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Promotional photo of Adam House from the Rochester Razor Sharks.
Promotional photo of Adam House from the Rochester Razor Sharks.

Small Business Briefing

Entrepreneur dumps business for basketball 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

Same skills, different game

Serial entrepreneur Adam House has set aside his business plans to pursue a career as a professional basketball player, according to a feature story at xconomy.com.

The Rochester Razorbacks may not be an NBA team, but becoming a shooting guard in the Premier Basketball League is no easy feat. Most of its players hail from Division 1 U.S. college teams.

The 33-year-old grew up in Birmingham, Mich., just northwest of Detroit, where he played high-school basketball. Mr. House also worked at Rock Financial, a Quicken Loans company, where he was schooled by Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He left a small liberal arts school in Kentucky after his freshman year and got a job at a direct marketing firm in Florida. In 1998, he formed a startup that created direct marketing campaigns for financial services companies, building it into a multimillion-dollar business.

After selling a later business, mobile services platform Velocitude, to Akamai in mid-2010, he was weary of the start-up game and turned to basketball, uprooting his family and moving to Rochester.

Mr. House has yet to play in any of the team's first eight games, saying he needs to get up to speed and in game condition.

“I think it is just bringing the same leadership that you do to a start-up to a team.”

Liberia makes small-business inroads

Entrepreneurs working to create jobs in Liberia face a business environment rife with challenges: poor infrastructure, expensive power and, for some, prohibitively high taxes. Despite the hurdles, Isobel Coleman writes in a blog post for Council on Foreign Relations, there's no shortage of effort or ideas. A business incubator in downtown Monrovia is funded with help from the Soros Economic Development Foundation, and the government has been "working hard" to get credit to small and medium-sized companies seeking loans. Goldman Sachs has kick-started the 10,000 Women initiative: a free four-month program for Liberian women who aspire to launch their own ventures. They learn about finance and accounting, and receive access to computers and a resource library with help from the program’s administrators.

What's in a winery name?

A new study conducted by Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., looks at the effects of different winery names on sales. The study, conducted by associate marketing professor Antonia Mantonakis, set out to discover whether a name has any effect on people’s perception of quality. Turns out, it does. Test subjects were given the same wine, but in two groups, with two different winery names. One group was told the sample was from easy-to- pronounce Titakis Winery, while the other veered toward the tongue-tied side, Tselepou Winery. Both names are Greek, both have three syllables, but pre-testing showed Tselepou was tougher to pronounce in English. Though they were all drinking the same wine, on a scale of one to seven, Tselepou was rated higher. "The fluency, or how easy something is to verbally process, is kind of a hot topic in marketing right now," Ms. Mantonakis says.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Tech firms connect with tech talent

MTLStartupTalent hosts its second event Feb. 16, connecting startups and technology companies that are hiring with talent looking for employment. More than 500 professionals will get the opportunity to meet 25 hiring startups from Montreal. Looking for a job or new challenges? You’re the perfect candidate.

Opportunities tied to sustainability

The Schulich School of Business at Toronto's York University is hosting a Sustainability Boot Camp for Business Leaders on Feb. 22 that will deliver "the core knowledge you need to assess sustainability as an opportunity for innovation, competitive differentiation and profitable growth." There are three sessions, starting at 11 a.m., and focus on sustainability fundamentals, sustainability strategies, and making sustainability sustainable – the leader’s role.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Hot type

Multilingual keyboards, which today dominate at big retailers, have led some customers to return their purchases and others to seek keyboard replacements. Some laptop customers have been out of luck trying to find the model they want with the keyboard they need. The bottom line is that for less expensive consumer systems, manufacturers are settling on the one keyboard that works for all of Canada: the multilingual model.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Will a hockey-mad culture embrace floorball?

NHL stars such as Henrik and Daniel Sedin grew up playing floorball, a European version of floor hockey, the second-ranked sport behind soccer in Sweden. It’s a limited-contact sport, which means fewer injuries, and it’s relatively inexpensive to buy equipment and rent facilities. In a story from June, 2010, we profiled entrepreneur Juha Mikkola, who was hoping to continue making inroads in Canada’s hockey-mad culture by selling floorball as an off-ice activity that helps players improve their skills.

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