Monday, April 09, 2007

10 Awesome Startups You’ve Never Heard About

New Yorkers who have a hard time keeping track of personal items now have one less thing to worry about. For a modest annual fee, NewYourKey keeps copies of keys in a secure storage facility and can deliver them right away if customers find themselves locked out. Keys lost in a nightclub at four in the morning? No problem! NewYourKey will deliver spare keys within an hour any time of day or night, wherever a customer happens to be.

Can't think of that totally awesome domain name for a new website? PickyDomains is a risk-free domain naming service that got a lot of publicity and ‘blogtalk’ in Europe lately despite being only two months old. This is how it works. A customer deposits $50 dollars and describes what kind of domain he or she wants. Domain pickers then send in their suggestions of available domain names. If the customer likes one of the domain names and registers it, the service gets $50. Otherwise the money is refunded at the end of the month.

Dave Schrader of Circle Pines and Tim Dennis of Burnsville are leading groups on trips to haunted hotels and spooky cruise ships. The two started an online radio show called "Darkness Radio" in January 2006. Within a year, their weekly broadcasts had made them celebrities among fanciers of otherworldly mystery.
They then began asking the stars of T-V shows about the supernatural to cohost weekends at haunted destinations. Among the locations are the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado -- made famous by the movie "The Shining." Travelers pay between 180 dollars to 250 dollars for the trips -- not including transportation or lodging. is an online marketplace for parking spaces, enabling drivers to search for and book spaces before they leave home, and letting British homeowners monetize unused parking spaces by adding them to the Peasy network. To rent out a parking space, the owner needs to register and enter all relevant details, including price, when the space is available, and whether it will be rented out daily, weekly, or both. Those who require parking can then search for suitable parking spaces and securely book them online, or first negotiate a better price.

Frustrated with the whole process of recruitment agencies Jamie Mistlin and Anna Taylor decided to design a new system where employers and candidates could communicate directly with each other. The site allows companies to book temporary workers directly via our bespoke fully-automated online system. Both parties can even negotiate the hourly rates directly online, as the service does not filter or distribute CVs. Instead candidates market themselves directly to companies via the website.

Tom Taylor never expected to be a player in the business world; he just wanted to play video games. But as he got better and better, his passion for competitive gaming--and his desire to share his expertise with others--grew. Last year, Taylor, a top-five rated player in the pro-gaming circuit, started a video game coaching business to help others who wanted to improve their games. "I wanted to offer them a shortcut so they didn't have to go through what I did to learn," says Taylor, who started playing video games at age 7. Running his business, Gaming-Lessons, out of his Jupiter, Fla., home, Taylor draws dozens of clients from middle-school kids to middle-aged parents and from college students to celebrities. His fees? A whopping $65 an hour.

Two years ago, Eli Reich was a mechanical engineer consultant for a Seattle wind energy company when his messenger bag was stolen. The environmentally conscious Reich, who rode his bike to work every day, decided that instead of buying a new one, he would simply fashion another bag out of used bicycle-tire inner tubes that were lying around his house. Soon compliments on his sturdy black handmade messenger bag turned into requests. "That was the catalyst," says Reich, who obtained a business license, gave up his day job, and quickly launched Alchemy Goods in the basement of his apartment building. The company's motto: "Turning useless into useful."

Got rich friends and need to look the part? Those that can't afford to buy the latest Fendi purse can still sport it thanks to Bag Borrow or Steal, a designer handbag rental startup that allows customers to pay a monthly fee, pick and order handbags online, and borrow them for as long as they like. The service allows style-conscious customers access to the ultra-luxe and high-end products that they otherwise couldn't get their hands on. Monthly memberships range from $20 to $175 a month

When Jason Engen was an undergraduate student at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, he and his friends knew the challenges students faced in finding worthwhile internships. So for one of his business classes, Engen wrote a business plan detailing a concept for an internship placement service--one that would interview and screen students and match them with local companies that needed interns. "We hit a nerve in terms of the marketplace and focused 100 percent of our efforts on students," says Engen. "We started a week after we graduated, and it took off."

Started in 2005, Startup costs: $6,000

When July hit Miami in 1998, everyone seemed to be enjoying the dog days of summer--except the dogs. As owners took giant swigs from their 32-ounce water bottles, their dogs ran to and fro, wearily retrieving makeshift toys in the afternoon heat. It was on one sunny afternoon in July that Carlotta Lennox rolled by a park on a pair of rollerblades, noticed that the dogs looked tired and hungry, and realized how she could give the day back to the dogs. Seven years later, the first Hey Buddy pet vending machine was established in Bark Park Central, an off-leash dog park in Dallas. Lennox, 36, stocked the machine with dog treats, tennis balls, dog shirts, dog glasses--basically everything a dog might need for a walk in the park. And with its shingled roof and slated facade, the doghouse-inspired vending machine was hard to miss--which meant pets and their owners weren't the only ones begging Lennox for more.

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Here are some similiar stories about unusual startups from Business Ideas Blog:

Personalized Baby Blankets

Millionaire Moms - Stroller Strides

AdSense Niche Testers

How To Make A Million Dollars

Massive Free Internet Marketing Software Giveaway ($497 Worth Of Free Software)

And here are a couple of books worth looking at:

The Startup Company Bible For Entrepreneurs: The Complete Guide For Building Successful Companies And Raising Venture Capital

High Tech Start Up, Revised and Updated: The Complete Handbook For Creating Successful New High Tech Companies