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If you’ve ordered a new MacBook from Apple recently, and you selected any customizations, chances are that you’ve seen a shipping notification with an origination address in China, and your parcel will probably arrive in less than a week. Drop-shipping from the factory gives Apple tremendous flexibility in its logistics operation and a fantastic customer experience. The scale at which Apple operates is the dream of startup founders — most of us don’t have the luxury of shipping six million units over a Black Friday weekend , or Roland Mouret Leather PointedToe Pumps for sale 2014 dxcIP

Ultimately, it comes down to leverage. Apple’s economy of scale is so enormous that it, in effect, has the logistics companies over a barrel. Any company shipping millions and millions of parcels per month will be able to negotiate with FedEx, DHL, and all the other courier firms. As a startup shipping dozens or scores of items, you have little leverage in negotiations.

Apple has set up its logistics operations to be optimized for shipping to anywhere in the world at the drop of a hat, whether the ordered items are customized or not. That’s mind-boggling, given the nearly infinite number ofs with which the company operates.

When your hardware startup changes gears from development mode to operations mode, logistics get complicated quickly. Dealing with distribution warehouses, retail SKUs, box SKUs, and managing returns is hard enough as it is — drop-shipping directly from the factory to your customers is a layer of very expensive pain that is best avoided.

Drop shipping directly from your manufacturer also makes QA issues a challenge. What happens, for example, if there’s a problem with the goods being shipped out? If something does go wrong, you want to be able to deal with the issue when you have 1,000 faulty units sitting on a pallet in a warehouse, not when they’re in 1,000 different locations around the world. If the manufacturer is drop-shipping directly, they may not have an incentive to flag and resolve problems early enough.

Down in the trenches in Startup World™, sea freight to relevant regions and local distribution for last-mile delivery is the name of the game.

Design, logistics, packaging — whenever Apple is the example of one way of doing something, try to find two more examples. If you can’t find any, that’s a pretty good indicator that it’s not a hill worth dying on: Apple lives in one world, the rest of us live in another.

By all means, keep an eye on Apple and the way the company pushes the envelope. But bear in mind that, for now, the company is a very different beast than your startup in almost every possible way.

Disrupt SF 2018

San Francisco Sep 5 - 7

Another example is found in the Apple iPhone X. The designers wanted the screen to run all the way to the top and bottom edges of the display. The problem? The display controller needs to connect somewhere. Apple’s engineering team came up with an ingenious solution: Instead of using a rigid OLED panel, they used a flexible display — not because they wanted the display itself to be curved, but as an engineering feature to hide the display controller . No other manufacturer would even think to do that — it is a ludicrously over-engineered solution to a simple problem. But if you’re sitting on infinite cash and no manufacturing constraints, why the hell not?

As a startup, it’s extremely unlikely you have to reinvent the wheel, crown, or cog from scratch. In fact, you probably want to do the opposite. Apple does whatever it damn well pleases, which is great for them. Once you have the world’s largest stack of $20 bills sitting in your bank account, you can do the same. Until then, it’s far cheaper and easier to use off-the-shelf components, with a minimum of custom pieces, to get your product to market as quickly as possible — and then iterate.

Secrecy runs deep in Apple’s DNA. Terrified of competitors, the press, or the public discovering something ahead of time, the company operates in deep secrecy.

This cloak-and-dagger approach is astonishing, to the point that an engineer’s line manager might at times not know what her direct reports are working on. If you’re working on the next generation OS, you may never see the hardware on which it runs until the product ships. If you’re working on hardware, the opposite is true: You may be creating a beautiful canvas for software to live on, but chances are, you won’t see the work in progress until you can buy it in a store.

This secrecy works for Apple because it is such a design-driven company. It is permanently locking horns with the fast followers who try to copy its innovations and progress. Total secrecy is a way to ensure that Apple gets the jump on competitors and maintains the upper hand. As such, Apple’s total commitment to furtiveness is a useful weapon in the fight against industrial espionage. There may also be a staff retention element to the strategy: If hiring an Apple engineer is not the way to learn what Apple is doing, perhaps the competitors are less likely to poach its staff.

Secrecy might sound intriguing, but for a startup, it’s absolutely the wrong way to go. Decoupling everything simply doesn’t work. Collaborative design and a more integrated hardware/software approach is a far more productive way of working. In fact, I’d argue that openness and collaboration are the biggest advantages startups have over larger corporations. Squandering that by trying to be overly secretive is a terrible waste.

It’s worth noting that while internal transparency is great, that doesn’t mean you have to do all your RD in public or constantly inform your customers and fans about what you’re doing. Staying in stealth externally and keeping your competitors in the dark as long as possible might be wise. Recall the case of the Fidget Cube, for example: The company ran a very successful Kickstarter campaign but was subsequently beaten to market by dozens of copycats .

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Updated on February 12, 2017

Child Support payments are a significant financial burden but an important one for the well being of your child. Child Support rules, laws, and policies can be confusing. Below are ten of the most common child support payment-related questions I have encountered over the last twelve years working in the child support enforcement industry.

1. How Long Do I Have Make Child Support Payments?

If you are paying Child Support you should have a child support order. Within this order there will be a paragraph stating what the termination of child support terms are. This can vary widely from state to state and order to order, so you should review the language for your particular circumstance.

In most states the default is 18 or graduates from high school, whichever comes later. Some also have a stipulation that it terminates at 19 no matter what.

This is a common question and no, child support is not considered income for purposes of filing your taxes. The custodial parent does not have to claim child support received nor is the paying parent able to deduct the child support paid.

Although the paying parent is not allowed to deduct child support paid on their taxes it is quite common for them to be granted the right to claim the child as a dependent. Typically each parent claims the child every other year. In order to claim the child however, it will need to stipulate this in the child support order, it is not automatically granted and the custodial parent must be in agreement.

*Some other government agencies and programs, such as student aid programs or public assistance programs such as food stamps, may require a parent to report child support.

Yes, typically if you owe past due child support payments in excess of $250 and have an active child support case with a child support agency any refund will be intercepted and applied to your debt. This will occur even if you have a payment agreement in place with the child support agency.

However, you may, in many instances request that all or some of the money intercepted be refunded to you. Typically the Child Support Agency will consider this option if you can prove sufficient financial hardship such as the loss of a job or pending eviction notices for example. You should contact the Child Support Agency handling your case to ask what their policy is on returning intercepted tax refunds.

As a wor around, you may also consider lowering your IRS withholding amounts so that you break even or owe a small amount at the end of the year instead of getting a large refund that will be intercepted.

Typically child support will not accrue when the child lives with you if you have physical custody. This rule varies from state to state however, in some states physical custody automatically suspends child support, in other states a new parenting plan must be officially filed with the court changing the custodial parent from one parent to the other.

If you get physical custody of the child you are paying child support for you should contact the child support agency in your state immediately and inform them. They should provide you with your their policy on how to proceed with stopping child support.

*It is your responsibility to inform the child support agency of any custody changes. If you wait 6 months and then tell them you will not be refunded any child support collected in good faith.

Child Support does not automatically change if you lose your job. It is the parties' responsibility to request a modification if there is a significant change in circumstances which would include loss of a job, a promotion, the paying parent being incarcerated, etc. Child support remains the same until one of the parties moves to modify the child support order.

If you do have a significant change in your income you should contact the child support agency in your state. They will be able to provide you with several options on how to have your child support order modified.

In most cases you do continue paying child support even if the child is living with you in the summer. The reason being that the court assumes the other parent still incurs the cost of maintaining the child's primary residence during the summer months.

Some child support orders, however, do have specific language which grant a summer abatement. For instance, the order may state specifically that child support is suspended during the months of July and August.

If you routinely have your child for summer visitation you should ask an attorney about adding summer abatement language to your child support order.

You cannot deduct items you purchase for the child from the child support amount. If you purchase items such as diapers, shoes, toys it is considered a voluntary gift and credit will not be granted against the child support.

Some parents paying child support often request to see receipts for how the child support is spent. Although the court can request to see receipts it rarely if ever does. It is assumed if the child is dressed, fed and sheltered appropriately then the child support money is being used appropriately.

If you truly feel the child is not being cared for your should contact your state's Child Protective Service Agency.

Child Support and Visitation are completely separate issues in the eyes of the court. Meaning, if you don't pay child support you still have the right to see your child. It also means if the custodial parent denies you visitation you do not have the right to withhold child support.

You should have what is called a parenting plan which instructs the parties what the visitation requirements are, such as every other weekend, etc. If the custodial parent is not abiding by the parenting plan then you may file contempt charges against the custodial parent for disobeying a court order.

There are also often non-profit agencies that will facilitate mediating visitation disputes. If you are having trouble with visitation issues, contact the child support agency in your state and request a list of non-profit agencies in your area that provide family visitation mediation services.

In our society, supporting ones child financially is seen as an important and valuable ideal. For that reason the government has given child support agencies a wide range of collection tools. If you willfully do not pay your child support you can expect the following actions to take place in order:

1. Payroll deduction (many states require this even if you are paying)

2. Credit reporting and IRS refund interception

3. Liens being placed on property

4. Bank freezes

5. License suspension

6. Vehicle seizure

7. Contempt charges which may result in jail time.

However, most if not all of these collection actions can be avoided if you simply communicate with the child support agency handling your case. And, if you truly cannot pay your court-ordered child support amount at least pay something and let the child support agency know you need help modifying your order to something you can actually afford.


Getting out of Debt

by Rick Bostick 2

Four of the founding editors had attended art school and had chosen to live in New York City over pursuing traditional art careers. “If I had wanted to paint,” said Boyle, “I would have gone to Philadelphia or Baltimore or Berlin.” Roso, who was a bit older and had an established art practice, moved to New York from Spain after spending eight years burning through various artist residencies. “When I lived in Europe, my life was just linked to grants—one grant after another. You hit a point where you go through all the grants.” Not that Roso thought artists in America were much better off—they were dependent on the gallery system. In New York, though, you could find freelance work in fashion or advertising while pursuing art on the side.

The editors decided to organize as an LLC rather than as a nonprofit because they didn’t want to rely on donors or grant-giving bodies. Instead, they nursed the dream that some day their magazine would make money.

FIVE YEARS ON, the fulfillment of that hope might be on the horizon. A profitable DIS might not do much to hasten the demise of capitalism, but it could have a salutary effect on the art world. If we take the magazine at its word, part of the purpose of creating consumer-facing “diffusion lines” is to liberate emerging artists from hyper-rich collectors. While many take for granted the entanglement of the art world with the ultra-elite, there was a time not all that long ago when close association with the very wealthy was a source of embarrassment for respected artists. The promise of the diffusion line is that it could allow artists to trade an alliance with the .01 percent for an art practice supported by the middle class. The idea is that artists could become a little more like Red Bull, which makes its money from the masses.

(Red Bull has evidently done a good job of persuading people that it’s really a long-lost cousin of DIS . Throughout the run of “DISown,” I heard numerous artists repeat the line, without irony, that Red Bull is “actually a media company”—the energy drinks were just a side thing. Time and again, I had to explain that this wasn’t true: Red Bull was in fact a beverage company. Its support for “DISown” and other art initiatives was a branding project to help sell energy drinks—energy drinks were not a fake-out to help fund projects like “DISown.” Perhaps, in the distant future, viewers of the Red Bull Network will no longer remember that the company began as a distributor of caffeine and taurine, but as of now, Red Bull’s identity as a media company is largely science fiction.)

Cheerleading for the middle class is one thing; making money from it is something else. Many of the artists featured in “DISown” are already showing at elite galleries. DIS itself had a four-week solo show last year at Suzanne Geiss as well as prominent placement in a widely discussed exhibition, “ProBio,” at MoMA PS1 . They have gallery representation in Paris. The risk for “DISown,” for which the Red Bull exhibition was only the launching pad, is that instead of creating an alternative funding stream for artists, it might simply allow the artists involved to peddle their wares to major collectors with greater buzz and authority.

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