmented reality and gaming. Because we come from gaming, we are convinced that comfort of use is essential for those who use daily digital tools such as computer peripherals, or gaming accessories. We work hard on improving the interface between the man and the machine. Through this point of view, innovation takes place both in the product (hardware and / or software) and in users’ behavior. Once one gets there, they need to step back from the hardware and understand what people truly need to make their day-to-day life a little more comfortable. 

AGWS Makes Presence At 2019 NADA

American Guardian Warranty Services, Inc. (AGWS), part of the American Guardian Group of Companies and leading finance and insurance (F&I) products and services provider, will be exhibiting at the 2019 NADA Show from Jan. 24 – 27, booth #5558N at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California.

Conference attendees who visit the AGWS booth during NADA can put their golf skills to the test on the putting green. For each attendee who makes 3 out of 5 putts, AGWS will donate $100 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The putting green contest follows AGWS’ Pars for a Purpose fundraiser, which raised $280,000 for St. Jude in 2018.

In addition to the putting contest, dealers and agents will have the opportunity to win a golf getaway for four to the Reunion Resort in Orlando, Florida. Dealers and agents who visit the AGWS booth will receive one half of a puzzle piece containing a portion of a unique promotional code; the remaining-half of the puzzle piece and code will be available at EcoProProducts’ booth #7753W. EcoProProducts offers superior F&I appearance protection products. Once attendees have secured both puzzle pieces, they will be able to complete the special code, which can then be used to enter the drawing for a chance to win the AGWS-sponsored golf trip.

“The AGWS team is looking forward to exhibiting, meeting with our dealer and agent partners, and creating new business relationships at this year’s expo,” said Jon A. Anderson, President and Chief Operating Officer of American Guardian. “Our booth will feature a new look, showcasing our products and services, including Vehicle Service Contracts (VSC) and Ancillary F&I Products, Dealer Capital Advance Program, Dealer Certified Lifetime Program, Appearance Protection Products, Limited Warranties, and more.”

The AGWS executive team and sales, and ownership personnel will be in attendance at the AGWS booth (#5558N) throughout the three-day expo, as well as at the Friday night party for NADA attendees interested in learning more about the company’s products and services.

 For more information, visit www.agwsinc.com or the AGWS University at www.agwsu.com.

 

Record Turnover For LIQUI MOLY With Lower Growth

During its first year as part of the Würth Group LIQUI MOLY has chalked up a new record turnover. But the growth has been more subdued than previously. The German oil and additive specialist recorded a turnover of € 544 million, just two percent more than the previous year. “International trade disputes, the hot summer and increasing costs, especially the dramatically increased crude oil prices, have all contributed to the significant slowing down of our earnings growth,” says Ernst Prost, LIQUI MOLY CEO.

Whilst previous years have been noted for their high growth rates, 2018 was an exception with much more moderate growth. October was the most successful month in the company’s more than 60 year history, with a turnover of almost € 54 million and growth of 34 percent. A range of factors prevented there being a similarly high rate of growth across the whole year. Latent global trade disputes had an impact on LIQUI MOLY. Business with China, for example, decreased by a third. And trade with Russia, a significant export market for the company, has also decreased rapidly over the last two years due to the substantial devaluation of the ruble. “Such changes cannot help but have an impact,” says Export Manager Salvatore Coniglio. “These setbacks in China and Russia would have had a much greater impact if we were not active in 150 countries. We can offset the reduction in turnover in some countries by opening up new markets in others.”

One of the greatest rays of hope in terms of export was the development of the subsidiary LIQUI MOLY USA, which handles business in the USA and Canada. It posted an increase of 39 percent in comparison with the previous year. This strong growth was no coincidence. LIQUI MOLY invested heavily in personnel, in order to offer its customers a comprehensive service.

The dents in export performance did nothing to cushion the fragile growth in the highly competitive German market. “In present circumstances, a two percent growth in Germany and Austria is a huge success,” says CEO Günter Hiermaier, “after all, the number of competitors has increased but the pie to be shared is still the same size. And so the competition is correspondingly fierce. We continue to rely on a combination of marketing packages and sales power.”

At the same time as turnover growth has reduced, the company’s costs have dramatically increased. On top of investment in additional inventory control strategies, new software and an additional tank storage facility of around eleven million euro, increasing raw material prices added additional costs of around six million euro. The weather also had an impact.  The prolonged period of high temperatures over the summer restricted the use of the Rhine and made it unnavigable at times which, in turn, increased the transport costs for raw materials and finished goods. “Overall, our freight and logistics costs increased by some € 1.2 million. All in all, a cold shower. Of course, a double hit like this, higher costs and lower than planned turnover, has brought our performance to its knees. But that is how it goes in life, and in business, you have to adapt to new circumstances or you’re out of the running. And no two years are the same,” says Ernst Prost.

Spending on marketing and on research and development have also increased, but this was planned. In 2017 LIQUI MOLY invested € 19.8 million in brand awareness, and almost a million more in 2018. The biggest coup of all is undoubtedly the endorsement contract with the Chicago Bulls. The basketball team is one of the most well-known global sports brands. They boast 175 million fans. “No other professional team in the USA can top this,” says Marketing Director Peter Baumann, explaining the significance of international activities to the German company.

Nationally and internationally, the quality associated with “Made in Germany”, still has enormous pulling power for LIQUI MOLY. And this consistently high quality requires research and development, spending in this area has risen to almost € 6 million. “Modern lubricants are highly complex solutions. If you want to stay at the top of the game, you need the latest technology for development and quality testing,” explains David Kaiser who is responsible for this area and for application technology.

Another figure that has led to increased costs is the number of LIQUI MOLY employees. 24 jobs were created in 2018. A total of 848 people are now employed in Ulm, Saarlouis and the international subsidiaries. “We are more than happy to be spending this money, it is always a pleasure to be creating jobs. We are also happy to pay the additional one million euro for the new wage agreement from the Industrial Mining, Chemistry and Energy Union, as it benefits people in the LIQUI MOLY family,” says Ernst Prost.

Since the CEO sold his shares to the Würth Group at the turn of the year, many have been fearing radical change at the oil and additive specialist. “The opposite is the case,” says Ernst Prost. “My business cards now just say CEO instead of Managing Partner and our long-standing Sales Director Günter Hiermaier has risen to be our second CEO, but otherwise it is business as usual.”

FAIRFIELD, CALIFORNIA

✏️By Alexandria Baiz & Vaughn Lowery

Fairfield, California the San Francisco Bay city famous for its fruit and local wineries that provide grapes to the Napa and other surrounding vineyards.

Welcome reception at the glorious Jelly Belly Candy Company, includes a self guided factory tour by the  staff. The marvelous Company is a family-owned business based in Fairfield with another factory in North Chicago. The Goelitz family started a confectionery business in Illinois in 1869, than a Candy Business in 1924 in California. Later the Candy Company would  expand a product line to include jelly beans. In 1965, the Mini Jelly Bean was developed. This was a small bean with a center of natural flavoring, different from traditional jelly beans in which only the outer shell was flavored. The company would become the infamous Jelly Belly Candy Company, with more than 50 varieties of flavors. Flavors traditional as cherry, exotic as buttered popcorn, and even inspired alcoholic drink flavors like blackberry brandy. Ronald Reagan while governor of California would quit smoking and turn to jelly beans as a substitute. The company also makes 100 different confections like gummies, candy corn, and chocolates. The tour is fun for the kids, but just as fun for the adults. This tour takes you through the process of making jelly beans, some stages include a video monitor explanation, while wearing a mandatory Jelly Belly paper hat. And, yes you get a free pack of Jelly Belly Beans at the end. There is also a  shop where you can purchase and a Chocolate Shoppe with a fudge bar available for tastings. The ground floor cafeteria is great for lunch with Jelly Bean shaped pizzas being a favorite. For adults, upstairs is a wine tasting room with six different Suisan or green Valley Wines to match the six different chocolates made by the Chocolate Shoppe.

Mankas Steakhouse, a full American steakhouse menu with a local California flavor was our dine for the night. Chef Peter at Mankas uses favorite Suisun Valley products. The local product in Wooden Valley Winery was our first visit the next day at 7am for a visit to watch wine harvest in process. The Suisun Valley and Solano Country American Viticultural Area(AVA) -which is a wine-grape growing region-includes more than 50 sub-appellations of the best known wines region. The Suisun Valley about 8 miles long and 3 miles wide, between the Blue Ridge of the Vaca Mountains on the east. One fifth of the valley is planted as a vineyard with more than 20 varieties of grapes, established in 1982. The Green Valley just west of Suisun Valley is 4 miles long and a mile wide. Also called the Solano County/ Green Valley, AVA was established in 1983.

For breakfast a visit to  Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company dedicated to growing and milling the “finest artisan olive oil” produced by owners Ann and Mark Sievers. Ann and her husband began with a harvest of 6 pounds of olives and 170 baby trees they planted in Green Valley. This turned  into more than 2000 trees in Green Valley and Suisun Valley. The Suisan groves have 12 single varietals from Italy, Spain, France, and Greece, with blends as well.  Il Fiorello offers in depth tours of their property, that concludes in an olive oil tasting and 13 balsamic vinegar reductions. Oil tastings are paired with seasonal bites of food including the classic Frantoio oil with steak.There are even cooking classes within the Fiorello’s Kitchen.  

A visit to the GV Cellars is just what we need for a glimpse into a simpler time. The tasting area on the second floor consist of a deck view of the vineyards and Vaca Mountains. The original property was an 80-acre fruit orchard which was replaced with grapes to produce wine under “Chateau de Leu”. In 2005, Bob Hager the current owner would acquire the winery and vineyards. Today, the Cellar grows within a 30-acre vineyard six distinct varietals:Sangiovese, Dolcetto, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc. The Dolcetto and Cabernet Franc are a house favorite.

Greeted by the  owner and winemaker Sal Glavan at his Galvan Family Cellars to taste his wines. Sal Glavan has been making wine in California since the 1990’s including a time working for GV Cellars. Galvan usually has a  focus on crafting from the Green Valley and Solano County vineyards, but also ‘high end’ wines from the Napa County vineyards. Producing about 3,500 cases a year depending upon the grapes available wines are exceptional with the signature Bordeaux-style blends or Cabernet Sauvignon-base. The cellars also hold the tasting room for rock Wren Winery, owner Dennis De Domenico has produced Green Valley grape wines since 2005. He is known for making his Frenchs style Syrah “in the classic French style”.

The Suisun Valley Co-op is a perfect tasting room that is cozy  but not crowded. Blacksmith Cellars, King Andrews Vineyards, and Sunset Cellars distribute their wine here. Matt Smith the owner and winemaker of Blacksmith Cellars started in 2003, with his release of his 2001 Alexander valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Smith starting as a chemist working in the lab at Beaulieu Vineyards in 1996. From that point he would work at various winecellars making a variety of familiar Suisun Valley wines. King Andrews is owned by Roger who is also the winemaker and Carol (Andrews) King. Sunset Cellars was established by Doug and Katsuko Sparks in 1977. Their speciality includes making small batches of  high quality red wines. There are many interesting wines to try like the Blacksmith Rose and Sunset Suisun Valley Charbono Sunset.

The Pacific Flyway, where more than a billion of birds follow the 10,000 mile stretch from South America to the Arctic on their annual migration, makes a stop in Fairfield. Suisun Marsh is one one of the significant stopover points where the birds rest, feed, and restore their energy for continuing on. The Pacific Flyway Center is an educational and conservation initiative. With goals to educate public about the Flyaway and restoring wetlands to keep the flyaway viable.

A drive to the Grizzly Waters Kayak in Suisun City, where we meet the owner James Berg and get set for kayaking Suisun Marsh. Suisun Marsh is part of the Bay Area Water Trail where you can go on trails and see local and migrating birds.

With greetings from Jennivive Soriano the supervisor of brewery experiences we explore the Anheuser-Busch Fairfield brewery. Opened in 1976, the Fairfield Brewery is the ‘greenest’ of the company’s breweries, which derives a third of its power from solar and wind energy. Brewery tours include  an hour of the Anheuser-Busch story and how their beers are produced. We took the tour of the brewery that includes the Flights of Fairfield. Fairfield is home to one of the Budweiser plants a famous attraction. The brewery is home to the one of a kind Budweiser Clydesdale (Horse) race events, tickets available online.

The Heretic Brewery Company  known for their inner heretic beers that push the boundaries of beer flavors. Owners Liz and Jamil Zainasheff started as homebrewers and in 2012 would open the Heretic Brewing Company. With a variety of 18 different beers on their menu they also have a bar menu of burgers, sandwiches, and appetizers.

The Vezér is a Suisun Valley winery, owned by Frank and Liz Vezér. The Vezérs came to Fairfield  more than 20 years ago and purchased 30 acres for vineyards, which has now spread to 60 acres. Originally selling  their grapes to other wineries but in 2001 established their own label. The family vineyards produce estate wines like their flagship, La Salette a blend of Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. There are two tasting rooms one on Mankas Corner Road and the other on Suisun Valley Road.

A visit to the Cal-Yee Farm Shop whom specializes in dried fruits and nuts. Founder Yee chew Yong fled from China to work as a laborer in California. In 1908, he rented 20 acres of farmland on Clayton Road where his son would purchase the land and his son would start the family’s dried fruit business.

The Wooden Valley winery started in 1933 after prohibition by Salvador and Manuel Brea.In 1944,  Mario Lanza would partner with Manuel and eventually become the sole owner. Third generation of Lanzas, four brothers manage the Winery today. This winery is the oldest in the Suisun Valley with a large variety of red and white wines. The Lanza wines have the authenticity of traditional Italian family wines.

Dinner at Favela’s Fusion an upscale Mexican tequileria. The menu includes signature dishes representing the flavors of different regions in Mexico. The owner  Veronica Favela-Diaz’s parents immigrated from Mexico and she grew up in Northern California. She and her father opened three restaurants in the 90’s emphasizing  affordable quality Mexican food. After Veronica and Husband Edgar traveled all over Mexico learning about the different regions foods they came up with Favelas Fusion. This fusion offers a combination of traditional authentic Mexican cuisine. The Fusion applies a mix of Mexico to obtain one of a kind dishes that are beautifully displayed like the Shrimp Fajitas burrito with cilantro infused with rice and black beans in a tomato tortilla.

A trip to the Mangels Family Vineyards to meet owner Gary Mangels and winemaker Gina Oberti. Gary Mangels is a fourth generation of a  California farming and ranching family. His great grandfather bought 240 acres of land in 1876 and the family has grown grapes, made and sold wine, and raised livestock since. In 1943, surviving through prohibition the family sold the winery operation, but maintained the vineyards. Eventually the family would purchase Suisun Valley land and partner with Gina Richmond to found the Mangels Vineyards. Gina makes a variety of red and white wines including, Pinot Grigio and Syrah.

Backroad owners Jeff and Judy Anselmo greet us inside the tasting room in  the kitchen of the house. Their wines are relatively young and maturting. As they find their style the plans for construction of the multimillion dollar tasting room will be completed in 2019. Backroad will be a neighbor to The Wagner family of wines -owner of famous Caymus Winery- new tasting room on Suisun Valley Road.  It will open in late 2018 with hopes to specialize in ‘grand durif’ and become the trademark wine for Suisun Valley.

Dinner at Chez Soul in downtown Fairfield a Louisiana style restaurant. With every Southern comfort food you can think of from Gumbo to Southern Fried chicken. “Beneath the heart is soul. The soul needs food.”. The owner Cheryl Reed runs the restaurant with her family her brother is the manager and her daughter is the cook. Cheryl’s vision for Chez Soul is good food in a welcoming place that feels like home.

Starlight Xperience for Children

Starlight Children’s Foundation, an organization whose mission is to create moments of joy and comfort for hospitalized kids and their families, unveiled today its newest initiative, Starlight XperienceTM virtual reality, a groundbreaking new technology program that offers millions of seriously ill children a fun and exciting way to explore the world and beyond through the magic of VR.

To watch a video on Starlight Xperience and how it helps kids, please see here.

Built for the Lenovo Mirage Solo with Daydream, Starlight Xperience features a state-of-the-art and hospital-ready headset that comes preloaded with age-appropriate and dynamic content geared toward entertainment and distraction for hospitalized kids, which has been specifically modified to meet strict infection safety protocols for use in hospital settings. Pre-loaded content includes educational field trips to exotic locations through Google Expeditions and Street View, fun interactive stories like Star Wars: Droid Repair Bay by ILMxLAB, and Lola and the Giant, popular apps such as Ocean Rift and Hello Mars, and meditation exercises and therapeutic games such as Relax VR, which allows the patient to escape into beautiful environments.

Starlight Xperience was created in collaboration with Founding Sponsor, Star Wars: Force for Change, the charitable initiative from Lucasfilm and The Walt Disney Company that harnesses the power of Star Wars to empower and improve the lives of children around the world. Through grant funding provided by The Walt Disney Company and Niagara Cares – the philanthropic arm of Niagara Bottling – as well as charitable donations from grassroots donors, Starlight Xperience will be provided at no cost to Starlight’s network of more than 800 children’s hospitals and other health care facilities across the US.

“We believe Starlight Xperience has the potential to transform the hospital experience for millions of seriously ill children and their families,” said Chris Helfrich, CEO of Starlight Children’s Foundation. “We’re thrilled to stand beside The Walt Disney Company, Google, Lenovo and Niagara Cares in unveiling this exciting new program, which is the latest evolution in our 35-year history of bringing innovative entertainment technologies to hospitalized kids.”

“Providing these unique entertainment experiences reflects our commitment to bring comfort during what can be difficult times for kids and families. This is part of our Disney Team of Heroes initiative, which includes a $100 million commitment to children’s hospitals,” said Elissa Margolis, senior vice president, Enterprise Social Responsibility for The Walt Disney Company. “The collaboration with Google and Lenovo is the perfect blend of technology and content that we’ll be able to deliver to kids during their hospital stay.”

“Our goal has always been to create virtual reality experiences that are accessible, useful, and relevant to as many people as possible,” said Amit Singh, VP of Business & Operations for AR & VR at Google. “Starlight Xperience is a shining example of that goal coming to life in a really great way. We’re thrilled to be able to support Starlight in bringing transporting VR experiences to hospitalized children across the country.”

“We are thrilled to be working with Starlight and Google to bring technology to hospitalized children in their time of need. Helping to provide a solution for the children and their families allows us to truly make a difference for the better,” said Gunjan Shah, general manager for North America Smart Devices at Lenovo.

Starlight Xperience was developed in part through a series of grants provided by Starlight to the CHARIOT program (short for Childhood Anxiety Reduction through Innovation and Technology) at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. CHARIOT implements new technologies in the hospital that are nontraditional yet familiar to children to engage and distract them during stressful or painful procedures, keeping clinical usage in mind and improving upon the typical hospital experience. This past summer, Starlight Xperience was soft launched and tested at five children’s hospitals: Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, Minn., and Texas Children’s Hospital.

“At Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, virtual reality has been a fantastic addition for our patients,” said Chantel Barney, Ph.D., a clinical scientist who leads Gillette’s VR program. “In some instances, we’ve been able to curb the anxiety and fears our kids typically experience during procedures such as blood draws, transfusions, wound cleanings, casting and more. It’s a wonderful distraction for kids and parents alike.”

“We’re proud to support Starlight Xperience and look forward to bringing smiles to the faces of hospitalized children through this educational and inspirational program,” said Andrew Peykoff II, President and CEO, Niagara Bottling. “This technology makes learning fun and we’re excited to expand the program to even more children.”

Thanks to the grants provided by The Walt Disney Company and Niagara Cares, in addition to the generosity of charitable donations from individuals, Starlight is on track to deliver up to 1,000 Starlight Xperience kits to its network of hospital partners by the end of 2018, with a goal of doubling that by the end of 2019. A donation to Starlight will entertain, educate and inspire hospitalized kids across the US through stimulating immersive experiences that transport children from the hospital to any place in the world – or beyond – through the magic of virtual reality.

The public is invited to learn more and support the program online at www.starlight.org/starlight-xperience.

ABOUT STARLIGHT CHILDREN’S FOUNDATION
Starlight creates moments of joy and comfort for hospitalized kids and their families. For 35 years, Starlight’s programs have positively impacted more than 60 million critically, chronically and terminally ill or injured children in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. With your help, more kids and their families will enjoy Starlight Gowns, Starlight Fun Centers and other Starlight programs at a children’s hospital or facility near you. Support Starlight’s work by visiting www.starlight.org and by following Starlight on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

ABOUT STAR WARS: FORCE FOR CHANGE
Star Wars: Force for Change, a charitable initiative from Lucasfilm and Disney, harnesses the strength of Star Wars to empower and improve the lives of children around the world. Since 2014, it was inspired by Star Wars fans, and the countless hours they have dedicated to philanthropy over the past four decades. To date, over $16 million has been raised for charitable causes around the world on behalf of Star Wars: Force for Change. With a bright future ahead, and new Star Wars stories to be told, Force for Change aims to continue collaborating with causes and encouraging others to be forces for change in their own community. To learn more, please visit ForceForChange.com.

ABOUT THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY
The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries, is a diversified worldwide entertainment company with operations in four business segments: Media Networks; Studio Entertainment; Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products; and Direct-to-Consumer and International. Disney is a Dow 30 company and had annual revenues of $55.1 billion in its Fiscal Year 2017.

ABOUT LENOVO
Lenovo (HKSE: 992) (ADR: LNVGY) is a US$45 billion Fortune Global 500 company and a global technology leader in driving Intelligent Transformation through smart devices and infrastructure that create the best user experience. Lenovo manufactures one of the world’s widest portfolios of connected products, including smartphones, tablets, PCs (ThinkPad, Yoga, Lenovo Legion), data centers and workstations as well as AR/VR devices and smart home/office solutions. Lenovo works to inspire the difference in everyone and build a smarter future where everyone thrives. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Weibo, read about the latest news via our Storyhub, or visit our website at http://www.lenovo.com/.

ABOUT NIAGARA CARES
Niagara Cares, a philanthropic arm of Niagara Bottling, is committed to supporting local and national community initiatives serving children and families in need by engaging stakeholders and investing its resources. Niagara Cares efforts include national strategic partnerships, local community grants, employee engagement, volunteerism and the Andrew D. Peykoff, Sr. Scholarship Program. For more information, visit www.niagarawater.com/niagara-cares.

Lenny Kravitz’s New Mission with TWICE Toothpaste

Brothers Julian and Cody Levine and Lenny Kravitz have joined forces to bring a new kind of oral care brand, Twice, to the beauty & wellnessmarket. The brand is helping consumers take care of their smiles with products designed to positively impact brushing habits and our twice-a-day routines, starting with toothpaste.

Twice will debut a premium toothpaste set, with a unique flavor experience for morning and night. The morning formula, Early Bird, is designed to awaken, while the nighttime formula, Twilight, promotes relaxation. A shocking 35% of Americans do not brush twice a day, and so it is Twice’s mission to help improve this statistic with toothpaste purposefully designed from the inside out. 

Founded from a genuine desire to spread healthy smiles across the globe, the Company will give 10 percent of its profits to the GLO Good Foundation, which serves communities in dire need of proper dental care. 

“The only thing better than a beautiful smile is giving one to someone else,” says co-founder Julian Levine. “With Twice, we aim to offer innovative and highly effective oral care products that also make an impact – from as small as looking great on your bathroom counter to as meaningful as changing someone’s life by alleviating physical and emotional pain through dental care.”

The Levine brothers became inspired to create Twice in 2016, during a volunteer mission with GLO Good Foundation and Lenny’s Let Love Rule Foundation in Eleuthera, Bahamas, where the organizations had teamed up to host a free dental clinic. There, the brothers came face-to-face with hundreds of people suffering from all types of oral health diseases, many in serious pain, and saw first hand how grateful they were to receive proper oral care. They had become awakened to the transformational power of a smile and immediately bonded with Lenny over the experience; all three agreed they wanted to do more. 

Soon after, the brothers contacted Lenny with the idea to give the oral care industry a makeover with a brand called Twice that would combine healthy and effective ingredients, great taste, and sharp, counter-friendly packaging with a cause: to improve the oral health care crisis. With Twice, they could help significantly increase the number of healthy mouths and confident smiles, and get people everywhere brushing twice a day. Lenny wanted to get involved in a big way, so together they began building the brand as co-founders. 

“It’s easy to take for granted something as simple as brushing your teeth, but there are people around the world that look at toothpaste as a luxury,” says co-founder Lenny Kravitz. “Eleuthera is home for me, so the people and this cause are very close to my heart, and there’s nothing I want more than to see them happy, healthy and smiling. That’s why I’m committed to making Twice a reality and growing this important mission.” 

The Company’s philosophy is that overall health starts in the mouth. Twice toothpaste contains a good-for-you ingredient profile power-packed with antioxidants and vitamins A, C, E, plant-based extract aloe vera, and unique functional flavors. Designed to do it all, the formula has dentist-trusted and proven ingredients to help whiten teeth, remineralize enamel, prevent painful cavities, and protect against sensitivity. Twice is also free of unnecessary ingredients known to cause irritation traditionally found in toothpaste. While the brothers are not dentists – Julian spent years as an investor and Cody as a creative marketer – they grew up watching their father, a well-respected dentist and inventor, becoming inspired and well-versed in the industry as a result. They researched and tested every product on the market, and tapped a network of renowned dentists, chemists, flavor specialists, and manufacturers to create their first two unique products:

 Early Bird: a blast of morning mint that combines wintergreen and peppermint for your anytime wakeup call. 
 Twilight: a relaxing nighttime toothpaste that blends refreshing peppermint with vanilla and a gentle touch of lavender for a smooth transition from morning to night.

 

“Products that care for your smile should make you smile. So we set out to create the best toothpaste that makes an impact – one that we love using, every morning and every night,” says co-founder Cody Levine. “With a focus on experience,efficacy, design, and social responsibility, we believe it’s time to think Twice about your toothpaste.

Twice contains high-quality, globally-sourced ingredients, and is formulated and manufactured in the USA. The toothpaste is responsibly made to be non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free and never tested on animals. Starting in September 2018, the duo is available for $18.99 at www.smiletwice.com.

Ben Howard

Ben Howard returns today with three brand new songs, written and recorded during the sessions for his recently acclaimed third album, Noonday Dream.

One of the new songs ‘Hot Heavy Summer’ features a collaboration with American electro pop duo Sylvan Esso, and last night featured as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record on Radio 1.

Ben has to say on the tracks:
“The recording sessions for Noonday Dream were so varied and over quite a period of time. There were little gems that we didn’t know what to do with but it felt right to put these 3 together, both separate and a part of the album so to speak.”

Listen to all three tracks here:
https://BenHoward.lnk.to/AFN_HHS_SPR

  1. Another Friday Night
  2. Hot Heavy Summer (w/ Sylvan Esso)
  3. Sister

Ben is now back out on the road, taking Noonday Dream across the US and Canada in September/October before returning to Europe for a stretch of dates in November. Ben will hit a series of arenas and multiple nights in sizeable rooms in the UK this December, ahead of three nights at Brixton Academy in January 2019.

BEN HOWARD NORTH AMERICAN TOUR

September 21—Seattle, WA—Paramount Theatre

September 22—Troutdale, OR—Edgefield

September 26—San Diego, CA—Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre

September 27—Los Angeles, CA—Shrine Auditorium

September 28—Berkeley, CA—Greek Theatre

October 1—Morrison, CO—Red Rocks Amphitheatre

October 2—Kansas City, MO—Uptown Theater

October 3—Chicago, IL—Aragon Ballroom

October 5—Toronto, ON—Budweiser Stage

October 6—Montreal, QC—Bell Centre

October 7—Boston, MA—Blue Hills Bank Pavilion

October 9—Philadelphia, PA—The Fillmore

October 11—Washington, DC—Anthem

October 12—New York, NY—Hammerstein Ballroom

October 13—New York, NY—Hammerstein Ballroom

ABOUT REPUBLIC RECORDS
A division of Universal Music Group, the world’s leading music company, Republic Records is home to an all-star roster of multi-platinum, award-winning legends and superstar artists such as Ariana Grande, Black Sabbath, Florence + the Machine, Hailee Steinfeld, James Blake, James Bay, John Mellencamp, Jordan Smith, Julia Michaels, Keith Richards, Kid Cudi, Liam Payne, Of Monsters and Men, Post Malone, Seth MacFarlane, Stevie Wonder, and more. Founded by brothers and chief executives Monte and Avery Lipman, it is also comprised of innovative business ventures, including American Recordings (The Avett Brothers), Boominati Worldwide (Metro Boomin), Brushfire (Jack Johnson), Casablanca Records (Tïesto), Cash Money (Drake, Jacquees, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj), Hollywood Records (Sofia Carson, Zendaya), Lava Records (Greta Van Fleet, Jessie J, Lorde), Monkeywrench (Pearl Jam), XO (Belly, NAV, The Weeknd), Roc Nation (Jaden Smith, Justine Skye, The Dream), among others. Republic also maintains a long-standing strategic alliance with country powerhouse Big Machine Records (Taylor Swift), and Universal Music Latin Entertainment (Luis Fonsi, J Balvin). In addition, Republic has expanded to release high-profile soundtracks for Universal Pictures (Fifty Shades of Grey, SING), Fox TV (Lee Daniels’ STAR, The Four), and NBC TV (The Voice), as well as other notable film and television franchises.

New Era Cap Welcomes Back NFL with Cold Weather / Knit Collection

New Era Cap Co., Inc., the official on field cap of the NFL, announced the launch of the New Era Official NFL Cold Weather Collection. The collection will be worn on NFL sidelines during the 2018-2019 NFL season.

The knitted hats come in three different styles and is available for all 32 NFL teams, helping fans find the perfect knit to complete their game day outfit this season!

“During the season, players and fans encounter a range of weather conditions from snow to sleet and rain, that’s why they need gear that will help them endure the elements. The New Era Official NFL Cold Weather Collection was designed to not only keep fans warm during a tailgate but also provide them with a stylish option for any occasion,” says Ryan DiNunzio, Director Football for New Era Cap.

The New Era Official NFL Cold Weather Collection is available in the following silhouettes:

  • New Era Official NFL Sport Knit: This year’s edition of this iconic that has been featured on NFL sidelines is constructed with a fleece lining and thermal properties and includes the team name on the crown with an embroidered team logo in the front, to help fans show their team pride, and a pompom topper,
  • New Era Official NFL TD Knit: This poly yarn knit is designed with a fleece lining and thermal properties with a team logo on the front helping anyone celebrate a touchdown from their favorite team.
  • New Era Official NFL Women’s Knit: This marled team color yarn knit was created with a team logo on the front and a fleece lining to keep any female football fan warm at the game or walking around town.

The collection is available to purchase by clicking here as well as most sporting goods and headwear retailers with a retail price of $28 USD.

About New Era Cap

It is an international lifestyle brand with an authentic sports heritage that dates back over 90 years. Best known for being the official on-field cap for Major League Baseball and the National Football League, New Era Cap is the brand of choice not only for its headwear collection, but also for its accessories and apparel lines for men, women, and youth. The brand is worn as a symbol of self-expression by athletes, artists, and some of the most interesting people around the globe. The company encourages people to truly express their personal style and individuality through its products. The Company’s HQ is located in Buffalo, NY and operates facilities in Canada, Europe, Brazil, Japan, and Hong Kong.