Holidays

Merry Christmas from Panda Rose card with reindeer

Merry Christmas from Panda Rose card with reindeer
Panda Rose Christmas Card

We would like to take a moment to thank you all for making the year 2017 spectacular. It would not be possible to to meet our business goals and grow as we did without you. Thank you for that.

We would also like to wish each of you a wonderful holiday season, a very merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!

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Mobile AppsSelf-ImprovementSocial Media

fireworks

fireworks

The year 2017 is coming to a close and we can see 2018 on the horizon. This transition is nothing new, it happens annually. We know the drill.

Memes will bash 2017 for a while, saying how we will never miss it. Eventually we will give 2018 a hard time and start looking forward to 2019.

Why is that?

What does a 12 month cycle really have to do with starting fresh? The biggest world wide change we experience is a digit moving up in marking what year it is.

To reward, to “start new”, to celebrate. It’s our nature. No matter if it makes perfect sense to celebrate the start of 12 new months, it is celebrated and with that celebration, traditionally comes resolutions.

New Year’s resolutions are the promises we make to ourselves yearly or the promises we are supposed to make in order to better our lives, to become better.

These promises may look something like: “I will work out for half an hour everyday”, “I will take time every morning to meditate”, “I will write for a minimum of 10 minutes everyday”, “I will only eat carbs on weekends”.

breakfast cereal granola with berries

These are all great plans. I wish I could say that I do all of these things and do them without fault. But that is not the case.

Now I know there are some amazing people out there who do stick with these promises made to better themselves. You are amazing. Keep on keeping on.

As for the rest of us who have a harder time keeping these promises, we have some thinking to do.

First, I would like to bring to your attention the fact that humans are imperfect. In fact, we are very far from perfect. This means that the promises we make also have the tendency to be broken.

Personally, I hate that feeling. Not following through with the things I said I would do.

Instead of setting myself up for a whole year of failure, due to an unkept resolution I have given myself a different mindset:

Do your moment’s best.

This means that if the best you can do at this moment is to skip dessert, do that. If the best you can do at this moment is to workout while you watch Netflix, do it. If the best you can do right now is to be gracious to the driver ahead of you who seems to be lost, be that.

woman driving a car

Maybe you are reading this thinking “Well that sounds simple enough” and you aren’t wrong, these are simple tasks, but they aren’t easy. The concept of always doing your best is very straightforward but are you able to will yourself to do better always?


There is something missing from this system. Did you catch it? There is no reward. No consistent or visible reward system anyways.

Reward systems are the way we were trained as children. It’s how we get through hours of studying or changing our diets. We want results and reasons to do what we are doing.

With a public New Year’s resolution, you can post your progress on social media. You can receive praise and encouragement. With the goal of doing your best always, it is difficult for others to give you recognition.

Are you ok with that?

woman taking a photo with an iphone

There are still good reasons to always do your best.

It will improve that moment for you and possibly others unknowingly involved. You will also be teaching yourself greater habits.

Which is sort of the point of this. Seeking to do your best will become habitual. If that is a good enough of a reward system for you, I hope you do get started right away! If you need more convincing, continue reading.

Doing your moment’s best means that you try your best as you are working at the office, being kind to the waitress at lunch, driving carefully, focusing on your child as they tell you about their math teacher and relaxing at the end of a long day. The purposeful decision to do your best effects so many people!

Concerning long term thinking, I believe that doing your moment’s best means allowing opportunities to come as they are and to give each situation that comes, (you guessed it) your very ✨best.✨

Do you think I’ve repeated myself enough times? 😅

I know that many of you are already doing your best in all that life throws at you. Thank you for that. I encourage you to encourage the people in your life. If not verbally, then through your actions and attitude, as we all know those speak louder than words ever could.

hand holding mini globe

So go, be the change even if it isn’t obvious or notable, do your moment’s best.

Tess Houcher

 

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MarketingSocial Media

Push Pin

What is your company doing about it?

I remember when Pinterest was created in the spring of 2010. I remember because my mom had found it sooner than most of her friends. At the time, my mom thought of it as her secret great idea place. Where she could find gift ideas, “pin” recipes, checkout DIY projects and beautiful pictures of places she would like to visit.

When she would tell her friends about the app she would explain to them like it was a literal bulletin board. Saying that you could grab ideas from anywhere and “pin” them to your own boards for later reference.

I realize now that I haven’t thought of Pinterest as a bulletin board in a very long time. I think that’s because it has grown to be so much more. The virtual bulletin board of 2010 has morphed into what I would call a never-ending magazine.

Pinterest is popular for a few reasons, one of those is due to the personalization. I follow people and companies who pin similar styles and interests so I can see their take on styles we share opinions about. Not only do the people I follow show me pins I may potentially like but when I pin anything, Pinterest will also show me pins similar to that one so I may find even more websites, photos, products, that would appeal to me.

Influence is a huge player in the Pinterest game. Everyone is influencing each other. You and your pins are always reaching someone. There is a huge cycle of pinning and influencing, pinning and influencing… Not only do individuals have the ability to go through this cycle, but companies and their products can as well.

I also use my Pinterest account as a wishlist. This means I seek out brands and products that I would like. I can show them to my friends and family, asking for these things for Christmas. I can refer to the boards of my friends to know what they would like as gifts also.


Pinterest users are mostly women and I’d say that 90% of the pins on Pinterest are products.

In short, Pinterest is an amazing place for target marketing.

What is more powerful than a woman who loves a product? A group of women who love a product.

Have you ever heard a group of ladies discuss a product they love? The enthusiasm and eagerness they posses is energetic enough to get others who have never heard of the product excited as well. In a nutshell, that is what Pinterest is. People excited over products. Effecting each other as they repin.

Pinterest is like an affiliate system but the affiliates don’t know they are branding for you, you don’t need to pay them, and their reviews are honest. What more could a company want?

If you have a website that links to your Pinterest account, I hope that you are keeping it active, as it is definitely worth it. It does take a lot of time and effort though. You need a constant supply of beautiful pictures or videos and compelling captions that will draw in people to click through to your website. I would would even suggest that you keep the Pinterest account as active as you would keep your Instagram account.

I follow a few clothing brands on Pinterest. They always have beautiful pictures and they add them to their many boards regularly. I gush over their stunning photos and repin them. Not only are they influencing me but my followers as well.

Push Pin


Maybe your pins are getting repined, but you aren’t seeing an immediate increase in sales. If that is the case, I’d be sure that people can clearly see what the image is focusing on. Help them believe that they could own the product too. The scenery around the featured item needs to look beautiful of course, but not so far from reality that the average consumer doesn’t stop to picture themselves owning your product.

A balance between an aesthetically pleasing picture, an image which clearly displays your product, reality and consumer craving fantasy needs to be met in order to win over the pinners through your pins. Give the pinners a reason to purchase.

Pinterest can be the connect between a consumer’s fantasy and reality.

200 million monthly users is a lot of consumers. Is your brand out there for us to find?

Tess Houcher

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HolidaysShoppingTechnology

snowflake image

 

Christmas is coming up and I hope that you have all of your presents bought and wrapped… I know that I don’t. So, if you are in the same boat as me, perhaps you would appreciate a list of the best products your loved ones would be ecstatic to receive from you this year.

If you are not in this stressful situation like the rest of us, here is a list of tech products that are awesome! Maybe you could ask for them yourself!

The iPhone X

I’ve talked about the iPhone in another blog describing the release of the new era of iPhone. From the beginning the iPhone X has been magical. It unlocks by knowing its owners face even when they change their appearance. Talk about futuristic tech! The iPhone X has the best camera Apple has ever created. It has the ability to produce studio-quality photos using its depth-sensing cameras and its provided lighting effects. This iPhone can be charged using a wireless charging station created to change the world of wires.
Apple really wanted to start a new generation by introducing this phone. Maybe you too could be apart of the change!
$999.00

Amazon Echo and Alexa Devices

The intelligent personal assistant is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts and audiobooks, providing weather, traffic and the news. She is like a robot friend created to help you, directed by the sound of your voice.
$29.99-$129.00

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

I know from experience how cool the iPad Pro is. This 10.5” or 12.9” screen gives you the ability to write, sketch, markup and photoshop with ease. Multitasking, drag and drop, and the app switcher are used to the best of their potential on this device making simple tasks simpler!
$1,229.00

The Apple Pencil is what brings out the full potential of the iPad Pro. Like Apple says, “It’s only a magic wand.” This is what makes the note taking, drawing, markup and photoshop amazing. It provides “new ways to interact with the apps…” like we have never experienced before.
$99.00

Oculus Rift

The Oculus rift feels like a portal to a different planet. The technology brings you into the first person position of any situation, and if you allow your mind, you can experience the thoughts and emotions of the characters you see through. All I can say is, it’s amazing. The Oculus Rift bundle includes the Oculus Rift headset and Oculus Touch motion controllers which now costs $399.00.

Apple Watch Series 3

I also know from experience that this watch is worth the purchase. I have written a previous blog on the Newest Apple Watch which can be found here. This watch can connect to LTE meaning that users can leave their phones at home. Check a text in a meeting, run to the grocery store, workout and swim all with the Apple Watch Series 3. This Watch is focused on fitness and health and has the capacity to inform users on their current health. The many wristbands and backgrounds allow for full customization.
$429-$989.

JIM by Jim Beam

What is “JIM” you ask? JIM is a smart home device from Jim Beam created to serve a shot of Beam’s Bourbon. The device is voice activated and voiced by the “7th Generation Master Distiller, Fred Noe”. I picture this device being very influential when it comes to bars and parties in the upcoming future.
$34.90

R2-D2 by Sphero

If I am going to list a strictly adult age Christmas gift, I better list one made for kids too! This is the closest we have come to having the lovable robot on our planet. Being only 7” tall means that the bot is never in the way. (And can stay on the desks of us adults.) With the R2-D2 you use the app to control the little bot. He acts and responds just like the character in the films. Whether for the long time Star Wars fan, or the super-fan in training, this gift is bound to be fun.
$179.99

I hope this list helps, or at least gets you excited about the amazing tech we have available to us today. I know I am!

Tess Houcher

snowflake image


Tech to Add to Your Wishlist was originally published in Panda Rose on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

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MarketingSEOShoppingWeb Development

store front image

 Black Sheep Legging came to Panda Rose in need of a new website.

For those of you who do not know, Black Sheep Legging is a clothing company. They rely on the Internet and representatives to sell their product. They emphasize on being unique and owning your style. Based in Alberta Canada, this company is taking the legging market by storm.

Black Sheep Legging’s last website was having issues and they were ready for a freshening up. Panda Rose was able to create a completely new website using Shopify as the store provider without purchasing any extra apps but still equipping Black Sheep Legging with all of the many specific features necessary for the shop.

store front image

Here are the features we created for our client:

Panda Rose was able to create an advanced collection filtering by multiple simultaneous criteria system. This component would be similar to applications that can be found on shopify but now our client doesn’t need to pay about $20 a month.

We added “VIP Pricing” which are custom discount levels depending on the specific permission level according to the tag possessed by the individual. If we didn’t make this feature ourselves, it would have cost our client $30-$50 a month for an application found in Shopify.

We also created an internal customer credit system that fit our exact needs opposed to finding an app that isn’t customizable and or costs money.

Panda Rose also resolved a commonly reported problem as Mailchimp’s scripts often conflict with some of Shopify’s. This problem is usually solved by installing an app from Shopify that can cost around $5 a month. But a developer can solve this quite simply just like we did for Black Sheep Legging.

An affiliate system was required and was integrated with commission tracking. The “Rep Portal” also gives reps the ability to customize their personal rep storefront. We looked through the following apps to integrate into Black Sheep Legging’s shopify:

people

Refersion almost worked but it would not switch customers to reps automatically when they completed the signing up process along with the inability to define different tiers of affiliates. We were hopeful, but it wasn’t a perfect fit for our client.

Affiliatly was attractive in that it was very straightforward and its prices were not bad. But this app left us no room to customize and fit the needs of Black Sheep Legging. Again, we had to look elsewhere.

ReferralCandy was not for a rep program like we needed but looked like it would thrive strictly as a referral program.

Ambassador was difficult to work with, in that we couldn’t really test it without being on the phone with one of the representatives. It’s price tag was also too much for our client and so this affiliate program didn’t quite cut it either.

So we created our own affiliate system. It does everything our client needs it to and it will not cost an extravagant amount every month.

The following three features were created by Panda Rose without an app in Shopify to compare them to:

Panda Rose was also able to use the existing basic tagging feature Shopify provides and built off of it to automate the addition and removal of tags based on events within the store. This enabled the ability for anyone new signing up in the site to be labeled as a “Customer” in our system. This tag is then replaced if the customer chooses to become a rep and will alter according to the rep tire they become. Again, this adjusts automatically.

shopping cart

The cart content checks hold the ability to modify contents on the fly before checkout. This means that Black Sheep Legging did not want customers reaching the checkout if they have more inventory in their cart than there is currently in stock. Upon adding inventory to cart, it’s automatically adjusted down to stock levels, and Black Sheep Legging is notified of the change.

An internal “free shipping” code system was created for rep usage to allow greater control for Black Sheep Legging opposed to Shopify’s discount codes.

If each of the features I have listed were apps that were integrated into Black Sheep Legging’s Shopify, it could potentially cost $15,000 a year. Which is obviously not necessary.

Maybe your company has the money to pay all of these apps to run your store. But can you handle all of the complications that come with having multiple apps piled all over you store? All of their different formats and requirements? Are you able to customize the apps to fit all of your company’s needs?

A developer can integrate all of the features your store may need and ensure that the features fit your specific needs exactly. A developer can prioritize you opposed to giant companies and app creators where you are just another business that is using their product. You can have real conversations with your developer to get your thoughts, questions and concerns addressed. Plus, no monthly fees to last you as long as you have the online store! Hiring a developer is without a doubt a wise investment for your business.

Tess Houcher

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Self-ImprovementSocial Media

iphone at sunset

Here I am with a new perspective on social media . . .

I think social media can be great!

Now I can just picture you all rolling your eyes thinking about how wishy washy I am. But hear me out.

First off, I think it is good to let yourself change your opinion, go back and then change again. Otherwise you can never learn.

To those of you who read my first two personal social media blogs you would know that I took a break from social media for a week. If you missed out you can find the first one here and the second one here.

iphone at sunset

Otherwise here is a quick recap:

I went a week off of social media when a friend inspired me to do so. The break was challenging at first but in the end was very refreshing and eye opening. The week off also allowed me to decide that I could keep Snapchat on my phone 24/7. More of my thoughts on Snapchat can be found here.

After the week was up I decided I would keep up with the new standards I was creating for myself by keeping Instagram and Facebook off of my phone unless I wanted to post something. I soon ended up just keeping the apps deleted on weekdays and getting them back for the weekends.

I did this in attempts to train my brain not to crave the platforms.

It has now been about two months since my week off, this is my status update:

After a gradual process I am back on Instagram and Facebook but I am here to explain myself.

Yes I did start with just going on my social media on the weekends but that routine started falling off the rails slightly about a week ago. I got so used to not having Facebook around that I forgot to get it for the weekend! I was pretty proud of that actually, but then I got it the Sunday afternoon and it has stayed on my phone since then. Oops. And the weekend before that I ended up leaving Instagram on my phone and again it’s been there ever since.

On that note, I have learned how to work around having social media on my phone.

megaphone

Turn off social notifications.

It is easy to forget about the social apps when they are not constantly beeping and buzzing, begging for you to check the obviously urgent activity on your Facebook page.

I suggest you try turning off the notifications for your social apps as well. This way you can still have the apps on your phone and you can open them whenever, but you are in control of why and when you open the apps. Opposed to being controlled by your device.

It may take some time to break the habit of checking your phone constantly for no real reason. I know that I am still in the process of breaking it myself.

facebook thumb down

Facebook is pushy, but are we surprised?

I also learned that Facebook will send you emails about the activity on your feed and page when you are not active on the app for a certain amount of time. I find these reminders most annoying. But I am not at all surprised by the pushiness. I am slowly getting through all the different “types” of emails that they send me to unsubscribe from each sort of notification, though they do make the process difficult to fully complete.

Both Instagram and Facebook also like to remind me to turn on my notifications every single time I open either app. There is a paragraph at the top of my feed screen when I open the apps telling me how important it is that I “stay connected”. I do not appreciate the obnoxious reminders. Why do they need all the power? It’s creepy.

Can’t get a break

I am still very aware of how often people are on their phones. But I know I turn to my phone in awkward situations also. Which is sad. It makes me wish I lived in an era where people had to talk and they had to push themselves through awkward situations. Even when there is no awkward situation we still turn to our phones! It’s ridiculous.

It’s a good thing the hit TV show Friends was made before smartphones, otherwise the show would have been very different. Ross would have posted on Facebook about his new international girlfriend before showing up at the airport with her surprising Rachel. They would never worry about reaching one another before they left Central Perk because they could could just text. And Joey could just become a YouTube star to fix all of his fame issues.

friends

Anyways, I think people should just know not to go on their phones when they are with friends. We all need to be present.

All this to say,

I still don’t think that social media is all bad. Notice I started this blog post by saying that social media can be great. But it can be used poorly, making its influence bad.

I have said this before but I don’t mind mentioning it again; social media is a great way to connect with friends and family. No matter where they are or what you are doing, you can reach each other. It’s a small world after all. 😏

Another reason I gave myself permission to keep social media is because I am leaving the country soon. I am privileged to have the ability to keep in touch with the loved ones I leave behind. I even went as far as creating a travel account on Instagram.

I guess this is just another reason to find a balance in the things like social media. I will use it to be connected and post beautiful pictures but I will not let the apps take control again. Maybe I’ll take another week long break from the apps again, just for fun.

Tess Houcher

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HolidaysShoppingTechnology

Christmas at a shopping mall

Christmas shopping in the movies paints us a picture of the “holiday hustle and bustle”. People waiting outside of toy stores early in the morning so they can grab the holiday toy of the year for their children. Standing in lines that go all the way down the street. People running around with their arms full of pre-wrapped gifts and over sized bags. Then they probably fall, dropping all of their packages, then they get help from a handsome stranger, most likely fall in love instantly and end up living happily ever after.

Christmas at a shopping mall

This isn’t exactly a reality and not just the sappy love story part. Thanks for the high standards Hallmark.

I myself have never ran around town last minute with arms full of gifts and this is not because I have no friends to buy for, it’s thanks to the Internet!

Between time and money and all the ways that you can save, online shopping is a game changer.

Christmas light on Christmas treeOnline holiday shopping means you don’t have to drive to multiple stores or spend all your time grazing the aisles looking for products they may or may not have in stock. You don’t have to wait in line and you don’t have to drive all the way home again. Plus, no money spent on gas.

Watching holiday classics, eating holiday food, drinking holiday drinks, wearing comfy holiday clothing, surrounded by holiday decorations all while sitting comfortably at home and holiday shopping at the same time is a reality! And it is awesome.

How could we ever go back?

My mom went on a quick shopping trip for Christmas presents the other day even though she is a loyal Amazon customer. She explained to me that it felt like a waste of her time. One of the reasons she loves online shopping is because she can find the best deals offered by all the best brands. She can easily move from site to site looking for the best reviews and deals. No point in making a trip on icy roads to town in hopes of finding all the items on your shopping lists.

Going to the literal stores means she just has to hope that the few stores on her route have all that she planned to purchase currently in stock and that the price is the lowest she could get.

Instead of hoping, she would much rather know.

decorated Christmas treeEven wish lists can be made online now. I made one this year using Pinterest. I filled a dedicated board with pins of all the things I could materialistically want from my family this Christmas season. I pinned beautiful pictures of new hiking backpacks, ballcaps, iPad cases and of course pictures of chocolate. (Incase anyone was wondering.😉) I let my family know how to find it anytime they ask what I want for Christmas. It’s the perfect system.

This way I can show people the exact brands and styles of the products I wish for through pictures! Whenever I see something I like on my Pinterest feed I can just add it to the list. This is opposed to forgetting what I saw and loved, wishing I had taken note for future reference- A concern of the past!😊

My sisters and mother made wish list boards on Pinterest as well. Making it easy to find what they each want. In some cases you can even click on the picture to be brought to the website and purchase the exact product instantly.

There are apps like CheckedTwice.com or Wishlistr that were created to allow consumers to surf the Internet, take note of things they would like and then share that list with their loved ones.

We just need to get everyone onboard. To get our friends and family to all make online wish lists of their own. Christmas shopping could be a breeze! Just look up their name and shop away.

christmas ornamentsOf course life is never simple and I do have one fairly major concern, I believe there is great value in shopping locally. My father is a local business man as well as my employer, Panda Rose. There are many great reasons to keep our money in our closer economic circles. Supporting local business literally feeds our community. That is definitely worth waiting in line for.

Now I must also admit, I love the Christmas decorations that are put up by malls and shops. It’s just one of those traditions I am fond of. A website that took the time to add Christmasy looking features and images are not quite the same as giant trees, thousands of colourful lights and hanging ornaments the size of beach balls.

Are you an Amazon loyalist or do prefer the authenticity that comes with shopping local? Let me know.

Cheers to you and yours as we have stepped into the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

Tess Houcher

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FutureProductivityTechnology

limousine

Mobile homes were an all round great idea. Most include beds, a kitchen, living room furniture, it can all be packed up for safe transfer and you can drive it along with all you that you need wherever!

The food truck is genius for restaurant chains and those who want to put their food creations on wheels. In some cases the trucks can come to requested locations and other times they pop up and give food lovers a pleasant surprise.

limousine

The limousine… need I say more?

These vehicles with extravagant features and purposes were amazing ideas. So whats next?

Apparently there has been development in mobile offices.

Now you may be thinking, ‘well that doesn’t sound very fun.’ And I would agree. Fun is not the goal, but when I got thinking about the mobile office, my trailing thoughts made me excited for such development.

Whether or not people have been developing these specific concepts or not I do not know, but these are the ideas I myself put together.

Here are my ideas

Imagine the floor of a vehicle, that looks nothing like a vehicle’s floor. The floor is a perfect rectangle that comfortably fits a table, four chairs, a coat hanger and water cooler. There are four walls. These walls are giant one-way windows that are also touch screens. There are two sliding doors, one on each of the long sides of the rectangle. And of course there would be wifi and charging stations for all the needed electronics.

You may be thinking, ‘Now that sounds dangerous.’ Not to worry friends, by the time mobile offices become a priority, all vehicles will be self driven.

What’s the point?

People would use the mobile offices for getting work done while they are still on the go. No more clocking in late for your office job.

Still not convinced?

How about mobile meetings? What if the mobile office could hold 12 chairs comfortably? A presenter could show the actual location of the proposed hotel building to the board all while everyone still has their devices on a table and notes are drawn by finger tips on the walls around them. Your designer team needs inspiration? Rent a mobile office and allow them to all get out of the office, with the ability to continue working but their surroundings are changing and influence can be pulled from anywhere! Or a mobile art class!

people at conference table

I think there is real potential for the mobile office and I hope that one day I get to use one!


I also have my own idea for the next mobile features. A vehicle with workout equipment! For now we will call it the mobile gym.

It looks very similar to the mobile office from the outside. But inside, there is gym equipment. Now, before you roll your eyes let me explain.

The mobile gym would have space efficient equipment that would be customized to the owner/renter. The touch screen would display your workout schedule, music and could also have a virtual trainer. People would use the mobile gym as they would workout as they commute.

woman weight lifting

If someone wanted to make sure that they worked out daily, they could set up a program that helped them do so. A program could make it so that their phones would only charge if they were producing power through working out. Or maybe the one way mirrors would shut off exposing the interior if no one had been working out for the last 5 minutes.

Can you even imagine?

Yes I thought about the fact that a mobile gym could look ridiculous as people can walk, run or bike to places they need to go while being fit. But running in -22 degrees is not ideal and biking to work is not a reasonable option for those with a commute that is already 20 minutes of driving outside of city limits.

There is still a lot of development needed before these ideas are put into action. But I still think it’s fun to imagine what the future of transportation will look like. Maybe our mobile homes, food trucks and limos will all hover and fly by the time we get around to adding offices and gyms.

street

Where do you see our technology in transportation taking us? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

Tess Houcher

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