Archive for January, 2016

Tidal pioneers face political concerns

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Companies team up with a view to adding to Swansea lagoon project

Why Millionaire Shawn Thomas Gives Back on Periscope

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

After the multi-million dollar sale of his company, Shawn Thomas started the next chapter in his life — to share both business and life lessons in a multi-faceted way. As an angel investor, he engages as an active advisor and mentor to entrepreneurs in early-stage companies.

Shawn also creates content on social media to guide a broader population towards success through daily live broadcasts on Periscope as well as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. He’s a renaissance man who shares lessons in goal setting, business strategies, finance, customer service, business development, and more.

Small Business Trends first met Shawn at the Periscope Summit in September 2015 and recently spoke to him again via telephone.

* * * * *

angel investor Shawn periscope engagementSmall Business Trends: Why let anybody ask you anything on Periscope? A lot of people don’t understand why anyone would do this.

Shawn Thomas: When I was in my twenties, I didn’t have a mentor or advisor in my life. One of the things I said to myself was when I achieve success, I would give back. One of the ways I’ve found most efficient for giving back is utilizing Periscope. It allows anyone in the world who downloads the app to converse with me in an open format and ask questions that can help them on their entrepreneurial journey. It allows quick dialogue, and if somebody asks a question, everybody on that scope gets to hear the answer and gets to benefit from that question. This helps out more than being a one-on-one mentor with somebody. Including archived replay views, I can mentor and provide experience-sharing with tens of thousands.

Small Business Trends: So your ebook, The Power of Naivet?, addresses naivet?, but what do you tell people who say naivet? is a bad thing?

Shawn Thomas: I would say they don’t understand the context of the word naive in its true form. Naive is nothing more than the lack of experience, and we all have a lack of experience. Each day we age, we are learning what it feels like to live another day. If you take it in that context, the future has unlimited potential. There are some things that can only be learned by doing. It is important that you do not see a lack of experience as a negative, but rather as an opportunity for experience to be gained.

Shawn Thomas answering viewer questions on Periscope

Small Business Trends: What was a recent angel investment you made?

Shawn Thomas: I just made a 6-figure investment into an entrepreneur named Taylor Bowmaster. His company is named Smoke Cubes.

Small Business Trends: Tell us a little about Uniguest, because it was a life-changing moment for you when you sold it.

Shawn Thomas: Today, Uniguest is a combination of many mergers and acquisitions, but it began as a one-man operation from my house. Years later I sold it to U.S. Hospitality who took on the name of Uniguest. The company that exists today started in 1986.

Small Business Trends: Where can people connect with you?

Shawn Thomas: I’m @askamillionaire on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. I’m @akashawnthomas on Twitter, Periscope, and Blab.

Images: Instagram, Katch

This article, “Why Millionaire Shawn Thomas Gives Back on Periscope” was first published on Small Business Trends


Watch What You Tweet!

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

watch what you tweet

What you share on social media won’t stay private forever. Increasingly, prosecution and defense attorneys are requesting copies of a plaintiff’s social media history in order to prove or disprove liability and damage claims.

While most of the lawsuits have been limited thus far to medical malpractice and personal injury lawsuits, could similar social media requests be made for business lawsuits like criminal negligence? Maybe. It all goes back to the right to privacy and whether content posted on social media is no longer private, regardless of a user’s privacy settings.

Are My Private Social Media Posts Permissible as Evidence in Court?

Current court rulings are coming down in favor of privacy and free protections for non-public social media postings. Consider the case of Pennsylvania man Anthony D. Elonis, who posted threatening messages on Facebook after his wife left him. While Elonis was convicted under a federal threat statute, the Supreme Court overturned the conviction, ruling that the man could not be convicted “solely on the idea that a reasonable person would regard his communication as a threat” according to CNN.

Elonis claimed the messages were simply inspired by rap music lyrics and he never claimed to act on these posts. This marked the first case in which the Supreme Court considered the implication of social media postings and free speech, although the ruling was narrow and only applied to this case rather than establishing a new legal precedent moving forward.

“The courts generally put strict limitations on Defense requests for information regarding a Plaintiff’s online activities,” said Robert H. Bohn, Jr. a criminal defense attorney at Bohn & Fletcher, LLP, who monitors the role of social media in criminal prosecution. “Even the inclusion of some ‘public’ portions of a social media profile or public commentary can only be included if this information contradicts a Plaintiff’s claims. Arguing that investigating a social media account could lead to the discovery of new disclosures is not sufficient and amount to nothing more than a fishing expedition.”

That said, social media posts are absolutely admissible in court. Whether it is divorce proceedings or a white collar criminal prosecution, posts on social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are increasing popping up as evidence in courtrooms. And with Facebook’s new “Search FYI” delivering real-time results for any public posting, it’s increasingly important to self-monitor your comments. Posting about a current event or news article could come back to haunt you, especially if you fire off a flippant comment without thinking. Finally, defendants could also use your social media account as evidence to disprove false allegations.

Doesn’t My Right to Privacy Protect My Facebook Post Content?

Your right to privacy may not apply to all social media postings. Consider the recent case from an appellate court in Florida, helpfully dissected for legal laymen on Lexis Nexis by lawyer and legal analyst Margaret (Molly) DiBianca. In the case, Nucci v. Target Corp., the plaintiff sued Target over physical injuries the plaintiff claimed to have sustained while shopping. Target responded with a discovery motion for photos of the plaintiff from her Facebook account going back at least two years. According to Target, the photos would be necessary to establishing a plaintiff’s quality of life before and after the alleged accident. The plaintiff countered that disclosing the photos would be an invasion of privacy.

According to DiBianca, the case is significant for two reasons. First, the case takes place in Florida, where individuals have a constitutional right to privacy. While all citizens have a federal constitutional right to privacy, DiBianca points out that this right “only extends to actions taken by the Federal government.” Secondly, while Florida’s constitution does guarantee a right to privacy, the court concluded that “generally, the photographs posted on a social networking site are neither privileged nor protected by any right of privacy, regardless of any privacy settings that the user may have established.” After all, what’s more relevant for a personal injury case than photos from an individual’s social media account establishing their quality of life?

Social Media Increasingly Serves as a “Character Reference”

For cases that come down to the credibility of one person versus another, a person’s social media profile could be used against them. Ian Friedman, the former president of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense, says that social media evidence is playing an increasingly important role in criminal prosecution cases, including establishing a Plaintiff or Defendant’s character.

A prosecutor in Ohio, for example, used the Facebook posts from a defendant accused of murder to establish that the defendant glorified violence. I published an article on the role of social media solving crimes, and I have been monitoring developments. Stupid criminal cases aside, like the Florida woman who live-streamed drunk driving on Periscope (and was subsequently arrested), police, prosecutors and defense attorneys are increasingly turning to social media to gather evidence.

Bottom Line

The U.S. court system is still developing legal precedent for the admission of social media in legal cases and how best to deal with emerging technologies. As a general best practice, keep in mind that anything you post on the Internet is there forever. If you wouldn’t want a posting admitted as evidence against you in a court of law, then don’t post it. Period.

Judge Image via Shutterstock

This article, “Watch What You Tweet!” was first published on Small Business Trends


Bulgarian Authorities Detain 34 Illegal Immigrants Across Country

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Bulgarian border police detained 34 illegal immigrants in three operations across the country on Saturday.

On Saturday night a border police patrol attempted to stop two vehicles for a check near the village of Gabar in the municipality of Sozopol.

The drivers did not follow the police instructions and drove away in the direction of the village of Zidarovo, with one of the vehicles leaving the road lane and coming to a standstill in a nearby field.

The driver and his aide fled the site of the incident and made an attempt to hide in the nearby forest, but were later detained.

The border policemen found eight foreign citizens without identity documents in the vehicle, who identified themselves as coming from Afghanistan.

The second vehicle was stopped as it was entering the city of Burgas, with authorities detaining the driver and five foreigners without identity documents claiming to be Afghan citizens.

In a separate case, border policemen detained near the village of Voden in the municipality of Bolyarovo two men leading a group of nine foreigners without identity documents identifying themselves as coming from Iraq.

In a third case, authorities arrested near the village of Gorno Yabalkovo in the municipality of Sredets three men leading a group of twelve illegal immigrants without identity documents claiming to be Iraqi citizens.



Farmers’ Markets Selling Organic Products to Open in Five Bulgarian Cities

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Specialised farmers’ markets selling organic products will be opened in five Bulgarian cities – Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas and Veliko Tarnovo.

Only certified producers will be able sell their produce at these markets, private bTV station informs.

In order to be eligible to sell at the markets, producers will have to possess certificates for each of the exhibited products.

In order to meet European requirements, products should not be treated or contain pesticides, chemical fertilisers or GMOs.

Producers without documents proving that their products are organic will not be allowed to sell at the markets.

The certificates are issued by accredited European institutions.

The products should bear the European organic logo and below each label there should be a number of the certifying organisation.

If clients are in doubt, they could check whether a certain producer is registered in the official website of the Bulgarian association Bioproducts.

Specialised bodies will carry out checks at the new markets in order to ensure that producers are selling genuine organic products.

In the past years, 98 % of Bulgarian organic production was destined for exports, but nevertheless producers decided to sell large part of it in the country

There are more than 4000 producers of organic products in Bulgaria.


5miles May Challenge Craigslist as the New Online Classified

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

5miles mobile marketplace

5miles, the Dallas and Beijing-based challenger to Wallapop and Craiglist has secured $30 million in new investment as it celebrates its first year in business this month.

The 1-year-old 5miles mobile marketplace app has managed to attract more than 5 million users (averaging 30,000 downloads a day) and is continuously working towards becoming a major player in the local online classified advertising business that’s been long dominated by Craiglist.

Its list of investors now includes IDG, Morningside, Blue Lake, and SIG-China (part of the Susquehanna Investment Group). In addition, individuals who have worked with or have ties with e-commerce giants like eBay and Alibaba have also invested in the app.

“We can’t imagine a better way of celebrating our first anniversary than with renewed confidence and support from our investors,” 5miles CFO Garwin Chan said in a press release. “We’re proud of the operation we’ve created, and especially grateful for the loyal, growing base of buyers and sellers from all over the country who’ve been able to connect. We are excited to see them successfully transact with one another through our marketplace.”

5miles employs about 45 people in both its Beijing and Dallas offices and was able to use its last round of investment to expand beyond Texas. The company now serves New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Tampa, Los Angeles, Miami and Orlando. The company has also expanded its marketplace services to 12,000 services, and they are also trying to differentiate themselves from other mobile app competitors by allowing small businesses like used car lots to use the platform.

The mobile app essentially updates the concept of classified ads with newer innovations that makes it easy for users to engage with and purchase items. The app uses “Pinterest-style” grid layout to present items across categories like clothes, collectibles, cars, phones, and contracted services like housekeeping, plumbing and babysitting.

Buyers can view items by date of listing, price or distance from the location. They can as well ask questions, bookmark items, make purchase offers and even share and “follow” certain sellers that they like.

Sellers on the other hand can opt to attach voice descriptions other than text to a listed item.

The startup is positioning its app as a safer alternative to Craiglist by using multi-layered verification procedure for new sellers, cross checking people on social media and on email.

The new series of funding brings the total investment in the company to more than $50 million. In its first year, the startup attracted 4 million users and generated $1 billion in gross merchandise volume and in December alone, they facilitated $81 million in local transactions of secondhand goods. These record numbers do not include the startup’s unique offerings of services, job listings and housing.

“We have been following 5miles’ progress since the beginning of 2015, and have been very impressed with the company’s rapid growth and the innovation they have brought to local sellers and buyers,” said Alex Yin, co-founder and general partner at Blue Lake Capital. “We very much look forward to working with the company as they continue to expand.”

Image: 5miles

This article, “5miles May Challenge Craigslist as the New Online Classified” was first published on Small Business Trends


EU Project Aims to Return Black Vulture to Bulgaria

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

A EUR 3 M project financed by the EU plans to restore the population of black vulture in Bulgaria.

The project entitled “Bright Future for Black Vulture in Bulgaria” will be implemented by NGOs from four countries, private bTV station informs.

The projects foresees the transport of 48 Eurasian black vultures from Spain to Bulgaria in the next seven years and their settlement in three areas of the country.

Bulgaria has been waiting more than a decade to receive the birds from the Spanish province of Extremadura which has the largest population of black vulture.

In order to improve the feeding of the birds, local stock-breeders from the areas of eastern Stara planina mountain, eastern Rhodope mountains and southwestern Bulgaria will be aided.

The NGOs hope to cooperate with the electricity distribution companies in making safe the electricity power lines which often cause the death of birds landing on them.

They will also seek the cooperation of foresters and hunters in preventing the birds falling victims to poachers.

Black vultures became extinct in Bulgaria nearly sixty years ago, with the birds no longer nesting in the country.


Over 100 UK Students to Study Medicine in Bulgaria’s Pleven

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

More than a hundred students from the United Kingdom were admitted to the Medical University in the Bulgarian city of Pleven.

The students will begin their six-year education programme which is taught in English in several days.

On Sunday the rector of the university will greet the new students at a special welcome event featuring a performance of the city’s folklore ensemble.

From the beginning of February, the foreign students will join the two-week adaptation programme, the Bulgarian National Radio informs.

The adaptation includes meetings and talks with representatives of the institutions in the city as well as information tours in the university and library as well as visits of cultural-historical sites.

There are also students from India, Germany, Spain and Nigeria. For the first time there are students from Estonia, Australia, Bangladesh, Cameroon and Egypt.

The Medical University in Pleven was founded in 1974 and is one of the five medical universities in Bulgaria.


Explosions Near Shia Shrine in Syria Kill at Least 45 People

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Three explosions occurring at a bus station near the Shia shrine of Sayyida Zeinab in the southern suburbs of the Syrian capital on Sunday claimed the lives of at least 45 people and injured scores of others.

According to Syrian state media, the explosions were caused by a car bomb and two suicide bombers.

The shrine is important for Shia pilgrims as it contains the grave of one of the granddaughters of Prophet Muhammad.

The shrine has been targeted by attacks before, most recently in February last year when two suicide bombers killed four people and injured another thirteen at a nearby checkpoint.

Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the suicide attacks, Al Jazeera informs.

The news of the explosions comes as representatives of the Syrian government and opposition are meeting in Geneva for peace talks mediated by the United Nations.

The main opposition group withdrew its initial intention to boycott the talks and met with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura on Sunday.



Bulgarian Government Plans to Grant Pensioners BGN 50 M in Easter Bonuses

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

The Bulgarian government is planning to allocate BGN 50 M to pensioners in Easter bonuses.

This was announced by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov on Saturday, daily Dnevnik reports.

The bonuses will be allocated from the revenues collected in the fight against contraband.

Borisov said that the revenues collected in the fight against contraband in January exceeded the amount generated in the same month last year with nearly BGN 1 B.

Thus the prime minister has ordered to Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov to grant pensioners with BGN 50 M in Easter bonuses.

Borisov estimated that since last year nearly BGN 200 M have been allocated to pensions outside the budget.

According to private bTV station, nearly 1 300 000 pensioners will be granted an Easter bonus of BGN 40.

It is expected that the poverty line will be the criteria which will determine whether pensioners will be eligible to receive the bonus.

At the beginning of this year, the poverty line was increased to BGN 300 and it is expected that pensioners whose pension is below this amount will be granted a bonus.


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