Listen Now!

Business Talk 24-7

Curated Collection Of The Best Interviews From Our Midtown Studio





Government Contractors Association, Modavate, Amyra Tutoring Services, and SuiteLife Systems

Government Contractors Association

Government Contractors Association, Modavate, Amyra Tutoring Services, and SuiteLife Systems

I got to sit down with experts from Government Contractors Association, Modavate, Amyra Tutoring Services, and SuiteLife Systems this week.  Recently on LinkedIn I read a great post by Abe Xiong, of Government Contractors Association.  I related to much he shared in his article about his pleasant surprise encounter with a stranger who had hit his car while he was on a trip.  The stranger who had bumped his fender was kind enough to leave their contact number and had already contacted their insurance company about the incident when he called.  I thought it was a great story to share and that inspired me to look into what Government Contractors Association was all about.  Given their expertise in the steps required to secure a contract with a government agency I thought it would be great to have him join us on the show.  Abe shared some excellent information about the association and if you have a business that has a potential to grow through doing business with the government (as Abe points out, the largest customer in the world), membership with Government Contractors Association is a must.  They provide coaching along the way and serve up an array of tips and information that increase the likelihood a company can successfully do business with a government agency.

Abe introduced us to Buki Opanuga, of Modavate.  They’re a digital marketing and technology company.  They help businesses develop a plan for and executing a marketing strategy across the full gamut of digital platforms.  Their suite of services includes web design, SEO, SEM, social media marketing, and more.  They work with a wide range of companies and even organizations such as CDC.  Buki talked about how Modavate came to be and how they had hoped to grow by expanding to include government agencies as clients.  She linked up with Government Contractors Association and took advantage of the helpful services they provide, ultmately becoming 8(a) Certified, which has lead to even more opportunity.  She gives some great advice for business owners thinking about vying for a government contract.

Barbara Culp, of Amyra Tutorial Services, also a member of GCA and benefactor of their expertise, joined us to talk about their K-12 tutoring services.  She shared how she became inspired to open her business and the meaning behind the name she chose.  It’s clear she has a passion for helping children learn and now, by being able to effectively engage with the public school system, she is starting to see great potential for her company to grow.

Kenny Miller is the National Director of Sales for SuiteLife Systems.  They offer a software solution that gives an enterprise a platform through which they can monitor mission-critical equipment for trouble in an effective, easy-to-use interface that lets their users achieve efficiencies in how they monitor/react to problems, and even how they consume power.  Data their solution provides empowers users to moderate the way they manage their power consumption in ways that lead to substantial cost savings overnight.  SuiteLife Systems solutions make sense for a wide variety of enterprises and even organizations like schools and churches that have large operations and/or media networks/content generation services.

Special Guests:

Abe Xiong, President of Government Contractors Association  Linkedin  Facebook  Twitter  Blogger 2

Government Contractors Association

  • Bachelors, Business Management, Minor in Leadership, Shorter College
  • Former President/Founder, Metro Furniture
  • Co-Founder, Fmr. President, Government Business Consultants
  • Fluent, Hmong

Buki Opanuga, CEO/Digital Marketing Strategist of Modavate  Twitter 16x16  Facebook  Linkedin  google-plus-logo-red-265px

Modavate

  • Masters, Internet Marketing, San Francisco University
  • Former Product Support Specialist, Onity
  • Successful Freelance Web Designer
  • Second Language, Yoruba

Barbara Culp, President of Amyra Tutorial Services Facebook  

Amyra Tutorial Services

  • Certified National Trainer, Time To Teach
  • Former Clinical Supervisor, School of Education, Brenau University
  • Retired Principal, Atlanta Public Schools
  • MA, Education, Clark University

Kenny Miller, National Director of Sales of SuiteLife Systems and NFB Consulting  Twitter  Facebook  LinkedIn  

SuiteLife Systems

  • Former Senior Account Manager, Comprehensive Technical Group
  • Former Manager, Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers
  • Former Senior Account Manager, Niche Video Products

 

 

Escalate

Escalate

Escalate

This week I sat down with Chief Advocacy Officer, Stuart Sheldon, of Escalate.  He talked about how Escalate delivers measurable value to their clients through two core Marketing competencies:
1. Experiential – Engage consumers/customers directly, through all five senses + emotion
2. Word-of-Mouth (including Social Media) – Who says what about you, and how can you get involved in the conversation?
as we engage people with meaningful, authentic brand experiences that begin and sustain brand love, amongst your raving fans…and beyond.
Why is it crucial? Because successful brands clearly can’t build brand loyalty (or a sustainable business) with just traditional marketing & media strategies and tactics when:
• An average consumer sees 3,000+ marketing messages a day
• 76% of consumers don’t believe companies tell the truth in ads
• 78% of consumers claim to trust information from other consumers more than any advertising source
• 19% of purchase decisions made only on personal recommendation, 86% at least partially
• Experiential + Word Of Mouth marketing efforts can deliver purchase intent as high as +60% vs. traditional efforts

While many of the firm’s clients are medium to large companies they also have success stories about small businesses they have helped to improve the way they engage their prospective customers, leading to growing sales.

Special Guest:

Stuart Sheldon, Chief Advocacy Officer at Escalate  Linkedin  Facebook  Twitter  vimeo logo  youtube logo  instagram-logo-transparent-png-i11 (16x16)

Escalate

  • BA, English and Journalism, Washington and Lee University
  • Former Senior Brand Manager, Coca Cola Company
  • Founder and Former Evangelist Prime, ConnectUs Marketing
  • 2006 Coca-Cola North America Big, Bold & Inspiring Marketing award; Coca-Cola Worldwide Marketing Excellence award finalist.

Three Fantastic Female Entrepreneurs

women

Three Fantastic Female Entrepreneurs

This week I got to sit down with Three Fantastic Entrepreneurs from the Atlanta area. Diana Keough, CEO and founder of ShareWIK Media Group (Share What I Know), LeeAnn Maxwell, Co-Founder of Vixen Vodka, and Lara Hodgson, multiple-time successful entrepreneur and CEO/Founder of NOWaccount.  We talked about some of the challenges they faced as women launching their own businesses, hear what they believe helped them succeed as entrepreneurs, and advice they offer for women contemplating starting a business of their own.  For the longest time most of us would envision a man when thinking “CEO” or “Doctor”, or even “Entrepreneur”.  And, as our guests shared, many times they’re the only female CEO/Entrepreneur in a room full of men.  Times are slowly but surely changing.  And today many women are launching successful brands and businesses, some of which are now global brands.

ShareWIK Media Group is a licensed content-generating group, producing high quality, interesting content across all media types for use in population health management efforts, inbound marketing/branding, testimonial content, and pertinent health optimization content.  Diana talked about her transition from a journalist for the Plains Dealer newspaper to a Chief Executive Officer in a leadership role.  She says, “If you are not surrounding yourself with people who are better than you and open to the fact that you might be wrong; or they might have a better idea on how to do things, then you’re not going to grow.”  Over the weeks since I met Diana I’ve had the opportunity to meet several of the folks who make up the team at ShareWIK and seen some of their work.  I can tell you: if your organization or agency needs to move an initiative or your business forward and you rely heavily on engaging your target audience to drive awareness you MUST include ShareWIK Media Group on your shortlist of content providers.  At their core, the people at ShareWIK Media Group are journalists with expertise across all media types.  On top of journalistic skills they bring knowledge and expertise within the healthcare journalism space as well.

Vixen Vodka is an EXCELLENT vodka that was born out of a trip to St. Simons Island, GA where two friends, drinking cocktails by the pool, decided they should launch their own vodka, branded and tailored for women.  As LeeAnn says, “We came home, sobered up, and remembered it was a great idea.”  “A dream without action is merely a fantasy.”  It took them 2 years from beach to shelf.  She shared how she and her good friend (also a woman) broke into the spirits business, starting with ZERO knowledge of how to make vodka much less how to bring one to market.  After being told her idea was fantastic by a business consultant he turned around and told them, “I’ll never work.  The spirits industry is a Good Ol’ Boys network.  Those men will chew you up and spit  you out!”  That was several years ago and now the brand is adding more states to the seven states where they’re currently sold.

NOWaccount got started as a solution to a problem Lara Hodgson encountered as an entrepreneur with an earlier business, the impact of not having access to cash that is tied up holding unpaid invoices, particularly when they aged for several weeks (or more).  She firmly believes that a successful business needs to have people behind them who are providing the product/service to solve a particular problem for their customer more so than “to sell lots of ‘X’ and make lots of money because it’s a great product”.  She said, “So many people come up with a great idea and they fall in love with the ‘What’.  They fall in love with the widget or the product.  And if your ego and your passion is in the product then they are going to woefully un-deliver.  But if your ego and your passion are in the “So What?” and the impact and the problem you’re solving then the sky’s the limit.”  NOWaccount is a merchant services company that provides the B2B company with access to capital by selling slower-paying invoice accounts within 2-5 days for basically the same cost as accepting a credit card.  Their solution is invisible to their client’s customers, has no minimum time commitment, and includes only those accounts selected by the B2B they’re helping.  The NOWaccount option gives businesses the capital they need to accept larger orders, add staff, often enabling them grow larger and faster than was possible before.

Special Guests:

Lara O’Connor-Hodgson, CEO of Nowaccount Network Corporation  Twitter  LinkedIn  Facebook

Nowaccount Network Corporation

Lara O’Connor-Hodgson of Nowaccount Network Corporation

  • MBA Harvard Business School
  • Former Adjunct Professor of Finance, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Board of Directors, Georgia Regional Transportation Authority
  • Owner, Insomnia Group
  • Chairman of the Board, Atlanta Heights Charter School
  • Second Language–Japanese

Diana Keough, CEO/Founder of ShareWIK.com  facebook_logo_small3  twitter_logo_small  linkedin_small1  Pinterest-logo  google-plus-logo-red-265px  

ShareWIK.com

  • Journalism Instructor/Guest Lecturer, Emory University
  • Member, Koles College of Business Advisory Board, Kennsaw State University
  • Former Front Page Series Writer, The Plain Dealer
  • Former Reporter/Commentator, WKSU
  • Co-author, “Building a Business, Building a Life: The Incredible Life of a Woman Business Owner”

LeeAnn Maxwell, CEO/Co-Founder of Vixen Vodka  Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn  Pinterest

Vixen Vodka

  • 28 years experience in finance sector
  • former Director, Client Services of AccousTech Music Productions
  • Crossfit fan
  • 50% Firecracker
  • 50% Do-It-Yourself Woman

CimCo, Voice At Large, and Fountainhead Consulting Group

Midtown Business Radio

CimCo, Voice At Large, and Fountainhead Consulting Group

This week we sat down with B2B experts from CimCo, Voice At Large, and Fountainhead Consulting Group. Bill Plunk and wife, Deidre, founded CimCo Commercial Collections. After teaching in public school for a number of years, Bill made a professional change and entered the banking world. Early on he was tasked with collecting money on loan accounts that were delinquent. Prior to this assignment he had received no training in how to conduct collections calls so he decided he would try to do so in a manner he would hope someone would use if they called HIM to collect on a debt. It quickly became apparent his approach to contacting persons and businesses behind on payments was very effective. He was able to bring many accounts current that had been months (or more) behind, avoiding significant write-offs. He ultimately broke off and started his own company, CimCo Commercial Collections, providing the same courteous, respectful service to his clients and their delinquent customers. His typical results bring resolution on delinquent accounts within 90 days. And his approach to collections has inspired several of the businesses he was collecting on to become customers themselves; a true testament to how he goes about this challenging business.

Bill was kind enough to introduce us to our other guests, Randy Reeves and George Horrigan of Fountainhead Consulting Group. Randy comes from a long background as a dj and voice talent in broadcast radio, spending time in a number of radio stations. He saw an opportunity to become an independent voice actor for stations and various advertisers and for the last few years he has done just that. Listening to the broadcast it’s quickly apparent he has a voice that lends itself to radio and voice over functions. Along with a voice with qualities that make it right for voice talent work, he also brings a pleasant, professional demeanor, making him a great choice as a business partner for the company seeking voice-over talent.

George Horrigan is Founder and CEO of Fountainhead Consulting Group, Inc. which provides consultations on a full range of business planning and operation issues thus enabling you to “Work Less, Make More and Have Fun in Your Business” (the title of his soon-to-be-released book). George has personally has started and operated seven companies and understands the mindset and mentality of an entrepreneur thus giving him both professional and personal perspectives on creating a thriving business. From his over 25 years of experience of being a CPA and a business planner he has a proven track record of showing people step by step, how to grow and take their businesses to the next level by eliminating the guesswork, trial and error, and uncertainty that plague so many business owners. George also introduced us to his book, “Creating a Thriving Business”, aimed at helping the entrepreneurs reading it to do just that by addressing several key data points and strategies that he believes are vital to a successful business venture.

Special Guests:

Bill and Diedre Plunk of CimCo Commercial Collections  Linkedin 

CimCo Commercial Collection

  • BS in Education, Minor in Business, Northeastern State University
  • Former Teacher and Coach, Oklahoma Public Schools
  • Board Member, River of Praise Ministries

Randy Reeves of Voice At Large  Linkedin 

Voice At Large

  • Can be heard frequently on Adult Contemporary and Country Stations
  • Voice talent for numerous TV and Radio ads
  • Recently ranked #14 on Benztown’s Top 50 Biggest Radio Voices of 2014

George Horrigan, Founder and CEO of Fountainhead Consulting Group  Linkedin  Facebook feed logo

Horrigan

  • BBA Accounting, Cleveland State University
  • MS, Financial Information Systems, Cleveland State University
  • Author, “Creating a Thriving Business” and “Work Less, Make More, and Have Fun In Your Business”
  • Former Director of Information Systems, BET
  • Former Financial Services Consulting Manager, HBO & Company

Payscape Advisors

Payscape Advisors

Payscape Advisors

According to the Atlanta Metro Chamber, “Georgia is 3rd in the nation, just behind New York and California in FinTech revenue. Georgia FinTech companies have produced more than $83 billion of shareholder value since 1995 and revenues are more than $34 billion annually.  Wages in Atlanta’s financial and IT industry are lower than competitive markets. Here, there is a convergence of three key sectors: finance, IT, and software, all of which have a strong presence in Atlanta, along with an abundant IT, software and financial labor force.”

Today I got to sit down with 3 of the folks on the team from Payscape Advisors, an Atlanta company through and through that is an important player in those amazing statistics.  I was joined by Rachel Lawrence, Technology Integration Specialists, Hunter Hudson, Director of Business Development, and Zach Wing, Product Manager.  Hunter Hudson has been with Payscape Advisors for a number of years and he shared the story of how Payscape Advisors was started and launched by two Atlanta residents, Jeremy Wing and Adam Bloomston.  They have since grown the company to include offices in 13 cities nationwide that also has clients and partners around the globe.  The company initially focused on payment processing but saw opportunities to expand their suite of services to include point-of-sale processing, access to working capital, SaaS services including Reg Point and Billing Orchard, international payment processing, web development for eCommerce sites (including compliant payment features) and more.  The company has striven to provide the gamut of services to merchants

As Hunter described why they’re different than many of the other merchant services companies out there, “We do have those feet on the street.  We have a team.  We have somebody you can call.  You’re gonna call their cellphone and you’ll have their email address.  We’re not just a 1-800 number.   You’re gonna have someone who’s going to be there for you.”  He went on to talk about the different service options they provide and how they collaborate with SaaS developers to provide the payment interface for their applications, enabling them to provide a more desirable, robust product to their users.

We talked about the innovative user registration software they make available to groups such as camps and other large events that provides a secure way for attendees to sign up and enter sensitive information and provide payment.  The company also offers several avenues for companies to access working capital when bank loans are not readily available.

As I sat with these 3 experts it was clear that they all share a passion for what they’re doing and take pride in engaging their clients and partners with a personable, professional approach with the goal of forging long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships.

Special Guests: Payscape Advisors LinkedIn  Twitter  google-plus-logo-red-265px  Facebook

Rachel Lawrence, Technology Integration Specialist, Payscape Advisors  Linkedin

rachel

  • BA Communication, University of Georgia
  • WW IBM WebSphere GB and Partner Sales Executive 4/13
  • Recipient, Rep of Quarter Q1 2013, IBM

Hunter Hudson, Director Business Development, Payscape Advisors Linkedin  Twitter 16x16

hunter

  • BA Finance, University of Alabama
  • Successful entrepreneur

Zach Wing, Product Manager, Payscape Advisors  Linkedin

zach

  • BA Marketing, University of Alabama
  • Former Manager, Direct Sales, Atlantix Global Systems
  • Former Owner/Partner, USA Payroll