Looking back on Startup Weekend EDU Seattle

By Jay L.

Imagine 80+ people running around an auditorium with giant post-it notes and sharpies voting on ideas with smaller post-it notes and seeking collaborators to work on their education projects.  This was the Friday night pitch chaos during Startup Weekend EDU Seattle.  Of the forty-seven ideas that folks threw out into the room, eleven attracted teams to champion them.

1P1540411smIt didn’t stop at the idea, though; these folks rolled up their sleeves spent really long hours at the library testing the viability of their solutions together.  One group built a tracking device for special needs students.  Another, a system to help teachers organize student work and learning behaviors.  There was robotic arm, and a team creating a system to engage students to program it.  One team even built a tool to help younger kids write book reviews.  It was all fueled by great food and caffeine, of course! Continue reading “Looking back on Startup Weekend EDU Seattle”

Start-up at the library – what do you need to launch your business?

Do you have a fantastic business idea? Are you planning give it a go, but don’t have a lot of formal business training? The library has some tools to help you out. In addition to our collection of general startup guides, below are some other useful resources. Continue reading “Start-up at the library – what do you need to launch your business?”

Crash: Bank Failures and Other Economic Catastrophes

You don’t have to look far to find news that illustrates how we are still struggling to dig our way out of a severe economic crisis.

How did we get in this mess again? As it was happening, there were lots of articles about housing market bubbles, bank failures, subprime lending, bailouts, securities scandals and other catastrophes that brought us here. If you want to explore some behind-the-scenes stories about what happened, there have been a number of recent exposés that explore the gory details of what took place in banks, at investment companies, on Wall Street, and in political circles. Of course, you’ll find no shortage of finger-pointing and theories from various perspectives.

If I’ve piqued your interest, have a look at this list of non-fiction books and movies that help tell this story. Many of these books are currently featured in a display in the Small Business collection on the 7th floor of the Central Library.

If you like this list, you also might enjoy listening to Kirsten Grind who will be at the Central Library on July 26 to discuss her new book The Lost Bank: The Story of Washington Mutual — The Biggest Bank Failure in American History.

October Question of the Month – an irregular series

Hi. I’m starting a preschool business in North Seattle. I need help getting answers to these questions: $ spent in US on private preschools; $ spent locally on private preschools; % growth last year. Also, growth potential, trends in the industry, and my main competitors’ products and pricing. Thank-you for your help!

Thank you for your question regarding preschool education startup business statistics. There is much information available free of charge to the general public. The U.S. Census produces an Economic Census which profiles American business every 5 years, from the national to the local level. It will give you data on total sales, number of establishments, payroll and number of employees by business type at city, county and sometime zip code level.  And The Seattle Public Library provides several databases for researching market statistics, forecasts, and industry trends. With your Seattle Public Library card, you have access to multiple subscription databases. You can access these databases from home at any time by entering your library card and pin number.

ReferenceUSA  – provides a detailed listing of 14 million businesses nationwide. Information includes name of business, address, telephone number, headquarters, branch and subsidiaries identification, SIC codes, credit rating, number of employees, and estimated sales volume for all of your competitors. You have the ability to search (customized) by type of business, geography (city, county, zip code, etc.) business size and more. Reference USA provides competition report.

You can search for industry and trade news articles in a wide variety of databases we provide via our Business, Finance and Fundraising page.  Good choices for your research include – ABI Inform Trade & Industry, Business & Company Resource Center, Business and lndustry, Onefile, Proquest and Washington State Newsstand databases. You can search for trade associations in Associations Unlimited database. Trade associations often collect and distribute data on markets, products and trends.

We also maintain general and specialized business-ratio books for expense and profit ratios by business type at the Information desk on level 7 of the Central Library.  You can reach us at (206) 386-4636.

We did an initial search for “preschool education businesses” in the U.S. Census, American Fact Finder database for you. The results are shown below. You will see that preschool education is catagorized under “Child Day Care Services,” using the North American Industry Classification System code: 624410. It does not however, provide total revenues for Seattle centers.  You will be able to find estimated individual company revenues by searching ReferenceUSA database.

American Fact Finder – U.S. Census – Selected Statistics from the 2007 Economic Census

Index Entry – Preschool centers
NAICS Code – 624410
U.S. NAICS Title – Child Day Care Services
Seattle, WA
624410: Child day care services
– Number of establishments: 290
– Receipts/Revenue ($1,000) : Withheld to avoid disclosing data for individual companies; data are included in higher level totals
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 Economic Census

A preliminary search in the ReferenceUSA database identified 108 listed businesses currently in the city of Seattle under Pre-Schools (NAICS 835105) and Schools-Nursery & Kindergarten Academic(NAICS 835102). This is less than half of the number picked up in the 2007 Economic Census. Repeating this search will enable you to see their estimated sales, business expenditures and total business profile.

We hope this is enough to get you started. Please let us know if we can help you further.

Got a stumper? Click on Ask a Librarian. It’s what we do.

A little investment help from your friends: Tips from the library for bond investors…..

Library users who invest know that stock information is available 24/7 online via The Library’s free databases Valueline, Standard and Poor’s NetAdvantage and Morningstar.  But what kind of help can the library give with bonds?  Bonds are harder to research than stocks, especially prices, and the library has never really furnished bond price information.  But we do have resources to search bond recommendations and ratings and can offer some advice about searching prices.  A final piece of information from the library, particularly for the new investor, is an explanation of why bonds are hard to research.  The primary problem for the investor is that bonds do not trade on the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ, but on less transparent exchanges, and their prices are more complex, featuring such things as “spreads,” etc.

The Library offers two popular and respected databases that give limited bond information.  These are Standard and Poor’s NetAdvantage and Morningstar.  Under  company search options,  in both, you can look at current bonds and bond ratings.   Standard and Poor’s will allow you to screen bonds for purchase. Morningstar is a good source for finding bond mutual funds to meet your needs.

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association runs an excellent website, which we link to on the SPL webpage  Click on “corporate market” and search by name of company for bonds offered and “municipal market” for municipal bonds. For the more sophisticated investor, you can also check who’s been trading and pricing the previous day for municipal bonds.

Another useful site, linked to from the Library’s investing resources page, is run by the US Treasury and covers federal government bonds. These securities are issued and sold at auction and resold by brokers.  It is possible to buy government bonds at the site and avoid commissions.  Click on “individual” to find all kinds of useful information, including the current value of bonds you hold.  Always check the upper tabs for “tools” for more search and transaction options.

You might also want to try these books: The Bond Book by Annette Thau  and The Strategic Bond Investor by Anthony Crescenzi. Both are available in 2010 editions and in download or paper formats.

Lastly, remember the library subscribes to Money Magazine and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, as well as many investment newsletters, so you can keep up with the latest trends!  Bonds are an integral part of any investment portfolio, and we all can use a little help.

~ Sally W.. Central Libary