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iLove iCracked

from yelp.com

from yelp.com

If you’ve managed to live your smartphone-obsessed life so far without ever cracking your phone screen, kudos to you. But the fact is that in the next 24 hours, 28,000 Americans will have broken their smartphones. So unless you want to live with it or get in line for a replacement at an Apple store, the most convenient option is iCracked—the world’s largest on-demand repair network for iOS and Android devices. Identifying this market need— convenience in device repairs—is what led psychology major AJ Forsythe to start the company from his dorm room at CalPoly four years ago. Today, iCracked is a $25 million company, and one of the fastest-growing start-ups in Silicon Valley.

So what made iCracked succeed in an environment where 90% of start-ups fail? The “iMagic,” should I say, is in their business model, because the company actually doesn’t make a cent from repairs. Instead, they make money by selling parts to independent professionals called iTechs, and by providing them with rigorous training, certification and resources. This is what motivated Y Combinator, one of the largest U.S. seed accelerators, to fund a non-technical founder like Forsythe. According to The Hustle, the ingenuity in this is that instead of fixing a few phones a week, iCracked has built a huge network of iTechs that drive so much traffic that they’re able to earn massive amounts of revenue by selling parts.

Sarp Engelman, iTech and owner of Happy Valley Repairs, is the gentleman who repaired my iPhone screen in a 20-minute meet at Starbucks. As a student, he loves the invaluable experience the job offers, as well as the convenience to work on his own time. What’s interesting, he explained, is that you don’t need a technical background or prior experience to apply to be an iTech, since iCracked provides full training themselves. Sarp says, “What drives [iTech recruitment] mostly is the market. There are enough technicians in State College so they won’t oversaturate and bring new businesses in. It would just hurt us and defeat the purpose of being affiliated with them.” Moreover, what the iTech charges is 100% their own revenue, so they essentially have their own business under a franchise. It’s like the Uber for smartphone repairs.

For a consumer, this is how it works: you go to the iCracked site, mobile app or Yelp (like I did), fill out a request, and an iTech in your area is notified. The iTech quotes a price and you agree on a time and place for the repair. The majority of their customers actually come from word of mouth, just like how a friend recommended it to me. Besides screens, they can also fix water damage, battery problems and structural issues, as well as buy back a device from you.

iCracked is now expanding rapidly, with a growing presence in UK, Canada and the European Union. They recently opened their first-ever retail store, in Tokyo, Japan in partnership with Japanese conglomerate Hikari Tsushin. And here on the beautiful Penn State campus, they are definitely adding to the student startup scene.

Samsung Note 7 Fiasco Still Burning Strong

Image from cnet.com

Image from cnet.com

South Korea-based tech giant Samsung was in a prime position to increase its smartphone market share as its chief competitor Apple faces criticism for removal of the headphone jack in its iPhone 7. However, Samsung has likely squandered this opportunity with its own problems of late, and they are far more serious.

By now most of us have heard of Samsung’s struggles with its Galaxy Note 7 device, which was released this past August to rave reviews. Then, of course, the phones’ batteries starting overheating and catching fire. Just a few days ago, a Southwest Airlines flight was evacuated prior to takeoff when a man’s Note 7 started making popping noises and emitting smoke.

To make matters worse for Samsung, this man’s particular phone was one of those issued as a replacement in the 2.5-million Note 7 recall. Five weeks ago, the company had offered to replace Note 7s with models deemed “safe” after many reports of them catching fire and posing burn risks to users, including this six-year-old boy who was hospitalized with second-degree burns after one exploded in his hands.

All four major U.S. carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile) have now stopped providing replacement Note 7s, as the “safe” billing has been proven a farce. Samsung today announced that they are temporarily halting production of the Galaxy Note 7 worldwide, and has issued a second recall, this time on the replacement phones. It has implored all owners of Note 7s to power them down and cease use.

While these issues have not extended to any of Samsung’s other phones or products, the corporation understandably faces increased scrutiny and serious damage to its once-sterling reputation. Today’s news has started to take effect in the stock market — Samsung is down 1.5% and Apple up 2.3%. The growth for Apple comes on a day when just 16 stocks in the S&P 500 rose.

Smeal Featured Student of the Week

14569745_10206166243868650_639933635_nThis week’s Featured Student is Art Nestler. Art is a senior at Penn State studying Supply Chain Management and Information Systems with a minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The past two summers, Art has worked as an Inbound Logistics Intern at Giant Eagle Inc., and as a Procurement Intern for Giant Eagle, Inc. Continue reading

Tips From the Intern Life

Before I began work for the multi-billion dollar, 200 year old company that is DuPont, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was very eager to begin my intern experience in my hometown of Wilmington, DE, but the adjustment from college to corporate life is a transition that, although one most of us will have to complete, is not the easiest. I had a particularly unique intern experience as well, as Dow Chemical and DuPont are in the midst of a multi-billion dollar merger. A lot happened in my three-month intern experience that challenged me and allowed me to grow. There are three tips, however, that I would like to share that proved invaluable for me, which I will take with me on my future career path.

1. Meet and be social with the other interns. I had the unique opportunity to intern with fellow college students from the University of Virginia, Purdue, and the University of Kentucky, to name a few. Every intern brought a unique set of experiences and skills to work. As an intern, you’d be remiss if you did not use this platform to not only elevate your networking ability, but to just make the overall experience better, since you are surrounded with young people.

2. Practice, Practice, Practice. My supervisor and manager challenged me each and every day—both on a personal/developmental level and a technical level. My manager preached the invaluable tool of communication, especially in a business role. Thus, they had me give brief presentations to the Finance team before or after our weekly meetings. Now, being a 21-year-old college student standing in front of employees who have been at the company for 30+ years is surely intimidating, but the only way to get over that is to practice and to keep getting “live reps.” All of those short presentations prepared me for my final intern presentation, where I had to present about some of my summer work in front of around 40 people. While I am far from being an expert at public speaking, I grew in many facets this summer—especially communication.

3. Ask Questions! We have all been hearing this our entire academic lives— “Ask questions!” A lot of us think since we are in our respective majors at a stellar business school like Smeal, we know more than we actually do. Within the first week of work, I realized how intelligent and polished all of the full-time employees were—and that I still had a lot of work to do to be near their level. However, regardless of where you work, you will be surrounded by a wealth of resources and astute individuals—put them to use! Don’t simply generate the data—ask what is meant beyond the numbers, and how these numbers pertain to your business. Asking questions can never hurt, and as an intern, it’s all about growth and development.

Internship Review: Bethlehem Museums & Sites

Over the summer I interned at Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites for marketing and social media.

Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites maintains Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s historic landmark district with 20 historic sites and buildings. Moravians founded the town in 1741, which meant I interned during an important year: the 275th anniversary.

Though I am not a marketing major, I combined my background in finance and print journalism to compensate from the little experience I had in the field.

Through my work in journalism, especially through The Daily Collegian, I often receive press releases and write articles based on the information provided. At my internship, I was on the other end of the process for the first time. Having read many press releases, I felt comfortable writing them due to familiarity with the style. I combined my fact-focused journalistic writing with my personal creative writing style to compose press releases. I wrote press releases for Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites’ summer and autumn festivals, art exhibitions and other smaller scale events. Before the major events, I sent media alerts to local news outlets.

I wrote a non-profit spotlight column for a local publication that covered Historic Bethlehem Museums & Site’s drive to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I also wrote a write-up of upcoming events for another local publication.

I also put my interest in writing to use in blog posts through WordPress. In these blog posts, I expanded upon material provided in press releases for festivals and art exhibits, which were written and posted leading up to the events to draw more interest. For another blog post, I wrote about summer happenings hosted by Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites that had a longer tail.

A key duty of my internship included reaching out to the public. For events, I posted to local and regional discussion boards and event calendars on websites. For a festival, I personally reached out to regional news outlets and local bloggers to invite them to the festival.

Reaching out to the public also included social media posts. Most weeks, I drafted and scheduled daily social media posts for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and occasionally Pinterest through HootSuite. For one festival, I spent a day photographing the event and posting pictures to the accounts throughout the day to draw more potential visitors.

I also drafted and sent weekly email blasts through Constant Contact to highlight upcoming events to subscribers.
Though I did not expect to spend the summer interning in a field I do not study, I enjoyed learning new skills. I still may not know the technicalities of marketing, but I feel comfortable in the field and realized I may potentially want to work in it.

Tinder Matches with Humin

Though dating application Tinder is hardly known for helping its users find lasting relationships, it made its own commitment to Humin this past Tuesday.

Tinder will purchase the rights to technology and intellectual property of Humin, while acquiring the company’s executive board and some of its staff in San Francisco, according to this Recode article.

Humin, which owns Humin Contacts and Knock Knock, will apply its technology to Tinder to improve app practicality and expand Tinder beyond only a dating app.

Humin Contacts organizes phone contacts. Knock Knock allows users to make contact with someone nearby through social media platforms and a chat system within the app. Humin Contacts is only offered by Apple’s App Store. Knock Knock is available in the App Store and Google’s Play Store. The apps will be removed from the stores due to the acquisition.

Tinder has not made a statement about which specific aspects of Humin’s apps will be used.

Tinder founder and CEO Sean Rad and Humin founder Ankur Jain both said the combination of the apps will prompt people to look up from their phones and create relationships with people in person.

Tinder benefits from the updated technology of Humin, while Humin benefits from Tinder’s larger userbase.

According to Forbes, financial information about the acquisition has not been revealed.

Humin is Tinder’s first company acquisition in the last year.

Are markets now desensitized to terror?

Stock markets are far from the most important issue in regard to terrorist attacks, which are becoming a devastating staple of this current century. The markets do, however, offer insight into the working world and how much of an impact terrorism has on it. Terrorists likely intend to interfere in subtler ways with the everyday lives of those spared the immediate effects of their attacks. Have they succeeded?

For better or for worse, it seems the markets are becoming desensitized to terrorist attacks, as illustrated by this past Tuesday’s events in Brussels. This is better for the overall economic health of the world’s countries, yet worse because it indicates somewhat that these occurrences are beginning to become a societal norm.

On the first day of trading after the September 11 attacks, six days later on September 17, the Dow fell 684 points, a 7.1 percent decline. By the end of that week it had fallen over 14 percent, and it took a month to rebound to its pre-9/11 level.

Fast-forward 14 years to November 13, 2015, when the coordinated attacks took place in Paris. That day, France’s CAC 40 lost just 0.1 percent. Countless terrorist attacks have occurred between 9/11 and this instance, and the markets have learned to adjust. This past Tuesday, despite the Brussels bombings, the main indexes in France, Germany, and on Wall Street actually closed in positive territory.

Outside of perhaps the travel industry, the general consensus is that as the frequency of these attacks has increased, the shock value of them has lessened, decreasing “fear trade.” Additionally, consumers now tend to postpone purchases or trips in the wake of attacks rather than forgo them entirely, according to this Washington Post article. This CNN Money piece discusses how some consumers even shop in defiance of attacks, mentioning refusal of citizens to let terrorists dictate how they run their lives.

While markets have generally grown accustomed to these events, the potential for economic consequence still exists.
Recent attacks like those in Paris and Brussels have ignited a discussion for increased border controls throughout the European Union, which would impact the flow of goods in the region.

And there is further potential impact – despite British Prime Minister David Cameron saying it wasn’t “appropriate” to include the Brussels bombings in the referendum debate, campaigners for Britain’s exit from the EU (which is known as the “Brexit”) are underscoring them as a reason why Britain should secede. On July 23, Britain holds its referendum to decide whether or not it remains a EU member.

The global markets have largely adapted to terrorist attacks thus far. But if Europe’s economic status quo is destabilized by the fallout from these attacks (such as Britain departing), the markets may experience some turbulence.

Inaugural Sports Networking Night a Success

The inaugural Sports Networking Night took place on March 1 in the Business Building, and allowed students to learn more about jobs within the sports industry. More than 17 companies were in attendance, which included sports teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Flyers, sports agencies like IMG and Octagon, and companies that market through sports such as Fox Sports and Populous. Students had the opportunity to attend hour-long panel discussions, where representatives from each company would explain their roles within the sports industry and provide students with current industry trends.

After the panel discussions, students had the opportunity to network with all of the company representatives for two hours in the Business Building Atrium. This networking session allowed students to expand on the panel discussion topics, ask further questions, and inquire about future job and internship opportunities in a professional environment. Over 175 students attended the event, and many students were able to seek out various opportunities within the organizations in attendance. The event was organized and run by the Penn State Sports Business Club, the Penn State Marketing Association, and the Center for Sports Business and Research within the Smeal College of Business. All parties are looking forward to build off of this event’s success to provide a larger and better event next year.