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Mark Beyerly and Sandy Stock sample fruit wines at The White Silo Farm and Winery in Sherman, Conn., July 1, 2006. (DOUGLAS HEALEY/Associated Press)
Mark Beyerly and Sandy Stock sample fruit wines at The White Silo Farm and Winery in Sherman, Conn., July 1, 2006. (DOUGLAS HEALEY/Associated Press)

Small Business Briefing

U.S. wineries chase more youthful clientele Add to ...

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Drink up

Wineries in the United States are pulling out all the stops to attract a more youthful clientele, the Los Angeles Times reports. With a large number of customers nearing retirement age, a new audience is needed to maintain growth.

“The battle is on,” Danny Brager, an expert at global measurement company Nielsen, told the Times. “Everyone's being aggressive.”

That means singles events, a new style of tastings, clever brand names and more varied promotional efforts. The potential payoffs are huge. There are about 70 million millennials in the U.S., and the wineries seem to think the time to wean them off craft beers and cosmos is now, before it’s too late to change their habits.

“The take-away is that while baby boomers are still technically our best customers, millennials as a group ... are the single most dynamic target for wine marketers,” says John Gillespie, president of trade group Wine Market Council.

INcubes hosts its Demo Day

Three web startups – Videogami, L4NP, and TopThat – took part in the INcubes Demo Day in Toronto on Wednesday. They presented to 300 tech investors from across North America, and others were able to view a live feed. Techstars founder and Foundry Group partner Brad Feld delivered the keynote. INcubes is aiming to establish Toronto as “Canada’s startup hub,” and the privately funded accelerator has now launched 12 companies and claims to have influenced and assisted many others with an active investment and mentorship network. Startups accepted into its cohorts spend three months building and nurturing their ventures before presenting to investors.

Flu takes a financial toll

U.S. small businesses are out tens of thousands of dollars this year because so many employees have been sidelined by flu, Business News Daily points out. A study conducted by Pepperdine University and Dun & Bradstreet found that illness affected growth at 9 per cent of companies and hiring plans were negatively impacted at 3 per cent. The survey was able to drill down direct costs: Firms with revenue below $5-million said an employee with flu cost them an average of $22,802 (U.S.), and bigger companies, which presumably had a greater ability to weather absentee shocks, lost an average of $15,806.


Twenty years of top treps

Ernst & Young has launched the 20th anniversary of its Entrepreneur Of The Year program in Canada. Nominations can now be submitted on behalf of candidates who “demonstrate outstanding vision, leadership, financial success and social responsibility,” according to the press release. Self-nominations are also accepted, and there is no fee. Nominees must be an owner, CEO or CEO-equivalent with primary responsibility for a company’s recent performance and a member of top management. The company must be at least three years old.

Down in the valley

The C100 hosts its next 48 Hours in the Valley from June 10 to 12 and applications are now open. Eligible companies must have product in market, traction and “huge growth potential.” Twice a year the organization invites some of Canada's most promising startups to the Silicon Valley for two days of mentorship, workshops, investor meetings, strategic partner visits and networking. Deadline to apply is March 28.


A funding alternative

A merchant cash advance is a purchase of future debit- and credit-card sales. Business owners receive cash for future revenue, and in return, funders recoup their advances by automatically withholding a percentage of daily electronic transactions until the initial amounts are repaid, plus margins.


Another way to go

What's the key advantage of subordinate financing for a small or medium-sized business? “Subordinate financing provides the capital necessary for a business to fuel its growth or secure its continuity. Repayment is not based on diminishing asset value but more on cash flow potential,” says a representative of BDC.

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