Tag Archives: Business Planning

Why every international entrepreneur should work with a business consultant?

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You are an international entrepreneur and want to start a business abroad. You may dread the various legal, commercial and perhaps cultural challenges ahead of you. Obtaining a visa, albeit a significant milestone, is only your first hurdle. I know how this situation feels as I have been in your shoes.  I became an international entrepreneur in the UK following the competition of my master’s degree at Newcastle University. At the time, I identified a gap in the student housing market, which resulted in conceptualising and founding my former venture, StudyFlats.  Within 4 years, I grew StudyFlats to 30+ UK cities, a team of four and we almost closed our first funding round until the lovely events of 2020 squashed the entire company (yes, painful). Nevertheless, I still obtained my Settlement/Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, also known as permanent residency. Throughout this entire time, I was fortunate to have friends and a powerful network to help me overcome some of the challenges facing every international entrepreneur. This was especially the case as I started StudyFlats with less than £500 and proofread students’ assignments in the first year to support myself and my business.  However, not every international entrepreneur may have the network that I had. Moreover, I still had to make a lot of mistakes and go through extreme financial and mental pressure to grow my business. Yet, I could not identify a business consultant who specialised in working with overseas entrepreneurs (and decided to be the first one myself by the end of 2022). Let me tell you a little truth: as an international entrepreneur, you are at a disadvantage. You are taking risks and are also investing your key resources, time and money. If it fails, you are the only one losing.  Risk is a core part of entrepreneurship, regardless of what type of entrepreneur you are. However, the risk is even greater when you are an entrepreneur and also have to comply with immigration rules and milestones.  And this is one of the reasons why every international entrepreneur should work with a business consultant.  Working with a consultant such as myself will help you in the following ways: Minimising risk  My first advice to any entrepreneur is to have a thorough understanding of the market in which they seek to operate.  This requires: Many international entrepreneurs lack one or both of the above, and it often results in disaster.  The right business consultant will help you minimise risk as they possess both of the above factors.  Cultural gap  In life, and especially in business, everything boils down to relationships.  You may neglect this factor. However, if you fail to communicate with your stakeholders the right way, you are destined to fail.  The way business is conducted differs in each country. You may be a skilled entrepreneur, yet lack the cultural grasp of doing business in a country other than yours. Business consultants who work with international entrepreneurs (at least the right ones) will comprehend the importance of this point. Additionally, they will be able to help you successfully navigate the cultural landscape.  Commercial expertise  Entrepreneurship is a game of unlimited challenges. You fix one aspect, and the other crumbles. This is a brutal reality that you must accept.  Additionally, various considerations must be taken into account. Let’s look at a few: By working with a business consultant, you will delegate some of these to them. This is not only sensible from a business perspective, but also essential for you to be able to overcome the personal and professional challenges that you will have to face.  These are some of the reasons why every international entrepreneur should work with a business consultant.  If you are an international entrepreneur and want to work with a consultant, get in touch with me today. I am the UK’s first and #1 independent business consultant who has been through the immigration journey himself.  About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. I did so by obtaining an endorsement from Newcastle University under the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme. Subsequently, I obtained a further 3-year Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa (replaced by the Innovator Founder Visa). I grew my business to over 30 UK cities, and a team of four, and also obtained my Indefinite Leave to Remain (Settlement) in the UK. I now help other migrant entrepreneurs, such as myself, with their businesses.

Start a business, but not for the wrong reasons

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If you are planning to start a business, it is important to understand “why” you are doing so. Each venture has its own “why” and mission. However, some reasons are the wrong ones to begin with, and I will talk about 3 of them in this piece  The motivation to start a business vary for each founder or founding team. You may be seeking to offer an innovation, improve an existing process, or fill an existing market gap.  However, as a consultant, I have noticed a new wave of “aspiring” business owners who are seeking to become entrepreneurs. Yet, their reasons for doing so are shallow and lack a valid commercial basis.  Some of the common themes among these wrong reasons are: 1. Not wanting to have a boss  The mindset of starting a business so you can not have a boss to answer to is a dangerous one.  You are indeed in charge of everything and there is not a superior that you have to be accountable to.  Nevertheless, I learnt that even as a business owner, your customers and other stakeholders are your boss. These are parties that you must keep happy and be accountable to.  Thus, the idea that by being a business owner you will forfeit accountability is incorrect.  2. Getting rich quickly I am not denying that businesses are commercial entities. Hence, making money is the primary motive.  However, entrepreneurship should not be viewed as the gateway to getting rich quickly. This is unlikely to happen rapidly in the case of most businesses and it will take time, risk, resources and patience.  If you are unwilling to invest the abovementioned into starting a business and are looking to make a quick buck, you may be in for disappointment.  3. Ego and vanity Lastly, if starting a business is a tool to stroke your ego and “show off”, you are in for the wrong reason. My philosophy is that the first step towards starting a business is to drop your ego and adopt the mindset that you know nothing.  These are 3 common wrong reasons for starting a business. Before doing so, make sure that you have a clear “why” and emphasise the commercial context of starting a business.  About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. I now help other entrepreneurs, such as myself, with their businesses, and mainly with obtaining endorsements from the endorsing bodies.

How I started a tech startup with £500 & scaled it to 30+ UK cities

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Following the completion of my master’s degree, I founded a tech startup called StudyFlats. Within 3 years, I scaled this PropTech company to over 30 UK cities, with a client base in over 50 countries.  As a solo non-technical founder, the idea for StudyFlats seemed far-fetched at first. My business idea was first put to the test when I spoke to Newcastle University. I was an international student in the UK on a visa and therefore had to obtain the correct visa.  I pitched the idea to Newcastle University and managed to receive an endorsement for the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa scheme. This was the former equivalent of the former Startup Visa in the UK.  The first year  The first year was one of the most difficult years of my life. I was a 22-year-old graduate, with a laptop and £500 in my bank account. Not to mention that I had no coding knowledge/background and thus could not create the website myself.  I was getting quotes upwards of £10,000 from agencies to create StudyFlats’ website. Needless to say, these were not an option and I was stuck.  At the same time, a very dear friend of mine from University, introduced me to a developer who agreed to complete the backend functionalities, whilst I learnt the other parts, especially SEO as I knew I’d heavily rely on it.  In the meantime, I was proofreading students’s assignments and dissertations to fund the business and my daily expenses (living in a single room with shared toilets that year was no fun at all).  The lesson that I learnt was: where there’s a will there’s a way. I had no option but to grow this company despite all the hurdles.  The second & third years year  In the second and third years, things began to improve.  By the second year, StudyFlats operated in 10 cities. However, this is also when a major competitor began scaling with £70m of funding! It is also worth noting that StudyFlats worked with contractors/freelancers during the second year. Hence, there was no “team” at this point and I essentially did everything that was needed.  However, I adopted 2 strategies that gained a unique competitive advantage for StudyFlats, which was integral to its growth. These were: By the end of 2019, we were a team of five, operated across 30+ UK cities, consulted 1000+ students from 50+ countries, and had investors approaching us themselves.  March 2020: goodbye And this is where the brutal reality hits: you can do everything right and things can still go south.  With the events of 2020, I was reluctant to maintain the company’s operations for that period as it seemed extremely unpredictable and possibly a recipe for liability.  Additionally, we needed cash to maintain the company’s operations, yet this was simply not possible as we paused our operations. By 2021, I considered relaunching the company’s operations. However, after considering several factors including the desire to do what I do now as a consultant, I made the very difficult decision that every founder resents. However, I see StudyFlats as a learning experience, the driver of my settlement in the UK and an opportunity that was missed due to factors outside my control. We live and learn, it is what it is.  Starting and scaling a (tech) startup is not for the faint-hearted. It involves pain, uncertainty, disappointment, rejection and loneliness. But in the end, it can all be worth it, as it was in my case.  About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. I now help other migrant entrepreneurs, such as myself, with their businesses, and mainly with obtaining endorsements from the endorsing bodies.

How I will help you increase your website traffic organically

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The internet is full of guides on how to increase your website traffic organically, as one simple Google search will tell you. And some can be quite useful, it can be a DIY project and you may increase your website traffic organically (to some degree). However, long-term measurable results will most likely require an expert: and that’s where I come in.  As I said before, my intention is not to slay off DIY guides on increasing website traffic organically. However, this article is for founders and businesses who seek to make early investments in their inbound marketing campaigns.  This campaign consists of 25 blog articles, that I will write, following the completion of the steps outlined below. For full details please see here.  First, let us look at the skills and activities required to increase your website traffic organically through a planned campaign. These are (in respective order): The combination of these steps, when done correctly, will increase your website traffic organically. Now let’s look at each stage in more detail. 1. Product/service evaluation  During our first and second calls, I will get a thorough understanding of what you are offering, and what your key distinguishing attributes are.  These will enable us to tailor the next steps based on a customer-centric approach. Moreover, understanding the key issues affecting your target audience is imperative. 2. Keyword research & planning  After the first step, I will then begin researching the relevant keywords to your business and industry.  In doing so, I will consider a range of factors including: Keyword popularity  Your budget and company size Strategic ranking: this involves identifying popular keywords unique to your audience through unconventional methods  3. Website heath check | Technical SEO assessment I will run a general website health check / technical SEO analysis for your website.  This step is crucial and one that many SEO copywriters or even agencies will neglect.  The reason is this: Adverse technical SEO factors affecting your website’s visibility make all other efforts essentially pointless.  Therefore, it is important to identify any major issues such as spammy backlinks, missing meta descriptions and so on.  4. Copywriting In the final step, I will begin writing the 25 articles that this campaign is based on.  You may be asking “Why 25 blog articles?” This is based on 8 years of SEO experience and research, which is generally the benchmark for witnessing a 30-100% increase in organic website traffic. At this point, leave the magic to me and sit tight whilst your awesome content is in the process of creation.  Increase your organic website traffic with me by 30-100% in 6 months. Get started today! About My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. I grew my business to over 30 UK cities, and a team of four prior to 2020. Currently, I help founders and businesses increase their online presence through strategy inbound marketing campaigns.

The general costs of running a limited company in the UK

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If you want to start a business in the UK, one of the most common ways is through incorporating a limited company.  There are various business structures in the UK that one may start a business through. The most common ways are: It is ultimately up to you to decide which structure fits you best. Each has its own tax implications and regulatory requirements.  However, assuming that you wish to start a limited company in the UK, below are some of the costs that you will incur. Accounting  Limited companies require the director(s) to submit annual accounts. Preparing and filing a limited company’s accounts, in most cases, will require an accountant’s assistance.  The costs of an accountant can vary based on:  Generally, you can expect to pay your accountant anywhere between £500-£2000 per year.  These are broad estimates, and you may even have to pay more in certain circumstances.  Registered address UK limited companies require a registered address. If you have an office, then that address will suffice.  However, if you do not have an office, there are two options: Confirmation statement Limited companies are required to file a Confirmation Statement every year, which costs £13.  On many occasions, this fee will be covered by your accountant as part of their services. Company incorporation Depending on how you incorporate your company, there is an incorporation fee.  The cost can range from £10 to £40. Corporation tax This will depend on whether your UK limited company makes a profit.  Currently, the UK’s corporation tax rate is per below: 19% : for limited companies with profits between 0-£50,000  25%: for limited companies with profits above £250,000  For full information, please refer to the UK Government’s website. These are some of the general costs of running a UK limited company.  If you are planning to start a business in the UK and need help, get in touch with me to start your journey today. About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats which I scaled to over 30 UK cities. I currently help other entrepreneurs and businesses of all size across several domains. For my credentials, please see here.

6 useful AI tools for founders & businesses

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AI tools are revolutionising the world of work for founders and businesses. From customer service to content creation, AI-powered tools have simplified many of the old processes. In this article, I will highlight 6 AI tools that are super useful for founders and businesses.  As a founder or a business, you must use your time and resources efficiently. AI-powered tools help you do so.  The world of AI has advanced rapidly, and new ways of using it evolve every day.  Now let’s talk about some of those awesome AI tools that will help founders and businesses maximise their offer. Canva Canva has added various AI functionalities to enhance its content creation features.  For those who don’t know Canva: it is one of the entrepreneurship world’s biggest gifts to humanity.  Canva is useful for both founders and other members of businesses for content creation. Recently it has added several useful AI functionalities, making it even more awesome.  The YouTube video below highlights some of these really well, so make sure to check it out! Grammarly In this day and age, grammar and spelling mistakes are becoming a thing of the past. We may partially thank the education system for that. However, a big chunk of this progress is thanks to the power of technology.  Grammarly is a reflection of this. It is powered by AI and improves your text and writing. Personally, I’m the type to write typos all the time, personally because I have 50 tabs open on my browser, so Grammarly has been a real treat for me!  Tidio Chatbots have become increasingly popular in the last few years. Moreover, many chatbots are powered by AI, including Tidio.  Tidio offers a range of benefits, including: -Easy-to-use & simple interface -Integration with various platforms such as WordPress, Shopify & Wix  -Customizable AI-powered chatbots & lead generators Personally, as a founder and business owner, I am a big fan of Tidio as an AI-powered tool, and it also comes with a free version. ChatGPT I was not sure if I should mention ChatGPT, given all the hype surrounding it and its parent company, OpenAI.  However, a list of AI tools for founders and businesses would be incomplete without ChatGPT. There are so many things that founders and businesses can do with ChatGPT, including (but not limited to): -Content creation -Editing written content  -Provision of information  -Code: generation, debugging and more Synthesia  Another one of my favourite AI tools for founders and businesses is Synthesia.  Synthesia is a video creation and media generation platform powered by AI.  It helps you create professional videos and use AI-based characters as narrators, who look (too) similar to real humans! Notion AI  Using your time and resources efficiently is crucial as a founder and/or a business. Therefore, the last few years have witnessed the emergence of many task management and teamwork tools such as Notion or Trello.  Notion reserves a unique spot, as it has gone a step further by harnessing the power of AI. This functionality helps founders and businesses to use Notion AI for tasks such as: -Information management and categorisation  -Translation -Content generation -Simplification of information  -and much more…….. These are 6 useful AI tools for founders and businesses. As a founder, it’s important to keep yourself updated with the latest tech innovations and leverage them to your benefit.  About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats which I scaled to over 30 UK cities. I currently help other entrepreneurs and businesses of all size across several domains. For my credentials, please see here.

3 UK legislations that business owners should be aware of

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There are various UK legislations that business owners must comply with. The UK can be a fantastic place to start a business. However, it is imperative that you are aware of your legal obligations under applicable legislations as a business owner.  I have navigated the path of business ownership in one of its worst versions. I was an immigrant subjected to strict business visa terms, 22 years of age and a solo tech founder. So, I know how difficult the whole entrepreneurship can be for each individual. And in this journey, it’s easy to miss some important things.  So, in this article, I will highlight three UK legislations that every business owner must be aware of.  Data Protection & GDPR (Almost) every business retains and handles personal data. This may seem like one of those “complex corporate” things, it’s crucial to understand.  This is a legal area which is subject to misunderstanding, primarily in individual and small business owners. The issue with this part is that many business owners are unaware of.  Let me clarify this part with a small case study/example. If you use a website, whether through CMS platforms such as WordPress or Wix, or even code it from scratch, you are collecting user data.  In the UK, the key legislations that business owners must be aware of are: Data Protection Act 2018  General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Also, ensure that you follow the ICO’s guidelines for your obligations under GDPR.  Equality Act 2010 The Equality Act 2010 governs the implementation of non-discrimination and equality in the UK. This UK legislation is applicable to individuals in various contexts, including work.  As a business owner, it is important to firstly be aware of your own rights as an individual. It also governs your stakeholder management and how you conduct matters with each, such as customers and staff.  Intellectual Property (IP) Intellectual property will primarily concern trade marks and patents. While each of the aforementioned may be applicable to a business, the majority of businesses are concerned with trade marks.  Trade marks are applicable to every business as every business requires an identity, where name is the core element.  Thus, it is key to understand your branding rights and limitations. This will be attained via sufficient understanding of how trade marks work in the UK.  The relevant UK legislations on trade marks for business owners is the Trade Marks Act 1994.  Additionally, business owners may access resources provided by the Intellectual Property Office.  Patents, on the other hand, are concerned with respect to rights over an “invention” in the form of products and/or processes. In the UK, the legislation concerning business owners is the Patents Act 1977.  Are you a business owner and need consultancy on your operations? Book an initial consultation with me for a thorough evaluation………  About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. As a solo founder, I grew my business to 30+ UK cities, with a global client base across 100+ countries. Following the Pandemic killing my precious work/business, I now transfer my knowledge to other entrepreneurs.

The amazing power of inbound marketing

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Inbound marketing is extremely underrated, especially when it comes to larger organizations. The reasoning behind this is clear: we live in an impatient business world, and inbound marketing is a long-term strategy. In this article, I wish to briefly highlight what inbound marketing is. I will then proceed to explain why it is not optional but essential to implement an appropriate inbound marketing strategy.  What is inbound marketing? So, to provide a full overview, I will define inbound marketing in two ways: Definition 1 | Formal & academic Inbound marketing refers to strategies and practices that discuss, evaluate and correlate with the audience needs, wants and psychological profile (yes, I came up with this myself and did not steal it from somewhere else). Definition 2 | Informal Inbound marketing is about creating content for your audience and reaching out to them without talking about what you sell.  The key factor is content creation. This can be in various forms such as SEO, email marketing, video creation, guest posts, research, webinars and so on. The purpose of content creation within an inbound marketing strategy is to resonate with your audience’s wants and needs.  The business world, sadly, is guilty of a key marketing flaw.  Inbound marketing is often compromised for outbound marketing and direct sales Arguably, the majority of companies often focus on direct marketing methods and generating full life-cycle leads themselves.  This article is not to devalue outbound marketing and direct contact methods. However, one goal of this piece is highlighting the current dynamics of the business/marketing world. In doing so, I wish to reflect on how inbound marketing can be leveraged as a primary strategy for each business.  We live in a hyper-competitive world  Have a new business idea? Somebody has already come up with it. Have a cool new brand name in mind? Somebody else has thought of it already. Launched a new business? There’s a good chance there is a comparative competitor. Already scaling? So is your competitor…… The above serves as a brief verbal demonstration of the global environment in which business is conducted.  We are living in the age of “innovation”. From a small business perspective. Everyone has access to the enhanced commercial technologies today, such as Shopify.  Therefore, everyone is now somehow self-legitimised to be known as a “businessperson” or a “CEO”. And sometimes, there’s no issue with that, everybody has to start somewhere.  The point of this is to show that it’s now somehow about “what” you sell, but “how” you sell it. Likewise, larger corporations also ought to be innovative in their marketing agendas. The issue with outbound marketing is that it is easily replicable and overly used by all stakeholders, from companies to other marketing stakeholders such as agencies. Innovation cannot be applied to “cold calling” per se. Unless you wish to sing people a song on the phone, which I would strongly advise against.  Inbound marketing is innovative In contrast, inbound marketing leaves a great amount of room for creativity.  One basic, and advanced, example is a website’s blog / SEO. You can use your blog for so much.  However, you would be impressed to see how far subject knowledge combined with SEO proficiency can get you.  Plus, this approach to marketing allows you to target your specific audience by using subject awareness and thought leadership. Generate loyal prospects Building on the last point and the early definition provided, inbound resonates with a consumer’s needs and mindset.  In the context of written content/SEO in an inbound campaign, it is the consumer who is seeking content on a particular subject. This particular subject also somehow pertains to the work of the company.  Let’s consider an example: my work as a business consultant working with skilled migrants.  I write blogs on issues such as business visa policies. I’m not an immigration lawyer, nor a government representative. However, these are subjects that my prospects / future clients are interested in, and frankly so am I in my own case.  This practice has not only attained clients, but also warm qualified leads, as well as prospects on social media such as LinkedIn followers.  Cost-efficient (but not time-efficient) Outbound marketing has the advantage of generating results in the short-term. However, those results come at a cost, such as time, staff, planning and more.  Outsourcing is accordingly a costly option too.  However, inbound marketing, mainly requires “subject knowledge”. Therefore, there is this added element of “skill” within this strategy. However, it can generally be done at a more cost-efficient arrangement.  And this principle applies to a range of stakeholders, from solo founders to large organizations. Nonetheless, developing successful inbound marketing campaigns and achieving results take time. It is important that entrepreneurs and companies adopt inbound marketing strategies with a thorough awareness of its long-term nature. Inbound marketing can be a game changer for your business. Need an expert’s opinion? Get in touch with me to discuss your inbound marketing plans! About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. As a solo founder, I grew my business to 30+ UK cities, with a global client base across 100+ countries. Following the Pandemic killing my precious work/business, I now transfer my knowledge to other entrepreneurs.

Business Immigration Services Breakdown | Working With Me

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Just over a year ago, I began providing business immigration services. It simply began as a side hustle and has now turned into my main business. The philosophy behind a business immigration consultancy was simple: I went through this journey myself.  As is the case with many businesses, at some point there is the need to adapt to expansion accordingly. My consultancy business was initially focused on business plan writing and consultations as a secondary service.  However, with growing demand and client base, my consultancy now covers every stage of the business planning process, from the idea stage to producing a viable business plan. Additionally, I now also offer services in relation to SEO, digital marketing and PR.  In this article, I will briefly outline the various stages of my business immigration services, and what clients may expect.  Stage 1: Initial Consultation | Cost: £50 The first stage of my business immigration services is an initial consultation, which can be booked here.  The purpose of this consultation is: Once we determine the aforestated, you can then decide which one of my business immigration services would be the most suitable for you.  If you decide to purchase any further services, the £50 fee of the initial consultation will be automatically deducted from your future purchase(s).  Stage 2: Service Discussion | Ongoing Calls Once you purchase any additional business immigration services, we will arrange a second call to explore how we can begin working together and set up a timeframe.  Currently, my business immigration services cover the following areas: Stage 3: Delivery  Once we set the timeframes and your project needs in stages 1 and 2, the final stage will be the project delivery.  The timeframe for this stage is subjective and depends on the services purchased. For instance, a business plan will take longer than a review of your business idea.  Need business immigration services? Then please get in touch with me today to find out how I can help you with your business immigration needs. About | My name is Sohrab Vazir. I’m a UK-based entrepreneur and business consultant. At the age of 22, and while I was an international student (graduate), I started my own Property Technology (PropTech) business, StudyFlats. I grew my business to over 30 UK cities, and a team of four. I now help other migrant entrepreneurs and all founders with their businesses, including their business plans.

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