The Role of Research in Venture Capital Investing

According to the latest research from the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA 2012), venture capital is responsible for roughly 12 million jobs and $3 trillion in revenue in the United States and accounts for 21 percent of its gross domestic product and 11 percent of its private sector employment. In 2010 alone, venture capitalists invested approximately $22 billion into more than 2,700 companies, 1,001 of which received funding for the first time.

For those who know the term “venture capital” but aren’t entirely sure what it entails, venture capital firms (there are about 460 of them in the United States) raise funds from large, institutional-type investors–think pension funds, endowments and the like–and invest that money in new companies or ideas they believe will become commercially successful. The goal is to have the start-up companies either go public (i.e., sell shares of their stock to the public) or be acquired (bought) by another company so that the venture capital (VC) firm can pay back the institutional investors who provided the “seed” money and also make a little profit for themselves.

Given the unpredictability of the business world, it’s no surprise that these investments are essentially high-stakes gambles by VC firms. The NVCA estimates that 40 percent of companies that receive venture capital fail, and a similar share produce only “moderate” returns (NVCA 2012). Only about one in every five investments produces significant profits, and it is these returns that make it possible for the venture capital industry to consistently perform better than the public markets.

While making money is certainly important to venture capitalists, the highest ideal in this particular industry is to drive job creation, economic growth and technological advancement by giving a “leg up” to entrepreneurs and helping them turn their bright ideas into products and services that influence our everyday lives. Since 1970, VC firms have invested more than $450 billion in 27,000-plus start-up companies (NVCA 2011), the most famous of which include Google, Microsoft, FedEx, Apple, eBay, Intel and Facebook.

Researching the Deal

So, where do librarians fit into all of this? Well, given that the average venture capital investment is around $7 or $8 million (though investments of $30 to $50 million are not uncommon), venture capitalists don’t just throw their money at every start-up idea that happens to walk in the door. Vetting, or “due diligence,” is crucial to the success of a VC firm. And while it is best to let those with investing experience pore over the financial statements, the research skills required to sort through the various markets, companies, technologies, regulatory issues and individuals related to a potential deal are perfectly suited to the modern information professional.

I should know–I am a research analyst for a top-ranked VC firm in Texas. I don’t have a business degree, but I do have a library degree, not to mention a passion for competitive intelligence and a time-honed knack for unearthing the kind of deeply buried information–especially information about private companies, which tends to live under the radar if it lives anywhere at all–that is invaluable to a venture capitalist. And although the world of investing was outside my comfort zone coming into this job (my background is in library science and journalism), I’ve also learned more than I ever imagined about the ins and outs of successful companies and investments. These days, I can even look at a balance sheet and make some sense of it.

At my firm, I work with another MLIS-degreed research analyst to provide research support to roughly 25 investment professionals. We also offer services to the companies in our portfolio and to our “CEOs in residence” (my firm partners with proven, entrepreneurial CEOs to pursue value creation opportunities in segments of mutual interest), as well as to entities or individuals closely related to the firm. Essentially, we act as reference librarians to the firm and its extended family, with the key difference being that we tend to simply provide the information they are seeking rather than showing them how to find it themselves. In addition, we perform a good deal of synthesis on the data we dig up, both to help clients make more sense of it and to more quickly point them in the direction of an answer.

Inquiries typically come to us through e-mail, though some are made in person or presented over the phone. The next step is often a reply that can take the form of everything from a brief narrative to relevant data points to a selection of materials related to the query subject. Sometimes the other research analyst and I will have the opportunity to use the reference interview skills we learned in library school.

The inquiries run the gamut, from the typical “tell me how big this market is” and “tell me as much about this company as you can” types of queries to personal background checks, searches for CEO e-mail addresses, competitive landscape overviews, news runs, patent searches, trading comparables, acquisition comparables, demographic information, funding data and growth projections–all of them deadline-driven and highly confidential. It goes without saying that you wear many hats in a job like this, but the underlying goal is the same: to deliver a successful customer service interaction to our particular group of users, the investment professionals.

To facilitate our research, we use a number of proprietary databases, including the following:

  • Financial data and analytics providers like Capital IQ and Thomson One;
  • Equity research portals such as TheMarkets.com (recently acquired by Capital IQ);
  • Independent research providers, including IDC, Frost & Sullivan and eMarketer; and
  • News sources such as The Wall Street Journal, Factiva and the business journals.

We also rely on specialized services like Morningstar Document Research and Guidestar, financial- and technology-specific news sources such as TheDeal.com and GigaOM, legal research services like Westlaw and PACER, federal government databases (including American FactFinder and the Bureau of Labor Statistics), and publicly available search engines like Google and Bing. We occasionally reference print publications along the lines of Venture Capital Journal and Private Equity Analyst, but 98 percent or more of our research is conducted on the Internet.

Reverse Engineering

That said, it’s not always simply a matter of fielding an inquiry, performing a search, and then delivering the answer. On a daily basis, we encounter any number of challenges and obstacles that require us to lean on the skills we’ve accumulated during our careers as research professionals. Chief among these is the fact that sometimes the information a person is seeking simply does not exist, at least not in the form he or she desires–or perhaps it does, but only as part of a report that costs somewhere in the five-figure range and isn’t important enough in the grand scheme of things to purchase.

While obstacles like these can be frustrating, they can also inspire the development and implementation of creative search strategies that can sometimes lead us to a piece of proprietary research hidden in the “deep Web” or to an alternative data point that can be manipulated to reveal the answer a user is seeking. The ability to “reverse engineer” is an extremely valuable (if difficult to articulate) skill to have in a job like this one, as is the ability to recognize patterns, especially when we’re trying to piece together the storyline of a particular company or deal.

Reverse engineering, for instance, can come into play if we’re searching for information about a private company and finding little of substance. By examining the company’s business registration or taking a look at the WHOIS record for its URL, we can sometimes identify either the company’s former name or actual name, which often occurs when a firm is using a public-facing moniker named for a flagship product. This approach can also identify principals associated with the company and, in turn, supply us with a bunch of new search keywords. From there, it’s a matter of harvesting information and working back toward the present to provide context around “who” the company is and how and why and with whom it does what it does now.

If we’ve been charged with unearthing the details of the acquisition of a company by either a private equity firm or a corporation, looking for patterns or interesting coincidences can help us find the answer or at least obtain enough information about the transaction to make some solid inferences about it. For example, if the deal is not showing up in the standard financial databases, it’s possible the acquisition was part of a “roll-up,” a practice whereby a private equity firm buys multiple companies in the same industry and “rolls” them up together into a single, larger company. These transactions are sometimes hidden from view, especially when a recently-acquired company makes an acquisition of its own, a transaction that has undoubtedly been funded by its new parent company.

Armed with what we know of other similarly timed acquisitions, we might notice that the LinkedIn profiles of employees of a known-to-be-acquired company show them to be working simultaneously for both that entity and the company whose acquisition details we’re seeking. It’s also possible that we might discover separate news stories about both companies and their plans to relocate their headquarters to the same city. Our research might even lead us to other companies that appear as though they could be involved in the same roll-up, providing us with information that allows us to draw some reasonable conclusions about the acquisition of the company we were researching in the first place.

Of course, there is tedium in this job as well. For example, filling in the cells on a giant spreadsheet to build out a market map or contact matrix is probably not at the top of anyone’s list of good times. Like the more engaging assignments, however, it is something that needs to be done to contribute to the firm’s mission and, hopefully, its continued success.

Looking back on my days as an MLIS student, I can’t say it ever occurred to me to put my new and developing skills to work in the financial industry. Back then, I was on track to be a news librarian, which felt like a sensible path for me given my prior experience as a journalist. A chance meeting opened up a whole new world of possibilities and provided me with a new context in which to apply a set of skills I’d been developing. It’s a venture that has proven successful and reinforced the notion that a background in library and information science can indeed give an individual the professional capital he or she needs to get a “leg up” in the business world.

REFERENCES

National Venture Capital Association. 2012. FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about Venture Capital. Arlington, Va.: NVCA.

_____. 2011. Venture Impact: The Economic Importance of Venture Capital-Backed Companies to the U.S. Economy. Arlington, Va.: NVCA.

This article was originally published in the December 2012 issue of Information Outlook.

 

Will Do Research For Beer

beer institute logo

We won't help you move for  beer but we will help you with your beer research. Just released this week, the "Beer Serves America" report, put together by the Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Association, takes a look at the economic impact of beer. According to the report,  "the beer industry employs more than 2 million Americans, providing nearly $79 billion in wages and benefits. The industry pays over $49 billion in business, personal and consumption taxes."  They've got great infographics on their page that allow you to see the economic impact of beer by state and even by congressional district. You'll also find several reports & presentations, as well as 2012 edition of the "Brewers Almanac"  which includes "production, tax-paid withdrawals, tax collections, consumption (total, state-by-state and per capita), agricultural statistics, imports, exports, financial statistics, employment, excise tax rates and methods of collection, and draft/package trends." And you can save your money for happy hour as all of this information is free!

Librarian or Model? TXLA Presents: Personal Style with a Professional Twist

As many of you know, April and I have been involved with the Special Libraries Division of Texas Library Association for several years. We've talked many times about the idea of doing a librarian fashion show of sorts during one of the annual conferences. Well, this year, our dreams are coming true. We're so excited about this year's TLA Annual Conference featuring the presentation "Personal Style with a Professional Twist". Here's the official description from TXLA:

See stylish outfits for job interviews and day-to-day work wear modeled by real librarians. A Nordstrom personal stylist advises on dressing for different budgets as well as how to wear the same outfit for different occasions.

Late last year, TLA put out a call for models and last week chose six librarians to participate and represent the following categories:

1. Up & Coming - Work attire for library students or librarians in the first 5 years of their career

2. Kiddie Business - Library staff who work with children or young adults

3. I Can Manage - Library staff with more than 3 years of experience and currently working in a management role

4. Guy Style - Just for the men

5. Choose Me - Job interview attire for library students or library staff who are looking for a new job

6. Check Me Out- Library staff working the front line reference or circulation desks

The six librarians chosen have been given a $150 stipend and will meet with a Nordstrom Personal Shopper in their area to pick out an outfit. They'll show off their new duds and talk about their experience during this year's Annual Conference. Additionally, a Personal Shopper from Nordstrom will talk to attendees about outfits for different occasions, including suiting and interview attire. We can't wait to see what everyone is wearing this year! And, of course, we'd love it if some of our Texas librarians ended up on Librarian Wardrobe. The presentation will be Friday, April 26 2:00-3:50.

Special thanks to all the divisions who helped us sponsor this wonderful event: The College and University Libraries Division, Library Support Staff Round Table, New Members Round Table, Public Libraries Division, Reference Round Table and Special Libraries Division. And an extra-special thanks to Ashlynn Kogut, Chair of Reference Round Table, for working so hard to put all this together!

The Gateway to Associations Is Through The ASAE

asae_main_logo

Happy Friday everyone!  Those who follow bizologie know that we are major advocates for association pages, and we occasionally have Professional Associations Spotlight segments like this one. So what happened when I came upon an association of…wait for it….associations?  Research magic, in the form of a database called the Gateway to Associations, a great free directory courtesy of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), was what happened.

Sure it’s easy to Google for associations; I do it all the time.  But I, like the rest of you, am lazy and rarely go past the second page of results unless I’m digging for info on an erudite topic.  Hence I was delighted when I tested the Gateway database, by doing a search for Association names containing: solar.  I received 18 links to titles including solar associations, corporations, and societies, and they all included the city where they are based.

In comparison if I google for: solar association, I receive 10 results on the front page, not including three advertisements plus a few more links categorized as news.   My results were by no means identical; each (first) page listed associations that the other didn’t, but culling information from multiple sources to acquire a more robust breadth of knowledge is a trademark of our work.

P.S.  Remember to be careful when searching with ultra generic keywords like “green” in a database.  Yes “green” can refer to tree-hugging innovation, but it can also refer to localities with lots of trees, or even just the color.

Researching the Housing Market

real estate logo

The housing market has been in the news pretty regularly over the past few years, so today we thought we'd take a look at a few of our favorite resources for researching the housing market.

  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury produce a monthly scorecard for the nation's housing market. These reports cover all kinds of things including new and existing home sales, mortgage rates and refinancing statistics, housing supply, number of mortgage delinquency rates and more. In addition to the monthly scorecards, they also produce spotlight reports on specific cities.
  • Since 1997, Harvard University has been releasing "The State of the Nation's Housing". This is an amazing amount of information on the housing market put together by Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies."The Joint Center uses current data from the US Census Bureau, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Pew Research Center, the Conference Board, the Energy Information Administration, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Federal Reserve, CoreLogic, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Moody’s Economy. com, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America, MPF Research, the National Association of Realtors®, the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the National Multi Housing Council, Standard and Poor’s, Lender Processing Services, and Zillow.com to develop its findings." What a great one-stop-shop. Convenient and free!
  • The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University offers  market reports for all 25 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in Texas and covers "census data, employment and unemployment, major industries, business climate, education, transportation and infrastructure issues, growth patterns and much more."  It's pretty common for universities to offer this type of information, so a quick Google search for your home state's universities would probably yield similar results.
  • The National Association of Realtors has a great Research & Statistics page with a quick reference Housing Indicators section as well as a more in depth Market Intelligence section which includes Local Market Reports for several big cities, state employment trends, home price monitors and more.
  • We love Wolfram Alpha for all kinds of research as you can see here, so it's no surprise that they're a great resource for information on the housing market. In addition to offering demographic zip code information you can also see median home prices for the city of your choice or use it to compare cities.

LOHAS: Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability

LOHAS

LOHAS is an acronym for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. According to the LOHAS.com website, the organization "focuses on educating and building community around the central theme of healthy and sustainable lifestyles for individuals and societies." Even more importantly to bizologie, they offer business resources on the growing $290B LOHAS market. LOHAS not only shares information but also provides practical tools and techniques for people to implement into their businesses. The website has tons of news and aggregates data on the industry. For example, they have info on green marketing, sustainability trends for 2012, fair trade, and green consumers.

Green Purchasing Behavior

The HUB by LOHAS is a business network for companies in the LOHAS industry to connect, collaborate and seek opportunities. They say it's like LinkedIn for LOHAS companies and organizations. You can see the online business directory of over 600 companies, but to get detailed info and to be able to connect you must become a member. Companies can apply online and have to be approved.

bizologie at Texas Library Association Annual Conference

TLA conference
We hope some of our readers will be joining us at the Texas Library Association's Annual Conference in Houston. We bizologie girls along with the Special Libraries Division of TLA will be presenting several sessions and we'd love to see you in the audience. Below you'll find descriptions and times for each program. Check back the week of the conference and we'll have our presentations posted here along with links to all the tools, apps and resources discussed at TLA. Hope to see you there!




Free Business Resources
(Net Fair I)
Wednesday 1:00 – 1:50 pm
Sometimes you actually get more than you pay for! Get links to 20+ free sites with business information covering marketing, energy, demographics, technology, and more.
April Kessler, Reference and Information Services, University of Texas at Austin





Leveraging Your Skills: Rewrite that Resumé and Market Yourself

Wednesday, 1:00 - 1:50 pm

Two career services directors discuss ways job seekers can expand their resumés to appeal to a broader audience of hiring managers in and out of libraries. Find out the practices to use and avoid during interviews.

Tara Lagulli, School of Information and Karen Landolt, Natural Sciences Career Services, University of Texas

Special Libraries Division and Reference Round Table

50 Apps / 50 Minutes (Net Fair I)

2:00 – 2:50 pm

We’ll introduce 50 apps – some for business and some for fun. All platforms, including Android and iPad will be discussed. Join us for a lively, fast-paced and fun presentation.

Laura Young, Research, Austin Ventures

Automation and Technology Round Table

Salary Negotiation: Yes You Can!

2:00 - 3:50 Pm

Find out the basics of salary negotiation from a corporate hiring manager who will tell you what employers consider during this process. Learn what to ask for and how to ask for it! A business meeting follows the program at 3:00 pm

Mike Millard, Austin Ventures

Special Libraries Division

Librarians on the Move: New Jobs for the Information Professional

4:00 - 4:50 pm

A panel of librarians offers an open Q&A with attendees. Panelists will share how they moved from libraries into new positions outside libraries. Find out what worked for them.

Claire Boetticher, Research Analyst, Exxon Mobile   Tuan Nguyen, Library Sales Consultant, Mackin Educational Resources; Lindsey Schell, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, EBL--eBook Library; Beth Wagner, US EPA Region 6 Sunder Ram Library, DSI; and Laura Young, Research, Austin Ventures

Special Libraries Division and Reference Round Table

Business Reference: Using LinkedIn and Other Social Media Tools

10:00 - 10:50 Am

Find new ways to use social media tools to gather current information about companies at no cost. Learn to show your customers how to use LinkedIn, Twitter, and FaceBook for competitive intelligence.

April Kessler, Reference and Information Services, University of Texas at Austin; and Laura Young, Research, Austin Ventures

Special Libraries Division

How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?

dog food

We bizologie girls are dog lovers, so we're always fascinated with statistics on pet ownership. Previously, we talked about the American Pet Products Association and their survey results for spending on pet supplies, food, medical care, etc. and today we thought we'd showcase a couple of other resources we like for pet owner statistics. The most recent Census data on pet ownership is from 2006 and has a great breakdown of ownership by income and household size:

And if you'd like to estimate how many pet owners are in your neighborhood or city, the American Veterinary Medical Association has a cool calculator for figuring out dog, cat, bird and horse ownership in your area. Simply provide the community population and they'll give you an estimate. Be sure and check out their formulas for how they arrive at their figures.

So, how much is that doggie in the window? The one with the waggley tale?  Well, according to the ASPCA , a medium sized dog could run you about $695 a year.  Assuming your best friend averages about 11 years, that's nearly $8000. We think Spot is worth every penny, but it's definitely a consideration when adopting a pet.

Professional Associations Spotlight: Grocery Manufacturers Association

shopping cart

In our continuing efforts to provide our readers with free business resources, this week we came across the Grocery Manufacturers Association. The GMA "is the voice of more than 300 leading food, beverage and consumer product companies." Their members include several well-known food and beverage companies like Coca-Cola, Conagra, Del Monte and Hormel. But also other members from other industries like logistics, research firms, retail stores and restaurants. You can see a complete list of their members here. GMA has several freely available research reports covering topics like Shopper Marketing, Logistics and Consumer Product Fraud. There's also a recent report entitled "Economic Impact of the U.S. Grocery Manufacturing Industry".  This is a really great report that covers the economic impact down to specific industries like Grains, Sugars, Fruits & Vegetables, Dairy, etc. It also provides labor statistics like average incomes and "Value Added per Worker".

The Business of Halloween

Halloween Kate

Happy Halloween from bizologie! According to a recent Harris poll, younger Americans, ages 18-46, rank Halloween as their third favorite holiday behind Christmas & Thanksgiving. 90% of all American kids will be trick-or-treating tonight and even 15% of us will dress up our pets--though we certainly don't know anyone around here who would do such a thing. Blink. Blink.

Before you grab your plastic pumpkin and flashlight to head out for the evening, let's take a look at the economic impact of Halloween:

  • According to the National Retail Federation, the average American will spend $72.31 on costumes, candy and decorations. That's up from just $66.28 last year.
  • Total Halloween spending is expected to reach $6.86 billion.
  • Halloween accounts for 23% of annual candy sales for the year according to the National Confectioners Association.
  • Morningstar reports an increase in commodities like cocoa, sugar, dairy and peanuts, but luckily these price increases haven't been passed on to consumers just yet. Hershey expects to raise prices early next year.

On behalf of everyone here at bizologie, we wish you a safe and Happy Halloween!

bizologie's own April Kessler, Starfleet Librarian

SLA Texas Chapter's Speed Dating with Technology Tools and Applications

TX SLA

On Friday, October 28th, the Texas Chapter of Special Library Association will present "Speed Dating with Technology Tools & Applications". Librarians from varying backgrounds (Oil & Gas, Law, Art, Business, Venture Capital, Journalism) will present a wide range of databases, web tools and apps. We hope to see you there, but just in case, below you'll find a list of our presentations as well as web links to the apps, websites, etc.

  • Energy Industry Intelligence on the Go!--Energy industry intelligence on the go! Oil Daily, Natural Gas Week, Petroleum Intelligence Weekly and 11 other newsletters now available via our iPhone/iPad application. Presented by Betsy Harris from Energy Intelligence.
  • It's Time to Put on Your Goggles! Using Google Goggles for Research--Have you ever had trouble identifying a painting? Would you like to translate text instantly without typing a thing?  Learn how to do these things and more in this presentation about the Google Goggles app. Presented by Karen Holt from The University of Texas at Austin
  • SharePoint Options to Improve Access to the Library--Using SharePoint to create Information Centers for Library Products and Legal Practices. Presented by Terri L. Lawrence from Winstead.
  • Flipboard App for iPad--Flipboard is a digital social magazine that aggregates web links from your social circle, e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. and displays the content in magazine form on an iPad. Presented by Laura Young from Austin Ventures
  • Mailtester Web Tool--Mailtester allows users to confirm email addresses. Mailtester is perfect for helping track down addresses for CEOs or other company executives. Presented by Laura Young from Austin Ventures.
  • Storing Documents--DocumentCloud is a Web-based tool for cataloging, annotating and sharing documents. Originally designed for journalists, it has excellent privacy settings and also excellent tools for publishing documents publicly. DocumentCloud provides a free service for journalistic organizations, but the DocumentCloud server software will be released free once the project is complete. Presented by Daniel Lathrop from the Dallas Morning News.
  • Shortcuts for the iPhone--Learn shortcuts for creating webclips, how to move icons, organize home folders, use voice control, and more! Presented by  Barbara Fullerton from Morningstar, Inc.

The Business of Staying Fit

gym pic

This week, as I munched on junk food while watching Biggest Loser, I started thinking about the business of gym memberships. According to The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, there are nearly 30,000 health clubs in the US. About 50 million of us have gym memberships making the healthclub industry a $20 billion a year business. That's a lot of money spent on gym memberships. Especially since fewer than half of us who join in January will still be there by April, according to SmartMoney. The average annual cost of a gym membership (including initiation fees) is $775. Combine that with all the money Americans spend on dieting and you might be looking for a cheaper way to a better body. Here are some ideas for staying fit on a budget:

  • Some health insurance providers offer discounts on gym memberships. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas offers a flexible membership to several big fitness center chains with no contract required. So if you give up on your  New Year's Resolution by April, you won't be out a monthly fee for a plan you're not using.
  • Pay your gym month-to-month rather than with an annual contract. Again, you won't be out that monthly fee if you're not using the service.
  • Keep an eye out for Groupon, LivingSocial or other daily deal sites offering fitness classes at a discount.
  • Check your local city for community fitness programs. Austin Parks Foundation is currently offering free Yoga in the Park every Wednesday in October.

One Organization To Bring Them All

SCIP_Logo

SCIP used to stand for the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals, but as of summer 2010 it changed that name to Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals.  No matter what name you call it though, the SCIP is an organization dedicated to supporting people who work in the Competitive Intelligence industry. Ever the dutiful researcher, I spent some quality time on their relatively dense website, and here are five key takeaways to consider before taking, what could be a good chunk of time, to visit:

1. Finding:  SCIP is just over 25 years old, and as of now it enjoys participation from just over 20 chapters scattered about the United States.  Conclusion:  The odds for networking look pretty good.

2. Finding:  Not surprisingly, the SCIP’s reports and educational manuals come at a price, but the price point is usually $50-$100 depending on membership status.  Conclusion: These are a good investment in training materials that could become touchstones for a fledgling CI department, or for those who want to cultivate a new skill set.

3. Finding:  The SCIP News Archive has a broad swath of articles about the CI industry, grouped by month, dating back to 1998; unfortunately the only navigation available is scrolling.  Conclusion:  If you want to turn the spotlight around and study CI itself, this is a solid, if slow, place to start.

4. Finding:  The monthly ebulletin dubbed scip.insight., is a compilation of free articles from SCIP bigwigs that have insider perspectives you’ll be hard pressed to find elsewhere.  Conclusion:  It’s much more satisfying for non-members to peruse this resource instead of the magazine, as most of those volumes are password protected.

5. Finding:  As of this writing the job web has 134 highly relevant postings kept up to date.  Three are from this past week alone.  Conclusion:  Bookmark this site if nothing else for the job web, where you’ll find new openings and keep abreast of what the field demands for new hires.

OESA: Auto Supplier Barometer

OESA

The Original Equipment Suppliers Association's (OESA) Automotive Supplier Barometer takes the pulse of the auto suppliers' twelve month business sentiment. The bi-monthly survey of the top executives of OESA regular member companies provides a snapshot of the industry commercial issues, business environment and business strategies that influence the supplier industry. What is the overall sentiment of the suppliers? Are they positive or negative about the future? What materials do they think they will have problems getting? Do you they think they'll be able to get capital? These are some of the questions asked in the survey. The Automotive Supplier Barometer is distributed to vehicle manufacturers, financial institutions, governmental officials and the media to provide an on-going profile of the supplier industry. More Questions answer by the barometer:

  • Identify your top three materials, commodities and/or services that have availability risk in in the next year.
  • List the top 3 customers (in order) where your company is focusing personnel and financial resources.
  • What are the top three actions your company is budgeting for to meet expected volume in the next year increases?
  • On a per unit basis, indicate your expected yearly percent increase or decrease in your direct material costs for the following?
  • Provide your anticipated North American light duty vehicle production planning volume (in millions of units).

Supplier Sentiment Index

What's Cooking in the Restaurant Business?

SONY DSC

With over $604 billion in sales annually, the restaurant industry has a big impact on our nation's economy. The National Restaurant Association's website is a great place to start when researching restaurant statistics and trends and they make it easy for us with a link to their research right at the top.  Here you'll find national, as well as state, restaurant facts. Here are just a few of the facts freely available:

  • There are 960,000 restaurants in the U.S.
  • 12.8 million people are employed in the restaurant industry making it one of the largest private-sector employers
  • 80 percent of restaurant owners started their industry careers at entry-level positions
  • In 2010, Hawaii’s restaurants are projected to register $3.1 billion in sales.
  • 47 percent of adults say they would patronize food trucks
  • 69 percent of adults say they are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers food grown or raised in an organic or environmentally-friendly way
  • In 2008, there were 38,596 eating and drinking places in New York
  • $2,619 Average household expenditure for food away from home in 2009
  • Restaurants employ 165,200 people in Oregon
  • The overall economic impact of the restaurant industry is expected to exceed $1.7 trillion in 2011

The state reports even break down restaurants by Congressional District. For example, I can see in the Texas report that Lloyd Doggett's district has 1032 restaurants and 22,932 restaurant employees.

You can also find interesting restaurant trends. Each year, the National Restaurant Association conducts a Chef's Survey. Here you can find restaurant trends by category.  In 2011, the biggest overall trend in restaurants is "locally sourced meats and seafood".  The top trend in desserts is "Artisan/house-made ice cream" while the hottest thing in breakfast is" Ethnic-inspired breakfast items (e.g. Asian-flavored syrups, chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut milk pancakes)".

And The Oscar Goes To...The Business of The Academy Awards

oscars

The countdown to Oscar is on! Will it be The Social Network or The King's Speech? Natalie Portman or Annette Bening? Colin Firth or Jeff Bridges? Well, we can't help you with those questions, but we can offer a little insight on the business side of the Oscars. According to Kantar Media, over that last decade advertisers have spent over $720 million dollars during the Oscar broadcast. This year a 30 second spot will run about $1.7 million. Over the past five years, more than half of the ad revenue has come from only five companies: Coca-Cola, JC Penney, General Motors, American Express and MasterCard International. However, the recession has opened up the way for a few first-time advertisers who were responsible for about 48% of 2010's Oscar advertising. Hate commercials? Good news; the Academy Awards have limited commercial time: just 8-10 minutes per hour. The Super Bowl has about 13-14 minutes per hour while a normal broadcast television show has 14-16 minutes.

If you're looking for more research on the business of movies, the Motion Picture Association of America has a great Policy & Research section on their website. They provide industry reports showing the economic impact of the movie and television production industry as well as state by state statistics. The state statistics are great and show not only economic impact but also the number of movies and television shows filmed in each state as well as each state's production incentives.  Fun facts from the site include:

  • To qualify for incentives in Texas 70 percent of the production crew, actors and extras must be Texas residents
  • The motion picture and television industry is responsible for 8,200 direct jobs and $268.6 million in wages in Oregon.
  • In 2008, 26 movies were filmed in Florida
  • To be eligible for incentives in Colorado, productions must spend at least 75 percent of expenditures in Colorado and 75 percent of the actors and crew must be Colorado residents.
  • Over two-thirds of the population (68%) – or 222.7 million people – went to the movies at least once in 2010.

Professional Associations Spotlight: American Society of Plastic Surgeons

ASPS

While searching for information on how much plastic surgery is paid by insurance and how much is paid out-of-pocket by customers I ran across the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. They publish the National Clearinghouse of Plastic Surgery Statistics and have over two decades of plastic surgery statistics. This is a great example of why associations are such an integral part of business research. Associations are completely focused on their area of business and they often survey their members and then publish those results on the web. Not all associations provide information for free, but many do, and if they don't you should pick up the phone and call them and ask for last year's survey or a specific piece of data or table for a discounted price. My motto is always pick up the phone!

The 2010 report doesn't include any payment information but they do provide information about the top procedures by age, and region and even provide national average fees charged for procedures. Plus this year includes a survey of customers done by Harris Interactive on behalf of RealSelf.com. This 22 page report of 2009 statistics features information like:

  • Procedures were down 3% for the year, but overall that is still $10 billion spent on cosmetic procedures
  • The national average surgeons/physician fee for a face lift was $6,396
  • 5,196,006 reconstructive procedures were conducted
  • The top procedure for men was nose reshaping

Know about an association that's been helpful to you? Tell us about it in the comments.

Professional Association Spotlight: National Confectioners Association

nca

Professional associations can be a great source of free information when you're doing business research. And nearly every industry or occupation you can think of has an association. Today we're taking a look at the National Confectioners Association.  See? Business research is fun! Candy is serious business and on the NCA's site you can find out all kinds of information including retails sales figures, seasonal sales figures and annual reports from the industry. While some information is only available to association members, several of the summaries are free, as are the annual NCA Confectionery Industry Reviews back to 2002. Here are just a few of the facts I found freely available on their site:

  • In 2009, Confectionery sales were $29.3 billion with chocolate candy representing about 58% of this total at $16.9 billion.
  • Cocoa prices are at an historic high--one ton of cocoa will cost you around $3500; up from $1500 in 2005.
  • The average U.S. consumer spent $93 on confectionery products in 2008.
  • Halloween leads all other holidays in candy sales--over $2 billion spent annually.
  • When eating candy canes, boys were almost twice as likely to crunch their candy canes than girls (31 percent v. 17 percent).
  • More than 150 million chocolate Santas will be made for the winter holiday season.

They also have the Confectioner and  Snack Source Book where you'll find resources for candy, packaging, services and ingredients.  Looking for a specific candy? Try the Online Candy Catalog. Sadly, still no Kinder Surprise available in the U.S.

In addition to all this great information, they've also got a recipe page.

Know about an association that's been helpful to you? Tell us about it in the comments.

Hershey's S'More Cookie Bars

Author: Hershey's

S'More Cookie Bars Ingredients: 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened 3/4 cup sugar 1 egg 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 4 (1.55 oz. each) HERSHEY'S Milk Chocolate Bars 1 cup marshmallow creme

Instructions: 1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 8-inch square baking pan.

2. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Press half of dough into prepared pan.

3. Arrange chocolate bars over dough, breaking as needed to fit. Spread with marshmallow creme. Scatter bits of remaining dough over marshmallow; carefully press to form a layer.

4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. 16 bars.

Enjoy!