Localvore Today’s Impact on the Local Economy

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As the Spring semester comes to a close and my academic career at Champlain College does as well, I have began to flourish by narrowing down my passions for my post-academic pursuits. The very thought of working within the local food and beverage industry of Vermont has granted me with intense excitement. I’m the guy at the co-op reading the labels and ingredients to find out as much as possible about certain companies and the goods that they provide and then comparing these goods to their competitors.


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I love keeping my consumer habits local and I am extremely passionate about how the local Burlington start-up Localvore Today has the exact same mission as my individual goals. I think there is an endless amount of opportunities in a state like Vermont, where local communities always come first when it comes to the food/beverage industry.


Localvore Today is the tool for local businesses to tell their story and can act as an e-commerce resource to promote environmental sustainability and socially responsible business practices within the state of Vermont. I especially admire how CEO, Dan White, in a sense re-invented the lightbulb with his entrepreneurial idea of a localized Groupon website. I hold a high respect for Dan because he decided to start working for Groupon as an account executive in order to promote his idea and learn about the business model of Groupon in order to have the background to succeed wit the implementation of  his localized Groupon concept in which he could incorporate his own personal social mission on a daily basis.


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Localvore Today does a tremendous job of connecting local businesses to the consumers who hold them in high regards. Dan’s formalization and execution of his idea in Vermont is simply genius. Dan was held to a non-compete clause after he left Groupon, but Groupon at the time did not operate in the state of Vermont, and at the start of 2012 when Dan started the company he was one hundred compliant with his non-compete clause. Dan’s goal is to give back to the area in which we are living in, and give incentive for other local businesses to do the same.


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Every company that Localvore Today works with is independently ran and do not possess a corporate or national headquarters located outside of Vermont. In a state like Vermont that is riddled with a significant state trade deficit it is so important to maintain local business growth and to promote the consumerism of local goods and services which Localvore Today has excelled at doing time after time during the last 4 years of operation at their Lake St. location nestled right against Burlington’s revitalized harbor. (thank you Bernie Sanders, who was mayor at the time and advocated for a waterfront to be proud of)


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Dan has created a way through the conception of Localvore Today for more local Vermont businesses to strive to meet B-corporation standards. Groupon may be a somewhat valuable resources to many, but Groupon is no Localvore Today because Localvore Today has the ability to connect nonprofit organizations that hold similar passions and perspectives with the local businesses of Vermont, so that consumers can connect easier to local merchants through e-commerce and digital marketing. Localvore Today uses GoogleMaps to show the user where each local merchant is located, and describes each merchant in detail on the Localvore website, so that the consumer can get a better sense of how the local merchant fits into the local community and how they impact the local economy of Vermont.


 

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Today there are approximately over 20,000 subscribers on the e-mail lists for daily deals of Localvore Today. The anti-Groupon site receives a share of each sale, but refrains from charging local merchants out of pocket for their services. The Localvore Today concept works so well in a state like Vermont because many businesses despise discounting or using pedestrian digital content to describe the maturation of their business. Localvore Today provides digital marketing content solutions for a community centric marketing approach, and as a result can boost the dollars spent on local goods and services in the local Vermont economy.


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Also check out this new app I have been using called Buycott. It allows you to support causes relating to consumerism, and allows you to scan food products that have bar codes to tell you if the supply chain or manufacturing process is using sustainable and socially responsible business practices.

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Be Different Or Don’t Bother

 

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Founder of Spike Advertising Inc. Ken Millman

“Be different or don’t bother”-Ken Millman


Ken Milman a man of all trades in the marketing profession. He currently is the founder of Spike Advertising Inc. which is an advertising agency based out of Burlington, VT. Ken is the only employee at his company currently and at once he had 15 employees working underneath him. Ken is a type of guy that wants to shake up the pot and he truly embraces this type of change. Ken stated that he has about a three year life span on anything he does, and because he is always trying to find ways to change as an individual and an organization for the better. Ken looked at the data and found out that 80% of the time with a full staff he was simply doing work to run the business, but Ken honestly just wanted to work with clients 100% of the time, so Ken decided to go lean and strip down to the one man team of Ken Millman after over 15 years of Ken running Spike Advertising. Ken also has worked for medium-sized companies before Spike in San Francisco, Reno, and Ottawa. Ken attended Carleton University located in capital of the Quebec province in Ottawa, Canada and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications & Law. Ken participates in marketing strategy, creative, writing, producing, and project management for Spike Advertising. Ken also leads workshops on self-branding and has taught Marketing at Champlain College.


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Ken expressed to the class that advertising is a particularly interesting industry to observe trends because some aspects of advertising have change zero percent since the dot com boom, whereas in other ways advertising has changed monumentally. Ken told our class that in order to stay relevant in the advertising world, an organization needs to focus on developing content that is full of diversity. Ken made a point to also tell the class that technology is on an upward projection and that the pace of technology has completely changed the last few years with the rise of the social media platform phenomena and this has created mass confusion for lots of professionals working in the marketing and advertising field that have not adapted with the pace of technology.

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In order to stand out to an employee Ken suggested that if you can focus on the things that have never changed in advertising ranging from concept design, concept plans, good writing, smart thinking, and being able to speak to the right audience are what could really make you indispensable to a company when you jump aboard the employment train. I love how Ken brought up to the class that he thinks nowadays there is new breed of marketing and advertising professionals who are master-bating with all this data, but is it really accomplishing anything with the usage of all of these new analytics and metrics? I thought he brought up a valid point of emphasizing on how being creative in strategy is the most important first step when working in the advertising and marketing industry.


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I was really fond of Ken’s perspective on how he makes sense of the relationships with his clients, and a quote that really stuck with me was when he stated that, “The day you start getting the account, is the day you also lose the account”, Ken is explaining that no client relationship is easy and that eventually all good things may come to an end, but it helps to diversify the types of client relationships that you do have. I also really enjoyed how Ken made a point to emphasize how important soft skills are from the first interview to your first day starting your new career. Ken also stated that no way will artificial intelligence in our lifetimes trump the soft skills that we possess. Employers will always need employees that can listen, follow up, do favors, and being able to fix things when they go to shit. These soft skills will grab the attention from employers as a rookie and this is huge if you are just starting a new job. Never let your soft skills get hidden behind the resumes and cover letters and anything you can do to be more authentic and treat yourself like a brand will do wonders for your career in the long-run.


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Marketing is truly about relationships on all levels, and with Ken working at an agency of only one, the relationships that he formulates with his clients and the people that Ken may outsource too make all the difference in if Ken can stay successful in the marketing and advertising environment.

Not Your Average Redeveloper

 

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Stu Mcgowan

 

Stu Mcgowan is not your typical real-estate redeveloper and there are plenty of reasons why he is the Anti-Trump of real estate because of his community influenced social mission that is behind Stu’s career. When my Professor Dr.Young was asked to describe our upcoming guest speaker the week before Stu’s appearance she simply could not give a direct answer to describe Stu, and after hearing him speak I can totally see why she was unable to put a specific label on him. Stu is known around Burlington Vermont as the guy that owns all of the oddly colored houses. He currently owns 78 properties in the city of Burlington Vermont. He started his journey in Korea and Vietnam and eventually moved back to the states and lived in New Jersey as a military brat. After New Jersey he went to veterinarian school for 1 year at the University of Vermont but was totally not into the curriculum. Stu took time off to work more than full-time at 120 hours per week at two jobs until he saved up enough money to travel to Europe. He also spent time in Alaska mining gold, but eventually video production inspired Stu.


 

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Properties of Stu Mcgowan

 

Stu eventually went back to Vermont to design his own major to become a video producer, he got to realize his passion when he was able to take coursework after his travels that he wanted to take in order to discover what made him most passionate. His self-designed major in Public Relations and Media Creation which lead him to working on educational videos at the NoodleHead Network. He ended up getting married shortly after graduating and moved into a duplex in the Old North End. The Old North End at the time was known as the area filled with “outsiders” in Burlington, but Stu made it his mission, “to do stuff that is good for community”, he expressed that at the time there was lots of need within the community. Stu shortly found out that the school system in the Old North End needed major help and became the President of the PTO. Stu transformed the helpless 3 member PTO program to 200 PTO members. He personally built the PTO up from scratch and got noticed by people in the community for his volunteer work He has also been active in the community volunteering as the Head Empire for little leaguers and volunteered with the cub scouts in Burlington.


 

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One of Stu’s Properties

 

Stu started gaining his real estate developing experience when he rebuilt and renovated dilapidated houses with his own kids and other kids that flocked to his house in the Old North End. Stu got the idea to start his business called ShoelessManagement/Konstruction by trying to rehash Burlington homes and hire young employees and pay them well at the same time. It is a business model that sure has worked out well for Stu and his employees. Stu provided value for the community of Burlington because he always had a common thread in prioritizing his social mission in any of his endeavors. I strive to eventually work or create an organization that can represent the community and provide them with greater value because of my own doing or collective doing.


 

Stu has always had the neighborhood first and the social responsible business fund managed by the City of Burlington helped him out to expand his property management business by lending him more funds. Stu is a one-of-kind landlord in a college-town like Burlington where slumlords are the norm and apartments are not given the proper care or are completely neglected. Stu until his retirement was on the scene and visible at all his properties. He has never raised the monthly rent for his tenants if they are still residing at one of his properties. His passion to do good for others has evolved into a website called ShareYourself.org that teaches do gooders how to take an idea with a social mission and make it possible by allowing others to assist in process using his online platform.

ShareYourself Kickstarter Video

 

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I admired how Stu said that it was never about money that drove him, it was the fact that he was able to be involved. He strives to teach more people about the ways that he has done business and how it has benefitted his career by not taking any shortcuts in his business endeavors. I loved how he told the class that if you can live a creative life than anything is essentially possible and solving problems in creative ways should be the emphasis when trying to create more innovation.

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I told Stu that I was passionate about the outdoors and may want to pursue a career in the outdoor industry. Stu immediately had advice for me, that advice was to never work within an industry that is 100% reliant on weather and its only target market is the top 1%. I took his advice to heart and in my job search have made it a requirement to search  for jobs in industries that are not solely dependent on the weather. Stu has been my favorite guest speaker in our marketing capstone of the semester because of his charisma and his drive to help out his community. I also think that Stu would make an amazing mayor for the city of Burlington in the near future.

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Struggling Vermont Ski Resorts