I am able to get meaningful publicity for companies – not because of a great rolodex of powerful contacts – but because I can tell great stories about the companies I work for. This creates a mutually beneficial relationship with the press; a much healthier way to operate in my opinion. My rich storytelling background in creative writing and motion pictures has allowed me to get press coverage for the companies I’ve worked for in AdWeek, USA Today, CNET, TechCrunch, BusinessWeek, Orange County Register, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Business Journal, and many more.
- Winner: 2015 Hermes Creative Platinum Award
- Silverlight Digital featured on stage at AdTech New York
- My viral video “Free Kisses” was featured in AdWeek
- I partnered with Google to produce a popular digital advertising seminar
- Dr. Terry O’Neil featured in OC Metro Magazine’s “Hot 25 People of the Year”
- Orange County Business Journal cover story on Modular Wind Energy
- Market research reports featured in USA Today
- Frequent guest-lecturer at Chapman University on the topic of public relations
- Contributing writer for three digital advertising online journals
BY THERESA WALKER / STAFF WRITER
PHOTO BY PAUL RODRIGUEZ
September 22, 2015
Kuntal Joisher turned around from where he stood at base camp on Mount Everest and saw death riding the huge white wave that filled the sky.
There was nowhere for the experienced mountain climber and photographer from India to run. And only seconds to react to what he calls “a snow tsunami.”
“More than fear, I was sad that this was going to be the end,” Joisher says. “My heart just sank.”
The ground had just stopped shaking from a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25. Joisher and others at base camp survived the temblor only to hear the loud boom that signaled the start of the avalanche roiling behind them.
Joisher, 35, didn’t die that day, thanks to a fellow climber’s quick thinking.
It was his second attempt to become the first vegan mountain climber to scale the world’s tallest mountain. The avalanche of 2014 that killed 16 Sherpas aborted his first try.
Joisher hopes to climb Mount Everest in the future, but first he is putting his energy into helping Nepal recover from the earthquake.
Last week, he gave a standing-room-only talk at the REI store in Tustin that drew gasps at the beauty of his photos of Nepal and Mount Everest and at the terror he experienced in the avalanche.
By Greg Hardesty, OC Metro
November 1, 2014
Immuno-Gum Founder Terry O’Neil has been chosen by the Orange County Register as one of OC’s HOT 25. The November issue is on news stands now but we’ve got an excerpt for you here:
“Chew on this: Terry O’Neil, M.D., is poised to make it big – not in his specialty of emergency medicine, but in the industry of … gum. But there’s a healthy twist to O’Neil’s creation, Immuno Gum (immuno-gum.com), which some vendors predict could become the next Airborne:
Its immunity-boosting ingredients – including zinc, vitamin C, elderberry, Siberian ginseng, astragalus and Echinacea – help stave off colds. O’Neil, 41, who patches up patients at Los Alamitos Medical Center, says the “Gum With Benefts” he launched in January 2013 could be sold through about 5,000 locations by the end of December, including independent pharmacy chains and grocers.
Immuno Gum, which sells for $3.49 a pack, is already available at many airports (including LAX), at all U.S. national parks that have gift shops, and in 7-Eleven, Vitamin World and Sports Chalet. It’s also available on Amazon.com. O’Neil is seeking investors to help grow operations and get his gum distributed through Walgreens, Walmart and Rite Aid.”
– by Greg Hardesty for OC Metro
By Gabriel Beltrone, Adweek
June 18, 2014
College students know that chewing gum is for making out. But Immuno Gum, a new product, also claims to include immune-system-boosting ingredients like zinc, vitamin C and echinacea. To promote the brand, business incubator Chicklabs and students from Chapman University’s film school created this video of a pair of college students—the “hottest” at the school, according to the ad’s makers—handing out free samples, and then free kisses, to dozens of their peers on campus.
It’s an awkward and slightly gross premise that will make germaphobes squirm. The result, though, is ultimately pretty innocent, consisting mainly of gawky pecks, and blushing, and laughter, and cheering, and the general lack of comfort that’s bound to accompany spit-swapping for the sake of business.
The product’s tagline, “Gum with benefits,” ends up fitting pretty well, as a pun for vitamins and casual hookups, though it seems a bit specious to suggest kissing a lot of random people is going to be good for you. In other words, it manages to be funny, at moments, but still pretty weird.
The public setting and pass-around vibe makes it feel more transactional and less charmingly intimate than this spring’s wildly popular strangers-kissing ad for L.A. fashion label Wren. But it’s pretty much hoping to leverage the same kind of rubbernecking dynamic—it’s just the undergrad version. At least the product actually has something to do with mouths, though.
By Stephen Baker, Businessweek
January 9, 2009
Catch this: 92% of Internet users, according to a new Nielsen‐WebVisible survey, say they’re satisfied with search
results. But 39% of them frequently can’t find companies they’re looking for. In other words, they find what
they’re looking for—even if it ends up coming from a different company.
For business owners still unsure about the importance of establishing a strong, search‐optimized Web presence,
those numbers should make a strong case. (This reminds me that I should stop postponing an SEO consultation for
Other notes from the study:
Only 44% of small businesses have a Web site. Of those that do, 61% spend less than three hours a week
marketing their Web site. This explains the difficulty search engine users encounter when looking for small
Of small businesses that have a Web site, 51% believe both the quality and ability of their site to acquire new
customers is only “fair” or “poor.”
By JULIA ANGWIN
July 10, 2006
When Jackie Mitchell was launching her doggie day-care business in Tacoma, Wash., two years ago, she spent most of her limited advertising dollars in the local yellow pages. Now her business, Bark Central, is booming — but she says more customers have found her through her Web site than through the phone directories.
This isn’t the usual tale of new media overtaking old media, however. In a new twist, Ms. Mitchell is paying the nation’s third-largest publisher of yellow pages, R.H. Donnelley Corp., to both run her Web site and distribute online ads on search sites like Yahoo Inc.’s.
The yellow pages are finally getting Internet-savvy. After years of fruitlessly trying to sell ads on their own Web sites — which get relatively few visitors — many of the directories have begun reselling ads to their customers on bigger, high-traffic Web sites such as Yahoo and Google Inc.
“We’re media agnostic,” says Simon Greenman, senior vice president of digital strategy, innovation and products at R.H. Donnelly. “Our strategy is to connect our customers with their customers wherever they may be.”
Clicks by the Bundle
Only about 14% of U.S. print yellow-page advertisers — about 600,000 — are currently purchasing online ads from the yellow pages as well, according to estimates from Kelsey Group, a local-advertising research firm in Princeton, N.J. By 2010, the number is forecast to hit 1.2 million advertisers, or about 30%.
One reason for this slow growth is the relatively low traffic that the yellow pages attract to their Web sites. The most popular yellow-pages site, Verizon Communications Inc.’s SuperPages.com, attracted 17 million visitors in April, according to comScore Media Metrix, an Internet measurement firm based in Reston, Va. By comparison, Yahoo attracted 128 million visitors and Google attracted 108 million visitors to their search pages during the same period.
So the publishers of the top directories — including AT&T Inc., BellSouth Corp., Verizon and Donnelley — decided to offer small businesses a service that would allow the businesses to get their ads seen by consumers using those high-traffic sites.
The service, called click packages, works like this: The yellow pages, on behalf of advertisers, bid on search keywords like “carpet cleaner” in online auctions. The top bidders’ ads — typically a few lines of text — then run on the right-hand side of a page with results of a search for the keyword. The advertiser pays a flat monthly fee for a guaranteed number of customer clicks on those ads, which link to the business’s Web site. So the yellow pages will keep bidding for various keywords until the guaranteed number of clicks is reached. And the ads stay up as long as it takes to generate those clicks.
Micha Anderson, president of Chastain Chem-Dry, a carpet-cleaning service in Atlanta, spends $1,625 a month for 750 clicks from BellSouth — meaning BellSouth will keep bidding on keywords until at least 750 people click on Chastain Chem-Dry’s ads and land on the business’s site each month. BellSouth buys ads on Web sites including Yahoo.com, InfoSpace Inc.’s InfoSpace.com and Switchboard.com, and Ask.com, which is owned by IAC/InterActiveCorp. BellSouth keeps a percentage of the monthly fee depending on how many clicks are purchased.
Mr. Anderson says he doesn’t pay attention to what keywords have been purchased on his behalf. He just knows that the traffic to his Web site has nearly quadrupled since the program began. “I don’t know what exactly are the mechanics of how they drive the traffic for us,” he says, “but it’s effective.”
High Cost of Convenience
Charles Stubbs, chief executive of YellowPages.com, a joint venture between AT&T and BellSouth, says, “Small-business people are busy people and they don’t have time to spend two hours a day to manage their online advertising accounts.”
There’s a price for that convenience, however. Kirsten Mangers, the chief executive of WebVisible, the company that manages the bundle-of-clicks technology for Donnelley and others and trains sales representatives to sell those clicks, says that “if the average cost per click is 50 cents or a dollar, [the customer] may [actually] spend $2 or more for a click,” but they are paying for the yellow pages to manage their accounts.
WebVisible, a unit of Atlanta-based SME Global Solutions Inc., buys between 300 and 600 keywords for each business and uses proprietary software to manage the advertising campaigns. Since some clicks cost more than others, WebVisible manages the bidding to allow its clients to offer flat-rate click packages.
Mr. Anderson of Chastain Chem-Dry pays top dollar for his clicks — about $2.17 per click, based on a monthly fee of $1,625 for 750 clicks. The top bid recently for “carpet cleaner” on Yahoo was $1.20 per click, according to information available on Yahoo’s Web site.
Yellow Book USA Inc., the leading independent publisher of yellow pages, says the markup of clicks can inflate costs for small businesses. “In the bundle-of-clicks model, there is an incentive for the middleman to maximize his profit at the expense of the advertisers,” says Gordon Henry, chief marketing officer of Yellow Book USA.
Yellow Book says it’s in the process of rolling out a product called WebReach, which won’t charge a flat fee to advertisers. Instead, advertisers will pay according to the price of the clicks purchased — so barbers will likely pay less per click than mortgage brokers. Mr. Henry adds that WebReach will only purchase ads on the top-tier search engines — Yahoo, Google, Ask.com, Microsoft Corp.’s MSN.com and Time Warner Inc.’s AOL.com — unlike other yellow pages, which purchase across as many as 30 sites.
Mr. Henry says Yellow Book will still charge an undisclosed management fee for managing the account. “We’re taking a small fee to track the advertising, explain it to the advertiser and take that worry and hassle out of his hands,” he says.
Verizon also offers a pay-per-click account that charges according to the price of the click instead of a flat rate.
Building a Site
The click packages aren’t the only services the yellow pages are offering. Most also will design and manage a Web site for small-business advertisers — many of whom don’t have an existing Web presence.
BellSouth designed a three-page Web site for Chastain Chem-Dry, which includes a complete listing of its services, locations and contact information. It also manages the site.
Donnelley designed and manages the Bark Central Web site. Ms. Mitchell pays Donnelley $100 per month, which includes a clicks package of 240 guaranteed clicks and the design and management of the site. The Bark Central site includes contact information, a list of services, hours of operation, rates and requirements like vaccines. Customers also can send an email or make a reservation through the site.
The Direct Route
Some small businesses, however, say they don’t need help from the yellow pages to make a connection.
Michael Jimenez of San Rafael, Calif., says sales at his upholstery business have risen 13% in the past 18 months. He credits the ad space he buys directly from Google. His ads run alongside some of the search results in Google.
To buy those ads, Mr. Jimenez bids on a bunch of keywords, such as “upholstery,” “custom upholstery” and “upholstery shop” on Google. If his bid is among the top in a certain category, his ad will show up alongside the results for a search on that word. He only pays when someone clicks on his ad and lands on his Web page, MichaelsUpholstery.com. Mr. Jimenez says he pays an average of $50 per month for clicks.
The small-business owner says Yahoo approached him about nine months ago with an offer to buy keywords. He now spends $15 a month with Yahoo, which bids on keywords such as “Marin upholstery” on his behalf.
Mr. Jimenez says about 70% of the traffic to his Web site now comes from Google and Yahoo. And business has increased so much that he has been having a hard time keeping up with the volume.
Executives at the yellow-page directories say they aren’t worried that too many companies will follow in Mr. Jimenez’s footsteps. “The vast majority of small businesses have neither the time nor awareness to effectively market their products on the Internet,” says Bill Hammack, an industry consultant and former executive at Donnelley.
Mr. Jimenez still pays about $600 a month for several listings in the local yellow pages, which includes the online yellow pages. But he says the online yellow pages haven’t yielded much traffic.
“The thing that keeps us from pulling from yellow pages,” he says, “is that our clientele in Marin County is an older clientele and they still use the yellow pages.”
–Ms. Angwin is a staff reporter in The Wall Street Journal’s New York bureau
Robin Wauters, Techcrunch
April 15, 2010
According to the latest quarterly report by local online advertising company WebVisible, the average small business advertiser spent $2,201 on search advertising in Q1 2010, a 2.4 percent increase over the previous quarter and a 91 percent increase over the same period last year.
Year‐over‐year spending was up 111 percent in Q4 2009 and 91 percent in Q3 2009.
WebVisible posits that Bing saw its share of search spending increase by 10 percent in Q1 over the previous quarter, while Google’s share increased by 3 percent over the same period. Yahoo’s share of spending dropped by 9 percent.
The data from WebVisible’s Report on the ‘State of Small Business Online Advertising Q1 2010′ is said to represent nearly $23 million in U.S. small business advertiser spending from more than 12,000 individual advertisers in Q1 2010. This is obviously only a small part of the total paid search spending, but it depicts a trend. WebVisible CEO Kirsten Mangers says small businesses will spend their money wherever they can get the most bang for their buck, and that Bing is king when it comes to that: Microsoft’s search engine maintains the highest click‐through rate at costs that are lower than Google’s overall, according to Mangers.
Small businesses also saw positive results from their increased search spending in the first quarter of this year. From Q4 2009 to Q1 2010, WebVisible says there was a 35 percent increase in the percentage of search clicks that resulted in a phone call for advertisers using call tracking numbers.
Click‐through rates continued steady year‐over‐year improvement in Q1 2010, with Google’s CTR up 29 percent, Yahoo!’s CTR up 138 percent and Bing’s CTR up 53 percent. While each of the three major engines saw cost‐perclicks (CPC) decline in Q1 compared with the same period last year, overall CPCs have remained relatively stable since Q2 2009.
Similar to previous quarters, the most popular advertiser categories in Q1 2010 were attorneys, general contractors and dentists. The categories that showed higher‐than‐average spending levels were attorneys, roofers and plumbers, while general contractors and landscapers showed lower‐than‐average spending in Q1 2010. To obtain a full copy of the WebVisible report, head on over here.
By Matt Marshall, VentureBeat
March 16, 2008
WebVisible, a company that focuses on interactive advertising in local markets, said it has received $12 million in second round of funding.
The funding was led by Sutter Hill Ventures and included existing investor Redpoint Ventures.
The Irvine, Calif. company offers a software that manages interactive advertising campaigns for small-to-medium-sized businesses.
It can track a consumer’s location apparently because it partners with companies that have cookies and other information that provides it with that information, including Yahoo, MSN, Ask, Local.com, Voicestar, eStara, Telmetrics, Blue Lithium, Advertising.com, ValueClick, and Looksmart.
WebVisible then partners with companies like AT&T, British Telecom, Yellow Pages Group of Canada, Earthlink, and The McClatchy Company, among others — which sell Webvisible’s advertising product to their local business customers trying to reach consumers in their geographical area.
By David Pot, Entrepreneur Magazine
So what’s a cyberphobic jewelry maker from West Covina, Calif., doing on the vanguard of online marketing, intrepidly–and, some would argue, unwisely–testing a strategy to build his company”s web presence that is nothing if not unconventional?
What’s unusual about Mendoza’s approach is that it involves abandoning the website his company, Jewelry Sales & Design, launched close to a decade ago in favor of a simple third-party-hosted landing page. In doing so, Mendoza is breaking a cardinal rule of mainstream business strategy that says companies, however small, must have a formal, static website to be competitively viable.
Venturing into the online world sans website is not a widely endorsed practice. In fact, it runs contrary to the better judgment of even the most progressive internet marketing experts (see sidebar). What’s surprising is that Mendoza’s nonconformist approach seems to be working.
“We spent tens of thousands of dollars on our website and got almost nothing out of it,” Mendoza says. “We spent $2,500 or $3,000 for this whole [landing page] package, and I’m very sure we got that much out of it in the first couple months. We’ve had thousands of hits, and we’re getting a lot more phone calls from those hits.”
Why Forgo a Website?
In the experimental laboratory that is the internet, convention-bucking entrepreneurs are using a distributed strategy to build an online presence exclusively with social media and web apps. It’s an approach that has merit in certain situations, if only as a stopgap until a company has the resources to invest in a full-blown website, according to Kirsten Mangers, CEO of WebVisible, an internet marketing firm that develops small-business online marketing strategies built around landing pages. “There’s an immediacy to these kinds of vehicles, an ability to change on a dime to meet changing needs, without having to maintain a 20-, 30- or 40-page website.”
Voices of Reason
It is possible–though hardly advisable–for a business to build a viable online presence without a website, according to web marketing experts.
The ideal online strategy blends the static (a formal website) with the dynamic (social networks, landing pages, etc.). “Think of a website as the hub and all the social media activities as the spokes that come off from it–all are necessary to make the wheel turn and drive the vehicle,” says Beth Schillaci, president of Villageworks, an emerging media marketing firm.
What’s more, adds Schillaci, “It simply doesn’t make sense to give control over availability and content limits to a third party when your corporate image is at stake.
Given how quickly and inexpensively a layperson can build a functional website, there’s little justification for not having a static site, considering the benefits it brings, says Dawn Gregg, associate professor of information systems at the University of Colorado-Denver. “It’s really the best tool you have to control your message and build credibility.”
Other justifications for having a website:
. Some of your best prospects may not be members of Facebook or any social network.
. Not having a site is a red flag, says social media guru Shama Kabani.
. You don’t have complete control of the message with social media; you must take the bad with the good.
. Search engines likely won’t find your business as readily without a website.
. What happens to a company that has staked its online presence on one or two social media vehicles if those vehicles lose public favor?
When it comes to building and maintaining relationships with clients and prospects, a business may not need a website when there’s Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, contends Adam Ostrow, editor-in-chief at Mashable.com, a blog-based site that covers developments with Web 2.0 and social media. “Social media can really be far more impactful than a traditional corporate website to engage people on an ongoing basis. It’s great for regular conversation and mindshare.”
Even startups such as Digital Americana, a soon-to-launch web-based multimedia literary and culture magazine designed specifically for the Apple iPad, have been emboldened to launch without a formal website.
“So far,” says Tony Fasciano, the New York-based magazine’s publisher, “by using Tumblr as the main blog site, and creating pages on Twitter and Facebook, we have been able to generate about 100 page views a day–all without yet issuing our first press release.”
Going without a website is a way for the startup to keep operations lean until it becomes more established, at which point Fasciano says he may consider adding a website. “For now, we’re looking to stay pretty low to the ground and not overcomplicate things.”
Cost is a key motivation for taking the website-less approach to online marketing. Participation in most social media outlets comes at no charge, while many web apps are free or almost so. Another is the ability to target local markets via vehicles such as Facebook advertising. Using a tool such as Twitter or a landing page also allows a company to create a “quick and dirty” online presence for specific purposes such as special offers, events and product launches, explains Joseph Manna, community manager at InfusionSoft, a firm specializing in online marketing tools for small business. And, according to WebVisible’s Manger, it provides a platform for a company to test a marketing message before full-scale rollout.
Those factors make such a strategy best suited to certain kinds of businesses. For example, says Ostrow, restaurants and bars can post a special on Facebook or Twitter to drive foot traffic that day. Sole proprietorships and very small companies, from yoga instructors to contractors, can use landing pages, LinkedIn and Facebook to create a simple yet functional online presence.
Best Practices for Going Without
While there may be no real substitute for a conventional website, the right combination of tools and tactics can deliver an online presence that in many respects rivals what a website can provide. Here are some suggestions from the web marketing experts:
Identify a social media focus. Businesses pursuing informal relationships with the public, such as restaurants and bars, might look first to Facebook, for example, while those wanting relationships with more of a professional flavor might start with LinkedIn.
Customize a blog, social media page or landing page with logos, images and information about the business.
Lean heavily on web apps to bring dimension, functionality and reach. A wealth of plug-and-play apps are available, many at little or no cost, to add vital elements such as a shopping cart, a lead form, coupons and video. Apps like TweetDeck and Involver, which manage and coordinate content posted through social media, are worthwhile, says Ostrow, as are those that help a business reach local prospects.
Blog. Besides being a great way to feed fresh content to the masses, it positions a person as an authority in their field while also spreading the word about their products and services. With a blog, you control the content, which is not necessarily the case with other forms of social media. Tools such as WordPress, Blogspot and Tumblr are among many solid options.
Embrace analytics tools. They’re vital for measuring the reach and impact of a business’s online efforts. Fasciano says Google Analytics has been invaluable for its ability to provide simple, useful metrics on how web users respond to specific social media actions.
Interact. Lend a personal touch by judiciously inserting yourself and your company into the social media dialogue through groups, Tweets, etc.
All these components, says Mangers, should be geared toward conveying and controlling the desired message while capturing vital competitive information–and, of course, new customers. “What you’re talking about is reputation management–controlling your content and your data so it is wholly owned by you as an asset.”
Posted by Brynne Zuccaro, Channel Marketing Specialist, Local Markets
According to a WebVisible-Nielsen survey from October 2007, 74% of people use search engines to find information when purchasing a product or service from a local business. Yet millions of businesses don’t have websites, and even those that do, don’t often engage in search marketing because they lack the time, knowledge or resources. To address this gap, our AdWords Local Markets Team has partnered with companies including Yellow Pages directories, website developers and traditional media businesses to help create search-based ad products and strategies.
We recently hosted the first annual Local Markets Symposium at our Mountain View Googleplex, which brought together more than 150 current and prospective Google AdWords Authorized Reseller partners to discuss how we can bring the power of local online advertising to small and medium-sized businesses. An array of experts spoke, including Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, local advertising guru Greg Sterling, industry bloggers, a Wall Street analyst, as well as a panel of local AdWords advertisers. What became clear throughout the day is that there’s a tremendous opportunity for local merchants to grow their business through online marketing.
If you’re with a company seeking to promote the adoption of search engine marketing by small and medium-sized businesses, visit our Google AdWords Authorized Reseller site.
June 24, 2008 by Beth Krietsch,
How can I use market research to support PR efforts?
Google offers a quick solution. Search “cell phone usage among teens” and you’ll certainly get just that.
“Get permission from the research’s author before using it and cite the source in your campaign,” says David Reeve, manager of marketing and PR at WebVisible.
Alternatively, he suggests, think bigger by commissioning your own market research project. For instance, Nielsen Online does custom surveys of their mega-panel online audience.
“Make sure to tailor survey questions specifically to get lean, media-friendly answers,” Reeve says.
The survey responses provide original content for press releases and sound bites, and can quickly make you an authority on the subject.
“Doing your own market research study can be exciting, but you must live with the results,” warns Reeve, “even if people don’t give the answers you want to hear.”
By Teryl Zarnow / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
“They take the things we’re learning in school and put it into application,” said Max Kovary, a senior at Huntington Beach High School.
“That’s why science is amazing. You’re able to answer just these grand questions based on theories. And when you apply them, it’s pretty cool.”
Jenson Benn, Huntington Beach High Class of 2010, competed three times in the National Science Bowl competition for high schools that is sponsored by the Department of Energy.
Now he’s taken a year off from UC Berkeley to start a nonprofit, Frontier Learning, to expand that program to local businesses. The first regional competition was hosted by Modular Wind Energy. No point in holding it in an auditorium.
“Science never becomes real in high school,” explains the physics major. “We want to let participants see the principles applied.” Students spent the morning competing over rigorous questions: List the gasses in the Earth’s atmosphere from most to least abundant.
As of 2010, wind power generated what percentage of the world’s energy?
A 10 kilogram mass rests on a horizontal, frictionless surface. A horizontal force of five newtons is applied to the mass. After the force has been applied for one second, what is the velocity of the mass?
The major groups of fungi are assigned names on the basis of what characteristics? Clearly, they all speak science. But then they move on to the story problem – and suddenly you’re talking application. Ryan Nagle, project manager at Modular Wind and one of its first employees, gives students a tour. On it, the students see science in practical application. The 5-year-old private startup wants to lower the cost of blades that attach to turbines on wind farms. Blades can be as long as 70 meters, weighing 12 tons. The longer the blade, the more wind it captures and the more energy produced.
If it were hard to move the Space Shuttle, imagine hauling these blades to a remote wind farm. Transportation is an expensive issue.
Wind farms are an engineer’s playground. Nagle rattles off some of the specialties: Engineers for tooling, processing, structure, stress, composites – even environmental engineers to worry about things like bird migratory patterns. There’s a Wild West element to it all.
When the off-site testing process was slow, Modular Wind built its own test stand. When it needed a Gantry crane, it built one.
Nagle talks about torque, and the students nod knowingly. He challenges them: Figure out a better place to locate the anemometer to measure wind speed.
They start tossing out suggestions. It was a science bowl of a different sort.
Linus Chen, a sophomore at Woodbridge High School in Irvine, liked seeing how Modular Wind uses science. “The science we learn, any application for it has already been found and used.”
He asked if the nose of the turbine was facing the wind and was pleased by the complexity of the answer – calculated down to one decimal place for the exact degree.
“It was cool. … They piqued my interest.”
Call it a meeting of the minds.
Eize de Vries, Windpower Monthly Magazine, 27 July 2012
Delft researchers and international partners are also working on so-called smart solutions for power output control. Ideas being researched include flaps for the rotor-blade trailing edge controlled by memory materials, and piezoelectric elements.
Memory material would allow parts of the blade to temporarily take on a different shape during certain load conditions, such as high winds. Piezoelectricity is a way to produce electricity from continuously changing mechanical pressure during motion. By applying electric current to into piezoelectric elements connected to a blade part, control movements could be introduced on demand.
However, both solutions are still at the laboratory stage. The researchers are not aiming to eliminate state-of-the-art output control through blade pitching, but support it to deal with small variations in conditions.
Most rotor blades, including the longest units of up to 75 metres, are still manufactured in a single piece. Only Enercon and Gamesa use segmented blades for their most powerful machines. California-based Modular Wind Energy has developed a 45-metre blade that can be transported in 15-metre segments.
US-based Blade Dynamics, part-owned by AMSC, is also developing segmented blades. The blades are made in small individual components, while the patent-pending blade technology enables shipping in two sections. This modular technology greatly improves quality and performance, says company spokesperson Theo Botha. Design innovations include a lightweight root attachment and modular central spar-joining technology. The blades are very light and generate low machine loads compared with similar products: six tonnes for the D49 versus eight tonnes for a competitor’s 49-metre blade.
“For a 2MW AMSC turbine these combined load and mass-reducing features enable a rotor diameter increase from the standard 93 metres to 100 metres without any turbine modifications,” says Botha.
Most importantly, they boost annual energy yield by 6-12%, which significantly improves financial performance, he adds.
BY LILY LEUNG / STAFF WRITER
PHOTO BY ANA P. GUTIERREZ, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Published: Jan. 23, 2014 Updated: Jan. 24, 2014 4:20 p.m.
View publication here.
Emergency-room doctor Terry O’Neil has tried several products that claim to treat and prevent colds with immunity-boosting ingredients. He disliked all of them.
Zinc lozenges, like Cold-eeze, often stick to their wrappers, he says. Powders like Emergen-C need to be dissolved in water, which isn’t very handy.
Then an idea struck: Why not deliver a supplement in a gum? Gum doesn’t easily melt and is portable — perfect for an on-the-go physician, he thought.
“I wanted a product that made sense to me personally,” said O’Neil, a Newport Coast resident who works at Community Hospital of Long Beach.
The 41-year-old doctor juggled hospital work and a family while developing the product, Immuno Gum, which took the past 3 1/2 years to bring to market.
O’Neil said he pulled that off by waking up early, even after overnight shifts, to follow up with buyers and take care of paperwork. Time management was been key: O’Neil won’t let meetings run late so he can work on the product and spend time with his wife, who stays at home with their kids, ages 2 and 7.
Here’s a primer on how the doctor took his self-funded idea from home office to store shelves at select national parks and airports throughout the country.
O’Neil nailed down the key ingredients for his idea, based on studies he found that claim zinc and other ingredients can help boost one’s immunity.
Such supplements have grown popular in recent years, even while under scrutiny for health claims. The makers of Airborne agreed to pay a $30 million settlement after the Federal Trade Commission found “no credible evidence” that the product could cure colds, the agency said. (O’Neil makes it clear on packaging that his product is not meant to treat or cure any illnesses.)
O’Neil bought his ingredients and flavorings, which all came in liquid form, at a vitamin store and began mixing them. After eight months, he got the taste he wanted for the gum, which comes in different flavors, from mint to citrus.
His background in medicine came in handy during the research phase. For example, he chose to add one form of zinc over another because it was more concentrated. That’s important, he said, because the gum pieces have limited volume.
FINDING A MANUFACTURER
O’Neil first approached top U.S. gum-maker Wrigley with his invention, but the company rejected it because, he said, “they have enough ideas already in-house.”
Undeterred, O’Neil reached out to Perfetti Van Melle, a privately held company in Milan that’s famous in the U.S. for its Mentos and Airheads products. He asked Perfetti if it would make his gum, but kept the idea vague to protect it.
The two eventually signed an exclusive, non-disclosure production agreement. Perfetti’s team of tasters in Italy typically screen out six or seven iterations of the gum before sending it to O’Neil. He received his first shipment in late 2012.
GETTING THE WORD OUT
This was one of the doctor’s biggest challenges. His market segment included cough drops, powder mixes and beverages – but few gums, so he saw no established model to follow.
Does Immuno Gum belong in the cough and cold aisle, or at the checkout counter? Either way, he needed to get the word out. He launched a $100,000 campaign that concentrated on going to trade shows.
Late last year, Immuno Gum caught the eye of Delaware North Companies, a well-known name in the hospitality industry that also happens to run concessions for a number of the major U.S. parks, including Yosemite, Yellowstone and Kennedy Space Center. The National Park Service handles 500-plus concession contracts totaling $1 billion in annual gross receipts, the agency says.
Top decision-markers at Delaware North liked O’Neil’s gum and drew up a contract to make it available at more than 60 store locations throughout the U.S. park system.
Clinching this contract was significant for Immuno Gum because it meant the startup could use the park system’s distributor, Core-mark, a major player in the field. Chain stores and gas stations typically get their products through distributors, not directly from the product makers, and Core-Mark is the distributor for a number of other retail networks including Kroger, Valero and Circle K. That could pave the way for Immuno Gum to expand.
O’Neil’s gum, which sells for $3.49 at stores to $4.49 per pack at airports, will be available in U.S. parks by the end of next month. The deal also will bring the product to select airports, including Los Angeles International.
“With airports and parks, it’s the same concept,” O’Neil said. “You’re dealing with travelers. There are people on the go, on vacation. When you go on vacation, there’s nothing worse than being sick.”
By Chris Casacchia of Orange County Business Journal
A local manufacturing startup backed by an influential Silicon Valley venture capital firm has signed its first commercial deal to produce giant blades for wind power at its Huntington Beach headquarters.
Modular Wind Energy Inc. will produce a set of blades at its 168,000-square-foot industrial building for an undisclosed turbine manufacturer. A set consists of three blades.
Financial details weren’t disclosed, but the deal is believed to be valued in the low to mid six figures.
The company is in negotiations with the initial customer, and three other turbine and blade manufacturers for additional orders, Chief Executive Gregor Gnaedig said.
“We want to take our share of this growing market,” Gnaedig said.
Modular Wind expects to deal exclusively through turbine and blade manufacturers worldwide. Filling a typical wind-farm order easily could involve the production of more than 200 sets of blades, an $80 million price tag and a three-year contract, officials said.
Modular Wind’s first set of blades should be hoisted into place by October, likely at a wind farm in the Midwest, officials said.
Wind farm turbines convert energy from wind into mechanical power, which can be run through generators or for specific tasks such as pumping water. One turbine can power about 400 homes annually at optimum capacity.
The company’s inaugural deal marks a significant breakthrough for Modular Wind, as it moves from research-and-development into production.
The company has gotten upward of $25 million in funding from Menlo Park-based Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers during the past four years. Massachusetts venture capital firm General Catalyst Partners is another investor.
Modular Wind markets its products as lighter, cheaper blade systems that can be easily transported by a traditional flat-bed truck.
Wind-turbine blades can span 120 feet or more. They generally have been built in one piece and typically require police escorts or other special arrangements, with hefty transportation costs and delays.
Modular Wind’s engineers—many veterans of Boeing, Lockheed Martin, NASA and McDonnell Douglas—developed a blade consisting of three equal-length parts. Its blades are pieced together at the point of installation into a single blade. They comprise the internal skeleton, or “spar,” and are encapsulated by an outer sheath that also ships in three parts.
Its blades are 20% lighter than traditional fiber glass blades, easing transportation and production costs that are passed on to manufacturers.
“We see huge advantages,” Gnaedig said. “We can do this faster and cheaper than anyone else.”
It can cost as much as $100,000 to ship a conventional wind-turbine blade system made in China to Australia, he said. By contrast, a manufacturer recently estimated the cost of shipping a Modular Wind blade set from Huntington Beach to Australia at $30,000.
It took Modular Wind two weeks to manufacture its first blade set, running two daily shifts. At full production, the company will be able to produce one blade set per day.
Modular Wind has a five-year lease—valued at $5 million when inked in 2010—on its expansive headquarters and manufacturing facility on Skylab Road, situated near some of Boeing’s local operations and other aerospace and manufacturing outfits.
Huntington Beach offers a talented work force and good proximity to the Port of Long Beach and major airports, Gnaedig said. The company has about 100 employees company wide, including a small global sales team, as well as some at a testing facility in Rialto.
Rival blade manufacturers include Gamesa in Spain, Suzlon in India, Vestas in Denmark, Mitsubishi in Japan and Siemens in Germany, though some could figure as customers for Modular Wind’s blades.
Modular Wind, with its first order, enters a marketplace fraught both with opportunity and peril.
Yearly global sales for the turbine industry were forecast to grow at a 6% clip through 2014, to $133 billion, according to Cleveland-based Freedonia Group Inc. But the projection now is thought of as a bit optimistic, as it appears certain U.S. government production incentives will expire at year’s end.
“Wind in the U.S. is going to have record installations this year, and next year we could see that disappear with the production tax credit expiring,” said Matt DaPrato, senior analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based IHS Emerging Energy Research, a unit of IHS Inc.
Wind energy, similar to nearly every other clean technology, has seen adoption steadily increase with the help of government subsidies. But longer-term viability for the sector is considered a risky bet, particularly with ongoing economic uncertainties in the U.S. and a lingering financial crisis in Europe.
IHS estimates the U.S. generated 12 gigawatts of new wind power this year, up from 6.7 gigawatts of wind power growth in 2011. Next year the figure for growth in wind power generation is forecast to drop to less than 1 gigawatt.
One gigawatt provides enough energy to power about 750,000 homes.
“Modular Wind has a growing opportunity in the space,” DaPrato said. “But it could be hard times, regardless.”
By Paul Dvorak, Editor September 19, 2012
A manufacturer of clever rotor blades for large-size wind turbines announced at Husum WindEnergy 2012 that it has received GL Certification (Germanischer Lloyd) on its prototype 45-meter modular rotor blade, signaling entry into the serial production phase of the company’s growth plan. GL Renewables is part of the GL Group, a body primarily focused on the certification of wind farms, wind turbines, blades, and their components. Manufacturer Modular Wind Energy says its MW45 blade consists of three 15-m sections manufactured at the company’s 170,000 ft2 facility in Huntington Beach, Calif. The sections were shipped to the company’s Rialto, Calif.-based test facility, assembled into a complete blade, and tested between February and June 2012.
Modular Wind Energy produces wind turbine blades featuring a revolutionary structural technology, says the company, that results in longer, lighter, more reliable blades. This lets users offer a lower cost of energy.
The blades feature greater stiffness, strength, and up to 20% lighter design for large blades, enabling larger rotors and ultimately a lower cost of energy compared to conventional blades.
A representative of GL observed each test. Certification involved rigorous static and fatigue testing – proving a 20-year design life for the blade – a significant achievement for any manufacturer. Dr. Myles Baker, co-founder and Chief Technical Officer at Modular Wind Energy, designed the blade.
“This is a tremendous milestone for the company and our blade,” says Dr. Baker. “GL certification is a necessity for doing business in our industry. This certification proves we have a great new technology for the wind industry.” The company is currently in production on its first sets of customer blades, scheduled for installation in the United States later this year.
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