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EXECUTION Lean Principles & Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

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amp0193

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Our business has gotten into a rut.

We tread water. Make the same mistakes, again and again. It's demoralizing, and people are going through the motions. It's a perpetuating cycle.


Over the last month I've been reading and learning about lean manufacturing, and creating a culture of continuous improvement.



So what is lean?


In short, it's the process of continually eliminating waste.


Lean Manufacturing was brought into the world by Toyota, and was a force in creating really reliable cars and becoming a force in the auto industry.


To come in this thread: My approach to implementation in our business, our challenges, our wins, and hopefully, seeing a culture develop and unfold before your eyes!
 

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amp0193

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My goal for today was to give the highest-level overview of lean to my employees, and get them pumped about it.

And I succeeded! Ideas were flowing, energy was positive, people were excited!


I haven't done a full-staff meeting in months. My biggest weakness as a leader is lack of communication, and that's a part of this as well.


Here's were implementing to start (started today).

Morning meeting
  1. First thing, same time, every day.
  2. Go over metrics from previous day (sales, shipping errors, production mistakes, backlog status)
  3. Brief lesson on lean
  4. Share improvements made the previous day

The 3 S's

Every day, immediately following the morning meeting, we will do the 3 S'S

Sweep (clean our work area)
Sort (organize our work area and remove things that aren't necessary)
Standardize (work on a small change or improvement that will remove at least 2 seconds off of a process)


And that's it. For now, we will just do those things each morning, and see how things go.


The Lean rabbit hole is deep, and we will build upon it as we go.


The goal: empowering all of my employees to be leaders, and to take ownership of their work.
 
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Raja

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Sweep (clean our work area)
I understood the importance of it, can you explain or give ideas on how this could be implemented in a remote environment.

suryapratap
 

amp0193

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Day 1 -

Lean Lesson

In the morning meeting I introduced the 8 kinds of waste (Over-Production, Transportation, Excess Inventory, Defects, Over-Processing, Wasted Motion, Waiting, Unused Employee Potential), and I had them think of examples of each in our own business.


Some of the Improvements (3 S's)


Me - Cleaned the gross bathroom from top to bottom, removed junk that didn't need to be in there, and then created labels for the shelves for the supplies we need to keep stocked (and then ordered them, because we didn't have any!!!).

Employee 1 - Sick and tired of searching for his tools (spent 15 min this morning looking for 5 tools). So he cleaned his station and then put green tape around every one of his tools. His station is now the "green station".

Employee 2 - copied the idea, but with white tape.

Employee 3 - built a ramp out of pressure-treated plywood to make it easier to get pallets across the gravel and out to the truck liftgates (we're on a slope, and they can't deploy liftgates at our door).

Employee 4 - built a jig out of scrap wood that is specific to a process he does. Eliminated a few production steps, as well as providing a place to organize tools needed for the station.


These guys are excited about getting better!
 
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amp0193

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I understood the importance of it, can you explain or give ideas on how this could be implemented in a remote environment.

suryapratap

It's hard to enforce what you can't see.

A clean work area is important though, wherever someone is working.


I don't have remote workers, so I can't give you any specific advice there, you'll have to figure out how to tailor to your own situation.
 

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I’m glad your business is doing well! Looking forward to hearing more of you being a really tall Marie Kondo. :rofl:

No but seriously I’m gonna watch this thread and share it with my peeps cuz streamlining any enterprise is good!
 

Koenz

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Looking good, love the improvements for each employee. Keep it up!
 

Lyinx

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Cleanup workstations at the end of the day. It's so refreshing to start the day with a clean slate.

Marking tools with tape. I like !

We ended up hiring an employee just to clean the main areas of the business, she comes in one day a week, spends about 3 hours oiling all the equipment, sweeping, mopping, etc.. and then she starts helping the secretary with data entry jobs so the secretary has more time for higher level jobs
 

Lyinx

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Your metrics, they focus on the negative, is there any way to focus on the positive instead?

Lost __ sales last week becomes: successful sales calls :sold to 95% of callers.

Failure rate on machine, changed to: success rate
 

Lyinx

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And congratulations on becoming a leader, this is one step of many.

Challenge: can you now get your employees to become leaders?
An employee that is trained to be a leader, and can think for themselves, is much more valuable, as they will produce a lot higher quality work. As a plus for them, they become worth more so they will be able (and should get) a higher salary/bonuses to reflect that
 

amp0193

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Cleanup workstations at the end of the day. It's so refreshing to start the day with a clean slate.

The last thing I want to do at the end of a long day, is clean.

End of day or first thing in the morning. Not a huge difference really. We start our work with a clean slate either way.

We ended up hiring an employee just to clean the main areas of the business, she comes in one day a week, spends about 3 hours oiling all the equipment, sweeping, mopping, etc.. and then she starts helping the secretary with data entry jobs so the secretary has more time for higher level jobs

It's good that you're taking care of equipment. I just threw out a printer last week and it really pissed me off. Should have lasted another 5 years. Maintenance of equipment is on my list of things to get rolling here SOON.

I disagree philosophically on the cleaning person, and instead will have everyone contributing to the cleanliness of our facility (My rotating daily bathroom cleaning schedule is coming next week!).
 

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amp0193

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Your metrics, they focus on the negative, is there any way to focus on the positive instead?

Lost __ sales last week becomes: successful sales calls :sold to 95% of callers.

Failure rate on machine, changed to: success rate

Thanks for the suggestion! That was day 1, the metrics will definitely evolve overtime.

Regardless of the positive/negative outlook... what's of more importance is why it's being presented.

Which is to grow and learn. There is no judgement. Only things to improve.
 
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amp0193

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Challenge: can you now get your employees to become leaders?
An employee that is trained to be a leader, and can think for themselves, is much more valuable, as they will produce a lot higher quality work. As a plus for them, they become worth more so they will be able (and should get) a higher salary/bonuses to reflect that
That's precisely the intention behind this.

It's been a top down system thus far, but Lean is bottom up.

I will be guiding my people to see the waste in their environment and empowering them to take the initiative to make the improvements they want to make.

No more blaming me or the warehouse manager for things. No more bad attitudes or going through the motions. We're all a part of something great that is going to change the world.


My biggest limiting belief this year was the lie I told myself, that I needed to hire a superstar VP of Ops to come in and fix our shit. I interviewed candidate after candidate... and in the end hired no one.

I realized that we have all the people here that we need to make a kick a$$ company. They just need to be grown. And I need to grow as a leader, so that I can help them grow. Lean is the medium through which this will happen.
 
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amp0193

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I’m glad your business is doing well! Looking forward to hearing more of you being a really tall Marie Kondo. :rofl:

No but seriously I’m gonna watch this thread and share it with my peeps cuz streamlining any enterprise is good!

There's gonna be some bitchin' before and after pics/videos. I missed a big opportunity with the bathroom.

But I was up at the warehouse for a bit today, and everyone's station still looks bad, even after 30 min of cleaning on Friday.


We have yet to talk about "shadowing" tools on peg boards and doing foam cut outs in drawers. There are levels these guys don't even know.


It's all about efficiency and increasing the time we are spending delivering value to our customers, vs. wasteful activity.
 

amp0193

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Day 2

- Reviewed 8 kinds of waste. Will do this every day from now until forever. Every employee needs to know them like the back of their hand.

- Lean Lesson - Will share each day one of the 12 Toyota principles. Today was Principle #1, which is the foundation for all of Lean: Basing decisions on long-term thinking. I read a story from The Toyota Way, with an idea for something we could implement immediately to build good will with our customers (at a short-term cost).


Improvements - Everyone shared an improvement they made on Friday. We will do this every day.


Mistakes - We were out of pallets friday morning, and couldn't ship any units until we had more at 2pm. We will be switching suppliers to a more reliable source this week (Uline). It is 3x the price, but the pallets will be consistently built, and can be ordered "just in time". We can find cheaper supplier later.


So, every day, once mistakes are called out, on the spot, we group-think a way to make sure that mistake never happens again, and we move on.


Wrapped up the meeting showing a video of a lean production facility and the employees sharing their favorite personal improvements of the year. There was lots of variety and the goal was to get my guys's creativity flowing.


What I love is that after 2 days, my most "out to lunch" employee, is now the most pumped up of everyone. He came to tell me how much he loved everything I'm doing. He's actually studying Lean manufacturing in one of his college classes right now. He's the kind of guy who checks out and punches the time clock if he is restricted from performing at a high level, and is way into it, when he feels like things are getting better. He needs a leader he feels is worth following.


My personal improvements today:

- Made a tab on a spreadsheet to auto-calculate daily bank transfer amounts I do to different accounts (opex, inventory, tax, profit). Will save me at least 2 minutes every day, and some frustration.

- Made a standing desk out of some shelves, got rid of my big desk. I'm prepping my office to convert mostly into storage (I really only need a 3'x1' area to work), to free up space in the warehouse for some bulky items (that are being stored on the floor right now!!!), that will reduce walking time for everyone. Eliminating the need to sit is saving me lots of time each day already. I can move on a moment's notice, as I'm already standing. Also my chiropractor recommended it.


I can't wait to hear from my employees tomorrow about the improvements they made today.
 
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Lyinx

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keep up the updates, very informative :)
 

amp0193

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Yes. Millennials need it. I wish I had someone like you when I was working as a machine operator.
The stereotypical millennial "need" is to feel a sense of higher purpose in their work. I'm a millennial, and that rings true for me.

That's certainly a part of it, and I'm working on regularly communicating the higher purpose of what we are doing.

In his case, it was more a situation of a high performer, being forced to underperform for no good reason other than incompetent leadership.
 

amp0193

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Day 4

Yesterday was a question mark. Energy was lower. I was getting the vibes that they were beginning to think I was nuts, and that I was going to have a long road ahead of me, dragging these guys with me whether they liked it or not.


But that wasn't the case, because today, my guys were on FIRE. Improvements out the wazoo today. Creativity unleashed and flowing. Collaborative. Problems that have been bothering people for months (years?) getting solved in minutes.


Among them:

  • Attached pipe to piece of wood on floor. Now giant plastic bag roll doesn't fall over all the damn time.
  • Bolt/nut/washer sorter - No more hand sorting bags of hardware (a 5min task done 3x daily)... just put in the box and shake!
  • Added a screwdriver and a compressor connector to eliminate tool borrowing.
  • I introduced my fabulous bathroom cleaning chart
  • Materials needed for a process, which were spread out around warehouse, brought side-by-side, no more wasted motion.
  • Casters added to a big heavy work bench... easy to move out of the way when not in use!
  • rolling cart found for moving ups/usps packages across warehouse... no more multiple walking trips!
  • Complicated process documented on sticky notes, and then taped to work bench (hey, we gotta start somewhere!)
And boy is our warehouse starting to sparkle. The mess is slowly disappearing.


Today was the first morning meeting where all 7 employees had a real tangible improvement that they had made the previous day.


Memory retention of the 8 wastes is around 50% now. Up from 10% on Monday. The first step in being able to see waste, is understanding what waste is and what to look for. I will continue pop-quizzing people every day.


Yesterday I showed them this video, of a 45 second task getting reduced to 12 seconds through iteration, trial and error, and shaving seconds off of all of the component steps. That one seemed to get the juices flowing.



Tomorrow I might drop the concept of "one piece flow" on them. Not sure if we're ready!



Without a doubt though, this would not be happening if I did not 100% believe that this would work. Lean isn't something you try to implement. It's something you have to eat shit and breathe. The guys know I'm all in.



Why are we doing this? To make work easy and fun. Who wouldn't sign up for that?
 

amp0193

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On the flip side: We had some struggles in the warehouse bathroom yesterday understanding what a "standard" is. :bored:

IMG_0670.JPG


Served as a great lesson though, and he got made fun of in the morning meeting today!
 

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CareCPA

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If your employees didn't care, they wouldn't have stayed with you as long as they have. Sounds like you've found the right key to motivating them at the moment (give them something to fix/improve instead of just showing up, doing some tasks, and leaving each day).

I'm interested to see the transition here: at some point the "shiny" will wear off, and the easy stuff will be fixed. How will your team tackle the larger issues? How will they continue to continuously improve?

The big projects are fun when you get there. I spent about a week in one of our manufacturing sites back when I was in industry. There were about 10-15 of us - a mix of people who knew the operations like the back of their hand, and people who were bringing in fresh perspective (i.e. me).
Our sole goal that week was to evaluate whether we could improve the flow of products and inventory around the floor to decrease waste in transportation/storage. This was a huge problem, because our products were literally the size of railroad cars. For big projects like this, it takes a bit of time for the creativity and out-of-the-box solutions to start appearing, it's not just an hour meeting and done.
 

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Am I the only one who thinks this whole thread is focusing on the things that won't actually make a huge difference in bottom line profit?

You keep adding more and more complication for employees to follow. Who gives a flying f*ck about having employees clean bathrooms? They should be working on making you money! Have a cleaning lady clean the bathrooms.

Maybe I'd have to actually see you guys in action but to me this just seems like you're jerking yourself off trying to be Toyota.

Your posts on this thread are chock-full of corporate platitudes like "The goal: empowering all of my employees to be leaders, and to take ownership of their work."

dan kennedy.jpg
 

BizyDad

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Am I the only one who thinks this whole thread is focusing on the things that won't actually make a huge difference in bottom line profit?

You keep adding more and more complication for employees to follow. Who gives a flying f*ck about having employees clean bathrooms? They should be working on making you money! Have a cleaning lady clean the bathrooms.

Maybe I'd have to actually see you guys in action but to me this just seems like you're jerking yourself off trying to be Toyota.

Your posts on this thread are chock-full of corporate platitudes like "The goal: empowering all of my employees to be leaders, and to take ownership of their work."

View attachment 35493

Maybe you're right, but I think you're looking at the trees not the forest.

Any single item he has mentioned so far won't make a huge difference to bottom line profit. That's true (I think). These are little improvements. At first glance, this feels like he's violating the 80/20 rule of business.

But little improvements add up.

And what he's doing is training his people to see these little improvements.

Over time, as they continue to improve this ability, I'm sure they'll find big improvements too. I mean they're just getting started.

Not to mention the effect on company culture. People who feel like they are able to contribute to improvement are much more satisfied with their workplace. They tend to work more efficiently and harder and exhibit higher job satisfaction.

I think you do lawn care, right? Imagine if your guys did enough little improvements to how they store gear on the truck, what kind of gear they used, how they they approach the work, optimized the routes they take, and by being empowered, they gave a little extra on each job instead of just loafing it, and all these little improvements saved them enough time to enable them to do one extra job a day. 240 extra jobs per year. Per crew.

The effect on your bottom line wouldn't be instant. It's gradual improvement. But the end result would be pretty obvious. You can sign more customers, without increasing your labor cost.

I think the bathroom point will always be a sticking point for some people on this thread. But if his team has excess man hours available, then hiring a cleaning lady doesn't improve the bottom line right now.

The other thing that isn't mentioned about the bathrooms is this. Why do people feel like it's okay to make the bathrooms a mess in the first place? Anyways...

Having a culture of keeping something clean and cleaning up after yourself is so much more efficient. Then you just need someone to disinfect things once a day, and that should go pretty quickly.

And don't forget, this guy from time to time raises capital. When an investor comes to tour his facility, do you think you'll get the capital if it's all messy everywhere and people look worn down and unhappy? Or do you think he can get more money if his people know what their jobs are, talk about the improvements they've made to the place, and the entire place is running like a happy well-oiled machine. And it's clean.

This new culture could make the difference between him actually getting capital or not getting capital. A clean efficient workplace also speaks to his ability as a leader and entrepreneur. That gives an investor more confidence.

And if someday he wants to sell this thing? He's going to fetch more money by having a more efficient company.

Having better processes in one reason why smaller competitors get acquired by bigger competitors.

In the end, one way or another, I think this direction he's taking will no doubt put more money in his pocket.
 

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Your posts on this thread are chock-full of corporate platitudes like "The goal: empowering all of my employees to be leaders, and to take ownership of their work."
Even if this is a "corporate platitude," that doesn't keep it from being true or valuable.

I can't speak for @amp0193 's experiences here, but let me tell you my own.

A year ago, I had one employee. It was easy for me to review her work, keep a handle on her capacity and workload, and know that the clients were happy.
Now I have a dozen employees. If I spent the same amount of time with each of them that I did with the first employee, I would literally work 200 hours a week and get nothing else done. At this point, I literally have clients whose names I don't know.

Empowering my employees to own their work is the only way for me to break free from that. If they constantly need me to double check things, or review their work, it severely hampers our company's growth. Giving them the tools and access to knowledge they need, and letting them know that they are ultimately in charge of the work that comes out of their roster of clients, has been the shift that we needed.

When your employees don't take ownership, then it's way too easy for issues to slip through the cracks, because "someone else will catch it" or "that will get fixed by management."

As you scale (assuming you scale), you'll likely run into the same problem. Small issues with your crew don't take up much of your time. But what if you're running 100 crews? How much time does it take then?
 

amp0193

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I'm interested to see the transition here: at some point the "shiny" will wear off, and the easy stuff will be fixed. How will your team tackle the larger issues? How will they continue to continuously improve?
That will be the challenge.

We'll hit a wall and I know it's coming. probably in another month. I'm glad you brought it up, because I'll start preparing them for it now.

My plan is three things:

1. Keep the ideal top of mind (showing videos of warehouse operating at an incredibly high level. Showing how deep the rabbit hole goals. Show them what we're working towards and how much there is to do. Tomorrow's video will be an eye-opener).

2. Continuous education. I'm glad I used to be a teacher, because every morning is a lesson plan now. I'm building the scaffolding of knowledge piece by piece that will allow every employee to become an expert in the subject matter of Lean, without overwhelming them. Everyone will have the same operating understanding and language.

3. Stay personally excited about it. Ultimately, this will thrive or die with me. When we hit the wall, I will be the one that pushes us through it. After a year, it will be second nature and ingrained in our culture. Just gotta get to that point. I don't see #3 being an issue. As a classical musician, my life was improving the minutiae daily over a decade and a half. There is always another level. The challenge is getting other people as excited about that as me.

The big projects are fun when you get there. I spent about a week in one of our manufacturing sites back when I was in industry. There were about 10-15 of us - a mix of people who knew the operations like the back of their hand, and people who were bringing in fresh perspective (i.e. me).
Our sole goal that week was to evaluate whether we could improve the flow of products and inventory around the floor to decrease waste in transportation/storage. This was a huge problem, because our products were literally the size of railroad cars. For big projects like this, it takes a bit of time for the creativity and out-of-the-box solutions to start appearing, it's not just an hour meeting and done.

That's cool, didn't know you had done stuff like that!

That's what's coming for us. Turning the entire warehouse into a big U-shaped production cell. Instead of the bowl of spaghetti it currently is.

The guys want a bigger warehouse. I want them to see the waste and eliminate it, and stretch our facility for another year.

I'm planting the seeds now. Getting them thinking about it. Teaching them about flow and waste and work-in-progress. Then in Jan/Feb, when business is slow, making the big moves: re-doing the warehouse. Implement kanbans.
 

amp0193

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Am I the only one who thinks this whole thread is focusing on the things that won't actually make a huge difference in bottom line profit?
The profit is coming! We're eliminating wasted time everyday and making improvements.

The bathroom is a small thing and more symbolic than anything. It's about respect for others. And it only takes 3 minutes to clean a bathroom that's mostly clean already.

No platitudes here. We're changing the world and building a great company.
 

amp0193

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When your employees don't take ownership, then it's way too easy for issues to slip through the cracks, because "someone else will catch it" or "that will get fixed by management."

As you scale (assuming you scale), you'll likely run into the same problem. Small issues with your crew don't take up much of your time. But what if you're running 100 crews? How much time does it take then?

Well said Chris.

I am one person with a set of beliefs. In order for the company to scale, and for it to be run the way I want, everyone needs to have the same core beliefs I do, and make decisions through the same lens, and take action on making better the things that are within their control.



I appreciate the criticism @Johnny boy . We'll be delivering the bottom-line impacting profits that you want to see soon enough!
 

amp0193

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Even if this is a "corporate platitude," that doesn't keep it from being true or valuable.

Platitudes get a bad wrap from people who try to implement them, but don't really believe them. And they ultimately fail and become a joke.


There's nothing but authenticity here. These guys know I care about them and this business more than just about anything else.
 

amp0193

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Any single item he has mentioned so far won't make a huge difference to bottom line profit. That's true (I think). These are little improvements. At first glance, this feels like he's violating the 80/20 rule of business.

Great post @BizyDad


In the short-term, some improvements will cost us money.

Like renting a recycle dumpster. Slightly more expensive than having one of my guys go dump it. But starting next week, 4 hours a month of someone's time will be freed up.

Who will eventually contribute more to bottom line with that free time, than if he was out dumping cardboard.

Eliminating transportation waste and over-processing.


Step by step.
 

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If you read the last message then you know I'm removing my courses from Udemy next month. You...
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MARKETPLACE Grow Your Business With a Book (An Unorthodox Marketing Strategy That Built One of the Largest...
PS. what do you think about the idea of setting up live Busking experiences on Air BNB? I could...
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MARKETPLACE Kill Bigger Incubator
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