Friday, November 30, 2007

Facebook For Millionaires

A new crop of online social-networking sites has taken aim at the rich, seeking to create exclusive Web communities of like-moneyed friends. The sites -- essentially MySpace for millionaires -- promise safe havens for the affluent where they can flirt, swap advice, plan parties and find new pals without mixing with hoi polloi.

The sites -- the best known is -- borrow many of their rules from blue-blood social clubs. People must be invited to join. Membership decisions seem to be based on an applicant's education, job title and connections, since it's difficult to verify wealth levels. Those who engage in improper behavior, like trying to mingle with strangers or sell products too aggressively, are kicked out.

On the surface, the sites seem like a winning idea. Social networking outposts have exploded in popularity, while the number of millionaires and billionaires is also surging. Since wealth likes to be with wealth, the rich often seek out networks to help them with everything from vacations and parties to managing money and making business contacts. What's more, the sites host frequent member events, like jet rides, vineyard tours and sailing trips, sponsored by high-end corporate partners.

Yet getting the rich to mingle online, it turns out, isn't so easy. Today's wealthy, aside from being intensely private, are so pressed for time and overloaded with existing social commitments that they may have little interest in trolling the Web for new pals.

What's more, while the sites claim to be exclusive, they're opening their doors wider and wider to please advertisers and investors, who often prefer quantity over quality. And the sites can't ensure that all their members are what they say they are, despite verification systems from fellow members and the sites themselves. All this has rankled some members, who say the sites have become simply well-dressed Facebooks.

"It's very difficult to build a network based solely on wealth," says Stephen Martiros, a managing director of CCC Alliance, a coalition of rich families based in Boston. "You might start with a few wealthy people, but as you grow it eventually reverts to the mean. And once that happens, the wealthy leave. If you have one guy worth $100 million sitting at a table with a guy worth $1 million, only one of them is going to be excited to be there."

Take the recent experiences of aSmallWorld. Launched in 2004 by Swedish banker and globetrotter Erik Wachtmeister, aSmallWorld has more than 250,000 members. Weinstein Co., owned by movie moguls Bob and Harvey Weinstein, bought a stake last year, giving it added cachet. Joe Robinson, the company's CEO, says aSmallWorld is aimed at tastemakers, social connectors and the migratory rich, who may want to meet up in Scotland for golf or Paris for dinner.

Prospective members have to be invited to join by another member. Rules state that members aren't allowed to "annoy, harass or unreasonably disturb members, or try to connect to members with whom you have no previous contact."

The site's classified ad section reads like a billionaire's yard sale: "For sale -- Caviar Servers and Horn Spoons." "For Sale $2.8 million Tsavorite gemstone." "Bugatti Veyron, Black, 2006. 1.1 million Euros."

This week's hot topics in the forums included "Best Fencing Clubs in the world," "Surfing in Gstaad?" and a discussion of lobster-abuse in St. Tropez. (One member recoiled at watching them boiled alive.) Another asks: "If you had $20 million where would you invest it now, given the subprime crisis?" (Members advised commodities and cash.)

Yet aSmallWorld's fast growth -- membership doubled over the past year -- has taken a toll. Some early members complain that the site is being overrun by spammers and riffraff. Membership invitations or passwords to the site can be purchased easily and cheaply -- though in violation of the site's rules -- on eBay or other online invitation sites, members say. (Mr. Robinson says he quickly shuts down membership sellers.) And some complain of strangers hawking products.

One member recently posted the question: "Is it just me, but lately I see people on ASW who really shouldn't be there. Who invites these people? We should be selective who to invite. What about quality control?" Another member wrote: "In the real world, we are each discerning about who we make friends with, who we socialize with. There is no reason why when we come online we should have to socialize with truck drivers etc. from hick parts of the USA."

A Geneva member wrote: "One of my friends, a funny old-timer here, told me that the site has lowered so much its level, that she has invited her maids."

Mr. Robinson says the site maintains its "trust and word of mouth" by allowing only about 15% of its members to invite new members. As for whether the site has become too common, he says that while some members prefer the old days, a much greater number appreciate the benefits of a larger network.

"We pay attention to our growth with vigilance," he says. "I don't take it lightly."

A new site, Diamond Lounge, will also target the elite, but promises to avoid aSmallWorld's growth pains. Founded by Arya Marafie, a British entrepreneur and former marketing executive, the site has 5,000 applications but will launch with no more than 500 members, Mr. Marafie says. Members must be invited to join by a three-person membership committee and have to pay $60 a month in dues.

Mr. Marafie has modeled Diamond Lounge on "Fifty," a gentlemen's club he belongs to in London. And since he owns the site, Mr. Marafie says he will let the members (rather than advertisers and outside investors) decide the site's future. While he insists members will be chosen for being "interesting," rather than just wealthy, he says most of the applications from the U.S. highlight net worth.

Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah, a prominent Kuwaiti who owns a Middle East fashion retailer, is a member of both aSmallWorld and Diamond Lounge. He says he joined the Lounge hoping for a more "exclusive" experience. Still, he says, he's getting some of his most valuable contacts and feedback for his business from a much broader networking site: Facebook.

"It's strange, but a lot of my friends are joining Facebook," he says, adding that "I get feedback from people who normally wouldn't have access to me."

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thirst For Profit

The first time Kara Goldin left her job as a vice-president at AOL was in 1996, the boom years. Kara's boss quickly persuaded her to return. The second time she left, the decision stuck. It was early 2001, and Kara figured her best days at AOL were behind her: She and her team had built an online shopping business, and now she was expected to maintain it. Then there was the matter of the Time Warner merger. She wasn't eager to work for an even more bureaucratic company. "I love the idea of creating a need, of building something new," she says.

So at 34 she cashed out and went home to her husband, Theo, two children--and a renovation on their San Francisco house. By then Theo, also 34, had left his job as an intellectual property lawyer at Netscape. "When we moved out here, I never in a million years thought I was going to work for a big company," he says.

The couple renovated their work lives, too. In May, 2005, the Goldins launched Hint, a naturally flavored bottled water made without sweeteners or preservatives. Kara is the chief executive; Theo the chief operating officer. This year they expect revenues of $3 million to $4 million, and next year three times as much. The water is sold in several grocery chains, including Whole Foods Market, Stop & Shop, and Ralphs, as well as small stores. And, because Cherise McVicar, Walt Disney's senior vice-president for national promotions, happened to try (and like) a sample of Hint, the Goldins now have an arrangement to put Disney' characters on their bottles.

For the Goldins, the years between leaving their familiar world and entering unknown terrain were filled with questioning, sussing out possibilities, then a moment of recognition followed by months of experimenting, gathering info, listening, cold-calling, and being called naive. Then they just plunged in.

They were among the many Silicon Valley exiles who departed ahead of the bust with their bank accounts and confidence intact, entrepreneurs in search of an idea. While their experience reflects a specific time and place, it also resonates more broadly. "It's clear that creative, ambitious people want choice, control, a greater sense of power in the world of careers," says Stewart Friedman, a Wharton School professor. A recent Harris Interactive Survey for found that three-quarters of working adults have already switched careers at least once, and more. More than one-third were interested in a career change.

Those numbers suggest a new way to think about careers. "These people aren't actually shifting careers, but building skill sets," says Penelope Trunk, the author of the Brazen Careerist. "It's a metaphor for the new American Dream. People who aren't moving around should ask themselves why they aren't. They think it's risky. But the more skills you have, the more stable your career is."

Kara did not begin to search for a new career right away. She spent the first few years caring for her young children (she had a third in 2002). Theo did some consulting while overseeing their home's makeover. Then Kara started to get itchy. She considered positions with nonprofits but couldn't find a place where she could use her business experience. "And I didn't have any great ideas of how to start one that could quickly make a difference," she says.

Kara began paying more attention to the concerns of health-conscious mothers. "I was looking for the low-hanging fruit," she says. Then there it was: the sugared-up juice box. "I always wondered why there wasn't another option." There is, of course. It's called water. But Kara figured kids (and everyone else) wanted a drink with flavor. At spas, she had been served water with fruit in it, and realized there was something to that: "I thought someone should put it in a bottle."

Kara began testing fruit combinations on her family and friends while trying to squeeze information from any people in the beverage business who would talk to her. They were pretty skeptical that someone without any experience could succeed with the most difficult of drinks to produce and sell: one that was unsweetened and made without preservatives.

When she put together a business plan in 2004, she started to see what the skeptics were getting at. "I had no resources for labels, bottles, bottlers," she says. "I had only halfway listened to their point about how hard it is to get shelf space [in stores]." The only thing that wasn't a problem was money: She and Theo financed the company themselves initially. Now, after additional investments from friends and family, they own more than 90%.

Theo began devoting more time to Hint about six months before the May, 2005, launch--in two stores, one in Marin County, Calif., and the other in Manhattan. They hadn't signed up any distributors yet, so they drove the first delivery to the local gourmet market (one case of each flavor--apple, cucumber, lime, and tangerine).

A few months later, they got their first big break. At the Fancy Food Show in New York, the San Francisco buyer for Whole Foods expressed interest in carrying Hint. He asked if the Goldins were with United Natural Foods. They had no idea what that was. Turns out it is the largest natural food distributor in the U.S. With the promise of Whole Foods as a customer, they worked out an agreement.

Getting distributors is what it's all about in the beverage business. And for those who work on other things besides health foods, an unsweetened drink retailing for $1.69-$3.00 is a hard sell. The Goldins did, though, just manage to get in with an important network of independent distributors. "They have surprised a lot of people," says Gerry Khermouch, the editor of Beverage Business Insights. "They're selling overpriced, unsweetened water with a slight hint of fruit. They're the niche of the niche."

Now the Goldins have begun to grapple with some of the compromises they made early on. They've improved the production process so that Hint has a shelf life of 12 months instead of four. They've changed their 16-ounce bottle, which was originally an inch shorter than others on the shelves and looked puny by comparison. Their new one is a standard eight inches tall.

They've also figured out a few things about the flavors. Apple and pear are too difficult to work with, so they're on hiatus. To develop mango grapefruit took 15 tries with three different consultants over an entire year. Peppermint, though, took only two attempts.

Next year they hope to raise $3 million from an investor who might help expand their distribution and sales. "We learned over and over again in the tech world that it's not really about the idea. It's about how well and how fast you execute the idea," says Theo.

If they do well with Hint, Theo might consider another job altogether--teaching sixth grade science. Kara says: "I'm sure there's at least one more career in my future."

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

For TreeGivers.Com, Money Does Grow On Trees

In a town in northern New England a small group was gathered for a memorial service for a family member. It was suggested that a tree should be planted as a living memorial for the deceased. That is how it started in 1981. Known as Lofty Oaks Association, the company grew rapidly representing the funeral industry nation wide. Shortly more and more companies and individuals alike were asking to have trees planted on their behalf for special occasions.

That is when the founders, Leslie Dreier and Bruce Hadlock started TreeGivers. TreeGivers was developed for a new market of businesses and for the public consumer. With steady growth it wasn't long before they out grew their location and needed larger accommodations. They found the answer in a century old farmhouse. In keeping with their conservation initiatives, Bruce and Leslie have carefully preserved the exterior of the 100-year-old farmhouse much like the original. The interior has been updated to contain the newest in processing equipment, while still maintaining some old New England charm including the original working fireplace.

Today this restored farmhouse contains the corporate offices and the dedicated staff of both TreeGivers and Lofty Oaks Association. We have planted hundreds of thousands of young trees on public lands in all 50 states of the United States and in the International Tree Planting countries as part of their reforestation programs. Since we began our program in 1981, we have always endeavored to find youth groups to be involved in the plantings. We have enlisted Scout groups and 4-H Clubs from all over the country in this effort. Naturally, experienced nurserymen or national foresters guide them in the planting. In other states, the trees are planted by professionals with special consideration concerning the species and best growing locations.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Social Network For The Disabled

There are more than 50 million adults with disabilities in the United States alone, but so far, as a specific market, they’ve been largely unrecognized and underserved. Disaboom, which just launched last month, aims to change all that with a social network aimed specifically at consumers whose lives have been touched by disabilities.

Disaboom was founded by J. Glen House, who graduated from medical school after a skiing accident left him quadriplegic at the age of 20. Its mission is to develop the first interactive online community dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities or functional limitations. In so doing, it aims to serve not just those who have disabilities themselves but also caregivers and families.

The Denver-based site brings together content and tools ranging from specialized health information to social networking to daily living resources, including medical news, career advice, dating resources and travel tips. Ford, Netflix and Johnson & Johnson are among the advertisers that have enthusiastically flocked to the site, which also features video, chat and city-by-city accessibility reviews. Disaboom recently acquired Lovebyrd—a dating site for disabled singles—and just before launch it raised more than USD 5 million in a common stock offering. The site already boasts a network of more than 180 million people.

As populations age throughout the industrialized world, the number of people with disabilities of one sort or another will only increase—and so, too, will their collective spending power. Marketers, take note!

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Life Is Really Good When Your Annual Sales Are 100 Million Dollars

Even though he broke his foot dancing at his brother’s wedding one recent weekend, life is still good for Bert Jacobs.

Mr. Jacobs is the 42-year-old co-founder of Life is good, a popular apparel brand based in Boston that is on track to break $100 million in sales this year. This is rarefied air for Mr. Jacobs, who a dozen years ago was selling T-shirts out of a battered van on the streets of Boston with his brother John, now 39.

From a single childlike drawing of a character they named Jake and their uplifting three-word slogan, the brothers have developed a fashion brand sold in 4,500 independent retail outlets in the United States and 27 other countries.

Since 1994, they have sold nearly 20 million Life is good T-shirts and now have a product line with more than 900 items, from hats to dog beds, and the company continues to grow 30 to 40 percent annually. There are now 93 independently owned Life is good retail shops selling only their merchandise, and the company plans to have a total of 200 by the end of 2009. With all that, Life is good has just 250 employees.

Life is good, which rations its use of capital letters, offers one more example of a small company creating a big brand. Though most consumers associate great brands with marketing giants like Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Apple and Nike, the ability to build a powerful brand is no longer reserved for the big spenders. Small companies with great ideas and well-planned strategies — Kryptonite bicycle locks, Stonyfield Farm yogurt, Zipcar — have spawned prominent brands.

“A big brand comes from big insights about culture and consumers and what it is that they need,” said Susan Fournier, a brand expert and associate professor of marketing at the School of Management at Boston University. “To me, that has nothing to do with big budgets.”

“Life is good tapped into an emotional ethos that struck a chord with where the culture was at a certain point in time. That is not done by a marketing budget but by their customers who become evangelists and give the brand visibility and credibility.”

Internet start-ups like Google, YouTube, Craigslist and Facebook used the Web to promote themselves and have now grown into giants themselves. Facebook, the popular social networking Web site, for example, was started in a Harvard dormitory room by three undergraduates less than four years ago, and today, with just over 300 employees, has nearly 50 million active users and has been signing up 200,000 new ones a day since January. New brands can be started online with stunning speed and efficiency by small groups of entrepreneurs who understand the impact of the viral environment of the Web.

Creating that ubiquity for a brand in the nondigital world is tougher. Though they had been reasonably content to sell enough of their wares to pay a meager rent and avoid taking real jobs, the Jacobs brothers always believed that they could make a better T-shirt and turn it into a bona fide business.

They posted their own drawings and slogans on the wall of their apartment near Boston and regularly polled friends at their frequent keg parties for feedback about their ideas. “It was truly like a focus group,” Bert Jacobs recalled.

In search of something that would resonate with a broad audience, they created Jake, a crudely drawn stick character not all that far removed from the Smiley Face, and were amazed at how he inspired an intensely positive reaction.

“This guy has life figured out,” wrote one friend next to the drawing.

They later posted a list of 50 slogans they had compiled and got a similar reaction to the unremarkable phrase “life is good.” A girlfriend concluded that the slogan with three simple words “kind of says it all.”

The brothers printed 48 test T-shirts that combined the slogan with the drawing for a street fair in Cambridge, Mass., in 1994, and sold the entire lot in 45 minutes.

That night, the brothers huddled and decided that the gold they had seemingly struck was a result of their message of optimism. “The reason people bought those shirts was because they understood it instantly,” Bert Jacobs said. “It made them smile, and it was tangible. They could reach out and get a little sunshine.”

Doug Gladstone, chief executive of Brand Content, an ad agency in Boston, agreed. “They tapped into something positive yet benign,” he said. “The product makes you feel good but it’s not over the top.”

By the end of 1994, the brothers had sold $82,000 of Life is good shirts through a couple of willing retail outlets. Within four years, they broke the $1 million barrier and believed they had found the small business they had always dreamed of and that they were sitting on an emerging brand.

The outside world did not see it that way. “It was a real uphill battle to get other people to say we had a brand,” Bert Jacobs said. “At $10 million and even $20 million in sales, they were still asking us when we were going to launch something different.”

With no business acumen, the brothers sought out successful retailers and peppered them with questions. Bert Jacobs acknowledged that smarter businessmen could have expanded the company more quickly but that was never the point.

Prof. Fournier said that slow growth is an asset for small companies trying to build brands.

“People with deep pockets put the pedal to the metal and do too much too quickly,” she said. “Big companies try to do everything in the first two years but often fall off the cliff. Small companies have to hold back and build the brand more carefully and diligently. Slow and steady often wins the race.”

The Jacobs brothers considered a consumer advertising campaign several years ago but decided to wait until growth slowed to start it. Growth has never slowed. Instead of advertising, the company spends its money on charitable fund-raising festivals for children’s causes.

“People who are facing adversity embrace our message the most,” Bert Jacobs said.

Skeptics have warned the brothers that their concept has a limited shelf life, and, indeed, they plan to extend the brand to try to keep it vibrant. Next spring, Life is good plans to start several apparel and product lines like Good Karma, Good Kids, Good Dog and Good Vibes that will aim at specific audiences. Good Karma, for example, is an environmentally sustainable clothing line. Good Kids will extend the product line for children.

Bert Jacobs is confident the brand has legs. “So much of fashion and culture is cyclical. It comes and goes,” he said. “When the trend tails off, so does your business. But optimism is not a trend. It’s empowering to celebrate life’s simple pleasures.”

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

10 Marketing Articles You Absolutely Have To Read

1. Lessons From The Vice Squad

It’s no secret among top marketers that some of the smartest salesmen are con-artists. I do NOT suggest you get involved in any sort of unethical project... and, in fact, I hope you rot in hell if you do.

2. The Most Violated Marketing Rule

I call it the “Pearls On A String” lesson. And it is the single most-violated marketing rule I see among the people who come to me for advice.

3. Mass Delusion and Other Good Marketing Ideas

One of the very critical techniques that I have used in my mail order ads is a process called “linking.” Basically, it is the technique of relating what the consumer already knows and understands with what you are selling, to make the new product easy to understand and relate to.

4. Knowing vs. Doing

We know the Rules: 80-20, 95-5. But how zealously do we apply them? You know that 80% of your problems, aggravation, grief, etc. come from 20% of the people in your world – customers, vendors, associates, employees. But how often do you purge the 20%?

5. How Marketing Success Is Deeply Connected To Farting

Watch closely, now. See, nothing up my sleeves. For my next trick, I shall reveal to you how marketing success is deeply connected to... Farting!

6. The amazing advantages a street-savvy near-illiterate hustler has versus a fancy MBA with years of book-learnin’ under his Gucci

I’ve never held a grudge against anyone with a fancy Master’s degree in business. I’ve never trusted them, and gotten a few fired. But I’ve never held a grudge. I just can’t understand what sort of moron would look around and decide that, yeah, that’s the ticket: Academia must be the place to go learn how to make a fortune in bidniz.

7. What great salesmen know about the mysterious power that secrets hold over people

Savvy street hustlers know something most civilians do not: You can’t con an honest man.

You need two critical ingredients in the mix:

1. Greed (which is easily understandable), and...

2. Secrets (which is less easily understood).

Greed gets the mark hooked -- he’s thinking he’s gonna make a killing, or pull one over on someone.

8. A very critical marketing lesson I learned while trying to bluff a veteran poker player (Hint: I lost.)

I know, I know... I sound like a broken record with the “get a life” rant. But I see the wasting of life as a crime. You know, many subscribers tell me they always wished they’d started a band way back when, or had a few more unseemly adventures before settling down. And I say, yeah, I hear you.

9. Astonishing sales secrets I learned playing rock and roll in sleazy biker bars

I have played music in some of the sleaziest dives on the West Coast. I am not joking. I’ve had a lunatic cowboy launch a full can of Pabst at my head because he thought I was singing about him. (Remember “Third Rate Romance, Low Rent Rendezvous”?)

10. Evil Marketing? What A Buffalo Rancher Taught Me About Selling.

Yesterday I met a rancher who raises buffalo and sells bison products. He clearly loves his job. He gushed facts. For example:

I didn't know buffalo never get cancer. Or that buffalo meat is leaner, healthier and better for you than any other red meat. I also didn't know that buffalo contains less calories than even chicken.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Babajob.Com - Recruiting Site For Unskilled Labor

Websites like Monster and Craigslist handle a large share of recruitment for skilled workers. But most jobs that need to be filled require very little training at all. And finding good store clerks, housecleaners, dishwashers and other menial workers can be as hard as a finding a good lab technician or XML programmer, even in developing nations. That’s because those seeking work frequently have no means of connecting with those wanting to hire. It’s a problem Babajob, based in Bangalore, hopes to solve. The site helps the city’s legions of unskilled workers find work using an online social network.

Historically, giving India’s poor a means to log onto the web has been especially tough, since people of low social status are often barred from even touching someone else’s computer, and may not be able to read or write (adult literacy in India is estimated to be 61.3%). Babajob uses intermediaries like charities and owners of internet case to help job seekers post their online profiles. The go-between helps create a resume, typing up details as dictated by the jobseeker, and takes his or her picture to add to the profile. To gain the attention of potential employers, Babajob utilizes a system where those who connect job seekers with employers receive a small fee based on their success.

The site mimics the intricate social networks that already exist in India. Traditionally, the head of a family in need of a cook might ask the cooks currently working in the household for a referral. The cooks in turn will send word out through their extended families. The time-proven system of close connections helps insure that job applicants are trustworthy.

Babajob was launched by a former Microsoft employee who was transferred from the company’s Redmond, Washington, headquarters to India. The website resulted in part from the software company’s efforts to encourage India’s high tech workers to explore ways to use technology to help the poor, and has plans to expand throughout India

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

PerezHilton.Com Success Story

The site where Perez reports gossip, scrawls insults and compliments across celebrity photos, and generally causes a ruckus has transformed the once-unknown writer into the go-to gossip guy and a budding media maven.

Hilton, né Mario Armando Lavandeira Jr., wasn't planning to reinvent himself when he started his first blog,; he thought blogging seemed like an easy way to entertain himself and his friends. The New York Post--home of the "Page Six" gossip column--thought otherwise, and handed Lavandeira his first lawsuit. Lavandeira didn't have the resources to fight the suit, so he changed his domain name.

"Changing the website name to was actually the best thing that ever happened," says Lavandeira, 29. "That forced me to become my own brand. Instead of being 'that dude from that website,' I became Perez Hilton from"

It took 12 months for Lavandeira to start making money from the venture. And it took a phone call from the TV show The Insider asking to feature the site as "Hollywood's Most Hated Website" to make Lavandeira understand how big could get. "They asked me, 'How do you feel about being No. 1?' I said, 'Well, I don't necessarily agree, but I'll put it on a T-shirt. I'll make it my slogan.'"

That media savvy and bravado has paid off big-time for Lavandeira. He whole-heartedly embraces controversy ("I'm old school--I think any press is good press."), is unabashedly outrageous, catty and just plain funny when interviewing celebs, and he cites his ability to "give good TV" as a factor in his success. In addition to garnering him guest spots on shows like the The View, these talents helped him land a six-episode series of VH1 specials called What Perez Sez, which started airing in September.

What comes with success like this is accidental entrepreneurship, and for Lavandeira, who also cites his hard work and lack of sleep as success factors, it means playing catch-up. Still the lone blogger on, he's branching out further by booking and promoting concerts for up-and-coming artists. Lavandeira's blog posts have been credited with helping spur album sales (after he praised pop singer Mika on his site, Mika's debut CD sold 50,000 copies in its first two weeks). He doesn't cop to being such an influential tastemaker but does say, "I have an opportunity to share, and my readers have the opportunity to receive." Lavandeira's first concert last September sold out in four hours, with no line-up announced and just a blog post as promotion.

He hired his sister to be his personal assistant and moved his mother out to Los Angeles as his second employee. "She'll help me out personally--do momlike things and get paid for it: 'Mom, wash my clothes. Mom, clean my apartment,'" explains Lavandeira with a laugh. He's even moving her into the same apartment complex he lives in, keeping this new family business close.

Lavandeira doesn't release his annual earnings, but BlogAds, the company that sells his advertising, lists a one-week, top-of-fold skyscraper ad at $16,000 for 41 million impressions--and that's just one of many ads on the site. Nielsen/NetRatings showed that traffic rose 215 percent from July 2006 to July of this year, and ComScore Media Metrix listed the site as the 10th most popular entertainment news site in August.

It's obvious that Lavandeira has a strong brand on which to build a bright future as an entrepreneur--if he plays his cards right and can keep up with his business's growth. He says he gets approached by potential business partners; his attorney and business manager weed through the requests. "My brand is invaluable to me. I don't think anyone could afford to buy me out," says Lavandeira, again with one of his ubiquitous laughs.

So what's in store for the Perez Hilton brand? "I would like to be like Oprah," says Lavandeira, referring to Oprah's many media ventures. "I would like to be in a position where if I have an idea, I could make it happen. I'm open to new ideas, and I'm not afraid of change, and that's a very healthy thing for entrepreneurs. You've got to change with the times or you become irrelevant."

Wise words for the flash-in-the-pan internet age, where YouTube makes blink-and-you-miss-'em celebrities, lolcats are thought of as high humor for a few months and TV shows recycle the latest viral videos.

With Lavandeira embracing the outrageous--remember, this is the love-him-or-hate-him guy infamous for insulting celebrity offspring while giving a free pass to the celebrities he befriends--and with his keen ability to turn his personality into a brand, he's now the one to watch to see if a no-holds-barred blogger unafraid of offending celebrities can truly become a media mogul.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Birthday Card Outsourcing Business

While there are plenty of reminder services online that help people remember anniversaries and birthdays, few connect to the physical world. Which is where Boston-based Jack Cards comes in: a company that delivers pre-scheduled, ready-to-go greeting cards to the card sender, just in time for them to add a personal message and drop the card in the mailbox.

Customers register on, enter important dates for their family and friends and select cards for each person/date. Jack Cards offers a range of cards created by over 40 independent designers. Members schedule when they'd like the cards delivered—1, 2 or 4 weeks in advance—and select whether they would like the envelopes to be pre-stamped, pre-addressed, or both. Jack Cards takes care of the rest and even sends an email reminder to make sure customers don't forget to post the cards they've ordered and received. Membership is free and cards start at USD 1.50, plus postage and delivery (normal shipping rate is USD 0.99 per shipment).

While entering all of the necessary data might be a bit of a chore, it's a one-off time investment that helps customers unload the worry of letting an important date slip by unnoticed, and turns them into thoughtful, organized people who recognize the personal touch of a handwritten paper greeting. Since this is the kind of business that demands localization (language, local holidays, national postage), it's an enticing opportunity for entrepreneurs in other parts of the world. Basic requirements: a knack for logistics and a good eye for design. And, um... major greeting card manufacturers—why aren't you already doing this?

Scientists Discover Married Scientists Are Not As Productive As Single Ones

The Richest Piano Player You’ve Never Heard About

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Psychodelic Hoops

Patrick Deluz spends his days crafting battery-powered Hula-Hoops that pulse with light and color.

His interest was first piqued when his girlfriend brought two hoops home and he tried to spin. He failed miserably and gave up until he met a performance artist who explained that it’s all in the hoop, not the hips: The children’s models are too light for adults.

Inspired, Deluz, 58, made his own hoops out of black irrigation tubing wrapped in leather from thrift-store skirts. He added LED lights for flash, and his company, Psychedelic Sensually Interactive Hoops, based in Encinitas, Calif., was born. Since then, Deluz’s customers have been spinning them everywhere, from nightclubs to the opening party of Cirque du Soleil’s Ka in Las Vegas.

Each hoop costs $250 to $320, and Deluz says he has sold 1,000 over the past three years. He is looking for a Chinese manufacturer to help boost his volume, but until he finds one that matches his quality, he must spend six hours handcrafting each hoop.

Reverse Funnel System

Monday, November 19, 2007

How To Make $1,200 A Month From A Blog That Has Only 250 Readers

Angie Mecklenburg, a mother of four in Sutter, Ill., blogs about chickens, God, and her farm. For an estimated $15, she'll write about soy-wax candles for a marketer.

Over the last 18 months, Mecklenburg has kept up three blogs, the most popular being Ang's Chicken Coop, which has the tagline "a view of the world from the coop." With about 250 daily visitors to her sites, she said she manages to make as much as $1,200 a month, collecting fees from Google advertising and marketers who pay her to write about their products via the blog ad network iZea.

For example, iZea recently paid her about $15 to write about candles from the Maddison Avenue Candles Company. She also was paid to write a blog about the Christian movie The Last Sin Eater earlier this year.

"iZea sent me a synopsis and movie clip. I blogged it and then I went and saw it," Mecklenburg said at the BlogWorld conference and expo here, a three-day event for blog entrepreneurs and professionals. She said she loved the movie.

Mecklenburg's story is just one of many here this week at the Las Vegas Convention Center, which is also playing host to GodblogCon, a gathering of religious bloggers. Many of the attendees are trying to figure out how to make money from their small publishing ventures, whether it's a political, military, or God-related blog.

iZea, formerly called Pay for Post, is one company trying to capitalize on that desire. Founded in June 2006, the company pays as many as 85,000 bloggers to write about a range of products, including household products, cars, wireless phones, and new movies. According to Randy Mountz, vice president of sales, iZea has roughly 11,000 advertisers in its network, including Hewlett-Packard, Ford, and MGM.

Mountz said the company pays bloggers an average of $18 for a 200-word post on a product or service. Its top blogger, the Florida mom behind, has made as much as $18,000 over the last year, he said.

Still, the company has had some push-back from other bloggers for buying blog editorial, he said. That's why, "we strongly encourage full disclosure in the post of the sponsorship," he said.

And so far, that's working for Mecklenburg, who now has as many as six blogs to discuss her different interests. Those sites include and Ang's Brood.

"I blog about God and the things I see he does in my life," she said. "But it's not my sole focus. I have many interests and it's really hard to wrap all of them in one blog."

Dumb Things People Put On Their Resumes - Best Of The Best

Pastor’s Ex-Wife Wants Part Of The Church After Divorce

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How Bad News Can Generate Good Traffic

People are addicted to bad news. That's one trend BadCyclopedia.Com is going to capitalize one. Started less then one month ago, the site is already getting up to 1500 daily unique visitors, thanks to articles, like Halo 3 player punched mom after she took away game, High Canadian Dollar Hurts Sales Of Premium BC Pot In US or Indian Man Forced To Marry A Dog.

David Molinsky, the owner of the site, was browsing (a well known service among web entrepreneurs who need stickingly unusual domain names), when he stumbled upon the name BadCyclopedia.Com. The domain hasn't been used, so David worked out a deal with PickyDomains.Com - he gets the domain for the minimum price and PickyDomains.Com gets free adverting and links for lifetime.

The next step for David was to go looking for bad news. And there were plenty of them. The trick was to find ones that were so outlandish that they were sure to become viral. The big break came with the story about a hundred year old wiskey that police was going to pour down the drain, because it was sold by a person, who had no liquor license. Traffic spiked and with it the confidence that the idea of site devoted exclusively to bad news make actually become a big hit.

Now David entertains the idea of converting BadCyclopedia from a regular WordPress blog to a Wikipedia-type resource. After all, there isn't going to be a shortage of bad news any time soon.

Researchers Discover That Name Initials Predict Academic Performance

Marijuananomics 101 Or How Rising Canadian Dollar Hurts Sales 'BC Bud' In United States

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Portamee Success Story

Who: Jennifer Gilbert, 38, and Robin Stein, 39, of Heartbeat Products Inc.
What: PortaMEe, a New York City-based line of high-style baby carriers
How Much: About $600,000 in 2007 Sales

In 2004, Robin Stein was a stay-at-home mom with a 21-pound 6-month-old and an aching back. She tried all types of baby carriers but didn't like the way they fit or looked. Because Stein had previously worked in product development and merchandising, "developing product was a sport," she says. She began sketching ideas for a carrier that rested the baby on the hip. "A hip carrier is more natural, and kids develop faster when they make eye contact with you and you can see what they're doing," she explains.

In the fall of 2005, Stein posted a note on Craigslist looking for people who knew how to sew structured handbags and work with leather. She then spent more than a year making prototypes. When she started wearing the PortaMEe, "people were handing me their cards and telling me to call them when I started selling," she says.

Stein had met Jennifer Gilbert in November 2004, when she joined a women entrepreneurs' group. In mid-2006, Gilbert signed on to fund the business and become a 50 percent owner. "Sales is not my strength, but Jennifer is a genius at sales," says Stein. "I had a list of my top 10 dream accounts. [Thanks to Jennifer,] by the end of 2006, we were in many of our top 10, including Bergdorf Goodman, Best & Co., Giggle, Neiman Marcus and Takashimaya."

Because the market was crowded at the mass price point, they decided to price PortaMEe higher than most baby carriers and target higher-end retailers. So far, the strategy has paid off: The company was recently forced to turn orders down until new shipments arrived.

With a co-branded product with Pottery Barn Kids and a new infant headrest that both launched in September, Stein and Gilbert have plans to move into a new fulfillment center and are looking to raise more capital to fund growth.

Joe Sugarman's Triggers - The National Hermits Convention

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Homeless Man In LA Inspires A Brand

The newest sensation at the center of Hollywood's fashion scene isn't a famous designer or starlet. It's a 56-year-old homeless man who spends his days dancing on roller skates.

John Wesley Jermyn has been a fixture in West Los Angeles for more than 20 years. Nicknamed "The Crazy Robertson" and "The Robertson Dancer," he is a constant presence on a stretch of Robertson Boulevard that has become the city's trendiest shopping corridor and a prime strolling spot for tourists and movie stars. Among locals and online, there's much speculation about Mr. Jermyn's personal history, including one oft-repeated rumor that he's a secretive millionaire.

In a plot twist worthy of Tinseltown, Mr. Jermyn now has a clothing label named after him. Since it was introduced last month, "The Crazy Robertson" brand of T-shirts and sweatshirts, created by a trio of 23-year-olds, has flown off the shelves at Kitson, a haunt of tabloid stars like Paris Hilton. The clothes feature stylized images of Mr. Jermyn, including one design -- available on a $98 hoodie -- that has a graphic of him dancing and the phrase "No Money, No Problems" on the back. At the largest of Kitson's three boutiques on Robertson, shirts bearing Mr. Jermyn's likeness are sold alongside $290 "Victoria Beckham" jeans and $50 baby shoes designed by pop star Gwen Stefani.

The label's owners, who grew up in Beverly Hills, have created a MySpace page for Mr. Jermyn. It doubles as an ad for the clothing brand and their nightclub-promotion venture, which is also named "The Crazy Robertson." The young entrepreneurs spent months trying to forge a relationship with Mr. Jermyn -- who now goes by the name John Jermien -- before gaining his approval. They have consulted him on design decisions and had a photographer shoot him for publicity images.

In May, Mr. Jermyn agreed to a deal that entitles him to 5% of "net profit" from clothing sales, according to a copy of the contract seen by The Wall Street Journal. He signed the contract, without speaking to an attorney or family members. But so far he has refused to accept much cash, preferring to be paid in food, liquor and paper for his art projects, according to Teddy Hirsh, one of the label's founders. "He tries not to involve money in his daily life," says Mr. Hirsh, who says he is Mr. Jermyn's agent and manager for future endeavors.

Mr. Hirsh says Mr. Jermyn has already received several small payments, even though the company hasn't "made much profit" so far. "We haven't collected anything for ourselves," says Mr. Hirsh.

Mr. Jermyn's slide into homelessness is a painful subject for his sister Beverly. And so is the clothing deal. She believes "The Crazy Robertson" founders are exploiting her brother's condition to build their brand. "I think these guys saw an opportunity and they took it," she says. "I am not happy with the arrangement."

Ms. Jermyn, who lives close to the alley where Mr. Jermyn sleeps, says her brother has a form of schizophrenia. He refuses to take medication, she says, despite suffering from fits of shouting and cursing. In the years since his condition began deteriorating in the late 1970s, "he slipped through my fingers like sand," says Ms. Jermyn, 64, who manages facilities for Oracle Corp.

In the late 1980s she testified in court in a proceeding to force her brother to seek help, but psychological evaluators found him "lucid and gracious," according to Ms. Jermyn. She has made countless attempts to provide him with shelter and therapy, and she still visits him twice a week with food. She also pays for his cellphone and collects his Social Security checks on his behalf.

The repackaging of Mr. Jermyn as a fashion front man comes at a time of increased fascination with homelessness. The producers of "Bumfights" -- a collection of videotaped street battles between vagrants -- claim to have sold more than 300,000 DVDs since 2002, and a British TV series called "Filthy Rich and Homeless" made headlines this year for its depiction of real-life millionaires posing as London beggars.

Across the U.S., a growing number of homeless people have gained attention through the Internet. More than 17,500 videos on YouTube are tagged with the word "homeless." Leslie Cochran, a street resident in Austin, Texas, who has twice run for mayor, has 10,775 "friends" on his MySpace page. In Boston, the profile of Harold Madison Jr. -- a homeless man better known as "Mr. Butch" -- rose through online clips and a Web site made in his honor.

Mr. Jermyn was raised in Hancock Park, a historic L.A. neighborhood that's home to some of the city's wealthiest families. His father managed one of L.A.'s largest Chevrolet dealerships.

A star athlete in high school, Mr. Jermyn was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 1969 Major League Baseball draft. He attended Pepperdine University and played a season for a Los Angeles Dodgers' minor-league team in Bellingham, Wash. (He hit just .205 and made 12 errors in 63 games, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.)

Joel John Roberts, chief executive of People Assisting the Homeless, which provides shelters for L.A.'s street residents, says the branding of Mr. Jermyn is "like designing a line of clothing patterned after Iraqi refugees fleeing the war."

Mr. Hirsh and Vic Ackerman, one of the other founders of the clothing line, are sensitive to Ms. Jermyn's concerns about her brother, but say Mr. Jermyn "specifically asked" them not to contact her about the clothing line or the contract. They view Mr. Jermyn as a "business partner" and say they make sure he's aware of how his image is being used.

"He knows everything that's going on," says Mr. Ackerman, noting that Mr. Jermyn nixed a set of promotional photos because he didn't like his outfit and thought he "looked a little puffy."

In conversation, Mr. Jermyn speaks softly and mixes short, lucid sentences with longer, less coherent remarks. He has been arrested more than a dozen times since 1986 for violations such as trespassing and jaywalking, according to court records. Most of his skating and curb-side dancing now takes place near Robertson Boulevard, but in the past he roamed throughout Beverly Hills and West L.A., often cradling a boombox and shimmying to loud music. "He was always an extraordinary dancer," says Jim Horne, a classmate of Mr. Jermyn's at Los Angeles Baptist High School.

In addition to his sister, Mr. Jermyn speaks regularly with Ginny Berliner, a 64-year-old woman who befriended him when she owned an antique shop on Robertson. Mrs. Berliner, who now lives in Maryland, used to pay for Mr. Jermyn to sleep in a motel and covered his monthly coffee bill at Michel Richard, the well-known patisserie. "He wants notoriety and glory, but he can't accept money," she says.

On a recent afternoon, clad in his trademark black leggings and visor, Mr. Jermyn said he is "a facilitator" for the brand, and hopes it will expand into music or film. He has become a one-man marketing team, plastering company stickers and pictures of himself on a wall that faces pedestrians on Robertson.

At Kitson's boutiques and on its Web site, the first shipment of "Crazy Robertson" women's clothes -- about 35 items -- sold out in three days, and the store immediately ordered about 90 more pieces, according to owner Fraser Ross. Many of the online buyers were not from Los Angeles and presumably not familiar with Mr. Jermyn, he says. The brand may have appeal beyond L.A., says Mr. Ross, because its name includes "Robertson," which like Rodeo Drive is a destination associated with glamorous shopping.

Mr. Hirsh says the success at Kitson has already generated interest from other retailers. He calls Mr. Jermyn "our Michael Jordan" and is looking into a trademark for "the Crazy Robertson" name and logo.

Ms. Jermyn, meanwhile, has different hopes. "I don't want to see my brother get hurt," she says. "They're taking advantage of someone who is very vulnerable and very trusting."

How To Get 250 Business Cards For Free

How To Make $1,200 A Month From A Blog With 250 Readers

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Arrow Advertising - How To Build A Four Million Dollars Business With One Hundred Bucks

When Max Durovic and Michael Kenny were in high school, they had after-school jobs advertising for local businesses with sandwich board signs they strapped to their bodies and carried around the San Diego area. But the duo, who were both athletic, became bored with the traditional approach, so they started to do tricks with the signs, spinning them around and tossing them into the air to attract attention. Their antics captured prospective customers' attention. By 2002 the pair had started their own business, Aarrow Advertising, with $100. They developed (and copyrighted) a number of athletic routines that involved manipulating six-foot-long arrow-shaped advertisements, turning the human wielding the sign into an advertising spectacle.

Durovic says Aarrow Advertising now employs 40 full-timers and 460 part-timers who range between 16 and 25 years old. New employees start at $10 an hour and get raises based on the number of tricks they master. Durovic says Aarrow had $2.3 million in sales in 2006 and projects $4.2 million this year. He says the company, which has done advertising for a range of products including Vitamin Water and Bud Light and been mentioned on numerous talk shows, plans to sell franchises in the beginning of 2008 in the U.S. and abroad.

Traffic Arbitrage

10 Best Books That Have 'Fuck' In Their Titles

George Carlin - Who Really Controls America

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How To Profit To Catering High In The Mountains

Small companies can readily compete with major players by refining the experiences they provide customers. For Picnics on the Piste, a new catering business operating at ski resorts in the French, Austrian and Swiss Alps, those experiences are bound to leave lasting memories. After shushing through the crisp mountain air to a clearing offering a majestic mountain view, they can break for a buffet of hot soup, foie gras and aged cheeses with champagne chilling in a snow bank nearby. Or ski down a trail to an igloo gleaming in the sun, with a waiter inside, ready to serve lunch. Then after the meal (or before it, if they have sensitive stomachs), clients can opt for a brisk jaunt on a skimobile or a short ride in an ultra light plane.

Adding to the service’s appeal, British-French Picnics on the Piste’s spreads are affordable. A light gourmet lunch on a beginner’s slope starts at about EU 15 per person. Meals catered for expert skiers on more difficult-to-reach black slopes cost about EU 69 per person. Wine and other extras come at an additional cost.

True enough, hotels and resorts have long offered similar high-end services. However, Picnics on the Piste is likely one of the first companies to brand its mountainside meals by making them available at a growing number of resorts. The company has partnered with local villa and chalet management firms at several locations. A wise move, since those companies are experts at bundling lodging, meals and activities into the kind of customized vacation experiences their clients desire.

Naturally, peak experiences needn’t be confined to the ski slopes. A gourmet meal on a canyon trail in the American Southwest or a secluded beach in the Canaries could prove every bit as memorable. For the entrepreneurs doing the catering, the benefit is a low-cost way to start a company in a place where most of us can only dream of living.

What To Do If You Want To Read 2-10 Times Faster Than You Currently Do

Man in India Marries Dog As Atonement

Profiting From Pay What You Want Restaurant Craze

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Steal The Idea For Your City - Downloadable Shopping Maps

Visitors to Sydney who want the scoop on where all of the best boutiques, cafes and galleries are need only point their browsers to Urban Walkabout to download attractive, pocket-sized walking maps in PDF form, complete with a detailed listing of shops and other attractions—for free. Maps are clean and concise and include information on buses, trains and other public transit. What's more, customers can take advantage of special offers, such as discounts at certain establishments, just by showing their guides.

The Urban Walkabout Sydney Shopping Guides are published twice a year. Versions are currently available for five areas—Bondi, Double Bay + Potts Point, Paddington + Woollahra, Surry Hills + Darlinghurst, and the Sydney Central Business District. In addition to downloading them from the web, customers can pick up copies from every retail establishment listed on the website and in hotel lobbies, tourist information booths and visitor centres. In addition to the guides, there also is a wealth of information on the Urban Walkabout website, including a listing of special offers and events.

While city maps and shopping guides obviously are nothing new, Urban Walkabout wins points for simplicity, aesthetics and accessibility, providing an upscale alternative to tacky, ad-plastered city maps that are handed out near tourist hotspots. Letting customers do the printing keeps costs low, and allows data to be continuously updated. The concept could do well in shopping districts all across the globe, and could be fine-tuned to suit other interests such as history buffs, foodies or families, with carefully selected advertisers to match.

Man Inserts $1 Bill Into Machine, Gets $260.50 In Change

How To Become A Facebook Millionaire

Yes, You Can Be Put In Jail For Jaywalking And This Guy Was

Monday, November 12, 2007

Minyaville.Com Success Story

Six months ago, was an obscure provider of financial news that, among other things, featured an animated bull and bear named Hoofy and Boo that bantered about the day's headlines.

Today, Minyanville Publishing & Multimedia is in a much different position. The company provides content to major financial sites, from Yahoo Inc.'s Yahoo Finance to Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Money and Time Warner Inc.'s AOL Money and Finance. It also supplies video clips of its animated characters to News Corp.'s Fox Business News.

Behind Minyanville's ascent is a frantic search by the big Internet companies for fresh content. For years, AOL, MSN and other Web heavyweights used many of the same sources of news -- often traditional media outlets -- to fill their finance, real-estate and entertainment channels. Smaller providers of information often had to pay to publish on these sites. But with traffic to the major portals starting to level off, those sites are looking for something new and different to feature -- and that, in turn, is creating some opportunities for the little guys.

Financial sites such as Seeking Alpha and the Simple Dollar, real-estate site Zillow and celebrity photo site X17online aren't exactly household names. But all of them have landed deals to put their content on big portals. This is creating significant increases in traffic to many of these small sites. Minyanville's relationship with Yahoo, for example, brought in about 12% of its traffic in September, according to comScore Media Metrix. In some cases, the smaller sites are also getting a cut of any ad revenue generated by the portal.

Big Internet companies such as MSN and Yahoo have small teams whose job it is to "discover" these smaller sites before their competition does. They scan the Web, attend industry conferences and hobnob with start-ups to get names of talented but obscure content providers. Marty Moe, vice president and general manager for AOL Money & Finance, says he has started making informal deals with smaller blogs and other sites in order to fast-track the process. "The contract process can be slow," Mr. Moe says.

Mark Interrante, general manager of Yahoo Finance, says he is looking for sites that give more color and context to basic financial data. For example, he recently agreed to use content from a national network of local business journals that he says will provide regional perspective on broader market trends.

In all, Yahoo Finance uses information from more than 100 outlets, including traditional media companies such as the Associated Press and more recent sources such as the blog of Sun Microsystems Chief Executive Jonathan Schwartz.

The rules of these partnerships are also changing. In the past, the big Internet companies traditionally demanded some window of exclusivity with smaller content providers. Today, the big sites will often not only give the smaller sites a portion of the ad revenue but also allow them to work with other companies.

"The notion of exclusivity is gone," says David Liu, a senior vice president at Time Warner's AOL unit. Most of the smaller sites are producing original content for the portals.

The new flexibility on the part of the portals stems in part from the slowing growth in traffic. While Yahoo Finance posted 20% growth in September over the previous year, traffic to both MSN Money and AOL Money and Finance dropped 9% for the month, according to comScore Media Metrix.

Zillow founders Richard Barton and Lloyd Frink, who helped build the travel Web site, started meeting with all the major Internet companies before launched. Six months after the Web site went live in February 2006, Zillow started providing its home-valuation model to Yahoo, and the relationship has continued to expand.

"Although we are a much smaller company in some regards, we have many, many, many more people focused on the real-estate portal than they do," says Spencer Rascoff, chief financial officer and vice president of marketing for Zillow. In addition to its home-valuation model, the company, which has about 160 employees, provides Yahoo with more than 100 articles about real estate.

Minyanville has a smaller operation, with 20 full-time employees who produce a newsletter for investors analyzing the market, financial-news commentary and a series of online business-news videos. The site's founder and CEO, Todd Harrison, previously was president of the New York office of hedge fund Cramer Berkowitz.

In May, TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. signed a deal to license the newsletter for its top-tier clients and become the site's first sponsor. But in the world of online business news, Minyanville was miniscule. And then the big Internet sites came calling.

"I look at it as a bit of serendipity," Mr. Harrison says.

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How To Turn $60 Into $1000 In Three Months With Domain Names
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Top 10 Facts About Top 10 Anything

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Site That Tracks Home Price Drops

Online entrepreneurs can respond to changing economic conditions with a speed unthinkable in the pre-web era. Witness UK startup Propertysnake, which helps buyers find properties whose priced have dropped. While the real estate downturn in the UK hasn’t been as severe as in the US, deeply discounted homes can still be found even in London’s most desirable neighbourhoods. Propertysnake makes the task of finding those homes easier. Users can search by region and by price. But Propertysnake also emphasizes the kind of information savvy realtors and property managers typically hone in on: the number of days a home’s been on the market, for example, the percentage that sellers have reduced their offering, and the number of other homes in the vicinity that have reduced their selling price.

Unlike websites maintained by real estate agencies, Propertysnake posts comments from those who’ve visited the properties. Site visitors may advise that a property’s poor state of repair or other circumstances warrant its price reduction or that the property’s discounted price needs to drop further.

It’s important to realize that sites such as Propertysnake actually benefit home sellers who need to unload their properties quickly. Before this type of information became available online, ‘fire-sale’ home prices were often known only to real estate insiders. Posting the information on the web actually adds to the number of potential buyers, which can speed sales and even lead to higher prices for sellers. The entrepreneurial lesson here is that opportunities avail themselves no matter which direction markets move. The key to success is figuring out a new and more efficient way to match buyers and sellers.

Who Is Shawn Casey? Is He For Real?

Urgently Need Cool Domain Name Ideas, Will Pay For Your Suggestions

Top 10 Facts About Top 10 Facts

Friday, November 09, 2007

How To Make Money By Teaching Others How To Use Sophisticated Cell Phones

Since the dawn of the personal computer age, millions of us have attended training classes to learn how to build better spreadsheets and killer PowerPoint presentations. Now, as cell phones and other mobile gadgets become increasingly complex and loaded with features, entrepreneurs are finding similar opportunities in the mobile field. New Zealand’s Mobile Mentor provides hourlong one-on-one sessions as well as group training on how to use the rising number of features bundled with mobile devices. Plus, it conducts courses for phone-industry sales personnel on how to explain a mobile gadget’s advantages to customers.

While some consumers are naturally adept at dealing with a device's interface, menus and options, others greatly benefit from a bit of outside help. One of Mobile Mentor's first customers explains: "All it would take is for someone to sit down with me for 1 hour. I've tried myself, got instructions from Vodafone, but it's too hard." Case studies on Mobile Mentor’s website illustrate how mastering a phone’s features can reap impressive productivity gains. In one example, a real estate agent learned how to use her phone to record appointments. In another, a doctor learned how to better use email and other mobile device features while protecting patient privacy.

Mobile Mentor claims to have trained over 20,000 people, but the potential market is many times larger. Entire organizations are going wireless, communicating and accessing the internet via smartphones instead of laptops and landlines. To get the most from their investment, those organizations will insist their employees know how to use the full range of a device’s features.

The need for training will continue to increase as phones inevitably incorporate more features. That’s because unlike computers, a mobile device’s keyboard and screen are limited to what will comfortably fit in its owner’s purse or pocket. And while many mobile devices are likely to mimic the Apple iPhone’s friendlier user interface, a mobile device—owing to its size—will never be as easy to operate as a laptop with a full-size screen and keyboard.

Mobile Mentor isn’t the only outfit offering training, of course. US-based CompuTrain provides web-based and instructor-led courses for BlackBerry users. Also, the innumerable stores and mall kiosks that hawk mobile devices give buyers quick lessons. Given the fierce competition in mobile device retailing, customers may soon demand formal training as a prerequisite to buying.

Thou shalt not use a church’s telephone to call a sex hot line

How TasteBook.Com Makes Money On Customized Cookbooks.

Do Republicans Eat Sushi Or How Political Beliefs Affect Eating Patterns

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

5 Reasons Why There Should Not Be Such Thing As ‘Starving Writer’

Love writing but hate being poor? There is no reason why you should not be able to make some extra money by writing. Just look outside traditional venues, like writing a novel or becoming a local reporter.

Here are some ideas for you.

1. Come up with cool domain names.

Some web services, like, will pay you to come up with domain names for them (I believe the current rate is $25 per name). However, this is one niche where you can work for yourself as well. There is a big demand for ‘Web 2.0 names’, like Yahoo or Google, so if you can easily think of meaningless but cool names, register domains in your own name and then resell them on Sedo.Com, BuyDomains.Com or any other ‘second-hand’ domain marketplaces for huge profit. The average domain price on Sedo is mid $XXX to low $XXXX, so you only need a few sales each month. And it costs only $8-$9 to register a domain name, so you don’t need to much money.

2. Become AdWords copywriter.

It may look like writing a short AdWords ad is easy, but trust me, it’s not. Especially since the limits are pretty strict. That’s the bad part. The good part is that text of the ad has a HUGE impact on its performance. The best thing about Google AdWords is that it lets you test different ads side by side in order to determine which ad performs better. Why is this important? Because it’s the key to getting a client. All you have to say – hey, test my ad(s) side by side with yours and hire me only if mine get higher CTR. Make it risk free. And finding clients is brainlessly simple – just click any ad that you think sucks and contact a website owner directly.

3. Write descriptions on eBay for foreigners.

This is a nobrainer either. Go to eBay and look through descriptions. Some of them are horrid. And bad descriptions kill sales. This is what you should tell foreign-based eBay sellers. Important – target only PowerSellers – these are folks who make a living selling stuff on eBay and have money to pay for your services. Don’t bother with a single item sellers. And make sure you check their reputation to make sure you are not aiding Romanian scammers, who sell notebooks for fifty bucks. The great thing about this idea is that eBay sellers all have PayPal accounts, so international payments won’t be an issue.

4. Shareware Localization.

Most shareware sold online today is not developed in US. And you can often tell that by looking at interface or reading a manual. When you come across such a program, contact developers directly, pointing out mistakes and offering your services. Where to look for shareware? Go to Download.Com and browse through listings.

5. Writing Personal Ads And Profiles Of People On Dating Sites

This is not an original idea, I read about in The New York Times. The article profiled two websites that charge 50 bucks to write profiles for others on dating sites that would attract attention. Unfortunately, I don’t recall URLs, but if you look into it, you’ll probably find them sooner or later. Personally, I think it’s a great idea, since the market is there. Just become a member of several dating sites and build a portfolio.

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The Mended Meanderer

Sermon Prompts Tips That Leads to Arrest

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

How To Profit From Massclusivity

As the holiday season begins its descent upon us, friends and family of foodies everywhere will be glad to learn of Zingerman's—if they don't know it already. Since 1982 the Michigan-based gourmet food purveyor has been home to many a rare but tasty item not easily found elsewhere, including a broad assortment of vinegars, oils, cheeses, breads, sweets and more.

Zingerman's offers a variety of clubs for regular shipments of upscale bread, coffee and other products, but its specialty Z Club could prove the ultimate gift for the food lover who has everything. Four times a year Z Club members receive a package of 8 to 10 food surprises picked specially for adventurous palates. The items included are chosen specifically for Z Club members by the Zingerman's staff, and may include such treasures as raw-milk Stilton cheese that had been "extinct" for decades, small-batch marmalade made from "calamondins"—tiny Southeast Asian oranges—or olio nuovo, a hard-to-find olive oil fresh off the press and bottled just days before. Packages always include a collection of writing on the foods’ history and culture and recipes for their use. Pricing begins at USD 175 per shipment.

Offering up rare treasures—or, at the very least, versions of ordinary things that can't be found at Wal-Mart or Marks & Spencer—is right out of our lecture notes on the trend we like to call massclusivity. Rare food items have become snobmoddities (commodities that are special enough to have snob appeal), and massclusivity-minded consumers will pay a premium to get them. Retailers smart enough to offer them, meanwhile, could end up awash in rare treasures themselves.

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U Of Texas Student Wants On-Campus Porn Club. Group Would Watch, Discuss Sexual Orientated Material

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Monday, November 05, 2007

How Hotswap.Com Killed Used Car Salesmen

In late 2005, Stanford student Luke Thomas tried to buy a Land Rover online. After a few frustrating days of trawling Craigslist and driving around the Bay Area, only to find cars that looked better in their photos than in real life, Thomas decided there must be a better way.

As it happens, Thomas was also involved in a computer science project that aimed to compress high-definition video online. And thus was born Hotswap, the first used-car site where sellers post videos of their vehicles.

Launched in March by Thomas and fellow students from Berkeley, MIT and Stanford, it's now on track to have 11,000 listings by the end of the year. It has also landed about $2 million in funding from venture firm Kinsey Hills Group and enlisted Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak as an adviser.

Little wonder that Hotswap is hot: According to CNW Marketing Research, Americans spent nearly $358 billion on used cars last year, with a quarter of the sales taking place on the Internet. "Video is what people want," says Jon Osborn, a research director at J.D. Power, "and it's especially appropriate for used cars." These are no grainy YouTube shorts, as Thomas points out: You can see every scratch, every dent, and the wear on those leather seats.

The video listings are free; Hotswap makes money by licensing video technology to dealerships and car manufacturers. It has deals with AutoNation and Enterprise and is in talks with GM to create a video for every preowned car that GM sells back to a dealership. Oh, and Thomas finally found that Land Rover he wanted - on his own site.

Sooloos.Com Success Story

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Viperjet Success Story

Scott and Dan Hanchette were called the Wrong Brothers when they decided a decade ago to build an airplane.

But, just as the Wright brothers silenced their critics, the Hanchettes' Viperjet MKII Executive has quieted those who questioned their wisdom to sell a profitable gym business to get into making aircraft.

Their passion helped them create a sleek, sporty, twin-seater jet from a kit they designed. Their experimental aircraft, which resembles a fighter jet, can climb 10,000 feet a minute, cruises at more than 500 mph and can reach altitudes of 28,000 feet.

The Viper can fly about 760 miles without refueling. And there aren't many like it in the kit-airplane market, which consists primarily of single-engine, propeller-driven aircraft, said Dick Knapinski, communications director at Oshkosh, Wis.-based Experimental Aircraft Association.

Monty Thompson, who recently came to Pasco from Aspen, Colo., to take a test ride, calls the Viperjet a piece of art.

"That plane just wants to fly and doesn't want to come down," he said after a flight. At an average cost of less than $800,000 apiece, the two brothers have already sold 23 Viperjet kits that are in various stages of being built nationwide. It costs about $400 to $500 an hour to operate.

Viper has made the kit modular so that customers can put it together without much hassle, said Dan Hanchette, vice president of the Pasco company, which gets about 20 inquiries a week about the plane.

There are about 50 manufacturers of kit aircraft in the country.

Viper, which has eight full-time employees including the two brothers and Dan's wife, Amber, soon plans to include a center to help customers build their planes.

And Viper Aircraft, the company the Hanchette brothers founded in the mid-1990s, also is working with a builder company to help assemble at its hangar at the Tri-Cities Airport a ready-to-fly plane with advanced avionics for export to Saudi Arabia.

Dan Hanchette said Scott, his older brother, has been interested in planes since childhood. He started taking flying lessons at 14 and wanted to be a fighter pilot. But he couldn't clear a color-vision test. That led him to turn his attention to building a plane that combined speed and style, Dan said.

"I thought that was unfair that only fighter pilots get to fly cool planes," said Scott, president of Viper.

Scott made drawings of a sporty plane on sheets of paper, and later collaborated with Mark Bettosini, of AirBoss Aerospace in Reno, Nev., to develop engineering plans for his vision, Dan Hanchette said.

The brothers had a background in business, having run an auto-detailing shop in downtown Kennewick in the 1980s and later a Gold's Gym. It's now called LifeQuest.

"I was into body building, but was bitten by the aircraft bug," said Dan, a 1982 Kamiakin High School graduate.

He said he never realized the things he could do before he got into the kit-plane manufacturing business. His ideas were translated into a three-dimensional reality by Scott, he said. And, it's been a lot of fun, Dan said.

"There were a lot of people who laughed at us," he said.

The jokes steeled their resolve. Often, the brothers ended up working 12 to 15 hours a day for weeks.

The progress was gradual until they learned their father had cancer. And, the brothers, who don't have college degrees, began working with greater intensity to show their dad before he died that their plane could fly.

The first prototype was ready to fly in October 1999, and the Hanchettes brought their dying father to see the spectacle. A radio problem delayed the first flight, Dan Hanchette said. A week later they fixed the problem, but their dad was too weak to witness his sons' best moments. So they shot a video of the flight and showed it to him.

After the Viperjet's inaugural flight, a man who had expressed doubts earlier about the Hanchettes' abilities told them, "If this were a bet, I would've lost everything."

Scott Hanchette says he doesn't blame the naysayers, because few would dare to do what they did.

Since 1999, the Hanchettes have constantly tweaked the Viperjet, investing several million dollars in it. They declined to give the exact amount.

Initially, the Hanchettes thought pilots interested in aerobatic maneuvers would be their primary customers, but after 9/11 — when long lineups at airports became common — the brothers thought of reaching out to business executives who preferred a smaller and faster plane.

Many of Viper's customers already own higher-end, manufactured aircraft that cost $3 million or more, the Hanchettes say.

The latest Viperjet has a four-times-more-powerful engine and is slightly bigger than the original version. Also, it has a pressurized cabin plush with Italian leather seats, burlwood accents and integrated flight systems.

"You can always make it better, but you have to draw the line on the sand somewhere," Scott Hanchette said.

The Viper MKII Executive is similar to a T-38, a jet trainer used by the U.S. Air Force, said Greg Bennett, a former Air Force instructor and commercial pilot. He has put in about 200 hours flying a Viperjet.

It has quick acceleration, and it loops and rolls in the air like a fighter jet, Bennett said. Because its streamlined body is made of composite materials, Viperjet doesn't encounter much resistance, he added.

"We need more brakes to slow it down," Bennett said.

Judge booted for flipping coin to decide

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Vending Machine That Dispenses Medicine

After visiting the doctor for the flu or other common complaint, the last thing consumers want to do is to make a second trip to a pharmacist and wait while their prescription gets filled. InstyMeds, a US startup, has devised a novel way to make getting medications easy. The company’s vending machines are designed to be placed in doctors’ offices, clinics, emergency rooms and other healthcare facilities. Each holds 100 of some of the most often used medications that can range from pills to drops to creams and so forth.

InstyMeds machines require that physicians create prescriptions electronically, which are then transmitted to the vending location. (Alternately, patients can take printed prescriptions to their regular pharmacists.) The machines include several safeguards to insure patients receive the proper medications their doctors ordered. From the patients’ point of view, however, the ordering process is relatively simple. They enter their prescription number and birthday via a user-friendly touchscreen monitor, then insert either cash or credit cards to cover co-pays, while their insurance companies are billed automatically.

Besides saving time for patients, InstyMeds machines also save pharmacists the slow and potentially error-prone process of counting out medications by hand. Indeed, relieving pharmacists from such routine tasks could turn out to be the machine’s major benefit. With pharmacist salaries in the United States climbing over USD 100,000, the time savings can mean significant cash savings. The vending machines, which are accessible 24/7, likewise could help alleviate a growing shortage of pharmacists. Moreover, InstyMed’s founders note that by handling routine prescriptions the vending machines let pharmacists focus on more important tasks such as counselling patients.

While start-up costs are likely to be high for any new venture in the heavily-regulated health arena, InstyMeds illustrates how entrepreneurs can devise niche products that handily meet customer needs while potentially chipping away at ever-growing healthcare costs.

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Startup Success Stories - TheTrunkClub.Com

Friday, November 02, 2007

How To Use Funny Personal Ads As A Bait For Dating Websites

I've noticed that dating websites are using funny personal ads as a bait for prospective members. I've got to admit that ads are quite creative.

Imp and angel. Disembodied head in jar, 24, seeks pixie goddess to fiddle with while Rome burns. You bring marshmallows. No. I make joke. You like laugh? I like comebacks and confessions. Send photo of someone else.

[Christian Cafe]

Hi I love to work but I am fun passionate and easy going woman but sincere and honesty. I love to watch old movies with John Wayne Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin and I like to hear contry music while I am walking and going to and back home from work. I have long black and gray hair with brown eyes and a nice set of boobs if anyone is interested. I am a unhappily married woman but arent most of us. If there is anyone wanting just a pal, friend or whatever happens here I am. And remember honesty is the best policy. More about my match: I am looking for a pal a friend and whereever it might lead to. Someone caring who loves to cuddle kiss and especially honest.


Three toed mango peeler searching for wicked lesbian infielder. Like screaming and marking territory with urine? Let's make banana enchiladas together in my bathtub. You bring the salsa.

[Amateur Match]

Now, That’s A Bad Day

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