Tag Archives: Business

Experts discuss extreme weather and climate change reporting at the Media Summit

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Image: Alexander Gerst/ESA/NASA/Associated Press

Climate change is a critical discussion in this day and age, and communicating its intricacies can be a challenge. At the Mashable Media Summit we’ve added a session on telling the stories of climate change in the digital age.

Eventbrite - Mashable Media Summit: Formats of Creativity

The session, titled “Talking About the Weather: Telling Extreme Weather and Climate Change Stories in the Digital Age,” will be led by Mashable’s Senior Climate Reporter Andrew Freedman and will analyze the most effective ways to communicate climate change given the multitude of perspectives on the climate change issue.

Speakers joining this session include:

  • Neil Katz, Editor in Chief/ V.P. of Digital Content, The Weather Channel

  • Bernadette Woods Placky, Meteorologist and Climate Matters Program Director, Climate Central

Other previously announced sessions at Media Summit will include media experts like Pete Cashmore, Mashable‘s founder and CEO; Jill Abramson, Harvard University lecturer; Joanna Coles, editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine; and Piper Kerman, author of Orange Is the New Black in conversation with Larry Smith, founder of Smith Magazine.

The Media Summit is a one-day conference analyzing the impact of technology on the media industry, with an emphasis on the evolution of storytelling. Speakers will discuss media trends like the rise of big data and mobile, the impact of global social media campaigns, how to use visual platforms to enhance your story and much more.

For a full list of speakers and agenda, check out the Media Summit website. Ticket prices will increase on Thursday, so make sure to reserve your spot early.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/11/25/climate-session-media-summit/

50 Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

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Has your love of Mashable‘s newest channel Watercooler turned into a full-blown addiction? You’re not alone, and you don’t need help. It’s perfectly healthy to be obsessed with Nyan Cat, stripper parody videos and Pee-wee Herman dubs — at least, that’s what we keep telling ourselves.

There is, however, one possible side effect: In the whirlwind of memes, you just might have missed out on some of Mashable‘s features coverage this week. If you’re looking for the cure, you’ve come to the right place; here’s the roundup of the week’s top digital media resources.

Editor’s Picks

Social Media

For more social media news and resources, you can follow Mashable‘s social media channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Business & Marketing

For more business news and resources, you can follow Mashable‘s business channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Tech & Mobile

For more tech news and resources, you can follow Mashable‘s tech channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/14/digital-media-resources-48/

With 2 Weeks to Go, the Net Neutrality Battle Heats Up

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Protesters march past the FCC headquarters before the Commission meeting on net neutrality proposal on May, 15, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Image: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post/Getty Images

With less than two weeks until the end of the comment period on proposed Internet regulations, both sides of the debate are pushing publicity campaigns aimed at swaying the net neutrality debate.

The battle has coalesced around a particular issue: the reclassification of broadband Internet, a move that would either maintain an open and equal web or destroy it, depending on which side of the debate is lobbying. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has publicly stated that it could vote to reclassify broadband as a utility, bringing Internet providers under more stringent regulations.

A new “don’t break the Internet” campaign launched on Tuesday with a website that seeks to push back against calls for the Federal Communications Commission to reclassify. Drawing on the words of net neutrality advocates like Tim Wu, Lawrence Lessig and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the site makes plain its stance at the top.

“Dear Mr. Chairman, don’t break the Internet! Cat videos aren’t megawatts and the net’s not a series of tubes, so don’t treat it like a utility,” the post states alongside Photoshopped images of the FCC chairman with cats.

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The FCC is currently considering new regulations about how data flows on the Internet, an issue that has sparked debate about the role or regulation and Internet providers. Advocates of net neutrality — which dictates that all data should be treated equally so as to maintain and open and competitive Internet — have called for the FCC to consider the Internet a utility, which would bring it under more stringent regulation. The deadline for comments on the FCC’s proposed Internet regulation and replying to earlier comments is Sept. 15.

The initial draft of the rules built in allowances for “commercially reasonable” deals between content providers and Internet companies. This allowance caused a flood of concern from net neutrality advocates who worried this could lead to “fast lanes” that would make the Internet more similar to cable television.

Those concerns led to calls for the FCC to change how it regulates the Internet by switching to “Title II,” which would treat it similar to utilities.

The “don’t break the Internet” campaign is backed by TechFreedom, a nonprofit think tank that says it is backed by Internet providers as well as content providers. It is calling for congressional action to limit FCC power and explicitly detail how it can regulate the Internet.

“Democrats and Republicans should join in a bipartisan compromise that sets out clear, but specific and narrow, authority over core net neutrality concerns. Congress should bar the FCC from ever applying Title II to the Internet,” the site states.

There is no shortage of advocates of reclassification. Democratic Senator Carl Levin is the most recent politician to back reclassification, stating it is “the best and clearest way to ensure an open and free Internet.”

Fight for the Future, another nonprofit think tank “dedicated to protecting and expanding the Internet’s transformative power,” has organized an “Internet slowdown” on Sept. 10 to bring attention to the issue.

“On Sept. 10th, sites across the web will display an alert with a symbolic ‘loading’ symbol (the proverbial “spinning wheel of death”) and promote a call to action for users to push comments to the FCC, Congress, and the White House,” the site states.

The final push over net neutrality comes after a particularly active comment period, including a John Oliver video that went viral and sparked thousands of comments through the FCC’s online system.

The Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for government accountability and transparency, found that around two-thirds of comments were against allowing content providers to pay for better service and about the same number supported reclassification.

The study found that those against some effort to ensure an open and fair Internet were in the extreme minority.

“We estimate that less than 1 percent of comments were clearly opposed to net neutrality,” the organization wrote in a post.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/09/02/dont-break-the-internet/

Intel’s Dubious Plan to Take Over TV

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When Intel lifted the veil from its stealthy media division in February, many outsiders scratched their heads. Why was the chip manufacturer, which has tried and failed to sell consumer products before, trying to launch a TV service, one of the trickiest consumer markets of all?

Computer companies including Apple, Google and Microsoft have wrestled for years with how to become Internet TV providers.

They see a massive “pay TV” market ripe for Silicon Valley-style disruption. Today’s TV interfaces are exceedingly complicated, and content packages are bloated with channels that most subscribers don’t watch. Furthermore, there are new business opportunities in the progressively more social and mobile nature of TV-watching that tech companies are well-positioned to exploit.

Intel’s ambitions make sense given that the company needs a new growth business and has cash to spend. PC sales are slumping—research firm IDC recently reported the worst quarter globally since it began tracking data in 1994—as mobile devices become more powerful PC replacements. Intel’s first quarter earnings report this week reflected this decline, with revenues dropping 6% in the PC division that accounts for $8 billion of its $12.6 billion in quarter revenue. The company’s mobile chip business, meanwhile, is only in its infancy.

Intel does have an impressive 300-plus person TV team, led by former BBC executive Erik Huggers. And it has some interesting technology, too—including a front-facing camera that allows for viewing suggestions based on who is watching and a cloud-based DVR that lets viewers scroll back in time and watch shows they missed without actually having to record.

But many in the industry are skeptical that a U.S.-only TV service will be the multi-billion-dollar growth market that Intel needs to lift its bottom line, partly because of the challenges of negotiating groundbreaking live content licensing deals. “This is an expensive undertaking with very little chance of success,” says Bernard Gershon, a former Walt Disney senior executive who developed the company’s digital business strategy for TV content and is now a consultant.

The problem so far with all tech companies’ dreams about changing how we watch TV is that new entrants need the go-ahead from one major part of the established industry: companies like Disney, MTV and Time Warner, which own many shows and channels. TV programmers’ biggest fear is the idea of a cheaper, more customizable service that ends their ability to package together popular and unpopular channels for one price. But without breaking up these “bundles,” any new TV subscription service ends up looking very similar to what’s already offered by Comcast or AT&T.

The economics of the TV business could be especially hard for Intel. It doesn’t own the underlying broadband delivery infrastructure, so it can’t attract customers by bundling Internet and TV service as Google has done with its experimental gigabit fiber network in Kansas City. And if it does succeed in negotiating innovative content deals, other companies like Apple—which, unlike Intel, already have set-top box TV hardware in people’s homes and billing and customer service relationships with consumers—may swoop in from behind and sign similar agreements.

For Intel to succeed, its aggressive push into the living room must be timed perfectly. TV programmers are starting to experiment with new Web and mobile delivery formats, and they want to attract a new audience of young people who still like to watch TV but may not want to do so on their couch every Tuesday at 8 p.m.

When DirectTV launched its satellite service a decade ago, it took off because it spent billions to land exclusive rights to many NFL games. Though no content deals have been announced, Intel’s service is already being tested internally and with some limited partners, and is expected to launch this year. It may just need its version of the NFL.

Image via ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

This article originally published at MIT Technology Review
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/04/18/intel-tv/

52 Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

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It may not have been a good week for Big Bird, but it was a good one for Detroit Tigers infielder Miguel Cabrera, who won the first Triple Crown since 1967. Over the past few days we’ve witness the beginning of debate season and the end of baseball’s regular season.

With all that going on, it’s understandable if you lost track of what’s happening in the social media and tech world. To get you up to speed, we’ve rounded up all our best feature stories from the past week.

The Lifestyle section was particularly active with resources that could help improve your ever-important quality of life. You can also start crossing names of your holiday shopping list with gift ideas such as geeky wine racks, funky iPhone cases and a high-end coffee maker that brews the perfect cup of java.

For you political junkies, be sure to check out our new special feature on how the digital sphere is shaping modern campaigning and elections. There’s also plenty of information regarding social media and business. It’s all here; dig in.

Editor’s Picks

Social Media

For more social media news and resources, you can follow Mashable‘s social media channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Business & Marketing

For more business news and resources, you can follow Mashable‘s business channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Tech & Mobile

For more tech news and resources, you can follow Mashable‘s tech channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Lifestyle

For more digital lifestyle news and resources, you can follow Mashable‘s lifestyle channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/10/06/digital-media-resources-57/

Bitcoin Millionaires Become Investing Angels

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Early investors in Bitcoin got rich. Now they are the cryptocurrency’s most powerful gatekeepers.

Every time you spend bitcoins to buy a drink at Evr, a swanky bar in midtown Manhattan that accepts the digital currency, you make its co-owner, Charlie Shrem, a little bit richer.

And that’s not only because a chamomile sour costs $17 (or 0.16 bitcoins). It’s because whenever someone new uses bitcoins, the electronic currency’s value tends to increase. Shrem has bought thousands of bitcoins for about $20 each, starting in 2011. Since then, the digital coins have soared in value to $109.

That’s turned the 23-year-old into a millionaire and into one of a handful of early bitcoin investors who’ve decided to sink their windfalls back into the bitcoin economy — starting their own companies and investing in others.

“Infrastructure is what we need,” says Shrem. “We’ve gotta build, build, build — financial software, exchanges and different payment products.” In addition to his investment in the bar, Shrem founded Bitinstant, a company that makes it possible to buy bitcoins at Kmart and 7-Eleven, and is a member of BitAngels, an investment group created this year to help Bitcoin startups evolve from garage operations into real companies.

Bitcoin angels like Shrem don’t have pockets nearly as deep as entrepreneur-turned-investors who’ve made it big in Silicon Valley — some of whom, like Steve Case and Vinod Khosla, have net worth in excess of $1 billion. But their influence is substantial. As conventional investors begin to show interest in Bitcoin startups, it is small-time tycoons like Shrem who are acting as gatekeepers and ambassadors.

“The early guys are the ones that run everything,” says Shrem. “In this space, how long you’ve been around matters.”

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Bitcoin originated in 2009, when its source code was posted online by persons unknown. Despite its mysterious origins, the way it works is transparent: The currency is produced when people carry out difficult cryptographic operations on computers, and then it’s exchanged over an open-source peer-to-peer network. Bitcoins are immune to counterfeiting and don’t rely on any central authority. Image courtesy of Bitcoin Charts

Initially, Bitcoin was mostly a curiosity. Among the first businesses to accept it were gambling sites, narcotics delivery services and a farm selling alpaca socks. Yet Shrem and others have been thinking strategically, creating companies that comply with the law and intend to make Bitcoin a widely used form of money.

One reason to do so is that the number of bitcoins is limited; there’s a theoretical maximum of 21 million, and 11.3 million have been “mined” so far. That means the more people buy and use bitcoins, the greater their value becomes. Anthony Gallippi, CEO of Bitpay, an Atlanta company that helps online stores accept payment in bitcoins, says one reason early buyers are reinvesting in the technology is to “ensure future returns” on the currency’s value.

“You didn’t get that dynamic in the dot-com days,” says Gallippi, who claims that he and business partner Stephen Pair are sitting on “thousands” of bitcoins they purchased for $1 or $2. He reasons that anyone who now buys even one bitcoin is in effect betting “on the whole space.”

The easy windfalls earned by Bitcoin’s early promoters are attracting interest from mainstream venture capitalists. In May, Shrem’s company received $1.5 million from the investment firm of the Winklevoss twins (who famously sued Mark Zuckerberg over the idea behind Facebook). Also last month, the venture fund operated by Peter Thiel, Facebook’s first major investor, invested $3 million in Gallippi’s company.

Those deals have been important endorsements for the online currency (see “Big-Name Investors Back Effort to Build a Better Bitcoin”). Yet what they mean for the philosophy at the heart of Bitcoin isn’t as clear, says Roger Ver, an important early investor.The 34-year-old electronics entrepreneur says he sank his life savings into the currency and has used the gains to invest more than $1 million in more than a dozen Bitcoin startups, including Shrem’s. “The typical investment size has been around $100K USD,” Ver wrote in an e-mail from Tokyo, where he lives. “I’m motivated by the positive ways in which Bitcoin use being widespread will make the world a better place.”

Like many early enthusiasts, Ver, who once ran for the California senate and later spent 10 months in prison for selling fireworks on eBay, was attracted to Bitcoin because of his libertarian, antigovernment views. He believes such currencies, if they replaced national ones, could make it impossible for governments to “finance their wars” by printing money.

With mainstream investors arriving, Ver says, the Bitcoin economy could become a lot less idealistic. Yet these new investors may be unwittingly boosting the political and economic implications of the decentralized currency, not just its face value. “I don’t think they fully understand how revolutionary Bitcoin will be,” he says.

Composite by Mashable, images courtesy of Bitcoin and Vyacheslav Argenberg/Flickr

This article originally published at MIT Technology Review
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2013/06/13/bitcoin-angel-investors/

65 Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

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Tablet and Icons

Time passes quickly and change is relentless, particularly in the digital sphere. So, if your busy life kept you away from the Internet this week, there’s plenty you may have missed.

But don’t fret — Mashable, your cyber ally, is here to relieve your digital woes. Our staff tracked down every new gizmo, app, game, website and service they could find. Check them out in our weekly roundup of digital resources, below, and then visit the comments section to let us know which stories you found most interesting.

Editor’s Picks

Social Media

For more social media news and resources, you can follow Mashable‘s social media channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Business & Marketing

For more business news and resources, you can follow Mashable‘s business channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Tech & Mobile

For more tech news and resources, you can follow Mashable‘s tech channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Lifestyle

For more digital lifestyle news and resources, you can follow Mashable‘s lifestyle channel on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/10/01/resources-roundup/

Pinterest Introduces Business Accounts and Tools

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Pinterest paved the way for greater business participation on Tuesday with the launch of a new set of resources designed just for them.

Companies will now be able to create business accounts, which allows them to enter just a business name — rather than a first and last — and verify their websites using a hidden line of code. Once the code has been recognized, businesses will receive a verification badge on their Pinterest profile pages. It’s not quite as good as Twitter’s profile verification — it would still be easy for someone to impersonate a company on Pinterest by verifying a URL that was similar but not owned by the brand — but it’s a start.

Companies that already have a personal account on Pinterest will be able to convert it to a business account.

During the sign-up process, companies will also be encouraged to add Pin It and Follow buttons to their sites, and embed widgets showcasing their pins. Widgets is an entirely new feature, and will be available both to individuals and to companies.

Beyond the new tools, Pinterest is also launching a business microsite displaying case studies from brands like Etsy and Jetsetter, as well as best practices and guidelines for brands, says product manager Cat Lee.

When pressed, Lee said the new features have “nothing to do with monetization or [Pinterest’s] business model. We know that when we do introduce a business model, we definitely want to design it in a way that makes the user experience better, but this announcement is just about taking that first step,” she added.

The company, which raised $100 million in funding at a $1.5 billion valuation in May, also updated its terms of service to include businesses.

Image courtesy of Pinterest.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/11/14/pinterest-business-accounts/

Can Crowdsourcing Resurrect Unused Patents?

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Some crowdsourcing competitions, like the X-Prize, ask people to come up with technological solutions to a problem. Marblar, a startup launching this month, is doing it backward—asking people to come up with problems that a given technology could solve.

Cofounded by three PhD students in the U.K., Marblar is a platform that aims to help universities commercialize new inventions and resurrect dusty old patents. The company is working with about half a dozen U.K. research institutions, such as the Medical Research Council and Imperial College London, to seed its website with discoveries. These range from a novel form of foam to a new kind of oxygen sensor to a probe that can drill into hard surfaces in new ways.

The crowd is assigned the task of finding market applications for such inventions. Marblar is cultivating a base of knowledgeable users who would just love to submit ideas in exchange for a cash prize (from hundreds to thousands of dollars), points on the site (marbles), and of course, bragging rights.

“There’s a massive pile of unused innovation that just isn’t going anywhere,” says CEO Daniel Perez, who estimates that 95 percent of patents filed by universities never make it to the marketplace. University technology transfer officers and, often, researchers themselves can’t know all of the potential applications for a discovery, he says. “There are too few voices in that conversation.”

Marblar has already had one success story, during a beta testing period this spring with a 4,500 person listserv. University of Southampton chemical biologist Tom Brown had found a way, called DNA click ligation, to glue together strands of DNA without using an enzyme. It was a neat trick but had no straightforward use, says Perez.

IP Group, a British venture capital firm that invests in university innovation, sponsored a prize as part of a Marblar competition. The winning entry was from a Cambridge University PhD student studying nucleotide drug delivery who believed the invention could advance his field. The idea is now being turned into a proof-of-concept prototype (Brown’s lab is advertising a job opening to help), and IP Group is evaluating the possibility of creating a spin-out company. The venture firm also has made a roughly $600,000 investment in Marblar itself.

The startup’s efforts fall in line with broader long-term efforts to speed the commercialization of innovation from universities, which is effectively the return on investments of taxpayer dollars. In the U.S., in fiscal year 2011, universities and research institutes received $40 billion in federal R&D funds, according to the Association of University Technology Managers. The organization’s survey results show that 670 startups and 591 new commercial products came out of U.S. universities and research institutes during this time.

Lita Nelsen, director of MIT’s Technology Licensing Office, says that Marblar looks like it would be a useful tool in a few cases she sees each year, but that it would be unlikely to dramatically increase the number of ideas that get commercialized. Most research discoveries, such as a treatment for a disease, do have a straightforward use, and a lack of ideas is far from the only reason why a university patent might never get licensed or make it to the market, she says. Marblar “is not going to revolutionize university technology licensing, but it may make a useful contribution,” she says.   

This article originally published at MIT Technology Review
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/09/13/can-crowdsourcing-resurrect-unused-patents/

Micro-Lending Is an Alternative to Payday Small Business Loans

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Image: Mashable Composite, Getty Creative, Kathy Konkle

Every day, 10% of Claudia Diniz’s sales disappear. Opportunity Fund, a nonprofit lender, siphons off the money and treats it as payment on a $35,000 loan Diniz used to stock the shelves of her Los Gatos, Calif., clothing store. Diniz, 37, loves how easy the process is. “We have months that we sell and months that we struggle,” she says. “So I say, when I sell well I pay more — and when I’m struggling I pay less.”

Opportunity Fund developed the EasyPay loan in order to serve businesses who don’t qualify for regular term loans. The organization also hopes the loan will prevent entrepreneurs from turning to merchant cash advances, a similar but much more expensive form of credit. “It’s just ridiculous, how much money they pay,” Diniz says of friends who are paying off cash advances from private companies.

Although she’s never had to resort to high-interest loans or merchant cash advances, Diniz knows what it’s like to be desperate for credit. She decided to open a store after her son was born, figuring that owning her own business would allow her to control her hours. Envisioning a rival to Lululemon Athletica, an upscale chain, Diniz — who is originally from Brazil — called her store Viva O Sol Brazilian Fitness & Fashion.

“It was five years ago. The market crashed, people were losing stocks and houses, and everybody in my town was closing their doors,” Diniz says of other retailers. She needed a loan, but after the financial crisis, banks were much warier about lending, especially to brand-new businesses. A retired business adviser in town recommended she contact Opportunity Fund, one of the largest micro-lenders in the state.

Opportunity Fund has provided micro-loans (from $2,600 to $10,000) and small-business loans (from $10,000 to $100,000) to California entrepreneurs for the past 20 years. The average small-business owner who works with the organization has an annual household income of just $22,000. Clients own dry cleaners and restaurants, trucking companies, and daycare centers. Most are Latino or African-American, and many are recent immigrants who don’t speak fluent English.

Diniz’s financials were strong enough that she qualified for a small-business loan right away. But many entrepreneurs who were coming to Opportunity Fund were unable to qualify for loans, even if they had strong sales. An entrepreneur might have a poor personal credit score, for example, or run a highly seasonal business, like a flower shop.

So the organization decided to create a loan that could be repaid through automatically deducting a small share of credit- and debit-card sales. The technology wasn’t new — it had long been used by merchant cash-advance providers. “The intention of EasyPay was: How can we look at this business a little differently? How can we give more weight to the cash flow side of the business?” says Alex Dang, a business development officer.

The automatic daily payments decrease the risk of lending considerably, allowing Opportunity Fund to serve more businesses and to extend larger loans than it would have otherwise. Established business owners, like Diniz, like the product because it’s convenient. EasyPay loans have a fixed interest rate of between 8.5 and 15 percent, typically have longer repayment terms than cash advances, and take a smaller share of sales — usually about 6 percent. Like payments on any other loan, payments contribute to a borrower’s credit score.

Opportunity Fund has lent $5 million through 250 EasyPay loans so far. (In February, Opportunity Fund was awarded a $50,000 grant from Wells Fargo, a sponsor of National Journal‘s Next America project.) Meanwhile, merchant cash-advance providers lend about $2 billion to small businesses nationwide each year, says Janinne Dall’Orto, senior manager at First Annapolis Consulting, a consulting firm that studies the payments industry. Merchant cash advances aren’t regulated, so there aren’t legal limits on the fees companies can charge. A typical $10,000 advance, due in six months, might carry a $3,500 fee.

One reason Opportunity Fund can afford to charge low rates is because it’s a nonprofit and a community-development financial institution, or CDFI: it’s partly supported by philanthropists and the government. It’s a lender out to charge borrowers what they can afford, not to deliver big profits. “One question that we ask every borrower is: What is a comfortable payment for you? And then we work around that,” Dang says of EasyPay loans.

In its bid to provide an alternative to merchant cash advances, Opportunity Fund is something of a David competing against a Goliath. The merchant cash-advance industry is expanding rapidly, fueled by private investment and demand from business owners like Diniz’s neighbors in Los Gatos. Dang says some of his clients report fielding repeated calls from marketers within the merchant cash-advance industry, and some have taken out several cash advances — a second to pay off a first.

But Mark Pinsky, president and CEO of the Opportunity Finance Network, a network of CDFI’s, says that EasyPay loans still have the potential to scale — through Opportunity Fund, other CDFI’s, or other kinds of lenders — and make an impact. “I think it’s going to put a lot of downward pressure on merchant advances,” he says. Savvy business owners always look for the best deal. In California right now, the best deal might be with Opportunity Fund.

This article originally published at National Journal
here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/06/27/manageable-small-business-loans/