Thursday, August 30, 2007

Money In Reptiles

MY WIFE, ANITA, AND I incorporated to expand upon my love of reptiles and amphibians--together known as "herpetological creatures," or "herps"--and her love of photography. The website started as her way of posting photos of herps on the web, but is now an online store, carrying an assortment of items, including greeting cards, gifts, jewelry, books, and bumper stickers, but not live animals. The business has grown significantly since 2004, but it started as a hobby.

As a conservationist and a wildlife rehabilitator, I have a permit to care for unwanted herps before they are adopted, treated by a veterinarian, or donated to a zoo. When Anita and I married, I promised to limit the turtles in the house at any given time to a 15-foot habitat. Then, on our honeymoon in France, Anita found a piece of turtle jewelry in a store window. It was our first taste of the herp knickknack market.

Anita would often accompany me on trips to conservation conferences and met people who shared my affinity for herps. We became known as the "turtle couple" among friends. Admirers would ask us where we got a herp trinket or a piece of jewelry and then ask if we could get something for them too. Just as cat and dog lovers like cat and dog collectibles, we realized there was a market of herp lovers.

Eventually we were able to establish a network of herp enthusiasts by word of mouth. At gift shows and flea markets, we asked vendors for specific items and then bought the product outright. Since we could find no vendor who specializes in herp items, we developed contacts all over the world, including Australia, Peru, and Thailand. At least 10% of our products, such as the cards and prints, are created by Anita.

Our sales have doubled every year, to about $60,000 this year, and it has been difficult for us to stay ahead of the growth--more and more of our time is consumed by packaging orders and maintaining our website. In a few months we will reevaluate the company and decide if we want to let it grow or to keep it small. But for the time being, we will continue to search for unique items in anticipation of the Christmas season, while keeping our conservation efforts a top priority.

Get your business profiled on this and other blogs.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

PaceTat.Com - How To Make Money From Runners

Washington, D.C.-based PaceTat offers on-skin advertising in the form of pacing guides. Pacing guides are used by runners in marathons and races to help them maintain the speed needed to finish a race within their goal time. Existing solutions include paper or plastic bracelets, which have a tendency to chafe and get in the way. PaceTat offers a comfortable and easy to read alternative: pacing guides transferred directly onto the skin of the forearm, like a temporary tattoo.

What's interesting for marketers is the branding opportunity: PaceTat offers custom branded versions for advertisers. Priced from USD 0.39 each, depending on order quantity, PaceTat's pacing guides present marketers with a unique canvas for conveying a message that literally sticks with the consumer until it’s washed off. The company, which was founded earlier this year, has already sold over 30,000 branded pacing guides. (They picked a desirable audience, too. In the US, the running market is notable for its median household income of roughly USD 113,000, according to Runner's World.)

PaceTat isn’t currently offering franchising or partnering arrangements, but the concept should inspire advertising mavens to find other methods of ‘skinvertising’. As a marketer, you know you're doing something right if consumers merge your brand with their own self-image. If they actually tattoo your logo directly onto their skin? Well, it doesn't get much better than that. ;-)

US Economy Is So Bad That Even Prices For Fossilized Warlus Penises Fall By 50%

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

When Experts Are Wrong - Failed Dragons' Den Bid Takes Off

Sales of a gadget to stop tables wobbling that was laughed off by Dragons' Den business experts have now totalled half a million pounds.

One expert, Rachel Elnaugh, called the Stabletable device "the most ridiculous idea" she had ever seen.

Its Surrey inventor Andrew Gordon had the idea after drinking five pints with friends at a wobbly pub table.

He woke up with a hangover the next day and designed the gadget by cutting up a cereal box.

"The table in the pub was wobbly and someone suggested moving to a stable table," he said.

And he added that his "incredibly simple idea" was meant to be "a bit of fun".

The gadget has eight thin plastic strips which swivel out to the required thickness to stop a table wobbling.

Mr Gordon has since sold just under 500,000 Stabletables, selling three for £3.99.

The Exam Officers' Association has ordered 200,000 of the gadgets, and negotiations are under way with Tesco and B&Q.

Mr Gordon said Cambridge University and the tea room at Kensington Palace were also customers.

Speaking about his appearance on Dragons' Den, which offers ordinary people a chance to pitch their business ideas to rich but ruthless investors, he said: "It is not even good to have proved them wrong, it's just quite satisfying that it's kicked off."

'Stuck to conviction'

A BBC spokesperson added: "The dragons make their own business decisions.

"Although they didn't back Andrew, it's great that he stuck to his conviction about his product.

"Hopefully this will encourage other inventors and entrepreneurs."

The 31-year-old Scot, who lives in Camberley, appeared on the BBC programme two years ago.

The marketing manager put his idea to the panel of five experts, but Ms Elnaugh's comments were followed by a chorus of like-minded derision from the other judges.

They included telecoms tycoon Peter Jones and health club guru Duncan Bannatyne.

Red Letter Days, Ms Elnaugh's company, went into administration shortly after the show, but was thrown a lifeline by Mr Jones and more recent dragon retail guru, Theo Paphitis.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

'Phinomenal' Success Story

In 2005, as freestyle mogul skier Michelle Roark was training for the 2006 Olympics in Turin, a sports psychologist told her to use all five of her senses to envision victory. One was a stumper: What is the smell of victory? Most of the perfumes Roark tried gave her a headache, so she created her own scent, a mixture of roses, pink grapefruit, and bergamot—smells associated with confidence, energy, and focus.

Roark left Turin without a medal but with an idea for a company. In April, 2006, she launched Phi-nomenal, a perfume maker that had sales of $18,650 in its first year. Roark, one of three employees, mixes the perfumes herself in the third story of her downtown Denver townhouse. “I hand-pour everything, and I enjoy doing it myself,” she says. Roark uses natural ingredients such as rose oil from the Valley of the Roses in Bulgaria and lavender from Grasse, France. She has read vintage books on the art of making perfume, toured several European perfumeries, and taken a course in France on the subject. And she continues to learn about her new field during her travels for skiing, following up with European suppliers during the off season. Phi-nomenal sells four fragrances—Red (the fragrance she developed for the Olympics), Pink, Green, and a men's cologne called The Line—online and in boutiques in Santa Barbara, Calif., and Denver.

Roark, who so far has pumped $40,000 of her own money into the business, plans to add two scents to the lineup this fall and is considering advertising in magazines aimed at professional women. “Right now we are just a little seed, but we are going to blossom into a beautiful flower,” says Roark. “Like a tiger lily—beautiful, strong, and badass.” The 32-year-old is working on a degree in chemical engineering and is still a member of the U.S. ski team. Although she has endured six operations on her knees, she intends to keep competing. But should her skiing career end, Roark says she will pour all that energy into her business: “I would do this 24/7.”

Woman Hugs 765 People In One Hour, Sets A World Record

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fractional ownership of second homes as a business

Consumers who want the luxury of having a second home at the beach or in the mountains, but don't have the money to plunk down on the choicest properties, now have an appealing alternative: half ownership. Like other shared ownership ventures, gives customers the chance to get a piece of the good life, but at a much lower cost. Unlike traditional timeshares, which pioneered the concept of fractional ownership, buyers aren't purchasing time in a hotel or resort, but an actual home—and all the benefits that go with owning it. Along with sharing costs, buyers share profits if the value goes up. And depending on the terms both owners agree to, the property may generate rental income, too.

Getting started is as easy as logging onto, where members can browse listings of available properties throughout North America. can match them with other prospective buyers based on tastes, backgrounds, interests, hobbies and lifestyles through the Buyer Match Plan. Potential co-owners can arrange to meet one another online, by phone or in person to determine if they’d make a good match. Once buyers select a property,'s Tenants-in-Common Agreement takes care of all the details, formalizing legal concerns and each owner’s rights. “It spells out what is expected in terms of financial arrangements, seasonal time sharing, rental revenues, re-sale, property maintenance and repair, among other pertinent details.”

Although the real estate market is currently in a bit of a slump, demand for sandy beaches, mountain air, cultural attractions and picturesque scenery isn’t likely to wane any time soon. Which means that making vacation homes affordable, fraction by fraction, could be a worthwhile start-up in almost any region frequented by tourists looking to make themselves at home.

$10000 Boots Stolen

Woman Fights 27-Year-Old Speeding Ticket

Friday, August 24, 2007

How To Make A Million Dollars As A Repairwoman

With a paintbrush in one hand and a spirit level in the other, Kerrie Keeling has found her place in an industry dominated by men.

Her company A Woman’s Touch consists almost entirely of women. Plumbers, painters, electricians – they’re all there, but the difference is, they won’t go for a 2-hour tea break then trudge paint through your hallway on their return.

“My staff have a woman’s eye for detail,” Keeling explains. “They’ll clean up after themselves everyday, even if that takes longer. Your house shouldn’t have to look like a building site for two weeks.”

Keeling’s clients range from women reluctant to let messy workmen in the homes, to DIY-shy men unwilling to admit to another man their inability to fix a tap.

The business, which has doubled its turnover year-on-year since launching in 2003, currently boasts annual revenues of $1000000.

Keeling had always harboured a desire to be her own boss but initially the lure of a comfy salary and solid career path in the City proved too strong.

After seven years working for investment banks, and with a recent promotion under her belt, she decided the time was right to step off the corporate ladder.

“I was getting frustrated with all the backstabbing,” she explains. “I hated the culture and it was so exhausting trying to fit in.”

Her frustration with corporate life coincided with some home renovations she was having done. “The guys that did it left such a mess and bullied me into paying more than they’d quoted.”

Keeling wanted decorators that arrived on time, were polite, tidied up – basically treated the place like their own home. It became obvious the solution was to set up her own decorating company, offering the level of customer service she expected.

Two weeks later, she handed in her resignation. While working her month’s notice Keeling phoned around the competition posing as a potential client to find out what they offered.

Armed with a bonus and reluctant to take on debt, she refused to fund the business through borrowing. Keeling’s only start-up costs were registering the company name and setting up a website – all for under £1,000. She now admits it would have grown much faster if she’d borrowed enough to employ others from the outset, however.

For the first three months, it was just her, a car and her dad’s toolkit, working seven days a week, evenings and weekends – and the only experience she’d had was decorating her own home.

Her first contracts came from her network of city acquaintances and Keeling is a firm believer in word-of-mouth promotion rather than advertising.

It was three months before Keeling employed a professional decorator but the company now boasts a 26-strong army of tradeswomen, despite only recently having moved the business out of her home into an office.

Keeling rarely picks up a paintbrush these days. Her focus rests with expanding the business, and she’s hoping to take it national through a series of branches and franchises.

“I hadn’t grasped just how much work would be involved when I started,” says Keeling. “But I’m actually quite glad because I may not have done it otherwise!”

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Mind Spa Business

Launch date: October 2005
Business: Stress-relief and self-improvement centres
Target: Build 11 more centres within three years
Diagnosis: The founder needs more proof of concept and the right valuation to attract sufficient investment

It's been a tough day at work, so you make a stop on the way home. No, not at the bar or even the gym, but the Inergy Mind Spa. You pick out an iPod-equipped leather recliner, slip on headphones and dark glasses, and immerse yourself in a relaxing, multi-sensory experience. Music plays and lights flicker as a soothing voice tells you that you have what it takes.

Twenty minutes and $20 later, you're refreshed and relaxed, eager to get home to spend quality time with the family. And you can't wait to go back to work tomorrow.

This is the vision of Rene Messier, a real estate and franchising veteran—and a hypnotherapist and motivational speaker—who is now on a quest to expand Inergy Mind Spa Centers into 100 cities across North America. And talk about the power of positive thinking: he's doing it from Kamloops, B.C.

So far, Messier has one spa operating, a storefront "self-improvement centre" at the Sahali Centre Mall, just down the hall from Safeway and the dollar store. Opened in October 2005, the spa is the testing ground for his theory that consumers will pay big bucks to beat stress, lose their bad habits and build self-esteem through Inergy's simple, proprietary programs. Besides the 20-minute "mind spa," which offers pre-programmed therapies or an invigorating power nap, Inergy sells a range of three- to nine-month programs. No diets, no formulas, no herbs: Inergy combines a form of hypnotherapy with neurolinguistic programming—the emerging science of changing behaviour by planting attitude-shifting ideas into your head while you're in an open-minded, trance-like state—to help customers lose weight, quit smoking, sleep better or overcome pain and depression. At $577 to $2,377, the programs are priced below the cost of most gym memberships or self-help programs run by competitors such as L A Weight Loss Centers.

You might think that Kamloops, a laid-back, blue-collar city, would make a tough test site. But Messier says he's uncovered a torrent of troubles among Kamloops' citizens, with more than 280 lawyers, housewives, civil servants and teens signing up for courses such as Stressless Living, Sensible Sleep and Restrain the Pain. In fact, so many people demanded mental-health shortcuts that Messier had to devise a new program, Accelerated Self-Improvement.

"We have affirmed that people are yearning to recharge," says Messier. "I knew there was a need, but stress is afflicting many, many more people than I thought. We're realizing an epidemic of stress."

One happy customer is Terry Farrell, 60, an artist and writer in Kamloops. He paid $1,100 last fall for a 14-week course called Interactions to fight the negativity that ruled his life. A few months later, he is now publishing his historical novel, which sat on a shelf for 15 years, and he's had a three-week show at a local art gallery, which resulted in his first sale of a painting in five years. The program "brought me back," he says. "It helped me get over the negative chatter in my head and stick to what I want to get accomplished."

Messier's Kamloops "laboratory" is still losing about $10,000 a month—but he isn't stressing about it. By grossing $165,000 in its first year in a market of just 90,000 people, Messier believes his test site proved that a big-city Inergy centre could gross $1 million a year. "We've done our experimentation and now we know what works," he says, so now he's focusing on raising funds to build 11 more.

The immediate goal is to raise $1.25 million to build 11 centres in Alberta, B.C., Washington state and Portland, Ore., within three years. The next centre will likely be in Calgary—although Messier says a Brooklyn psychiatrist is lobbying Inergy to open a mind spa in New York. Messier estimates each centre will cost about $275,000 to set up and equip (including the waterfall in the foyer). But since he forecasts each big-city centre will become cash-flow positive within 15 months, he says each outlet will quickly finance the next.

Messier's background proves he's no stranger to change. A former Calgary real estate developer, he took over a bankrupt Vancouver outlet of Maaco Auto Painting & Collision and made it Canada's No. 1 Maaco outlet. In turning around two other struggling franchises, Messier became friends with Maaco Canada president Terry Lough, who became his business mentor. Winning numerous Maaco awards for leadership and sales, Messier moved into motivational speaking. Then, three years ago, Lough asked him to come to Kamloops to try something new.

Lough's son had bought a franchise in Positive Changes Hypnosis Centers of Dublin, Ohio, which pioneered behaviour modification through personal coaching and hypnosis. Lough asked Messier to help run the business, which was stumbling. "We knew there was a great concept here," says Messier. But Positive Changes' parent company was emerging from receivership, and, he says, it was weak on business systems. He spent a year turning the Kamloops office around and was ready to expand to nearby Kelowna before Lough died suddenly of pneumonia in May 2005. Unable to agree on future directions with Lough's son, Messier left to launch Inergy.

After 18 months of operation, Messier thinks he has an investor-ready pitch. With minimal inventory required and 70% of the services automated, he expects Inergy to produce an 85% gross margin and a hefty 30% net profit. With 12 centres, he expects that a 50¢ share in Inergy today will be worth at least $6.50. By Year 5, he hopes that Inergy will be a public company, with 100 centres across North America.

But selling those 50¢ shares has proven tougher than expected. First, Messier found that to raise money from private individuals, he needed to create a formal offering memorandum (OM) laying out the nature of the opportunity. "I came upon the incredible red tape of private fundraising," he says. "We've created a whole industry of lawyers and accountants, and dealing with them is worse than trying to raise the money." Most would-be service providers offered to produce an OM for $70,000. But Messier found a Kamloops lawyer who did the job for less than $10,000.

Messier says he's had a lot of investor interest and a few cheques—but not enough. "We lost six weeks with one group that wanted the whole piece," he says. But they, like others, backed off until Messier can demonstrate a profitable centre. He is also trying to penetrate angel groups in Calgary and Vancouver, but, he notes, "These people are so hard to get to."

To help raise money, Messier recruited Doren Quinton, president of Kamloops-based QIS Capital Corp. and a "guru" among small-cap investors in Western Canada (from March 2003 to December 2006, his portfolio of junior stocks grew 443%). Now an Inergy director and investor-relations advisor, Quinton says Western Canadian investors have been spoiled by recent big gains in resource stocks: "With Inergy, you might just get a 1,000% return, but it's three years away. I don't think investors are thinking that long-term right now."

If the funds aren't found soon, Quinton says, Inergy may have to review its valuation. The OM values the company (post-investment) at $5 million—75% of which is Messier's share, based on his development work and personal investment of about $600,000. Quinton admits some investors found that steep: "If they think they're not getting in on the ground floor, then we may need to bring the valuation down."

Messier defends the math, saying his personal experience, especially with Positive Changes, has taught him so much. Plus, he created business processes and information systems that put him in control. "I'm fanatical about management systems," says Messier. "If you're going to franchise your business, you have to have duplicatable systems." He knows, for instance, that walk-in customers are "dramatically" less likely to buy programs than those who respond to an ad. That knowledge helped him determine that future centres can locate in stand-alone sites rather than paying the premium rents in malls.

Another lesson learned in Kamloops: how to market. In its first year, Inergy spent $60,000 on advertising, learning what works and what doesn't. "Print is for education and TV is for credibility," says Messier. "Direct mail is for incentivizing a call to action, and radio is for reinforcement." (Coupons didn't work at all.) He says Kamloops' small size helped Inergy learn these lessons cheap: "We would have paid $400,000 in marketing in Calgary in 12 months to figure out what we found out in Kamloops."

Messier is already keen on product extensions, from programs narrated by celebrities, such as professional golfers, gold-medal athletes and nationally known therapists, to "Inergy chairs" in airports and airlines handing out Inergy "helmets" to stressed-out passengers.

But one future that's still fuzzy is franchising. After Inergy builds a dozen company-owned outlets, it may open more through limited partnerships rather than franchises. "With an 85% gross margin, I'm not sure we want to franchise," says Messier. "We'll get these 12 centres open, prove we can manage them effectively and efficiently, and then we can make our decision."

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

MommyMixer - How To Make Money Matching Moms And Babysitters

MommyMixer is a networking event that brings together selected university students and parents who need babysitters. A cost effective alternative to childcare agencies, the events allow parents to interview a number of candidates in an informal setting. Parents pay a USD 100 entrance fee, or USD 75 if they've attended a previous mixer. On arrival, they're handed a 'nanny notebook' containing resumes of all potential hires attending the event, including references and their schedules for the upcoming academic term. After brief introductions, parents and babysitters are encouraged to mingle and get to know each other. Attendance is limited to twenty to thirty moms and/or dads and the same number of candidates.

Students don't pay a fee, and MommyMixer doesn't take a cut of their pay—parents and sitters negotiate hourly rates. The main advantages for students is access to a group of potential employers in one go, instead of time-consuming and potentially unsafe interviews with individual families. Besides babysitting, many students work as 'family assistants'—running errands, driving kids to after-school programs, planning birthday parties, etc.

MommyMixers was founded in 2003 by a University of Texas graduate who nannied her way through college. She was regularly approached by parents looking for educated and reliable sitters, so knew there was a demand for a service that could bring sitters and parents together outside traditional placement agencies. The company got started in Austin, Texas, where 42 mixers have been held so far, and MommyMixer has recently expanded to 18 cities in the US, with plans for continued growth. Mixers in each city are organized by a team of two women: a city manager who organizes and hosts events and corresponds with sitters and parents; and a campus representative who creates awareness and recruits sitters.

Both personal and efficient, face-to-face networking events like MommyMixer are a smart concept to set up elsewhere, either focusing on babysitters or other (casual) employment niches.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bionade Success Story

It's a success story that sounds suspiciously like it might have been conceived in Hollywood. An entrepreneur sees that his family business is failing; spends years and virtually all the firm's money in developing a new product; and finally, 20 years later, his vision becomes a runaway hit.

But you won't find this story on the big screen. Instead, you'll have to head for your local beverage aisle. Bionade, a smooth-tasting organic soft drink, has taken Germany by storm. And it now stands to conquer the world.

"Germany is now too small for it," says Jens Pollmann, a PricewaterhouseCoopers consultant specializing in beverages. "It's only option is to expand internationally."

First, though, Bionade has to catch up to demand at home. Since 2003, the company has seen annual production growth of a massive 300 percent. This year it plans to produce 200 million bottles, up from 70 million last year—already 10 times more than the 7 million bottles produced in 2004. The staff has grown too; Of the company's around 150 staff, 100 have been hired in the last year. The company refuses to give out profit and sales figures.

Growth Explosion

The company has been struggling to expand its production facilities quickly enough to keep up with demand. "It's been a permanent construction site here in the last three years," says Wolfgang Blum, a marketing expert at Bionade who helped kick off the growth explosion.

Most Bionade drinkers in Germany—overwhelmingly from the hip, healthy, hairspray set—would be surprised to learn that the drink has been around longer than just a couple of years. Indeed, some shelves have been stocked with the stuff since 1995, but few consumers were interested in the boring, health drink.

But in 2000, newly-hired Blum began a makeover, eventually transforming the drink into a must-have with its retro yet enviro-friendly appeal. The flavors—elderberry, lychee, herb, ginger-orange and the new, sporty "forte"—likewise have a cool, "you're drinking what?" sensibility. And the broadly-striped label, bulls-eye cap and 1920s-style font exude sophistication.

The re-launched drink hit the zeitgeist exactly, appealing to health-conscious consumers who were drinking less beer just as they were embracing organic food and drink. Bionade (pronounced "Bee-oh-nah-deh") soon became a firm fixture on supermarket shelves and behind the bar in trendy nightspots.

"Instead of selling it as an 'ecological' drink based on ideology, we appealed to a certain lifestyle," Blum says.

Difficult Nut to Crack

The drink itself is the brainchild of German brewer Dieter Leipold. Back in 1985, he saw that declining beer consumption was threatening the long-term survival of his family brewery in the small Bavarian town of Ostheim vor der Rhön. He thought the development of an organic, non-alcoholic drink for kids would be the answer to his prayers.

He spent years toying with different recipes before he finally discovered gluconic acid bacteria. Instead of turning sugar into alcohol—like the yeast used in beer brewing does—the micro-organism transforms sugar into gluconic acid, which makes sugar taste sweeter. Leipold was thus able to cut back on the sugar added to the final product and keep the calorie count low.

Now, of course, kids are no longer central to Bionade's business plan, having been replaced by German hipsters. Even they, though, are no longer enough to satisfy the company's thirst for success, and now Bionade is expanding internationally. It is already present in Austria, Switzerland, Scandinavia, the Benelux countries, Italy, Spain and Portugal, and is just now hitting the shelves in Ireland. But the company has its eyes set on a much larger prize: the US. The search is already on for a suitable American distribution partner.

Profits on the other side of the Atlantic, of course, are by no means guaranteed, warns PricewaterhouseCoopers analyst Pollmann. On the one hand, the country's size and diversity can make it a difficult nut to crack.

Also, it can be very challenging for a family-owned company to cope with growth on the scale of Bionade's: Often a family firm needs to hire management expertise from outside the family if it wants international success, Pollmann says.

Still, he is optimistic. "It's an unbelievably good product," Pollmann says. "They've done everything absolutely right, from the product down to the trendy packaging." He goes on: "I think it corresponds to American tastes. You have German quality combined with organic ingredients. And there's still nothing comparable on the American market."

Too Successful for its Own Good?

But can Bionade get around the problems already created by its incredible success? Earlier this summer, delivery problems led to the drink temporarily disappearing from store shelves. Blum attributes the trouble to an unusually warm April, leading to unexpected demand and a shortage of bottles. "The problems have now been rectified," he insists.

Furthermore, Bionade faces difficulties from the sincerest form of flattery: imitation. The company is currently engaged in a court case with the supermarket chain Plus and the brewer Frankfurter Brauhaus over their "Maltonade" drink, which Bionade claims is a direct imitation of Bionade. Meanwhile German brewing giant Beck's is reportedly developing its own Bionade-style product. Other brewers are sure to follow suit.

A more serious threat may be self-inflicted. Bionade recently began advertising the drink—a major change in policy for the company which had previously relied on word-of-mouth, viral marketing—under the slogan "The official drink of a better world." Blum says advertising was essential now that the company is attracting competition. "We have to act to raise awareness as quickly as possible and secure the market," he says.

But will the bohemians who made Bionade a success be turned off by the new corporate style? Pollmann stresses that the company needs to watch its image: "You have to manage the brand very carefully and watch how consumers react to it." But he says the company does not have a choice. "It's so big now, there's no other way."

And perhaps Bionade will be the first German company to prove that organic doesn't necessarily mean small. "We never had the intention of being a niche product," explains Blum. "If you're going to take the organic idea seriously, then you have to make it accessible to everybody."

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Monday, August 20, 2007

How To Make A Hundred Million Dollars Online

Finding a creative use of technology is what catapulted Blue Lithium Inc., an online advertising network in San Jose, California. Founded by Gurbaksh Chahal in 2005, the company provides specifically targeted marketing for clients, using data from 145 million consumers worldwide. "That online advertising model is focused on display media--banner ads, [etc.]. The model I wanted to recreate was using different ways to add data and using data to create sophistication around individual users," says Chahal. "So when you're serving an ad, it's actually relevant to that user--because you know they're male or female or you know something about their lifestyle through different data sources you can aggregate over time."

Chahal's expertise in providing targeted online ads has grown his startup at least 100 percent per year, pushing 2007 sales projections to nearly $100 million. Working with clients like Anheuser-Busch, Best Buy and Verizon, Chahal, 25, is looking to grow his company into international markets such as Germany, Italy and Spain in the near future. Staying ahead of this rapidly changing market is the order of the day. "You've got to make sure you continue to evolve with it and that you're evolving faster than the industry is evolving," says Chahal. "Every couple of years there's a bigger company out there. Before it was Yahoo!; now it's Google. There's a trend going on, and whoever is creating the trend ends up being the winner."

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

How To Make A Quarter Million Dollars Renting Furniture To School Kids

Evolving Vox got its name from the Dartmouth College school motto, vox clamantis in deserto, which means "a voice crying out in the wilderness." So when Russell D'Souza and Jon Groetzinger heard the cry of dorm residents as they abandoned their furniture each year, the pair took it upon themselves to provide furniture that cuts down on that waste.

"Students don't want to deal with the hassle of putting [furniture] in storage," D'Souza says. "We realized there's a great market for a furniture rental company that provides everything students need for their dorms."

In summer 2006, D'Souza and Groetzinger used their personal savings to start Evolving Vox. They stocked up on dorm essentials: 24-inch flat screens, DVD players, compact refrigerators and futons. Then they created a website to give students a fast, easy way to place orders. Delivery is free.

While D'Souza says many rental companies see the college market as an afterthought, catering to college students was Evolving Vox's key to success. D'Souza, 22, and Groetzinger, 23, adopted the concept of "temporary ownership," reinforcing a sense of sharing furniture with their student customers, the same way they share a college experience. "It's meaningful that peers are buying from their peers rather than from an impersonal rental business," Groetzinger says.

Evolving Vox hit the Dartmouth College campus with resounding success--2007 sales are expected to reach $250,000. The founders have also received a number of inquiries to start similar services at colleges around the nation. Early this year, Evolving Vox branched out to Brandeis University and Cornell University. They plan to expand to 10 colleges by the end of the next academic year.

Dumb But Profitable. 10 Million Dollar Ideas That Shouldn't Have Worked.

Move Over, Million Dollar Page

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Scrapbooks As Home Business

If you're an avid scrapbooker like Horiuchi-Yvkoff, and you hear that a friend is pregnant, it's only natural to think a pregnancy scrapbook would make a great gift. "But you kind of had to buy three things: an album, a diary and a memorabilia box," Horiuchi-Yvkoff said.

Her observation was shared by Vardeny, her partner in an event-planning business, so the two set about designing and producing a 105-page book with pages and pockets to accommodate an expectant mother's thoughts, photos, correspondence and other keepsakes.

They gave it a faux-suede cover available in four different colors, placed ads on Google and marketed it every way they could think of. "We get rejected every day, but for every five rejections we may get one yes, and that one yes could be a big break," Horiuchi-Yvkoff said.

Recent additions to the line include pregnancy announcements and thank-you cards, and now Horiuchi-Yvkoff is actually putting one of the books to use: She's expecting her first child in November.

Moonjar Moneybox Success Story

Pentagon Paid $998,798 to Ship Two 19-Cent Washer

Friday, August 17, 2007

How clutter-busting homemaker FlyLady nagged her way to millions

Here is how Marla Cilley, better known by her nom de guerre, FlyLady, runs her business. Every morning she rolls out of bed and starts nagging. She sends a first e-mail to her 400,000 subscribers at about 7 A.M., reminding them to get up and get dressed. Throughout the day she'll send about ten more e-mails from her Brevard, N.C., home, nagging them to polish their sinks or plan a healthy dinner. She'll also pen an essay or two on topics ranging from the evils of perfectionism to the importance of self-love. Her office administrator will send a few more e-mails, giving subscribers tidying tips. By the time Cilley's last e-mail - "Please go to bed!" - goes out at 10 P.M., her flock has received about 15 messages. Last year sales hit $4 million.

It may seem odd that Cilley, 51, should spin such gold from nagging, something most of us do our best to avoid. Yet her customers - almost exclusively female middle-aged homemakers, who call themselves FlyBabies - cannot get enough. They log on to and purchase thousands of dollars' worth of FlyLady-branded products - kitchen timers, license plate holders, ostrich-feather dusters, books, calendars, mouse pads, T-shirts, tote bags, sink stoppers, water bottles, and lapel pins. They convene at occasional Flyfests around the country, where Cilley gives personal encouragement. And every day they send her about 5,000 grateful messages - so many that Cilley has had to hire a team of six offsite readers to help respond to the deluge. "You are the mother I never had," one recent e-mail read, "loving, caring, understanding, available with a big hug and a kick in the butt when needed."

Cilley is not the only entrepreneur to command a cultlike following among legions of housewives. Jeanne Bice, "head quack" at, a QVC clothing company, presides over her website's chat groups in the Quack a Smile Club, building such customer loyalty that she can easily pack a Princess Cruises ship ( for her annual Quackers Caribbean cruise. Stacy DeBroff, creator of, parlayed her parenting-advice site into a career as a bestselling author, marketing consultant, corporate spokesperson, and frequent guest on the "Today" show. Her books, website, newsletter, national media tours, and appearances reach millions of women, many of whom bond over MomChat on DeBroff's site.

Yet Cilley says she didn't set out to become a guru. The FlyLady juggernaut began innocently enough, after Cilley married her third husband in 1996 and found that neither of them knew how to keep a tidy home. When the mess became unmanageable, Cilley turned to the Internet, finding clutter-busting pointers on a website called Sidetracked Home Executives (

Before long Cilley started posting her own tips on the site's message board, eventually building a grassroots following with her no-nonsense, country-girl wisdom, along with her unbridled joy over her newly uncluttered life. She began individually mentoring other slobs in the group, and in 1999, FlyLady's listserve was hatched, with just ten women as subscribers.

Even neat freaks can benefit from viral growth. The original subscribers recommended the list to friends, and before long Cilley's following was large enough to win her write-ups in "Woman's Day" and "Ladies' Home Journal." "We never set out to have a business," Cilley says. "We set out to help people. And the business grew because of their needs."

One of those needs, apparently, is to find out how great the latest FlyLady products are. Anytime one of her FlyBabies e-mails a gushing testimonial praising one of her offerings ("I first bought the FlyLady calendar last year, and I LOVE it!"), Cilley forwards it to her entire mailing list. The testimonials typically result in a sudden sales surge of several hundred of the mentioned item.

Cilley's growing enterprise presented new demands - namely, how to keep up with the crush of fan mail. Kelly Burns, a devoted subscriber, volunteered to help in 2000. Today she and her husband, Tom, work at Cilley's distribution center as two of FlyLady's 24 paid employees.

Cilley attracts new subscribers by writing a self-syndicated column that appears weekly in 225 newspapers and doing a live weekly call-in satellite radio show with Leanne Ely, a nutritionist and cookbook author, on, where "The Fly Show" is rated No. 1 among more than 70 weekly shows, drawing about 140,000 listeners. Ely has also launched a successful Internet enterprise (, with no small thanks to Cilley, who promotes it to her subscribers.

Now FlyLady is looking to expand her self-help empire. Her followers, she points out, face bigger issues than clutter. Already having penned bestsellers on controlling household and "body clutter" (weight and emotional issues), she is at work on a third book, FlyLady's take on spirituality. And now, with a full-time product-development officer (Jack Sgroi, whom she hired away from MiddleRiver Aircraft Systems), she is anticipating subscribers' needs with a spate of new products, including more efficient mops and roadside emergency kits.

As Cilley constantly tells her loyal FlyBabies about getting their houses in order, "If I can do it, you can do it." But when it comes to creating a business out of nagging, she flies alone.

Man Faked Being A Dentist For 29 Years

How To Buy Reputation For $10 Per Month

Thursday, August 16, 2007

PointBlankPress.Com - How To Make Great Money As A Niche Publisher

Film and television director/writer Josh Becker never thought his first book, "The Complete Guide to Low-Budget Feature Filmmaking," would get a lot of attention from big-name publishers. The title, which was aimed at a niche market, would find better reception at a small independent company, Becker reasoned.

His New York literary agent had different ideas. She said, "Here's a list of who I'm going to take it to," Becker recalled, "and it was like the 10 biggest publishers in the world. And after the first five turned her down, she said, 'Nobody likes your book. I'm giving up.' "

Abandoning hope of seeing his work in print, Becker eventually decided to place it on his Web site, That's when Point Blank Publishing, operated by J.T. Lindroos and Kathleen Martin in New Albany, Ind., came to the rescue.

"Immediately, J.T. read it and went, 'Hey, that's a good book. I'd like to publish it,' " said Becker, of West Bloomfield, Mich. Now, after a successful debut by "Complete Guide," Point Blank will issue a second Becker book, "Rushes" in a few weeks, and is working on a third from him. "We can publish books that none of the big companies would touch," said Lindroos, who married Martin and moved to the United States from Finland in 2000.

"We can publish a book that is, say, half screwball comedy, half mystery and maybe with a dash of science fiction in it," he said. "No big publisher would publish a book like that," because they're focused on mass-market success.

The husband-and-wife team own Oiva Design Group. It encompasses their work for the Point Blank label, where Lindroos is senior editor and Martin is senior copy editor.

Point Blank is a publishing name or "imprint" of Wildside Press, based in Rockville, Md., which concentrates on science fiction, fantasy and horror under several labels.

Point Blank, however, focuses on "hardboiled crime fiction … in the tradition of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler," along with occasional film-oriented titles, Lindroos said.

Such niche markets are an important part of publishing, said Tina Jordan, vice president of the Association of American Publishers in New York. Helping to push their success, she said, is on-demand printing, which allows smaller book-printing runs than are practical with traditional methods.

On-demand printing -- not to be confused with self-publishing or vanity press operations -- limits the need for warehouse space and gives publishers more control over the number of copies they must print, which is "extremely valuable," Jordan said.

Point Blank uses both traditional and on-demand printing, depending on the book to be published, Lindroos said.

The Helsinki native got into publishing in the mid-1990s with no formal training, he said. Fluent in English, he was a fan of American movies, but wasn't satisfied with the book covers he saw from one of his favorite U.S. publishers.

"I thought, 'I can do better than they are doing,' " said Lindroos, who contacted the publisher and "offered to do it for free."

The company liked what it saw, and soon began paying him. At about the same time, Lindroos met Martin, a former actress, through an online discussion group. "We started exchanging e-mails and chatted and then started making phone calls. I guess one thing led to another."

The two were wed in January 2000, and later decided to try running their own publishing company -- partly out of necessity.

Lindroos had been a Web designer with Sony's in Louisville but was laid off in 2001 as the online-tips company foundered. Because of an illness, Martin lost her job with a music publisher the same year. The couple decided to pool their talents in the publishing venture.

"I had been doing layouts for books and things like that. I knew all the technical aspects of making a book, and I knew the printers they were using," he said. In 2003, the couple launched Wit's End Publishing, which offered a mix of new fiction and reprints of crime writers such as Charles Willeford.

Wit's End published three books in its first year, but the owners soon found they didn't have enough capital to finance outlays for printing, author advances and other expenses.

In 2004, "the idea came to talk to Wildside and ask if they'd be interested in a mystery imprint," said Lindroos, who e-mailed the suggestion to the company. "It took them five minutes to write back and say, "Sure, let's do it.' "

Point Blank has since published 26 books, including two novels by veteran writer James Reasoner -- a 2004 reprint of his 1980 novel "Texas Wind" and an original crime novel, "Dust," which came out this summer.

Reasoner said he has "worked with the biggest publishers in the business," but has no hesitation to sell books through a small imprint like Point Blank.

"They've just really mushroomed over the past few years," Reasoner said. And in many cases, a smaller publisher devotes more attention to its writers than a larger enterprise would, he added.

And for the writer, "you certainly can make as much with a small press" as with a big-name publisher, he said. "It depends on how successful a book is."

If there was ever a stigma attached to smaller publishers, "I think that's become pretty well overcome," Reasoner said.

Lindroos, who has also taken on work as an artist for New Albany award manufacturer Bruce Fox Inc., said his goal is to see Oiva (the Finnish word for super) and Point Blank grow to the point where he won't need a second job.

"We still have a lot of books we'd like to publish," he said, and "we seem to be kind of expanding all the time."

Funeral Home Invests $100,000 In A Three-Wheeled Harley And Carriage-Style Hearse

Loser of pants, $54 million lawsuit files appeal

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hot Profits From Upcoming Elections

The first official votes of the 2008 presidential cycle won't be counted until the Iowa caucuses next January, but Dave Hirschkop, founder of Dave's Gourmet (, based in San Francisco, is giving Americans a chance to cast their ballots now by purchasing a bottle of his company's hot sauce.

Each bears a caricature of a candidate - the top Democratic and Republican hopefuls, plus Nunov Deabove and, for kicks, Dave himself.

Who's hot? In late July, Nunov Deabove edged out former front-runner Barack Obama.

Perhaps as a subtle comment on the quality of the political discourse, every bottle is filled with Cool Cayenne, the blandest of the 16 varieties in Dave's catalog.

Profits from the promotion will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret

Five Books You Have To Read If You Want To Be A Master Copywriter

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Three-Year Old Entrepreneur Story

Entrepreneurs vying for a share of the children's market should look out—your competition just got harder to size up! Three-year-old Mia Bergman is being credited with inventing a new product for fellow pint-sizers that could well be a hit in toy stores.

Mia's mother, along with her business partner, decided to capitalize on the young tyke's fondness for burying small items in Play-Doh to dig out and rebury. So, they whipped up a batch of their own dough—using a nontoxic combination of flour, water, salt and a touch of lavender oil for scent—buried some small token items inside, and voila—Treasure Dough was born!

Treasure Dough is available in an assortment of colors and themes, including “Princess Loot,” “Under the Sea,” “Zany Zoo” and “Dino Diggers.” Each bucket retails at USD 14 and includes 12 to 13 small toys that children can discover to play with and rebury at will.

Because the items may pose a risk of choking, Treasure Dough is recommended for children ages three and up and can be purchased online and in a handful of select stores. Not a bad start for a toddler! It just goes to show the power of knowing what appeals to your intended market! ;-)

Basic Business Survival Skills That Businesses Ignore

Is good enough enough?

Monday, August 13, 2007

How To Make Great Money ... Farming

IN 1961, William and Lucille Salatin moved their young family to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, purchasing the most worn-out, eroded, abused farm in the area near Staunton. Using nature as a pattern, they and their children began the healing and innovation that now supports three generations.

Disregarding conventional wisdom, the Salatins planted trees, built huge compost piles, dug ponds, moved cows daily with portable electric fencing, and invented portable sheltering systems to produce all their animals on perennial prairie polycultures.

Today the farm arguably represents America’s premier non-industrial food production oasis. Believing that the Creator’s design is still the best pattern for the biological world, the Salatin family invites like-minded folks to join in the farm’s mission: to develop emotionally, economically, environmentally enhancing agricultural enterprises and facilitate their duplication throughout the world.

The Salatins continue to refine their models to push environmentally-friendly farming practices toward new levels of expertise.

Small farms typically offer quiet pastoral scenes of rolling pastures, grazing animals, weathered barns, and a chicken coop or two.

Polyface Farm, a 550-acre spread in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, is different. The rolling pastures are there all right—but quiet they're not. Each day, men move fences, roll portable henhouses, and redirect cattle from one area to another for grazing. Trees are cut down for lumber and pigs set loose to roll in wood chips and cow manure to create compost.

It's all part of a plan that the owner, celebrity farmer Joel Salatin, carefully honed over the past 25 years to maximize productivity of his 100 acres of farmland and 450 acres of trees. He says the mobile approach enables him to produce not only much more beef, chicken, pork, and eggs than he could ever have done using conventional farming techniques, but better-tasting and more nutritious products as well.

The goal of the mobile approach is to systematically use the manure from his animals as fertilizer for his pasture, thus reducing his energy and feed costs. It's his secret quality-improvement ingredient. He figures his farm's revenue at about $3,000 per acre, vs. about $150 per acre for typical small and medium-sized farms that emphasize grazing. “We can feed the world with this technology,” says an exuberant Salatin, who has written several books describing his techniques and offers popular weekend seminars to farmers and wannabes.

35 Weird Facts You Never Heard Of

61 Stars Removed From Walk of Fame

Saturday, August 11, 2007

42 Money Facts That Will Rock Your World

Do you think you know a lot about money? Maybe you do. Maybe you don't. But let's see if any of the following facts are in any way surprising to you:

1. More of our fantasies are about money... than sex.

2. If we could have any luxury in the world (and money didn't matter) more of us would choose to spend money on a butler and a maid than anything else.

3. 90% of Americans who own pets buy them Christmas gifts.

4. Money is the leading cause of disagreements in marriages.

5. 65% of Americans would live on a deserted island all by themselves for an entire year for $1,000,000.

6. For $10,000,000 most of us would do almost ANYTHING! Including abandoning our family and friends and our church. A very high percentage of us would, for that same amount of money, change our race or sex. And, 1 in every 14, would even murder someone for ten million bucks.

What's really strange about this is, the statistics remain the same whether it's ten million dollars all the way down to three million. For three million bucks, most of us would do the same horrible things we would do for ten million. But, guess what? Few of us would do these things for a "measly" two million.

7. 92% of us would rather be rich than find the love of our lives.

8. Here's a weighty one: Money (or the lack thereof) is the biggest stress inducer in the lives of Americans. We worry more about money than our marriages, our health, or even who's going to win the Superbowl Game or come out on top in the latest Survivor TV show.

9. If you get your money out of a Hitachi ATM machine in Japan, it will be laundered. The way they do it is, they briefly press the bills between rollers at high enough temperatures to kill most bacteria.

10. Women have very fixed ideas on how much they are willing to spend on a bra. 38.3% of women won't spend $30 for a bra. 28.4% won't spend $50. 10% would pay as much as $75. And, only 3.5% would shell out $100. But, you know what? Almost 20% of women say they would pay almost anything for a bra. This is because they consider (and I guess so do a few men) that the contents of what those bras are encasing is of extremely high-value.

11. Nearly half of the people who sell their houses with furniture included will take all the light bulbs out of all the lamps when they vacate the premises.

12. Most people won't bend over to pick up money lying on the sidewalk unless it's at least a dollar.

13. Most Americans think pennies are a pain in the ass and the U.S. Mint should stop making them.

14. There is about 405 billion dollars in circulation. Only 32 million of that amount is counterfeit. That means, the percentage of counterfeit money in America is .0079%. And, $20 bills are more often counterfeited than $100 bills.

15. Do people care if their bills are crisp? Indeed, they do. Fresh, crisp, clean bills are considered much more valuable than those which are old, wrinkled and dirty.

I once sent a 'dollar bill thank you' letter to a guy who sent a sincere letter back to me bitching the free $1 bill I sent him was wrinkled instead of crisp as I had described in the letter.

16. Let's flip a coin and try to guess whether it will come up heads or tails. Three times as many people guess 'heads' than 'tails'.

17. Here's one I personally think really sucks: One out of every four Americans believe their best chance of getting rich is by playing the lottery.

18. How about this one for a shocking fact: 5% of lottery ticket buyers buy 51% of all tickets sold. (Trust me, none of these people belong to the "Einsteins of America Society".)

19. A staggering 74% of us are influenced by how much we can win in a lottery as opposed to the odds of us winning.

20. That's a good thing for the Government because the odds of winning a lottery jackpot are about 10 million to 1.

21. A person who drives 10 miles to buy a lottery ticket is 3 times more likely to be killed in a car accident while driving to buy the ticket... than... he is to win the jackpot.

22. Sunday newspaper coupon inserts are the second-most read section of the paper, after the front page.

23. Few people know it but, you can buy single-disease insurance.

24. Only 6% of people in America regularly buy clothes tailor made just for them.

25. Here's one that's really important: 63% of us decide NOT to buy a product advertised on the Internet... because... we think the shipping and handling charges add too much to the order.

26. Eight times as many Americans would rather use an ATM than deal with a real live teller.

27. This one's going to blow your mind: 83% of Americans still pay with checks instead of credit cards!

28. Almost 30% of us say we would need 3 million smackaroos to feel rich. This ties in with the fact most of us would do anything for as little as $3 million... but... not nearly as many of us would do those identical things for a measly $2 million. (Hey, here's your chance to take advantage of that situation. If you only want to pay $2 million to have something done, ask me if I'll do it. The chances are, believe it or not, I WILL DO IT.)

29. Here's another fact which is really, really important: 80% of Americans say giving personal information (especially their credit card information) over the Internet scares the living shit out of them.

30. Two-thirds of Americans say they wouldn't let their spouse spend the night and have sex with another person for a million dollars. Many of these people are liars. There's a big difference being asked if they would do it for a million dollars... as opposed to... handing them a paper sack containing the million fungolas and simply saying, "Here, you can have this if you'll let me sleep with your sweetie tonight."

31. The average wedding in America costs a staggering $20,000.00.

32. More than one-third of American women consider money more important than good sex to the success of a marriage.

33. According to Employee Benefits Research Institute 96% of all people who have jobs right now won't be eligible for their full Social Security benefits when they reach age 65.

34. When it comes to houses, more than anything else, people want a state-of-the-art kitchen.

35. When people shop for a car, what they want more than anything else is reliability for the best possible price.

36. One of the best ways to raise money for a charity is to have a free dinner for a lot of people and have an empty envelope tucked under their plate... for the express purpose... of making whatever size donation they want.

37. People tip more on sunny days than they do on dreary days.

38. More than 80,000,000 people call the I.R.S. Information Hotline phone number every year. One-third of those calls go unanswered. And, according to the Treasury Department itself, 47% of the answers the 'get-through' callers receive are incorrect.

39. Almost two out of three people have modified their financial behavior because of their fears.

40. Almost three times as many people who live in the South worry about losing their jobs as compared to people who live in the Midwest.

41. Which would you rather do: Shop till you drop... or... have great sex?

For men, this is a no-brainer.

However, more women would actually rather have an unlimited shopping spree than spend a weekend with a fabulous lover. In fact, the #1 favorite fantasy of women is to have a blank check to shop at their favorite store.

The favorite fantasy of men (at least in my opinion) is what we would like to DO to the sales girl... rather than... what we would like to buy from her.

42. You can make a lot of money, suggesting domain names. Yes, it's true.

Here is a list of 10 best books ever written on the subject of money

1. Sane Investing in an Insane World

2. The Little Book That Beats the Market

3. Why You're Dumb, Sick & Broke

4. Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets

5. It's Called Work for a Reason!: Your Success Is Your Own Damn Fault

6. Simpleology: The Simple Science of Getting What You Want

7. Seven Years to Seven Figures: The Fast-Track Plan to Becoming a Millionaire

8. Money Can Buy Happiness: How to Spend to Get the Life You Want

9. Saving for Retirement without Living Like a Pauper or Winning the Lottery

10. Missed Fortune 101: A Starter Kit to Becoming a Millionaire

Friday, August 10, 2007

How To Make Money With A Ball. A Thumball That Is.

Mary Pembleton bolted upright in bed with a grand vision.

For some time, she had been using a soft mini soccer ball with words on each panel in her special needs classes in Haddon Township elementary schools.

Why, she wondered aloud to her husband, Gregg, couldn’t that invention be taken to the masses, not only as an educational tool, but as a marketing device?

It took a year to patent the idea, form a company called Answers In Motion, then several months to find a manufacturer and attend toy conventions before Thumball came to fruition. The Maple Shade couple took out a home equity loan to get things started.

The concept of the colorful Thumball is simple.

In the educational versions, each panel is imprinted with a word, picture or phrase. Players toss the ball, look under their thumb, and answer the question, identify the picture or list a category.

They’ve sold about 50,000 of the balls, mostly through their Web site, since the first shipment last September. It’s also been featured on a Philadelphia television station and they got to ask a question and show their product on a recent CNBC episode of “The Big Idea With Donny Deutsch.”

World's 10 Best Paid Bloggers

Antiques dealer finds 19th-century children's publications headed for the trash

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Daily Dump - That's A Business Name

A new start-up in Bangalore, India, hopes to arm consumers with products and services to empower them toward a simple solution for reducing landfill waste: composting. The Daily Dump offers an array of decorative composting containers that can be used in the home to manage organic household waste and convert it to useful high-quality compost. What's more, they offer a full range of service plans for customers wary of braving the ordeal on their own.

Composting pots and vessels made of biodegradable terracotta in a variety of shapes and sizes can be purchased on the website, which features a guide to help customers choose which is right for their needs. Rakes, spoons, spatulas and other supplies are also available. The website offers extensive information and tips, such as what items can and can't compost. Consumers who lack the time or desire to care for their composting pot can select a weekly, fortnightly or monthly service plan, with a Daily Dump ‘servicewalla’ dropping by to take care of maintenance: cleaning pots, adding dry leaves and stirring the compost. Those who don’t mind doing their own maintenance can opt out of the service plan and call Daily Dump when they have an issue that needs to be addressed by a professional.

The Daily Dump currently is limited to small residential composting, but the company has big plans for expanding its operations to include composting products for businesses and larger homes, solutions for dealing with inorganic waste and further ventures to address larger urban environmental issues. In the meantime, they hope to inspire others to invest in composting—and, as such, are not likely to mind much if copycat companies begin popping up in other parts of the globe, making it easy for them to be green.

Venture Capital Becomes Sexfriendly

Paris Hilton's Trash Sells On eBay For $305

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Bottle Ring Opener Success Story Or How To Make $500 A Day With A Wacky Idea

More than 20 years ago, Tony Gutierrez dreamed of making a piece of jewelry that could double as a bar tool.

Today, his dreams are coming true.

Gutierrez, now lives in Las Vegas, where his invention, the Bottle Ring Opener, has taken off.

The Bottle Ring Opener is just what it sounds like: a bottle opener you wear as a ring. The ring looks like jewelry from the top of the hand, but on the underside is a small bottle-opening tool.

Made of coated aluminum, the rings come in several sizes and can have customized logos.

They won’t appear in stores until later this year, but they are available online for $9.99 at Since the site launched on June 8, about 50 rings have sold a day, Gutierrez said.

For now, he isn’t concerned about the product’s profit as much as its purpose.

“People tell me ‘money, money, money,’” he said. “I don’t care about money. I just want people to have something of mine to enjoy. By having this company here, having something to do with me — I still can’t believe it. It’s huge.”

Billionaires Who Went Broke

1,683 Guitarists Play 'Smoke on Water'

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Allergy-Free Mattresses As A Niche

Gary Goldberg's aha! moment came in the spring of 2004, when Dr. Robert Klein, a pediatrician at Rhode Island Hospital, told him how difficult it was to combat allergen-related illnesses. Those conversations, coupled with Goldberg's own 8-year-old son's struggles with allergies, left the third-generation textile specialist convinced there was a big market for products to serve the 60 million U.S. allergy sufferers.

Today, 37-year-old Goldberg is president of East Providence (R.I.)-based CleanBrands, which has developed a unique line of mattress and pillow covers, called CleanRest encasements, that prevents sleepers from inhaling allergens, like dust mites, that live in their beddings naturally.

After two successful tests in Bed, Bath, & Beyond stores from February through August, 2006, CleanRest products were rolled out in all 850 of that retailer's stores in September. And last November, Goldberg wrapped up $9 million in venture funding. In the first half of this year, the company had revenues of $2.9 million. CleanRest, which also protects against bedbugs, is the first encasement series to win asthma prevention certification from the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America. Mike Tringale, director of external affairs at AAFA, says of 15-person CleanBrands: "They have trumped the industry standard."

Early on, Goldberg noticed that many existing encasement products were impermeable vinyl or plastic fabrics that were uncomfortable to sleep on and ripped when washed. Other encasements made of woven fabrics had pores that were too large, allowing allergens inside the mattress to slip through and into the sleeper's air. Goldberg's breathable, washable variation is made of durable micro-denier polyester adhered to a film that has no pore larger than one-thousandth of a millimeter in diameter--too small for allergens to penetrate.

For a year and a half, Goldberg went through a trial-and-error process of devising the best mix of fibers, adhesives, and films using factories in South Korea to create the fabric and in Mexico to sew it together (in August, 2006, he moved sewing operations to China). By Christmas, 2005, Goldberg developed the right fabric cocktail and approached Alan J. Natowitz, vice-president and general merchandise manager for Bed, Bath & Beyond. Within an hour, the two agreed in principle to test CleanRest in 30 stores.

With that initial test looming, Goldberg--who had already invested nearly $750,000 of his own cash designing and manufacturing the encasements--realized he needed a financial partner. So he turned to Gill Broome, a managing partner with Northbridge Equity Partners, whom he had met through a friend. Besides an initial $9 million investment, Broome, now chairman of CleanBrands' board, believes he will pump an additional $30 million into the company over several years. "This is an example of a good story and a good business idea," says Broome. "We are creating a brand name."

Goldberg says he functions as the face of the company while his employees, most of whom are in their late 30s and early 40s, are given autonomy to manage the day-to-day activities of product development, quality, and delivery. Says Goldberg of his team: "I want people to express their individuality.... Good leaders say [to their employees]: 'What do you think?' Not, 'Tell me what I think.'"

Since late June, CleanRest has expanded its distribution and can now be found in 150 Target stores in Southern California and the Atlanta area. Although Goldberg hopes someday to expand into other allergen protection goods under the Clean banner, rolling out his current line is Job One. "I know we have a great product," he says of the CleanRest series. "The adventure for me is to convince the consumer."

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Monday, August 06, 2007

How To Become A Six Figure Web Designer

What: Design studio
Who: Gavin Levy of Creative Instinct
Where: Denver
When: Started in 1998
Startup costs: Less than $2,000

Gavin Levy's company, Creative Instinct, is based in a building that used to house a taxi company. He says the unique location helps drive traffic to his five-person design studio, and it's one of the reasons he chose to move there when he needed more office space.

In 1998, Levy left his job to start his own design company. He found it easy to keep startup costs low since he was able to bring the computer equipment from his previous job with him and work out of his bedroom. "My only startup costs were incorporating the company," he says. Maintaining a relationship with his former employer gave Levy more than enough work to start with, and within a year, he hired his first employee. By 2000, he moved the company out of his bedroom and into an office space.

Levy, 35, says that hiring young workers who command lower salaries has kept his business profitable, and he has his clients deal directly with his designers instead of account executives. All this has helped Creative Instinct maintain a high caliber of customer service, while earning 2006 sales of more than $500,000.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

How To Make $5 Million Dollars With Popcorn Flavorings

Age: 28
Location: Elk Grove, Ill.
2006 Revenue: $5 million
Employees: 10
Year founded: 1999

With money he had saved selling knives and teaching tennis, Brian Taylor hired a team of flavor specialists to create the 14 types of all-natural popcorn seasonings his company now offers.

The seasonings are currently in three-quarters of movie theaters and 70 percent of grocery stores nationwide. Taylor started out by himself selling to local Chicago grocery stores and eventually picked up national distributors.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Politically Incorrect Sale Increases

ONE of the last things a fledgling New York City business wants to do is alienate a powerful city politician. But that is exactly what happened to Scott and Kim Myles, the owners of 5 Boroughs Ice Cream.

In June, James P. Molinaro, the Staten Island borough president, issued a statement attacking the couple’s Staten Island Landfill flavor (which contains fudge, pieces of brownies and cherries) as “insulting and derogatory” to the borough, and urged that New Yorkers boycott all of the company’s flavors.

But after the boycott, four Whole Foods stores in Manhattan quadrupled their ice cream orders and Whole Foods affiliates in Connecticut and New Jersey began ordering the company’s ice cream for the first time. The Myleses, who live in Astoria, Queens, attribute the rise in orders to publicity from the boycott. “It tripled our sales and gave us a lot of momentum,” Mr. Myles said.

“We never intended to offend anyone.” he added. “We intend our ice cream names to be tongue-in-cheek with a New York sense of humor.”

The 5 Boroughs brand, with ingredients and names inspired by New York City neighborhoods, is now in 34 stores, with seven flavors available. This spring, the company introduced Upper East Side Rich White Vanilla and Jackson Heights Mangodesh (mango ice cream spiced with cardamom supplied by an Indian grocery store in Jackson Heights).

It is a small business, but the Myleses have lofty ambitions. They would like to turn their mom-and-pop operation into a national brand that can compete with much bigger names like Ben & Jerry’s.

While the Myleses think of themselves as the Ben and Jerry of New York City (they, too, have clever ice cream names and a portion of some sales goes to charity), competing as a small ice cream business in the New York market has not been easy.

Things that Ben & Jerry’s can take for granted — like equipment, distribution, production and marketing — have been a challenge for the couple, who had no previous business experience and who operate no brick-and-mortar store. After four years, the two have still not quit their day jobs, Mr. Myles as a graphic designer and Ms. Myles as a hairstylist.

“It’s deeply frustrating,” Ms. Myles said. “Capitalism is stacked against the small-business guy; the system is not your friend. Gaining your own shelf space, having your own plant, it’s all difficult. We have a great idea, we have standards and we have heart. For us to get recognition and be highly profitable, we need an investor.”

For now, they say, they are getting by on good word of mouth, ice cream demonstrations at grocery stores, and by renting space at upscale food fairs.

The couple know they have a long way to go, but they also realize how far they have come.

After they realized that they wanted to start a business, they contacted Malcolm Stogo, a consultant and founder of Ice Cream University, which offers seminars to aspiring entrepreneurs. Mr. Stogo helped them find equipment and space to rent in the back of a small ice cream parlor in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn.

Commuting on three subway trains from Astoria to Fort Greene for nine months in 2003, Mr. Myles began making batches of various flavors. (In 2005, when the ice cream parlor closed, the couple found a production facility in Boonville, in upstate New York, to make their ice cream.)

The company started selling half-pint containers in a few stores in 2004 and added full pints (at about $5) to its growing roster of stores last August.

“I give him a ton of credit; he had very little money,” said Mr. Stogo, who remains an unofficial adviser to Mr. Myles. “His product wasn’t great at first, but he kept improving it and finally got it right. The baklava had the best taste and the best texture.”

Mr. Stogo was referring to the couple’s Astoria-inspired Bakla-Wha?!, which had its genesis in 2001. At the time, Mr. Myles had begun playing Dr. Frankenstein with an ice cream maker that the couple received as a wedding gift, creating unusual combinations for his friends and family to try.

For Bakla-Wha?!, he mixed bits of Astoria-made baklava pastries with vanilla ice cream, cinnamon and walnuts. Ms. Myles said that was the couple’s “light bulb” moment when they realized they were sitting on “a million-dollar idea.”

But that wasn’t the initial reaction from their Astoria baklava supplier, Nick Sakalis, co-owner of the Victory Sweet Shop. “It was completely out of the blue and I was a little hesitant, to tell you the truth,” Mr. Sakalis said about the idea for a baklava flavor. “But it was good, much better than I thought it would be.” (The flavor is temporarily unavailable because of production issues.)

The Myleses say they are often approached by vendors and organizations that want them to use a special ingredient. They are discussing a possible beer-flavored delight with a Greenpoint, Brooklyn, brewery and are using a Park Slope granola maker’s ingredients for the tentatively titled Park Slope Granola Stroller — in honor of the neighborhood’s many baby strollers.

The Myleses say they are not concerned about offending a few people as long as most of them appreciate their humor — and their ice cream. They have received a few complaints that South Bronx Cha Cha Chocolate and Upper East Side Rich White Vanilla perpetuate racial and ethnic stereotypes.

“These are not racial slurs,” Mr. Myles says. “We’re celebrating New York’s culture and ethnicity.”

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

You've Got To Be Nuts To Go Into This Business

For almost two decades, brothers Jonny and Danny Levy clung to the notion that almonds were their bread and butter.

The two brothers built a respectable operation roasting the nuts and flavoring them with vanilla and cinnamon, a treat they had first encountered working at Christmas nut kiosks in their home state of Michigan. Smitten by consumers' reactions, the pair launched their own business in 1988, naming it The Fresh Roasted Almond Co.

"You'd give [people] a sample, and they'd walk five paces, turn right around and buy a package of nuts," says Danny Levy.

The brothers stuck stubbornly by the name -- and identity -- of the company until last year, even as the marketplace whispered that a different focus might be more profitable. When they would pass out samples of flavored almonds, consumers would often turn to their companions and mistakenly say, "Hey, come try some of these peanuts." Convenience-store retailers were unsure where to shelve the Levys' flavored almonds, which were viewed as fancier fare than the basic peanuts that sold so briskly near registers. As the brothers experimented with new flavors and nut combinations, they found one they believed would be a huge hit: a buffalo wing, cayenne pepper aroma. Problem was it tasted best on, yes, peanuts.

"Well, how long do you have to be told you are in the peanut business before you start selling peanuts," says Jonny Levy.

Reality Check

It is a puzzle for many entrepreneurs: when and how to diversify from the brainstorm that put them in business to reach their real money-making potential. Despite clear marketplace signals, businesses sometimes can be paralyzed to act by fear of abandoning what got them so far in the first place. And there are more tangible concerns too, such as the costs associated with overhauling branding, packaging and marketing.

"Clearly what makes someone start something is an innate passion, and that drives them toward the end goal," says Dale K. Cohen, head of DKC Resources, a New York-based marketing strategy and growth-catalyst firm. "When you have to deviate from that vision because the marketplace is telling you something different, it's a huge leap of faith."

The Levys finally got their reality check when the price they paid for raw almonds more than tripled between 2003 and 2005 and they risked sales volume dropping dramatically. So they pushed into peanuts, coating the popular nut with a host of curious flavors, including piña colada, margarita, vanilla rum, coconut, raspberry -- and their biggest seller, the Buffalo Peanut.

Last year, they began doing business under the more generic Nuts Are Good! Inc. name, changed the company's logos, and built a separate Web site to hawk peanuts.

The moves are paying off. This year, the Detroit-area company based in Warren, Mich., expects to bring in $2 million in revenue, double 2006 levels, with peanut sales already surpassing almonds. The firm is adding a host of new retail accounts, from small pubs that want to serve flavored peanuts to big grocers who aim to sell the loose nuts in bulk bins and in packages in produce sections. Mr. Levy says he can typically sell twice as many peanuts as almonds for his average $1 retail cost.

Earlier this month, a major grocery chain contracted with the Levys, whose processing plant is certified organic, to supply 98 different items for a multiple-bin display of natural-food products, including nuts, dried fruits and candies. (The Levys purchased the dried fruit and candies from outside vendors.) Of those items, some 40% included peanuts. Mr. Levy declines to name the grocer but says the single $15,000 order for one store will be expanding to some 25 to 30 stores in the Great Lakes region.

Because the order had to be turned around in less than two weeks, the brothers would never have landed the account without having already pushed into peanuts. "It was very, very handy to have all of those lying around here," Mr. Levy says.

Peanuts dominate the U.S. nut market, with some 66% of consumers saying the nut is used for cooking and snacking in their households, according to Mintel Group, a market-research and trendsetting firm, which conducted a survey of the $4.52 billion U.S. nut and dried-fruit market. Almonds are used in 46% of respondents' households, following cashews and walnuts.

New Life for Almonds

The Levys aren't abandoning their original cash-cow product, however. Almonds are getting a second life as their price comes down and consumers seek out healthier fare. Almonds, like other nuts, are believed to be a good source of protein, potassium and fiber. This year, almonds will account for 20% of all new global nut products, second only to peanuts, according to the Almond Board of California, a trade group.

Mr. Levy concedes that having their rudder knocked out from under them was probably the best thing that every happened to his business. "It took me way too long to realize that what we had was not a mass-marketable type of product," he says.

Ms. Cohen of DKC Resources says entrepreneurs in the start-up phase of a business should take a step back and examine the entire potential supply chain for their product to see what else they might be able to sell through it down the road. That's especially true, she says, when picking a name. "You need to have an all-encompassing vision," she says, "and move toward that bigger vision."

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Five Books You Have To Read If You Want To Be A Master Copywriter

1. Breakthrough Advertising

Breakthrough Advertising, written by a copywriting legend and a multimillionaire Eugene Schwartz is the most expensive book on copywriting you can possibly buy. It's the best one, too. This book is very rare, you can hardly find it anymore. Most likely, you'll have to buy a used copy.

2. How to Write a Good Advertisement

This is a very overlooked book which touches on a little bit of everything, from soup-to-nuts, about writing copy and placing ads. I'm not sure why it isn't mentioned as much as the more well-known classics like the Ogilvy and Hopkins material is, because it should be. Although the book was written in 1962, it reads like it was written earlier perhaps that's why it's often not cited by the greats. Even if you're already a professional, the book will serve you well to stir up some good ideas maybe even for that promotion you're working on right now.

3. Advertising Secrets of the Written Word

Sugarman's written an instant classic with this well-crafted copywriting resource. It's on the short list of copywriting books (along w/Bly, Collier, Ogilvy, Caples etc) that's a must-read foundation piece for any copywriter or other sales professional. Going deep into the specific mechanics of how to craft winning pitches, Sugarman's brilliance shows through in this, as in his other 2 must-get books as well. Sugarman's a pro, well worth learning from. Excellent pitch and well paced writing style, the Sugarman chute is a classic and this, along with his other books, are immensely powerful and useful resources - grab your copy now!

4. The Ultimate Sales Letter

DO NOT attempt to write a sales letter without first reading THE ULTIMATE SALES LETTER by Dan Kennedy. Sure, I know, you're a good writer and you can probably construct a pretty good letter on your own. But along the way, you're bound to make a few mistakes that could have been easily avoided. Or, your letter wont be nearly as good, or effective, as it could have been. You might be able to survive quarterbacking an NFL game on your own, but if John Elway or Joe Montana were on the sidelines offering up advice, wouldn't you take it? Highly successful sales letter copywriter, Dan Kennedy, reveals in concise detail, the twenty-eight steps he uses to construct sales letters. Beyond that, there is a section describing the effective uses of sales letters, a section on sequencing, and a final section on electronic sales letters. Even if you are commercial writer who may not be doing much in the way of sales letters, you will still learn valuable and applicable techniques.

5. Million Dollar Mailings

This book is a MASSIVE collection of Direct Response Sales Letters that are not, good, not great, but CONTROLS, proven to pull in orders of at least $1000000. Any copywriter or business owner who wants to continuously improve their ability to write outstanding direct response advertising copy will find this book to be of incredible value.

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