Monday, March 31, 2008

Chats Are Back

Compared with other forms of human interaction, online social networking is really not all that social.

People visit each other’s MySpace pages and Facebook profiles at various hours of the day, posting messages and sending e-mail back and forth across the digital void. It’s like an endless party where everybody shows up at a different time and slaps a yellow Post-it note on the refrigerator.

Now a new wave of Silicon Valley companies is bringing live socializing back into a medium that has, in the parlance of the technologists, grown overly asynchronous.

Vivaty, a start-up based in Menlo Park, Calif., is creating 3-D virtual chat rooms that people can add to the Web pages and social networking profiles on the sites where they spend most of their Internet time.

The company has been quietly working on its technology for three years and will begin a private test period on Facebook this week in advance of a wider introduction this summer. It is backed by the blue-chip venture capital firms Kleiner, Perkins Caufield & Byers and Mohr Davidow Ventures.

Vivaty turns a flat profile page into a three-dimensional live chat room. Users choose characters to represent themselves from a list of preternaturally handsome avatars — a requirement for any such service — and proceed to one of a dozen environments, like a gothic urban warehouse or seaside villa.

With videogame-like precision, they can then navigate that virtual space, which may feature their Facebook photos hanging from the walls and a YouTube video playing on a widescreen TV. Up to 15 others can choose avatars and enter the same room at the same time for text-based live socializing.

“We want to take all your content on the Web and move it to a more visually immersive, immediate experience,” said Keith McCurdy, chief executive at Vivaty and a former vice president at the big game maker Electronic Arts.

Similar online services like Second Life and games like World of Warcraft have existed for years. But they are not accessible through a Web browser. Instead they require users to install large and cumbersome programs and have plenty of Internet bandwidth for a satisfyingly immediate experience.

Vivaty chat rooms, on the other hand, will be scattered across the Web. A user can stick an existing Vivaty virtual environment, or create a unique one, wherever HTML code can be imbedded. The company plans to make money partly by allowing companies to start their own virtual rooms on their own Web sites, where they can control the décor and their marketing messages.

Vivaty’s technology and business plan may be unique, but its overall goal is not. The entrepreneurs and investors behind other “live Web” companies say that the intermittent socializing on most Web sites ignores the primal human instinct that once drove people to the town square and now brings them into real-world social groups to watch the Super Bowl or the latest episode of “Battlestar Galactica.”

“A lot of basic human communication needs have been lost in this age of siloed, one-to-one communications,” said Roelof Botha, a partner at the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital. “At the end of the day, we are a social species.”

Mr. Botha, one of the original backers of YouTube, is behind live Web companies like TokBox, a year-old start-up that lets people conduct face-to-face video chats on the Web, and Meebo, a two-year-old Web messaging company that introduced a new generation of networked chat rooms to the Web last year.

Chat rooms were an integral part of the online experience for users of early services like CompuServe and America Online. Characterized by names like “Single and Looking,” they often devolved into noisy chaos.

The first wave of Web technology helped drive these unruly conversations close to extinction. The Web’s static pages made it poorly suited for rapid-fire, live communication. Live chat was relegated to separate software tools like instant messenger programs.

Newer Web programming tools provide flexibility for updates inside Web pages. But now there is a new problem: Internet users are spread thinly across millions of Web sites and blogs and various social networks.

Last year, Meebo’s chief executive, Seth Sternberg — who as a teenager was a chat-room moderator for America Online — introduced Meebo Rooms, a kind of 2-D version of Vivaty’s cartoonscape.

Meebo Rooms can play host to the same crowd on more than one Web site. For instance, there are around 100 people at any given time talking in the Meebo Room for the Showtime program “Big Brother After Dark.” Half of those might enter on Showtime’s site, while the other half might join from fan’s pages on MySpace. But they all conduct one live conversation.

Mr. Sternberg asserts that the dialogue is cleaner in his new live chats than on the old AOL chats he used to patrol. “Whenever chat rooms are embedded on a site with context, and everyone is there because they are interested in the topic, the conversation is good,” he said.

Other new live services are popping up quickly. This month, Facebook said it would introduce a live chat feature. Live video streaming services, from Yahoo and start-ups like Kyte, Ustream.TV and Justin.TV, are also proliferating. Those companies include live chat features as well, so users can discuss what they are watching in real time.

Mr. McCurdy from Vivaty said he did not expect these live services to travel far across the generational divide. The younger video-game generation “has more craving for contact,” he said. “They are using their computers for emotional experiences, and a video-game experience is more emotional than looking at a blue and white Facebook page.”

TwoMenAndATruck.Com Success Story

How To Build A $300 Million Domain Name Empire

Move Over iPhone - DIY Cellphones Are Coming

How To Become A Successful Minipreneur

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Get Your Own Paparazzi

Being photographed by the paparazzi was once an (often dubious) honour bestowed only on the rich and famous, but today a new service is bringing the possibility to every consumer.

Upon request, New York City-based MethodIzaz will send an anonymous photographer to surreptitiously capture select moments in a consumer's life and immortalize them with a portfolio of professionally produced photos. To arrange the service, the consumer provides a self photograph ahead of time along with details of their schedule and any specific emotion, mood or theme they hope to capture.

MethodIzaz's photographer will then show up at some undisclosed point during the day and photograph the subject walking through the streets or going about their daily business, without posing or artifice. For customers, the final result is a new perspective on how they appear to others as well as tangible documentation of how they lived their lives at that point in time—in short, the ultimate in gravanity-stroking. Pricing is based on MethodIzaz's time to travel, photograph, edit and produce the photographs, ranging from USD 300 to USD 400 per hour.

Founded late last year, MethodIzaz already accepts assignments worldwide, but it also hopes to expand its presence accordingly. There are consumers around the globe waiting for their taste of fame and immortality—one to partner with and bring to an area near you?

The Real Business of Photography

Riding Nostalgia To Profts

Capitalism That Wasn't

Why Cracks Are Good For Business

Millionaire goes back to McDonald's job

Friday, March 28, 2008

TheSushiGirl.Com Success Story

Throwing a party isn’t what it used to be and, in the process, it’s even been spiced up, thanks to Nikki Gilbert. She throws sushi-making parties and provides catering for corporate and private functions.

Although Nikki Gilbert’s ethnic background is Greek-German-Polish-Jewish, she has loved Asian food since the age of 6 and waited tables at a Japanese restaurant while in high school. During college Nikki worked at a sushi bar, where she used to ask the sushi chefs for lessons. “I’d go home and bring in what I made, and they would laugh at me,” she says. With her dream of becoming an entrepreneur and the idea that anyone can enjoy making sushi for themselves, Sushi Girl was born in 1998.

What gives your business an edge?
GILBERT: I like to think of myself as the perfect bridge between the two cultures. Because I am an American/westerner I feel that I have a better understanding of what westerners want to experience in a sushi class and/or party. And because I lived in Japan for many years (and for many years before that worked in authentic Japanese restaurants), I bring authenticity to my clients’ sushi experiences. Furthermore, I really love Japan, its food, its culture and its aesthetic style. With every event, I am sharing the things that I love and the experiences from my life in Japan. Because of that, there is real legitimacy to what I do, and I believe that comes through to my clients.

Describe your transition from employee to business owner?
GILBERT: I stayed with my last full-time job and ran my business as long as humanly possible before I called it quits. Not only did the job give me secure income, it also gave me structure. When I was first on my own not only was I no longer answering to a time clock, I was also without a regular routine. My routine had been to start working on my business anytime I wasn’t at my job or sleeping. Now, with nothing structured, I needed a plan for organizing my new workday. I made the decision that every morning I would get to the gym by 5:30 a.m. to start my day. I would then be in my office by 8 a.m. and ready to work. That really helped me find the structure I needed before it just became a regular and natural routine. I can’t say that I am still getting to the gym every morning, but I am getting to the office.

Who are your role models?
GILBERT: Jackie Robinson, Marcia Israel-Curley and John Wooden.

What is your personal mantra?
GILBERT: Be grateful for what you do have.

What is your business mantra?
GILBERT: Pay attention to the voice in your head and the feeling in your gut.

What tips can you give others who want to embrace their dream, but don’t feel they have the confidence to move forward?
GILBERT: First, make sure you really understand what your dream is. Some people think their dream is to have their own business when actually they dream of not having to be tied down by a job. I am living my dream but, make no mistake, I am still tied down.

Second, take baby steps. Make sure you are comfortable with generating income out of thin air before you give up that paycheck.

Third (and probably the most important), envision the worst-case scenario and determine that if that were to occur, would you still be glad you took your shot?

Have you always felt that you could do anything you put your mind to?
GILBERT: My mind doesn’t really work that way. It isn’t a matter of knowing I can do something but rather knowing that there is something that I want to do, and so I try. I don’t ever really know what the first step is, but I take one anyway. I then take another step and another and so on. Eventually you take enough steps that you can’t help but make progress and figure something out.

How long did it take before your business became profitable?
GILBERT: It was profitable almost immediately because I started out so slowly. Of course the profits were small, but they were profits.

Were there any challenges that you experienced along the way that you had to overcome?
GILBERT: The hardest thing was getting to a point where I actually felt like I had a legitimate business. As a child while some girls played house or had pretend weddings, I played “business owner.” When I first started it took a while (a long while) before I could say–without laughing to myself–that I “owned my own business” to those who asked what I did for a living. You don’t get a diploma or title that is sanctioned by some governing body that tells you that you are a legitimate business owner, so you feel like you are faking it or playing grownup for a while. At least, I felt that way and for a long time.

Another thing that was challenging was not getting a paycheck from someone else. I started working when I was 13, and I come from very financially stable parents who have always taken great comfort in knowing that they got a paycheck every month and plenty of benefits. The day I resigned from my last regular job and knew the only money I would make would have to be created from nothing, I knew I would have some sleepless nights.

What resources were most helpful to you when you were starting your business?
GILBERT: The internet and the 24-hour Kinkos near my home. I can say with utter certainty that I would not have a business if it were not for the internet. Most of what I do comes from hours and hours of research that I do on the internet. As for Kinkos, when I first started out I was constantly there at all hours of the day. When I got hired for my first really important job, I was there at 2 a.m. getting a poster printed. I didn’t have a good printer, but I could design my own poster and take my laptop to Kinkos, where I could hook it up to their top-of-the-line printer. Kinkos allowed me to present my business as professionally as possible without having to go bankrupt. I don’t think people realize how important the internet and print houses likes Kinkos are. They let you compete with the big guys in a way that was not possible 10 years ago.

What’s next?
GILBERT: My DVD. I put everything I know about sushi and Japan together with all the experience I have had teaching thousands of people how to make it for themselves into this DVD. If you want to make sushi for yourself, this is hands-down the best way to learn how to do so. I can say with all certainty that there isn’t a better way to learn how to make sushi.

Riding Nostalgia To Profts

Build-A-Bear's Founder Shares Her Story

Starting a business wasn't in the cards for Jason Osborn -- until he lost his job at an ad agency.

Why is the US economy crashing?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

You Don't Have To Be A Genius To Start Your Own Online Biz

Creativity has been a big part of Elizabeth Gallant’s life since she was very young. Since she was a kid she sewed, picking up skills from her own mother. She then spent part of her adult years as a graphic designer as well, until she decided she wanted to become a stay-at-home mom to raise her daughter.

It was while Elizabeth was trying to think up a gift idea that she decided to harness her sewing experience and created a one of a kind diaper bag. That was just the starting point of what would soon become a very successful business for her.

What is EG Designs?

EG Designs is a custom accessories business that caters to women and children. With over 40 unique accessory styles, continuously modernized, and a vast always-updated palette of 100 designer fabric choices, there is a design selection for everyone. I believe accessories should be a reflection of your personality. I allow the customer to choose their design accessory, fabric and embellishments to suit their specific style. I offer the same luxury for distributing wholesale to my retailers, a great benefit as they are customizing for their clientele and know best what will sell in their area. After order processing, items are then created, scrutinized and mailed with in 3-4 weeks.

What was your inspiration for your business?

I believe a lot of “mom” businesses begin in a similar fashion. Our babies begin school and build their own personal lives and we “moms” are left to fill the void in our days. I have an art background and over 35 years of sewing experience, I decided to put this to work doing something I love.

How long has it been since your business was started?

My business began as a custom accessories business for children’s bedrooms. Hand painted lamps, switch plates, custom lampshades, nightlights, bedding, curtains etc. My “women’s accessories” business began when I created a diaper bag for a baby shower, about 5 years ago or so.

Do you have any past experience that you were able to call on when starting your business?

Yes, I’m a graduate of The New England School of Art & Design in Boston, Massachusetts. I graduated in illustration. My dream was to illustrate children’s books. I began working as an artist in advertising and continued for a decade. I believe I’m similar to anyone who has a creative mind whether it’s cultivated or not. We see things in terms of esthetics, color, balance, texture etc.

How long have you been sewing for?

I’ve been sewing off and on for over 35 years. I had one of those children’s sewing machines from Sears or JC Penny when I was little. Then I graduated to my mom’s ELNA, Swiss sewing machine. I credit her for any sewing knowledge I’ve acquired. It’s a great and wonderful talent as well as knitting, crocheting etc. to teach our girls. My daughter has her own Hello Kitty sewing machine that she loves to create things for her American Girl dolls with. Some items are successful and some need altering but this is how she learns the magic of creating things on her own and being proud of her accomplishments.

What types of things do you like to create?

Well, I like to create anything from conception to finish and anything with my hands not necessarily “sewing” related. Whether it is a new pattern for my business or a request for something not “accessory” related for a friend or relative. Whenever I create a new pattern I love to find it’s flaws and rectify them, this can also be very frustrating. A design that you are sure would look fabulous in your head occasionally never looks the same when created. The learning experience never ends you continually evolve.

As a mom, when do you find the time to make your products?

I work when my daughter gets on the bus to school and stop when she returns home. I work weekends as well or whenever the demand is high. My office is at home in an extra room. If I walk by that room at night I may stop in and go over a few projects, tweak them a bit. People think it’s great to work from home, and most of the time it’s wonderful. But we still have to fit all of our “mom” duties into the day, laundry, cleaning, cooking, helping with homework etc. and working to keep our business successful such as dropping off product to stores, post office, bills, meetings, creating items, answering email and the phone etc.

Have you learned anything since starting your business that you wish you’d known before?

Maybe some of the chances I took when I was already questioning the success of them; paying rent to establishments to promote my product, certain advertising choices I made, places of retail that didn’t work out, participating in every function I was asked to be a part of; these I wouldn’t want to repeat. It’s easy to burn yourself out, especially in the beginning and then to try to produce quality merchandise, it’s impossible. You mature in your business choices the more adept you become in your craft. Trust your instincts.

Do you have any advice for other moms out there looking to start their own business?

The obvious advice would be, beginning a business from something that you really, really enjoy doing. For me, work supplemented my personal life. Try to find your balance between you, family and work; occasionally they can overlap in a big way. Take time for you to go to the gym, get on your treadmill, yoga, whatever keeps you balanced. In the past I never set aside and hour a day for me because an hour during my amount of work time is huge! But mentally the benefits do pay off; you’re better at business, being a mom and wife. Your business should fit into your schedule, remember it’s that void of time we’re trying to fill while the kids are gone. Once they’re home we go back to our most important job, being a mom. You’ll be surprised at how easy work can govern your life. Work can be very rewarding as long as our family and our mental health aren’t compromised.

Lawsuit Settled Over Stolen Virtual Sex Toys In 'Second Life'

Oprah show sued over 'seat rush'

The Brits Are Drowning In Debt

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Should You Pay $500 For Review On JohnChow.Com? My Personal Experience.

I am a big fan of Johh Chow. So, I figured, I should try ordering a review for PickyDomains on his website, which ain't cheap - $500 to be exact.

Want to know if it was worth it? OK, you decide.

I had to wait over a week for review to be done. The review was good, there was just one inaccuracy - we do have a lot of celebrity clients, like Yanik Silver or Aaron Wall (of or Wendy Piersall (eMomsAtHome.Com), but domains we picked for them were not or eMomsAtHome.Com, as the review implies.

The traffic from JohnChow.Com to was surprisingly low - only 100-150 visitors a day for the first two days. How is it possbile, if so many people read John and he has so many RSS subscribers - I have no idea. I guess that people don't really care to read paid reviews. There were three sales that I can attribute to review, so I am positive that review will pay for itself over time.

I was surprised that many of our clients and contirbutors read that review and decided to comment on the service - 100% positive feedback. However, it was informative to read comments by people who heard about for the first time ever (despite the fact that the service was profiled by major newspapers).

Some claimed that there is no need for the service (even though the service has over 500 clients and more and more people come to us every day, which many clients ordering multiple domains). Others voiced fears that it's some sort of scam (I guess they did not bother to Google 'PickyDomains').

It's a bit to early to tell, but I am positive that review on John's site will give me some additional exposure on sites that track Web 2.0 projects - after all we are one of the few success stories in this niche, but still remain a relative unknown. Hopefull, some major bloggers (who read JohnChow.Com) will profile the service too. I am getting some inquiries already.

So, here you have it.

Pickled Profits

World's Most Profitable Blog Post

Building a Facebook for Wine

Get the Hollywood idea of a sleazy salesman out of your head. It’s bogus

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash

And this week's business book of the week is ... - The Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers, and the Great Credit Crash (an absolutely excellent narrative of the horror that we have in the credit markets right now.... It's a wonderful explanation of how it happened and why it's so rotten, and why it will take a long time to unwind.")

The Great Unwind has begun, Citigroup warns

Sex Too Hard to Sell These Days

Overdosed! Requiem for a Departing Economic System

Feed The Blogger

There's no such thing as a free lunch—unless, of course, you happen to be a food blogger. Food manufacturers tend to be liberal with their samples when it comes to gaining exposure through influential voices, and one New Orleans-based blogger has turned that into a defining feature of his site.

On, Blake Killian has developed SOOPZ, a network of 200 or so readers who are also food bloggers—"Sooper Heroes," as he calls them. Manufacturers send multiple samples of a particular item to Blake, who announces that they will be given away through his site. Registered Sooper Heroes can then sign up to receive some in exchange for at least the possibility that they'll write about them on their own blogs. Most recently, for instance, TCHO—the chocolatier we featured not long ago on our own pages—donated a bunch of its chocolate bars for giveaway to the SOOPZ network. Before that it was Sucre chocolate. Since the site's founding last May, Blake has even started developing a line of his own products, starting with Peanut Butter Dulce de Leche—of which he's given away more than a hundred jars through the site. Future plans include videos and a cookbook as well, Blake says.

Whereas food brands have increasingly begun seeking out blog exposure, traditionally that's happened just one blog at a time, and on the brands' own initiative. By acting as an intermediary, is turning that model on its head and giving companies quick access to many bloggers in one shot. Bloggers get free food, companies get free publicity, and everyone gets happy. If you're in food, better start lining up now...!

Small Business Marketing Success Story: Pink Cake Box

5StarBaby.Com - How To Make Money From Baby Posters

The Rise Of Freeconomics. Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Buying a Brand, Then Building a Business

Here’s a new twist on startups: Buy a brand first – then start your company.

At, there are several for sale, like “We Do the Math” for aspiring accountants or “BloomService” for someone looking to get a foothold in the floral industry. Each brand already has a registered trademark, logo, registered domain names and a vanity toll-free number.

That’s a lot of hassle out of the way. All that’s left is to well, build the business.

This “plug-and-play” strategy is the brainchild of Susan Murphy and her husband William Pilipchuk, whose interior design and branding company iContact Designs Inc. is based in Pleasant Ridge, Mich. After helping clients come up with brand names and slogans for two decades, the pair decided to see what the market would bear for their inspirations.

“We’ve always had these ideas,” Ms. Murphy told me today. “We’d be in the shower and screaming for the other person to ‘get a piece of paper.’ We’re looking for a forward-looking company that wants to hit the ground running.”

Though they haven’t sold any packages yet, Ms. Murphy thinks their upfront legwork will run in the “six to seven-figure range.” But, she notes she’s open to negotiation and other payment possibilities, like an equity stake.

Other brands for sale: LaBeatOh! (Ms. Murphy is thinking a Latin food chain: “I could help design the interior”), Dr. ChewLittle’s (organic baby food?) and Pizzapotamus (pizza delivery with a hungry hippo logo).

Economists Say Movie Violence Might Temper the Real Thing

In 2007, the brokers’ customers did reasonably well. The brokers did not. How could that happen?

Man Saves His Trash For The Entire Year

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

5StarBaby.Com - Clever Business Idea

Consumers are never too young for a little gravanity, particularly when proud parents are buying it for them. Enter, which offers personalized birth announcements fashioned after movie advertisement posters.

Each movie poster birth announcement from 5starbaby is tailor-made for the new arrival, complete with all the critical “stats” about the baby’s birth and the names of loved ones as "supporting cast." Parents are listed as "producers," the doctor is named as "director" and the hospital is listed as the "filmed in" setting, for example. "Critics' quotes" can also be included, as can "catering" by the mother and options for virtually any other special people or ideas the parents want listed. "Ratings" given are "B" for boy, "G" for girl or "T" for twins. Movie poster birth announcements are 5-by-8-inch mini posters; pricing begins at USD 2.50 each with envelopes included. also offers large poster formats ranging from USD 25 to USD 120 each, and gift certificates are available for baby showers or other occasions.

Buffalo, NY-based will ship orders anywhere in the world, but localized versions in other languages are a natural next step. One to bring to proud parents and gift-givers around the globe!

New 'Pay For Results Only' PR Arrangement May Change The Industry Of Public Relations.

Seven Books Written By Famous Business Owners That You Absolutely Have To Read To Get 'Business Zen'

Venture Capital's New Math - Do Less, Get More.

How Girls Gone Wild (GGW) Got To Be A $100 Million Dollar A Year Success Story

The Story Of Lester Levenson And His Sedona Method

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Top 5 Inspiring Business Stories From This Month

Monday, March 17, 2008

How Real Moms Learned to Mix Business with Babies-and How You Can, Too

Carin Walling is a working mom. Her day begins at 7:30 a.m. when she wakes up with her toddler twin daughters, Callie and Henley.

"We do breakfast together," says Walling. "Sometimes I go to the gym in the mornings and other times we play until nap time. When they lay down at nap time, that's work time for me."

Walling works from home as her own boss. She opened a children's store. But not the type of physical store you may be thinking of.

"I wanted to have a physical store and it didn't work out, he (her husband) said why don't you do this whole thing online," says Walling.

So she started the online children's boutique She says the started up was relatively easy. She paid another work at-home mom to design her website.

Plus, many of the manufacturers didn't require her to buy a supply of products up front. So there was very little start up cost.

Walling acts as the online middle man for companies that make children's goods.

When a customer makes an order on her website then she contacts the manufacturer of those products. "Most of the time the manufacturer packs it up and ships the items directly to the customer," says Walling.

And that means she doesn't have to fill her home with products to be shipped out.

"I have one bookshelf of merchandise and that's it," says Walling. "I think my husband would go nuts if I had more than that."

Walling is part of a growing number of parents looking for creative ways to be successful in business without sacrificing time with their children.

In a survey by Pew Research Center, 1 in 5 women surveyed said they would prefer not working at all outside the home. The spring up of online stores, like, it is creating a new avenue for parents.

Walling says she was shocked by the online network of work at-home moms, who are are all trying to help each other.

"Almost everyone I work with, with the exception of the large manufacturers, are work at-home moms," says Walling.

She regularly blogs on her website with a network of other work at-home moms about their struggles, their successes, and their suggestions.

She has found that many First Coast moms have developed creative ways to have it all.

"I have a friend who has an online business here in Jacksonville," say Walling. "She drops her kids off at preschool and goes to Panera with her laptop to work."

For her online store, Walling has worked out a work schedule that suits her. "Usually in the mornings I squeeze in a good half hour of work," says Walling. "Then two to three hours of work at nap time. And another two to three house at night."

The key to Walling's success is getting people to go to her store with all the choices online. She trades links with other websites to increase her visibility.

She also works with Google to increase her "google rating" which will make her website come up toward the top of the list in searches for children's products.

But she says the best part of her job is, "just being there for my kids and not missing out." (Via - The Milk Memos: How Real Moms Learned to Mix Business with Babies-and How You Can, Too)

How To Make A Million Dollars

Personalized Baby Blankets

10 Awesome Startups You’ve Never Heard About

Saturday, March 15, 2008

How Come That Idiot's Rich and I'm Not?

In How Come That Idiot’s Rich and I’m Not? bestselling author Robert Shemin reveals for the first time the inner-circle secrets of the mega-wealthy. Have you ever wondered why some people attract wealth while others stay financially trapped and in debt? The key is wealth-friendly, upside-down thinking. Stick with all the old moneymaking rules and stay broke. Break them and get rich. This is the book that shows you how.

We’ve all read about the college kid who made millions on a brainstorm, or the couple who made a fortune in real estate, or the guy in his thirties who waved good-bye to his boss and now lives on his investments. But until now, how they did it—the rules they followed or flouted, the tricks they stumbled on—have remained a mystery.

That’s about to change. Whether you’ve been trying to get rich but haven’t quite made it yet, or just need the confidence to dream big, this is the book for you. As experienced as Shemin is at showing high-net-worth individuals how to get richer, his real love is helping self-described “financial disasters” earn millions. And he uses his own odds-defying story to illustrate the outside-the-box thinking that gets the job done. Here, you’ll learn how to:

• set only one powerful success goal—and make it a big one
• play while your money goes to work
• stop building someone else’s business and start building your own
• live and think like a millionaire while you’re becoming one
• use the power and “smarts” of other Rich Idiots to help you join the Rich Idiot Club
• add OPI (other people’s ideas), OPT (other people’s time), and OPE (other people’s experience) to do less and make more
• tap into timeless secrets that unlock the energy and spiritual power of money

Learn which three assets you must own to become a Rich Idiot and how to obtain them with little or no money of your own. Learn why Rich Idiots outearn almost all the so-called wealth experts and how you can, too. Above all, learn how doing just one thing a day will bring you to your big goal.

In this book, the first to show you what it really takes to achieve financial abundance, Shemin illustrates in a fun, witty way how going against the grain is, in fact, the surest way to gain. Spend just a few pages with Robert and his Rich Idiot friends and you’ll be convinced that “if they could do it, I can do it.”

The Only Honest Lawyer In New York?

How To Build A $300 Million Domain Name Empire

TwoMenAndATruck.Com Success Story

How To Make Money From Celebrity Addresses

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Only Honest Lawyer In New York?

The Brodsky Law Firm is not your typical New York City law firm. For one thing, they have a crude drawing of a purple cow on their homepage.

Unusually, they also publish their rates, and a guarantee online. I recently spoke with Steve Brodsky about the firm.

How is it that you can charge 70% less than the average lawyer?

By keeping my overhead low, and doing all the work myself, I eliminate many of the typical expenses associated with operating a law office. My office is tiny and has no windows. I don’t have secretaries, paralegals, or receptionists. I don’t wear suits. And perhaps most important, I don’t have any receivables. All fees are paid up front. I’ve seen statistics which show that 30% of a typical lawyer’s billables are never collected.

Why do you do so?

First, as former entrepreneur and businessman, I resented paying lawyers $300 to $500/hour. But there was no choice–that’s the going rate for NYC lawyers. I eventually realized that there must be many businesspeople who feel the same way, and simply can’t or won’t pay that kind of money. Second, I’m not impressed with lawyers. Ninety-nine percent of them do not deserve the money they make. They provide lousy customer service along with a sense of self-importance, and the attitude that they are entitled to their ridiculously high fees. I’m the exact opposite. I went to the same top-25 law school (Fordham) and passed the hardest bar exam in the country (New York), but that doesn’t make me entitled to rob people. No one should have to pay 20 times their own hourly salary for a lawyer. Besides, I’m not in it strictly for the money. I enjoy making access to legal services affordable, and I perform many services for free. I’m a strong believer that we’re all put on earth to do good. This is my way.

What’s your background and history?

I’m a long-time serial entrepreneur. I’ve founded several startups, most notably, which received major VC backing around 1999/2000. It has since gone under, a victim of the first wave of the dotcom shakeout. The concept, which was a vast improvement to online “yellow pages” sites, was ahead of its time.

What’s the Purple Cow guarantee?

1. No call screeners. Calls always answered or returned by me. Most lawyers are trained to think that they have to have a “gatekeeper” so that they can avoid certain calls.
2. Ready when promised. Your work completed on time. Again, if I say it will be done in two days, it’s done in two days. It’s about accountability to my clients.
3. FAST RESPONSE. I return calls and emails quickly, often within minutes. Most lawyers feel too important to provide responses in a timely manner. My clients are shocked when their emails are often answered within one minute (literally).
4. Lowest rates. My fees are about 70% lower than the average law firm.
5. No Nickels & Dimes. I don’t charge for quick phone calls, emails, postage, copies, etc. These items are standard billing practice for lawyers. And, at $300/hr, a 30-second email response will often cost $75, when billing is done in 1/4 hour increments.
6. Experience. I provide the same or more experience than most lawyers charging three times as much. Again, top-25 law school, many years legal experience, and even more real-world business experience.

Lawyers have typically been so despised for being out-of-touch that no one feels the slightest qualm about making the most horrific jokes about them, but legal mavericks and entrepreneurs like Steve Brodsky and Brodsky Law are changing, and humanizing, the face of the industry.

Additional reading:

Marketing the Legal Mind

mEgo Success Story

The Rise Of Freeconomics. Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business

How To Build A $300 Million Domain Name Empire

Thursday, March 13, 2008

While-You-Wait Editing

Let’s say you have to answer an email from an important client. Not being a professional writer, you’re unsure whether the lengthy response you hacked out will even make sense. Who are you going to call? Gramlee. Paste your rough-hewn verbiage into a text box on Gramlee’s website. Hit submit. And within about two hours the text is emailed back, expertly polished by human editors so that it’s both readable and grammatically correct.

Gramlee claims that the average email runs about 150 words, and charges under a dollar to edit a document of that length. Longer documents incur built-in discounts; for example, editing a report-length 1,617-word document—about 7 double-spaced pages—costs just under USD 10, which is cheap enough to entice nearly everyone to use the service. Gramlee lets frequent users ‘buy words’ in advance, and it’s easy to imagine companies running an account with the editing service to make sure their routine documents are professionally produced.

Right now, most organizations handle the editing of everyday documents in a far less efficient manner. Important letters, emails and other documents are either handed off to the lone office worker who majored in English, or a company locates free-lance editors and summons them whenever the need arises. Indeed, Gramlee does for writing what online translation and concierge services have done for other common tasks that benefit from a professional’s touch. And a fast turnaround will hook customers into making a habit of having their documents edited. Considering the billions of memos and emails that circulate every day, the market for companies providing on-the-spot editing is vast.

Online Markets for Writers: How to Make Money by Selling Your Writing On the Internet

From Entrepreneur to Infopreneur: Make Money with books, E-Books and Information Products

Not Your Regular Lawyer

The Easiest Three Grand I Ever Made Online

How To Extract Money From Your Domain Naming Abilities

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How To Build A $300 Million Domain Name Empire

Kevin Ham leans forward, sits up tall, closes his eyes, and begins to type -- into the air. He's seated along the rear wall of a packed ballroom in Las Vegas's Venetian Hotel. Up front, an auctioneer is running through a list of Internet domain names, building excitement the same way he might if vintage cars were on the block.

As names come up that interest Ham, he occasionally air-types. It's the ultimate gut check. Is the name one that people might enter directly into their Web browser, bypassing the search engine box entirely, as Ham wants? Is it better in plural or singular form? If it's a typo, is it a mistake a lot of people would make? Or does the name, like a stunning beachfront property, just feel like a winner?

When Ham wants a domain, he leans over and quietly instructs an associate to bid on his behalf. He likes wedding names, so his guy lifts the white paddle and snags for $10,000. is not nearly as good as the plural, but Ham grabs it anyway, for $350,000.

Ham is a devout Christian, and he spends $31,000 to add to his collection, which already includes and When it's all over, Ham strolls to the table near the exit and writes a check for $650,000. It's a cheap afternoon.

Just a few years ago, most of the guys bidding in this room had never laid eyes on one another. Indeed, they rarely left their home computers. Now they find themselves in a Vegas ballroom surrounded by deep-pocketed bankers, venture-backed startups, and other investors trying to get a piece of the action.

And why not? In the past three years alone, the number of dotcom names has soared more than 130 percent to 66 million. Every two seconds, another joins the list.

But the big money is in the aftermarket, where the most valuable names -- those that draw thousands of pageviews and throw off steady cash from Google's and Yahoo's pay-per-click ads -- are driving prices to dizzying heights. People who had the guts and foresight to sweep up names shed during the dotcom bust are now landlords of some of the most valuable real estate on the Web.

The man at the top of this little-known hierarchy is Kevin Ham -- one of a handful of major-league "domainers" in the world and arguably the shrewdest and most ambitious of the lot. Even in a field filled with unusual career paths, Ham's stands out.

Trained as a family doctor, he put off medicine after discovering the riches of the Web. Since 2000 he has quietly cobbled together a portfolio of some 300,000 domains that, combined with several other ventures, generate an estimated $70 million a year in revenue. (Like all his financial details, Ham would neither confirm nor deny this figure.)

Working mostly as a solo operator, Ham has looked for every opening and exploited every angle -- even inventing a few of his own -- to expand his enterprise. Early on, he wrote software to snag expiring names on the cheap. He was one of the first to take advantage of a loophole that allows people to register a name and return it without cost after a free trial, on occasion grabbing hundreds of thousands of names in one swoop.

And what few people know is that he's also the man behind the domain world's latest scheme: profiting from traffic generated by the millions of people who mistakenly type ".cm" instead of ".com" at the end of a domain name.

Try it with almost any name you can think of --,, even -- and you'll land on a page called, a site filled with ads served up by Yahoo.

Ham makes money every time someone clicks on an ad -- as does his partner in this venture, the West African country of Cameroon. Why Cameroon? It has the unforeseen good fortune of owning .cm as its country code -- just as Germany runs all names that end with .de.

The difference is that hardly any .cm names are registered, and the letters are just one keyboard slip away from .com, the mother lode of all domains. Ham landed connections to the Cameroon government and flew in his people to reroute the traffic. And if he gets his way, Colombia (.co), Oman (.om), Niger (.ne), and Ethiopia (.et) will be his as well.

"It's in the works," Ham says over lunch in his hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia. "That's why I can't talk about it." He's nearly as reluctant to share details about his newest company, called Reinvent Technology, into which he's investing tens of millions of dollars to build a powerhouse of Internet businesses around his most valuable properties.

Given Ham's reach on the Web -- his sites receive 30 million unique visitors a month -- it's remarkable that so few people know about him. Even in the clubby world of domainers, he's a mystery man. Until now Ham has never talked publicly about his business. You won't find his name on any domain registration, nor will you see it on the patent application for the Cameroon trick.

There are practical reasons for the low profile: For one, Ham's success has drawn enemies, many of them rivals. He once used a Vancouver post office box for domain-related mail -- until the day he opened a package that contained a note reading "You are a piece of s**t," accompanied by an actual piece of it.

Bitter domainers are one thing, lawyers another. And at the moment, Ham's biggest concern is that corporate counsels will come after him claiming that the Cameroon typo scheme is an abuse of their trademarks. He may be right, since this is the first time he's been identified as the orchestrator.

When asked about the .cm play, John Berryhill, a top domain attorney who doesn't work for Ham, practically screams into the phone, "You know who did that? Do you have any idea how many people want to know who's behind that?"

Kevin Ham is a boyish-looking 37-year-old, trim from a passion for judo and a commitment to clean living. His drink of choice: grapefruit juice, no ice. His mild demeanor belies the aggressive, work-around-the-clock type that he is. Ham frequently steers conversations about business back to the Bible. Not in a preachy way; it's just who he is.

The son of Korean-born immigrants, Ham grew up on the east side of Vancouver with his three brothers. His father ran dry-cleaning stores; his mother worked graveyard shifts as a nurse. A debilitating illness at the age of 14 led Ham to dream of becoming a doctor. He cruised through high school and then undergraduate work and medical school at the University of British Columbia.

Christianity had long been a mainstay with his family, but as an undergrad, he made the Bible a focal point of his life; he joined the Evangelical Layman's Church and attended regular Bible meetings. Ham recalls that it was about this time -- 1992 or 1993 -- that he was introduced to the Web. A church friend told him about a powerful new medium that could be used to spread the gospel.

"Those words really struck me," Ham says. "It's the reason I'm still working."

After he graduated from med school in 1998, Ham and his new bride took off for London, Ontario, for a two-year residency. By the second year, Ham had become chief resident, and when he wasn't rushing to the emergency room, he indulged his growing fascination with the Net, teaching himself to create websites and to code in Perl.

Information about Web hosting at the time was so scattered that Ham began creating an online directory of providers, complete with reviews and ratings of their services. He called it

From there it was a short step to the business of buying and selling domains. About six months after he launched Hostglobal, Ham was earning around $10,000 per month in ad sales. But when one of his advertisers -- a service that sold domain registrations -- told him that a single ad was generating business worth $1,500 a month, Ham figured he could get in on that too.

It made sense: People shopping for hosting services were often interested in buying a catchy URL, so Ham launched a second directory, called Like similar services operating at the time, it gave customers a way to register domain names.

But Ham added the one feature that early domain hunters wanted most: weekly lists of available names, compiled using free sources he found on the Web. Some lists he gave away; others he charged as much as $50 for. In a couple of months, he had more than 5,000 customers.

By the time he finished his residency in June 2000, his two small Web ventures were pulling in more money in a month -- sometimes $40,000 -- than Ham made that year at the hospital. That was enough, he reasoned, to put off starting a medical practice for three more months, maybe six. "It just didn't make sense not to do it," he says.

With a new baby in tow, Ham and his wife moved back to Vancouver, settling into a one-bedroom apartment. Ham's timing, it turned out, was spot-on. Tech stocks were tumbling, dotcoms were folding left and right, and investors were fleeing the Web. More important to him, hundreds of thousands of valuable domain names that were suddenly considered worthless began to expire, or "drop." Ham and a handful of other trailblazers were ready to snap them up.

Figuring out when names would drop was tedious work.

At the time, Network Solutions controlled the best names; it was for a long time the only retail company, or registrar, selling .coms. It didn't say when expiring names would go back on the market, but twice a day it published the master list of all registered names -- the so-called "root zone" file (now managed by VeriSign (Charts)). It was a fat list of well over 5 million names that took hours to download and often crashed the under-powered PCs of the day.

So Ham wrote software scripts that compared one day's list with the next. Then he tracked names that vanished from the root file. Those names would be listed briefly as on hold, and Ham figured out that they would almost always drop five or six days later -- at about 3:30 a.m. on the West Coast. In the dark of night, Ham launched his attacks, firing up five PCs and multiple browsers in each. Typing furiously, he would enter his buy requests and bounce from one keyboard to the next until he snagged the names he wanted.

He missed a lot of them, of course.

Ham had no clue that there were rivals out there who were way ahead him, deploying software that purchased names at a rate that Ham's fingers couldn't match. Through registration data, he eventually traced many of those purchases to one owner: "NoName." Behind the shadowy moniker was another reclusive domain pioneer, a Chinese-born programmer named Yun Ye, who, according to people who know him, operated out of his house in Fremont, Calif.

By day Ye worked as a software developer. At night he unleashed the programs that automated domain purchases. (Ye achieved deity status among domainers in 2004 when he sold a portfolio of 100,000 names to Marchex , a Seattle-based, publicly traded search marketing firm, for $164 million. He then moved to Vancouver.)

Ham went back to the keyboard, writing scripts so that he, too, could pound at the registrars. Ham's track record began to improve, but he still wasn't satisfied. "Yun was just too good," he says.

Then Ham did something brash: He bought his way to the front of the line. Since registrars had direct connections to Network Solutions's servers, Ham's play was to cut out the middleman. He struck deals with several discount registrars, even helping them write software to ensure that they captured the names Ham wanted to buy during the drops. In exchange for the exclusivity, Ham offered to pay as much as $100 for some names that might normally go for as little as $8.

Within weeks Ham had struck so many deals that, according to rivals, he controlled most of the direct connections. "I kept telling them to hit them harder," Ham says in a rare boastful moment. "We brought down the servers many times." During one six-month period starting in late 2000, Ham registered more than 10,000 names.

Rival domainers, locked out of much of the action, didn't appreciate Ham's tactics. It was one of them, most likely, who sent him the turd. "Kevin came in and closed the door for everyone else," says Frank Schilling, a domainer who figured out what Ham had done and sealed similar deals. "There was a ton of professional jealousy."

Ham, in fact, owes a lot to Schilling. Both men lived in Vancouver at the time, and after Ham sought out Schilling in November 2000, the two met at a restaurant to compare notes.

"How much traffic do you have?" Schilling asked. An embarrassed Ham replied that he had no idea. Schilling mentioned that he was experimenting with a new service,, that would populate his domains with ads. Ham spent the next week figuring out how much traffic his sites were generating, and he was amazed by the initial tally: 8,000 unique visitors per day from the 375 names he owned at the time.

"From then on," Ham says, "I knew that what I was building would be very, very valuable." He soon signed up with GoTo (which was later purchased by Yahoo). On his first day, Ham made $1,500.

The system worked then as it does now: People don't always use Google or Yahoo to find something on the Web; they'll often type what they're looking for into a browser's address bar and add ".com."

It's a practice known as "direct navigation," or type-in traffic, and millions do it. Need wedding shoes? Type in "" -- a site that Ham happens to own -- and you'll land on what looks like a shoe-shopping portal, filled with links from dozens of retailers.

Click on any one of those links, and the advertiser that placed it pays Yahoo, which in turn pays a cut to Ham. That single site, Ham says, brings in $9,100 a year. Small change, maybe, but the name cost him $8, and his annual overhead for it is about $7. Multiply that model several thousand times over, and you get a quick idea of the kind of cash machine that Ham was creating from his living room.

By early 2002, roughly $1 million a year was pouring into Ham's operation, which he ran with the help of his high school friend and current partner, Colin Yu. But again he felt the tug of his conscience. He occasionally left Vancouver to do medical missionary stints, helping patients in Mexico, the Philippines, and China. He found the experience rewarding, but the development boom he saw taking off in China just reminded him of the virtual real estate boom he was leading back home.

Soon Ham was back working full-time on the Web. "There was just too much more to do," he says.

There was no looking back. The next few years were among Ham's most aggressive. One of his most valuable tricks was one he had experimented with in the early days, a practice called domain "tasting." Tasting takes advantage of a provision that allows domain-name buyers a free five-day trial period. Intended to protect customers who mistakenly purchase the wrong name, it handed aggressive domainers another means with which to expand -- and exploit -- their portfolios.

Ham cobbled together new lists of domain words in every combination, registering hundreds of thousands of new names for free, monitoring the traffic, and then returning the duds. By 2004, Ham had amassed such a deep portfolio that he pulled his names from third-party registrars, launched his own registrar, and then created another company, appropriately named Hitfarm, that could do a better job than Yahoo of matching ads with domain names -- for himself and 100 or so other domainers.

Like any shopping spree, though, Ham's tasting binge didn't last. It brought in so many names -- offbeat strings of letters, names with too many dashes, and other variations that humans would be hard-pressed to think of -- that Ham saw the quality of his portfolio dropping in proportion to its growing size. For every few thousand names he'd register, he'd toss back all but a hundred or so.

Tasting exacerbated another problem too: Ham's software grabbed all kinds of typographical variations of trademarked names. Called typo-squatting, it's a practice now coming under the same intense scrutiny long faced by cybersquatters. Microsoft and Neiman Marcus are just two companies whose lawyers have brought anti-cybersquatting lawsuits, charging domainers with intentionally profiting from variations of their trademarks.

"Tasting changed everything," says Ham, who has since abandoned the practice, though he concedes that Hitfarm still holds some problematic names. "I said, forget it," he says. "Generic names are already too hard to come by. And the legal risks are too great."

The legal risks should diminish, however, if you don't own the domain names at all -- and that's the secret behind the Cameroon play.

The domain confab in Vegas is like any other trade conference: The real intrigue happens at cocktail hour. One subject in the air is Cameroon. Late last summer, domainers began noticing that something odd happens to .cm traffic: It all winds up at a site called Domainers know, of course, that .cm belongs to Cameroon. And they know that whoever controls has created a potential gold mine.

What they don't know is who's behind it all.

At one of the meet-and-greets, Ham is standing drinkless, as usual, sporting a polo shirt, chatting with a few people he knows and some he's just met. In this crowd, it seems, everyone wants to know Ham. Finally, he is alone.

"I hear you're the guy behind .cm?"

Ham looks surprised by the reporter's question, then flashes a big smile and says, "I had help."

Over a series of conversations a few weeks later in Vancouver, Ham shares some details about a deal that, despite his innate reticence, he's clearly proud of. About a year ago, he says, he worked his contacts to gain connections to government officials in Cameroon. Then he flew several confidantes to Yaound?, the capital, to make their pitch. His key programmer went along to handle the technical details.

"Hey," Ham says, flagging his techie down near the office elevator. "Didn't you meet with the president of Cameroon?"

"Nah," the programmer says. "We met with the prime minister. But we did see the president's compound."

It's an odd scene to picture: a domainer's reps in a sit-down with Ephraim Inoni, the prime minister of Cameroon, to discuss the power of type-in typo traffic and pay-per-click ads. And yet, as with most of the angles Ham has played, the Cameroon scheme is ingeniously straightforward.

Ham's people installed a line of software, called a "wildcard," that reroutes traffic addressed to any .cm domain name that isn't registered. In the case of Cameroon, a country of 18 million with just 167,000 computers connected to the Internet, that means hundreds of millions of names. Type in "" and servers owned by Camtel, the state-owned company that runs Cameroon's domain registry, redirect the query to Ham's servers in Vancouver.

The servers fill the page with ads for paper and office-supply merchants. (Officials at Yahoo confirm that the company serves ads for Ham's .cm play.) It all happens in a flash, and since Ham doesn't own or register the names, he's not technically typo-squatting, according to several lawyers who handle Internet issues.

The method is spelled out in a patent application filed by a Vancouver businessman named Robert Seeman, who Ham says is his partner in the venture and who also serves as chief adviser at Reinvent Technology. (Seeman declined to be interviewed for this story.)

Ham won't reveal specifics but says Agoga receives "in the ballpark" of 8 million unique visitors per month. Fellow domainers, naturally, are envious.

"As soon as it started happening, there was a huge sense of 'Why didn't I think of that?'" says attorney Berryhill, who represents Schilling and other domainers.

Still, several companies have already tracked down Ham's attorneys, claiming trademark infringement. Ham argues that his system is legally in the clear because it treats typo equally and doesn't filter out trademarked names.

Berryhill concurs. "You can't really say that [wildcarding] is targeting trade-marks," he says. "It captures all the traffic, not just trademark traffic." Moreover, the anti-cybersquatting statute applies only to people who register a trademarked domain; using a wildcard doesn't require registering names.

Clever though it may be, .cm is "a very small part of our operations," Ham says. He won't disclose how much he pays to the government of Cameroon, whose officials could not be reached for comment.

The partnership has been a rocky one so far, and the system has sporadically shut down. But .cm is only one of several country domains where the typo play can work. According to Ham, he and his team are working with other governments. The dream typo play -- .co -- belongs to Colombia, to which Ham says Seeman paid several visits long before they began working on Cameroon. (Citing safety concerns, Ham hasn't yet made the trip. "I would only go if the president requests to meet me," he says.)

As for other countries he might soon invade, Oman (.om) is an obvious target. Niger and Ethiopia are out there too, but since they would play off less lucrative .net typos, they might not be worth the trouble.

As for Colombia, Ham says, "we're making progress."

Ham leans over his office PC to check on a domain auction. Steven Sacks, a domainer based in Indianapolis who works for Ham, is telling him about some names up for sale. Ham shoots back an instant message: "I like ... and ..."

The days of figuring out the drop are long over. Everything's open now. Lists are easy to obtain. You can preorder a name before it drops and hope to get it. Or, like Ham, you can shell out five or six figures in online auctions. The only great deals, at least for .com names, tend to happen privately, when a domainer manages to find an eager or naive seller.

Ham still buys 30 to 100 names a day, but he's no longer getting them on the cheap. In fact, he and Schilling, who today maintains a $20 million-a-year portfolio from his home in the Cayman Islands, are often accused of driving up prices.

Take, for example, the $26,250 Ham paid for, or the $171,250 for "The amount he will pay is crazy," says Bob Martin, president of Internet REIT, a domain investment firm that has raised more than $125 million from private investors, including Maveron, the venture firm backed by Starbucks founder Howard Schultz.

Nonsense, Ham says. The names are expensive only if you value them the way people like Martin do. The VCs and bankers, who were late to the domain gold rush, assess names by calculating the pay-per-click ad revenue and attaching a multiple based on how long it would take to pay off the investment.

Viewed that way, Ham's personal portfolio alone is worth roughly $300 million. But some of Ham's recent domain purchases would also look silly: They'd take 15 or 20 years just to justify the price, and that assumes continuation of the pay-per-click model.

But Ham is taking a longer view. The Web, he says, is becoming cluttered with parked pages. The model is amazingly efficient -- lots of money for little work --but Ham argues that Internet users will soon grow weary of it all.

He also expects Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo to find ways to effectively combat typo-squatting. Some browsers can already fix typos; Internet Explorer catches unregistered domains and redirects visitors to a Microsoft page -- in effect controlling traffic the same way that Ham is doing with .cm. "The heat is rising," Ham says.

When Ham buys a domain now, he's not doing pay-per-click math but rather sizing it up as a potential business. Reinvent Technology aims to turn his most valuable names into mini media companies, based on hundreds of niche categories.

Among the first he'd like to launch, not surprisingly, is Ham recently leased the entire 27th floor in his Vancouver building and is now hiring more than 150 designers, engineers, salespeople, and editorial folks.

Much of that effort is going into developing search tools based more on meaning and less on keywords. "Google is only so useful," Ham says.

The aim is to apply a meaning-based, or "semantic," system across swaths of sites, luring customers from direct navigation and search engines alike. would then become an anchor to which scores of other sites would be tied.

"It's time to build out the virtual real estate," Ham says. "There's so much more value in these names than pay-per-click." Seeman's patent application even mentions the possibility of turning Web traffic from Cameroon and other future foreign partners into full-fledged portals.

It's all part of the master plan, as Ham aims to become the first domainer to move from the ranks of at-home name hunter to Internet titan. Smaller players have been selling out to VC-backed groups, and Ham expects that the best names will eventually be owned by just a handful of companies.

If he bets right, he might very well be one of them. "If you control all the domains," he says, "then you control the Internet."

More on making money with domains.

10 Totally Stupid Online Business Ideas That Made Someone Rich

Top 10 Weirdest Top 10 Lists

Them French Just Don't Know How To Make Money

Overdosed! Requiem for a Departing Economic System

Bill Hicks - One Night Stand (1990)

Sam Kinison Mocks Religion, Marriage And Family. Funny As Hell.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ten Best Alternative Economics Sites

Via - 10SitesToSee.Com


Bill Bonner is an author of books and articles on economic and financial subjects. He is the founder and president of Agora Publishing,and the principal author of a daily financial column known as The Daily Reckoning. Bonner co-authored Financial Reckoning Day: Surviving The Soft Depression of The 21st Century and Empire of Debt with Addison Wiggin and Mobs, Messiahs and Markets with Lila Rajiva. In his first two books and in The Daily Reckoning, Bonner argues that the financial future of the United States is in peril because of various economic and demographic trends, not the least of which is America's large trade deficit. He claims that America's foreign policy exploits are tantamount to the establishment of an empire, and the price of maintaining such an empire could accelerate America's eventual decline. Bonner argues in his latest book that mob and mass delusions are part of the human condition.

2. Clusterfuck Nation

James Howard Kunstler says he wrote The Geography of Nowhere, "Because I believe a lot of people share my feelings about the tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work." Home From Nowhere was a continuation of that discussion with an emphasis on the remedies. A portion of it appeared as the cover story in the September 1996 Atlantic Monthly. His latest book, The Long Emergency, published by the Atlantic Monthly Press in 2005, is about the challenges posed by the coming permanent global oil crisis, climate change, and other "converging catastrophes of the 21st Century."


Capital goes to where its treated best. All the bully pulpit speeches and wishful thinking cannot change that reality. The Fed's mad dash towards zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) has debased the dollar in pursuit of an even more absurd policy aim: ending the ups and downs of the business cycle. Who is more culpable: The emperor, or those who comment on his finely woven garb?

4. DollarCollapse.Com

John Rubino is co-author, with GoldMoney’s James Turk, of The Coming Collapse of the Dollar and How to Profit From It (Doubleday, December 2004), and author of How to Profit from the Coming Real Estate Bust (Rodale, 2003) . The guy was able to predict two major busts three years before they became the reality. After earning a Finance MBA from New York University, he spent the 1980s on Wall Street, as a Eurodollar trader, equity analyst and junk bond analyst. During the 1990s he was a featured columnist with and a frequent contributor to Individual Investor, Online Investor, and Consumers Digest, among many other publications. He now writes for Fidelity Magazine and CFA.


Left of center economic commentary on news, politics, and the economy.

6. Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis

Thoughts on the global economy, housing, gold, silver, interest rates, oil, energy, China, commodities, the dollar, Euro, Renminbi, Yen, inflation, deflation, stagflation, precious metals, emerging markets, and policy decisions that affect the global markets.

7. Naked Capitalism

Don't expect matters to improve any time soon. We've entered the "every man for himself" phase, and we will no doubt see unintended consequences

8. Peter Schiff

Schiff frequently appears as a guest on CNBC, Fox News, and Bloomberg Television and is often quoted in major financial publications. He is known for his extremely bearish views on the United States stock market, bond market, the US dollar, and the United States economy in general for which he has earned the nickname "Dr. Doom." He is currently an economic adviser for the Ron Paul presidential campaign. His father is tax protester Irwin Schiff. Schiff also hosts a live internet radio show called "Wall Street Unspun."


Random Observations for Students of Economics


How eighteen years of the easy money have changed the world

Other Cool Articles To Read:

A Simple Trick That Lets You Buy Any Bestseller For A Buck

Dude, Your Tech Support Rocks!

10 Things You Did Not Know You Could Buy On Amazon.Com

10 Totally Stupid Online Business Ideas That Made Someone Rich

10+ Unusual Ways To Make Easy Money On The Internet If You Love Writing.

Toronto's Smallest House Is Back On Sale

Stupid Shit People ACTUALLY Put On Their Resumes

Wacky Records - Woman Spends 3 Days In Walmart

Monday, March 10, 2008

Eco Envelopes Business Idea

Some 81 billion return envelopes are sent through the US mail each year in credit-card statements, utility bills and other direct mailings, at an estimated cost of 1 billion pounds in greenhouse gas emissions and more than 71 trillion BTUs of energy. Eliminate some of those by using reusable envelopes instead, and it could make a big difference for the environment. That’s the thinking behind ecoEnvelopes, a Minnesota-based company that aims to eliminate the use of reply envelopes from corporate America. Its alternative: a line of reusable envelopes that simply zip open, allowing users to insert their response or payment and seal them up again just like a regular envelope.

ecoEnvelopes was actually founded back in 2002, but it worked for years to perfect the design of its envelopes and obtain the US Postal Service’s approval—which it now has. ecoEnvelopes work seamlessly with existing insertion and postal processing equipment, and are manufactured exclusively on certified papers from managed forests, with up to 100% post-consumer recycled content.

And whereas "eco" options in general often cost more than traditional solutions, companies that use ecoEnvelopes instead of two separate envelopes save between 15 percent and 45 percent on envelope and related mailing costs by eliminating the need to print, store, handle, insert, track and include that second envelope, ecoEnvelopes says. They also enjoy increased direct mail response rates as high as 8 percent, it adds.

So many green solutions require complex changes to business processes or behavior and entail elaborate cost-benefit analysis, but every once in a while there’s an easy one, such as substituting one envelope for two. One to study if you’re in printing, direct mail or advertising!

Why 2008 Will Be The Year Of The Blogger

Culture Jam - CBC Documentary

A Bank With No Tellers Or ATMs

Security Changes Man's Marriage Proposal

Why So Few People Saw The Housing Bubble Coming.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Care To Trade?

Frustrated with buying and selling schoolbooks, Brian Karpf set out to change the process as he approached his third year of law school.

”I was sick of the system, so I started thinking how I could fix it,” said Karpf, 26. “I thought a blog where people could trade one thing for another could work.”

In the summer of 2006 the ”CareToTrade blog” hit cyberspace, offering students the chance to trade books instead of buying and selling.

The idea quickly morphed into something bigger and better.

People who used the site for books began posting iPods and video games. Months later was born. Around 7,000 users are registered with the site to barter items and services, Karpf said.

”This is a free way to get what you want,” said Karpf, who graduated from law school at Florida International University.

Karpf said his site doesn’t compete with similar sites such as eBay or Craigslist because CareToTrade users only swap.

”On CareToTrade they don’t have to worry about bidding,” Karpf said. “There are no risks and no hassles.”

To guarantee each trade Karpf set up an escrow system. Two people trading can set up an escrow account and deposit a dollar amount. If each person receives the item or items they wanted to trade the money is returned, if not they get the money.

Money In Groceries

How To Make Money With Textbook Rentals

10 Awesome Startups You’ve Never Heard About

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Automation Architect Story

Have you ever noticed how many routine computer activities you have to
perform every day? Working with programs or files, you have to press
keys and mouse buttons hundreds and thousands times every day! And
have you ever thought what will happen if the number of your everyday
activities increase two, three or, say, ten times? This way your life
in future can turn into an absolute nightmare. So how is it possible
to insure oneself against such a turn in future and make your work
easier today?

You may think that it would be great to automate your work? Though the
idea of automation is not new, what we will tell you about is worth
special attention.

It turns out that there is a special service dealing with outsourcing
and automation of computer tasks. All you have to do is fill out a
form and describe the task you would like to automate or outsource and
experienced specialists from Automation Architect will help you make
your idea come true and automate any task so you will never again
perform it many times manually. These professionals in the niche of
automation will use powerful computer equipment and software to help
you solve practically any task however complicated it may seem in
short time and with high quality.

So what are you waiting for? Why wouldn't you do away with routine
computer tasks already now?

How To Make Money From Celebrity Addresses

Will George Clooney adore your hot product? Does Madonna need your new service? gives you access to the contact info of more than 54,000 celebs from the worlds of screen, music, athletics, politics and more--as well as info for their agents, production companies, charities, managers and publicists, giving you the best avenues to get in touch with your target star.

Best of all, you can try it out on the cheap: A week's trial subscription is just a buck, and then it's $19.97 per month, and you can cancel at any time. Because, you know, fame is fickle.

MySpace (Unfairly?) Wins UK Domain Name

Domain king's rivers of gold

Google Combats Domain Name Loophole

Survey Suggests US Businesses Spend Limited Time Considering Web Addresses

No slump in online real estate

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

TwoMenAndATruck.Com Success Story

The morning paper spins stories of doom and gloom. Customers and financing seem harder to come by. These are the realities of tougher economic times.

So what do you do? The conservative solution is to hunker down and wait for the storm to pass. For other entrepreneurs, though, downturns represent an opportunity to become stronger, to capture market share and to be poised for dominance when things turn around.

Consider the surprising recent growth of Two Men and a Truck. The company is the creation of Brig and Jon Sorber, two brothers who started a tiny moving business in the early 1980s with, yes, a single truck. Today the company boasts 200 franchisees. Last year's revenues were $198 million, up 2.5% over 2006. During the same period, revenues for the national moving industry contracted by 12%.

In a recent phone conversation, Brig Sorber shared his secrets for flourishing in tough times:

Band together. You can add more punch to what you sell by partnering with a company that offers a complementary product. Two Men and a Truck does this with apartment complexes. "Free Moving" is a great incentive for renters, and the landlords get deep discounts in exchange for the volume of business they provide to Brig's franchisees.

Talk to customers. With fewer customers calling in, Two Men and a Truck decided to start calling back. During busy times they gave quotes over the phone but typically didn't place a follow up call. Nowadays they use the extra available minutes to call back people who had inquired previously.

The result? A game-changing 25% of these prospects now become paying customers. In addition, the Sorbers sent franchise owners to visit customer homes while moves were underway. This made their customers feel like VIPs, creating dynamite word of mouth in the neighborhood.

Be flexible. Despite the slack market, Two Men and a Truck started running 24 hours a day, offering maximum convenience and flexibility to their customers. Meanwhile, many of their competitors were actually cutting back their operating hours.

Build relationships. When new franchisees sign on, Two Men and a Truck pays for their first year of membership in the local chamber of commerce. Over time, the company also encourages franchisees to work their way onto chamber boards. The strategy yields credibility, awareness of community trends, and deep relationships that have helped Two Men and a Truck expand its clientele from homeowners to commercial customers as well.

Sure, it's a tough economy. But the worst of times are also the best of times for companies that are willing to work hard and be resourceful. In my next column I'll share tips for identifying screaming needs in the market-especially during a downturn.

10 Awesome Startups You’ve Never Heard About

How To Make Money Protecting Others From Fraudulent Biz-Opps

How To Make $30K A Month Blogging

13 Stupid Ideas That Made Millions of Dollars Fast!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

How To Make Money Running Errands For Others

Many people are just too busy these days for their own good — and that’s fine with Mandy Leeuwen.

The White Marsh resident has opened BizEBodies, a business doing odd jobs that the over-scheduled can’t get around to.

The 26-year-old woman, who holds a degree in public relations, has hired an employee to assist her after just eight months in business.

For advertising, Leeuwen said she has used the consumer Web site Craig’s List, releases to local newspapers and her Web site to generate a clientele of 20 weekly customers and others on a less-regular basis.

She estimated her active roster at 60 accounts.

She does chores like walking dogs, scanning business cards into a computer and picking up dry cleaning from the Washington suburbs to the Baltimore area. Her charge is $25 per hour, including travel time.

“I cater to high-end people, people who are willing to pay me that for whatever they need done,” she said.

How Not To Be One-Man Charity System For Webmasters, Designers And Programmers, When You Launch Your Startup On The Web.

10 Books You ABSOLUTELY MUST READ If You Are Tired Of Being Broke (No Self-Help Rah-Rah Bullshit)

How To Make Money With Copeac.Com

How To Make A Million Dollars With Deal-A-Day Type Site

Sunday, March 02, 2008

YouWalkAway.Com - How To Make Money Teaching Others How To Deal With Foreclosures

When Raymond Zulueta went into default on his mortgage last year, he did what a lot of people do. He worried.

In a declining housing market, he owed more than the house was worth, and his mortgage payments, even on an interest-only loan, had shot up to $2,600, more than he could afford. “I was terrified,” said Mr. Zulueta, who services automated teller machines for an armored car company in the San Francisco area.

Then in January he learned about a new company in San Diego called You Walk Away that does just what its name says. For $995, it helps people walk away from their homes, ceding them to the banks in foreclosure.

Last week he moved into a three-bedroom rental home for $1,200 a month, less than half the cost of his mortgage. The old house is now the lender’s problem. “They took the negativity out of my life,” Mr. Zulueta said of You Walk Away. “I was stressing over nothing.”

You Walk Away is a small sign of broad changes in the way many Americans look at housing. In an era in which new types of loans allowed many home buyers to move in with little or no down payment, and to cash out any equity by refinancing, the meaning of homeownership and foreclosure have changed, economists and housing experts say.

Jon Maddux, a founder of You Walk Away, said the company’s services were not for everybody and were meant as a last resort. The company opened for business in January and says it has just over 200 clients in six states.

“It’s not a moral decision,” Mr. Maddux said of foreclosure. “The moral decision is, ‘I need to pay my kids’ health insurance or my car payment so I can get to work.’ They made a bad decision, but they shouldn’t make more bad ones just because they have this loan.”

Mr. Zulueta said he felt he had let down the lender, himself, and his family.

“But you got to move on,” he said. “I know in a few years my credit’s going to be fine. If I want to get another house, it’s going to be there. I’m not the only one who went through this. I know I’m working the system, but you got to do what you got to do. There’s always loopholes.”

13 Stupid Ideas That Made Millions of Dollars Fast!

Growing iPod Repair Biz Founded By Students

Blending her passions for adventure and business, Alison Levine helps clients scale new heights.

BustedTees Success Story

Selling Books By The Chapter