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Dan Afrasiabi is the President of ARM Insight, Inc.(www.cardpowercorp.com). ARM Insight and CardPower provide transaction-based marketing and promotional services that link the last mile between online promotions and offline transactions. Dan has previously also served as the President of Symphony Services Cost Management Group, overseeing all of the company’s operations in Dallas, TX, Nashville,and Bangalore, India. Dan served as the president of Tickets.com (formerly NASDAQ traded under the symbol TIXX) Ticketing Services Group. TIXX was acquired by MLB Advanced Media. Dan Afrasiabi also has significant experience in private equity investments, mergers and acquisitions, and the capital markets. Mr. Afrasiabi was formerly a vice president at Ventana Global, Ltd., a private equity management firm. Dan received a BS in Business Administration with a focus on Entrepreneurial Studies, as well as an MBA and JD graduate degrees, all from the University of Southern California. Mr. Afrasiabi currently serves as the incoming Chairman of the Oregon Chapter of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO). Follow Dan Afrasiabi on Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/dafrasiabi)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fall Down Seven Times and Stand Up Eight!

I met Peter Drucker once, in the mid-80s at Claremont College in California. My friend Tom Moritz and I attended a lecture, because we felt it was an opportunity to see a legendary figure, before he left us. The lecture left me with an indelible impression by a man who in turn left his mark on the world of business. Today, I came across some of his famous quotes, two of which really hit home with me:

"People who don't take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year."

"The best way to predict the future is to create it."

Any entrepreneur who has made the gut-wrenching decision to take the leap, whether the decision was based on market research or gut instinct, knows that mistakes, failure and perseverance are tied at the hip to success, no matter what the person's experience, education, capital or connections.

Similarly, any successful entrepreneur can point to periods in the life of the business, when he or she was staring into the abyss following a decision whose outcome was far different than predicted. We all have made, and will continue to make mistakes. Being an entrepreneur demands quick decisions at critical times. It's natural that some of the biggest of those decisions, will in retrospect seem so obviously wrong.

I have had my share of mistakes, some of which seemed bigger at the time and turned out to be trivial. Other decisions have led to mistakes that seemed trivial at the time, but turned out to be more material further down the line. At the end of the day, I have tried to learn from each one and be prepared to apply the lesson at the next turn in the road.

The older I get, the more I realize the single biggest key to success and happiness is perseverance. It's impossible to go through life unscathed. Getting all out of life or business, demands that one be willing to come out bloody and scarred, whether figuratively or literally. The key is to push ahead in your personal, business and family life, without fear of failure and mistakes.

As the Japanese proverb states: Fall Down Seven Times and Stand Up Eight!

So much for my stream-of-consciousness musings on a Sunday afternoon!

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I am an entrepreneur with over fifteen years of experience in starting and leading technology services, analytics and marketing companies. Prior to CardPower, I started and grew a business in the membership services space. While we achieved a great deal of success, that business also dealt me one of the big lessons I reference, above!

Prior to that, I served as the President of Symphony Services Cost Management Group (CMG), an analytics, software and outsourcing company. In that role I was responsible for all of the Company’s operations in the United States and India. My position with Symphony was the result of the acquisition of my prior company, Stonehouse Technologies, by Symphony. I have also served as the President of Tickets.com (formerly NASDAQ traded under the symbol TIXX) Ticketing Services Group (TSG). I had some of my greatest success, closed some of the biggest deals of my life, and learned some of the biggest lessons during that 7-year stretch, when we took a $1mm/yr. software company and turned it into a $70mm/yr. services company. Tickets.com was acquired by a division of Major League Baseball.

Over the years I have engaged in a number of other endeavors, private investments and advisory roles that have contributed to who I am today!

I received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a focus on Entrepreneurial Studies, as well as an M.B.A. and J.D. graduate degrees, all from the University of Southern California.

Next year I will be the Chairman of the Oregon chapter of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO).

Follow Dan Afrasiabi on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/#!/dafrasiabi
Follow Dan Afrasiabi on LinkedIn at: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/dan-afrasiabi/a/53/448

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

AOL Key Word...?

I wonder if when news media outlets see the publicly-traded valuation of FB, they will regret having sent their audience to check them out on FB. I remember 10 years ago, when everyone advertised their "AOL Key Word", thereby giving AOL free advertising. Obviously FB is not AOL, but there are so many things that seem to be repeating themselves. Such interesting times we live in.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Correlation Between Good Immigration Policy and Innovation and Entrpreneurship in Society

A very interesting article in The Atlantic Online regarding the relationship between a more open immigration policy and economic growth (http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/03/the-melting-pot-that-isnt-why-america-needs-better-immigration/72048/)

The author, Richard Florida, looks at a variety of economic and social indicators, and compares them to various nations around the world and their immigration policy. Common sense tells us that if we can maintain (or according to the article, recapture) our position as the world's leader in attracting innovative, intelligent and energetic immigrants, then we will benefit greatly as a society.

There are some very interesting statistics cited in the article, regarding the impact of immigrants on US economic innovation and productivity. According to the Vivek Wadhwa, whose commentary I follow, 25% of our global patents are attributable to immigrants, as are over 50% of the technology companies started in the Silicon Valley. More amazingly, immigrants account for almost 50% of the Ph.Ds in science and engineering in the US.

The story quotes venture capitalist John Doerr as stating that the US should "staple a green card to the diploma" of immigrants as soon as they receive a degree in engineering.

According to the article and accompanying charts (the charts can't be easily copied into this blog):

"Nations that are more immigrant-friendly have higher levels of overall economic competitiveness. The MIPEX is closely correlated to the Global Competitiveness Index developed by Harvard Professor Michael Porter and the World Economic Forum (.48)."

"Innovation is the underlying engine of economic development. And countries that are better at integrating immigrants are also more innovative. The MIPEX is closely correlated with the rate of patenting (.53)"

"The ability of countries to integrate immigrants translates into higher rates of entrepreneurship as well. The MIPEX is closely correlated with a comprehensive measure of entrepreneurial activity -- the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute developed by Zoltan Acs and his collaborators (. 45)."

According to this article, the US has lost its global leadership position in attracting the best and the brightest. If this is true, and the US is truly barely hanging on to a Top 10 spot in the effectiveness of its immigration policy, then we will suffer for it, not only in relative terms (relative to countries which do successfully attract the best and the brightest), but also in absolute terms and our contribution to the world's innovation declines.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

$38Billion? So this is how the budget fight ends, not with a bang but a whimper!

From Wikipedia regarding the Federal Budget:

2012 Budget of the United States federal government ‹ 2011 · · 2013 ›
Submitted February 14, 2011
Submitted by Barack Obama
Submitted to 112th Congress
Total revenue $2.627 trillion (estimated)
Total expenditures $3.729 trillion (estimated)
Deficit $1.101 trillion (estimated)


The numbers and the whole silly process must be truly bewildering to people outside of the United States. Countdown clocks for government shut-down, lawmakers and the President posturing, analysts giddy with excitement about all of the craziness, threat of troops going with out a paycheck, etc...

And at the end, they supposedly agreed to cut the deficit by $38B, when the total deficit is $1,101 Billion!

Now everyone can go back to what they were doing before, and we are in exactly the position we were in before this whole circus.

Leadership comes in all shapes and forms. This country is in dire need of a President who is less interested in a second term, and more interested in changing the trajectory of the country. It would do everyone in Washington a world of good to read about Teddy Roosevelt, the bully pulpit and the square deal. Without such a change in trajectory, as most American citizens know deep inside, we are on an unsustainable path.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Government Interference Impacting Food Prices Worldwide

Interesting article today on the impact that government policies on promoting alternative energy are having on food prices worldwide. The law of unintended consequences strikes again! Could it be that good-intentioned policies will always be impacted by special interests who promote their own interest at the expense of others? Is the sun going to come up tomorrow?

Immigrant Entrepreneur Issue: It does seem to be dead on arrival, doesn't it?

Outstanding post recently on Tech Crunch, regarding the immigrant entrepreneur issue. It really is strange that even issues that seem to be non-partisan and obviously important to the country can get sucked into the political morass of Washington.

As Vivek Wadhwa, the author of post points out, the Obama administration’s inclusion of the bill into a broader immigration reform discussion, all but kills the chances of the bill being passed. I am sure that there are quite a few entrepreneurs around the world who are scratching their heads in trying to figure out the logic of all of this.

It seems to me that there is very little political will to tackle the broader immigration issues facing the US. Until and unless something massive happens, both sides of the isle are more content with rhetoric and no action. The party that gets hurt the most on this issue is the Republican party, because they are seeing their base get diluted right before their eyes with the Hispanic vote.

Unless the Republicans figure out a way to reach out to Hispanics through proper economic and moral arguments, the bulk of the Hispanic vote will go to Democrats, and soon, that will mean a permanent Democratic president!

In any event, the economy as a whole will continue to suffer, as we lose out on the privilege of attracting the smartest, most aggressive and most dynamic entrepreneurs who want an opportunity to come here and start a business. This is not just a shame, but it is a long term tragedy.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

CardPower Puts the 2 in O2O Commerce!

CardPower aims to be the "2" in O2O Commerce by closing the loop in offline/online promotions/transactions.

Can the dream of the so-called O2O (online to offline) marketing platform be achieved without hard evidence of its effectiveness? Can you have O2O Commerce without the “2”? We think not!

Groupon and other group deal companies have done a tremendous job of creating value through simplicity. But what is the end game? Can these companies continue to utilize the printed (or it’s electronic version) gift certificate as the link between their promotion and consumer action? Or is there a better way to be the “2” in O2O commerce?

We believe the end-game is for these companies to become ongoing marketing platforms, as opposed to a one-time promotional engine. The “commoditization” of “deal of the day” is inevitable, and the players who stand still will necessarily become less competitive over time.

ARM Insight’s direct-to-consumer card rewards program, Cardpower.com, is the “last mile” in the O2O commerce chain. Cardpower brings the power of online incentive marketing to offline retail partners. We connect the power of online marketing, with the verification of actual consumer action.

Over the next few weeks, Cardpower and ARM Insight will bring out the “2” in O2O! Keep watching.

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