I recently had the opportunity to speak to Marty Mizrahi, a successful, experienced and well-connected Las Vegas entrepreneur about areas in which he thinks small business entrepreneurs can make a difference in the area. Here is what he said.
Food and Beverage
Las Vegas is a city known for its diverse culinary scene, and standards are high, but there are still opportunities to offer something unique. New and innovative dining experiences, such as farm-to-table, vegan or vegetarian cuisine, or fusion cuisine can still stand out. An entrepreneur launching a new restaurant or bar would need to be creative, innovative, and willing to take risks, as well as possess a passion for food, a strong work ethic, and above all, a customer-centric mindset.
Las Vegas is a city that hosts a variety of events, from corporate conferences to weddings, and whereas hosting these events remains the domain of larger players, there are opportunities for small businesses to offer virtual events, sustainable event planning, or immersive experiences in well known venues. Once again, customer expectations are high and a customer-centric mindset is key. Organizational skills, attention to detail, and a creative mindset are also very important.
Las Vegas is a city known for its entertainment industry, but the city is crying out for new and innovative entertainment experiences, such as interactive shows, immersive experiences, and augmented and virtual reality. If you’re an entrepreneur who’s creative, innovative, and able to think outside the box, this could be for you. You’ll also need excellent marketing and networking skills, a customer-centric mindset, and a readiness to ability to adapt to changing trends and technologies.
Amex Platinum is fairly well known. It’s a charge card with a high fee that gives you a bunch of mostly travel-related perks. In my view, the card and the perks are separate products. You buy in to an Amex charge card at the Green fee (£60 p.a.) and optionally choose to pay a bit extra for added perks. I previously wrote about how I think the UK Amex Platinum card doesn’t offer good value for money in my opinion.
The market for premium credit cards is getting more crowded all the time. I recently noticed something that stood out, though.
FoundersCard is a bit like the Platinum Amex offer but without the charge card element. In other words, it’s just a collection of perks for an annual fee. The annual fee, is $395 USD using the link above (otherwise the normal price is $495).
It’s mainly aimed at the US market, where is sits nicely alongside the US Amex Platinum, Chase Sapphire and others, with a similar annual fee and similar perks. However, because it’s not a credit product, the exact same product is offered internationally. For folks like me in the UK, who are used to companies changing $ signs to £ signs, it means a more competitive offer. However, this must be balanced with the fact that most of the perks are rather US-centric.
The perks change regularly so if you’re curious, I’d advise registering for the preview, to see the current set, for free. However, here are the headline offers right now:
||UK Amex Plat. Equiv.
||Gold Tier Status
||Gold Tier Status
||Gold Tier Status
(3 months only)
|Gold Tier Status
|Benefits are fairly limited
||Diamond Tier Status
||Huge range of benefits.
Must-have if you travel
||N/A (US only)
||Chance of Upgrade
||N/A (US only)
||Five Star Status
||Platinum Tier Status
||$30 off first trip then
||Good if you want to rent
a limo in the US
||Marco Polo Tier Status
||Cathay Pacific are a good
choice if you travel with a
company that insists on an
Economy ticket but you
want to upgrade.
events in London
||Harvest, Hive, HelpScout,
Namecheap & many others
Better than generally
||Most are only for new accounts.
About a year ago, I decided that enough was enough, and I had to find an alternative to Paypal to cut costs. At the time, we were paying PayPal around £300 per month, which was at their 2.9% rate, generally plus a 1% cross border fee (i.e. we were paying them almost 4%). Although Elavon gave me the runaround, Worldpay offered a surprisingly good solution for a fraction of the price. Moving from Paypal to Worldpay was one of the best decision I’ve made.
However, I’d yet to find an equally good solution to the smaller but still substantial FX fees we pay for various software and hosting products in USD and EUR. I’d looked into currency accounts where the cost and headache of getting one and reconciling it would have outweighed the benefit and “travel” credit cards that, instead of paying cashback, simply don’t charge FX fees.
I didn’t want to have to reconcile two credit card accounts, nor did I want to give up the Membership Rewards that I get from running business expenses through my American Express. However, I was deeply unhappy that American Express charge a 3% FX fee on top of the £450pa card fee.
To make matters worse, although I have been a happy occasional customer of Transferwise, and was eagerly anticipating their stress-free currency account service, when it was launched, I realised that it doesn’t come with a card. Most of these software and hosting services rely on card payments.
I read about Curve on a travel site. Essentially, it’s a prepaid card, similar to Revolut. However, whereas Revolut prohibits business use, Curve is specifically for business use. Well, allegedly. The offers for Topshop, Goldsmiths and Dorothy Perkins might suggest that it’s a commercial card purely because commercial cards attract a higher acquisition fee but that’s not my problem.
The other key difference, which is a big help from a business point of view, is that rather than having to keep the card topped up or getting another statement to reconcile, each transaction is converted to GBP immediately and billed in GBP to the card of your choice. In this case, my business debit card. Therefore, I can rely on my business bank statement and I have a receipt from Curve and from the merchant with a complete paper trail.
It gets better
Not only is this a very easy way of cutting FX fees from 3% (Santander / American Express) to 1% (Curve), you can also attach several Visa and Mastercard credit and debit cards to it and pick the right card for each purchase. You can even reassign the card a purchase is funded from after the purchase. Again, this is probably more useful for personal users, of whom I’m sure there are many, because a the FX fee could be offset by using a cashback Visa/Mastercard credit card.
Also, you’ll get £5 free on the card the moment it arrives (code: VEYLGRYN) and the whole order, verification and activation process is really smooth. The limits are also, in my view, reasonable for most small businesses.
To make it perfect
I understand that Curve have to sustain grow their business and to do that, they have to charge their customers. However, I would like to see an option to pay a fixed monthly/yearly fee in place of 1% of my FX spend. This would persuade me to use the card more without having to think of the fee at each purchase, especially with larger purchases.