Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Incredible Domain Name Business Idea

PickyDomains.Com is a perfect example of how to turn one’s talent into a profitable business. With ever expanding Internet and tens of millions existing websites, finding an available domain name that’s not already taken by cybersquatters can be a real nightmare.

But one man’s problem is another man’s solution. Rather than to shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars for a domain name on the aftermarket, an increasing number of web entrepreneurs turn to professional “domain namers�?.

While most naming agencies charge a non-refundable fee that can be as high as $1500 for a corporate domain, one service that unites 17 professional domain namers from countries like United States, Russia, Australia and New Zealand, decided to offer a risk-free service that costs only 50 dollars per domain.

After 50 dollars are deposited, clients start getting a list of available domain names via e-mail for a period of 30 days. If they see a domain they like, they register it and notify the service about domain acquired. The individual, who came up with the name, gets $25, the other half going to the service. If no domain is registered, the money is refunded in full.

While the idea is brainlessly simple, it appears that PickyDomains.Com has no competition with its risk-free business model. But that is almost certain to change as more people find out that finding available domain names for other people can be a profitable business.

Herb Andler - Founder Of Buggy.Com

Joe Sugarman's Triggers - The Art of Extreme Passion

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Frasier Doherty - The Teenage Jam Millionaire

Here is a great story about a young entrepreneur out of Scotland named Fraser Doherty. Fraser is an 18 year old student at Strathclyde University and his company, SuperJams, is already a million dollar business. With his recent success, Fraser is looking to make his studies a part time endeavor while he focuses on building his company. “It’s done a lot better than I expected. It’s growing really fast. The difficult thing is producing enough.”

Fraser sells jams and preserves that target a new, younger audience. They stay true to his grandmother’s original recipe but attract more health-conscious consumers. For example, instead of using sweetener like the other, big name jams, Fraser uses grape juice. He also focuses on the “superfoods” like blackcurrants, blueberries and ginger which are attracting buyers looking for a healthier diet. “I think people are looking for something a bit healthier, and it’s more fun and modern. It appeals to people who might not normally buy jam.”

Despite the growing revenues, Fraser has not taken any money out of the company, preferring to pump it back into the business. “For me, it’s not really about making lots of money. You have to create something you enjoy and have a passion for. I genuinely do love jam. When I read that sales had been falling for a couple of decades, I was horrified by the idea of it becoming extinct.”

Fraser started the company four years ago at the age of 14, selling his jam door to door as a way to earn extra spending money. He expanded by setting up shop at a local farmer’s market and soon found that he could not keep up with the demand for his jams. “I think I’ve still got a lot to learn. It’s not easy to set up a business and you have to really believe in it. There were points when I thought it would never be ready to go on the shelves.”

With his recent success, Fraser is about to release a book that discusses his story called “How to be a Teenage Millionaire.” It just goes to show that if you have enough passion for your business and a product that is in genuine demand, you can create a real business no matter how old you are.

Study shows AIDS entered U.S. via Haiti

Son Goes To A Stip Club With Dad's Credit Card, Ends Up With $53,000 Bill

Angel Groups Spread Their Wings Beyond Tech

How To Turn $60 Into $1000 In Three Months With Domain Names

Monday, October 29, 2007

How To Make $100,000 With Bike Rentals

Age: 26

By its second year of business, Watkins' startup, MyBike, had worked out most of the kinks in its novel business: renting out bikes fitted with advertising panes for a low one-time fee. Thanks to fewer stolen bikes and fewer ads removed from the bikes—and more confidence from advertisers—2006 revenues topped $100,000.

While plans for national expansion have been put on hold, ad-supported MyBike is present on the campuses of six colleges in the Boston area. Watkins hired three employees to provide customers with tune-ups—a measure that allowed him to increase the up-front charge from $25 to $65 or $95, depending on the level of service wanted. The company is also selling its own line of electric-powered bikes, which Watkins says are popular with hotels and corporations with large campuses.

Duck And Cover - Vice-President Cheney To Go Hunting In New York

Godiva Or Lindt - Which Tastes Better?

Insider Domain Name Snatching Probed

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Wino Club - Wine Across America

What: A wine-tasting club starter kit
Who: Stacy Nelson and Darcy Jones of Pet Rock Inc.
Where: Temecula, California
When: Started in 2006
Startup Costs: $15,000

Stacy Nelson and Darcy Jones were just two people who wanted to have a wine-tasting party without the pomp and stuffiness that often comes with such events. Inviting friends and colleagues, the pair launched the first "Wino Club" and decided so much fun shouldn't be confined to their circle of friends alone. So Nelson, 37, and Jones, 38, launched Pet Rock Inc. and created The Wino Club, a wine-tasting club starter kit.

"Everyone who comes to The Wino Club falls in love with it," Nelson says. The pair found blind tasting to be fun but intimidating for a novice, so they focused on creating a comfortable environment where all levels of "winos" could gather and learn from each other. "We're a club, not a single shot party," Nelson says. "This is an investment in years of fun, not a single night of frivolity."

The creation of the "sacred box" took several months as Nelson and Jones scrambled to find help with the design and licensing. Nelson's garage became a warehouse, and friends and family, including Nelson's 6-year-old son, all pitched in to help.

"I remember Darcy saying to me, ‘It's just a box. How hard could it be?'" Nelson says. "We still use that line and giggle, because forming a product is a very different experience."

All the necessities, besides wine and glasses, are inside the kit, which retails for $33 and is sold through the company's site, in specialty stores and at wineries. There's a wine bottle opener, glass markers, a spout, an instruction book and, most important, score cards to rate the wines. Additional supplies, winery links and an e-newsletter are available on their website.

Bus Driver Fired For Failing Drug Test, Blames Students

MedRecruit.Com - The Lifestyle Doctors

6 Cool Free Samples

Friday, October 26, 2007

Phantom Plate Success Story

I was zipping along Chester Avenue on my way to work when suddenly . . .


What was that? Lightning? A giant flash bulb? A heavenly visitor?

Oh, no. One of those new traffic cameras just took a picture.

But the traffic light was yellow and I was going the speed limit. Honest. Actually, I was going under the speed limit. That's how paranoid those cameras have made me.

I swear it was the guy behind me in the snazzy red sports car. He was three car lengths behind me and flew through the light after it turned red.

When I glanced over, he looked so calm and innocent. What if he triggered the camera but I end up getting the ticket?

I hate these new traffic cameras. When Cleveland first installed them to catch people running red lights, a friend sent me an e-mail list of every intersection. I planned to memorize it, but it was too long.

Then I decided to enlarge it and tape it to the dashboard.

Then I came to my senses and figured I could just stop at every red light like you're supposed to.

Only it wasn't so simple. If you're near the light as it turns yellow, do you hit the gas and risk a speeding ticket or slam on the brakes and risk getting rear-ended?

A friend offered another solution: The Phantom Plate. For $29.99 you can make your license plate vanish in a flash.

PhotoBlocker looks like a normal aerosol can. The clear high-gloss spray coats the plate. When the cop-in-a-box flashes to take a picture, the plate reflects the light so the plate shows white in the photo.

The spray gives new meaning to the words "photo finish."

PhantomPlate, Inc. in D.C., has sold more than 2,500 cans to folks in the Cleveland area.

Get this a few local cops have bought it.

Joseph Scott, the marketing director for the company, said police buy PhotoBlocker because the cameras could cost them their jobs if they get too many off-duty tickets.

If a cop pulls over a cop, he usually lets him go, but the camera doesn't care who you are.

"You could be the mayor. You could be the city council member who voted them in," Scott said of the cameras. "The camera can't tell the reckless driver from a grandma who never got a ticket."

Police in Denver gave the spray a boost when they contacted the company to test the product and found out that it works. The media ran with the story.

Some states have banned the spray. License-plate coverings are illegal in Maryland, California, Illinois, Virginia and New York.

Scott corrected me.

"Illegal to use," he said, "not illegal to buy, not illegal to sell."

Each can coats four plates with the reflective finish. Simply remove the plate, clean it, spray it with three to four coats. It forms a clear shell over the plate for life.

"If they can't read the license plate, they can't give you a ticket," he said.

Scott says he's not encouraging anyone to break the law. A license plate has to be visible, not photogenic, he said.

Besides, if it saves you one ticket, it pays for itself, he said.

"Everybody becomes a believer once they get a ticket," he said.

I haven't decided whether to log onto and buy a can.

But if I open the mail and find a ticket, I will.

After all, it was that snazzy red sports car speeding. Not me.


Man Arrested After Rescuing 2 From Fire

Submarina - How a chain of California sandwich shops reinvented itself for the national market.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Mass Sampling As A Business

Food and beverage marketers have long known that there's nothing quite like sampling to convince a consumer to try something new, but the high cost and limited reach of traditional sampling campaigns are often prohibitive. Enter First Flavor, which converts flavours into Peel 'n Taste strips that can be mass-distributed in a broad-scale tryvertising campaign.

Readers of Rolling Stone magazine may already be familiar with Peel ‘n Taste strips, which made their debut in the fall entertainment preview issue of the magazine in September. As part of a promotion of its new "Cane" TV series about a family rum business, CBS placed a two-page ad in the magazine featuring a taste strip flavoured like a rum mojito. The insert included a thin, tamper-evident pouch with a nonalcoholic, dissolving taste strip—much like the breath strips already on the market—that enabled readers to try the full-flavour taste of the rum drink.

First Flavor's strips contain no sugar or calories, and all ingredients have been FDA-approved. They're produced in bulk quantities of 100,000 to 10 million or more, and quantity-based pricing ranges from 7 to 40 cents per strip. Possible uses for the strips include not just print advertisements but also direct mail, product-on-product, and in-store coupon dispensing applications. Though only four promotions have launched so far, First Flavor's customers range from small, entrepreneurial firms to large, Fortune 50 companies, president and CEO Jay Minkoff says. The US-based company, which was founded last year, already has sales representation in the EU, but it has also received inquiries from around the world. It's open to the possibility of nonexclusive partnerships to help bring Peel n' Taste to more consumers, Minkoff says.

We've already shone the spotlight on the tryvertising trend, and this is yet another piece of evidence that it's taking hold. Only time will tell how consumers take to it in this form, but it's a concept worth considering for any business in food and beverages or beyond. We're just hoping a chocolatier will sign up soon.

More examples of sampling done online (available to US residents only):

Febreze Fabric Refresher
Loreal Mascara
Jolly Johns Free Condoms
Oxiclean Toss-n-go Detergent Ball
FREE Samples Of Business Cards, Rubber Stamps, Sticky Notes (Shipped To Any Address In US)

Other Stories:

Harry Potter fan, 3, freed by six firefighters from traffic cone ‘wizard hat’

Finding new homes for pre-owned cell phones

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Big Green Truck Pizza Story

It all begins with a beautifully restored 1946 International Harvester truck—yes, it is green—the interior of which has been converted into an upscale pizzeria, complete with Italian-made wood-burning oven, cappuccino machine and ice cream makers. The wooden sides of the truck lift off to make tables—one for preparation, four for serving; a chimney gets attached, an awning slides out, and presto! There's a pizza bistro right on the spot for backyard parties, weddings or company picnics. All pizzas are made fresh before guests' eyes using homemade dough and sauce. A wide variety of topping options include fresh vegetables roasted over the wood fire as the oven heats up. Pizzas are then served buffet-style al fresco along with salad, drinks and gelato for dessert. Rates start at USD 950 for a party of up to 50 people.

"What surprises me about the truck is how it instantly creates an ambiance that everyone loves," explains Doug Coffin, chef and owner of the Big Green Truck. "It has something for everyone: a novel idea, an engineering puzzle, a wood fire, a beautiful antique, a friendly staff making you whatever you want, a cooking show, Ray Charles on the CD player, great food—what's not to like?"

The Big Green Truck currently operates just in the area of New Haven, Connecticut, and it has a packed schedule. Pizza-minded entrepreneurs in the rest of the world—what are you waiting for? Start shopping for an antique truck!

Mom arrested after boy calls 911 from car to report her driving - The Crowdsourcing Of Investing

Wines Across America Success Story

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

BabyLovesDisco.Com - Diapers at the Disco

What: Disco dance parties for families with kids ages 6 months to 7 years
Who: Heather Murphy Monteith and Andy Blackman Hurwitz of Baby Loves Disco
Where: Philadelphia
When: Started in 2004
Startup Costs: $29,000

Heather Murphy Monteith, a modern dancer and mother of two children under age 7, was fed up with the gift shop trappings and ubiquitous junk food at traditional family destinations like the zoo. After throwing an at-home disco dance party for parents and their kids one Saturday afternoon, Murphy Monteith, 35, hosted the same event at a local nightclub--which she triple-cleaned before letting any tots loose inside. Music industry veteran Andy Blackman Hurwitz, 41, also a parent of two children under 7, approached Murphy Monteith at an early baby disco event and suggested they partner up to take the monthly Philadelphia parties to New York City. Obtaining startup capital from credit cards, the pair decided to give it a go.

Thanks to word-of-mouth and local marketing through e-mails, fliers and posters, the Baby Loves Disco events became wildly popu-lar with little disco dancers--and parents, too. Says Murphy Monteith, "We're looking to create an atmosphere for the whole family to have a really good time." That includes a chill-out area with books, temporary tattoos, balloons and organic snacks, as well as cocktails for non-driving adults. Their biggest expense is insurance, since children and alcohol converge at one location.

In 2005, Murphy Monteith and Blackman Hurwitz launched their website,, causing media and blogosphere attention to grow. Baby Loves Disco is in more than 20 U.S. cities and has locations abroad. Sales from the parties reached nearly $560,000 in 2006 and are projected at $1.3 million for this year. The brand has expanded to Baby Loves Jazz books, which are sold in Target and Wal-Mart, and CDs, which are sold on Books and CDs in other musical genres are in the works, including Baby Loves Salsa and Baby Loves Reggae.

How To Turn $60 Into $1000 In Three Months With Domain Names - The Crowdsourcing Of Investing

It's Official - The Ugliest People In US Live In Philadelphia

Sunday, October 21, 2007

How To Turn $60 Into $1000 In Three Months With Domain Names

Here is an interesting story about 'renegade webopreneur' who turned sixty dollars into a thousand bucks as a 'domain profiteer' I just received via e-mail. Most likely, we'll see more and more stories like that. Here is why:

The smart investors with big money are now jumping into this market. You should know that Ross Perot's Perot Investments, Inc. and Howard Schultz's (Chairman of Starbucks Corp.) Maveron LLC have each invested millions of dollars into companies that are buying domain names today for income and future profit. You know these guys are not going to put millions of dollars at risk on a whim.

Richard Rosenblatt has created and sold $1.3 billion dollars of Internet companies including iMALL which he founded, ran and sold for $565 million, and MySpace which he turned around as Chairman and sold for $580 million. He's raised over $200 million to invest in his domain business.

With major players like Perot, Schultz and Rosenblatt writing multi-million dollar checks, you don't have to worry about this being some fly-by-night deal. We're talking about a serious - incredibly profitable business - that's exploding across the Internet. Just one portion (according to Red Herring magazine) has exploded from $400 million in 2006 to a projected $1 billion in 2007!

Joe Sugarman's Triggers - Brain Surgery for Dummies

25 Mona Lisa Secrets You Never Knew

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Do It Yourself Wedding Rings

Few possessions are closer to married consumers' hearts than their wedding rings, but purchase decisions have traditionally been limited to figuring out whether to buy one ready-made or to ask a jeweller to make a custom one. Now New York Wedding Ring is offering consumers a third possibility: make it themselves.

Consumers are well-acquainted with the "make or buy" decision from many aspects of their lives, but rarely has jewellery been one of them because of the skill and equipment required. New York Wedding Ring, however, is changing that with private, full-day workshops in which couples can design and craft their engagement or wedding rings. A professional jeweller guides them at each stage of the process as they work with platinum, gold, palladium, or mokume gane; by the end of the day, they will have crafted professional-quality rings through an experience they'll always remember.

Pricing begins at USD 1,075 for a set of two simple palladium wedding rings crafted in a one-day workshop; more elaborate designs tend to require a second day, and cost an additional USD 850. New York Wedding Ring operates studios in both New York and San Francisco.

Paul Graham - Why More And More Web 2.0 Startups Are Going To Crash

How To Get A Free Macy's Gift Card

Friday, October 19, 2007

How To Make Half A Million Dollars ... With Ducttape

It’s sticky, and many Americans have a roll, just in case, but a number of resourceful entrepreneurs have made duct tape the focus of their businesses.

Garett Croft Stenson was broke and living with his parents in Portland, Ore., after college when he crafted a few wallets out of duct tape — a hobby he had learned in his dorm room. Mr. Stenson brought them to a local market to sell for $8 to $15.

The small, thin, brightly colored wallets were a hit, to the point where demand was outpacing supply. Soon Mr. Stenson was hearing from stores interested in selling his product and selling his wares at art shows nationwide.

“I thought, this could be a real business,” said Mr. Stenson, who was spending up to 90 hours a week making wallets. “I made the decision to take on an S.B.A. loan and hire people to help produce them. It evolved from something handmade for a street market to, ‘Let’s go big with this.’ ”

Five years later, Mr. Stenson’s business, DB Clay, is manufacturing a thicker type of duct tape in China and hoping to make at least $500,000 in sales this year. And he is not alone.

Dozens of small businesses make wallets, handbags, jewelry and other products out of duct tape.

Matchmaking May Be An Old Concept But It Still Makes Money

Why One Company Decided To Give Away Free iPods

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Killer Starups -

FOUNDER Jay Mullis, 30

LAUNCHED August 2006

STARTUP CAPITAL $63,000 in prize money from business plan competitions

Jay Mullis is a fount of odd facts about cockroaches. For instance: Roaches can swim. On land they scuttle at speeds up to three miles an hour (yes, someone actually clocked it) but rarely venture more than ten feet from their nest. They eat like truck drivers and tend to prefer sweets, though some also like a dash of sour.

Mullis is so good at understanding the roach that he's building a business around tempting their taste buds. He's betting that roaches will eat his gourmet bait, an environmentally friendly, pet-safe alternative to the highly toxic pest-control products on the market. The main ingredient is boric acid, which has about the same toxicity as table salt and kills insects - including ants, silverfish, and roaches - by dehydrating them. "People are going green at home," Mullis says. "They want something safer than the chemical bombs."

He got the recipe from his grandfather, who developed it in the 1980s. He had mixed boric acid with other secret ingredients to create a sweet, moist dough that could be placed behind appliances and in cabinets. The result was so effective that he was able to build a thriving pest-control business in Georgia. When he died in 1996, he left the formula to his grandson. An MBA student at the University of Georgia, Mullis decided to use the family recipe to fulfill his entrepreneurial ambitions. He formed Mullis Enterprises, came up with the name Green Dragon Roach Kill - "I wanted a mascot," he says, "something that could be fierce or friendly like a dragon" - tweaked the formula a bit, and devised a straw-shaped plastic container for dispensing the bait. "My grandfather used to roll the dough by hand into balls - it's that safe - but people don't want to touch a pest-killing product," Mullis explains. He also began marketing it as a green solution with a kick because, he says, his product scores a double kill, eliminating both the roach that ingests the bait and any nestmates that munch on their fallen comrade.

A competitor could try to reverse-engineer Green Dragon's product, but Mullis has applied for patents on the formula and dispenser to keep copycats at bay. His biggest challenge is obtaining EPA approval. To date, Green Dragon has spent $10,000 on consultants to file the paperwork and on environmental studies required by the agency. Mullis is an optimist, though. He intends to use a portion of his winnings from other business plan competitions to set up production in Danville, Ga., and then target large pest-control companies that treat homes and commercial properties rather than go straight to the retail market. Already, he says, he has orders from four pest-control firms in the Southeast totaling $200,000: "Their customers are asking them for a green solution. I've got it."

Scientists Discover Why Gossip Is More Powerful Than Truth

I Read The New York Times Every Day. So Should You. Here Is Why

Joe Sugarman's Triggers - The Last Temptation of the Well Heeled

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

CrazyMenu - How To Make Big Bucks On Group Dining

Anyone who's ever taken on the tedious task of tallying up the office lunch order or asking around to get consensus on which restaurant to go to or order from is bound to love the simplicity and convenience of Crazymenu—a new online venture that provides tools to help friends, colleagues and officemates efficiently and easily get their lunch plans in order so they can spend the bulk of their lunch hours actually eating lunch!

As with many other dining websites out there, customers can log on to search for restaurants in their area or browse menus, coupons or reviews. But Crazymenu distinguishes itself by featuring a couple of hot new tools to ease the dining or takeout experience. With Pick-A-Place, a member can send out restaurant suggestions to a group of people, who then vote right from their computers, streamlining the democratic process. The Group Order function lets everyone enter their customizable orders and then compiles them to be faxed, emailed or phoned in to the restaurant. Both functions work via email and with major instant messenger applications. What's more, restaurant owners and operators can get in on the action, too, uploading and editing menus as needed, and replying personally to member reviews. Crazymenu claims it can boost business orders by as much as 400 percent. Currently in beta, the site is supported by Google ads, with obvious potential for restaurateurs, travel agencies and the like to buy ad space as well.

Crazymenu serves more than a dozen major cities in the United States, Canada and Europe, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Toronto, London and Paris. While the concept was designed with lunches in mind, customers can take advantage of these tools to coordinate any meal or restaurant outing. It's an idea that's likely to be at hit in any city where hungry officemates are scrambling to make lunch or happy hour plans.

Believe it or not, the crazy sums tech and media giants are paying for startups may ultimately make sense

The Ad That Sold Twenty Six Thousand Ties

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Grownups Like To Play Too

When it comes to meeting new people, children tend to have the right idea: just start playing, and everything will be fine. Turns out that premise can work with grownups too, as Play Date Atlanta can attest.

Launched two years ago, Play Date Atlanta has created an alternative to the typical club scene by offering Atlanta-area singles and couples a chance to meet one another in a casual atmosphere focused on playing games. No high pressure, no awkward introductions; rather, participants in Play Date Atlanta's monthly events just roll up their sleeves and enter into a little friendly competition. The games available span the spectrum from Monopoly and Yahtzee to Hungry Hungry Hippos and Musical Chairs. The setting is a function room in a local Crowne Plaza hotel, and food and drinks complete the picture. Participants pay a USD 10 entrance fee, which includes free parking.

The concept was created by Atlanta-based Green Light Entertainment, which hopes to bring the Play Date movement to other cities, too. Time to start facilitating grown-up play dates in your own neck of the woods? Let the games begin.

The Ad That Sold Twenty Six Thousand Ties

10 Most Depressing Jobs

Monday, October 15, 2007

GymAmerica.Com - How To Operate A Profitable Virtual Fitness Business

Genesant Technologies, Inc. created to be the first all-inclusive health and fitness network to offer you expert solutions in the battle to stay in shape.

Though diversifying from its heavy-lifting roots, ($6.99 per month) is still a weight trainer's site at heart. Those seeking serious aerobics training or hands-on diet assistance should go elsewhere.
can create a weight program for you, or you can enter your own custom program. You can also base your workout on those used by professional athletes such as Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell. All programs specify weight, reps, and rest periods, and future workouts are adjusted according to the results you enter into the training log.

The Paradox Of Choice

Pepsi, Coke Rivalry Becomes Physical When Pepsi Deliveryman Punches His Coke Counterpart In The Face At A Pa. Wal-Mart

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Indigenous Designs Success Story

When Scott Leonard launched Indigenous Designs 14 years ago and told people he was importing fair trade, organic clothing, he was met with blank stares. "At that point, people barely understood what organic food meant, let alone organic clothing," he says.

Today, with $4 million in revenue and distributors like Whole Foods and the Sundance catalog, the Santa Rosa, California-based company is working in a different market. "People want to put consumer dollars where it counts--for their own [well-being] and a better planet," Leonard says.

Leonard's inspiration for the company came from a trip he took to Ecuador in the early '90s, during which a friend introduced him to a women's fair trade knitting cooperative. Because of their outdated tools and inability to access quality fabrics or high-end designs, the women were being paid a fraction of what their talent was worth. As a result, many of them couldn't break free of the poverty cycle. Leonard, 40, who owned a surf shop at the time, changed gears, determined to create a company that could both earn a profit and help women like those he met in Ecuador.

Since then, Leonard and partner Matt Reynolds, 40, have teamed up with nongovernmental organizations in Ecuador, Guatemala, India and Peru. Through the NGOs, Indigenous Designs works with more than 300 knitting cooperatives of women who sew, crochet and knit sweaters, casualwear and accessories. Part of Leonard's job is to determine the groups' skills and match them with designs created by his team in California: "Our design mantra is ‘Never let a customer feel like they're sacrificing quality or fashion sense to be a good global citizen.'"

Fabrics are sourced within 400 miles of each cooperative and are created using sustainable, natural materials. The knitting groups are given training and proper needles. While Leonard says shipping and quality control increase the costs of running his company, it's still competitive because he sells to high-end retailers. "At the heart of Indigenous is a truly symbiotic relationship," says Leonard, "one that mutually benefits all three parties: the consumer, the employee and the planet."

The Paradox Of Choice

VistaPrint - How To Get Free Custom Printed Postards From VistaPrint.Com

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Spoofcard.Com - Spoof Your Way To Riches

If you've ever made or received a call using a calling card, you've probably noticed one of the side effects of these payment systems: instead of your number showing up on the recipient's Caller ID screen, a number owned by the card's issuer appears. Now a company called SpoofCard has decided to capitalize on this discrepancy by selling calling cards that are specifically designed to spoof Caller ID systems.

For about 17 cents a minute, SpoofCard lets you send any numeric string as your Caller ID code. The service goes even further, providing realtime voice-changing capabilities and call recording. Although SpoofCard's Privacy Policy specifies that the service shouldn't be used for illegal activities and that the company reserves the right to hand over your personal info if they're subpoenaed, we won't be surprised to see this shut down soon. In the meantime, here's your chance to really confuse those wiretappers.

LifeHack - How To Get Free Postcards

The New York Times Home Delivery - $4 For 4 Weeks. What's The Catch? There isn't one!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Teenpreneurs - Aaron Sacks Story

Age: 17
Business started: 2006
Initial investment: $850
Education: Currently attending Montgomery Blair High School

Sacks got the inspiration for his business when his parents printed cards for his brother's bar mitzvah party. He developed his idea for a customized card business during his NFTE entrepreneurship class.

Today his business prints custom images such as a company's logo or a personal photo on the backs of playing cards, so that the decks can be used as a marketing tool or mementos at weddings and birthday parties. While making samples for his class, a Xerox (XRX) distributor asked to buy some cards. "When I made my first sale, I really knew I had a good product because he raised his original order from 5 decks to 75 decks once he saw the product."

Weird Facts

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

How To Become A Successful Second Life Entrepreneur

In the simulated world of Second Life, in which 9.6 million "residents" or registered users create the world around them, standing out is paramount.

"I have 500 different skins," says Arikinui Adria, a virtual fashion designer who is referring to various looks that can be worn by her "avatar," a character that she and anyone who registers for Second Life can create. "Just like real people change their lipstick to match their outfits, I change my hair style, my hair color and my skins to match mine."

Armed with a graphic-design tool and image-editing software, Adria creates fashions for herself and for sale in her virtual store, Nuclear Boutique, from which she earns between $1,500 and $3,500 each month. Granted, the real life 39-year-old Cocoa, Fla., resident who asked that her real name not be used, says, "I'm not making the millions Ralph Lauren is making." But the fact that a population of avatars admires her design skills is rewarding, she says.

In Second Life, "you can do anything you want, create anything you want and be whoever you want to be," says Daniel Terdiman, author of "The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life," which is due out in November. Since the fantasy word's inception in 2003 people have gotten married, taken classes, thrown parties, watched movies, gone shopping, built homes — and now, they're testing their entrepreneurial mettle. What makes Second Life so unusual compared to many other interactive 3D games (such as those played on Microsoft's Xbox) is that the virtual society uses a currency and thus an economy has begun to take shape.

Second Life poses a big opportunity for entrepreneurs, says Terdiman. "It is a virtual world in which personal expression is important," he says. Since there is no limit to what people can create, he estimates that "several hundred thousand consumers" will likely want to spend money on the latest designs for anything from vehicles that fly to enhanced body parts.

Entering the "metaverse" — a term used to describe immersive 3D virtual spaces such as Second Life — may not make much business sense for every would-be digital entrepreneur as it takes the same amount of hard work and stamina as owning a real-world business. But for those with an eye for design and technological acumen to boot, taking a second look at virtual worlds might, in fact, be worth the effort.

A Primer on Second Life

In 2006, according to demographers from Linden Lab, the San Francisco-based creator of Second Life, more than $93 million worth of transactions took place in Second Life. Additionally, in the last 12 months 2,082 entrepreneurs selling anything from cars and fashion accessories to parcels of their own private island made $20,000 or more. And just last month, 1,615 resident-business owners earned $1,000 to $2,000 and another 1,058 earned between $2,000 and $5,000.

Getting a Second Life is free. However, a computer, Second Life software, and a high-speed Internet connection are generally necessary for optimal use. A premium membership in which users can buy land and receive a weekly stipend is also available for $9.95 a month. The currency, known as "Linden" dollars, may be purchased using a credit card and earned during the game. Lindens can then be converted into real dollars via online currency exchanges.

Virtual worlds including Second Life and "World of Warcraft," an online role-playing game, are receiving massive inflows of money. According to a recent report about technology trends in small businesses from Intuit, it's estimated that more than $200 million real-world dollars are funneled through virtual worlds each month.

And entrepreneurs like Elizabeth Foshion, are capitalizing on the trend. Four years ago, Foshion, or "Surreal Farber" as she's known in Second Life, and her business partner entered the virtual community as content creators. "We started making stuff for ourselves and people liked it," she says. From there, the two invested in their own island, which today might cost $1,675, plus a $295 monthly maintenance fee.

Inspired by various works of science fiction, they named their island "Chaos" and turned it into a sci-fi fun land complete with underground tunnels and a similarly themed store, "Phobos 3D Design," where residents can buy wardrobe essentials such as a pair of metallic cyber-punk boots and textured T-shirts. At Chaos, Foshion says, "we have alien eggs that are willing to abduct you." Sales from the store, she says, take place in Lindens and range anywhere from five cents to $15 U.S. Every three months, the store brings in about $8,000 to $10,000.

The potential that virtual worlds hold for entrepreneurs is unmistakable, says Edward Castronova, an associate professor of telecommunications at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind. Entrepreneurs "may not make money, but they would certainly have their eyes open to a new technology" that may play a key role in future forms of commerce and the way humans interact for years to come, he says.

Virtual Merchandising 101

And it's not just about selling virtual goods and services. Both large and small firms are looking at virtual worlds as one more venue to pitch real-world merchandise to consumers. 1-800-Flowers, for example, is considering selling real-world floral arrangements through its virtual store. (Currently, flower shoppers have to exit Second Life to order bouquets.) And Sears Holdings offers Second Life residents the opportunity to purchase real merchandise via a link to its web site within its virtual store on IBM Island.

According to the Intuit report, more than 100 small businesses offer e-commerce options within Second Life. One of them is I Want One Of Those Ltd., a U.K.-based site that sells items from multiple retailers, which offers an e-commerce option within its store in Second Life on IWOOT Island.

Some real-world businesses, however, have found the efforts haven't paid off. American Apparel shuttered its virtual doors in May 2007, after about a year of operation. "Linden Lab has left the door wide open to creativity, but it's not without limitations," says Raz Schionning, director of American Apparel's web services. In Second Life, there's a "limit on the number of avatars (visitors) who could be in the store at the same time," he says. "We sold more virtual products than we expected, but it clearly wasn't going to compare to the channels we already use, such as retail stores or online stores."

Some companies are looking at Second Life — and other virtual worlds such as "There" and "Gaia Online" — as a place to build brand awareness rather than sell products. Millions Of Us, a San Francisco consulting firm, often advises companies on marketing techniques in virtual worlds. "We are not necessarily creating stuff," says Reuben Steiger, chief executive of Millions Of Us. "It is much more about creating experiences on Second Life."

For example, Millions of Us recently helped Warner Bros. Entertainment and the CW Television Network launch a "Virtual Upper East Side" in Second Life to gain publicity and create enthusiasm for the television show "Gossip Girl." The idea, says Steiger, was to mimic New York's Upper East Side neighborhood where "viewers of the show can hang out with the avatars of the cast members and ask them questions."

Even for small businesses the virtual marketing strategy is simple, says Steiger. Consider your customers and their respective needs. People in Second Life, who are essentially living in a fantasy world, respond to experiences rather than repurposed everyday advertisements. To gain their attention, and consequently their business, Steiger recommends providing experiences instead. And like any business, he added: "The key to success is to make something really great."

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ten Million Dollars From Console Skins

Gamer Graffix, a manufacturer of stick-on decals for videogame consoles, started out selling its own designs before landing licensing deals with Nintendo and Sony. With new "skins" based on game-giant characters such as Donkey Kong, the Providence-based company ( doubled revenues to $10 million in 2006.

Founder Chris White, now 41, was running a toy importer five years ago when an intern showed him how a decal had ruined the finish on his PlayStation. White spent eight months developing an adhesive that let stickers be removed and reapplied.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Your Grandma's Socks.

Swiss Netgranny is a collective of 15 grannies who knit socks on demand and sell them online. Customers can choose their favourite granny from a gallery of 'Grosis', which includes information on why the women knit ('not for money, just to pass the time') or about their professional credentials ('at age 6, I taught my 4 year-old sister to knit').

Customers pick the colour of their socks, or opt for a surprise design. After placing an order, their personal sock-knitting granny will take approximately two weeks to knit the pair of socks, which are sold for CHF 39 (USD 33 / EUR 26) a pair, including delivery.

Netgranny was founded by Swiss fashion label Tarzan, who have created a product loaded with storytelling opportunities. While socks are generally a bland clothing commodity, this line of foot apparel lets customers pull up the leg of their trousers and share a great story with their friends or family.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Not Your Regular Ice Cream Truck

What: Pink ice cream trucks with international treats
Who: Leyla Safai of Heartschallenger
Where: Los Angeles
When: Started in 2005
Startup: $20,000

In 2005, 28-year-old Leyla Safai quit her job to pursue her dare-to-dream vision of owning a colorful ice cream truck that delivers toys and treats to an electronic beat. A fan of fairytales, Safai sought the "happily ever after" she had always read about. With $20,000, Safai purchased an old mail truck, painted it pink with white hearts and unicorns, and adopted the name Heartschallenger.

Today, Safai's five trucks can be spotted at birthday parties, film festivals and fashion events, dispensing global favorites like Japanese mochi, Persian rosewater ice cream and Mexican fruit bars while playing punk-disco themed music mixed by Safai's band, Heartsrevolution.

Safai says Heartschallenger represents much more than just an ice cream truck. "There's something deeper that kids and adults find inspiring," she says.

Looking down the road, Heartschallenger is fueling out to Chicago, New York City, Paris and parts of the United Kingdom. Safai expects about $250,000 in sales this year.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Push.TV Success Story

Doug Levine and Dave Leyrer wanted to make personal training affordable for the average person. Levine, 49, founded and formerly owned the funky, urban Crunch Fitness chain that sold to Bally Total Fitness in 2002. Leyrer, 39, used to run a VC firm. "We [set out to] use technology to deliver 80 percent or 90 percent of the efficacy of a world-class personal trainer at literally pennies on the dollar," says Leyrer.

So the pair created a subscription-based business through their website, Consumers go to the site and answer a series of questions about their level of strength and flexibility and any injuries they have. Push films each of its nine renowned personal trainers, who are usually paid hundreds of dollars per hour, as they demonstrate close to 1,000 individual exercises. For a fee of $25 a month, subscribers are mailed a DVD version of the edited clips.

Push programmers have developed technology that selects a series of clips for each client, then auto-edits them together with animated transitions and music. The DVDs also incorporate equipment such as a resistance ball or a step (depending on what the customers report that they have) as well as any health changes (e.g., pregnancy) into the routine. Each month, a new DVD arrives that is gradually more difficult, with opportunities for the trainee to update their online profile and file electronic complaints if the exercises are too easy or too challenging.

Rather than using conventional advertising, Push hired a well-known New York City PR agency to get its product out there. The company has been written up in Shape, The Wall Street Journal and O, Oprah Winfrey's magazine. Push, which also has a diet and nutrition component, now has more than 7,500 subscribers. It owns all its video programming and has reached a syndication deal with Comcast On Demand.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Profiting From Visas And Passports

When Bill Gates applied for a visa for a recent trip to Nigeria, his paperwork hit a snag. The Nigerian government required proof that the billionaire chairman of Microsoft would not stay in the country and become a drain on Nigeria's social services. The company helping him with his application, travel document expediter CIBT, obtained a letter from Gates' bank that reassured the Nigerian authorities, and the visa was approved.

More than 200 U.S. companies profit from helping travelers navigate the maze of documents they need to obtain visas and passports, according to Robert Smith, executive director of the National Association of Passport & Visa Services, the industry's trade group. While there isn't research available on the size of the passport and visa expediting services industry, Smith estimates it's a $150 million business in the U.S. alone. And as countries tighten their borders because of concerns about security and immigration, he expects that the market for such services will only expand.

CIBT has grown quickly. Originally founded in 1989, it had 60 employees and $15 million in revenue by 2003. That's when Jeffrey Fine, CIBT's chief executive officer, partnered with a private equity group to buy the business and lead an aggressive buyout strategy. CIBT has made 14 acquisitions in the last five years, and now has 560 employees and offices across the U.S. and Europe. Fine says CIBT processes about 800,000 visa and passport applications annually worldwide and expects 2007 sales to hit $135 million.

Fine's background in leveraged buyouts spans sectors from real estate to home health care. He describes the passport and visa expediting business as a highly fragmented industry where most of the players are mom-and-pop shops, making it ripe for consolidation. "Our ultimate goal is to create a global brand in visa and passport expediting," Fine says. What FedEx is to the U.S. Postal Service, Fine wants CIBT to be to passport services.

The changes in passport and visa rules have been a boon to the industry. Starting this year, U.S. citizens traveling by air are now required to have a passport to re-enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean. And the Homeland Security Dept. plans to start enforcing the same requirement for U.S. citizens traveling by land and sea as early as January, 2008, as part of its "Western Hemisphere travel initiative." The new rules have increased the demand for U.S. passports from 13 million applications last year to an estimated 16 million this year, according to the State Dept.

Getting a U.S. passport through the normal channels can take 10 to 12 weeks. Even the government's expedited service takes two or three weeks. Travelers who urgently need passports in less than two weeks can make an appointment to visit one of the government's 13 Passport Agency offices in person. But for many applicants, companies like CIBT save time and headaches. The expediter can get customers' passports in one week, three days, or even 24 hours, for fees ranging from $50 to $100 on top of the government's normal processing fees.

How does it work? Passport expediters are registered with the government and allocated a limited number of slots to process urgent applications. The company makes sure all the paperwork is in order, delivers it to the agency office, and obtains the passport. Because the number of slots is limited, expediting passports is a tough business for new players to enter, Fine says. "It's kind of like a country club, because they say they're only going to expedite a million [applications], and those million are allocated right now," he says.

Many of CIBT's customers are corporate travel departments or cruise ship and tour operators—clients who need a large number of applications processed at once. Other customers are individuals traveling on short notice for funerals or family emergencies.

Even with the growing demand, passports make up only 20% of CIBT's U.S. business, Fine says. (CIBT expedites only U.S. passports, but processes visas for all nationalities.) The company's bread and butter is foreign visa applications. With roughly 200 passport-issuing countries in the world, each with different visa rules, expediters have to keep track of myriad combinations that each require particular—and often mind-boggling—documentation.

Add to that factors such as whether people are traveling for business or leisure and whether they need single-entry or multiple-entry visas. "It creates tens of thousands of combinations of visa and passport requirements," Fine says. "That's why companies outsource to us, because there's a lot of content to be aware of."

CIBT doesn't expect that to change any time soon. If anything, Fine says, he thinks terrorism concerns will make the paperwork needed for international travel more complicated. He plans to continue the company's aggressive acquisitions and open offices in more countries. "It's a highly scalable business and therefore you can achieve good operating margins the larger you become."

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Is Your House Haunted?

I've got to admit that this is the strangest online business I've stumbled upon in a long, long while.

Is your house haunted? Find out now and get superstition texts! Enter our site and find out if your house could be haunted. Tell us what city you live in, and answer some simple questions about your home.

Do objects go missing or disappear in your house? Do you hear strange noises at night? Have you lived in your house for over 5 years?

Answer easy questions about yourself and your own superstitions. Do you believe in black cats, walking under ladders, etc.?

Find out if your house is haunted!

A rather clever idea to make money online, don't you thing. Oh, and sorry to all readers of this blog outside the United States, I believe this particular site accepts US traffic only.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

How To Make Money With Unwanted Mattrasses.

San Francisco-based BedBusters is focusing on a specific element of household garbage: mattresses. For about USD 100, the company will haul away a two-piece full-sized mattress set. Extra charges apply if the haulers must climb more than 18 stair steps, and removing bigger mattresses costs more. Riding the eco wave, the mattress disposal service has incorporated an important green element. Once the mattress is carted away, it’s taken to a recycling centre where a machine grinds the mattress back into its basic elements of steel, wood and foam, all of which can be reused.

By contrast, many mattresses are simply taken to landfills and left to rot. A lot of mattresses, it turns out. The International Sleep Products Association reports that just in the Duluth region of Minnesota in the US, more than 63,000 mattresses are dumped at landfills every year. Elsewhere, many landfills no longer accept mattress drop-offs, or charge hefty fees. Which creates a growing niche for entrepreneurs.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

How To Make Money Selling Artwork In Hotels

In the winter of 2003, two globetrotters met on a flight from New York to Los Angeles and started chatting about their travels. One of the fliers, a fine-art dealer, wondered why the art selection at many top-notch hotels was so poor.

"The 'poster art' on the walls degraded the entire experience of staying in a five-star hotel," says the art dealer, Vincent Vallarino.

The other traveler, a hotel-management veteran, agreed -- and the seeds of a small business were planted. The following year, they set up shop as Metropolitan Art Group LLC and approached upscale hotels with an original pitch. Metropolitan, or MAG as it calls itself, supplies the hotels with fine-art prints to gussy up their rooms and common areas. The hotels can then sell copies of the prints to guests who want a memento of their stay.

Show Me the Monet

So far, MAG has teamed up with hotels such as the Plaza in New York and the Savoy in London, providing them with a range of artwork -- from household names like Monet to hot contemporary artists like Peter Brown and Guy A. Wiggins. Guests can get their hands on prints for $150 to $1,500.

MAG says the arrangement offers the hotels two main benefits. For one, the hotels get a cut of the print sales. Then there's prestige. Each print comes with a museum-style plaque identifying the piece as part of the hotel's signature art collection -- which makes travelers associate the hotel with the high-toned artwork.

Pam Carter, director of public relations at the Savoy, says the hotel liked MAG's pitch because it presented the hotel "with a steady revenue stream while enabling [us] to bridge [our] cultural past to [our] present." Claude Monet spent the winters of 1899 to 1901 as an artist-in-residence at the Savoy, where he began work on more than 70 canvases.

A Dallas couple, Leon and Susan Holman, gush over the $1,015 print they purchased at the Savoy in January. "Our copy of 'Houses of Parliament' reminded us of the view at dusk from our room at the Savoy during our 30th wedding anniversary," says Mrs. Holman. "It's the most meaningful work of art we've ever owned."

Of course, hotel merchandising isn't entirely new. Many hotels have long sold branded items such as bathrobes. And in the late 1990s, the practice kicked into high gear, with hotels offering whole catalogs of tony goodies -- everything from simple knickknacks to designer beds. Some estimates peg the hotel-merchandising market at $60 million and see it topping $100 million within the next few years.

MAG, a closely held firm, won't disclose its revenue. But Sidney W. Davidson III, chief executive officer and managing partner of MAG, says that year-over-year sales growth was 15% in 2006 and is expected to reach 20% to 25% for 2007.

For an idea of the company's take, consider this: During a four-month trial in 2005, the Plaza Hotel sold 170 limited-edition prints from MAG, generating $150,000 for MAG and $20,000 for the hotel, according to a company memo. The hotels usually pocket 10% to 20% of the revenue for print sales; the artists get 10%. If it's a classic piece, like a Monet, then MAG and the hotel divide the revenue.

Art of the Deal

Part of MAG's success has been its mix of talents. Its officials boast a wide variety of backgrounds, including art dealers and former investment bankers. Mr. Vallarino, for one, has been active as a dealer and gallery owner for over 30 years.

That combination of backgrounds helps MAG significantly when it comes to marketing. Most small businesses have to hustle to make a name for themselves among customers. But MAG's members have deep contacts in the hotel and art worlds, which helps them get in the door and land deals.

Moreover, say some enterprise experts, the company has positioned itself well to piggyback on the cachet of the posh hotels. "Travelers choosing to stay at high-end hotels often prefer to associate themselves with a very specific brand, much like wearing designer clothing," says Chekitan S. Dev, associate professor of marketing and brand management at Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration in Ithaca, N.Y. And that can translate into big sales for companies like MAG that supply the hotels with branded goods.

When MAG teams up with a hotel, it studies the look and feel of the property and recommends artists who complement the décor and setting. MAG reviews the artists and their work with the hotel management and they jointly select a best fit. The two also work together to figure out where to place the artwork in the hotel. The pieces are then marketed to guests in a variety of ways, from wall plaques to catalogs in the guest rooms and gift shop.

Blue Period

Not all of MAG's projects have been successful. In its latest venture, a trial partnership with the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, MAG has seen slow sales.

Mr. Davidson says a number of factors are at work. For one thing, the Waldorf-Astoria project represents MAG's first entirely commissioned line of artwork, so the pieces don't have the same built-in recognition among guests.

In addition, MAG is still trying to get the hotel to put the artwork in higher-traffic areas, such as the main lobby. For now, the prints are mostly showcased in an arcade that connects the Park Avenue entrance with the garage, an area that's home to a high-end flower shop.

James W. Blauvelt, executive director of catering and special events at the Waldorf-Astoria, believes print sales will pick up with the fall ball and winter holiday season.

"MAG offered an original product for us to attach our brand to that was both interesting and authentic," Mr. Blauvelt says. "Not having engaged in a project like this before, we are eager to see how things develop from a guest-interest standpoint."

Currently, MAG is considering expanding its concept into a new venue: cruise liners. Guest artists may offer classes on board, while they produce artwork that might be displayed on future excursions.

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