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Small Business Briefing

Cash mobs give small businesses a lift Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz. Download our app here.

Being 'mobbed' like winning the jackpot for some small-business owners

You know flash mobs - those groups of people who suddenly assemble in a public place to perform a seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse. How about cash mobs: groups of altruistic do-gooders who descend on small, locally owned businesses to buy merchandise, giving merchants a welcome boost to their bottom lines.

A blogger from Buffalo is credited with starting the cash mob movement last summer, and it's garnered a lot of attention as it moved to other American cities and now into Windsor and other cities across Canada.

Kelly Ouellette and Pat Ryan are the founders of Cash Mob Windsor, a grassroots community organization that supports small, local businesses.

Like flash mobs, they rely on Facebook and Twitter for communication and to help to coordinate time, place and other logistics. Once a location is picked, they gather and make a $20 purchase at the store, but the mob itself does not collect any money.

The businesses are chosen monthly from nominations made by Windsorites on their Facebook page. If selected, they're notified several days in advance so they can brace themselves by stocking up.

Being 'mobbed' can be like winning the jackpot for some small-business owners. The owner of Virginia-based Appalachia Press recently told the USA Today that his business "did the equivalent of a Christmas shopping day in 45 minutes."

While early response has been encouraging, Ms. Ouellette admits she isn't sure how many people will actually participate come Cash Mob day, which is planned for March 24.

"It could be 10 or 100. I have no idea," she told the Windsor Star.

But for the small business owner, every little bit counts.

"If we get 50 people out there,that's $1,000. That can keep you open another month."









Hot spot in Silicon Valley

If you thought bidding wars were reserved for hot hoods in Toronto and Vancouver like Trinity Bellwoods and Kitsilano, then you haven't heard about San Francisco's Mission area. Formerly a majority Hispanic neighbourhood which is close to the main arteries that link San Fran to Silicon Valley, the area's home prices have increased by 44 per cent over the past year.

According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, housing prices in the Bay area are once again soaring, thanks to cash injections from the rising shares of Apple and Google, and the IPO offers by Zynga, LinkedIn, Yelp and soon Facebook.

For the full story, click here.

Canadian startup vies for $35,000

The NYC Next global business plan competition is in its final round, where six finalist teams from around the world - including Canada - will pitch their business plans to a panel of venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and academics in pursuit of $35,000.

Toronto-based Stylsize is one of the finalists competing for the cash. The startup has developed a mobile-optimized fitting platform to enhance the shopping experience for the ready-to-wear apparel industry, enabling shoppers to visualize how a garment will fit and flatter the body without the frustrating guesswork associated with today’s online shopping.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Digital media summit

Arianna Huffington, president of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group, will be keynote speaker at the inaugural Digital Media Summit, a social media and interactive marketing conference being held March 21 and March 22 in Toronto. The two-day event will also feature other speakers, discussions and presentations on branding, social media and interactive marketing, which could be helpful for your own digital media strategy and gaining insights on how best to engage with consumers. For more details, click here.

NBTC Conference 2012

The National Business and Technology Conference (NBTC), which runs March 23 and March 24 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, has been Nspire’s annual flagship event since it started in 2001 by a group of University of Toronto students with the goal of merging the fields of business and technology. This prestigious event brings together 300 young leaders and numerous industry professionals from across North America to participate in interactive workshops, listen to inspiring speakers, compete in the consulting case and entrepreneurship competitions, and enrich their networks. For a full list of speakers, click here.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

When small businesses are targets of sabotage

Small businesses can be vulnerable to many forms of sabotage, often from disgruntled employees, customers or competitors. Here’s what can happen and what to do about it

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Attention digital hoarders: It's time to clean up your act

Hunting through a mess of digital contracts, letters and spreadsheets can cost your business time and money. Even five or 10 minutes per person per day can really add up.

Join The Globe’s Small Business LinkedIn group to network with other entrepreneurs and to discuss topical issues: http://linkd.in/jWWdzT

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