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Woman Quit Teaching To Open Ice Pop Franchise, Makes 6 Figures

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  • Sonya Matthews was an elementary-school teacher for 20 years before she joined an ice-pop company.
  • She now owns the rights to sell Frios gourmet ice pops at $4 each in parts of Georgia.
  • She makes $150,000 more than when she was teaching and works fewer hours — with help from family.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.


Courtesy of Sonya Matthews via Business Insider

Sonya Matthews with her husband.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Sonya Matthews, a 50-year-old franchisee of a gourmet ice-pop company in Newnan, Georgia. Insider verified the revenue figures mentioned with documentation. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I’d wanted to be a teacher since I was young, but in 2018, after 20 years of teaching elementary school, I admitted that my passion had died, and I started thinking about what I could do next.

My husband runs his own haulage business, and I liked the idea of being my own boss. At first, I thought about opening a tanning shop because I noticed that tanning beds were being used year-round at the gym. When I shared my plans with a friend, she told me about a gourmet ice-pop shop in Le Grange, the town right next to mine, and said it was so good I should open a location in our town.

Courtesy of Sonya Matthews

At the end of that summer, I took a trip to the Frios gourmet ice-pop store she told me about. From the moment I tasted the pops, I was sold. I tried them on a Friday, and on Monday I called the owner and asked how I could buy my own franchise.

Since then, I’ve sold Frios ice pops for birthday parties, corporate events, and tailgates; I’ve opened brick-and-mortar stores; and I now make $150,000 more a year than I did as a teacher.

I used my savings to buy the Frios territory for my town

Courtesy of Frios

A territory is equivalent to a town, and when you own a territory you have the rights to be the only seller in that area. I also bought a refrigerated cart and 1,000 ice pops that I stored in a new freezer I bought for my home.

A Frios franchise fee for each territory is now $17,000, but since I was one of the first franchisees, I paid less than this. Monthly royalties are $400, monthly marketing fees are $125, and Frios advises that you have $40,000 in liquid capital as well as a net worth of at least $120,000. With other fees like advertising and the cost of your choice of cart or truck, startup costs are now between $66,260 and $172,770.

When I was getting started, Frios didn’t offer any training, but the franchise owner in Le Grange was generous with his time, and I also took tips from Google — I searched “How to be a successful business” and found a blog that said you should pound the pavement and stay in customers’ faces with whatever you’re selling, so that’s what my family did.

By November 2018, a few months after buying my first territory, I had my refrigerated pop cart on order and a Christmas festival booked at The Depot, a former train station turned event space, in Hogansville, which is 20 miles away. My cart hadn’t arrived in time for the festival, so I covered a picnic table in a cloth I’d printed with the Frios logo, wrote the ice-pop menu on a chalkboard, and stored the ice pops under the table in a cooler. We sold more than 150 pops at $4 each in one day.

A lifestyle store then gave us permission to park our cart outside its store each weekend.

We attracted customers on social media and in person

My children told me that I needed to be on Instagram and Facebook, so I started posting where we were going to be and sharing pictures of limited-edition flavors. Our most liked posts were shots of our customers or posts about seasonable pops.

At our second event, in December 2018, I met a lady who told me she was getting married the following year, and she loved our gourmet pops, so I offered to provide pops at her wedding. I ordered a bespoke refrigerated cart just for weddings that we decorated in white and draped with ivy. We now book so many weddings that we’re listed as a preferred vendor at the Murphy Lane wedding venue. The price that people pay for the cart depends on how many hours they want us to stay and how many pops they want each cart to contain.

Our sales were so strong by January 2019 that I told my husband I wanted a storefront.

I took out a loan, and a month later, I’d secured my first brick-and-mortar store

Matthews with her family outside the store. Courtesy of Sonya Matthews

I retired from teaching in May 2019 to start selling pops full time. We planned to open in May, but the opening was delayed by two weeks because the “Lovecraft Country” film crew contacted me and asked to rent my empty store and use it as a set for the HBO show. Not only did the crew pay me to use the store, but it let us set up a cart outside the store and sell our gourmet ice pops to the crew and cast members. When “The Walking Dead” was filming in Newnan, its crew also stopped by.

We opened officially on June 18, 2019, with five staff members, including my daughter, my sister, and two of my former students. We were open for 16 days in June, with gross sales totaling more than $15,000.

I continued to buy the rights to sell in different territories

I also bought the Le Grange territory where I tried my first Frios pop. I bought that territory in November 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic, so I chose not to buy the brick-and-mortar store and just supply gourmet food stores or events with pops in that region.

While our ice-pop store in Newnan was able to stay open during the pandemic, I wanted to do more to help make a few people smile during this tough time, so we decided to take our ice-pop cart with its brightly colored umbrella to neighborhoods. We would share our schedule on Instagram and then invite customers to preorder their pops, which we would box up for them. In one hour, we’d sell $400 worth of pops in each neighborhood, and we’d would visit up to four neighborhoods a day.

Our events have become as important as the stores

My daughter and sister manage the stores, and I now oversee events. I learned early on that I needed to delegate when I realized I was spending more time than I wanted doing tasks that someone else could help me with. I now work fewer hours than when I was a teacher. My workday used to start at 7:20 a.m., but now I may not start work until 9 a.m.

I’ve also worked hard to build relationships with universities and corporations, often by starting with a cold email. A few months ago, we delivered 966 pops to the Delta ground staff at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and 1,000 pops to Auburn University.

I opened my second Frios store on May 7, 2022, in Auburn, Alabama, which my sister now runs. My son, Tray, who is a professional athlete, came home to support us and became our celebrity cashier. My eldest son, a cost analyst, drives our food truck to events when I’m unable to do it. It’s definitely a family business.

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3 Growth Stocks to Buy Now Before They Heat up

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The gradual decline in inflation and decelerating wage growth might prompt the Fed to slow the pace of rate hikes this year, which might help growth stocks to stage a recovery. So, fundamentally strong growth stocks Salesforce (CRM), HF Sinclair (DINO), and Box (BOX), which look poised to soar in the near term, might be ideal buys now. Keep reading.

December’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) fell 0.1% for the month, in line with the Dow Jones estimate, marking the largest month-over-month decrease since April 2020. Moreover, the Labor Department reported that employers added 223,000 jobs in December 2022, reflecting a slowdown from the pace of job creation seen earlier in the year.

Also, average hourly pay, which had been increasing at an annual rate of 5% in September, fell to 4.6% in the month.

The sky-high inflation and the Fed’s aggressive interest rate hikes to tame it have affected growth stocks significantly last year. However, the easing inflationary pressures and declining wage growth signals that the Fed’s rate hikes are having their intended effect, which might prompt the Fed to slow its rate hike pace.

The Fed is widely anticipated to deliver a 0.25 bps rate hike in its next meeting, a step back from a 0.50 bps hike last month.

Furthermore, as per Fundstrat Global Advisors co-founder Tom Lee, US stocks will surge back toward record highs in 2023 once the Federal Reserve signals that it’ll ease up on its monetary-tightening campaign. Lee also said that he expects the S&P 500 to steadily climb to hit 4,800 points this year.

Given this backdrop, fundamentally strong growth stocks Salesforce, Inc. (CRM), HF Sinclair Corporation (DINO), and Box, Inc. (BOX) might be ideal buys for solid returns this year.

Salesforce, Inc. (CRM)

CRM provides customer relationship management technology that brings companies and customers together worldwide. The company’s service offerings include Sales, Service, Marketing, and Commerce. The company provides its services through direct sales, consulting firms, systems integrators, and other partners.

The company’s forward Price/Book multiple of 2.79 is 32.8% lower than the industry average of 4.15.

During the third quarter that ended October 31, 2022, CRM’s total revenues increased 14.2% year-over-year to $7.84 billion. The company’s gross profit increased 14.5% year-over-year to $5.75 billion, and non-GAAP income from operations increased 30.9% year-over-year to $1.78 billion.

The consensus EPS estimate of $1.36 for the fiscal fourth quarter ending January 2023 indicates a 62.3% improvement year-over-year. The consensus revenue of $8 billion for the same quarter represents a 9.2% year-over-year growth. CRM has an impressive earnings surprise history as it has surpassed the consensus EPS and revenue estimates in each of the trailing four quarters.

Also, the company’s revenue and levered free cash flow have grown at a CAGR of 24.1% and 21.8%, respectively, over the past three years.

The stock has gained 26.7% over the past month to close the last trading session at $167.97.

CRM’s POWR Ratings reflect its promising outlook. The stock has an overall rating of B, which translates to Buy in our proprietary rating system. The POWR Ratings are calculated by considering 118 different factors, with each factor weighted to an optimal degree.

It has an A grade for Growth and a B for Sentiment. Within the 138-stock Software – Application industry, it is ranked #27.

Beyond the POWR Ratings just highlighted, you can access additional CRM grades for Value, Momentum, Stability, and Quality here.

HF Sinclair Corporation (DINO)

DINO is an independent petroleum refiner that produces and markets high-value light products such as gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, renewable diesel, and other specialty products.

Its forward non-GAAP P/E of 3.80x is 53.8% lower than the industry average of 8.23x. Its 0.27 forward non-GAAP PEG multiple is 59.6% lower than the industry average of 0.68.

The company pays $1.20 annually as dividends, which translates to a yield of 2.81% at the current price. Its four-year average dividend yield is 2.99%.

DINO’s sales and other revenues grew 126.2% year-over-year to $10.60 billion for the third quarter that ended September 30, 2022. Its adjusted EBITDA increased 267.9% year-over-year to $1.50 billion. The company’s adjusted net income increased 368.2% year-over-year to $982.90 million, while its adjusted EPS rose 257.8% year-over-year to $4.58.

Street expects DINO’s revenue to increase 106.6% year-over-year to $37.99 billion for the fiscal year 2022. Its EPS is expected to rise 789% year-over-year to $14.96 for the same year. The company has surpassed the consensus revenue estimates in all of the trailing four quarters.

Moreover, the company’s net income and EPS have grown at a CAGR of 39.1% and 33%, respectively, over the past three years.

The stock has gained 9.7% over the past month and 61.8% over the past year to close the last trading session at $56.90.

It is no surprise that DINO has an overall rating of B, equating to a Buy in our POWR Ratings system.

It has a grade of A for Growth and Momentum and a B for Quality. It is ranked #10 among 93 stocks in the B-rated Energy – Oil & Gas industry.

In addition to the grades stated above, we’ve also rated DINO for Value, Sentiment, and Stability. Get all DINO ratings here.

Box, Inc. (BOX)

BOX provides a cloud content management platform that enables organizations of various sizes to manage and share their content from anywhere on any device.

On January 10, BOX announced that BETC, a global communications, marketing, and advertising agency, have chosen BOX’s secure content management capabilities to power collaboration and accelerate processes around content management.

Sebastien Marotte, President of EMEA at BOX, said, “We’re delighted to support BETC in powering the next generation of creative content for their prestigious clients. We look forward to our continued partnership as BETC continues to expand its use of Box and develop its Content Cloud journey.”

In terms of forward non-GAAP PEG, BOX is currently trading at 1.36x, which is 14.8% lower than the industry average of 1.60x. Its forward Price/Cash flow multiple of 16.32 is 11.2% lower than the industry average of 18.37.

BOX’s revenue increased 11.6% year-over-year to $249.95 million in the third quarter that ended September 30, 2022. Its gross profit rose 15.2% year-over-year to $185.46 million. Also, its EPS came in at $0.03, compared to a loss per share of $0.12 in the year-ago period.

Analysts expect BOX’s revenue to rise 9.9% year-over-year to $256.48 million in the fiscal fourth quarter ended January 2023. Its EPS is estimated to grow 42.6% year-over-year to $0.34 in the same quarter.

Its revenue and levered free cash flow have grown at a CAGR of 15.1% and 29.1% over the past five years.

The stock has gained 22.4% over the past year to close the last trading session at $31.99. It has gained 10.1% over the past month.

BOX’s strong fundamentals are reflected in its POWR Ratings. It has an overall B rating, which equates to a Buy in our proprietary rating system.

It also has an A grade for Growth and Quality and a B for Value. BOX is ranked #6 among the 78 stocks in the Technology – Services industry.

Click here for the additional POWR Ratings for Stability, Momentum, and Sentiment for BOX.

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CRM shares were trading at $168.63 per share on Wednesday morning, up $0.66 (+0.39%). Year-to-date, CRM has gained 27.18%, versus a 5.98% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.


About the Author: Kritika Sarmah

Her interest in risky instruments and passion for writing made Kritika an analyst and financial journalist. She earned her bachelor’s degree in commerce and is currently pursuing the CFA program. With her fundamental approach, she aims to help investors identify untapped investment opportunities.

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The post 3 Growth Stocks to Buy Now Before They Heat up appeared first on StockNews.com

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OpenAI Rolls Out New Tool to Combat ChatGPT Plagiarism

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Since its launch in November, ChatGPT has disrupted various industries — from real estate to law. However, in the context of academia, teachers have growing concerns about whether using the tool is considered cheating.

ChatGPT, created by artificial intelligence company OpenAI, has the power to create essays, poetry, draft legal documents and more when given a prompt. While the results may need some editing, the tool’s efficiency has garnered worldwide attention for its accuracy.

Related: Professionals In This Industry Already Can’t Imagine Life Without ChatGPT: ‘I Can’t Remember the Last Time Something Has Wowed Me This Much.’

Public schools in Seattle and New York City have already banned the use of the tool over cheating concerns and its power to disrupt genuine learning. Now, OpenAI has announced a new feature that may help teachers spot the presence of ChatGPT in essays and other assignments, CNN reported.

The feature, called “AI text classifier,” is similar to the plagiarism software Turnitin in that when submitting a body of text, the tool will rate the input on a scale ranging from “likely generated by AI” to “very unlikely.”

While educators have been longing for such a tool to combat the increasing use of ChatGPT, OpenAI has admitted that the new feature is “imperfect” and should be “taken with a grain of salt,” CNN reported.

“We really don’t recommend taking this tool in isolation because we know that it can be wrong and will be wrong at times – much like using AI for any kind of assessment purposes,” Lama Ahmad, policy research director at OpenAI, told the outlet. “We are emphasizing how important it is to keep a human in the loop … and that it’s just one data point among many others.”

Related: Princeton Student Builds ChatGPT Detection App to Fight AI Plagiarism

Despite the imperfection of the new feature, OpenAI told CNN that the decision to release the “AI text classifier” has to do with hopefully deterring individuals from claiming AI text was composed by a human, as well as addressing the question of whether humans have a right to know if they are interacting with artificial intelligence.

“This question is much bigger than what we are doing here; society as a whole has to grapple with that question,” Jan Leike, a lead on the OpenAI alignment team, told CNN.

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Why All of Us Need to Join the Fight for Workplace Diversity

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The Ernst & Young 2020 Global Private Equity Report found that 74% of private equity firms under $2.5 billion did not have set targets for ethnic diversity and had no plans to set any.

While this might come as a surprise to those with no history working in private equity or hedge funds, this statistic and the recent media attention Soo Kim has received regarding the TEGNA takeover, unfortunately, come as no surprise to me.

As a former employee of Standard General, one of only a handful of Black Americans working in the hedge fund sector and an immigrant founder, I’m appalled at the lack of diversity in this space. However, I can firmly say that it would be a lot worse without Soo Kim’s contribution — but we need more than just him to join the cause.

Related: 18 Business Leaders on Creating an Inclusive and Equitable Society

What’s happening with Soo Kim’s TEGNA takeover?

In February 2022, Soo Kim’s Standard General, with funding from Apollo Global Management announced a deal to acquire TV station owner TEGNA for roughly $8.6 billion. TEGNA is the second-largest local TV broadcaster by revenue, operating 64 TV stations and two radio stations across various markets in the U.S. Contrary to large TV consolidation mergers, this particular deal has drawn a number of vocal objectors.

Ostensibly, the critique has come from a union — The NewsGuild — that purports to be concerned about jobs, despite the public commitments that Standard General made to preserve local station employment. While concerns about jobs are admirable, the publicly filed comments from these groups include statements that, in so many words, say that Soo Kim’s ownership of this station group would do nothing to advance diversity as understood by the civil rights community and public interest.

Is there a “wrong” type of minority?

These commenters continue to say that Soo Kim was not barred by his race from becoming a successful entrepreneur.

As a fellow New Yorker and both graduates of Stuyvesant High School, I can speak to our experiences. Using his Asian ancestry against him is exactly the kind of short-sighted hateful rhetoric causing so many issues for Asian communities across America. I have seen this in all aspects of American life, from Wall Street firms to my days at West Point and in Baghdad.

When there’s a flag draped over your coffin, there is no “wrong type of minority.” Yet we seem to treat immigrant founders and founders of color like there is such a thing as a “wrong” type of minority.

The indivisible nature of the United States is our greatest strength, but that strength is weakened by the belief that Soo Kim being Asian makes him unqualified to pursue the commercial principles that our country was founded on.

However, what worries me more than anything is that Kim hasn’t been treated fairly by anyone throughout this deal. Are these political letters and criticism influencing the regulators whose judgment the closing of this deal depends on? I know firsthand how hard it is for founders of color to access the capital to pull off deals of this magnitude. An adverse outcome here would have a chilling impact on minority ownership of broadcasting assets at the very least. Perhaps this is what the objectors want.

While the thought of that is troubling at the very least, I believe what’s been so impactful and appalling to me throughout this entire debacle has been the fact that I know Soo Kim. I’ve worked with him, I have represented him on public company boards and I’ve seen what he stands for. It’s unimaginable to me that he could be on the receiving end of such racism when he so clearly stands for justice and equality.

Related: 6 Ways to Offer Allyship to Black Entrepreneurs

Commitment to diversity

As the founder of Standard General, Kim has been tireless in his commitment to diversity: from hiring to using his power to change companies to better reflect what America really looks like. More importantly, he didn’t limit his search to just Asian professionals. Black, Asian, Jewish and white employees all were represented in the 12-person team at Standard General while I was there. He has also consistently appointed women and people of color to the boards of his companies throughout the years.

I have seen the good he does in his companies and how hard he works to provide equal access to opportunities regardless of race or gender.

And, because I am the diversity and inclusion officer for the MediaCo board of directors, which owns the radio stations Hot 97 and WBLS (which has a management team that is over 50% diverse and a staff that is over 70% diverse overall), I would say that it is precisely Kim’s unique background that could help improve TEGNA own documented diversity issues.

If other leaders follow Kim’s lead, we can slowly but surely change the diversity problem. But we all have to actually commit.

How the TEGNA deal compares to other acquisitions

Just to drive my point home, I believe it’s important to take a look at how this TEGNA deal compares to other similar acquisitions.

Recently, the TV industry has seen a surge in big deals. For example, Gray Television acquired Meredith’s and Quincy’s local stations with virtually no opposition from across the aisle. Scripps bought ION Media Group and Nexstar Media Group also added to its empire by snatching up Tribune Broadcasting — moves that heavily concentrated power in this industry space.

All of those prior deals did not face any of the scrutiny and criticism from this deal, which is curious because the TEGNA deal shrinks the company with the concurrent sale of a number of stations to Cox Media Group, and does not require any statutory divestitures or regulatory rule waivers as each of the above did. And yet, with Standard General’s deal, the informal 180-day “shot clock” for a regulatory decision has long passed.

The point? The lack of opposition to other similar deals shows young entrepreneurs and immigrant founders that even when you try to play fair as a person of color in this industry, you just can’t seem to win.

Related: 5 Ways Entrepreneurs of Color Can Determine an Ally’s Authenticity

The system has to change

In one interview, Kim said that after the takeover, TEGNA would get a “company with a minority owner, run by a woman, that’s committed to serving diverse communities. We think that’s good business.”

It is good business, and I am delighted to see that Kim and Standard Media CEO Deb McDermott have received letters of support from legislators, civil rights groups and minority media groups. I applaud these groups for speaking up in defense of Soo Kim and other minorities in this space. I, too, am doing my part to speak up against these racist attacks. However, that isn’t enough anymore.

The system has to change — and it changes by not allowing these types of attacks, comments and ideals to persist in any way, shape or form. We must stop entertaining the idea that these types of comments are valid or even acceptable. We have as a nation all experienced the heartache of watching videos of racially motivated violence against people of color from all walks of life. Racial oppression takes place in the business world just as it does in the streets, just without the same visible evidence but the same indelible impact on those persons of color involved.

As a business leader, here’s how you can enact systemic change:

  1. When making hiring decisions, stop going with your gut. Newsflash, your gut always leads you to the most comfortable choice. Instead, create a list of metrics you will hire for and focus on hiring someone that meets those metrics. Blind auditions eliminated discrimination in the world’s greatest orchestras. Imagine what it could do for your business.
  2. Be aware that there are challenges diverse individuals face in business that you don’t see or experience. Do your best to factor those in when evaluating candidates. They may not have Goldman Sachs on their resume, but can you see evidence of ability in past academic performance or in other areas like military or community service?

As the great Martin Luther King Jr. said, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

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