From the June 2008 issue of Entrepreneur

Making Amends
By Crystal Detamore-Rodman

Despite a constricting credit market, many entrepreneurs will find it easer to raise cash now that regulators have lifted restrictions on unregistered shares--a move experts say will ease liquidity concerns and make private-placement transactions less burdensome for smaller companies.

Indeed, the SEC recently adopted several amendments to Rule 144, which governs the sale of restricted securities. Before the rule changed, restricted stock (securities originally sold in an unregistered, private placement) had to be held at least a year before the investor could sell it, and even then, the securities could only be sold in small quantities.

The SEC shortened the holding period to six months, and sales are no longer subject to the old volume limits, making small-cap companies a more attractive investment opportunity. "It potentially opens up a new class of investor to this type of transaction," says attorney Arthur Marcus, a partner at Gersten Savage LLP. "The shortened holding period lessens the registration risk for restricted securities and provides a viable exit strategy. It should allow companies to structure deals on more favorable terms."

Under the old system, the shares often traded at a significant discount from their original market value because investors were locked into the shares for a year. The new shorter holding period is likely to decrease this "liquidity discount." "[They] should get better pricing since the shares will be freely transferable under Rule 144 after six months," says attorney Lou Bevilacqua, a partner at Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner LLP.

And that means it might be time, says Bevilacqua, to "call back some of the [investors] who passed on [you] in the past to see if the rule changes affect the decisions of those potential investors."


Travel
All In One

Prepping for a business trip to a city you don't know well usually means downloading all sorts of destination information. Now Placely.com's TripKit lets you aggregate all the information you'll need in a single spot. Just enter your travel itinerary, and from there you'll have a page with maps from Google, a five-day weather forecast courtesy of The Weather Channel and user-generated content from Yelp.com.
What sets Placely apart from other visitor information sites, however, is that it is first and foremost a social networking site designed for business travelers. You can see who in your network of friends and colleagues will be in the city you're traveling to when you're there, and whether they live there or are just visiting. On a Google map, you can pinpoint just how far your suburban compatriots are from your downtown hotel. You can also post upcoming trips, so anyone in your network can synchronize schedules with you. If you're interested in meeting someone with similar interests, or alumni from your alma mater, you can use the site to connect with them as well.

As functionality is added (Placely is still in beta), other time-sensitive information, including concerts, sporting events and shows, will also be displayed, says co-founder and CEO Denis Khoo.

Julie Moline is a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant in New York City.


Looks That Thrill
By Amanda C. Kooser

Sometimes technology transcends the realm of the practical and pushes the boundaries of design and function. These are a few of the hottest (and coolest) designs that came out at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year.

Dell Crystal - dell.com
This 22-inch widescreen flat-panel monitor shines with its sleek, futuristic design. For $1,199, you get a head-turner with tempered glass, a gleaming metal tripod stand, a nearly hidden webcam, integrated speakers and capacitive touch controls. The Crystal would look equally at home in an art gallery or on an executive's desk.

Lenovo IdeaPad U110 - lenovo.com
The IdeaPad U110 is an ultraportable laptop wrapped in style. It features an 11.1-inch frameless screen, face recognition security and a lid with an attractive red hue. A subtle vine pattern covers the top and reappears inside and under the machine. With prices starting at $1,899, even the heat vents are fashionable.

Hewlett-packard Pavilion HDX - hp.com
This is one desktop-replacement notebook you won't mind leaving out on your desk as your full-time computer. An ample 20-inch display and muscular under-the-hood specs are balanced by the innovative dual-hinged screen, glossy imprint finish, touch-sensitive, blue-lit media controls and removable built-in remote. It's both powerful and elegant. Prices start at $1,999.

Motorola ROKR E8 - motorola.com
Motorola takes a candy bar-style phone and spices it up for the ROKR E8. The face is a single smooth surface with a cutting-edge haptic touch pad that gives tactile feedback when activated. ModeShift technology has the phone controls adapt to whichever use you need them for--phone, music player or camera.


Au Naturel
By Lindsay Holloway

While this year's Natural Products Expo west in Anaheim, California, saw many veteran exhibitors and returning categories, there were some fresh ideas on the scene:

  • Packaging: Companies are differentiating themselves with hip, contemporary packaging.
  • Superfoods: Überhealthy foods and fruits continue to sprout, including goji berries, yerba maté, yumberries, hemp milk and mangosteen.
  • Certification: From kosher to fair-trade, organizations are setting standards to identify legit companies.
  • Reusable/Biodegradable: Watch for more reusable and recyclable products and packaging--otherwise, it's probably biodegradable.
  • Snacks: New appearances include more whole-grain snacks, chips and cookies as well as kid-friendly sizes and options.