NAFTA deal close, Pence tells reporters

A deal on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could be reached within the next several weeks, Vice President Mike Pence told reporters while in Lima, Peru, for the Summit of the Americas.

Pence said he was “very hopeful” that Mexico, Canada and the U.S. were close to an agreement on the negotiated trade pact.

The decades-old trilateral trade agreement has been a frequent target of President Trump, who has criticized large trade deficits the U.S. has with Mexico and Canada, as well as the relocation of American jobs and companies.

U.S. goods and services trade with Mexico totaled an estimated $616.6 billion 2017, with a trade deficit of $64.1 billion.

Talks on how to revamp the 1994 treaty began almost immediately after Trump took office a year ago. He warned that if it could not be overhauled to better protect U.S. interests, Washington would pull out of the pact. Both Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto have argued against scrapping the $1.2 trillion deal.

U.S.-Mexican trade has grown rapidly since NAFTA, with the U.S. as Mexico’s leading partner in merchandise trade, and Mexico as the third-largest trade partner of the U.S. If Trump were to scrap the deal, experts say that it could cost Mexico more than 950,000 low-skilled jobs and lower its GDP growth by 0.9 percent.


Here at Dollar Destruction, we endeavour to bring to you the latest, most important news from around the globe. We scan the web looking for the most valuable content and dish it right up for you! The content of this article was provided by the source referenced. Dollar Destruction does not endorse and is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy, quality, advertising, products or other materials on this page. As always, we encourage you to perform your own research!

Source
Author; Megan Henney 
Image credit

 

970 x 90 Homepage (latest news)

Facebook banner EDITED

A Virginia retailer built a $33 million business on Amazon and pickleball

Little Alexandria-based Amify is the 21st-century version of the thousands of enterprises that thrived around the railroads 150 years ago. Meatpackers, farmers and mail-order retailer Montgomery Ward are just a few examples of businesses that reached customers through the railroads.

Instead of railroads, Amify has latched onto retail super tanker Amazon.com, which has redefined how people today buy just about everything.

Amazon.com (founded and chaired by Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos) just last month became the second-most-valuable company in the world, behind Apple.

Amify is one of about 3 million “third-party sellers” that use the Amazon.com platform to sell their products, paying a 15 percent commission to Amazon in return. Ethan McAfee, 41, Amify’s founder and sole owner, wants to capitalize on Amazon’s growing dominance and seize what he believes is a rare opportunity.

“We think there is a land rush going on,” McAfee said. “We have all these tail winds pushing us along. We are trying to grow this baby, hitting the accelerator and taking a long-term vision.”

Amify’s niche amounts to a tiny slice of the Amazon juggernaut. The Seattle-based giant sells an estimated $330 billion in merchandise each year — about two thirds of which is sold by renters such as Amify.

McAfee expects to generate revenue of $33 million this year on 600,000 orders for Asics shoes, high-end Fender guitars (they expect to sell 8,000 this year), and binoculars and telescopes made by Vortex Optics, to name a few of his 350 sources.

About 90 percent of Amify’s revenue comes from being a third-party seller. The rest comes from Amify’s “value add.” That means coaching clients on how to sell more through better-looking web pages, buying Amazon advertising and combating counterfeiters.

Amify’s secret sauce is knowing which products to make money on, McAfee said. “The higher-price points usually have a higher margin than low-price points. It’s harder selling a $15 item,” he said, “but with a $100 item, you can probably do it and make a profit. You can use technology to figure out which ones are the best bets.”

Amify’s biggest costs are the goods it buys and then resells on Amazon, and its labour force. The usual profit for a retailer is 3 percent to 5 percent of gross sales, which would put Amify’s profits in the neighbourhood of $1 million this year. McAfee said he is ploughing every cent of profit back into the business, adding to its sales team, opening up a second warehouse in Las Vegas to lower shipping costs, and hiring technology people to expand its consulting business.

“We tell brands to work with us, and we will help you sell more products, clean up your Amazon channel and maximize it,” McAfee said of the consulting business. “We help increase their selection and give good products at quality prices. They know they need an Amazon strategy.”

The company has been growing fast and is one of the largest in the third-party Amazon market. Most competitors are smaller mom-and-pops, so Amify uses its relative size to create its own technology, which it sells in its consulting practice.

Amify has a payroll of 42 people, 30 full-timers in the United States and 12 outsourced full-timers in the Philippines.

Amify has been profitable since McAfee started the business as Pickleball Direct in 2011 in a rented townhouse in Arlington. Pickleball is a game played with paddles, similar to tennis and badminton but requiring less running, which makes it popular among retired baby boomers.

McAfee graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in accounting information systems. He was hired at Baltimore-based asset manager T. Rowe Price, where he helped pick stocks for the firm’s $5 billion science and technology fund starting in 1998, which was near the apex of the dot-com era.

“I was the low person on the totem pole,” he said. But he closely followed the start-ups that promoted themselves to T. Rowe as they were going to the public markets. He got a close look at many of the winners and losers from that era. He sat in on meetings with some of the biggest technology names, including former eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and its then-chief executive Meg Whitman, and Mark Cuban, who was promoting his start-up Broadcast.com.

“Meg was polished,” he said. “A lot of internet entrepreneurs, as they are today, were young people wearing hoodies. So a polished person really strikes you as impressive.”
His few years at T. Rowe Price in his early 20s helped him develop an eye for spotting the fake companies from the real thing.

“We were trying to pick what would be the real businesses that would survive the dot.com explosion that we knew was going to happen,” he said. “The good ones would probably go down 70 percent, but the bad ones would go down 100 percent.”
He left T. Rowe Price in 2001 and joined a hedge fund in northern Virginia headed by Russ Ramsey, one the founders of Friedman, Billings & Ramsey, an Arlington-based asset manager.

“It was my job to help figure out what we were going to invest in,” McAfee said. “This was 2001, after the internet bubble had burst, and the idea was that there were going to be a whole bunch of internet companies that you could buy for pennies on the dollar. We did pretty good.”

He stayed until 2009, earning enough money to take a year off. He got a master’s at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and figured out his next move.

His eye for internet survivors steered him toward Amazon, which had survived the blow-up, and at a far cheaper price for its stock.

“I saw something, it seems obvious now,” he said. “Amazon was getting bigger and bigger.”

The more he thought about it, the more he realized Amazon was dramatically altering the retail landscape.

“Retailers only would sell things that are really profitable and that would sell a lot,” he said. “Retailers didn’t want to stock your niche products. The internet changed all that. You could now go to the internet and buy any product you wanted.”

So, as crazy as it sounds, around 2010 he started selling pickleball paddles.

“My parents played this down in Florida, and they said ‘We can never find the equipment,’” McAfee said. “At the same time, I was looking to start selling stuff online.” It was love at first pickleball sight.

McAfee chose pickleball paddles for his test run on selling niche products on the internet because he could buy them in small batches, instead of thousands at a time.
He ran Pickleball Direct out of a bedroom in his Arlington townhouse. For the next two years, Pickleball Direct expanded into tennis shoes, hockey skates, roller skates and sunglasses.

His homeowners association evicted him after seeing the pallets full of sporting goods dropped at the townhouse driveway. He moved to an Old Town Alexandria storefront in 2013 and began hiring people and turning his project into a real business. Revenue went from $300,000 to $1.2 million to $5 million, $10 million and, last year, $25 million. He made the Inc. 500 list twice.

Last year, McAfee changed the name to Amify, which is a combination of Amazon and amplify. He also moved Amify into larger offices. McAfee’s office is just a pickleball’s whack from the Potomac River.

Now that is not a 19th-century diversion.


 

Here at Dollar Destruction, we endeavour to bring to you the latest, most important news from around the globe. We scan the web looking for the most valuable content and dish it right up for you! The content of this article was provided by the source referenced. Dollar Destruction does not endorse and is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy, quality, advertising, products or other materials on this page. As always, we encourage you to perform your own research!

Source

Author  Thomas Heath

Image source

 

 

Supercharging the future

From powering electric cars to storing renewables, revolutionising the way we hold on to energy remains vital if we are to ween ourselves off fossil fuels and decarbonise the economy.

Batteries and other energy storage devices, such as supercapacitors or ultracapacitors, are seen as crucial to this and by 2025, Europe’s battery sector is expected to be worth a massive quarter of a trillion euros annually.

Unlike batteries, which store energy chemically and hold on to it far longer, ultracapacitors can be charged quickly and are good at providing rapid bursts of power. Currently such devices are used to start car engines. They can also provide top-up power when balancing supply and demand on national electricity grids.

The problem with ultracapacitors, however, is that they cannot store nearly as much energy as batteries, which means they soon run out of juice.

Batteries in Europe

– From powering electric cars to energy storage for industry, batteries are a key part of the decarbonised economy and a driver of strong and innovative European industry.

– Batteries have enormous potential to boost Europe’s economy too. It is expected that from 2025, Europe’s battery sector will be worth €250 billion annually and create millions of new jobs.

– Many companies are already developing innovative solutions in the battery sector.

– To further support the development of sustainable batteries in Europe, the European Commission has just launched a €10 million prize on Innovative Batteries for eVehicles. The challenge is to develop a battery that can be repowered in a few minutes and allows the same driving range as standard cars.

– The prize is organised under the European Innovation Council pilot – an EU initiative supporting innovators across Europe.

This isn’t a big issue when an ultracapacitor is being used to charge a small device like a power tool, which can be recharged in a matter of seconds. Things get complicated, however, when it comes to electric cars or buses. Recharging every few kilometres is neither desirable nor practical.

A game changing device that can bridge the gap between batteries and ultracapacitors has therefore become a major quest for researchers in the energy storage field.
Professor Andrea Balducci, Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena in Germany admits, in the short-term at least, we are likely to see a combination of lithium-ion batteries and ultracapacitors in electric devices, particularly in cars.

“Most likely we will not just have one device, but we’ll have more of them because we’ll need to fulfil more needs. For energy application, batteries will be the device of choice. For high-power application we need other devices like supercapacitors.”

One firm working to make fast charging ultracapacitors last longer is Skeleton Technologies. Its products are used in hybrid vehicles, especially buses and trucks. The European Space Agency is also a customer; using Skeleton’s ultracapacitors in its satellites.
The company’s CEO Taavi Madiberk says the company’s ultracapacitors can deliver four times more power than anything else currently on the market, thanks to its special graphene material.

“What sets us aside from the competition is that we have brought on the market a technology which has four times more power density and up to two times higher energy density, and the secret sauce behind it is a curved graphene material. In one gram of this material, the surface area is 2,000 square metres, meaning that if you take two grams of this material, it’s the size of a football field.”

In addition to super-fast charging, another advantage ultracapacitors have over batteries is their life cycle, with charges and discharges of up to a million times.

The European Commission recently launched a 10 million euro prize to help develop a new battery for eVehicles. The challenge is to develop a battery or energy storage system that is able to be charged in a few minutes and allows the same driving range as standard cars.

Madiberk thinks such an exciting prospect is only a question of time and could be a reality within the next decade.

“Elon Musk has said ultracapacitors, not batteries will be the future of electric vehicles. If you look at the future for the next 5 to 10 years, then ultracapacitors will be used as a fast charging unit. And imagine if you go to a charging station, you can literally charge your electric vehicle in a matter of seconds and have the initial driving range that you need to get home or to work.”

While the environmental benefits are obvious, Professor Balducci says the economic boost from such technologies will also be huge.

From powering electric cars to storing renewables, revolutionising the way we hold on to energy remains vital if we are to wean ourselves off fossil fuels and decarbonise the economy.

Batteries and other energy storage devices, such as supercapacitors or ultracapacitors, are seen as crucial to this and by 2025, Europe’s battery sector is expected to be worth a massive quarter of a trillion euros annually.

Unlike batteries, which store energy chemically and hold on to it far longer, ultracapacitors can be charged quickly and are good at providing rapid bursts of power. Currently such devices are used to start car engines. They can also provide top-up power when balancing supply and demand on national electricity grids.

The problem with ultracapacitors, however, is that they cannot store nearly as much energy as batteries, which means they soon run out of juice.

This isn’t a big issue when an ultracapacitor is being used to charge a small device like a power tool, which can be recharged in a matter of seconds. Things get complicated, however, when it comes to electric cars or buses. Recharging every few kilometres is neither desirable nor practical.

A game changing device that can bridge the gap between batteries and ultracapacitors has therefore become a major quest for researchers in the energy storage field.

Professor Andrea Balducci, Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena in Germany admits, in the short-term at least, we are likely to see a combination of lithium-ion batteries and ultracapacitors in electric devices, particularly in cars.

“Most likely we will not just have one device, but we’ll have more of them because we’ll need to fulfil more needs. For energy application, batteries will be the device of choice. For high-power application we need other devices like supercapacitors.”

One firm working to make fast charging ultracapacitors last longer is Skeleton Technologies. Its products are used in hybrid vehicles, especially buses and trucks. The European Space Agency is also a customer; using Skeleton’s ultracapacitors in its satellites.
The company’s CEO Taavi Madiberk says the company’s ultracapacitors can deliver four times more power than anything else currently on the market, thanks to its special graphene material.

Euronews’ Paul Hackett (left) speaks to Taavi Madiberk (right), CEO of Skeleton Technologies.

“What sets us aside from the competition is that we have brought on the market a technology which has four times more power density and up to two times higher energy density, and the secret sauce behind it is a curved graphene material. In one gram of this material, the surface area is 2,000 square metres, meaning that if you take two grams of this material, it’s the size of a football field.”

In addition to super-fast charging, another advantage ultracapacitors have over batteries is their life cycle, with charges and discharges of up to a million times.

The European Commission recently launched a 10 million euro prize to help develop a new battery for eVehicles. The challenge is to develop a battery or energy storage system that is able to be charged in a few minutes and allows the same driving range as standard cars.
Madiberk thinks such an exciting prospect is only a question of time and could be a reality within the next decade.
“Elon Musk has said ultracapacitors, not batteries will be the future of electric vehicles. If you look at the future for the next 5 to 10 years, then ultracapacitors will be used as a fast charging unit. And imagine if you go to a charging station, you can literally charge your electric vehicle in a matter of seconds and have the initial driving range that you need to get home or to work.”

While the environmental benefits are obvious, Professor Balducci says the economic boost from such technologies will also be huge.

“All these applications require new devices and these devices require new technology and this will bring new places of work and new business. This is actually one of the biggest businesses in the future, most likely.”

Thanks to financial support from the European Investment Bank and the EU’s SME fund, Skeleton recently opened its new factory near Dresden, creating 50 new jobs. The package totalled around €17.5 million.

Madiberk says such public backing is vital if we are to develop cleaner technology.
“I think that the policy, what’s been in place, has been of strong support. Because even if you look at Tesla, some of the people don’t know this but Tesla, without the half billion dollar loan from the Department of Energy, would not exist today. So I think in terms of clean technologies our public policy is really important.”

Madiberk also insists that Europe must not be left behind by the US and Asia when it comes to finding new energy storage systems, though remains optimistic about the future.
“Why was Skeleton Technologies brought to life? We are here to help to save energy and reduce C02 emissions. So ultracapacitors will have a major impact in a number of industries, from bus and truck, green and renewables, industrial equipment and electric vehicles, to make electrification cheaper and to bring it to more people. This will not solve all of our problems but it’s an important stepping stone in terms of fighting climate change.”


 

Here at Dollar Destruction, we endeavour to bring to you the latest, most important news from around the globe. We scan the web looking for the most valuable content and dish it right up for you! The content of this article was provided by the source referenced. Dollar Destruction does not endorse and is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy, quality, advertising, products or other materials on this page. As always, we encourage you to perform your own research!

Source

Author Paul Hackett

Image credit