Package delivery storage service up against Amazon Locker
Just in time for the online shopping frenzy season, the three founders of Waterloo, Ont.-based BufferBox Inc. have scored a big coup for their startup with the purchase of the parcel delivery storage service by Google Inc. for an undisclosed amount.
The company, founded by three University of Waterloo graduates, offers a solution to online shoppers for more failsafe delivery of their packages.
Instead of giving their own shipping address, they sign up for BufferBox's service, and have packages delivered to a secure BufferBox locker at one of its locations. The lockers are accessible around the clock with a PIN that unlocks them.
BufferBox is going up against competition including Amazon Locker, but that service is not available in Canada and accommodates Amazon deliveries; BufferBox is here and is available for any deliveries.
The startup, founded under two years ago by Mike McCauley, Aditya Bali and Jay Shah, has been on an upward trajectory. It earned a place on technology blog TecCrunch's 10 best startups after pitching at Y Combinator's Demo Day. It has teamed up with 7-Eleven, starting out with about half a dozen lockers, and last month, it announced a deal with Metrolinx to put up its kiosks at GO transit stations, including Union Station in Toronto. It's also testing its technology with Walmart Canada's e-commerce unit and Google had also begun using BufferBox. The company, which aims to spread in Canada and the United States, hopes to have 100 locations around Toronto by the end of next year.
U.S. small businesses feeling post-election blues
Optimism among small businesses after the U.S. presidential election fell to the lowest it’s been since the third quarter of 2010, according to the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index.
The quarterly index, based on a survey of about 600 small business owners and taken Nov. 12 to Nov. 16, gauges their perceptions of their current business situations and future expectations..
It showed the biggest drop in confidence since the fall of 2008, according to BloombergBusinessweek’s coverage.
The current index fell 28 points into negative territory, and was “disproportionately impacted” by the future expectations score’s drop of 19 points, according to the release about the results. “Key drivers” of the decline included respondents’ concerns about their financial future, cash flow, capital spending and hiring over the next 12 months, the release said.
"We do not historically see movements this large," Marc Bernstein, head of small business for Wells Fargo, told Inc. Uncertainty about fiscal stability, consumer spending and taxes may have all been contributing factors, Mr. Bernstein told Inc.
“Overall,” wrote Gallup chief economist Dennise Jacobe, the survey’s results “suggest the U.S. economy is extremely fragile – and possibly susceptible to another recession.”
A similar survey by The Wall Street Journal and Vistage International Inc. also found a significant post-election drop in optimism among small businesses; its index fell to its lowest figure in the survey's six-month history.
Pay gap widens between U.S. small and large businesses: study
Hiring and job creation are moving along faster at newer firms than older ones in the United States – but the gap in what they pay employees has widened over the past decade, finds a new study from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
While it’s not surprising that smaller firms can’t afford to pay as well as bigger ones, the study noted, it nevertheless found a widening gap in the years between 2001 and 2011 in what workers at newer firms – two years old or younger – earned against employees at more established firms.
Those at startups made about 85 per cent of what workers at more mature firms received just prior to the 2001 recession; by last year, that figure had dropped to 70 per cent, according to the study.
At the same time, average real monthly earnings for workers at small firms fell from a 2001 high of 78 per cent of what bigger firms paid to a low of 66 per cent last year, found the study, which was based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s quarterly workforce indicators.
The study also found that four out of 10, or 40 per cent, of hires at young firms are for newly created jobs, much higher than at more seasoned companies, where 25 per cent to 33 per cent of hires were for new positions.
What’s behind the differences? For one thing, says this Inc. coverage and this piece in The Washington Post, many startups are in lower-wage industries, such as food, retailing and construction. As well, the Post also notes less turnover at bigger companies, which typically have more older, higher-educated, and thus better-paid, employees.
The Post piece warns of worries that the widening gap might hurt hiring efforts at young firms, but also notes that pay may not be the driving force for many drawn to jobs at startups.
EVENTS AND KEY DATES
Pinterest for small business
Jess Loren and Edward Swiderski, Pinterest industry experts, authors of Pinterest for Business, and of Bachelorette and Bachelor Pad fame, join Report on Small Business editor Sean Stanleigh for an interactive discussion on how to benefit from the pinboard-style social network and other social media. Leave with a parting gift. The event, sponsored by Bank of Montreal, takes place Dec. 3 in Toronto. For more information, click here.
Canadian Startup Awards nominations
Put in your nominations for the second annual Canadian Startup Awards. Presented by KPMG, there are six categories of awards: best overall Canadian startup of 2012; best new startup; Canadian venture capitalist who made the most significant impact; Canadian angel investor who made the most significant impact; Canadian entrepreneur of 2012; and most significant Canadian acquisition. Nominations close on Dec. 31; finalists will be announced on Jan. 7, 2013, voting will go until Jan. 25, and winners will be announcde on Jan. 28. For more information, click here.
EDITORS PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS
There are four types of leaders: Which are you?
Conductor, influencer, analyzer, supporter: Which kind of leadership description is most fitting for you?
FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES
‘The shoe business is like show business’
David Markowitz says he was born with a shoehorn in his mouth, instead of a silver spoon. His namesake luxury footwear store, Davids, was founded six decades ago ago in Toronto by his parents in the same year he was born. Now, as president and chief executive officer of Markio Designs Inc., the parent company of three Davids locations and the seven-outlet Capezio shoe store chain, which he co-founded in Canada with his brothers, he heads up the family’s multi-generational business, as this Q &A recounted.
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