Monday, December 20, 2010

Breaking: Facebook’s First Acquisition in a Muslim Country- Octazen Solutions - ArabCrunch

Breaking: Facebook’s First Acquisition in a Muslim Country- Octazen Solutions - ArabCrunch: "Around a week ago, the most popular social network in the world Facebook acquired a 2 employee Malaysian startup, called Octazen Solutions , which develops contact importer software that facebook was reported using for some time now, according to GigaOM today’s story by Liz Gannes .

Facebook spokesmen told GigaOM that this is a “talent acquisition” and that Octazen will remain based in Malaysia, making them the first Facebook’s “visible” full time employees based in Asia. ( We heard there are few of others who work form 2 Arab countries.)

Facebook has now 400 million users, including 250 million added last year alone, email invites was the main reason behind its growth and Octazen Contact importer played a pivotal rule in Facebook expansion, since they made it easy for facebook users to import their email address-book after the users submits his email and password. As users usually do not remember their contacts email addresses and even if they did, they won’t type 100 email address to invite.

Before the acquisition Octazen was licenseing its software to other customers.

If anything the Octazen story can teach entrepruners: focusing on solving a small problem with 2 team members can be more fruitful than trying to solve big and complex problems, and you do not need to be in Silicon Valley to start something global.

With this acquisition facebook has now acquired 3 companies including Friendfeed and Parakey.

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Nnamdi Asomugha: Making a Difference in His Native Nigeria and the Next Generation Here at Home | SUCCESS Magazine | What Achievers Read

Nnamdi Asomugha: Making a Difference in His Native Nigeria and the Next Generation Here at Home: "Nnamdi Asomugha: Making a Difference in His Native Nigeria and the Next Generation Here at Home
The Oakland Raider cornerback shares about his commitment to the community and his charitable foundation.

Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha remembers the moment as if it happened just yesterday.

A native of Nigeria, Asomugha grew up in Southern California after his parents fled the impoverished country. “My favorite piece of clothing as a boy was a purple Magic Johnson jersey from the Los Angeles Lakers,” Asomugha recalls. “I wore that jersey every day until it didn’t fit any longer.” On his first visit back to his homeland as a 7-year-old, “I saw another little guy wearing my old favorite jersey. I could tell by looking at it that it had been mine.”

Just a few months before, Asomugha had taken the jersey off for the last time. At his parents’ suggestion, he deposited it in a box filled with other clothing that would be donated to needy people in Nigeria.

“When I saw the jersey on someone else, I never said a word,” Asomugha tells SUCCESS. “Because, while some kids might struggle there, I was taught from a very young age that giving to others is what we’re supposed to do. My parents were among the first families from their area to leave Nigeria and come to America, the land of the free. Once they got here, whatever they earned, they made sure to send some of it back. And they made sure that their children understood the importance of giving back, too.”

The lesson certainly stuck.

Asomugha became a standout high-school football and basketball player in Los Angeles before choosing to play college football at the University of California-Berkeley. At Cal, Asomugha became an all-conference safety and, more important, a graduate with a degree in corporate finance. In the 2003 NFL draft, the Raiders used a first-round pick to add him to their team.

'I was taught from a very young age that giving to others is what we’re supposed to do.'

Asomugha quickly became one of the Raiders’ most valuable players and was selected to the Pro Bowl after the 2006 season. By the next season, his reputation as a defender was so well-known that some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL were quoted as saying they didn’t even attempt to challenge him. The Raiders rewarded him with a jaw-dropping contract, making Asomugha the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history.

Asomugha’s reputation as a philanthropist was growing at the same speed. The fleet-footed cornerback started making regular visits to the East Oakland Youth Development Center, committing almost every Monday afternoon since 2004 to mentoring and tutoring inner-city youth at the center. He has provided shoes and running suits to students there, and brings a number of them to the Raiders training facility each year for an annual academic celebration. He has even taken a group fly-fishing.

“My experience with the center reminded me to always have my eyes open for opportunities to give back,” Asomugha says. “My first visit there was just a simple speech to the students, just trying to encourage them to focus on their education and do the right things. But I just connected with them, and it has become an important part of who I am.”

Two years after he “adopted” the students at the East Oakland center, Asomugha created the Asomugha College Tour for Scholars (ACTS) program. Each year, he selects students from Bay Area high schools who meet his GPA and leadership requirements and takes them on an all-expenses-paid college tour to different cities. To date, Asomugha has taken students to Atlanta for visits at Morehouse College, Spelman College, Georgia Tech and Clark Atlanta University; Boston for visits to Harvard, MIT, Boston University and Brown University; and to New York, where the students toured NYU, Columbia University, The Juilliard School and Fordham University.

“Each of the kids who has gone on these trips was already a good student and was probably going to go to college,” Asomugha says. “But I wanted to make sure they saw the world outside of this area and had a chance to think about college in a city somewhere else. These are trips for exposure to other parts of the country, for eye-opening, really. It gave me a chance to share my love of travel and my love of learning about new things with them, and, I have to admit, I’ve grown as much as they have.”

Of the 25 students who have made the three trips with Asomugha, all but three have already been accepted into college. “And those three just haven’t graduated from high school,” Asomugha says with a laugh. “We really are working with some special young people.”

For all his charitable efforts in the Bay Area, Asomugha hasn’t forgotten his homeland. He continues to serve as chairman for his family’s charity, the Orphans and Widows In Need (OWIN) Foundation. Through OWIN, Asomugha and his family provide food, shelter, medicine and scholarships to orphans and widows in Nigeria. The organization supports two community centers in Nigeria and plans to expand to other countries in Africa this year.

Asomugha admits his charitable efforts provide a secondary personal benefit. “Our team hasn’t done well over the last couple of years,” Asomugha said in an interview last November, a day after the Raiders suffered their third loss in a row. “It doesn’t matter how well you play individually if the team isn’t winning. When football is your job, a lot of what you feel about yourself and about life can become attached to the outcome of those games. That’s probably true about a lot of jobs, but we suffer our losses pretty publicly. When you’re not getting the results you want, it becomes easy to get depressed.

“Being involved in a number of other things that leave you feeling good about life doesn’t make the football any easier, but it does make it easier to put it in perspective. I can’t imagine where I would be without having these things to help me. Charity was so ingrained in me that it really is second nature. It is a part of life. But in the situation, charity is actually benefitting me as much as it is those we’re helping.”

Today, Asomugha’s Raiders jersey number 21 is worn by children all over Oakland. And it’s worn by children in Nigeria, too. S

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

How a Brave Somali Women Started A Humanatarian Mission in Somali

A Family Affair: From left: Dr. Amina Mohamed, Dr. Hawa Abdi and Dr. Deqo Mohamed, photographed during a business trip to Geneva, Switzerland, on September 18, 2010.
On a still, hot morning last May, hundreds of Islamist militants invaded the massive displaced-persons camp that Dr. Hawa Abdi runs near Mogadishu, Somalia. They surrounded the 63-year-old ob-gyn’s office, holding her hostage and taking control of the camp. “Women can’t do things like this,” they threatened.
Dr. Abdi, who is equal parts Mother Teresa and Rambo, was unfazed. Every day in Somalia brings new violence as bands of rebels rove ungoverned. Today Somalia remains what the U.N. calls one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. On that morning in May, Dr. Abdi challenged her captors: “What have you done for society?” The thugs stayed a week, leaving only after the U.N. and others advocated on her behalf. Dr. Abdi then, of course, got back to work.
Her lifesaving efforts started in 1983, when she opened a one-room clinic on her family farm. As the government collapsed, refugees flocked to her, seeking food and care. Today she runs a camp housing approximately 90,000 people, mostly women and children because, as she says, “the men are dead, fighting, or have left Somalia to find work.” While Dr. Abdi has gotten some help, many charities refuse to enter Somalia. “It’s the most dangerous country,” says Kati Marton, a board member of Human Rights Watch. “Dr. Abdi is just about the only one doing anything.” Her greatest support: two of her daughters, Deqo, 35, and Amina, 30, also doctors, who often work with her. Despite the bleak conditions, Dr. Abdi sees a glimmer of hope. “Women can build stability,” she says. “We can make peace.”

Saturday, December 18, 2010

How To Build Your Dream Company

Tariq Farid didn't start out trying to become a franchiser. He just hoped to start a successful retail business selling bouquets made from cut-up fresh fruit. But from its earliest days, Farid's business had at its core what every successful franchise needs: a concept.
For a year before opening the first Edible Arrangements, in 1999, Farid worked on perfecting his idea of edible bouquets. He tested different fruit-cutting equipment to find what would best transform cut pineapples, honeydew, and cantaloupe into attractive flowerlike petals and decorative leaves. (And Farid knows his flowers: He started the first of four floral shops when he was 17.) He produced brochures and took his own photos to create mouthwatering shots for a website whose details he paid as much attention to as he did to the store itself. Most important, he says, he settled on a brand image well before opening day. "One of the best things I ever did starting out was hire someone to have a proper logo designed," he says.
The back office wasn't overlooked, either. Farid, a computer geek at heart, had previously built a software system for his floral stores. Using that know-how, he installed a system for Edible Arrangements that could track the status of online orders and would also record buying patterns, so he could follow up with smarter customer service.
The advance work paid off. Within a year of opening in East Haven, Connecticut, the store brought in $192,000 and turned a profit. In Year Two, revenue doubled. Farid believes the tracking system helped boost his numbers by increasing repeat business -- nearly 85 percent of those who placed an order came back for more.
Success put visions of franchising into Farid's head. He didn't have to wait long. About eight months after the opening of the first store, Chris Dellamarggio, a manager for a marketing services company, sought out Farid to say he wanted to open an Edible Arrangements near Boston. "That's how most franchises start," says Farid. "If you have a business that is working, people want to be involved."
Owning a successful store and launching into the franchise business are worlds apart, though. So Farid built himself a second store, in Norwalk, Connecticut, to serve as his test franchise. He went step by step through the stages of opening and running an Edible Arrangements as if he were new to the business: how to source a location and negotiate a lease, where to buy supplies. He standardized things such as hiring techniques and store decoration. He kept meticulous notes and used them to create a training program.
But how to cram all that info into the head of a green franchise owner? "In the beginning, no operations manual works," says Farid. "You are the operations manual." So Farid acted as chief hand holder to his early franchisees, spending endless hours training them and assisting with their store openings. "I actually went in and laid the floor for Chris's store," Farid says.
If you can get the first 10 stores right, says Farid, you are on your way. "That's when you are instilling in your franchisees the values and procedures that are going to help your company grow," he says. Today, there are 883 Edible Arrangements stores around the globe, including the United Kingdom and Kuwait. "People say we've grown quickly," says Farid, "but we were ready for it."

Company Dashboard: Edible Arrangements

founder Tariq Farid, 40
Location Wallingford, Connecticut
2008 Revenue $19.4 million
Employees 66 Start-up Year 1999
Start-up Costs $100,000
Breakeven Within six months, on sales of $80,000
Biggest Expenses Travel and assisting franchisees with their store openings
Qualifications Experience in the floral and software industries
Red Tape Strict health department regulations and regional building permits