Monthly Archives: April 2017

Five Ideas Brought to Life by Entrepreneurs

We’ve all had an idea for an invention that we’re sure will make us rich. Few, however, actually see that idea through to completion. We get discouraged or distracted. For those who do stick with it, there are hurdles to jump and rejections to endure.

In the end, however, it’s not impossible for your great idea to go global. BusinessNewsDaily spoke with a few inventors who turned their ideas into new businesses.

Reflecting on success:

Brent Thomas loves mountain biking, road biking, and commuting to work on his bike. His enthusiasm inspired him to invent a product that would make biking safer.

In June Thomas started BikeWrappers LLC, a company that sells sets of reflective wraps for the main tubes of  bicycles, making them more visible to motorists at night. The wrappers are removable and reversible (with a decorative pattern on the other side for daytime viewing). The San Francisco-based company sells BikeWrappers for $45 per set.

Thomas, who has worked as a business-development specialist for an Internet advertising company, designed the prototypes with his own sewing machine, found a manufacturer and is now selling them mainly online. He has also started selling a line of reflective dog products called DogWrappers, meant to make dogs more visible at night.

Though the company is not quite profitable yet, Thomas says he hopes to be running it as his full-time job soon.

Riding the wave of success:

 Colin Pyle had a degree in Spanish and a job at his father’s construction company, but he always wanted to start his own business. He had no idea how, though.

“I didn’t have any design experience and I didn’t have any business experience,” he said.

Pyle decided not to let that stop him. He started his San Francisco company, Golden Hour, to sell a product he had invented called the Wrist Shot, a camera that straps onto your wrist and can be used for any activity in which you need to have free hands while taking a photo. For instance, while riding a surfboard.

“If you have ever tried to take a camera surfing, you know that it is very difficult. You need to have complete use of your hands and arms at all times, you don’t have any pockets, and you are likely to lose it during a wipeout,” Pyle said.

Pyle was inspired. He took apart his surfboard leash and mocked up the concept with construction paper and tape.

“Then I went to my friend who is a fashion designer; we used her industrial sewing machine to make the first prototype,” Pyle said. “It was pretty clunky looking, but it allowed me to test the concept, and it worked beautifully. From there we made a few rounds of revisions streamlining and adjusting the dimensions.”

With a $20,000 investment, Pyle’s company was born. He ushered the idea through every stage of the process, and even traveled to China to find a manufacturer.

Pyle, who’s 31, expects Golden Hour to be his full-time job by 2011.

Mother of invention:

 As a mother of four, Karen Racer knows a thing or two about morning sickness.

After learning that an oft-recommended cure is the smell of lemons, she designed a product to help women with morning sickness even when there was no citrus in sight.

Her invention, called Morning Sickness Soothers, is a disposable nose clip that comes in one of four scents: lemon, orange, peppermint and spearmint. They sell for $14.95 for a box of 12. Her invention recently was patented .

So far, Racer says, she has invested between $50,000 and $75,000 in the business, which is based in Teaneck, N.J.

“The most difficult part of bringing this product to market has been educating the public,” said Racer. “I’ve become my own PR, marketing my product using social media forums such as LinkedIn, Helpareporter.com, Facebook and Twitter.”

Bright future:

 Micaela Birmingham used just $5,000 to start her business, City Mum, which sells a sunshade she invented for baby strollers.

“After other parents started to ask where they could get a stylish shade like mine, I took the pattern originally made in my kitchen out of a dishcloth, perfected it and produced it,” Birmingham said.

Birmingham had to get creative when it came to finding a manufacturer. She needed a small, flexible factory that would accept small orders at first, and she was able to find it in New York’s Garment District.

Her company is now profitable, she says, and the CityShade sells all over the world.

Cool idea:

 Jamie Burke worked at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where her responsibilities included working to address the epidemic of adolescent obesity.  She has since transferred her skills to the world of small business by developing garments called Cool Shapes. They’re pairs of contoured shorts that contain chilled gel packs. The cold packs press on fatty areas.

She and her sister, Lark MacPhail, have invested $65,000 in the business, which is called FreezeAwayFat.

“It uses the science of cooling brown fat to shrink white fat cells and get rid of stubborn problem areas,” said Burke.

The sisters relied on their own skills and reached out to family and friends for help getting the business off the ground.

“We have been very fortunate to have the network of friends and family who are within the legal, business, science and social media community,” Burke said.

The most challenging part of the process was finding a domestic fabric source and garment manufacturer.

“Everywhere we went we were counseled to go offshore.  However, we were committed to having the garment made in the U.S.A.,” her sister said.  “This caused almost a four-month stall while we searched for a full service-operation (pattern making, grading, sewing) to work with us.”

How to Start a Pet Care Business

For entrepreneurial pet lovers, there’s almost no question as to what type of business they would want to start. Becoming a trainer, groomer or sitter is likely a dream job for those who want to spend their days working with and caring for dogs and cats. But, as any pet care professional can attest, being a part of this industry is no easy task.

“Pets are often regarded as family members, and the responsibility of caring for those pets is not one that should be taken lightly,” said Daryl Conner, manager of Yankee Clipper Pet Grooming and certified petcare dermatech specialist. “[Pet care professionals] don’t just play with puppies all day. We work with living creatures who can often behave unpredictably.”

Starting a pet care business is certainly an achievable goal, but you won’t succeed without a strong knowledge of both animal behavior and business basics. Before you start writing up that business plan, here’s what you need in order to work in the industry.

Education

Regardless of what type of pet care business you want to start, a basic education in animal care and handling is the first step to working with animals. While you don’t necessarily need a degree in animal science, reading books, taking courses and attending industry events are essential to expanding your knowledge of animal anatomy and behavior. Groomers and trainers are responsible for more than simply washing and cutting fur and teaching tricks: They are often the first to spot issues like fleas and ticks, which they will need to know how to deal with.

Consider getting certified by a reputable industry organization with rigorous testing and training requirements, such as the National Association of Dog Obedience Instructors or the National Dog Groomers Association of America. This will not only give you a good educational background, but also build up customer trust when you do start your own business. However, a good pet care professional knows that his or her education is never complete.

“Always continue your education,” said Mandy Massara, founder of All Aspects Animal Care. “Keep refining your craft. We don’t know everything, but we want to.”

While books and classes are a good start, a theory-based education can only get you so far. Firsthand experience handling animals is critical to starting and running a successful pet care business. Most groomers and trainers started out as apprentices under more experienced professionals before branching out and starting their own practices.

“A lot of pet owners don’t know what goes on behind the scenes,” said Teri DiMarino, president of the California Professional Pet Groomers Association. “[For groomers,] getting the cut right is one thing, but handling the pet is another issue entirely. What happens if a dog gets in a fight, or needs first aid? You have to be prepared.”

Linda Kaim, founder of Lionheart K9 Dog Training, said that many industry certification programs don’t include hands-on training to work directly with animals, and that knowledge-based tests are an insufficient assessment of how a trainer or groomer will perform when dealing with pets.

Similarly, Sandy Blackburn, author of The Everything Dog Grooming Bookand owner of The Groom Room Pet Spa, noted that online courses are okay for refining skills once you have experience under your belt, but as a novice, this route is not recommended.

Because animal behavior can be unpredictable, protecting both yourself and your customers through proper licensing and insurance coverage is a must. Massara recommended doing thorough research into local ordinances and taking the proper steps to comply with them.

“Consumers should be wary of unlicensed businesses,” she told Business News Daily. “They have no recourse if something goes wrong.”

Communication skills

In the pet care industry, one must remember that professionals work with both pets and people. While the bulk of a trainer, groomer or sitter’s day-to-day activities involves the care and handling of animals, it’s the owners who ultimately drive your business. George Quinlan, NADOI member and founder of All About Dogs Behavior and Training Center, said that liking people and being able to communicate with them is just as important as loving animals.

“Without good communication skills, you’ll lose half of your clients,” he said.

Business principles

A true love of animals and experience working with them only make up one half of the equation for an independent pet care business. The other side, of course, is knowing how to run a business.

“Having a good grasp of basic business principles is a must,” Conner told Business News Daily. “Many groomers [and other pet care professionals] do not understand how to figure out the cost of running a business, and because of that, they have no idea how to structure their pricing. They end up setting their prices to be comparable to other professionals in the area, with no way to compare overhead, and do not charge what their service is worth.”

Speaking with other entrepreneurs, both in and out of the industry, can help in determining pricing structure, hiring needs, necessary equipment (if any), marketing and other essential elements of starting a business.

Fun & Unique Businesses For Sale Right Now

Have you ever dreamed of owning your own business? Why start from scratch when there are many exciting and profitable businesses for sale? BizBuySell.com, a website that lists businesses for sale, provided us with this list of 10 unique companies across North America that you can buy right now.

1. Downtown trolley and double decker tour company – Chicago

Are you looking for an opportunity to enter the tourism and transportation business in downtown Chicago? Different from any other tourism business in the region, this business takes tourists on a popular “hop-on, hop-off” ride to see the city’s best landmarks.

2. Winery, tasting room and vineyards – California

Take your wine-tasting hobby to the next level by owning a winery. This prestigious California establishment includes Tuscan-themed tasting rooms, a restaurant and multiple on-site vineyards.

3. Go-Kart and amusement park – Brainerd, Minn.

This Minnesota amusement park has served as one of the premier go-kart and amusement park venues in the region for more than 30 years. Kart Kountry Go-Kart and Family Fun Park keeps visitors entertained with go-kart tracks, NASCAR simulators, 18-hole miniature golf course and much more.

4. Elk and hunt farm – Saskatchewan, Canada

If you’re looking for a place to hunt this season, then this property is for you. Known for its world-class angling, waterfowl and big-game hunting, tourists, hunters and fishermen of all types flock here each season looking to bag a trophy fish or animal.

5. Vintage auto restoration business – California

This auto restoration business that specializes in pre-WWII vehicles is looking for a new owner. Having established itself as one of the most respected restoration businesses on the West Coast, its large referral network keeps business booming. The long-standing California business comes equipped with an experienced staff and a full-service mechanical and body shop.

6. Designer purse manufacturer and wholesaler – Greenville, S.C.

Bra-cketbook Foundation, a South Carolina-based distributor, repurposes bras and embellished ties into fashionable purses to support breast cancer research. More than 150 boutiques across the country carry its purses, but there are plenty of opportunities for growth. All it takes is one passionate entrepreneur.

7. Over-water hotel – Panama

Are you day-dreaming of warmer weather? Head down south to this exotic hotel that offers a breath-taking panoramic view of the Caribbean and Cayo Zapatillas Islands. Let your guests wine and dine over the water in a rustic tiki hut that’s guaranteed to put anyone in the island mood.

8. Organic heirloom tomatoes manufacturer – Reedley, Calif.

If you love all things green and organic, check out this business that provides an alternative to factory-processed canned tomatoes. Each jar of Organic Blended Heirloom Tomatoes contains a unique flavor that can be enjoyed in sauces, soups and meat dishes. With an existing business and operations plan already in place, you’ll be serving customers in no time.

9. Indoor trampoline and rock climbing park – Chicago

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to “jump” on board one of Chicago’s most popular family entertainment businesses. This athletic and recreational facility has several trampolines and a rock climbing park, making it a perfect spot to host birthday parties, corporate functions and family events.

10. Luxury dog and horse ranch – Louisiana

Located just outside Shreveport, La., this 28-acre dog and horse resort is a far from a traditional kennel. Each pet is provided with its own private suite to promote a quiet, stress-free environment. Pet guests enjoy a multitude of play yards and even their own personal exercise area attached to their suite. A strong, self-sufficient staff is already in place.

6 Sports Business Games That Will Inspire You

Want to become a better coach or athlete? There are several sports-related businesses out there that can help you do just that and more.

From virtual reality sports platforms and game footage analysis to family-friendly youth sports programs, these six businesses put a whole new spin on sports, helping coaches, athletes and families do what they love.

Whether you’re an athlete or just a huge sports fan, you can turn your skills and passion into a business — just take some inspiration from these companies that are totally changing the game.

EON Sports VR

EON Sports VR is a virtual reality platform that help athletes get better at their sport. The platform simulates different game situations to help players improve their decision-making skills — EON Sports VR boasts an improvement rate of up to 60 percent for players who use the platform. The company offers 3D-playbook and playbook-simulator products for coaches, simulators for athletes, and plans to launch a virtual-reality baseball platform, which you can preview on the EON Sports VR’s website. The company currently offers a simulator, called SIDEKIQ, which is compatible with a headset or projector, and plans to launch a smartphone-powered simulator, too.

i9 Sports

I9 Sports is a company that seeks to make sports more fun — and less stressful and competitive — for young people. According to the company’s website, i9 Sports “offers an alternative to the disorganized, hyper-competitive, win-at-all-cost culture that pervades most youth sports programs today.” The company aims to provide a safe and fun experience that helps kids develop their athletic skills and boost their self-esteem and is more convenient and organized for parents.  I9 operates around five important core principles: fun, inclusivity, safety, good sportsmanship and healthy competition. Started initially as a flag football league, i9 has since expanded, with team sports in soccer, basketball, baseball and cheerleading too. The company offers leagues, camps and clinics for both boys and girls ages 3 to 17 throughout the United States.

Sportsy

Aspiring athletes will love Sportsy, a website and mobile app (available on both Android and iOS devices) that helps people get better at sports. Sportsy members have access to videos to help them learn the proper way to perform drills, special challenges to help them practice the way professional athletes do, and exclusive tips and tricks from professional athletes and coaches. Members can also compete against each other, and upload videos of them playing to get feedback from Sportsy coaches. The company is new and currently only offers these features for soccer. However, Sportsy does plan to launch sections dedicated to several other sports, including basketball, volleyball, tennis, figure skating, surfing, hockey, swimming, skateboarding and even Hacky Sack, among others. Interested users looking for one of these sports can sign up for updates on their launch on the company’s website.

Coachbase

Want to be a better coach? Coachbase is a tremendous resource. The company is part marketplace, part Android and iOS app and helps coaches find, diagram and share new plays. With the app, coaches can ditch chalkboards and whiteboards and switch to using their mobile devices to create new plays for their teams. The app has a step-by-step system for animating your plays, and features automatic backup and automatic syncing so that the plays you create are accessible across all your devices, and easily shared with assistant coaches and players. And through the Coachbase marketplace, coaches can buy, sell and trade plays and drills with other coaches.

Krossover

Krossover is another great resource for coaches and teams. Most teams record their games so they can analyze the footage later and see what went well and what went wrong. Rather than trying to analyze the film yourself, Krossover does it for you. Teams can sign up for a Krossover package for a whole season based on how many games they play per week. Just upload film from your game, and the company’s experts will analyze it and break it down by event, tag it by play and with player information, and extract stats from the footage for you. Athletes can also purchase individual packages to analyze their performance even if their team doesn’t participate in the program. Krossover offers services for basketball, football, lacrosse and volleyball.

Fandeavor

Looking for the ultimate sports fan experience? Fandeavor is here to help. The company aims to help sports fans plan the perfect trip or celebration all at once with sports-based packages that include hotels, airfare, land transportation and game tickets. Hotels are curated based on their distance to the game, their ratings and amenities and things to do nearby, and transportation includes both to and from the airport and the game. Fandeavor also helps customers get the best experience out of their tickets, with unique information and VIP packages for different stadiums. The company can even help you plan a big family sports excursion or gift for a special occasion.