Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Body by Boyd: $250,000 Out Of a Hobby


How one man left computer programming and turned the hobby he loved into a lucrative profession.

Boyd Myers left home in Texas, and a solid job as a computer programmer with the Air Force, to become a personal trainer - and that's when his career really skyrocketed.

After joining the Air Force out of high school in 1994, Myers got stationed in Montgomery, Alabama in 1996. There, he spent so much time working out at Gold's Gym that the gym finally offered him a part-time job in exchange for a free membership.

Myers, now 30, said he was happy to help others with their workout, but soon, "people started asking me to train them on the side," he said, so he insisted he would help them free of charge.
Soon he was working with clients 25 hours a week while trying to balance personal training with his programming job in the Air Force. That's when he decided to get certified, Myers said, and start charging for the services he provided.

After being discharged in 2004 with an annual salary of around $42,000 and 10 years of experience under his belt, Myers decided to become a full-time personal trainer instead of pursuing a career in computers. "That's what I liked," he said.

He rented a studio in San Antonio, Texas for $2,500 a month and hired two full-time trainers and put his computer skills to work building a Web site and mastering key words and cues used by search engines. "When people search (online) for trainers in San Antonio, they find me."

"The first two months we were open, we grossed $70,000 a month." Now, Myers, who charges $75 to $90 an hour, says he brings in approximately $250,000 a year through his studio and plans to open another one in the area soon.

"My goal is to open 20 studios or franchise."

He says he has about $250,000 in savings and a $900 monthly pension from the VA that covers most expenses, including phone, Internet, electricity, cable and gas.
Myers says he spends conservatively but doesn't save obsessively, "I would rather enjoy life."

Riches to Rags to Riches Again, The Bowflex Inventor Story


In a San Francisco cottage 23 years ago T. Dosho Shifferaw, an Ethiopian immigrant and inventor, struggled to design the perfect chair. Stuck and frustrated, he bent a spare metal rod across his shoulders and in that moment stumbled upon the key to transforming America's home gym workouts.

After discovering that the resistance of the rod created a smooth, muscle-building workout, Shifferaw created the "Bowflex," one of the nation's best-known infomercial products.

Shifferaw - who arrived in the United States with just $500 - a multimillionaire. For years, investors refused to back the Bowflex, saying it looked like an octopus or a spider -- not like an exercise machine.

"When I initially designed and tried to market it to companies, no one would
take it. It was such a different looking product. Some said it looked like a
spider, others an octopus. They demanded I make it look like an exercise
machine," recalls Tessema D. Shifferaw, founder, CEO and creative mind behind
Dosho Design, Inc.

Instead, the Bowflex went on to become the fastest-selling piece of exercise equipment in the United States with sales pole-vaulting from $10 million in 1995 to $585 million in 2002, nearly doubling each year.

Shifferaw's most recent inventions include the Windjector, a unique "wind-resistance trainer" and the DoshBell, a Pac-Man-like dumbbell design that clamps on barbells, allowing weights to be adjusted to fro five to 55 pounds, depending on how much effort one wants to put into a workout.

Police Exam Preparation: Online Training Course for Future Police Officers


The entrepreneurs: Adam Cooper, 31 years old, a former head of marketing for a software company outside Toronto; Kalpesh Rathod, 32, a former product manager at ATI Technologies Inc.; and Deland Jessop, 31, a former police officer from Toronto.

The Business: To become a police officer, many police departments require recruits to pass an entrance exam. Test-preparation courses have long existed for everything from the SATs to the MCAT. But in Canada there were no courses to help prospective officers pass the entrance exam. Seeing a need, the trio founded PolicePrep.com, an online test preparation site for prospective police officers.

The Payoff: Since those first days when they were lucky to get a customer a week, the business has grown steadily. In April 2004, the threesome decided that Mr. Rathod would leave his job and work full-time on the business. Mr. Jessop joined him a year later, and Mr. Cooper came on board full-time at the end of 2005. By the end of last year, PolicePrep's revenue had grown to almost C$750,000, and they say they expect it to cross C$1 million for 2006.

The Future: The firm has already begun to expand its online offerings to include test preparation for the civil-servant tests in Canada and the U.K. The threesome plan to add more offerings, Mr. Rathod says.

"Everywhere I turned, I saw wayward bra straps…" Mom Saw a Common Problem and Set Out to Solve It


Noel Goldman saw a common problem - the slipping, sliding and general overexposure of bra straps everywhere - and set out to solve it.
Strap Tamers Bra Strap Concealers ( http://www.straptamers.com/ ) is her invention. Through hard work, business acumen and good old-fashioned intuition, it has blossomed into a successful company. Her innovative yet oh-so-simple product is the stuff of this month's inspiration. Here is her story:

Living in Florida, no matter where I went - theme parks, the mall, even church - exposed bra straps were everywhere! I kept wondering, just when did it become acceptable to fail to keep your undergarments "under"?

This has always bugged me, but as my daughter rushed to leave for school one morning, I was floored to see (yes, right in my very home, right on my lovely daughter) visible bra straps! That did it. Someone had to help women fight this epidemic and reclaim our national sense of decorum. In order for my daughter (or just about anyone else) to use it, the solution would have to be easy, comfortable and convenient.

Then, one bright, sunny morning in May 2004, it came to me - a pin with a clip. The pin attaches the clip to your garment and the clip allows you to slip your strap in and out of confinement easily. Best of all, you can leave Strap Tamers in your clothing wash after wash. The clips stay in place, ever ready to tame your straps, and they're inexpensive enough to put in all of your favorite sleeveless clothes.

After exhaustive research and development (between carpool and homework) and the steadfast support of my husband, Strap Tamers were perfected and ready for market. (Our two sons remain hopeful that someday, dinner conversation will return to subjects like Little League and Cub Scouts.) Not surprisingly, response to Strap Tamers has been overwhelming. Strap Tamers are quickly becoming a "basic" of modern feminine attire.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Two childhood friends make Six-Figure Range Revenue on college marketing for swimsuit calendars


The two childhood friends, Ben Leis and David Freedman , came up with a concierge business for sports professionals while Leis was at the University of Miami and Freedman was at Arizona State University in Tempe, but during the planning phase, they decided the business would be too much to handle. Looking for a simpler idea, the pair holed up in Freedman’s house, brainstormed and landed on the idea of a swimsuit calendar featuring the girls next door: Arizona State University students. Eight weeks later, they’d formed StudentBody Marketing and already had the Tempe12 calendar out. “It was extremely fast,” says Leis. “Eight months later, we had our second calendar out.”

At the beginning, instead of selling the calendars to students, they sold advertising to companies such as Budweiser, Corona and Sobe, and gave the calendars to students for free--launching their revenues well into the six-figure range. Today, StudentBody Marketing distributes its calendars to 21 college campuses, each featuring young women from that particular school--one calendar model even garnered an interview on the Howard Stern radio show. Says Freedman, “Tempe12 is a household name at [these] colleges.”

Sunny? Rainy? Company Makes Money Selling Weather Derivatives

Weather prediction is an inexact science only getting in-exacter and less predictable as global warming spins weather systems into worldwide confusion. David Friedberg, 26 years old ex-Google executive decided to take advantage of that.

His recently launched Web 2.0 company, wants to sell weather derivatives. “You don’t really think about it, but 70 percent of businesses are affected by the weather every year, across regions and industries,” says Friedman. “The weather affects so many different types of businesses, whether in negative or in positive ways, like taxi cabs in New York, which are often full in the cold.”

Friedberg with his "computer science friends" developed an elaborate website which allows businesses to buy contracts that would pay them when they’re hurt by the weather - too hot or too cold; too rainy or too dry. The hope is that the bets will offset each other: Rain might hurt an amusement park, but help a farmer.

The website includes tools for businesses to generate a risk formula based on revenue and dependence on weather. Businesses can buy contracts for weather in 200 cities, choosing a precipitation level and temperature, and the number of days the weather has to be at a certain level before the policy kicks in. The cost of a contract is derived from a complex formula based on historical weather data, weather predictions and the risk already in the system.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

30-years Old Entrepreneur Generates $700,00 on Woman's Legs


Brian Jones, runs a rather unusual business venture–he sells lamps reminiscent of the one Ralphie’s father receives in A Christmas Story, with a base in the shape of a woman’s stocking-clad leg. Red Rider Leg Lamps, launched back in 2003, has generated sales of almost $700,000.

Ever since Jones was a little boy, he’d wanted to be a Navy jet pilot. But in flight school, he discovered his vision wasn’t good enough for it. Trying to cheer him up, his parents gave him a leg lamp for Christmas. His mother also made the off-hand comment that some people had made a business out of selling these leg lamps and that maybe he could, too. Six years later, when Jones got out of the Navy and started looking for a job, he recalled his mother’s words. He half-seriously talked about his business plan to a buddy of his, who knew something about putting up websites, and soon after Jones had a business.

“My mom thought it was a decent idea,” says Jones. “My dad didn’t think I’d sell 50. But he didn’t try to talk me out of it–he’s still supportive.”

Jones used a portion of his sales revenue to buy a house in Cleveland--the very house where A Christmas Story was filmed. He and his single hired employee are currently turning it into A Christmas Story museum that will have its grand opening this year on November 25. At the museum’s gift shop, you can expect to find not only Red Rider Leg Lamps but other familiar items from the movie--like A Christmas Story action figures and night lights.

4 Million Dollar Childhood Idea


In 2004, 52-year old Sandy Stein faced the prospect of unemployment after 32 years in the airline industry. At the same time, her husband's job was at risk, as well. Sandy knew she had to re-invent her life to guarantee a future income for her family, including their 10-year old son, Alex.

One night she went to bed, and prayed to her Dad in heaven, asking him for guidance, she received the inspiration for the product in a dream from her deceased Dad:Finders Key Purse.

Stein found the courage to start her own business, Alexx Inc., a company that makes functional and fashionable key-finders. In her first year, she reaped $4 million in sales and earned several hundred thousand dollars. And now she feels a whole lot better about her 12-year-old son's future and economic security for her and her husband.

Friday, March 2, 2007

How to Make Money Out Of Organic Boom Blooms, Gerald Prolman Story

Consumers embrace the organic when it comes to the fruit and vegetables they eat. Can organic flowers be next? Gerald Prolman is counting on it. Mr. Prolman, founder of Organic Bouquet Inc., is trying to develop a new industry dedicated to growing, marketing and, above all, profiting from organic flowers.

Prolman began Organic Bouquet with no supply of product, no apparent demand and very little money. He started the company just as the dot.com boom came crashing down, and investors were extremely reluctant to entertain new business ideas. Undaunted by the challenge, Prolman was convinced that if he could create the supply, he would awaken the inherent demand among consumers concerned about the effects of chemicals on farm workers and the environment.

The first challenge was to identify quality commercial growers of the top five or more selling flower varieties and persuade them to grow organically. The search extended to more than 100 in six countries over several years. Eventually, Prolman created a core group of 6 growers to start organic flower production for the company.Led by Prolman, Organic Bouquet's next step in the development of environmentally friendly flowers was the implementation of a national American based standard for Green Label floral products.

The multi-billion dollar organic market didn't evolve by chance. Over the past four decades, leaders have emerged in every sector of the supply chain, including farmers, processors, marketers and educators. Only a handful, however, have been able to take a step back and look at the potential of this community from 30,000 feet, and see how all the players and pieces of the puzzle fit together.

Organic Bouquetthe undisputed market leader, Gerald pioneered the eco-flower market which, in 2003, was valued at $8+ million, up 52 percent from 2002, with estimated annual growth of 13 percent through 2008.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Wedding cake toppers to match the times.

An observer might say Ellie Genuardi and RenĂ¡ Puebla act a lot like a married couple. Having known each other for years, they even finish each other’s sentences and bicker playfully. In 2004, this pair of longtime friends and business associates said “I do” to a marriage-related business: Puebla and Genuardi wed their entrepreneurial ideas to form Renellie International.

Renellie is a line of elegantly handcrafted, multiethnic wedding cake figurines. Made out of polyresin stone, the interchangeable brides and grooms are offered in Asian, black, Hispanic and white versions.

“There are so many interracial marriages,” says Genuardi. “We felt there was a definite need for this type of product.”

“When I got married the first time, I had two white people on my cake,” says Puebla. “No one had choices.” It was Puebla’s second marriage--to an Asian man--that inspired Renellie’s mix-and-match cake toppers. Puebla and her husband, Ron, are one of more than 2 million interracial couples in the U.S. That growing market, combined with a $72 billion-per-year wedding industry, provides an endless customer base for Renellie, which projects 2007 sales of $400,000.

Renellie also caters to same-sex couples. The company currently offers a bride with a tailored skirt and jacket, and it may introduce a bride with flowing pants. These versatile options could also be used for an anniversary cake, a second marriage or an older bride, Genuardi says.

Prior to Renellie’s unveiling in January 2005, interracial and same-sex couples had pretty much resorted to putting either flowers or nothing at all on their cakes, Puebla says. “We want to go back to tradition, [while] representing those who are marrying.”

With an attractive alternative to plastic and a product in tune with modern-day values, Renellie lets couples have their cake and eat it, too.


Virtual Land, Real Money

What began as a game with an initial investment of 9,95$ for a Second Life account has grown into a serious business.

Anshe Chung is the online identity for a Chinese-born language teacher living near Frankfurt, Germany. She's the best-known executive in Second Life, an online world run by Linden Lab of San Francisco. Known inside the world as the Rockefeller of Second Life, she prefers to keep her real name private to deter intrusions into her human life.

Today ACS already turns over several million US$ worth of virtual land, goods and services per year, with an average monthly growth rate above 10%. In 2006 the government of Hubei, China has granted Anshe chung Studios special status as priviledged hightech enterprise, recognizing its potential as innovator and creator of highly qualified jobs in Wuhan. Currently Anshe Chung Studios employs about 20 people in China and abroad.

Chung runs a very real business buying plots of virtual land, developing them into communities complete with houses, beaches, mansions, and other features, and reselling or renting those properties to Second Life players. Since she began two years ago she has amassed land and Second Life currency -- which is convertible into real U.S. dollars -- worth more than $250,000.


Discount glasses online

Helping consumers see money left in their wallets, 23-year-old James Murray Wells has shaken the British prescription glasses industry. Managing director and co-owner of Glasses Direct, Murray Wells began his no-frills web store offering specs for as low as 10 percent of the price of many high street stores. The business idea was born when Murray Wells was faced with a GBP 150 bill for glasses. At the time he was still studying and the cost was unreasonable. By contacting the lens labs directly, Murray Wells managed to get an identical pair for just GBP 7.
Clearly there was a market for an online business and shortly after Glasses Direct was created. But not without backlash from all the big players, who were furious at the extent to which Murray Wells was undercutting them. The concept is simple and easy. All that consumers need to do prior to ordering is have a copy of a prescription that is less than two years old. Alternatively, consumers can go to a local optician have their eyes tested. Following the eye test, the optician is obliged to give the consumer a copy of their prescription.
Glasses Direct specs are only available in the UK, and the US has retailers like Goggles4U and 39dollarglasses.com, but there are growth opportunities worldwide. In just two years of being in business, Murray Wells has sold in excess of 70,000 pairs of glasses. Anyone with a keen eye for business can see where this venture could lead. Pardon the pun ;-)

Contact: enquiries@glassesdirect.co.uk