Thursday, January 23, 2014

Small Business Success Stories - Curious Jane

Tip of the day - Need cool domain name? Try crowdsourcing

Business: Curious Jane
Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Launched in 2009, Curious Jane offers after-school programs and summer camps geared toward getting girls excited about science, engineering and design.

"Moms have been very receptive to it," said owner Samantha Razook Murphy. "And we've drawn an amazing staff of exceptional young women who believe in our concept and bring their own ideas to it."

Best business advice: "Be resourceful and don't give up on your idea."

Biggest challenge: "There's more demand than supply right now," said Murphy. That's where the $250,000 grant will come in handy.

What she plans to do with the grant money: "We're running very basic programs in six other states. The grant will help our camp directors to develop those programs more fully."

[Via -]

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Top Seven Bitrix24 Reviews

Looking for top Bitrix24 reviews? Here are most popular ones according to Google, Alexa, Yahoo and Bing.

1. Miguel Leiva-Gomez of MakeTechEasier, lists Bitrix24 among top free collaboration tools as number one. His reasons? "Bitrix24 presents a powerful collaborative suite that lets you talk to your clients, manage your documents, stay on top of large projects, and create invoices."

2. UncommonBusiness blog compares Bitrix24 with Jive Software. The main advantages of using Bitrix24 as enterprise social tools, according the review, are free tools that come with it - such as CRM, Project Management, Document Management and others.PC

3. PCMag review Eric Griffith lists Bitrix24 among best free web apps  for small business. This is more of a list rather than a review, but it has a great number SMB centric applications.

4. MadConomist list Bitrix24 as free SmartSheet competitor. As other reviewers, the author likes the fact that you get 12 free users and a number of free tools at your disposal. Other advantages listed are self-hosted edition, source code and API.

5. Rick Broida's review in TechHive is similiar to PCMag - it's titled Get a free shared workspace for your small business. Quote: "It's admirably easy to pick up and use. Anyone familiar with Facebook or LinkedIn won't need a lot of training, if any at all."

6. looks at Bitrix24 as free TeamBox alternative

7. ZDNet reviewer Eileen Brown believes that Bitrix24 challenges Microsoft with the latest release. The post contains interview with Bitrix Inc president Dmitry Valyanov.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Kickstart Success Stories - Olloclip

Tip of the day - Need cool domain name? Try crowdsourcing
Patrick O'Neill, founder and CEO of Huntington Beach, Calif.-based olloclip, has two great passions: photography and technology.

An entrepreneur for more than two decades, he got into the mobile-accessories business in 2000. At the time, he was designing products for other companies, but his idea for an iPhone camera lens was already bubbling up. "I thought, wouldn't it be cool to put camera lenses on the phone like we do with our big cameras? The problem was," he recalls, "how do you elegantly mount it?"

His solution: attach lenses on either side of a small plastic sleeve that could be slipped over the iPhone's camera lens. "I felt more strongly about this than anything I've ever done in my life," O'Neill says. "I put everything into it. I put my whole house on the line."

Using his own money, he brought on his director of design, Chong Pak, and a marketing expert. Though O'Neill "knew basically how it would work," the team spent the next year creating hundreds of prototypes using a 3-D printer.

"Just OK" wouldn't do. There would be no moving ahead with production until the three-in-one olloclip--featuring fish-eye, wide-angle and macro lenses--was just right. The final lens set weighs less than an ounce and fits in a pocket.O'Neill says he never thought much about the company's growth potential. "I knew there were other people as crazy about photography as I was, and with the iPhone 4, the camera was amazing compared to any smartphone that had come before. That combination of factors--this was the right time for this," he says.

A Kickstarter campaign seeking $15,000 brought in more than $68,000, enabling him to ship his first product in 2011. Growth came quickly. The company, which started out of O'Neill's house, now has about 50 employees. Revenue was $11 million in 2012 and projected at $20 million for 2013.

The company has more than 30 distributors throughout the world, and its products are sold in chains such as Best Buy and Target. Late last year, it introduced an update to the original olloclip--a sleeker unit with four lenses--as well as products for the chunkier iPhone 5c and a macro-focused lens set.

But the biggest coup has been getting olloclip stocked in Apple stores. "When we were developing this product, we said the best place we could be is in the Apple store," recalls O'Neill, who sent the company's merchandising team samples, telling them to "play with them over the weekend." O'Neill says he "believed in this product from the beginning. I knew they would love it."

And they did. Shortly before the iPhone 4s was announced, the merchandisers' review came in: "Wow, that's amazing."

"In the big Apple stores, we're on 10 pegs right now, and we've been there for two years," says O'Neill, who won't reveal what percentage of revenue comes from the retailer. "It's hard to stay in there. Apple is the pinnacle. If you can get in there and stay in there, you're doing a lot of things right."

[Via - Entrepreneur.Com]

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Naming Startup

Daily Advice Link - How I Increased Sales 350% With Press-Releases 
So you came up with an idea for an online business and started thinking of a great domain name for it, only to realize that all the good domain names are already taken. Then you tried automatic domain name generation tools, but most of the name they generated didn’t make any sense. What to do now? Well, just crowdsource your domain name idea generation toPickyDomains.
picky logo
PickyDomains is a cool service that offers 100% risk free domain name and business slogan or tag line generation service. It has a proven track record of generating great domain names, and business slogans such as SEOBook for Aaron Wall, eMomsAtHome Wendy Piersall, and SurefireMarketing for Yanik Silver.

How Does it Work?

To get started, you have to deposit amount depending upon the service you need. For domain name suggestions, the fee is $50. For business slogan suggestions, its $75. You can use credit card, paypal or wire transfer to deposit the money. Note that this money is only a deposit, which means if you don’t like any of the domain names suggested by them, you get a full refund.
After payment, you send them more details about the site you are starting, and characteristics of the domain name you need, like preferred extensions, length, and hyphenated or not. After that just wait and watch as people start suggesting the names.
You must check the suggested names periodically and mark them Liked or Disliked to indicate your taste. Once you find the domain you like, just mark it Picked to complete your order.
There are more then 44,000 registered contributors at Pickydomains right now, which means you can get what you are looking for within a few days, or sometimes, within few hours!

Become A Contributor And Make Some Money

You can also join PickyDomain as a contributor and make some money. Just register as a contributor and log into your account. Then, check the available orders to see if you can come up with some good domain names for them. If you suggest a domain that is pickedby a client, then you get 40-60% of the fee, depending on you rank, which improves with the number of suggestions you post.
To get great domain name suggestions and business name ideas, check out
[Via -

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Hot Trends - Subscription Based Businesses

Tip of the day - Need company name? Try crowdsourcing
Healthful snacks. Underwear. Software. More types of businesses are employing e-commerce subscription models.

Led by pioneers such as Birchbox, the cosmetics service that claims some 400,000 subscribers, the model is being embraced at a rapid pace by consumers and the venture capital community. Zuora, a software-as-a-service company that enables subscription commerce and billing, announced in September that it had raised $50 million in a round of financing that brings its total capital to $132.5 million.

Dan Burkhart, CEO and co-founder of Recurly, a San Francisco outfit that helps companies launch subscription services, says the main benefit of the model is regularly recurring income with the option to upsell at will. "These business models essentially trade on the attractiveness of annuity revenue and annuity economics," Burkhart says. "For businesses, it's peace of mind; for customers, it's a reprieve from worrying about this stuff themselves."

Birchbox, which says e-commerce sales are on track to triple this year, cites impressive sales of full-size products after customers are sent samples as part of their subscriptions.

As an example, one eye-shadow palette had a conversion rate of 11.2 percent, which Birchbox contends is more than 10 times the industry standard.

The entrepreneurs who are behind some new companies say they appreciate the flexibility the model delivers, as well as the deeper customer relationships they can develop. Meredith Lantz and Joe Barwin, founders of Bitters + Bottles, an upscale liquor store in south San Francisco, have both a physical storefront and a subscription service offering monthly shipments of rare spirits and classic cocktails. "The nice thing with a subscription is to space it out and spend some time getting familiar with one thing at a time," Lantz says. "We can be whatever our customers decide they want us to be that day."

Subscription models are also a way to cultivate loyalty. Such was the case for Aihui Ong, founder and CEO of Love With Food. Starting at $9.95 per month, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based service delivers subscribers a box of organic or all-natural snacks; with every order the company also donates a meal via a national food bank. "Between the sense of discovery and the notion of doing good, we want to make people feel good about shopping with us," Ong says. "When they feel good, they come back for more."

Digital companies, too, are moving in the direction of subscription services. Adobe essentially discontinued its popular out-of-the-box Photoshop product and now offers a cloud-based subscription service, the Adobe Creative Cloud. Scott Morris, senior director of product marketing for Adobe's new approach, says the move came as part of a broad effort to lower costs for customers and maximize efficiency.

"Our engineering teams no longer need to wait 12 to 24 months to ship their next features--which is the old model, when we would hold all of our new features that were ready until we had enough of them to justify creating and shipping [something] that customers would pay for," Morris says. "Now we can stop 'chasing the upgrade' and just focus on delivering a constant stream of innovation."
[Via -]

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Friday, January 03, 2014

Cool Inventions - Eco Connect Bottle

Tip of the day - Need company name? Try crowdsourcing
DANVILLE -- Steven Klein has invented water bottles that can be built into a toy airplane, a toy car, a robot and can even be used as insulation for homes.

Called the Eco-Connect Bottle System, the Danville resident is hoping his invention will come out on top of more than 4,000 products entered in Walmart's "Get on the Shelf" contest, an "American Idol"-type online competition in which the public votes for products presented in YouTube videos.

Three contest winners will receive free marketing support from Walmart and a shot at selling their products on The grand-prizewinning product also gets a chance to sit on Walmart shelves.

Klein, 68, a retired teacher and former educational toy store owner from Brooklyn, N.Y., invented a product, but he has been struggling to get it to market.

"It takes a lot of resources to bring it to market," he said. "It's a difficult task with my limited resources and no influential contacts in the beverage industry."

So he threw his hat in the Walmart ring with hopes that big things would happen.

But products such as the BungeeBand skateboard accessory, the Brush Buddy paint can top, and Big Papa's BBQ Sauce with a Cajun kick are offering stiff competition.

"I'm putting up a good fight," Klein said. "Obviously, I would like to win. But if I don't win, maybe someone will take notice."

Klein's idea for reusable connecting plastic bottles came to him four years ago in a dream. His plastic bottles look like ordinary water bottles, but they have additional threads in the bottom so they can be screwed together like Tinkertoys. Add connectors, and the bottles can be built into anything from soccer goals to forts to letters of the alphabet.

"Essentially, for something that was trash, I've repurposed it into something that can continue to be used. It's a very simple invention with a big vision."

His patent for the bottles went through in 2010. Klein hopes his invention will keep plastic bottles out of landfills and also inspire creativity in children.

"Once you connect the bottles at an angle, creativity becomes unlimited."

Klein envisions lights, stickers, wheels and remote controls as accessories for his bottles. He's trying to get Disney interested. Add arms and feet and screw the head of a Disney character into the top, and the bottles could be used for movie promotions and perhaps sold at McDonald's or Burger King, he said.

Klein said his bottles would be especially useful in developing countries where impoverished children could use them as toys. And because the air inside makes for a good insulator, the bottles could be stacked against walls and used as low-cost insulation for buildings.

The first round of voting in the "Get on the Shelf" contest ends Tuesday. The top 10 contestants then compete for three top spots. The winners will be announced after the second round of voting ends April 24.

[Via - MercuryNews.Com]

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Betting On A Dark Horse - Z Thoroughbred Story

Tip of the day - Need company name? Try crowdsourcing

Steve Zerda's 25-year career in the airline industry followed a predictable flight path until, in 2010, he encountered a racehorse called Turbulent Descent. The horse's owners were selling stakes to investors -- while keeping a majority interest -- and the avid racing fan decided to buy in.

"What I saw was a unique business model, where the owner could spread the risk," says Zerda. "And I could participate, without spending a fortune."

A director overseeing aircraft-component maintenance at Alaska Airlines, Zerda had already decided to take early retirement later that year. His investment in Turbulent Descent gave him an idea for a new career: Buy yearlings, train them to run, then sell partnerships. After consulting trainers -- and confirming there were few syndicates for small-scale investors in Seattle -- he wrote a business plan. His first acquisition as Z Thoroughbred Racing was a colt called Harbor Wind for $10,000. (With purses at the nearby track capped at $100,000, he didn't want to be saddled with costly horses.) He then set to work revving up interest via word-of-mouth and a website, soliciting investors to buy stakes of at least 5%. The money he raises helps fund grooming, training, and care, which runs more than $25,000 a year per animal. With such high overhead, showing a profit requires winning races and, in the process, making horses appealing to breeders.

The risk is great, of course -- "you can buy any dumpy horse and lose your shirt fast," Zerda says -- but so is the potential reward. Harbor Wind raced 18 times in three years, earning over $50,000. Turbulent Descent won $900,000 before being sold for 12 times his original price. Today, Zerda owns six horses and has a 10% stake in another. Thanks to winning purses plus proceeds from three sales, Z Thoroughbred made a $45,000 profit last year. "I seem to be able to locate good value," says Zerda, who reinvested the earnings. "And I have a good time doing it."


$50,000: Capital Zerda used to launch the business
He determined that this amount -- from a deferred bonus he got when leaving his job -- would allow him to buy a horse a year for the first few years before he could bring in investors. (He has since sold 19 partnerships, with stakes from 5% to 20%.)

5 years : Period before quitting that he power-saved
As a result, he and his wife, Lisa, a director for a health insurer, have nearly $750,000 for retirement. The couple, who have two kids attending state colleges and a 15-year-old at home, are able to live on Steve's pension and Lisa's salary.

100%: Earnings he'll reinvest for the next few years
Zerda plans to forgo a salary -- he used to make $120,000 -- to grow the business. He'll continue buying yearlings, with hopes of selling them when they are around age 5, for three to five times what he paid. "Horses tend to retire once they've made $1 million," he says. "I'd like to position myself to follow that example."

[Via - CNNMoney]

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