Monday, 6 February 2012

NOTE and Overview : IAMAUTO

Note -

Please note that investment-auto-motives (ie Turan Ahmed of London, England), has absolutely no connection whatsoever to the recently created new car firm named IAMAUTO.

(A connection possibly supposed given the grammatical and so psychological similarity).

Overview -

IAMAUTO is based in Los Angeles, with as figurehead the celebrity of the music group The Black Eye Peas. The company publicised on the Jay Leno Show in the US and Top Gear here in the UK.

The company appears the car sector parallel to the clothes company FUBU. Intended to be led and run predominantly by African-American executives, management and staff.

However, FUBU attracted criticism by some quarters for seemingly leveraging its Black roots to grow a massive commercial entity which grew ever further apart from its raison d'etre to assist marginalised and under-priveliged black people within the USA.

As to how supposedly exploitative FUBU is thought to have been (or not) is a direct issue for those living in South Central and Watts in Los Angeles, the outlying districts of New York, Detroit and across the Deep South.

But such themes remain important for all.

Especially so at this time, when the usual state support projects for the long-term marginalised have contracted given diminishing federal and state income from the 'stumbling' middle classes that represent the American melting-pot. Thus the need for self-starting economic ventures from what might be described as the social periphery is increasingly important.

So the publicised 'mission' of IAMAUTO is of course worthy...very worthy.

Yet any new ethno-centric, culturally orientated project which enjoys the 'tail-wind' of public goodwill - in whatever business sector - must still be critically assessed at the fundamental level by those approached for investment.

This principle especially applied to those more naive and willing participants who stem themselves from the lower echelons of any ethnic group concerned. Those who may be more easily persuaded to help finance any such a venture, yet all the more exposed to any possible negative future outcome.

IAMAUTO will no doubt bring welcome PR to Chrysler - the providers of mechanical hardware to the company - and so by virtue of association attract mainstream car sales from African-American consumers across the wealth spectrum, from high earners, the middle class and sub-prime buyers.

[NB Furthermore, as part of that FIAT-Chrysler PR exercise, it seems wholly intended that an image search over any popular web search engine generates the logo of 'iamauto', an Italian enterprise based in Rome, a firm surely connected to FIAT, Marchionne or the Agnelli family; which may develop new business streams for the company and Italy itself].

However, in an age of increasing corporate responsibility there may be good reason for Chrysler itself to ensure the good governance of the IAMAUTO venture itself, to ensure best practice principles relating to investment funding sources, the uses of such funds, and critically the recipients of the positive productive economic output.

If IAMAUTO is able to run along the lines of the John Lewis model including beneficial and self-investing associates, then perhaps it should. So all participants can learn about business and value development.

With that mentioned, the recent 70th birthday of the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali will have hopefully buoyed the 'fighting spirit' of Black America and indeed all American entrepreneurs of whatever colour to promote a 'can do' attitude.

Ali once said "Superman don't need no seatbelt", yet any 'passenger' investing in any ethno-centric venture - from VC company to aspirant 20-something employee to a doting grandma providing for grandchildren - should undertake meaningful due diligence, and as in any corporate assessment discount the inherent goodwill. In such an emotionally charged arena, “head over heart” must be the mantra so as to operate the business keenly and efficiently.

Duke Ellington once stated that "A problem is a chance for you to do your best", so it is hoped that the real company corps beyond at can create something that is truly "Boom Boom Pow!", and over-rides those Blaxploitation Kung Fu movies of the 1970s.

Post Script

IAMAUTO may be confused by some with the firm BTOAUTO, which itself was an exploratory niche firm and sought to remodel the vehicle order and construction process. The two are thought to be unrelated, with the leader of that ultimately still-born venture - Scott Painter, serial entrepreneur - moving on to start attitude.