Tag Archives: Chicago Startups

CHICAGO TECH’S NEXT CHAPTER

At Tempus, Ocient and Catalytic, Chicago’s most prominent entrepreneurs are moving on to their next big thing.

by Jim Dallky

Chicago tech is growing up.

One sign of a maturing tech ecosystem is the success of a city’s serial entrepreneurs, and recently we’ve seen some of Chicago’s most high profile founders and technologists move on to their next companies, and tackle big industries like the Internet of Things, cancer research, and artificial intelligence.

Uptake - ChicagoInno

Look no further than Groupon founders Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky. Keywell brought Uptake1 out of stealth in 2015, and the fastgrowing IoT startup has already raised $45 million at a $1.1 billion valuation. Lefkofsky left his CEO role at Groupon last November and, as we first reported in July2, has since been working on Tempus3, a healthtech startup that’s “building the infrastructure to modernize cancer treatment.”

 

Ocient - homepage

Also in July, Cleversafe founder Chris Gladwin, who sold his data storage company to IBM in 2015 for $1.3 billion, unveiled4 his next startup Ocient5. Gladwin has yet to make Ocient’s product plans public, but the software company expects to “ultimately hire hundreds of local employees.”

 

pushbot - website

Sean Chou, the former CTO and employee No. 2 at Fieldglass—which sold to SAP for more than $1 billion—recently, launched Catalytic6, a startup building chatbots for businesses. The company’s platform, Pushbot, helps enterprises “build, run, and improve your processes.”

 

bright - website

You can also look at Jeff Judge, the founder of Signal (acquired by BrightTag in 2014) who’s now building business metrics platform, Bright.7

Kickstarter cofounder Charles Adler is giving entrepreneurs, creatives and makers a better place to work with the Center for Lost Arts8; Motorola veterans are spinning out to create new hardware startups like John Renaldi’s “invisible wearable” company Jio9; along with many, many other founders who are on to their next project and have committed to building in Chicago.

“Certainly, as a community, I think we are maturing,” said Illinois Technology Association CEO Fred Hoch. “It’s being driven a lot by those serial entrepreneurs that are coming back and doing their next thing.”

Hoch described how the city experienced an “excitement period” 3-4 years ago where a lot of startup activity was taking place but, “a lot of bullshit was being developed…things that don’t have a long-term revenue stream.” Chicago’s strength as a tech city is in B2B, Hoch said, and Chicago tech has started to get back who it is as a community. “What’s happened over the last 18 months is that we’ve come back to realize who we are,” he said. “[Entrepreneurs] are not thinking about dog-walking apps. They’re thinking about big things that affect businesses nationally and globally.”

1871 CEO Howard Tullman added that Chicago also has a handful of who he calls “benchers,” successful entrepreneurs who are taking some time off but will likely “be back in the action in a reasonably short time.” This list includes Fieldglass founder Jai Shekhawat, AKTA founder John Roa, and Roger Liew, the former CTO of Orbitz. Tullman also said that 1871 isn’t just full of first-time founders. There are dozens of serial entrepreneurs working out of the Chicago tech hub.

“People don’t understand that the 1871 members aren’t remotely all first timers,” Tullman said. “We have several dozen serial entrepreneurs working here and building their next businesses who are smart enough to avoid making sizeable infrastructure and other capital commitments until they determine whether the dogs will be eating their new dog food…we are definitely seeing a wave of more seasoned, more talented and more aggressive serial entrepreneurs—all working in Chicagoand, largely using their own resources to start the next group of great tech businesses right here.”

Of course, as Chicago’s tech community matures, it doesn’t come without growing pains. Some of the city’s most prominent startups have gone through layoffs in recent months, with Avant firing 60 employees and Raise trimming 15% by cutting 45 people. And the city is still well behind other markets like New York and Boston when it comes to total venture funding.

tempus - website

Tempus

 

But Chicago is proving to be a city where entrepreneurs are willing to double down after successful exits, and that’s good news for the future of Chicago tech.

“We’ve come a long way in the last 10 years,” Hoch said. “[Entrepreneurs] are choosing to stay and be a part of this community because it’s a strong community now.”

 

About the Author

Jim Dallke is the Associate Editor of ChicagoInno of Streetwise Media, where this article previously appeared.

This article appeared in News From Heartland

 

 

Links cited:

Graphics and logos from company websites and ChicagoInno

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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THE HIDDEN DANGER IN YOUR DATA

Howard Tullman B&Wby Howard Tullman

From the Journal of the Heartland Angels

Today, entrepreneurs have tools and technologies to collect, monitor, and document more data than ever before. You’re likely swimming in data, since customers leave a trail of it everywhere to be captured and analyzed in real time. As I’ve often said, in business, what gets measured (and acknowledged and rewarded) is what gets done. I haven’t changed my belief about that, but I have come to see that we are putting too much emphasis strictly on the numbers. Numbers don’t lie, but they never tell the whole story. They can only take you so far before they top out and you need something qualitative and experiential to get to the right conclusions.

Pie Chart Hesitation

Peter Drucker’s dictum “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” has created a whole generation of leaders so focused on perfecting their company’s processes that they lose sight of the company’s purpose. I hear managers all the time talking about the need to get more work out of their people when they should be trying to get the best work out of them. Optimizing (not maximizing) the team’s output is what matters most to the ultimate success of a business. Working smarter and more effectively—not necessarily longer or harder—is how you ultimately move ahead of the competition.

You need to be exceedingly careful these days that you don’t let the ease of access and the ubiquity of massive amounts of quantitative performance data cause you to over-emphasize the math and measurements—and thereby lose sight of the far more important qualitative attributes of what’s going on. Not everything is easy to measure or quantify, but that doesn’t make these things less important; it just makes your job as manager tougher. But when you get so wrapped up in the measurement process that it becomes the goal itself, it loses its effectiveness. It’s easy to confuse movement with progress, but not all motion is forward. And lots of activities that run up the numbers aren’t remotely productive. Measuring is easy; measuring better is tough.

When you let the numbers drive the train, you give up two important advantages that are critical to your success. First, the goal isn’t to be the thermometer; it’s to be the thermostat. It’s not about measuring the heat; it’s about generating and controlling the heat. You don’t want the analytics to lead you; they’re a useful benchmark and a guide for course corrections, but it’s your job to set the direction and move the business forward. Second, when you get so focused on specific and concrete financial results (sales targets, growth rates, etc.) and you direct all your team’s energies toward getting as close to achieving those numbers as possible, you actually limit your ultimate upside because you lose the ability to think and see beyond those immediate goals. When a game-changing opportunity arises or a quantum shift occurs in your sales prospects, your team will likely be so heads-down chasing those numbers that someone else will come along and grab the new brass ring.

Black Hole of Data

Here are three principles that have helped me resist the temptation to get too caught up in the numbers—and focus on what truly matters at my company:

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Elaboration is a form of pollution

Tell your team to keep it simple. No one gets paid by the page, and shorter is almost always better. I’ve found that when people expand and extend their plans, proposals, and presentations, there’s a high degree of likelihood that they’re concerned about the value of their pitch, so they try to bury it in a boatload of facts, figures, charts, citations, and everything else that just hides the hard truth. It’s better for everyone when your people put things right out there—front and center—and take their medicine if that’s what’s called for. If you torture the numbers long enough, they’ll say whatever you like, but that’s not any way to get to the truth or the right result.

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Not everything is worth doing well

Tell your team that everyone’s always on the clock. There’s an opportunity cost associated with everything you do, so choosing what not to do (and how extensively to do the things you need to do) is critical in any startup which has scarce resources and time. Some things just don’t warrant the full-court press, and it’s important to make sure that everyone knows that that’s okay with you. Other things shouldn’t be done at all, and you should never try to do things cheaply that just aren’t worth doing. It’s never easy to turn people down or say, “No,” to marginal choices, but it’s part of the job.

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No one’s ever measured how much the heart can hold

Ultimately, the value of the critical connections your people make every day with your clients and customers can only be roughly approximated by even the best math. But it’s those daily personal and emotional interactions with your empowered employees that build crucial engagement as well as the lifetime value of those buyers for your business. You need to give your team permission to do what’s best for the customer in the moment that the opportunity arises. If they need to consult a rule book or have a calculator handy to do the math, they’ll lose the value of the moment every time. The best businesses don’t worry about the number or sheer volume of moments–they work to make each moment matter.

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Howard Tullman is a philosopher, investor, and Chicago entrepreneur.   For more from Howard, go to

http://tullman.blogspot.com

www.1871.com/

Read his bio: http://tullman.com/resume.asp

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This article appeared in the following publicatons:

News From Heartland  http://news.HeartlandAngels.com

INC Magazine  http://www.inc.com/

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Graphics: Getty Images, MS Office, H Tullman

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2015 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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30 SECONDS OVER CHICAGO

30 SecondsFrom the City’s Hardest Rocking Startup

by Jeff Segal – Message Therapist

What’s your favorite place to hear live music in Chicago? What makes it rock? Don’t tell me—tell Gigity.TV, a Chicago startup that live streams concerts from local venues.

To shine a brighter spotlight on the clubs and theaters where 30 SecondsChicago’s dynamic music scene lives, Gigity.TV is sponsoring its third “30 Seconds Over Chicagocompetition, urging local writers, musicians and videographers to create 30-second commercials for 45 local venues like Schubas Martyrs’ and the Riviera Theater.

The winning team gets $1000. Every team gets a $150 bar credit from their venue. And the deadline for pitches is this Sunday, Nov. 3 at midnight.

Gigity.TV founder Rich Seng says, “It’s all about promoting what makes Chicago a great music city.”

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A Rock ‘n’ Roll Time Machine

Seng founded Gigity.TV to be Chicago’s rock ‘n’ roll time machine.

“Imagine if you could go back and watch Nirvana at Cabaret Metro in 1990, or the first Smashing Pumpkins shows,” says Rich Seng, Founder of Gigity.TV. “That’s what we’re doing—sharing and archiving Chicago culture so it can live forever.

Gigity Stream

A recent Gigity.TV broadcast

Gigity.TV sets up camera systems in music venues and livestreams concerts—with audio straight from the soundboard—to subscribers worldwide. Sign-up is free, and so are many of the shows. Gigity.TV streams about 60 shows a week and boasts a viewable archive of more than 2200.

“Say you live in Australia, but you’ve heard about this great Chicago music scene,” says Seng. “Now you can watch it live.”

Venues pay to have the cameras installed, then share in pay-per-view and advertising revenues. (The performers get a significant cut as well—Gigity.TV’s stated mission is “to help artists take another step towards making a living off of their talents.”) Once the system’s installed, says Seng, “All they have to do is hit Create Broadcast, set start and end times, and upload the band profile. Then they can go back to running the bar.”Gigity.TV logo

The results won’t win any awards, but the automated three-camera set-up does an amazing job of changing perspectives to capture the intensity of the performance. If you’re a suburban music lover who doesn’t like crowds, drinking or staying up late, Gigity.TV is even better than being there.

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Pitches Pouring In All Weekend

Most of the venues in 30 Seconds Over Chicago don’t have Gigity.TV set-ups, but Seng insists the competition isn’t about adding them to his roster. The point is to highlight local creative talent. “Everyone who works on these spots is credited. Say someone at one of the major ad agencies sees a spot and it really gets his attention. It’s a way for your portfolio to reach more eyeballs.”

Previous competitions have invited spots for Wicker Park retailers and Chicago area brew pubs. Teams shoot on shoestring budgets, but Seng says, “Some of the winners from the brew pub competition look like they cost $100,000.”

Flossmoor Beer

Flossmoor Brewing, a winner from the Brew Pub Competition

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If you’re thinking it’s too late to jump in, don’t worry. Your pitches don’t have to be anything elaborate—just short write-ups of what kind of spots you’d create for particular venues. (A young girl is above the stage looking out of the window on the top floor ….) Each venue picks the concept it likes best, and the 45 finalists have a little over a month to complete their spots before the finals, Dec. 10 at the Double Door.

All you really need to compete, Seng says, are, “Creativity, resourcefulness, and a love for the music.”

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About the Author

Jeff Segal works with entrepreneurs as a Message Therapist, translating great ideas into messages that connect with customers, partners and investors. He also writes at BrokerSavant  and We’re Not Expecting Any Surprises Contact him at mt.jeffsegal@gmail.com or Twitter @MsgTherapist

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link . This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, BNC Venture Capital, chicago, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Events, Innovation and Culture, Internet, Internet Marketing, Jeff Segal, new companies, The City

VAST PILES OF MONEY

Chicago Social Enterprise Eyes a Trillion Dollar Market

Piggy BankImpact Engine Part 9 – by Jeff Segal, Message Therapist –

“Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.”— James Baldwin

Imagine your reaction if your bank charged you a 9% fee to write a check to your sister in Cleveland. You send $100, but she only gets $91.

It’s unthinkable. But if you’re a low-wage immigrant sending part of your wages to family in your native country, that’s standard procedure—just one of the ways  you pay more for being poor.

But this isn’t an article about how immigrants get ripped off. It’s about vast piles of money.

Dubai is one of the world’s largest employers of foreign workers

Dubai is one of the world’s largest employers of foreign workers

Estimates vary, but there are currently well over 200 million people who work in one country

and send their earnings somewhere else. Rahier Rahman, Founder and CEO of Pangea a Chicago-based global payments company, says “Remittances through formal channels in 2012 were estimated at $534 billion. Many experts believe that flows through informal channels double that estimate. We’re looking at a trillion dollar market.”

Do I have your attention yet?

Rahier Rahman - CEO

Rahier Rahman – CEO

Between fees and the spread on exchange rates, the World Bank claims the average cost of an international transfer is 9.3%. Nine percent of a trillion dollars is a vast pile of money. Hell, any percent of a trillion dollars is a vast pile of money.

“And some markets are more competitive than others,” adds Rahman. “In corridors like Japan-to-China, fees can be as high as 20%.”

Now then. On the one hand we have millions of hard-working, poorly paid people getting the

Carson Junginger - Product Dev

Carson Junginger – Product Dev

shaft from the corporate banking establishment. On the other hand, we have vast piles of money. It’s a textbook opportunity for a social enterprise solution.

That’s where Pangea comes in.

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A textbook social enterprise solution

To review: a social enterprise generates its sustainable revenue and profit from a business model that achieves a social benefit. Startups from Chicago-based incubator Impact Engine are proving that profit-driven innovation can create solutions to some of the world’s direst problems.

pangeaPangea is one of eight startups from Impact Engine’s first cohort They’ve developed a new approach to money transfer that skips the entrenched, agent-based system. With a beta launch scheduled for later this year, Rahman doesn’t share many details, but says Pangea will work through existing retailers, online or mobile, will make funds available instantly, and will “help consumers save between 50% and 80% of what they’re paying now.”

Some perspective: Workers in the US remitted $22.4 billion to Mexico in 2012 —more than all foreign direct investment in Mexico—and incurred just over $2 billion in fees. Cutting those charges by half would put an extra billion dollars into the hands of 1.4 million Mexican working class families.

remittance1

Workers transfer billions to Mexico every year. Workers in the US remitted $22.4 billion to Mexico in 2012

Money like that has what Rahman calls “a reverberating impact,” since earnings are so much lower in developing economies. What we Americans might consider spare change can create meaningful lifestyle changes for poor families in places like India or Latin America.

Bottom line—if Pangea succeeds, millions of people will lead better lives.

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Investors Won’t Do Badly, Either

Omar Khudeira - Engineering

Omar Khudeira – Engineering

Of the five Impact Engine startups to receive funding since December’s Investor Day , Pangea has closed the most to date—a $1 million angel round. “Our partners recognize and respect our mission,” Rahman says.

I imagine they also recognize and respect the profit potential of a company that seizes even a fraction of a percent of a trillion dollar market.

That’s not cynicism. That’s capitalism.

Pangea has identified an underserved market, determined a pain point, and built a solution.

Lamia Pardo - Marketing

Lamia Pardo – Marketing

Like any other startup, their success will make a few wealthy people even wealthier.

Unlike any other startup, their success will also make large numbers of poor people a little less poor.

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Contacts

Pangea – gopangea.com

Impact Engine – www.TheImpactEngine.com

Image credits: guardian.co.uk   arstechnicaPangea

This article appeared on the wildly popular WE’RE NOT EXPECTING ANY SURPRISES

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About the Author

Jeff SegalJeff Segal Twitter Bird @MsgTherapist, works with entrepreneurs as a Message Therapist, translating great ideas into messages that connect with customers, partners and investors. He also writes at BrokerSavant and We’re Not Expecting Any Surprises. Contact him at mt.jeffsegal@gmail.com

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link . This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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TOP FIVE STARTUPS THAT DIDN’T MAKE TECHWEEK’S FINAL FIVE

Startup_CityTechweek – Part 1

By Jeff Segal – Message Therapist

I love startups. But I’m cheap. So I was happy to buy the $30 Expo pass to Techweek Chicago.  No way was I shelling out for the $650 VIP pass.

Which meant I got to browse Startup City and meet the founders of 70 startups, but couldn’t crash the LAUNCH Final Five event. And you know what? I’m sure it was lovely, but apparently they chose the finalists based on nothing more than concept, business model, strength of team and presentation. Bor-ing.

I selected mine, on the other hand, based on pure awesomeness. Will they succeed? Will they find funding? Do they have sufficiently unique value propositions? Who cares?

All that matters is, one way or another, these five startups struck me as brilliant.

.techweek_chicago

Editor’s Note – Next time, just crash the gates like I did by tagging along with YouTopia.  

And hey, everybody else in Chicago is at the parade celebrating the Blackhawk’s Stanley Cup victory!

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Best New Way for Shy People to Hook Up

Ever see an attractive stranger and wish you could connect without embarrassing yourself? Get yourself a deck of anonymous intro cards from Cheek’d. With messages like “I just put all my drinks on your tab” and “I’m totally cooler than your date,” the cards let the stranger connect to your profile without either of you seeing the other’s contact info. I love a tech startup that’s all about plain old, last-century cards, and the way you can make new connections without sharing everything with the whole world. It’s antisocial networking!

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Best Completely Pointless Time Waster

Yes, there are a zillion sites where people do nothing but post, share and vote on witty little comments, but I’ve never seen one with as cool a design or as obnoxious a name as F.U. I’m Right.

FU I'm Right

Plus, it made me LMAO. Sample question: “You catch your teenager with a dime bag.

  • A— Smoke it.
  • B—Dump it.”

(“Smoke it” is winning, 56% to 44%.) This is the kind of startup that gives startups a reputation as overhyped hangouts for overeducated frat boys with nothing better to do. God Bless America.

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Best Where-Was-This-When-I-Needed-It App

It’s Saturday night. My suburban wife and I head into the city to meet some friends at a bar near Belmont and Racine. It takes us 45 minutes to get there—and another 45 minutes to find a damn parking spot! Sure wish I’d known about Faspark. Faspark

You type in your destination and it gives you a neighborhood route, color-coded from most to least likely blocks to find parking. I haven’t tested it yet, but if it works as advertised it’s a watershed moment in Western Civilization.

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Best Slap-Your-Forehead Business Software

Remember back in the 90s when they said the Internet would create a paperless workplace? (Don’t say, No dude, I was still in grade school. Just don’t.) While we’re waiting for that miracle, PrintEco has developed an algorithmic plug-in that optimizes printed content so it fits on a smaller number of pages. And it’s free. You can keep all that software that saves money through streamlined processing or greater storage or maximized bandwidth or whatever. I’ll take the one that saves trees, too.

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Best Idea Your Friends Will Hate You For

“Are you a blogger?” they asked me at the Snip.ps booth. “Wouldn’t you like to get paid for it?” Well, sure. How it works is, you convert any link with your Snip.ps account and post it wherever. Then, every time someone clicks on your link, they have to watch an ad for 10 seconds before they get connected—and you get paid. I might just join. Not that I think I’ll make much money. But it will force me to ask myself, “Is this Tweet worth making my friends sit through a ten-second Morgan Stanley commercial?

Don’t like my winners? Check out the other 65 startups and pick your own. It’s not as much fun as cruising Startup City, but you’re still $30 ahead of me.

Jeff Segal Logo.

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Go to Part 2 – TECH CHILDREN

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Our logo proclaims “Chicago is the World.” We believe creativity is spawned by adversity. That makes Chicago a growing center for thought leadership in the world.
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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link . This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
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.Copyright © 2013 Jeff Segal – All Rights Reserved
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