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Game of Throne Meets Data Science

on July 26

Happy Fourth of July from CAN

on July 4

Nebraska is not California. Omaha is not San Francisco. This sounds glaringly obvious but sometimes entrepreneurs in the Midwest get caught up in proving that we’re the same as any other startup scene in the country. But we’re not… and that’s okay! It doesn’t mean we don’t have big ideas here. It doesn’t mean there’s no tech leadership here. And it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t build a disruptive tech company here. The Silicon Prairie may not have the same quantity of startups as Silicon Valley, but we have just as much quality. You just have to know where to look.

Nebraska has actually been pretty good at creating a startup and building it into a billion dollar company. Did you know that the Omaha company ACI invented the ATM’s software that you still see each time you use an ATM? Despite its spectacular demise, many people forget that Enron was created when the CEO of Northern Natural Gas (an Omaha company) decided to merge his startup company with Houston Natural Gas. Inacom was a Fortune 500 company (albeit briefly) meaning Omaha has had 6 Fortune 500 companies. West, Kiewit, Mutual of Omaha, Solutionary, TD Ameritrade, Sojern–all got their start in Omaha. We just haven’t started one in while. Well, that is changing.  

 

We here at CAN sometimes take for granted all the cool companies and people we work with every day. In our building alone, there is a collaborative incubator filled with fast growing tech startups, multiple small companies, and not one, not two, but three code schools. While we know of this amazing ecosystem, sometimes we forget that a lot of people in Omaha and Nebraska don’t even realize this startup niche even exists.

We view that as an issue.

 

Our community needs to know that Nebraska is a place to brag about. While certainly not the hotbed of entrepreneurialism as Boston, New York, and San Francisco, we do have success stories that we can be proud of. And we think we’re about to have a few more. Because we are always looking for great ideas, we decided to compile a list of Nebraska companies we have come across that have a good chance at fundamentally changing their niche and becoming a huge success.

Why Startups?

First, we need to address “Why Startups?” A startup by definition is a small entrepreneurial business that sort of “pops up” to fit a need in a particular market — often times technologically based. If successful it tends to grow rapidly and is usually founded by forward-thinking and innovative people. Stereotypically, these people are young college grads who are trying to apply their education in a new way, but the truth is that a lot of startups begin by professionals who have worked decades in a field. This means that by definition, a startup is a new idea, built to change the world (or at least their part of it).

The Big Four

Any list of the top startup companies in Nebraska must include the Big Four. They are successful and well known outside of the startup ecosystem. At this point, they are all established in their respective industries and have begun scaling their products. They are (in no particular order):

 

FlywheelFlywheel got started back in 2012 by Dusty Davidson – and is now a premier WordPress hosting company for designers and artists.

 

HudlThe leading software company for coaches and athletes (and doing some amazing data science work), Hudl was founded by David Graff, Brian Kaiser, and John Wirtz in 2006.

 

BuilderTrendBuilderTrend is a residential construction cloud system founded in 2006 by Dan Houghton, Jeff Dugger, and Steve Dugger and is one of the largest non-VC funded software companies in the US.

 

Bulu BoxBulu Box provides you weekly box, filled with cool new samples to try, delivered to your doorstep with an easy online setup. It was founded in 2012 by two UNL grads, Paul Jarrett and Stephanie Jarrett.

 

It’s easy to forget but these companies were all much smaller startups a few years back. They show that with the right product and people you can build a successful tech company in Nebraska. But you didn’t read this far to hear about the companies you already know. Without further ado, here are:

Eleven Nebraska startups that could be the next big thing 

 

KojubaKojuba was the brainchild of James Rolfsen back in 2015. What is Kojuba and what makes it a startup to keep tabs on? We let Rolfsen answer this:

 

“Have you ever worked in a group of some kind and at the end of the project, the wrong people got the credit for doing the work? We all have. This represents what we call an “inefficiency of performance assessment.” The consequence is often that hard working people don’t get recognized for their contributions and that toxic individuals who undermine the team evade detection and sometimes even get promoted. Specifically, the “social contributions” that individuals make to a team are extremely difficult to delineate and almost impossible to quantify. Kojuba solves this problem. We analyze the behaviors and relationships of employees in organizations in order to paint a precise picture of how work gets done. Sound like magic? Fortunately, it is not. (I’m not sure if magic is scalable.) It is a proprietary combination of network science and machine learning that gives us the power to see inside the soul of organizations – and to deliver actionable guidance to our corporate customers.”

 

Ulytic Ulytic was founded in 2015 by Billy Martin, who has an impressive background in marketing. Ulytic is a video processing platform that “allows traffic engineering and data collection firms to quickly upload footage and receive highly active traffic count reports with lightening fast turn around.” No more trucks taking traffic counts by clicker for three hours, one day a year and extrapolating out that info to be the traffic pattern for that corner every day. Now you can capture real numbers for all times of days, for all days–Including things like concerts, football games, school plays, and carnivals. You now can collect real data on events without extrapolation of anything. The funny thing is, they already have the cameras, we are just providing a way to use them instead of a person.

 

LifeLoop “Keeping you in the loop of your elderly family member”. The idea for LifeLoop came from a personal situation of Amy Johnson, who founded the startup in 2015. Their mission is as follows “Our number one goal is to improve the care and overall experience of residents living in senior living communities. they believe this involves creating and fostering great relationships between community staff, residents, and the residents’ families, which results in personalized care and attention.” With calendar management, resident tracking, and a family portal, LifeLoop is certainly living out its mission.

 

Bric Bric is quantifying work. Through capturing data on work, projects, skills, and financials, Bric knows what issues companies are having, the true abilities of their people, and which teams work best together. Today they are using this data to help teams maximize their time and talent; however, in the future, they will use this information to recommend products, services, and provide clients with coaching. They are creating a digital business consultant that knows everything about your business, your industry, and can use this to recommend solutions that work. No longer will you have to rely on a consultant’s personal experience or education — but can learn from your own company and industry.

 

Decision Logic  Ryan Mack is the current CEO of Decision Logic, which began in 1998. Originally designed for Applebee’s, today this restaurant management software serves over 50 brands. The software itself is special because it gives managers a much-needed, one-stop-shop to go see where their money goes, manage the outliers, uncover trends in sales and preparation, and manage staff and ordering. To date, the software has saved its restaurants over $37.5 million in food and labor costs. And that’s just the appetizer (see what I did there?). Over the next few years, they are adding prescriptive analytics and data visualizations that no one currently in the industry has or offers.

 

Quantified Ag Quantified Ag is a little different than our traditional tech startup, but perfect for our eco-system. They are in a new field called Ag-Tech–something Omaha does very well.  We talked directly to the CEO, Vishal Singh. Here’s what he told us about his startup, and the field he works in:

 

“Quantified Ag is a precision livestock analytics company located in Lincoln, NE. Think FitBit for cattle! This makes the beef supply better by providing feedlot workers with the tools to identify sick animals sooner and more accurately. Through early detection, Quantified Ag’s technology helps dramatically reduce costs by lowering re-treatment rate and death loss and getting animals back to peak performance faster.

 

“One area that often gets overlooked [in tech] is agriculture. Which is ironic because this industry is one of the most important things that our state does and does very well.  On that note, I feel fortunate that my company is working on a transformative idea in beef livestock production.  According to the NE Beef Council, “it’s the state’s largest industry and the engine that powers the state’s economy.” – http://www.nebeef.org/the-beef-story/state-national-facts.  Our state also ranks as one of the top beef cattle producers in our country and exports beef beyond our borders.”

 

Dynamo At the peak of their careers with a Fortune 500 company, Michelle Wingard and Brody Deren left their careers as regular recruiters to develop something completely different–a new way to recruit and place that focused on quality over quantity. Their mission is to not fill a role with a body that matches a check box, but instead to match openings with people that match each other. Their goal is to get it right the first time. One placement, done. Dynamo is succeeding in discovering news ways of expanding the tech field with a focus on better instead of more.

 

Gazella Wifi Eric Burns started Gazella Wifi in 2015 as an automated marketing tool for restaurants and businesses–think fishbowl filled with cards, but without the cards, and without the fishbowl. When customers log in to use the store’s wifi, Gazella is able to capture valuable customer information and provide it back to the owner for use in marketing and sales. Easy to use and customize, Gazella has helped countless restaurants grow their social media reach and customer marketing lists. Their next trick is to provide feedback to the business owner as to which customer would react best to which offer–rewarding behavior and driving sales in areas the store owner wants.

 

SOLVEStephanie Sands of SOLVE spoke to us about her startup’s unique platform. She says: “SOLVE is changing the way companies develop and implement their “people strategy.” The most successful companies recognize that investing in their employees will boost their bottom line. Handing out gift cards, buying a ping pong table, or changing the dress code won’t suffice anymore and especially with the new generation of workers. (Centennials, not Millennials). The key is understanding your workforce, and SOLVE can help you get there. With a background in Organizational Psychology, our team helps companies understand human behavior in the workplace using theory, research, and data to inform best practices. We partner with companies to increase the accuracy of hiring decisions, develop effective leaders, and create great cultures to engage and retain top performers. We also help ensure that those strategies are aligned, consistent, and connected to their culture. Our team provides results-focused services/tools and ongoing, customized support to ensure people problems are SOLVED.”

 

Median – Median is the newest company on the list, founded only last month (June 2017), but its two founders, Ben Stevinson and Derek Homann are excited about their new venture. Median is a customer service platform specifically designed to make real time support chat as fast as possible. It has built-in custom screen sharing technology that doesn’t require end users to install any special or clunky software. It makes service easy for agents as they can immediately get on the same page as the people they’re helping, instead of wasting time either trying to explain a screen to a customer or a customer downloading a piece of software so they can see their screen. It fundamentally changes the conversation of research and trying to understand what someone is telling you to one of diagnosis and problem-solving. As a beta tester, this one is truly helpful and a much-needed addition to anyone’s toolbox.

 

Retail Aware – Retail Aware is a joint collaboration of three already successful entrepreneurs Preston Badeer and Keith Fix. They are capitalizing on the newly forming IOT space by providing a new way to collect and use data in the retail space. Especially designed for owners of multiple locations (think franchisees), it gives them a way to see and understand previously untrackable data. Using sensors owners can test marketing effectiveness of store layout, product placement, and new store experiences. They can even A/B test in different stores. The results are given by the minute and displayed in well-designed dashboards.

 

As you might have guessed, based on what we do, these companies have a common thread. They are all using data to change their niche. It comes in many forms: BI, IOT, Predictive Analytics, Prescriptive Analytics, Machine Learning, and AI. These are just the tip of the iceberg. There are others, many others. Companies like: ScoutSheet, SkyVu, Kiai, and Rodeo Analytics are all on the brink of this list. (perhaps we should have another list next year) All of them are companies that are revolutionizing their niche and are run by bleeding edge leaders focused on using data and tech to update how we do business. In the future, these will be the companies to watch out for and our eleven will be the big companies everyone will have heard of. But, until then, you heard their names here first.

 

Now go and make sure you brag about these companies to all of your non-Nebraskan friends.  

 


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Eleven Nebraska startups that could be the next big thing

on July 28

Game of Throne Meets Data Science

on July 26

In the next few years, CAN is predicted to be among the nation’s leaders in data science. We have an impressive resume to back this up. We’ve worked with multiple Fortune 500 hundred companies, and many more Fortune 1000 companies all over the globe and have built a solid reputation among local Omahans for producing experts in data science and IT.

A year ago we joined up with Interface Web School and created the Omaha Data Science Academy (Oma-DSA). Our dedication to educating our community — from recent college graduates to single moms looking for a new career — has bolstered our reputation as not only an upstanding professional service but also a down-to-earth, human-to-human, educational source.

We also have an impressive network of CAN alums (Oma-DSA grads and former CAN employees) to prove this educational dedication. When you work for CAN, we don’t just want you to improve our company. We want you to improve yourself. That’s why so many of our graduates and employees have moved on to work for businesses all over the country, and to start their own businesses.

We have AIM and The Startup Collaborative to thank for our continued success. As CAN turns a year older, a lot of people are stopping us to ask this question:

 

Will CAN stay in Omaha?

Of course we will.

Does that shock you? To some it might seem like the next logical step for CAN is to move to a bigger city where there are more businesses, take on investment, and find more talent. But’s that not how we see it. We think Omaha is perfect.

Let’s examine the two mottos of the area: Omaha and Council Bluffs (Omaha’s sister city across the river from Omaha).

Omaha’s motto is “We Don’t Coast”. This has two meanings. This first is literal. Obviously, we don’t have coasts. And to add to that, we don’t mountain either. But the metaphorical meaning is even more true: we’re a city of do-ers. We don’t slack. We don’t waste time. We act on our ideas. We collaborate. We make waves.

Council Bluff’s motto is “Unlike Anywhere Else. On Purpose.”. Our friendly, work-hard, be-nice attitude, does not come naturally; rather, it’s something we strive to be. We know it puts us ahead. We don’t have to try to be hip and trendy, our values are more genuine. We’re happy with our identity.

What is Omaha’s identity? Let’s dive a little deeper.

 

Omaha’s bragging rights

Every town in the country has that one special thing that draws tourists, like a giant ball of yarn or a natural history museum. Omaha has more than gimmicks, however. We have the whole package.

We have the people.

We spoke a little about our personality in reference to our mottos. One phrase that CAN likes to use to describe the good people Omaha is “homesteader mentality.” We’re not afraid to put in hours and work. The 9-5 workday is not always our mode of operation when a job needs to be done. We work overtime to accomplish goals, and we approach problems with the end goal of figuring out a solution, not just putting in hours. 

Anecdote: Our original Founder used to tell people we only worked half days…7am to 7pm…

We also have a different kind of people. Because Omaha doesn’t have the density of other big cities, we have had to make our actions “on purpose”. In Omaha, people are willing to give advice and collaborate. Since everyone is connected in someway, with the right idea anyone could have lunch with 1 of the 5 billionaires that live in Nebraska. On the coasts, these people would be way to pre-occupied to give just any idea the time of day.

Most importantly, the people of Omaha understand good enough. We’re not caught up in the fame game. You could say we’re slow and steady, because we strive for improvement, not perfection. We don’t cut corners, we work hard to build ourselves up. Just like CAN has done in the past 9 years.

We are the place.

We’re not just small town in the middle of the country. Omaha has a global reach that surpasses many of the other bigger cities in the MidWest. Omaha is a business community. 

For instance, not so long ago Omaha was the equivalent of Silicon Valley for telecommunication. A lot of these big corporations are still headquartered in Omaha. Omaha currently has 4 Fortune 500 company headquarters.

Our agricultural companies ship grain all over the world, and we manage money for people across all six inhabited continents.

This spirit of success continues at every level. You can see it in the halls of the start-up collaborative. People young and old come to work on tech-related ideas and products that they believe will boost up Omaha’s name even more. 

Omaha is also a major transportation hub, with the largest N/S and E/W interstates running through the city and the nation’s largest railroad located downtown. In four hours you can go just about anywhere in the country from our airport, making Omaha a major crossroads of tech and transport.

Not to mention our cost of living is among the lowest in the country. Less personal expenses mean you can invest more in your business. More investments equals more momentum for success.

Still, starting a business in Nebraska has its challenges. Constraints, however, often produce creative solutions. With a state population of 1.8 million, isolation has been CAN’s biggest constraint. Isolation has forced CAN to learn to build a national client base using blogging, social networks, and virtual meetings.

We knew that this results-oriented culture of Omaha would help us create a business that provides real value for our customers and help to keep our business focused on the long-term instead of quick wins.

We have some cool things.

You probably don’t need a whole lot more convincing, but here’s a few websites that list awesome social and cultural aspects of Omaha:

  1. “8 Reasons to Move to Omaha, NE”
  2. “7 Reason why Omaha is the Best City in the US to Live In”
  3. “30 Things You Need to Know About Omaha Before You Move There”

Food, fashion, furry things. When we at CAN aren’t busy working on projects, we have unique opportunities to explore the MidWest culture.  

 

CAN Loves Omaha

Between the travel opportunities, the global reach, the hard-working mentality, and the room for growth, CAN couldn’t choose a better city for their headquarters. Omaha is producing more tech talent every year at half the price of those on the coast. CAN wants to hire this talent, give them real data analytics experience, and send them wherever they need to go. Without the resources and mentality of Omaha, this would not be possible.

In the end, CAN is going anywhere. We believe in our community, we believe in improvement, and we believe in sticking with our roots. 


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on July 28

Game of Throne Meets Data Science

on July 26

Open up any computer at the CAN headquarters and you’ll see our favorite data science website as our homepage: datasciencecentral.com. Articles, webinars, resources, ideas, tools, you name it. If it’s related to data science, it’s there.

Today, we’d like to share some knowledge from Rick Riddle. Check out his article “How can organizations successfully convert big data into real-world decisions?” by clicking on the link.

It’s all about how to apply the stacks and stacks of data your business has on file to real-life decisions. Which is what CAN is all about: using your data to help you. It may seem an overwhelming task, but CAN’s data scientists love challenges. Read over this article and let us know if you think we can help you with your data needs.

Contact Nate Watson at support@canworksmart.com.


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Eleven Nebraska startups that could be the next big thing

on July 28

Game of Throne Meets Data Science

on July 26

Last month, TechBus interviewed our very own President, Nate Watson. TechBus is an Omaha-based group that posts bi-weekly interviews about local businesses and new technology.

This video is everything you’ve ever wanted to know about CAN: who we are, what we do, how we’re related to the Data Science Academy, and how our staff augmentation model works. It’s a great way to get a glimpse into CAN for those who may be interested in contracting us, being employed by us, or being taught by us at the Oma-DSA.

To schedule a phone call with our very own Nate Watson, send us an e-mail at nate@canworksmart.com.


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Eleven Nebraska startups that could be the next big thing

on July 28

Where in the world CAN you find us?

on May 23

We found this article on Interface’s blog. We thought it was an awesome story about how Interface’s web school turned a busy woman’s career around. Despite obstacles of daily life, Miranda Tharp jump-started a web development career.

DSC_4754-300x300

To read the full article about, click here.

Interface partnered with CAN at the end of last year to create The Omaha Data Science Academy. With a certificate from the Data Science Academy, skilled professionals can boost their resumes with additional real life experience.


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Eleven Nebraska startups that could be the next big thing

on July 28

Where in the world CAN you find us?

on May 23

We are now accepting applications for the June 2017 cohort of the Omaha Data Science Academy!

Apply at Interface Web School’s website.

Are you interested in predictive analytics? Are you applying for jobs involving machine learning? Would you like to learn how to design and create algorithms? If so, the Oma-DSA may be a perfect fit. The Oma-DSA is designed for people who want to add to their data science knowledge for marketable skills. We use hands on teaching from leading data scientists in the Omaha area to craft courses that will boost your knowledge exponentially. More details at canworksmart.com


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Eleven Nebraska startups that could be the next big thing

on July 28

Where in the world CAN you find us?

on May 23

The next Omaha Data Science Academy cohort starts June 13th. Beat the competition and apply early! Applications open on Monday the 16th.

Contact Nate Watson at nate@canworksmart.com or see Interface‘s webpage for more details.

Are you interested in predictive analytics? Are you applying for jobs involving machine learning? Would you like to learn how to design and create algorithms? If so, the Oma-DSA may be a perfect fit. The Oma-DSA is designed for people who want to add to their data science knowledge for marketable skills. We use hands on teaching from leading data scientists in the Omaha area to craft courses that will boost your knowledge exponentially. More details at canworksmart.com


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Eleven Nebraska startups that could be the next big thing

on July 28

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on May 23

CAN is excited to announce, in partnered with the Interface Web School, the creation of Omaha’s first Data Science Academy (Oma-DSA). 

This is something we have been working on for a long time. It is actually a continuation of a service we currently offer to clients where we train a company’s first data scientist. We feel this unique person, trained in both data science and business problem solving, is needed by their company to help implement the ideology more than produce mathematical models or produce visualizations.

In the past, we heard that while companies know how to find and hire a data scientist, they fear not being able to utilize this person or even know how to correctly scope how to use predictive analytics in their business. This caused them to not execute or to execute poorly and leave a bad taste in the organization’s mouth.

CAN has discovered that having a data science advocate (instead of just a data scientist) usually fixes the hangup with implementation in most companies trying to use data science for the first time. The realization there was a considerable lack of talent when looking to fill this need, led us to develop a school that teaches not only entry level data science, but also how to address the political red tape prevalent in changing how an operation thinks and makes decisions.

This academy will help CAN reach its goal of putting a data science advocate in every company in Omaha. While audacious, we feel this is a must to keep Omaha companies relevant in an economy where we are not just in competition from a company down the street but from every other company doing similar work around the world.

 

Details.

This certificate will teach some of the most important techniques and tools necessary to introduce data science into company culture, get necessary political buy-in, find, manipulate, and analyze the data present inside your company’s database, make predictions of outcomes, and create visualizations that can help non-technical users understand and see the identified trends and patterns inside the data.  

The Oma-DSA is designed to help set a company down the road of data discovery and data-driven decision making. While not the heavy mathematician or economist created by four year degrees, the graduate will leave the Academy with the confidence and the skills of an entry level data scientist and be able to have conversations with business units, build predictive analytical MVPs, and be able to know and manage the skill sets needed for future data scientist projects.

The Certificate Consists of 4 Modules: 

  • Basics of Python Programming
  • Data Manipulation and Management
  • Statistics and Computational Modeling
  • Data Visualization

 

All classes meet 2 nights per week for 22 weeks over the course of 28 weeks for a total of 154 hours of in-class instruction to complete the certificate.

 

For more information on course offerings and to apply, go to https://interfaceschool.com/course/data-science-academy/.

You may also contact Nate Watson, director of the academy, at nate@canworksmart.com if you have specific questions about offerings or custom classes. 

 


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Eleven Nebraska startups that could be the next big thing

on July 28

Where in the world CAN you find us?

on May 23

Recently, Contemporary Analysis (CAN) was asked by the Indianapolis Business Journal to weigh in on how Predictive Analytics is changing the marketing space. We believe by combining predictive analytics and marketing, called contextualized marketing, marketing can move closer to the holy grail of one person, one sale.  Most companies do this by purchasing a software–it’s dactyl, most companies have a line item in their budget, and it gives a third-party marketing company reoccurring revenue. While CAN itself doesn’t have a piece of software to sell, we believe that contextualized marketing is the right move for companies and that those with the edge are “the ones using data scientists to predict who inside of a group of people have the propensity to buy.”

Because CAN doesn’t have the software solution, we approached the solution from a slightly different angle. We provide modeling and results in way that can be easily added to your current tracking software. This way, a company can begin the transition from shotgun marketing to tactical marketing with a low cost of entry. Once implemented, the case can be made for the software using predictive analytics to be purchased and used if needed.

Additionally, because software companies provide a tool and very little in the way on why the tool is important, most software implementations fall flat. We believe our value is helping companies manage the change management necessary to implement the software and to understand how to use them effectively–which greatly increases both the adoption and the ROI from the adoption.

Let us know how we can help you build data science into your marketing. We would be glad to help.

For more information or to gain knowledge as to who and how we have helped implement contextual marketing, go to our website at:

www.canworksmart.com

or connect with the president on LinkedIn at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/natewatson

or send us an email at:

support@canworksmart.com

 

Full article IBJ article:  http://www.ibj.com/articles/54753-smarterhq-gobbles-up-venture-funds


What if you knew who was going to vote, who they would vote for, and if their vote could be changed?

We recently were hired by a campaign where there was no incumbent but their competitor was well funded. They needed a smarter way to campaign.

Contemporary Analysis combining Predictive Analytics, Political Campaigns and Big Data to help the campaign be better at understanding what the vote count was going to be, how to turnout the voter, and what issues were significant to the voting population.

The campaign’s competitors were using large budgets to follow a traditional strategy. But predictive analytics levels the playing field, allowing candidates with smaller budgets to target the right potential voters.  We helped our client focus their marketing efforts and avoid wasting time, energy, and money trying to appeal to everyone. Read more…



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