TradeBriefs Editorial From the Editor's Desk

The quiet power of reading with your coworkers
The tech accelerator Y Combinator is known for producing forward-thinking companies like Airbnb and Dropbox, so when I sat down with a small group of successful startup founders at a panel the organization hosted last year, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this innovative group all agreed on a classic learning tool: books.
The founders had all chosen a favorite leadership book to read and discuss with their teams.
A growing body of research supports the idea that reading is good for you, and in my experience, it can be good for your company, too.

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TradeBriefs Editorial From the Editor's Desk

The Aldi effect: how one discount supermarket transformed the way Britain shops
On a Thursday morning in April 1990, in the suburb of Stechford in Birmingham, a strange grocery chain started trading in the UK. It only stocked 600 basic items - fewer than you might find in your local corner shop today - all at very low prices. For many products, including butter, tea and ketchup, only a single, usually unfamiliar brand was offered. To shoppers accustomed to the abundance of Tesco and Sainsbury's, which dominated the British grocery sector with thousands of products and brands, delicatessens, vast fridges and aisles piled high with fresh fruit and vegetables, the range would have seemed dismal.
The managers of this new shop, which was called Aldi, had not bothered to place a single advert announcing its arrival - not even an "Opening soon" sign outside the store. Strip lights illuminated the 185 sq metre store, and from the ceiling hung banners listing prices for the goods stacked on wooden pallets or displayed in torn-open cardboard boxes on metal shelves. A £1 deposit allowed you to borrow a trolley but there were no baskets. The checkout assistants, who had been trained to memorise the price of every item in the store, were so fast that shoppers experienced what some would come to call "Aldi panic" - the fear that you cannot pack your goods quickly enough. The store accepted cash but not cheques or cards. Customers seeking itemised receipts left disappointed.

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TradeBriefs Editorial From the Editor's Desk

Why These Founders Gave Their Suppliers and Manufacturers a Piece of the Company
Shira Berk had spent most of her career as a publicist, but in 2010 she started making gluten-free cookies and selling them at her children's preschool. The side hustle took off. Five years later she was operating her brand, Goodie Girl Cookies, out of a commercial kitchen, selling $25,000 in product a year, and she wanted to go bigger -- fast. "I didn't want to take the time to raise the money and go on all the interviews with all the incubators," she says. As it happens, a manufacturer, Greg Toufayan, of the bakery company Toufayan, wanted to get into the startup game. So they came up with a plan: Toufayan would invest in Goodie Girl and focus on production, logistics, and financing, and Berk would focus on sales and brand building.

Does Berk miss having full ownership of Goodie Girl? Nope. "It has given me the ability to do things I never thought I'd be able to do," she says. In one year, sales shot to $1 million. "I'm able to go into retailers and say, 'I'm partners with one of the largest bakeries in the U.S. -- what do you need?'" Once, Walmart's buyer requested a gluten-free fudge-stripe cookie. Goodie Girl whipped up a batch and sent it to Walmart within weeks. The buyer loved it. Today, Goodie Girl’s national sales exceed $10 million.

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