Try This On for Size

iStock_000062439902_Large - Copy“Mirror, mirror on the wall. This lighting doesn’t work for me at all.”

My amusing poem is a fitting way to describe how shoppers are using “smart mirrors” to enhance their experiences.

Where have you been all of my life?

Let’s take a look at how the technology, which can be found in dressing rooms at places such as Ralph Lauren’s flagship store, works:

Equipped with radio-frequency identification technology that tracks items via their tags, the room identifies every item that enters and reflects it back on the mirror that doubles as a touchscreen. Shoppers can interact with the mirror, which functions like a giant tablet, to control the lighting, request alternate items or style advice from a sales associate.

“There’s this narrative that ecommerce collects better data – but online, it’s black and white. The physical world contains all these shades of grey that are truly interesting,” says Healey Cypher, who has built his career around twin concepts, namely that brick-and-mortar shopping isn’t going anywhere and the experience is in desperate need of a technological upgrade.

He’s working on it. Cypher is the CEO and co-founder of Oak Labs Interactive, the company behind the interactive mirrors, which just announced it has raised $4.1 million in a seed round led by Wing Venture Capital to bring refine the technology and bring it to more retailers. …

For retailers, the key draw is the wealth of collected data. By tracking each item that enters a dressing room, Ralph Lauren can determine how shoppers are interacting with its clothes. Is a jacket frequently being tried on, but isn’t selling? This likely indicates the look is popular, but the fit isn’t. Equally valuable: how customers interact with the touchscreen. Are they buying recommended items? How are they interacting with sales associates? Oak Labs analyzes the data and distills it into digestible and actionable insights.

This idea isn’t a new one – Nordstrom has experimented with interactive mirrors in its fitting rooms, and designer Rebecca Minkoff’s flagship store in New York City has employed nearly identical technology for about a year, to huge results. Since its installation, the store reportedly tripled its clothing sales.

Read the full Entrepreneur story.

Colorado Court Decision May Impact Indiana’s ‘Lawsuit Lending’ Battle

10044552As the 2016 legislative session nears, an interesting development occurred in Colorado over an issue that the Indiana Chamber has been working on for the last several years. This week, the Colorado Supreme Court determined that the practice of litigation finance, or more commonly referred to as “lawsuit lending”, was determined to be a loan and subject to Colorado’s Uniform Consumer Credit Code (UCCC).

Lawsuit lending is the practice of advancing money to a plaintiff/someone involved in an accident in anticipation of winning a lawsuit in court. If the plaintiff is awarded a settlement, the advance must be repaid at considerably high interest rates. If the plaintiff loses the suit, there is no obligation to repay the loan.

Proponents of the industry have claimed that the advance is not a loan because there is no recourse if the suit is lost. Opponents (including the Indiana Chamber) believe that this process interjects a third party into the civil justice system and prolongs the settlement process.

The Colorado Supreme Court’s decision puts lower interest rate limits on the advance of these loans. Two companies doing business in Colorado stopped operating in 2010 after the state office that regulates Colorado’s UCCC determined that the state law applies to their businesses. After the two companies filed suit to overturn the regulatory opinion, the state attorney general’s office countersued. The companies were accused of unlicensed lending and charging “exorbitant” interest rates to plaintiffs.

In conclusion, the Colorado Supreme Court wrote: “We hold that litigation finance companies that agree to advance money to tort plaintiffs in exchange for future litigation proceeds are making ‘loans’ subject to Colorado’s UCCC even if the plaintiffs do not have an obligation to repay any deficiency if the litigation proceeds are ultimately less than the amount due. These transactions create a debt or an obligation to repay that grows with the passage of time. We agree with the court of appeals that these transactions are ‘loans’
under the code…”

Attempts to regulate the practice have been unsuccessful in Indiana. Hoosier proponents of the practice have indicated that subjecting finance companies to the UCCC in Indiana or subjecting them to an interest rate of less than 45% will put them out of business, so there has not been language that could bring about a compromise. The Indiana House of Representatives has passed a bill for several years that the Chamber has supported. However, the Senate has sided with the lenders and stifled the Chamber’s attempts to forward our position.

Still, the Colorado Supreme Court decision might be a game-changer in Indiana. It would not be surprising to see legislation introduced that will mirror what happened in Colorado. Last session, a similar measure was inserted as an amendment into a bill that came over from the House. The language was removed on the Senate floor before a vote was taken. Legislation this session that would be tied to Indiana’s UCCC should be assigned to the House Financial Institutions Committee, where it will find support.

Likewise, any bill tied to the UCCC should be sent to the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions, chaired by Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle), where it would most likely find support. However, the issue historically has not been tied to the UCCC and has been assigned to the Civil Law Committee, where Sen. Joe Zakas (R-Granger) is chair. Senator Zakas has not been supportive of the Chamber’s lawsuit lending position.

The Chamber anticipates further debate on this issue as the new legislative session unfolds.

New and Improved Legislative Directory App a Hot Commodity for Government Affairs Teams


Want to have up-to-date information about the Indiana legislature, but you don’t want to carry a book around with you? How about using the smartphone or tablet you’re already working on?

The Legislative Directory app, developed by Indiana-based Bluebridge, is more than an electronic version of the long standing Legislative Directory. Here are some of the app benefits:

  • Updated and ready to use on the first day of the legislative session
  • Real time updates to information throughout the session and beyond
  • Less expensive than the book, but contains the same information
  • Legislators’ contact info can be downloaded to your phone

You can order the app online now (order through the Indiana Chamber, not the app stores). The app is days away from being available, at which time you will receive download links for your mobile device. (We’re updating the app throughout December as information comes in from legislators.) Bulk app purchases are now available too; your company contact will receive all of the download links for distribution as needed.

Order online now at

VIDEO: Dustin Sapp is No Stranger to Start-Ups, Accolades

Dustin Sapp is now CEO of TinderBox. But he cut his entrepreneurial teeth while at Rose-Hulman, and built executive experience while at Vontoo. He’s now a leader in Central Indiana’s start-up scene, a mentor and devoted family man. See why he earned the Indiana Chamber’s first ever Indiana Vision 2025 Dynamic Leader of the Year Award.

VIDEO: Oklahoma Native Packnett More Than “OK” for Northeast Indiana

Mike Packnett of Parkview Health (Fort Wayne) was honored as the Indiana Chamber’s 2015 Business Leader of the Year on Nov. 4. Packnett not only leads a successful hospital system, but works to enhance economic development in northeast Indiana.

Indiana Chamber Unveils Our Top Six Legislative Priorities for 2016

statehouse picTransportation infrastructure funding, reverse credit transfer to the state’s accredited two-year colleges and expansion of the state’s civil rights law are among the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s top priorities for the 2016 session.

These objectives were announced at the organization’s annual Central Indiana Legislative Preview in Indianapolis today.

The Indiana Chamber proposes an array of strategies to establish a sustainable funding stream for the state’s roads, highways and bridges. These include dedicating more of the state’s sales tax on fuel purchases to infrastructure, increasing and indexing fuel excise taxes and implementing fees on alternative fuel vehicles.

“Indiana benefited greatly from the Major Moves program that accelerated our timeline and funded $4 billion worth of projects over the last decade. But those dollars are spent or allocated. It’s time to move forward with the next generation of resources to drive our economy by moving people and products throughout our state and beyond,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

“Legislative action is needed in the coming session to address glaring needs and begin implementing long-term strategies to allow our state to live up to its ‘Crossroads of America’ designation.”

Brinegar concludes that the good news is that legislative leaders, the Governor and others are on the same page about the need; the challenge will be how to get there.

Higher education is also a focal point for the Indiana Chamber. One specific proposal the organization will be pushing for is a method to allow for more students to turn their existing college credits into a two-year degree. This would be accomplished by allowing specific credits earned at state-supported colleges and universities to be transferrable to Indiana’s accredited two-year schools, such as Ivy Tech and Vincennes. Credit is already generally transferrable from the two-year schools to their four-year counterparts.

“This would give students more opportunity for post-secondary attainment and then obviously help with employment,” Brinegar offers. “Specifically, it would help fill the gap for those individuals who first went to a four-year school but for whatever reason couldn’t continue. This would be a viable path for them to turn their efforts into a two-year degree and become more attractive to employers.”

Earlier this month, the Indiana Chamber announced its support for expanding the state’s civil rights law to include protection for sexual orientation and gender identity, with Brinegar noting:

“The time has come for Indiana to expand protections against potential discrimination. This action will increase the state’s future business competitiveness in the recruitment, attraction and retention of talent, as well as enhance respect for all employers and employees. We encourage our state leaders to work together to take this next critical step.”

Another initiative the organization will again pursue is a work sharing program, which will allow employers to maintain a skilled stable workforce during temporary downturns and enable employees to keep their jobs but with reduced hours and salary (which is partially offset by unemployment insurance). This program has enjoyed support on both sides of the aisle the last few years, but has yet to cross the finish line.

“There is no negative impact on the state’s unemployment insurance fund. Instead of paying full benefits to a smaller group of recipients, a larger group of employees will receive limited benefits – but most importantly remain on the job,” Brinegar explains. “There is no reason not to enact a work share program to help meet future employee and employer needs. They deserve that option.”

The other two legislative priorities for the Indiana Chamber are maintaining a fair and equitable system for the state’s commercial property assessment and appeal procedures (in the face of recent “big box” retail stores’ appeals and reaction to that); and expanding publicly-funded preschool from the pilot program to statewide so more children are prepared to enter kindergarten.

A complete rundown of the Indiana Chamber’s 2016 key legislative initiatives (top priorities and additional areas of focus) is available at

Also at the legislative preview event, four state legislators were honored as Indiana Chamber Small Business Champions “for their hard work and dedication to improving Indiana’s small business climate.” This award is based on voting and advocacy during the 2015 legislative session.

The 2015 Small Business Champions are: Sen. Rodric Bray from Martinsville, District #37; Sen. Carlin Yoder from Middlebury, District #12; Rep. David Ober from Albion, District #82; and Rep. John Price from Greenwood, District #47.

Recap of the Indiana Chamber’s Top 6 legislative priorities:

  • Support an array of strategies to establish a sustainable funding stream for the state’s roads, highways and bridges
  • Support specific credit transfer from Indiana’s four-year, state-supported institutions to the state’s accredited two-year colleges
  • Support expanding the state’s civil rights law to include protection for sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Support a work sharing program that will allow employers to maintain a skilled stable workforce during temporary downturns
  • Support maintaining a fair and equitable system for the state’s commercial property assessment and appeal procedures
  • Support the development of publicly-funded preschool initiatives statewide

Internships Increasingly Important in Post-Graduation Job Search

bA new report from Grace College found that unemployment has fallen about 7% for 20- to 24-year-olds. There are many reasons for upcoming college graduates to be optimistic about their job searches, but there are also noteworthy trends that should keep expectations in check and even inspire extra effort. Internships and other work-and-learn opportunities continue to be a step toward work readiness and, in many cases, job offers.

The Class of 2015 has planned ahead for the future. According to Dan Kadlec of Time, 82% of current seniors considered the availability of jobs in their field before choosing a major – a 7% increase from 2014. The Accenture Strategy 2015 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study backs this up: 63% of 2015 grads were encouraged to pursue a STEM degree (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), compared to 52% of grads from 2013 and 2014. Jobs in STEM fields are often high-wage and high-demand, and STEM was the most popular major this year.

However, current job market realities are not all inviting for recent grads. Accenture found that 85% of the Class of 2015 expects to earn more than $25,000 per year out of the gate. But right now, 41% of the Classes of 2013 and 2014 earns $25,000 or less per year and nearly half of that group considers themselves underemployed.

Despite these trends, internships are one of the greatest reasons the Class of 2015 should feel confident as they begin their careers. Along with online and offline networking opportunities, internships can help graduates maximize their chances of landing a job. According to Accenture, 72% of current seniors participated in an internship during college. The reason for optimism? Nearly half of prior-year graduates found a job as a result of an internship, apprenticeship or co-op.

Internships have become less of a “bonus” on young professionals’ résumés and more of a necessity. Real-world work experience coupled with network building make experiential learning opportunities critical for students. That’s why it is so important for Indiana employers to offer structured, experiential opportunities and strong mentorship for tomorrow’s workforce.

Indiana INTERNnet exists to help increase the number and quality of internships throughout the state and connect employers with prospective interns. With all the statistics in mind, this work is key not only for each individual’s professional growth, but for strengthening Indiana’s future workforce, business climate and economy.

Check out this small sampling of stories about internships that led to full-time jobs on Indiana INTERNnet’s blog: Paige Prather; Lucas Hill; Chris Jones; Casey Spivey, and yours truly

Indiana INTERNnet is the catalyst for expanding the creation and use of experiential learning opportunities as a key strategy in retaining Indiana’s top talent. The online resource,, provides valuable information and tools to assist Indiana employers with their internship programs. Its searchable database links employers with thousands of individuals seeking internships. Register for your free account, post your internships and begin connecting with potential candidates today.

Why Is Pumpkin Spice Twice as Nice?

Autumn still life

It’s round. It’s orange. And it’s grown into a fall phenomenon that’s bringing in big bucks for a variety of businesses.

Behold the mighty pumpkin.

Pumpkin-inspired treats are everywhere. Even – gulp – in bacon. Perusing this list of 18 Must-Have Products for People Who Love Pumpkin Spice, I laughed. I cringed. And when I saw the pumpkin spice latte doughnut (courtesy of Krispy Kreme), I resisted temptation.

Why? Because too much of a good thing is … too much. With all due respect: Hold the pumpkin, people!

Insurance Claims on Interim Agenda

The Interim Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services Committee conducted its final hearing in late October. The only topic of debate was the preliminary draft language that was offered by the chair, Sen. Patricia Miller (R-Indianapolis). The committee also prepared its final report for the Indiana General Assembly.

Senator Miller’s proposal addressed problems that she believes are occurring related to the handling and denial of health insurance claims. Her proposal would require the Department of Insurance to post on its web site information concerning internal and external grievance procedures for health insurance contracts. Examples include the process that a consumer should follow in filing a grievance along with a contact phone number of the department for the consumer. These provisions were generally accepted as reasonable provisions of the draft.

Controversy arose over the quarterly requirements that will be imposed on insurers regarding the denial of claims and additional burdens placed on them. The Indiana Department of Insurance testified that there really isn’t a problem regarding health claim denial in Indiana and while there have been problems among property and casualty insurers, that has not been the case with health insurers. Further testimony reflected that the department has the ability to do market conducts (on the distribution and sale of insurance), which determine problems with carriers.

Furthermore, the department conducts financial audits once every five years on every Indiana domestic insurer to make certain of insurer solvency and the ability to pay claims. Representative Matt Lehman (R-Berne) commented that the claim problem was .0004 of one percent – implying that there really isn’t any need to impose further requirements. The language passed the committee, with Sen. Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) and Rep. Lehman voting against the draft.

Look for Sen. Miller to draft legislation in the 2016 session similar to the language proposed in the draft. A bill may even move through the Senate, but may find more difficulty getting traction in its current form in the House. Still, there will be a fairly good chance that the grievance procedures and the web site information will find their way through the legislative process. The Chamber will be involved in the debate during the upcoming legislative session.

FaegreBD Consulting Provides Washington-Indiana Connection

FBDLogo_DarkBlue_RGBA recent BizVoice profile on former U.S. congresswoman Mary Bono (Nov/Dec issue) includes an update on the work she is doing today for FaegreBD Consulting. And there is a distinct Indiana tie.

FaegreBD, with approximately 50 professionals, is a Washington, D.C. division of the Faegre Baker Daniels law firm, which started in Indianapolis in 1863. Today, the legal portion offers services internationally across 14 offices.

Among FaegreBD’s areas of focus: health care and life sciences, energy and environment, financial services (primarily insurance related) and the public sector (government and academic institutions, for example).

Two emerging areas for the consulting practice include food and agriculture and what the group calls “tech plus”, which is cyber security, privacy and other technology policy matters.

Bono has been involved in the “tech plus” arena and also is the lead on the prescription drug abuse issue.

The national Collaborative for Effective Prescription Opioid Policies (CEPOP) “is a great example of Mary’s ability to bring different qualities to the client service and to the organization,” says David Zook, managing partner of Faegre Baker Daniels’ D.C. office and chair of FaegreBD Consulting.

“That’s a large national coalition with about three dozen participants from all across the sector – manufacturers, distributors, prescribers and patients – behind policy priorities, and then teamed with expertise both at the firm and at those organizations as well.” Indiana-based AIT Labs is among the CEPOP participants.

All of these consulting sectors are aligned with the firm’s legal practices, yet are distinguished from them and deliver different but complimentary services, Zook notes.

He also stresses the group’s commitment to Indiana plus a “real depth” on the complex issues.

“These tend to be highly regulated industries that have a lot of interaction with D.C. … or a lot of policy at the federal level. So it’s that combination (along with knowing Indiana) that sets us apart.”