Entrepreneurship Weekly Roundup: 2/3/17

Weekly Roundup is a McNair Center series compiling and summarizing the week’s most important Entrepreneurship and Innovation news.

Here is what you need to know about entrepreneurship this week:


Reducing Recidivism through Entrepreneurship

Catherine Kirby, Research Assistant, McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

In her latest piece, McNair’s Kirby highlights the promise of entrepreneurial programs in curbing recidivism among newly released inmates. Beyond supporting local economies and communities, reducing recidivism increases productivity of the formerly incarcerated – an often overlooked and underutilized portion of the labor force.

Many ventures that offer entrepreneurial education programs in prisons have witnessed high returns on their investments. For instance, alumni of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, a Houston-based nonprofit, boast a 100% employment rate after one year of their release and have created more than 2,000 small businesses.


Report: Trump Plans H-1B and Other Work Visa Reforms

Ingrid Lunden, Writer, TechCrunch

President Trump’s recent executive order on immigration was criticized by some Silicon Valley tech firms, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft. According to a report published by Bloomberg, the administration plans to announce another executive order that will reform the H-1B visa program. A draft of the order circulated by Bloomberg reveals an emphasis on protecting American workers.

Many tech companies rely on H-1B visas for recruiting  foreign employees who possess specific skills or talent that cannot be found domestically. However, there is a bipartisan consensus that the visa program needs reform as many outsourcing firms abuse H-1B visas.  Some legislators propose adding wage requirements to increase competition and quality in foreign recruitment.


Snap Said to Choose NYSE over Rival Nasdaq for Upcoming IPO

Sarah Frier and Alex Barinka, Reporters, Bloomberg Technology

Snap Inc.’s IPO will go through the New York Stock Exchange for its IPO, which is expected to come sometime in March. Snap’s choice reflects a reversal in tech IPO’s, as an increasing number of tech firms are choosing the NYSE over the Nasdaq to debut their shares. This transition follows Facebook’s botched IPO on Nasdaq in 2012.

In other news, Snap Inc. is developing technology that will update Snapchat’s in-app lenses to include filters for environments and landscapes. The AR features, though not scheduled for a near-term launch, also offer an attractive “range of options for potential advertisers.”


Small Businesses Uneasy over Border-Adjustment Tax Plan

Ruth Simon and Richard Rubin, Reporters, Wall Street Journal

The U.S. House Republicans’ proposal to reform the tax code includes an important section on border adjustment. Border adjustment restricts businesses from deducting the costs of imports from their taxable income. Some skeptics fear that the provision will pressure firms that rely on imports to raise their prices.

However, small businesses that rely on imports for obtaining cheap raw materials worry that border adjustment will bring higher operating costs. According to House Representative Tom Reed (R – N.Y.), a member on the House Ways and Means Committee, lawmakers are considering offering “safe harbors”  for small businesses to avoid increased expenses.

The proposed plan exempts domestic purchases and adopts a flat corporate tax rate of 20%. Supporters of the plan believe that “the dollar will rise to offset the tax change” through cheaper imports.


And in startup news…


Lyft Cuts Sales Staff, Reorganizes Team as the Startup Chases Uber

Eric Newcomer, Startup Reporter, Bloomberg Technology

San Francisco-based startup, Lyft, was founded in 2012 as ride-booking app.Despite trailing Uber in overall market share, Lyft has found success in marketing directly to customers. By cutting fares, the startup also now serves 20-40% of consumers in large U.S. cities. Coupled with recent cost-cutting efforts, Lyft plans to turn a profit by 2018.

Recent trims in its labor force are helping Lyft gain a competitive edge over other ride-hailing apps. The company also plans to partner with more governments and health-care organizations going forward. In January, Lyft announced a collaboration with National MedTrans Network to offer “2,500 rides a week for medical appointments” in New York City.


Cafe X Opens in San Francisco, Bringing Robots to the Coffee Shop

John Mannes, Reporter, TechCrunch

Cafe X founder Henry Hu is transforming the traditional coffee shop with his latest startup. With Cafe X, customers order their drinks at an on-site kiosk using a mobile app, and a “robot” prepares and serves their coffee. The startup opened its first American location in San Francisco this past week. Hu hopes to expand the company’s operations into a franchise, with each shop locally sourcing its coffee beans.

Hu’s startup received backing from a successful seed round from last year that drew in $5 million from prominent VCs, Khosla Ventures, Social Capital, Jason Calacanis, Felicis Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank and the Thiel Foundation.

With Cafe X, customers save time and money (only $2.25 for an 8 oz drink). Furthermore, automation introduces a marketing advantage, as profits can be spent on sales rather than labor costs.


Comparably Raises $7.25 million to Help Match Employees with the Best Companies

Ken Yeung, Staff Writer, VentureBeat

California-based startup Comparably collectively raised $7.25 from VC firms in its latest funding round. Competing with Glassdoor and LinkedIn, the startup offers job-market monitoring services and publishes relevant information on industry salaries and company culture for job hunters.

The startup’s recent funding totals enable Comparably to expand its monitoring services and partner with more companies. Comparably co-founder Jason Nazar told VentureBeat in 2016 that the company’s mission was “to make work better” through “transparency around compensation and culture.”

The Weekly Roundup is taking next week off and will return on February 17.

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