Sunday, September 30, 2007

Reverse Funneling System Review

Did any of you try reverse funnel system? Is it working for you?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

How To Make Money With Emotibuds

A couple of years ago, Jonathan Hall and his wife, Kate, decided that there must be a way to capitalize on the popularity of iPod add-ons. Cases and “skins,” had become big business by then — but those items decorated only the main device, which was usually stuffed in a pocket, out of sight.

Today, the Halls have sold tens of thousands of pairs of flexible rubber charms called Emotibuds, which clip onto earbuds, almost like earrings. Each pair features a blocky little face that incorporates an emoticon into a cute cartoon visage. There are a variety of faces, each set against a bright color and corresponding with a mood, like “starry-eyed” or “frisky.”

When they first dreamed up their idea, they knew nothing about making a product. They contacted a manufacturer of injection-molded plastics, but they didn’t know how to make the detailed computer-aided drawings such manufacturers require.

Hall bought the appropriate “For Dummies” book, and after some false starts they sent out the drawings and received price quotes only to realize they needed an investor.

Not surprisingly, potential investors wanted to know if the Halls had any market research suggesting consumer interest. So the couple put the drawings of their design on a Web site and sent e-mail messages to about 10 online cool-hunter types, in the hope of gauging interest.

Then, eight months later, Hall received a sudden flood of e-mail from people demanding to know where they could buy Emotibuds.

It turned out that an online trend-hunter — — had belatedly posted a link to their site. The Halls, of course, had no actual product. They decided that with the help of an uncle, they would bankroll a first run themselves.

By the start of this year, Emotibuds were popping up all over the cool-little-design-product ecosystem, which includes retailers like the online shop Shana Logic as well as the Daily Candy e-mail newsletter.

Boomer Statistics You Never Hear About

Three Sweepstakes That Give Away Laptops

Joe Sugarman's Triggers - The TV Salesman's Secret

Friday, September 28, 2007 - Think Inside The Box

Most of us receive hundreds of emailed receipts each year. The team behind, a startup based in Durham, North Carolina, promises a way to safely store them. Anyone can sign up for the free service. Once enrolled, users receive an email address which they can give to merchants when buying online. The receipts then go to their Shoeboxed mailbox, where they’re safely stored. Better yet, the service allows members to organize their receipts by creating virtual shoeboxes, for a recent vacation or a series of tax-deductible home-office purchases, for example. Result: no more hunting for receipts in shoeboxes of the cardboard variety, or in a regular email inbox. Shoeboxed recently added a feature that allows users to scan in paper receipts for storage on the site.

All students from Duke University, the Shoeboxed team launched the service from a Soviet-era East Berlin apartment, during a study-abroad stint in Germany. Shoeboxed’s founders hope to eventually sign on 11 million users or 10 percent of US online shoppers. Next step: going global. As the number of users grows, so will the value of their enterprise to potential advertisers and those who wish to offer scaled-up pay versions of the service. Shoeboxed isn’t currently monetizing their product, and is operating on money from their angel investor. In the future, Shoeboxed aims to have several revenue streams (none of which involve selling personal information). They’ll likely offer a premium service at some point, but the core functionality will always be free.

Organizing purchase receipts is just one example of the hassle-filled bookkeeping tasks everyone is stuck with. Creating an online application to smooth out the process is the digital age’s version of the proverbial better mousetrap. Lesson: identify a hassle, do a great job at solving it and grow rich. Immediate opportunities include partnering with Shoeboxed to launch the service in other countries, or coming up with an equally simple solution to a common administrative problem.

Three Sweepstakes That Give Away Laptops

Profiting From Sea Critters Or How To Get $1000 Per Seahorse

Thursday, September 27, 2007

How Take On Apple's iPod And Make A Few Millions.

When iPods quickly topped must-have gadget lists, many assumed Apple had the MP3 market cornered. But Dennis Gentles, founder of Klegg Electronics in Las Vegas, believed otherwise. In 2005, he launched his own version: the Klegg Mini. Within months of its debut, the Mini had sold out. Today, MP3 players make up 15 percent to 20 percent of the consumer electronics manufacturer's business.

Klegg Electronics sized up to Apple by sizing down its MP3 player. Gentles says the Klegg Mini is the smallest MP3 player that offers an FM radio and color displays. The company also competes with its lower prices and flexible approach. As Gentles, 33, explains, "We have the ability to come out with new adjustments and products quickly and find areas that Apple hasn't been able to infiltrate yet." With 2007 sales expected to reach between $3 million and $4 million, Klegg is coming into its own as a force to be reckoned with.

What's Homer Simpson's Middle Name?

Why You Should Not Be Ashamed Of Being Home Based

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Company Pays Surfers Twenty Five Bucks To Come Up With Unusual Domain Names

Did cybersquatters take all the good names? Or perhaps webmasters lost their creativity? Whatever the answer is, it’s all good for PickyDomains.Com. The idea for the service is brainlessly simple to say the least.

Can’t come up with a catchy domain name? Put a fifty dollar deposit and let others look for available names for you. When you see a name you like, you simply register it and your $50 is split between a person who came up with the name and the service. If you don’t see any good names, you get your money back.

Guessing from the list of already completed orders, domain contributors are very good at picking both abstract domains and descriptive ones, not to mention ubiquitous web 2.0 names. I can easily picture naming agencies charge hundreds, if not thousands for Pictoma.Com, Deprice.Com or Smartopreneur.Com

PickyDomains.Com lets anyone give it a stab at becoming a contributor (you have to register first). However, all nub suggestions have to pass moderator first. Besides the greed factor (hey, getting $25 deposited to your PayPal account for coming up with a creative domain is pretty cool), I love browsing through orders just to see what kind of websites and web services people are coming up with.

Here is a good one – Site That Lists All Happy Hours In NY City. I can see it becoming popular. Here is another unusual one – Name For Heat-Resistant Paint. Or how about Community Site Where People Come To Get Smarter? Hey I have a great idea for that one. Better submit it, before you think of something better.

How To Make Money With Photostamps

Five Handy Things US Business Owners And Freelancers Get Free

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How To Make Money Taking An Idea Offline

What: Job site for low-wage workers
Who: Eli Portnoy of
Where: New York City
When: Started in 2005
Startup: $20,000

Most people search for jobs online. But Eli Portnoy saw that many people, especially immigrants, look for jobs the old-fashioned way. "I had a lot of friends and acquaintances who immigrated from Latin American countries or didn't have access to the internet," says Portnoy, 25. "They couldn't find work, so they were going door-to-door and using classifieds."

A Mexican-born immigrant himself, Portnoy started Job-seekers fill out their background information and job experience online or on postcards distributed in thousands of retail locations. then takes their information and matches them with jobs that employers post on the site. The system automatically places an outbound telephone call to the appropriate candidates. It's free for job-seekers, and Portnoy says his automated system lets him charge the employers less than his competitors do.

Portnoy started the company from home with money from friends and family. He worked with outside developers to create the telephone program, and after six months, he expanded into an office in New York City. While his sales team pitched the site to local employers, word-of-mouth helped bring attention from local communities. Now with offices in New York City and Colombia, the service is also available for the Los Angeles market, and Portnoy is looking to expand to other major cities across the country, with 2007 sales projected at nearly $2 million.

Black Market For Chocolate Bars And Soda

World's Most Expensive Dessert ($14,500)

Project Payday

Monday, September 24, 2007

Omaha Steaks Success Story

Based in Omaha, Nebraska, Omaha Steaks International Inc. manufactures, markets, and distributes premium cuts of beef, as well as pork, lamb, poultry, seafood, desserts, and kosher items. It also markets food seasonings and a series of cookbooks. Best known for its mail order business, Omaha Steaks has always been quick to embrace new technologies, such as the Internet, which the company began to use as early as 1990. The company has 1.6 million active customers. Meats are flash frozen, shrink wrapped, and then shipped in insulated coolers packed with dry ice. Omaha Steaks also sells its products to food service customers (high-end restaurants and hotels), to corporations through an incentive program, and in more than 70 retail stores bearing the Omaha Steaks name. In addition, the company sells entire meals through its A La Zing subsidiary, a separate Web business, and licenses its name to six restaurants, dubbed Omaha Steakhouses. Omaha Steaks is owned and operated by the fourth and fifth generation of the Simon family.

Company Founded in 1917

Like many immigrants, the first two generations of the Simon family, J.J. Simon and his son, B.A., came to America to escape religious persecution. They arrived in 1898 and after passing through Ellis Island took a train west in search of a place to settle. They chose Omaha because it reminded them of the farmland they had left behind in Riga, Latvia. Experienced butchers, they worked for nearly 20 years for other people. Then, in 1917, they struck out on their own, buying a carpentry shop in downtown Omaha to house a business that cut cattle carcasses. Sheer frugality led them to name their venture "Table Supply Meat Co." The prior establishment had been called "Table Supply Company." By abbreviating "Company" to "Co.," they were able to insert "Meat," thus avoiding the cost of adding an entirely new sign to the front of the building. The area restaurants and grocers could not have cared less about the name of the business, as long as the Simons were able to them with high quality, grain-fed cuts of beef--loin, ribs, boneless strips, and rib eyes.

Table Supply grew steadily, and by 1924 the Simons were able to move their operation to larger accommodations, although they opted to retain the name inherited from the old carpentry shop. They were also able to establish their own cattle-breaking operation to further ensure quality, allowing a crew to cut full cattle carcasses on the spot. The result was uniform cuts of meat that Table Supply was then able to sell to higher-end hotels, restaurants, and other institutional customers, as well as to the national grocery chains that were beginning to take shape across the country. In 1929, a third generation of the Simon family, B.A.'s son Lester, became involved in the business. He took over as president in 1946 and guided Table Supply through the next stage of its development.

Union Pacific Railroad Spurs Growth in the 1940s

A major development during the 1940s was the decision of the Union Pacific Railroad to serve Table Supply beef in its dining and private cars that traveled from Omaha to the West Coast. Leaving nothing to chance, Lester Simon personally selected the cuts to be sold to Union Pacific. As a result, Table Supply's reputation for providing top quality beef was spread ever wider, so that soon hotels and restaurants around the country were inquiring about becoming customers. The focus of the company now shifted from cutting to marketing, as the Simons recognized that consolidation was taking place in the beef breaking business and it was time to change strategies. In 1952, the first mail order operation was launched to serve distant customers. The meat was shipped in wax-lined cartons filled with dry ice. It was not until the early 1960s that polystyrene shipping coolers and vacuum packaging became available. The rise of direct parcel shipping was also a boon to the marketing efforts of Table Supply. Moreover, the company's reputation for quality continued to grow. In 1961, Nebraska Governor Frank B. Morrison sent steaks from Table Supply to President Kennedy and all of the governors in the United States. In that same year, Table Supply was honored to be involved in the Culinary Olympics held in Frankfurt, Germany, at which the United States team won the Grand Gold Prize with a dish that featured aged prime ribs of beef provided by Table Supply, thereby earning an international reputation for the Omaha company. Table Supply's cuts of beef would be shipped around the world to be enjoyed at the dinner tables of heads of states and other dignitaries.

Table Supply mailed its first direct mail flyers and catalogs in 1963. After just a year, the catalog was enhanced from simple black and white to color and presented an expanded offering of the company's products. In 1965, Table Supply launched an incentive division and began to build a nationwide network of representatives to help businesses create and implement promotion and reward programs. Eventually the division would publish its own catalog and, with the rise of the Internet, create its own Web presence. This market proved so lucrative that in time one-quarter of the company's business would take place in December, the month when many corporations gave food to their employees as holiday gifts. Business was so strong that in 1966 Table Supply built a new headquarters and plant that attracted visitors from around the world interested in the state-of-the-art facilities. The company also took the opportunity in 1966 to renamed itself, becoming Omaha Steaks International Inc..

To fuel further growth in its mail order and catalog business, Omaha Steaks was always in the vanguard of adopting the latest technology. In 1975, it opened an inbound call center, offering a toll-free telephone number to take catalog orders. Three years later, an outbound telemarketing operation was launched to contact current customers. The company did not, however, engage in cold calling. In 1979, a toll-free customer service line was added to the system. Then, in 1987, an automated order entry system was implemented. Omaha Steaks' catalog and telephone system was finely honed in the years to come. A complete catalog would be mailed to customers three times a year and solo mailers were sent out as often as once a month. Order forms came pre-addressed and coded to increase the efficiency of processing orders. Telephone representatives were given a full week of training on the products Omaha Steak had to offer, making them "steak experts" who were able to explain to customers the difference between various cuts of meat. During the rush of a holiday season, in fact, everyone at the headquarters would be commandeered to work the phones and take orders.

Omaha Steaks first became involved in retail operations in 1976, when it opened a store in Omaha at 79th and Dodge Streets. Over the next several years, other stores opened in Nebraska. It was not until 1985, though, that the company ventured beyond the state, opening a retail store in Houston. Over the next 20 years, more than 60 additional stores opened in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Texas had the most with 11 (three in Houston alone), followed by California and Florida with nine each.

As was the case with telecommunications, Omaha Steaks was an early user of electronic marketing, starting in 1990 before the creation of the graphic interface and the resulting emergence of the Internet. At that time, the company worked through CompuServe to provide customers with yet another way to place orders. In 1995, Omaha Steaks began to sell on America Online and also launched its own web page, offering an abridged version of its catalog to online customers. The company became part of the Microsoft Network in 1998 and a year later even launched a Japanese web site.

Because of strong growth during the 1990s, Omaha Steaks continually outgrew it facilities. In 1990, a new distribution center was created in a building bought in South Omaha. A 60,000-square-foot facility was built in 1993 to accommodate a number of departments, including human resources, marketing, information technology, and a call center. A building of similar size was opened nearby in 1999 to house the company's corporate and executives offices as well as administrative and marketing functions. In 1994, a new manufacturing plant was built in Snyder, Nebraska. Additional cold storage facilities were added in 1998 and 2000.

In the 1990s, Omaha Steaks made efforts to build on its brand and to achieve some diversification. In 1996, it teamed with HSC Hospitality Inc. to launch restaurants bearing the Omaha Steaks name. HSC was founded in 1990 by Peter Grace III, the son of W.R. Grace, a businessman involved in such restaurant chains as Houlihan's and Del Taco. HSC managed the food service operations at 14 hotels across the country and looked to place the new Omaha Steakhouses in hotels. Under a licensing agreement with Omaha Steaks, HSC would have complete operational control of the restaurants but would use the products of Omaha Steaks' food service division. The first Omaha Steakhouse opened in a Phoenix hotel in the fall of 1996. A larger restaurant would follow in an Embassy Suites Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2001, the Kingston Plantation, a Myrtle Beach resort, opened an Omaha Steakhouse. A year later, a unit opened in a Sheraton Suites Hotel in Houston. Two more Omaha Steakhouses opened in 2003, at Embassy Suites' hotels in Jacksonville and Orlando, Florida.

Focus on Corporate Business in the Mid-1990s

Another area where Omaha Steaks focused on growing was its corporate sales unit, which it began beefing up in the mid-1990s. The corporate gift market was appealing, given that the average order ranged from $150 to $500, as opposed to $75 to $125 from the consumer food catalog. However, applying the company's consumer marketing expertise to corporate customers was not an easy task, primarily because corporate gift buyers tended to do business with vendors they had been working with on a long-term basis. Omaha Steaks created a separate corporate catalog, but unlike its consumer counterparts such publications were not geared toward establishing customer relationships. Rather, they were intended to serve the corporate buyers who were already customers. Another difference was that Omaha Steaks had to produce reminder notices, including a list of prior gift purchases, which was standard operating procedure in the market. These notices had to be periodically mailed from August through October to make sure that Omaha Steaks remained in the minds of corporate buyers when it came time for them to actually place their holiday orders. The effort soon began to pay off for Omaha Steaks. In just two years, the company was able to grow its corporate sales by 50 percent.

Omaha Steaks opted to voluntarily recall some 22,000 pounds of ground beef in October 2000 due to possible E. coli contamination, although it was more than likely that all the product from the lots in question had already been consumed without incident. Because it was so dependent on its reputation for quality, however, the company opted to err on the side of caution. It also took steps to ensure safety by introducing irradiation to its production process, whereby the foods were exposed to enough ionized radiation to kill such harmful bacteria as E. coli and salmonella. Omaha Steaks' trumpeting of the irradiation procedure awakened the fears of radioactivity in some consumers. When there was a rash of recalls of ground beef and deli meats across the country in 2002, however, many supermarkets eagerly sought irradiated products to assuage the fears of customers.

Despite poor economic conditions in the early years of the new century, Omaha Steaks continued to grow its business. In 2001, it launched a spin-off Web enterprise named A La Zing to become involved in the growing home meal replacement market. In 2003, the company added 42,000 square feet to its warehouse, greatly expanding its freezer capacity. At the same time, a cold-storage and ground beef processing facility was converted into a second distribution center. Omaha Steaks also continued in its efforts to exploit the power of its brand name, sometimes pursuing unusual avenues. In 2003, for example, it introduced all-beef "snack treats" for cats. In all likelihood, this was the first time that a human food product lent its brand name to a pet item. The company that had been launched in a former carpentry shop, unable to afford a new sign, was now generating more than $350 million a year in revenues and possessed a well known and respected brand name. There was every reason to expect that Omaha Steaks would find even more ways to exploit its brand and achieve even greater growth in the years to come.

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How To Make Millions With Brazilian Berries

Projected 2007 Sales: $15 million to $20 million
Description: Manufacturer of Brazilian açaí berry products

When Ed Nichols and Ryan Black took a surf trip to Brazil, they never expected to end up far from the water's edge and deep in the Amazon. Through the country's surf culture, the friends discovered açaí (pronounced "ah-sigh-ee"), a Brazilian berry popular for its unique flavor and nutritional properties. "We fell in love with it," says Nichols. "We didn't want to leave Brazil without it." So they teamed up with Ryan's brother, Jeremy, to become the United States' first supplier of açaí.

Through extensive research, they learned about the berry's other benefits. "The native people make more money selling açaí than they do selling nonrenewable resources," explains Nichols. "We [realized we] could drive preservation by employing the people to harvest the fruit instead of wood."

The guys founded Sambazon in 2000 and then hit the streets. Getting people to try the exotic berry was a challenge, but once they did, they loved it. Business really picked up after Dr. Nicholas Perricone named açaí the No. 1 "superfood" in his 2004 book, The Perricone Promise. "All of a sudden, the floodgates opened," says Jeremy. "It really helped accelerate the knowledge of what açaí is."

From there, Sambazon expanded its products and distribution and opened the first açaí processing facility in the Amazon. Last year, they won the U.S. Secretary of State Award for Corporate Excellence. "We were recognized not so much for our profits, but for the intangible things we're doing," says Ryan. "It was really cool for the State Department to recognize something that's not just on our balance sheet."

Adds Jeremy, "We've been given this incredible opportunity to make a lot of positive change with this berry"--change they hope includes getting açaí in every supermarket nationwide and expanding internationally.

New Niche - Helping Seniors Relocate

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Urban Cycling Tours As A Business

(FSB Magazine) Boston -- Heading for the Massachusetts Turnpike, a Mercedes sedan closes in on the back tire of my bicycle with an aggressive honk. Less than a mile of Boston's streets have designated bike lanes, and Commonwealth Avenue - where I'm trying to avoid construction sites and deep trolley tracks - is not one of them. "Stay close to me - this traffic circle might get hairy!" shouts Andrew Prescott, one of my guides. Dodging rush-hour traffic isn't easy, and with a few hours still to go on his Paul Revere Ride to Freedom tour, I'm wondering if I'd be happier straddling a horse.

Or forget the steed: I could have retraced Paul Revere's midnight ride in a hot air balloon, or at least an air-conditioned tour bus. But somehow there was something alluring about reliving early American history from the saddle of a bike. For one thing, I get to experience little sensations that might have affected Revere as he rode west out of Boston on the night of April 18, 1775: the smell of dense foliage along the wooded path he took to warn fellow patriots that the British were coming, for instance, or the feel of grass beneath my tires on the square where redcoats killed eight American militiamen during the Revolution's first battle.

To experience it all, I've paid Prescott $150 for a five-hour bike tour that traces Revere's 20-mile route from Boston to a field just outside Concord, Mass.

Prescott, 31, founded Urban AdvenTours ( in 2004. With help from six employees, he's found a niche guiding bikers along trails in and out of the city. Clients, many of them Bostonians, appreciate this nontouristy approach. "AdvenTours gave me an alternate lens on where I live and work," says Panos Panay, CEO of online music company Sonic Bids (, who rode 15 miles through Boston and Cambridge with Prescott on a Friday afternoon in July. "Now that we're all focused on the environment, anything that gets people outside on a bike is great."

While Prescott's main mission is showing his clients a good time, he also believes that bicycles can help create cleaner, greener cities. Prescott bikes everywhere he goes and does not own a car. For larger loads, such as the bikes he delivers to his clients' doorstep, he uses a converted 1987 postal truck that runs on used vegetable oil from Prezza, a local Italian restaurant. "While a bicycle is the ideal green symbol," says Prescott, "I think the biodiesel truck gives us more presence."

When I turn up at Landry's Bicycles ( near Boston University at 9:45 A.M., Prescott fits me with a hybrid bike - a cross between a mountain and road bike - made by Specialized, a bottle of water, and a helmet. He runs through our itinerary with our very toned guide, Ed Ballo, co-creator of today's route. Soon we're heading for the Charles River bike path, cycling east toward the shop where Paul Revere etched an engraving of the 1770 Boston Massacre (when British soldiers killed five local residents in the center of town).

Shouting sporadically over his shoulder, Ballo, 51, points out landmarks along the way: MIT's sprawling campus across the river, the outdoor music venue Hatch Shell (its wooden interior was restored in 1990 by a craftsman specializing in wood floors), and the former Charles Street Jail. Built in 1851, the jail will reopen later this year as the luxurious 300-room Liberty Hotel (

My legs start to throb after an hour, but I'm bolstered by the thought that I'm supplying the physical power driving us three miles to the Old North Church. From the steeple of that church, patriots hung the two lanterns that signaled a British advance across the river. (A single lantern would have indicated that the redcoats were taking the longer land route, curving around Back Bay and heading west toward Waltham.)

We wheel through the narrow alleyways of the North End, Boston's Italian district, jostling for space with agitated sanitation workers in giant trucks. The hardest part of the tour comes shortly thereafter, as we bike through several hilly suburbs with little stopping or conversation. Ballo gets chattier when we reach the town of Lexington, where Revere rendezvoused with fellow patriots Sam Adams and John Hancock, and warned them that about 800 British troops would be arriving later that night.

We fuel up on sandwiches near the field where the redcoats fired their muskets at the colonists for the first time. The grassy square is quiet, and a 16-year-old boy dressed in knickerbockers and a tricorn hat eyes us warily. He's employed by the town's historical society, which arranges for residents to dress up as Sons of Liberty and give free tours. The young man looks as enthusiastic as I feel when Prescott says it's time to start the last leg of the tour. "Approximately 98% of the casualties of the battle of Lexington happened on this road," says Ballo.

I start to feel like a casualty when the path through the woods turns to sand, making it hard to maneuver. But as I try to convince my screaming muscles that six more miles is cake, I notice that we're the only riders on the road and that all evidence of modern life has melted away. Every quarter-block or so, we cruise by 18th-century properties enclosed by low stone walls. For the first time, as we pass the clearing where Revere was captured, it's easy to imagine the midnight riders crouching low over the necks of their mounts. Distant thunder sounds like muffled musket fire. When we pull onto the North Bridge in Concord - near a grassy knoll marking the Revolutionary War's first gunfire exchange - even the tourists milling about don't ruin the mood.

I'm trying to imagine how 250 inexperienced guerrilla fighters managed to fend off the king's soldiers when Prescott glances at his watch. We want to linger, but we have only six minutes to race to town to catch the commuter train back to Boston.

Ballo wraps up his lecture on how the Minutemen pushed the British troops back toward Boston, and then we're off. After I wrestle my steed onto the train, the conductors grumpily order us to walk back through four empty cars to store our bikes. Once we're seated, Prescott explains his efforts to make Boston more bike-friendly. San Francisco, he notes, is roughly the same size as Boston but boasts 40 more miles of city streets with bike lanes. He's an active member of three pro-bicycle coalitions that are lobbying city authorities to create cycling paths in the parks along the 27-acre Rose Kennedy Greenway and elsewhere.

No such initiative is yet on the table: For now, Prescott can only hope that bike-centric companies such as Urban AdvenTours will help make Beantown drivers more aware of cyclists. He has a long road ahead of him. Then again, so did Paul Revere.

Joe Sugarman's Triggers - When Your Neighbor Kicks the Bucket

Four Cool Things You Can Get Free From Online Sweepstakes

Friday, September 21, 2007

Iggy's House Success Story

Selling a home ‘by owner’ may save consumers a real-estate agent commission, but it also makes it harder to get the broad exposure agents typically provide. Iggys House, launched in March, offers sellers a way onto critically important MLS lists—for free.

More than 70 percent of all homes are sold through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in the United States, according to Iggys House, and MLS listings also cause homes to appear on leading real-estate websites like Homeowners handling the selling process themselves must typically pay at least several hundred dollars to get their homes listed in those databases through discount brokers., on the other hand, offers sellers in 20 states free access to MLS and—a nationwide roll-out is planned for the end of the year—along with an individualized website that allows sellers in every state to post a home for sale with unlimited descriptions, photos, videos and other rich media.

How do they keep it free? Simple. Chicago-based Iggys House also runs, which assists buyers and gets a buyer’s agent commission for each sale. Iggys House delivers 75 percent of that commission—an average of USD 11,000 per sale, received from a home's seller—to the buyer, and uses the rest to fund both sites."Sellers are buyers in the making," explains Joseph Fox, Iggys House CEO. "If we help a homeowner successfully sell their house, there's a good chance that they will subsequently use our buyer's agents to buy their next home. That's a central part of our business model, and it continues to work exceedingly well."

Indeed, by late August, Iggys House had already been used to list some 3,100 properties with a combined list price of more than USD 1 billion. Twenty-four percent of all buyers currently find their homes online, Iggys House says, and it seems likely that trend will continue. Innovative model to bring to a market near you?

Company Wants To Trademark Letter Q

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Who Is Shawn Casey? Is He For Real?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Not Your Regular Home Business

Last year, Dave Novak sold $1.2 million of luxury steam-shower and bath equipment, importing wares from China and reselling systems for $2,500 to $4,000 apiece under his own brands, like American Steam and Rockstar.

And he did it from his 20-month-old son’s bedroom in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Novak, 27, runs Novak & Co. LLC from home using a MacBook Pro computer and iPhone — leveraging Internet-based tools that make the need for traditional office space increasingly obsolete for many entrepreneurs.

“Most people don’t know I’m based at home,” he says. “There are so many tools out there now that offer a whole other way to live, and I don’t think people understand how great it is.”

If the Internet has been the great equalizer for small businesses, it is particularly evident right now in the home-based business realm — where new online tools from Google Inc., Yahoo! Inc., Microsoft Corp., eBay Inc. and others are making it easier and cheaper to network employees, sell goods and manage office accounting functions in ways that previously required office space, technical staff, and expensive investment in servers and software.

While businesses of any size can use the online tools, the potential appeal to small and particularly home-based businesses is ripe due to their low cost of entry and ease of use. Most of the services can be accessed from any computer or mobile device with Internet access.

Four Cool Things You Can Get Free From Online Sweepstakes

What do people think when they see you driving a Lexus?

How To Make Money With Photostamps

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How To Make Money Creating Family Video Documentaries

His grandmother always had a story for him.

Alice Pender would regale her first-born grandson, Steve, with stories of the family’s past.

“She loved her family,” Steve Pender recalled recently. “And, she loved to talk.”

While growing up in Clifton, N.J., the young Pender loved to listen.

For years and years he listened to her stories. Then, one day, the professional videographer set up his camera and began recording those precious memories.

“It finally dawned on me she wasn’t going to be around forever,” Pender remembered.

The younger generation “would never know her the way I know her,” he said.

A smile spread across the west side resident’s face last week as he thought about his grandmother and her stories. Little did he know in 1995, as he began picking his grandmother’s brain for posterity’s sake, that years later he would be helping others do the same with their family members.

Pender in 2003 started a small company called Family Legacy Video, which aims to get others to take full advantage of the wealth of history around them, to tap the one “storyteller in every family.”

Alice Pender never got a chance to see the film her grandson made of her telling those stories he so loved. She passed away in 1998 at the age of 87.

But, her memories — and the vivid way in which she recalled them — will live on forever.

Pender, 50, is what many call a “personal historian,” a relatively new distinction bestowed on a person who spends his or her time recording individuals’ recollections of their own pasts. The field, which is at once an ancient calling and a modern invention, has some 400 practitioners worldwide, according to the Association of Personal Historians.

The profession has drawn a mix of journalists, filmmakers and other media types to its ranks.

Pender, who has made his career developing all manners of commercial media products, considers it his passion. And, it seems, that passion is contagious.

In November, he will travel to Tennesse to teach workshops on the craft at the association’s annual conference. But, in the years since starting Family Legacy Video, Pender has given a variety of talks and workshops throughout Tucson.

Every time, he hears a common refrain: “’Gee, I wish we’d done one for — substitute whatever relative — while they were alive.’”

Early on the trick for Pender was to figure out how to teach people, especially those who’ve never interviewed someone or tried to use a video camera, to capture the essence of a subject or something as fleeting as a memory.

He created a step-by-step “Producer’s Guide” with all the details, a how-to tutorial not unlike the scores he had made as a commercial videographer.

Then came a “Producer’s Music” CD, which contained royalty-free tunes to go with folks’ homemade videos. Of course, the technically uninclined could avail themselves of Pender’s services as well, for editing or the complete treatment.

Two years ago, Tamzin Sugiyama heard Pender extoll the virtues of recording personal histories — or “legacies,” as he likes to call them — at St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church, where she was a member.

“I’m not really a video kind of person,” Sugiyama said last week. “But, I thought there’s no time like the present.”

She bought Pender’s “Producer’s Guide” and set about interviewing her mother and her aunt.

“For my mother and her sister it was all about growing up in a small town,” Sugiyama recalled.

She hired Pender to edit the interview and produce a video.

“I grew up hearing these stories,” Sugiyama said. “And now I have them.”

Though the easy availablity of technology — video and editing equipment — has sort of “democratized the process,” Pender said, teaching people to think in terms of narrative, especially when it comes to interviewing and filming their own relatives, can prove difficult. About a dozen people have hired him to produce their personal histories, from pre-interview to post-production.

“I think the (Baby) Boomers are really driving this,” he said of many people’s push to record their own legacies.

After all, it’s personal. “It’s really about learning where they came from,” he said.

Some day he plans to hold a “family premiere” of the film he made of his grandmother. Then the younger generation might realize just how special he always thought she was.

Man Commits Five Burglaries After Watching TV Show Called 'It Takes A Thief'

What do people think when they see you driving a Lexus?

How to make money taking online surveys

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How To Make Money With Photostamps

PhotoStamps, a product of, are custom postage stamps. The stamps are valid U.S. postage, bearing a custom photo or graphic provided by the purchaser. PhotoStamps were first made available on August 10, 2004.

There was an initial controversy when PhotoStamps were created in the initial market test depicting various notorious individuals and items, including Monica Lewinsky's dress, but that died down after the company announced more strigent standards and enforcement of them.

September 30, 2004 was the final day for the original market test for PhotoStamps. During the seven and a half weeks in which the product was made available, more than 2,600,000 individual PhotoStamps were ordered, mostly featuring pets, children, and landscapes. These so-called "vanity stamps" were also popular with brides-to-be and art designers.

PhotoStamps postage is valid US postage and can be used at any point in the future. As of April 26, 2005, the PhotoStamps program was once again reactivated with USPS approval, and "over 19 million PhotoStamps have been sold" since then.

In the United States personalized stamps are technically a form of meter labels and thus do not fall under the regulations for what can be depicted on U.S. stamps; for example, the restriction that people, with the exception of U.S. presidents, have to be dead for five years (formerly ten) before they can be commemorated is not applicable. This means that, under the standards for metered mail, they are also not supposed to be cancelled, though there are examples of this being done by unaware or other-enthusiastic employees, or perhaps as a favour for collectors.

A "PhotoStamps of the Year" contest was announced, with the winners to be displayed at the Smithsonian. In some cases certain aspects of copyright law relating to personalised postage are unclear. However, Canada Post claims sole copyright in Canadian personalised stamps.

'Domain Tasting' May Soon Be Banned

You don't learn how to cook from a cookbook and other marketing tips from Seth Godin

Westchester Couple, Unable To Sell House, Turn It Into A House Of Prostitution

Monday, September 17, 2007

World's Wackiest Outsourcing Businesses

1. Lying And Cheating (

Looking to get away for a weekend fling without getting caught? A new French company provides would-be adulterers with custom-made excuses that help take the danger of discovery out of cheating. Founded six months ago by former private eye Regine Mourizard, Web-based Ibila can cook up invites to phony weekend seminars, fake emergency phone calls from work, invitations to nonexistent weddings - anything to justify cheating spouses' absence. [Full Story]

2. Loading Music To Other People's iPods (

Catherine Keane, the owner of Hungry Pod, makes over $100,000 a year, uploading music to other people’s iPods. This online homebusiness idea came to her when an acquaintance offered her $500 to load his CD collection onto his iPod. Thanks in part to a small story in The New York Times, Keane's advertising efforts on Craigslist and word-of-mouth, HungryPod has expanded to three employees and four computers, and has annual sales that exceed $100,000. [Full Story]

3. Picking Lice (

Founded by an experienced registered nurse and mother of two, The Texas Lice Squad provides a full range of services to help eliminate lice and prevent recurrences, beginning with individual and family inspection to determine the extent of infestation, priced at USD 65 for a family of four (USD 5 for each additional household member). In-home treatment and removal costs USD 60 per hour, with a two-hour minimum, which could be money well spent for families who feel that they've exhausted their own resources attempting to eradicate the critters themselves. After using a non-toxic product and professional combing to thoroughly remove all nits and lice, The Texas Lice Squad confirms in writing that a child is nit-free so that he or she can be readmitted to school or daycare. [Full Story]

4. Finding Cool Domain Names For Other People (

Hire another person to think of a cool domain name for you? No way people would pay for this. Actually, naming domain names for others turned out a thriving business, especially, when you make the entire process risk free. PickyDomains currently has a waiting list of people who want to PAY the service to come up with a snappy memorable domain name. PickyDomains is expected to hit six figures this year. [Full Story]

5. Your Reputation (

For $10 a month, will search your name everywhere — even “beyond Google” — including password-protected sites, and give a report of their findings. For about $30 a month, clients can have them do a clean-up, which involves ensuring all links to, for example, a college kegstand on or a disparaging blog entry from a former partner, will not appear during an online search. [Full Story]

10 Google Video Documentaries You Have To Watch

Five Handy Things US Business Owners And Freelancers Get Free

10 Best Books Ever Written On The Subject Of Money

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Five Thousand Dollar Doodle

A doodle netted Jared Fiorovich $5,000 and the only person who wasn't surprised was him.

"I'm always imagining things," says the 18-year-old Aptos teen who drew a sketch of an iPod shuffle case that doubles as a keychain and bottle opener to win a design competition at the MacWorld show. "Like sometimes I can't get to sleep and I'll just jot something down."

He stands in his room next to shelves stacked with broken skateboard decks and a drawer full of old shoes which he will sometimes tear apart and combine into new designs: for instance, a pair of golf shoes with skate-style soles that he spray painted silver.

"I daydream a lot," he says.

At the design contest set up by 20-year-old whiz kid Ben Kaufman, Fiorovich thought about how, since he used a skateboard as his main form of transportation, he needed to have things compact and efficient so they would fit in his pockets. He made his drawing of the holder/opener/keychain and added a cord rack, because he didn't like how his iPod cords always got tangled. Among the 120 new-product designs submitted, Fiorovich's came out on top. It's called the Bevy.

"It's rad," says Fiorovich of the fact his product is now for sale and that it includes his name on the package back.

In his room, the teen with the shaggy brown hair and faded board shorts, fires up a short video that features his skateboarding tricks, then digs into a jumbled closet of stuff for his Eagle Scout album which contains a photo of a bench he built for a local church.

He gives a short laugh. He likes it that he doesn't fit the mold: a skateboarding soon-to-be Eagle Scout inventor who's still working on his high school diploma.

A trophy for perfect attendance stands among a regiment of skateboarding trophies. He tosses a ragged ball he made out of broken shoelaces into the air.

He limps upstairs, a bumper-stickered cane clanking on the metal stairway. He had reconstructive surgery on his ankle because of his skateboard crashes. Once that heals, he'll be on to the next thing: getting into the Academy of Art in San Francisco so he can become an industrial designer.

He thinks already having an invention just might help.

Simply Put, Smart People Don't Need An MBA

5 Strangest Things To Be Outsourced

How To Develop And Get A New Invention Idea On The Market Fast With Little Or No Cost

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Five Cool Things US Business Owners And Freelancers Get Free

1. Free business cards

What's the catch? There are no catches. US printers are so overcompetitive, they are willing to give free business cards in hopes that you'll do more business with them later on. To be honest, the free designs not all that impressive, so printers conveniently offer you upgrade for $3 or something like that. I am sure that this is where they make their money.

2. Free Stamps And Postage

Hey, it's only $25 worth of free stamps, but every little bit counts, right?

3. Shawn Casey's Free Business In A Box

If you are into internet marketing, you no doubt know who Shawn Casey is. I personally use this one - it's the best from the list, besides free business cards.

4. Long Lost Sales Letters

This is another great one, if you are addicted to direct mail and direct response marketing, like I am. This is a big collection of old million dollar sales letters back from the 30s to the 80s. Pure marketing genius!

5. The Million Dollar Bookshelf

This site is basically a free collection of James Allen, Napoleon Hill, Benjamin Franklin, and many others. Rare marketing, copywriting and sales books, audiobooks and seminars for download.

Marketing Through Psychic Connection

Inmates Riot Over Sausage Ration

Friday, September 14, 2007

Mommy Makes Money With Baby Blankets

It’s the dream of so many moms to start a home business and get rich! A Texas woman is on her way thanks to one of those ideas that makes you say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

It all started when Amy Long realized she didn’t have enough hands. “I was actually walking through a parking lot with a child on either side and my baby in a sling and my blanket fell off,” said Long.

So she solved the problem by creating a blanket with clips on each corner. One trip to the store and she knew she was on to something.

“I was stopped by four separate people at one time who said, ‘Where did you get that?’ ‘I made it.’ ‘Will you make one for me?’” Long said.

After a lot of experimenting, the Secure2Me baby blanket was born.

“We went through a lot of different shapes and sizes,” said Long.

Mothers from as far away as Australia and England started snapping them up off Long’s web site.

Long folds, packs, and ships the blankets from her kitchen counter. She said anyone can be a successful inventor, but you have to have passion to go with your great idea. “It has to keep you up at night. It has to drive you. It has to be the thing that you believe in,” she said.

Now, what started as one mother’s simple solution has believers of all ages around the world. (More women enterpreneurs - DressMeNow.Com Success Story)

Day planner found 6 years later among casino rubble

4 Ways to Earn from Multiple Income Streams Through Your Blog

Thursday, September 13, 2007

How Bloggers Helped One Designer Sell Her $1576 Handbag

When pop princess Ashlee Simpson was first photographed last summer post-nose job, it wasn't just her plastic surgery that garnered mass attention. Sales of the dress she was wearing in the photo skyrocketed.

In the current celebrity-obsessed scene, an A-list star - on or off the red carpet - shown wearing a new designer's creation can almost singlehandedly launch a fashion frenzy.

And that's where style and celebrity bloggers come in: Hungry for fresh content, they're ready and willing to post such paparazzi pictures as soon as they are available.

As New York's Fashion Week gets underway, up-and-coming designer Sang A hopes to not only attract the attention of buyers and big fashion publications but also to get noticed by bloggers who are quietly transforming the way clothes are bought and sold.

When Jessica Simpson stepped out recently in West Hollywood with Sang A's "jade" clutch in blue python, blogs were quick to post her picture and solicit comments. And with the attention, from sites such as and styleminded, came demand for Sang A's new $1576 handbag.

Accessories designer Sang A learned early on that reaching out to the online community could be a crucial element of hawking her high-end handbags, which range in price from $1,500 to $15,000.

With a limited budget for marketing, Sang A has since come to rely heavily on blogs not just for attention, but also feedback.

The sites she chose to sell her wares, such as and, have developed mutually beneficial relationships with bloggers by incorporating reciprocal links.

"Blogging is absolutely important because it reaches the people that aren't inside the fashion industry," Sang A said.

"I read all the comments," she said. "I can't take everything seriously, but when they like something, like a particular detail, that really helps."

10 Google Video Documentaries You Have To Watch

Outsourcing Alibi - French Company Offers Alibis For Adulterers

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Shopping Cart 2.0

Australian Markitcart has developed an award-winning alternative to the traditional steel shopping cart, aimed at improving the concept not just for consumers but also for retailers and advertisers. Made of UV-stable and fully recyclable plastic, Markitcarts are available in 12 colours that can be matched to a retailer’s brand palette. The carts weigh less yet hold more than traditional carts. They also feature larger, easier-to-control wheels, and their lower center of gravity makes them less likely to topple when children climb aboard.

For advertisers, Markitcarts feature large, easily interchangeable side panels that function as mobile billboards with exposure right at the point of sale. Advantages for retailers? Besides the carts’ improved durability, safety and aesthetic appeal, Markitcarts are also RFID-compatible, so that when RFID technology is rolled out in retail—allowing an entire cart’s worth of shopping to be scanned at once—the carts will be ready. Markitcart also offers maintenance service with fortnightly cleanings and safety checks, sourcing and changing of adverts, and a recycling program. Pricing is “much the same” as that for conventional carts, Markitcart chairman and CEO Mark Fraser says.

Markitcart was founded in 2001, but is just now in the midst of its global launch. The carts are already available in Australia, and the next batches are due to begin shipping to Germany, Iceland and the US later this month. The cleaning and ad-changing service operates as a franchise, and Markitcart is in the process of organizing licensees and distributors worldwide, who typically serve as country licensees or territory development agents and need to be experienced in either selling advertising or providing a support service, Fraser says. While they’re not the first plastic shopping carts to be launched, Multicart’s highly integrated approach sounds promising.

Too Strange To Be Made Up - Jerry Springer's Bodyguard Gets Talk Show

Is Hef really having a better time at the Playboy Mansion than you are at home?

Why You Should Not Be Afraid Of Events Like 9/11

Typo-squatter faces 20 years in jail

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

ModelsHotel.Com - How Models Make Money From Models

While interning in customer relations at Deutsche Bank in the summer of 2005, Jesper Lannung had an epiphany. "Models have wants and needs too," says the 25-year-old Mr. Lannung, who has a gap-toothed grin and occasionally models himself.

With about $100,000 and a dream of uniting professional fashion models everywhere, Mr. Lannung and his financial backer, a music-industry veteran who calls himself SuperFrank, launched a social-networking site last year called There, the thin and beautiful can post pictures, videos and information about themselves, find romantic matches and get deals on everything from cosmetic dentistry to clothes. Unlike other modeling-focused sites, ModelsHotel is for professional models only. No poseurs. No voyeurs. No exceptions.

"Our site is a digital velvet rope," says Mr. Lannung, who has rejected more than half of the more than 2,000 people who have attempted to register so far.

It's this promise of exclusivity that is drawing sponsors to the site. Among its high-profile marketing partners: eccentric fashion design house Heatherette, Diesel jeans and luxury jeweler Piaget.

Like other professional social-networking sites that have sprung up for people in fields ranging from medicine to advertising, ModelsHotel aims to make money by selling access to its relatively tiny target audience. While traditional ads are sparse on the site, by focusing on models, who have the potential to become walking billboards for luxury brands, the year-old start-up is trying to tap into a movement by fashion-industry marketers to use trend-setters to augment traditional advertising.

For this season's New York fashion week, Mr. Lannung joined with Heatherette, the design duo known for wild ensembles and theatrical runway antics. Models asked to audition for the label's fashion show, which will take place tomorrow evening at Gotham Hall, were given "invitation keys," business cards with five-digit codes that allow them to get beyond the ModelsHotel "lobby" home page to create a profile. A few will be granted entry to Heatherette's exclusive after-party at the night club Lotus; the party is being advertised on the site, and the first few models who respond will be added to the guest list.

"Everybody loves to have models at their parties," says Traver Rains, designer and co-founder of Heatherette, which didn't pay ModelsHotel for the plug. "We like to be associated with cool, new things," he says. Designers Zang Toi and Andrew Buckler also distributed ModelsHotel key cards at their fashion show castings.

ModelsHotel, which is now seeking $1.5 million in venture capital, signed its first fashion deal last season. In addition to paying about $10,000 for a banner ad on the site, Diesel jeans set up an audition for a fashion show during New York fashion week, and gave away $200 skinny jeans to those who showed up. For the rest of the week, long-limbed models could be seen running from appointment to appointment clad in Diesel's latest looks.

"It is good visibility for us to have these girls looking great in our jeans," says Dan Barton, vice president of communications for Diesel USA, a division of Italy's Diesel SpA. The label isn't currently advertising on ModelsHotel, though Mr. Barton says he would consider working with the site again in the future.

Models spend a lot of time in isolation, traveling from casting to casting, often in cities where they don't know anyone else. But like Shannon Rusbuldt, a 22-year-old model with Elite Models, many fear exposing themselves to unwelcome solicitations from wannabe photographers, agents and suitors. Mr. Lannung, who is represented by Ms. Rusbuldt's former agency, persuaded her to join by assuring her that his site is similar to other social networks, "but without the creepy people."

Applicants don't have to pay anything to register, but they must first be given an invitation key.

Mr. Lannung's 51-year-old partner -- Frank "SuperFrank" Copsidas, late soul singer James Brown's former manager -- says he also sees opportunities in creating micro-communities for other fashion professionals, such as stylists and photographers, who are considered influential in fashion circles. These sites could, theoretically, give users the option to open their profiles to other professional networks.

One problem such narrowly targeted sites face is that their small size can limit marketing opportunities for the sites' owners, says Samir Arora, chairman and chief executive of Glam Media Inc., a network of mainstream and niche Internet publishers that focus on fashion, beauty and design.

"The smaller and more restrictive you are, the more qualified an audience you will have," Mr. Arora says, "but you have all the problems of leverage and reach because you are so small."

But ModelsHotel has managed to attract the interest of businesses outside the fashion industry too. David Barton Gym, a chain of luxurious fitness clubs, is now offering a free trial membership to ModelsHotel subscribers. A cosmetic dentist is offering 30% off all procedures. And the producers of the recent Anne Hathaway film about Jane Austen, "Becoming Jane," posted a last-minute invitation to members for the film's New York premiere, hosted by high-end jewelry maker Piaget. A dozen models showed up.

Since many models, especially those starting out, can't support themselves by modeling alone, the site has plans to launch part-time job listings for employers who value good-looking people -- namely restaurants, retailers and nightclubs -- and would pay for the chance to get access to ModelsHotel registrants.

Weeding out impostors has been the biggest challenge for many professional-networking sites, and ModelsHotel has been no exception. Mr. Lannung personally vets each applicant -- he calls agencies and asks registrants to "name their bookers," he says -- a time-consuming process that has made it difficult for him to continue modeling. In spite of his vigilance, he admits that several impostors have sneaked through; most have been booted off the site, Mr. Lannung says.

"I had a feeling it was going to be rough to get approval," wrote one male applicant in an email plea to Mr. Lannung, after his profile was taken down. "I had to stop modeling for some personal issues but I plan to get back into it," he said, adding that his girlfriend is also a professional model.

The verdict: access denied.

The Seventeen Year Old Millionaire (She's A Girl, Too)

How Bad Is US Mortgage Crisis? Westchester Couple, Unable To Sell House, Turn It Into A House Of Prostitution

What's A Perfect Domain, Anyway?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Takeout-Breakfast War Reheats

Ten years ago, there was a dash for bagels; five years ago, it was doughnuts. Now, it is breakfast sandwiches and premium coffee.

Eager to tap what is at least a $15 billion market -- one that some think will grow in coming years -- fast-food companies have ratcheted up their breakfast offerings. Among them: Starbucks Corp. has opted for an eggs Florentine sandwich with spinach and havarti cheese; Dunkin' Brands Inc.'s Dunkin' Donuts and McDonald's Corp. have locked horns over lattes, cappucinos and premium roast coffee. Wendy's International Inc. and Burger King Holdings Inc. have renditions of bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches.

Others are testing less conventional items: breakfast pizza omelets at Papa John's International Inc. and guacamole and bacon burritos at Yum Brands Inc.'s Taco Bell. But some analysts worry that interest in the new items will fade, like the bagels that came before them, as soon as limited-time offers and other promotional gimmicks subside.

"Consumers are attracted by balloons, big signs and hype," said Tom Miner, an analyst with Technomic, a Chicago restaurant market-research firm. "But then they say, 'OK, I've done that,' and they either move on to the next new thing or go back to eating a cup of yogurt over the kitchen sink." Mr. Miner adds that the cycle generally lasts three years.

Breakfast currently accounts for 11% of sales at fast-food restaurants, a figure that has stayed "relatively flat" in the past several years, according to Bob Sandelman, chief executive of research firm Sandelman & Associates.

That may change this year, but Mr. Sandelman said that "past evidence suggests there's not going to be any long-term growth. It's a super-heated share battle, but it doesn't look like it'll last."

Even if much of the hype is temporary, some analysts and fast-food companies still see plenty of room to grow, at least for a while. Mintel, a market-research company in Chicago, said fast-food breakfast sales have risen nearly 44% to $14.9 billion since 2001 but only a quarter of Americans say they buy breakfast at fast-food restaurants. (Other estimates vary. Technomic puts the fast-food breakfast industry closer to $24 billion.)

Packaged Facts, a division of Market Research Group, estimates that the $65 billion breakfast industry (including traditional restaurants) will grow to $83 billion by 2015, and analysts say much of that growth could occur at fast-food chains.

"Our on-the-go society is really tailor-made for buying breakfast on the way to work," said David Morris, an analyst at Mintel. "Combine that with an underpenetrated market, and we see a strong trend that should last at least two or three years."

The competition is fierce and includes traditional fast-food joints, doughnut shops and coffee chains.

Analysts disagree on which factors will contribute to breakfast success. Some say Starbucks, which has already capitalized on CDs and movies, will be able to lure loyal customers with its new line of hot foods. Others argue that fast-food chains have a leg up because of their accessible locations and drive-throughs.

Already, breakfast promotions by McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts have proved fruitful. McDonald's said its U.S. coffee sales rose 16% after it introduced premium roast coffee last year. Dunkin' Donuts sells 2.7 million cups of coffee drinks (and tea) a day that account for two-thirds of the company's $5 billion in sales for 2006. Doughnuts, by comparison, make up 17% of sales.

Dunkin' Donuts Executive Chef Stan Frankenthaler said his company has adapted its menu in recent years to offer more variety and portability for the hurried commuter.

"Breakfast is a very personal, customized meal," Mr. Frankenthaler said. "Today I might feel like something sweet, tomorrow something salty, something light one day, heavy the other."

The company's limited-time Supreme Omelet -- bacon, mushrooms, hash-brown potatoes, scallions and cheese on a croissant -- has been popular, Mr. Frankenthaler said, because it "reminds people of a special-occasion breakfast or a weekend family brunch."

Breakfast makes up one-third of the U.S. revenue for McDonald's. The Egg McMuffin, launched three decades ago, continues to be one of the company's best sellers and has helped McDonald's secure 40% of the fast-food breakfast market, according to Sandelman.

Even so, the company is under pressure to attract and retain morning customers. More and more of the company's stores are opening earlier -- before 6 a.m. -- and the menu has expanded to include cinnamon rolls and fruit, McDonald's spokeswoman Danya Proud said. There is speculation that McDonald's may soon introduce an all-day breakfast menu.

Wendy's said recently it has crossed its 500-store milestone as part of the "continuing expansion of its new breakfast menu." The company said it expects to expand breakfast -- which, among other things, includes a Frescuit, a biscuit with egg, cheese and bacon -- to nearly 750 U.S. and Canadian restaurants by the end of the third quarter.

Starbucks, which has already built an empire on premium coffee and pastries, is taking a slightly different approach. While its fast-food competitors are expanding breakfast options, Starbucks has fired back with a new line of lunch salads and sandwiches.

The company's breakfast sandwiches, which were introduced in 2003, account for about $35,000 annually of each store's revenue, according to Bridget Baker, a spokeswoman for the company. She wouldn't disclose annual revenue for each store, but said the company hopes its new lunch items will generate similar revenue.

But analysts say it may be easier to introduce breakfast tacos at Taco Bell or premium coffee at Dunkin' Donuts than to market lunch at Starbucks, a company that has built itself around coffee.

Customers at the Starbucks in New York's Times Square during a recent weekday lunch hour echoed that sentiment.

"Pastries at Starbucks are all right, but sandwiches and salads? That's weird," said Henry Faustino, 24 years old, who was buying his usual caramel Frappuccino. "I'm sticking to their drinks. If they made beer, I'd buy it."

Only a few customers picked up sandwiches. Most ordered iced coffees and lattes without glancing at the Black Forest ham, egg and cheese sandwiches or fruit and cheese plates. But most said they'd grab a bite to eat if they were pressed for time and already buying coffee.

James Maher, an analyst at ThinkEquity Partners, said consumers are more likely to pick up food with their morning coffee than the other way around.

"What constitutes a good cup of coffee is constantly improving," Mr. Maher said. "Consumers want premium. They're always trading up and they'll go out of their way to get the best cup of coffee."

Still, many analysts say there's no way to tell what will happen.

"What generally decides these battles are consumers' feelings for a particular product," Mr. Miner said. "Wendy's and Burger King are looking for the kind of product magic that will do what the Egg McMuffin did for McDonald's. But if they come out with just another egg-bacon-cheese combo, it's going to be tough."

Insane But True - People Will Pay You To Come Up With Domain Names For Them

Cop Arrests McDonnald Employee Because His Burger Was 'Too Salty'

How One Science Teacher Became A Multimillionaire

Sunday, September 09, 2007

How To Make Up To 10K Per Student, Teaching People How To Play Poker Professionally

AFTER a whole afternoon playing No-Limit Texas Hold ’Em poker, this was the moment that Donny Campbell had been waiting for.

Hunched over a poker table in a back room here at Caesars Palace, Mr. Campbell, 29, looked down at his cards to see a pair of queens. One of his two opponents had bet $300 in chips, and the other $600, and now the bet had come around to him.

Mr. Campbell stared into the distance, as if to bore a hole through the wall with his eyes. He paused. Then he looked at his cards again.

“I re-raise,” he said, pushing $1,200 in chips to the center of the table.

This rattled the others. The first opponent folded his cards quietly. The second, sighing, did the same.

But before Mr. Campbell could celebrate his victory, Mark Seif, a prize-winning poker player who was dealing the hand, interjected a stern dose of advice.

“That just worked out, but that re-raise might have been risky considering which cards could have beaten you,” Mr. Seif said. “Position is important, but just because you’re last to act doesn’t always mean you need to be the aggressor.”

Mr. Campbell, of Tampa, Fla., smiled with gratitude. Under normal circumstances, he might have been embarrassed after making such a strategic gaffe in the presence of greatness. On this day, however, Mr. Seif’s evaluation was exactly what Mr. Campbell had paid for as a student at the World Series of Poker Academy.

The academy, run by the World Series of Poker and held in different cities throughout the year, is essentially a two- or three-day poker sleepaway camp — a chance for up to 200 amateur players to improve their games with advice from the pros. The World Poker Tour Boot Camp, affiliated with the World Poker Tour, is organized much the same way, and offers similar opportunities for smaller groups — up to 60 players at a time.

As more people take up poker as a hobby, the two camps are hot commodities. Combined, the schools have offered nearly 40 camps since January, and nearly every one of them has been sold out.

Tuition for these experiences isn’t cheap, generally ranging from $1,695 to $4,300. But Jeffrey Pollack, commissioner of the World Series of Poker, says that for people who are serious enough about poker to take a class, the money is a stake in the future.

For those players thinking about playing in events where the buy-in, or cost of entry, is $5,000 or $10,000, Mr. Pollack said that “a couple thousand dollars for valuable instruction is almost like an insurance policy,” noting that both schools offer classes in a variety of poker games.

“The truth is that we can’t set these things up fast enough,” he said.

For some poker fanatics, returns on their investments are subtle: a new strategy for hiding the starting hand of ace-king, or a new approach to semi-bluffing, which is a bet or raise on a straight or flush draw.

But for other amateurs, the experience has been soon followed by major winnings.

Consider Bill Spadea of Easton, Mass., who paid $3,000 for a seat at a World Poker Tour camp. Days later, he won $429,114 for finishing 13th at the World Series of Poker “Main Event,” which cost $10,000 to enter.

Then there was Lee Childs, who said he paid $1,500 for a different World Poker Tour camp and bagged $705,229 at the Main Event for finishing seventh. Mr. Childs, who lives in Reston, Va., said that he bought a seat at the boot camp only to “brush up” on some fundamentals.

“I’d say it was money well spent,” Mr. Childs said of the tuition. “I knew how to play poker going in, but hearing these professionals teach discipline got me out of a bunch of hands in the tournament that I probably would have played if I hadn’t just been reminded to stay away from them.”

The curriculums at the schools are similar. Every day starts with a keynote speaker — a poker professional, in most cases, but sometimes an expert on statistics or gambling strategy.

At the World Series of Poker Academy in July, Joe Navarro, a former special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, spoke about reading body language. (One of Mr. Navarro’s classic tips: when a player has a good hand, he usually looks down at his chips.)

Around lunchtime, students at both schools hit the tables for live demonstrations. These sessions are just like cash action in a poker room, except that the dealers at each table are professional poker players — like Mr. Seif, Greg Raymer, Linda Johnson, Clonie Gowan, Scott Fischman and others.

THE pros serve as instructors and ask students to play hands the way they would in a regular game. Instead of having students surrender (or “muck”) hands when they fold, however, the pros ask the players to move their cards to the edge of the table until the hand is done.

Finally, when someone wins, all the students show their cards, and the professionals deconstruct the hands, asking each student to explain his or her decision-making. They also review how body language unintentionally reflected strategy to opponents. Then the instructors offer their opinions — however critical they might be.

T. J. Cloutier, a professional who teaches at the World Poker Tour schools, said that while the step-by-step review can be harsh, it offered a great way for students to learn how they should have played their own hands and how opponents could have played theirs.

“Poker is a situational game,” Mr. Cloutier said, “so talking about how someone should have handled a certain hand in a particular situation could help you down the road, too.”

After a catered dinner, each day concludes with a tournament in which students put their new skills to the test. Prizes vary by school, but usually involve a free seat to a future tournament. In some cases, the cash value of these seats exceeds $5,000.

Of course, success at poker schools doesn’t automatically translate into success in live games. Steve Berman, vice president of the World Poker Tour Boot Camp, said that in poker, as in other sports, practice makes perfect.

“Our camps are great ways for players to sharpen their skills,” Mr. Berman said. “Whether they apply what they’ve learned when they walk out of here is up to them.”

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Feed Granola Success Story

BusinessWeek chats with two young entrepreneurs who aim to 'Feed' the masses quality organic granola

How many times have you come up with an idea that causes your friends to say: "Hey, that could be a business!" How many times have you agreed with them? But how many times have you actually gone out and transformed that idea into a real business? Well, that's exactly what former models turned business partners Jason Osborn and Jason Wright ended up doing. In 2005, the pair turned the granola that they made as a snack in their New York City apartment into a three-flavor organic line they named Feed Granola.

Now sold in eight states at stores including Whole Foods Market (WFMI) and Wegmans Food Markets, Feed Granola earned $110,000 in sales in 2006, and is projected to make $2 million over the next 12 months, according to Osborn and Wright.

Recently,'s Stacy Perman spoke with Osborn and Wright about making the leap from a home kitchen hobby to a full-time company. Edited excerpts of the conversation follow.

How did you come to turn a homemade snack into a business?
Osborn: In 2003, our modeling agency put us together and we were living as roommates in the West Village. We started making granola as a healthy snack for ourselves. We would pass it out to friends, and it kind of caught on in the neighborhood. We gave it to a local restaurant to sample, and they ended up putting it on their menu. We realized that we had something special at that point, and we talked about making it into a serious product. So we took the granola to a dietician and gave her the formula. She said we had a really healthy product here and that there was a real need in the marketplace. So we put our heads together to make it a business in 2004.

Wright: And we formed a business corporation in December of 2005.

Did either of you have any prior business experience?
Osborn: After I moved to New York, I worked for an ad agency for three years. And in college I majored in business management and advertising.

Wright: I went to the University of South Carolina and majored in hotel, restaurant, and tourism management, and minored in business. But in college they don't teach you to be an entrepreneur. When I graduated I had no idea that I would have a granola company one day. But I did want to own my own business and to work for myself. I didn't know what I wanted to do, and I got into modeling because it got me to travel. I was managing an Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) store and that led me to modeling, which led me to New York.

How did you initially finance Feed?
Osborn: In the beginning we financed it ourselves.

Wright: We spent about $10,000 between us from 2004 to January of 2006.

Were you still making the granola in your kitchen?
Osborn: Yes, at first we were making it in our sixth floor walk-up. And we'd go around the neighborhood offering it as samples at gyms to get feedback from people who weren't our friends. That's how we hooked up with a local natural-foods store that put us on their shelves. But at that point we'd gotten too big for our kitchen, so we partnered with a meal delivery service in the city and bartered (BusinessWeek, 7/18/07) to use their kitchen space. We'd bake our granola during the night when they weren't using it and we paid for the usage in granola. That's how we paid rent on our first facility.

Wright: We did that for a year until the end of 2005, and then we outgrew that facility and moved to a cooking company in the Bronx. We trained their staff and worked with them until August of 2006.

Since you were growing, what did you do for capital?
Osborn: We approached the U.S. Small Business Administration and applied for a small-business loan. We were approved for a $75,000 loan, and the money got us to the point where we could launch the product at Natural Products Expo East, a national trade show in Baltimore. We made a plan to spend the next 10 months working on the brand and packaging in order to launch it at the trade show. We came up with the brand name and hired a designer friend of ours to execute the vision we had put down on paper.

Did you have a business plan or did this just evolve? Did you seek advice?
Osborn: In the beginning, we were just flying by the seat of our pants. Early on we sought out SCORE and spoke to them literally via e-mail. They helped us with questions about incorporating and starting a business plan. Then we created the business plan ourselves. It was really just cursory. It laid out how we'd run the business and outlined some of our market and financial milestones. We used that plan to secure our loan from the SBA.

What was the best piece of advice you received?
Osborn: Before we actually launched at the trade show, we attended a few other trade shows and we went to the educational programs and seminars that they had on how to take a product to market. We were able to ask people firsthand how they did it. They helped explain how to go to the next level from where we were. It was very helpful to attend those seminars.

Also, going to the trade shows allowed us to introduce ourselves to markets and distributors and chains. They could see that we were a viable company and became attracted to our brand.

Were there any blunders along the way?
Osborn: Yeah, of course. I think our biggest challenge was finding a facility that fit our needs. If you are constantly growing and changing, you need a manufacturer that allows you to do so. Also, I think our lack of experience allowed us to be more innovative, but I think if we had more experience we could have answered a lot of questions that came up.

Wright: When you are a small, growing company, cash flow is always a problem. Trying to balance receivables vs. payables is always a big challenge.

Many people have an idea but not everybody turns it into a business. What would you say makes that leap possible?
Osborn: In our case, we had a very good partnership. We both bring different things to the table. But I'd also say that you have to go with your instincts and vision and guts and stay true to them. Everyone has their own opinion and advice and it's always different. I say, stay focused.

What's next?
Wright: We'd like to go national by mid-to-late 2008.

Osborn: We also want to expand our product line once we've established it as a quality product. And we want to enter into brand extensions.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

How One Science Teacher Became A Multimillionaire

Five years ago, Steve Spangler was a science teacher outside Denver. These days, his educational toy company, Steve Spangler Science, employs nearly 30 people and he speaks to groups of science teachers across the country.

Mr. Spangler largely credits his blog for his success. Steve Spangler Science recorded more than $5 million in revenues last year.

"One of the secrets," says Mr. Spangler, "is to make sure you're writing headlines and content that are picked up by [content-sharing site] and other bloggers."

He wasn't always a believer in blogs. It was after a video of Mr. Spangler demonstrating the explosive effects of dropping Mentos into Diet Coke spread across the Internet that he realized their power to help his business.

The Wall Street Journal spoke with Mr. Spangler about his blog's impact on his business.

WSJ: When did you realize it was time to update

Mr. Spangler: I took the business online in 2002. Every small-business owner thinks as soon as you push the button, [customers will] come – but they don't. I remember a day in 2002 when we did $200 in sales – I was celebrating. We had some people coming to the site, but we weren't converting [into sales].

WSJ: So what did you do?

Mr. Spangler: I found a couple Web sites [that I liked] and they said "Netconcepts" on the bottom. So I contracted [the company] to redesign the Web site. I wanted to find somebody that wasn't in my industry, to not get the same old stuff. I liked what [the Netconcepts LLC founder Stephan Spencer] was saying about showing people you're the expert in that field by what you write. I found out how important it was to have more content, like our experiment library. People started visiting.

WSJ: What was your reaction when Netconcepts suggested you write a blog?

Mr. Spangler: I said, "I don't think I have anything to say." But I developed the blog. A lesson came when Insta-Snow [a powder that turns to snow when water is added] was featured as one of the month's top stupid products on Good Morning America. I thought I should refute it [in the blog], but [Mr. Spencer] said I should blog this as: "It's great to be stupid." So I said on the blog that in fact it was stupid that someone else hadn't thought of it… I watched sales skyrocket.

People didn't know my blog from anyone else's -- but they happened to pick up the headline: "It's Great to be Stupid."

WSJ: What was your next lesson about headlines?

Mr. Spangler: In Sept. 2005, I went on network television to demonstrate the Mentos Diet Coke experiment [where the candy is dropped into the bottle of soda, triggering a geyser]. I had done it before, but this time by accident the news anchor got soaked. She was wearing this beautiful St. John's outfit, and she was absolutely drenched. [The local NBC station] streamed the video, and the number of views on the site – – hit an all time high. It went viral within a couple of weeks and ended up on VH1.

Lots of people grabbed the post from my blog. The headline was: News Anchor Gets Soaked; Mentos Experiment Sets New Record. It wasn't misleading, just tantalizing. Thank goodness I knew how to blog.

WSJ: How has your blog changed site traffic and sales?

Mr. Spangler: These days, the blog gets 15,000 to 20,000 unique visitors each day. Early on, if I got 200 or 300, I was ecstatic. I attribute 13% of overall sales online to the blog. People come in to us through the blog. They're searching on something, and the blog indexes so well on Google.

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