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CEO Kobi Wu is changing the face of advertising with VisuWall

ROLLINGOUT.COM — Kobi Wu is the founder and CEO of VisuWall Technologies.

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By Porsha Monique

Porsha Monique

[/media-credit] Porsha Monique

Kobi Wu is the founder and CEO of VisuWall Technologies, a platform where vacant storefront windows become smart eye-level media placements, delivering a new advertising channel and metrics that matter in just a few clicks. Wu is a former music industry executive and has 18 plus years of marketing and advertising experience. She’s worked with global companies producing customer experiences, brand strategies, content and media plans for Nike, Spotify, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Ciroc Vodka, Google, JetBlue and a host of others. Before founding VisuWall, Wu was the SVP of Strategy and Creative for Combs Enterprises where she led strategy for the chairman’s portfolio of brands.

Rolling Out recently spoke with Wu to discuss VisuWall, her career path, her leadership style and much more.

How did you determine your career path?

My career path was inspired mostly by my personal interests, and these are not at all linear or singular. I get completely immersed with each subject during the various phases of my career. From architecture to the music business to the consumer experience, and now being the founder of VisuWall I have layered my career with creative insights and a diverse set of skills that give me a very unique perspective that works really well for me.

What inspires you to show up at work every day?

I love what I’ve created in VisuWall and I like to explore the new heights it will go. Working on the business every day fuels new ideas, new ways of working, and allows me to meet new people.

Please describe your role as CEO.

As CEO of VisuWall my role is to make sure the team has the tools they need to be successful (resources, answers and insights) and then get out of their way so that they can do their job. My role is to keep my eyes on the VisuWall North Star and make sure that the team keeps that vision top of mind in all that they do.

What is the mission of your organization?

VisuWall is a platform where vacant storefronts become smart eye-level media placements, delivering a new advertising channel and metrics that matter in just a few clicks. Our expertise with consumer experiences and care in bridging relationships with property owners provides transparency, efficiency and ROI with each and every placement.

Who or what motivates you and why?       

My son is a big motivator for me. He was present when I first pitched the idea at the Entrepreneurs Challenge at NYU in 2015. He was with me when I stopped to take pictures of buildings I was interested in for the model. He heard me talking to my husband about throwing in the towel and said, “Ummmm. Momma you can’t quit. We’ve worked too hard. I’ve had to stand and watch you take too many pictures of buildings for you to quit now. This is our thing!”  I appreciate that he sees me working and building something. He knows it hasn’t always been there and we have to work to keep it. So yeah, he motivates me.

What are the do’s and don’ts for young women in business?

  • Do be yourself and consider how you want to be perceived.
  • Do make sure you take your seat at the table – literally and figuratively. Show up and show up ready to be heard.
  • Do make sure you are learned and coachable – it’s a delicate balance sometimes.
  • Don’t forget to look around you and advocate for someone else you believe in whether they are senior to you, junior to you or standing next to you as a peer.
  • Don’t let someone’s opinion of your idea sway you from putting it out there. Take a pause or pivot if you must, but keep pushing.

Name three successful female role models and explain why you admire them.

I really admire women in business who will take a beat to support other women in business. By that I mean women who will listen to someone’s story, help them work through a need, and maybe even go so far as to put their weight behind someone when they believe in something. Oprah, Michelle Obama or someone else in that stratosphere, are easy to mention, but I have been moved by some less obvious names – perhaps not household names- but names that carry their own [weight] on a lot of levels.

Morgan DeBaun, Founder & CEO of Blavity: When we met, we both came to the table cold, only knowing each other’s name and company accomplishments, but nothing about each other’s personal background. [We had] no friends in common, no jobs at the same place. But she came to the table knowing where I’ve been, what I’m working on and with a vision of how we can perhaps stay connected and work together. We listened to each other, laughed a bit and after an hour I walked away with the kind of ally who will advocate for me and VisuWall and vice versa.  I also really, really enjoy Morgan’s instagram feed and appreciate how she’s living her best life.

Isa Watson, Founder & CEO Envest: Isa and I sat on a panel together at Columbia. At that point, I was pre-funded and working through what seemed like an eternity of building traction with no resources. Several months later we met for coffee and a pastry. She asked me about my investment strategy and the next thing I knew she was encouraging me to shift gears, take control and play my cards differently. She was right. I am now funded and it was all about that mind shift.

Marissa Nance, Founder, Native Tongue Communications: Marissa is family. She has worked 25+ years at OMD and recently launched a new entity called Native Tongue Communications. Because I’ve stayed at her home in LA I’ve seen Marissa’s work ethic live and in person. She rises [early] to be able to work on Eastern Standard Time and goes hard all day, making deals and helping her clients understand advertising to diverse groups of people. In between she’s taken time to share resources, make introductions (in fact Morgan was one of those introductions) and has helped me strategize for VisuWall pretty much from day one.

How do you approach business challenges?

There is always a pivot or a level up in business. Running VisuWall, the day to day challenges require a certain kind of mental preparedness that I often liken to sports. Proficiency in simple things like accounting, client management, marketing, and operations is like being able to make a free throw or a layup in basketball. I also like to know and study the players. It makes a huge difference to know who you’re playing with, how they play and what motivates them. It allows you make smarter moves. Then when you come across complex situations like investor presentations, hiring teams, managing distribution of funds, etc., all of those basic skills come into play and knowing them well allows you to level up for the dunk.

How do you evaluate talent you are hiring and what are the skill sets you’re looking for in this market place?

When I am hiring talent I am absolutely looking for knowledge of their craft, but equally a combination of independence, willingness to roll up his/her sleeves, likeability, coachability and creativity. VisuWall uniquely combines two otherwise disparate industries and so anyone who works with us needs to be dexterous enough to understand and apply insights from the other side of the marketplace and the people involved.

Describe your leadership style.

I’m a steward of the VisuWall ship. I work towards strategic goals and try to manage the processes to ladder up to those goals. I like to think I’m a casual leader because I’m rather laidback on most days, but in recent years I’ve realized it’s actually only my attire that is casual: sneakers, tee shirts and jeans; but I’m actually quite process driven.

Media Maven. Celebrity Interviewer. Entertainment Journalist. Social Influencer. Passionate Writer. Follow my journey on FB @PorshaMonique and IG @iAmPorshaMonique

This article originally appeared in Rollingout.com.

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Advice

Buying a Home May Not Be as Out of Reach as You Think, Even in This Market

While existing home sales have fallen month-over-month since the beginning of the year, prices hit a record high above $400,000 in May, according to the National Association of Realtors, as low levels of housing inventory and supply chain constraints have created an affordability squeeze for homebuyers. Mortgage rates have nearly doubled in the last six months — from 3% in 2021 to close to 6% in 2022 — making it increasingly challenging for many Americans to purchase a home, especially for those with limited income.

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While existing home sales have fallen month-over-month since the beginning of the year, prices hit a record high above $400,000 in May, according to the National Association of Realtors
While existing home sales have fallen month-over-month since the beginning of the year, prices hit a record high above $400,000 in May, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Here’s How You Can Achieve Homeownership

Buying a home is one of the most important purchases you will make in your lifetime. Pressure is mounting for those looking to buy right now, with home prices fluctuating and mortgage rates at their highest levels in over a decade.

While existing home sales have fallen month-over-month since the beginning of the year, prices hit a record high above $400,000 in May, according to the National Association of Realtors, as low levels of housing inventory and supply chain constraints have created an affordability squeeze for homebuyers. Mortgage rates have nearly doubled in the last six months — from 3% in 2021 to close to 6% in 2022 — making it increasingly challenging for many Americans to purchase a home, especially for those with limited income.

So, how do you know when you’re ready to buy a home? More importantly, how much home can you afford? We sat down with Denise Richardson, community home lending advisor at Chase, to answer those questions and discuss what the current state of the market means for you and your family’s home buying dreams.

Q: What are the main factors mortgage lenders look at when evaluating an application?

Richardson:

When it comes to homeownership, your credit score and debt-to-income ratio are major factors in the application process.

Your credit score is set based upon how you’ve used — or not used — credit in the past. Using credit responsibly, such as paying bills on time and having a low utilization rate will result in a higher score. Higher credit scores can help you qualify for the lowest interest rates. A score at 700 or above is generally considered good.

Additionally, lenders look at your debt-to-income ratio. This is a simple equation of how much debt you have relative to how much money you make. Borrowers with a higher debt-to-income ratio are considered more risky while a lower debt-to-income ratio may allow you to qualify for the best rates on your home loan.

Q: What are some tips for improving your credit score?

Richardson: There are a number of things you can do to improve your credit score, starting with reviewing your credit reports to understand what might be working against you. You can also pay down your revolving credit and dispute any inaccuracies.

Additionally, there are services like Chase Credit Journey to help monitor and improve your credit score. Credit Journey monitors all your accounts and alerts you to changes in your credit report that may impact your score. You’ll get an alert any time Chase sees new activity, including charges, account openings and credit inquiries. Chase will also notify you if there are changes in your credit usage, credit limits or balances. You don’t have to be a Chase customer to take advantage of Credit Journey.

Q: What are some factors that can affect the cost of a mortgage?

Richardson: There are several factors to consider when reviewing mortgage options including loan term, interest rate and loan type. Potential homebuyers should contact a home lending professional to understand and review the options available to them.

For example, there are two basic types of mortgage interest rates: fixed and adjustable. While adjustable rates are initially low, they can change over the course of a loan, so your mortgage payments may fluctuate. Loan term indicates how long you have to pay off the loan. Many homebuyers tend to opt for a 15-year or 30-year mortgage, though other terms are available. A longer loan term generally means you’ll have lower monthly payments, but you’ll pay more in interest over the life of the loan. A shorter loan term may come with higher monthly payments, but you’ll likely pay much less in interest over time.

Q: What are the costs of homeownership beyond the monthly mortgage payment?

Richardson: People often think of the down payment and monthly mortgage — but buying and owning a home carries additional costs. Closing costs, for example, can amount to up to 3% or more of the final purchase price. Other factors that could add on to your monthly payments are property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and homeowner’s association (HOA) fees. To get an idea of what this may look like for you, use an affordability calculator.

While there is no way for a buyer to completely avoid paying these fees, there are ways to save on them. Some banks offer financial assistance for homebuyers. As an example, Chase’s Homebuyer Grant offers up to $5,000 that can be used toward a down payment or closing costs in eligible neighborhoods across the country. There may also be homeowners’ or down payment assistance offered in your city or state. Contact a home lending advisor to learn about resources you may be eligible for.

For a deeper dive into this topic, our Beginner to Buyer podcast — episode three, “How Much Can I Afford?” is a great resource for prospective homebuyers to get answers to all their homebuying questions.

Learn more about the homebuying process, here.

Sponsored content from JPMorgan Chase & Co.

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Activism

Tiny Homes Offer Hope for Holidays and Beyond

We are accepting applications for volunteers and accepting donations that we can use to build Tiny Homes. You might have things in your house or garage you haven’t used or extra construction tools, a bag of stud nails, used doors, windows, roofing materials, lumber, metal, hardwood flooring, sheetrock tape, paints, and anything that we can recycle to build and add to our Tiny Homes. 

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As chief operations officer for The Tiny Homes Project, I join Lackey in expressing gratitude for the support that the Oakland Post, as our media partner, has helped us with in gathering community and faith-based leaders to help solve our increasing homeless problem in the Bay Area. We can no longer ignore homelessness in Oakland, which has now reached a humanitarian crisis.
As chief operations officer for The Tiny Homes Project, I join Lackey in expressing gratitude for the support that the Oakland Post, as our media partner, has helped us with in gathering community and faith-based leaders to help solve our increasing homeless problem in the Bay Area. We can no longer ignore homelessness in Oakland, which has now reached a humanitarian crisis.

By Dr. Maritony A. Yamot and Rev. Ken Lackey

The holidays are the season when we stop and begin to think, “How can I give back this year and what are some different ways to help out?”

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to help out during the holidays that don’t cost a thing. The Tiny Homes Project — with Rev. Ken Lackey of the Center for the Perfect Marriage Church at 6101 International Blvd. — needs to increase its capacity and we wanted to remind our community that everybody matters to God.

As chief operations officer for The Tiny Homes Project, I join Lackey in expressing gratitude for the support that the Oakland Post, as our media partner, has helped us with in gathering community and faith-based leaders to help solve our increasing homeless problem in the Bay Area. We can no longer ignore homelessness in Oakland, which has now reached a humanitarian crisis.

We want to launch an intensive month-long generosity campaign to help the increasing homeless issues in our neighborhoods by adding to the number of tiny homes that we have already built at various private locations in Oakland.

We invite you to join us as we partner with some of Oakland’s fabulous nonprofit organizations to meet critical needs in our communities.

Whether through donation or action, there are plenty of opportunities to give.

We are accepting applications for volunteers and accepting donations that we can use to build Tiny Homes. You might have things in your house or garage you haven’t used or extra construction tools, a bag of stud nails, used doors, windows, roofing materials, lumber, metal, hardwood flooring, sheetrock tape, paints, and anything that we can recycle to build and add to our Tiny Homes.

We are also looking for vehicle donations of trailers or any truck for hauling material and picking up volunteers and homeless people that are helping to build Tiny Homes. We build our homes with primarily donated and surplus materials, allowing us to cut costs and provide a pleasant home for under $40,000.

Each and every person who wants to help out and eradicate the homeless problem in the City of Oakland can donate funds for us to build a Tiny Home. If donors want to give money to the ministry, we will build a tiny home and name it after them. Know that your donations will be able to take a whole family off the street during this cold season.

In addition, we are open to getting a sponsor or sponsors for an entire Tiny Homes Community Park and we have a separate location that will be designated for homeless veterans, the elderly, single mothers or single fathers, and any individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, such as those living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, places not meant for habitation, or sleeping on our streets.

Please spread the word and contact us about any way you can help our Tiny Homes Community Project with Rev. Ken Lackey.

There are three ways to contact us

  1. By Phone/toll-free number: 1-833-233-8900 ext. 1
  2. By Email: TinyHomesC@gmail.com
  3. By Appointment/Donation Drop off location at the All About Grits Restaurant at 6101 International Blvd., Oakland, CA

Or you can attend our next two major events:

  1. Tiny Homes Fundraising Event on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. Place to be announced.
  2. Tiny Homes Community Building Workshop with the help of our community and local partners in the Bay Area. Date and place to be announced.

Contact us for more details of these two events or any ways you can help in this season.

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Activism

Faith Baptist Church Becomes Oakland’s First Official Resiliency Hub

Faith Baptist Church was the recipient of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Legacy Award. Faith was chosen out of a pool of dozens of applicants for the award. The key differentiator was the Solar Battery Storage project. With that, Faith Baptist has the ability to totally exit the PG&E grid and generate 100% energy from its solar panels. That makes Faith Baptist a potential energy distributor.

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As members of the community that comprise Faith Baptist Church look on, California Interfaith Power and Light Executive Director Susan Stephenson, left (in white jacket), hands scissors to the eldest member of Faith Baptist for the ribbon cutting on Nov. 14 while Pastor Curtis Robinson stands just behind him. Also pictured are District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb (white hair, white shirt) and to his right (multi-colored top) is Shayna Hirschfield-Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager. Photo courtesy of Faith Baptist Church and California Interfaith Power and Light.
As members of the community that comprise Faith Baptist Church look on, California Interfaith Power and Light Executive Director Susan Stephenson, left (in white jacket), hands scissors to the eldest member of Faith Baptist for the ribbon cutting on Nov. 14 while Pastor Curtis Robinson stands just behind him. Also pictured are District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb (white hair, white shirt) and to his right (multi-colored top) is Shayna Hirschfield-Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager. Photo courtesy of Faith Baptist Church and California Interfaith Power and Light.

By Curtis O. Robinson, Sr., M.A., Harvard University fellow, ’19, Senior Pastor, Faith Baptist Church

So, when I say that Faith Baptist is Oakland’s first Resiliency Hub, the first question that many people ask is, “what is a resiliency hub?”

In an article from the Christian Science Monitor entitled “Resilience hubs: A new approach to crisis response,” the author writes, “Things that shock a community have to do with climate, but more urgently they have to do with systemic inequities.”

He was referring to police shootings, civic unrest, the growth of homeless encampments and more. The resiliency hub approach to these inequities uses a respected local organization, such as a church or community center, and bolsters it to help neighborhoods prepare for crises — hurricanes, heat waves, pandemics or unrest — and to respond and recover from them.

When Faith was approached with the idea of solar panels for its rooftop as a source of heat, the decision was relatively a no-brainer.

As a House of Worship, there is a collective emphasis on the workings of God in the universe. The first job that God gave humanity was to tend the Garden. When it comes to environmental justice, our goal then is to take care of this place called planet Earth.

The world is now in an environmental tailspin. However, with technology that teaches us how to create sustainable outcomes, sprinkled with common sense, we can achieve an environmental balance that can create safe spaces environmentally for our children and for our future.

Faith Baptist Church was the recipient of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Legacy Award. Faith was chosen out of a pool of dozens of applicants for the award. The key differentiator was the Solar Battery Storage project.

With that, Faith Baptist has the ability to totally exit the PG&E grid and generate 100% energy from its solar panels. That makes Faith Baptist a potential energy distributor.

With the help of California Interfaith Power and Light and energy experts from the U.S. Green Building Council, we held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 14.

Joining us, among others, were Susan Stephenson, executive director of California Interfaith Power and Light, Oakland City Councilman Dan Kalb of District 1, Shayna Hirschfield- Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager and members of Faith Baptist and the Pentecostal community that shares our space and Green Building volunteers.

We bask in the glory of energy independence, because we now tap into clean energy from above and not dirty energy from below.

Publisher’s note: Rev Curtis Robinson also is a columnist for the God on Wall Street column for the Post News Group.

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