Monthly Archives: May 2017

11 Businesses Transforming Travel

Traveling is a rewarding experience. Between food, drinks and sights, there are a multitude of memories and experiences not to be forgotten.

Often, planning your trip and getting to the destination is the hardest part. These 11 businesses aim to make traveling less stressful and more enjoyable.

Snapshots are the best part of vacation; it gives you the opportunity to relive your favorite moments. Flytographer takes that concept and helps you plan a trip. According to the company’s website, you can “meet with one of [the company’s] local photographers around the world, have a stroll together and bring home the best souvenir possible — memories.” Simply search for a photographer you like in the location you’re traveling to and book a photo shoot via the company’s website after you’ve finalized your trip details. When it’s time for your shoot, your photographer will guide you around and take candid photos (though he or she will also take posed portraits, if you prefer).

Love the water but not sure how to properly rent a boat while away? GetMyBoat provides a peer-to-peer marketplace giving boat owners the power to rent their boats and vacationers the opportunity to experience a yacht, speedboat or watercraft of their dreams at an affordable price. GetMyBoat is bridging the gap of boat ownership costs. Boating enthusiasts get the benefits of worldwide inventory without the cost or headache of ownership. And as the average boat is only used 8 percent of the year, boat owners get the chance to make owning a boat more affordable by earning some income from their under-utilized asset, the site said.

Remove the hassle and pressure of planning activities on vacation with Peek. The site curates a selection of fun activities for you that you can book online or via the company’s mobile app. You can also use Peek’s Travel Guides to see an overview of the top things to see or use the “Perfect Days” feature to book a complete itinerary with “insider tips and hidden gems from tastemakers,” according to the website.

If you’re flying solo but would prefer to travel in a group or make new friends while on vacation, The Trip Tribe makes it easy. The company allows members to create a profile and search for trips — they’ll use your profile information to match you with other travelers who share your interests so you can book a trip with like-minded people. When you view trips on the site, you can see which other members are going, as well as the dates, price per person and other important details. Some of The Trip Tribe’s featured trips include an eco-retreat in Puerto Rico, a food and beer tour in Ireland, and a cycling and boating adventure in the Czech Republic.

Welcome Beyond is dedicated to those travelers who prefer to forgo staying in a big-name hotel and would rather have a unique vacation experience. Welcome Beyond strives to curate hotels and vacation rentals that are “truly original.” These exclusive rentals range from quirky to posh and are easy to search for and book. Choose a country and region for your stay, and search by interests like architecture and design, nature and ecotourism, and secluded retreats. You can also refine your search by accommodation type, with selections ranging from boutique hotels to private islands available in more than 30 different countries, including the United States.

If you thought UberBlack made you feel like you were riding in style, try traveling on a jet. Book a seat on a private jet with BlackJet. According to the company’s website, “BlackJet members enjoy the convenience, reliability and private jet experience at prices you would expect from American, Delta or United first class.” As with all flights, costs vary depending on your origin and destination locations and the date of travel, but prices start around $1,000. BlackJet memberships are limited but free until you book your first trip — after that, there’s an annual fee.

Travelers with a spontaneous streak will love Triposo, an app that gives you personalized suggestions for things to do on your trip while you’re on the go. Users can book tours and activities via the app, as well as learn important information about their destination’s history, culture, currency and language. Before you go on your trip, download Triposo’s destination guide to your device, and while you’re there, get real-time updates about what’s going on nearby. Bonus: The app works offline too, so you don’t need to search for Wi-Fi to find your next activity.

Weddings are expensive, and honeymoons can quickly add up, eliminate stress and lower costs with Wanderable. Rather than have your friends and relatives buy items off a registry, register with Wanderable where they can contribute to your honeymoon fund. But the company does more than just collect cash for your dream trip — Wanderable allows you to search destinations and curate your trip based on your interests. Wedding guests can also contribute to specific costs, like transportation, lodging and even special tours or events offered at your destination.

Most times, airlines will help you rebook a canceled flight and accommodate you. When they don’t, AirHelp steps in. You can either use the company’s online form or download its free mobile app to file a claim with your flight details, and AirHelp will take care of communicating with the airline for you so you can avoid feeling stressed and confused. The company will even file a lawsuit, if possible or necessary. If your claim is successful, the company will take a 25 percent service fee out of the money you’re awarded as payment, but if you lose your claim and you don’t get paid, you won’t owe AirHelp anything.

Have you ever found the perfect flight, only to come back to it a day or two later when you’re ready to purchase your tickets and find that it’s sold out? Options Away lets you search for flights and save them while you wait for your next paycheck or to finalize the rest of your plans. You can save flights for two, three, seven or 14 days, and in doing so, will also lock in the price of your tickets — if they go up, you can still purchase them for the price they were when you found them, but if the price of your airfare drops during the wait, you’ll pay the lower price when you decide to purchase.

Exploring a new city doesn’t have to be about meandering around looking at tourist attractions. Turn your next trip into a real-life scavenger hunt with Stray Boots. Download the app, select and purchase the tour you want to go on, then activate it while you’re connected to the Internet (you only need it to load beforehand, and it can be offline during play). The app will guide you through your chosen city while you and your friends or family members complete challenges, answer trivia questions, take fun photos and earn points. Along with many popular U.S. cities like New York and San Diego, you can also participate in scavenger hunts in London, Paris, Copenhagen and Tel Aviv.

Negotiation Lessons I Learned from My Media Career Experiences

In life, you don’t get what you deserve; you get what you negotiate.” – Dr. Chester L. Karrass

The moment we start to understand how the world works, we start negotiating. Children start negotiating their way out of eating their vegetables and extending their bedtimes as soon as they can talk. But there is a lot we can learn from our kids – a lot about being creative and bold in our negotiations.

As I reflect on my career in media, whether working as a correspondent for Inside Edition, covering CBS Thursday Night Football, or inking the deal for my new book, “Faith in the Spotlight,” knowing how to negotiate well has allowed me to get more of what I want out of my work and life.

Almost everyone can use some advice on negotiations. Whether it’s contracts, salaries or partnerships, the lessons I’ve learned throughout my career can help you save money, time and grow your business.

I realize not all industries have the same room to negotiate. In this ever-changing economy and with companies tightening their budgets, situations may vary. But I do think it never, ever hurts to ask respectfully. This has been my experience in the media world. Times when I was told the rate was “non-negotiable,” I learned later that indeed it was negotiable.

Early in my career I was offered an hourly rate for a radio job and was told this was the rate – take it or leave it. I was young and didn’t even consider countering the offer. Several months later, when I left the job, I learned that the person before me had negotiated a higher hourly rate. Look, I was young and thankful to have a job. But it’s important to share this story because it was an eye-opening moment. Lessons like this come with experience. I would not have traded those early radio gigs for the world, but I did need to learn how the negotiation process works and understand that asking for more money isn’t a bad thing.

If you are running a small business and negotiating contracts with vendors, you know to always get a second opinion and sometimes a third or fourth. The same should be applied to employment contracts. Even if you don’t end up asking for more money, it’s important to know if the contract is in the ballpark of your industry.

When I got my first national television news contract, my agent told me to accept it and be happy. But the words of my mentors to “always get a second opinion” echoed in my head. So I called a friend who works in Los Angeles and he referred me to a great entertainment attorney who graciously glanced at my contract and made a few observations on how I could get a bit more and not rock the boat. Instead of asking for more money, he suggested I try for a few more weeks of vacation and a clothing allowance. The company offering me the job ended up agreeing to the majority of those suggestions. I would have never known to ask if I had not gotten a second opinion. And a special note to the ladies – statistics show that we are less likely to make a counter-offer, so don’t forget to seriously consider trying it.

Should you have a lawyer conduct your negotiations or should you do them yourself? Budgets and the size of your workload may determine this for you, but it is an important component of negotiating to consider.

When I covered the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” for two seasons on CBS, I negotiated the contract myself. This was an intimidating but rewarding experience. I would encourage everyone to learn how to advocate for themselves and their business. For some people, talking about money can get a little awkward, or they simply don’t desire to. That’s where a good agent or lawyer can come into play. Just make sure you partner with someone who shares your values. This person will be a representative of you and your company and can make or break your business deals. It took me awhile to find an agent I felt compatible with.

If you don’t have a solid grasp on negotiating right now, don’t sweat it. Just start figuring out what your strengths and weaknesses are. Like anything in life, we need to start trying. As President John Kennedy reminded us, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”

Get in the arena and start trying. Ask friends and mentors for advice. Read books on the subject. One of my favorites has been “Knowing your Value” by Mika Brzezinski. Often times local colleges and university business programs offer workshops on the subject. The art and skill of negotiating will help you better provide for yourself, your business and your family.

7 Inspiring Businesses Keeping It All Natural

Engaging in an all-natural lifestyle has a plethora of benefits, including ridding of wasteful materials and the avoidance of putting chemicals in or on your body. It also means doing better for the environment and sustainable products that can help agriculture and jobs.

Companies are embracing the benefits of “green” and natural products, not only for the Earth but their customers as well.

Whether you’re looking for products, or you want to start a business that’s all about bringing it back to basics, here are six inspiring all-natural businesses you need to check out.

EcoNuts is a company that has introduced soap nuts into everyday life. According to the site, are a berry shell that naturally contains soap. They grow on the Sapindus mukorossi (Soap Berry) tree in the Himalayas. The natural soap found in these berries is called saponin, which is a natural cleaner that works as a surfactant, breaking the surface tension of the water to penetrate the fibers of your clothing to properly clean them.

The soap nuts are gentle on clothes and skin, making the product ideal for those who find themselves irritated by chemicals used in manufactured products. Additionally, despite the name, soap nuts are a berry fruit and safe for those with nut allergies.

GrowJourney is a “seeds of the month club” — a fun, all-natural take on the popular box subscription business model for people who love gardening and want to grow organic produce. Each month, the company sends its subscribers an assortment of five different seasonal heirloom gardening seeds, all of which are certified organic and sourced from organic farmers selected by the service. And if you’re trying to get into gardening but don’t have much of a green thumb, don’t worry — becoming a GrowJourney member gets you more than just seeds. It also provides you with access to resources to help you learn how to grow your produce with ease.

Abel is a perfume company that produces signature scents with only 100 percent natural, food-grade, organic ingredients and without the chemicals and synthetic compounds found in most perfumes and colognes. There are several natural perfume companies out there, but what sets Abel apart is the craft behind the company’s packaging. Since their perfumes lack the chemicals other perfume companies use to protect their products from light and UV heat (both of which can damage the product), Abel’s perfumes come in cases hand-crafted from reclaimed wood. The company sells the gender-neutral fragrances, “Tonic,” which is made from ginger extract, black pepper oil, lime oil and peppermint oil, among many others.

Humans aren’t the only ones who can benefit from going back to basics. The Honest Kitchen ensures that you can feed your beloved furry friends all-natural food and treats, too. The company makes 100 percent all-natural, FDA-approved human grade (meaning they’re made to the same standards as the food we humans eat) dog and cat food, treats and supplements. The Honest Kitchen’s products use dehydrated whole foods, non-GMO produce, hormone-free meats and organic, fair-trade ingredients in their foods. Employees even taste-test them for quality control. The company provides grain-free and whole-grain food options as well as a base mix for foods if you prefer to mix up your own pet-friendly meals and treats.

Better Life is a cleaning product company that sells everything from dish detergent and floor cleaner to stain remover and hand soap. Whether you’re scrubbing your kitchen, disinfecting your bathroom, doing laundry, washing dishes or cleaning up after your baby or pets, Better Life has a product that can fit your needs without using any toxic or harmful ingredients. Every product Better Life offers is derived from plants and is free of GMOs, alcohol, dyes, sulfates, fragrances, petroleum, not to mention cruelty. And they’re made in the USA. Better Life’s products are also safe for septic systems and completely biodegradable, so you can use them without risk in your home and in the environment.

Looking for all-natural clothing? Earth Creations is a company that sells eco-friendly clothing and accessories for men, women and children, all of which use natural, sustainable fabrics. Earth Creations’ products are made from hemp and organically grown cotton and natural clay dyes (the company’s dyeing process uses only natural and biodegradable materials). The designs are brought to life at Earth Creations’ sewing plant in Moulton, Alabama, to help maintain a smaller carbon footprint and create local jobs. Earth Creations also donates its irregular and overstock items to other organizations, such as the Audubon Society, Ogden Nature Center and Animal Acres, to help people in need.

If you’re looking for all natural skin and hair care products, TruSelf Organicsoffers a line of products complete with moisturizers, lip glosses, conditioners, and more. In business since 2013, TruSelf Organics prides itself on eliminating synthetic chemicals in favor of all natural and organic products. Founded by a yoga-enthusiast and self-proclaimed “health-nut,” TruSelf Organics entire line is vegan, save for their Raw Honey Lip Gloss which is made with honey and beeswax. Each product is designed to further the company’s mission of promoting a three-pronged approach to wellness: health, beauty, and self-love.

The Business of Nostalgia

The forgotten ghosts of pop-culture past have made a triumphant return. Between shows like “Fuller House” (the Netflix reboot of the ’90s hit Full House), the return of “Gilmore Girls,” and Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block back on tour, nostalgia is having its moment.

Whether it’s podcasts about old shows and movies, nostalgia-driven events and merchandise, or a resurgence of food and drinks made popular decades ago, entrepreneurs are finding ways to relive what made them happy in the past and create something new.

In most cases, these “comeback” businesses are a happy accident. For many nostalgia entrepreneurs, their business sprung from their passion, which has led to throngs of die-hard followers and fans.

This is especially true for the duo that runs Emo Night in Brooklyn, a monthly event with a DJ that plays the emo, post-hardcore and pop-punk hits of the aughts, drawing thousands of passionately-singing millennials to their party.

The idea for their event was planted in Boston, where British co-founders and childhood friends Alex Badanes and Ethan Maccoby both attended college. The pair started the party in their respective dorm rooms, and “rocked out pretty hard while doing it.” The guys then moved to Brooklyn around the same time and would always pre-game (partying before the bar) in a similar fashion.

“Alex and I thought it would be cool if we moved the ‘party’ to a bar, invited our friends, and maybe the [bar] would give us free beer in exchange for bringing people,” Maccoby said. “[We] went to a bar across the street from Alex’s apartment in Williamsburg. They kind of laughed but agreed that we could set up our laptop in the corner of their 100-capacity basement, play a playlist of music that we wanted, and of course, if a few people came, we would get that free beer we always wanted.”

After that initial playlist-night in Brooklyn, Badanes and Maccoby created a Facebook event, in which they invited their friends, who invited their friends (and so on).

“On the actual night, there were hundreds of people lined up trying to get into this basement to drink, party, and most importantly, rock out to the music that they grew up with. Everyone agreed it was one of the best nights of [their] lives,” Maccoby said.

Badanes and Maccoby’s story isn’t uncommon for the entrepreneurs transforming their childhood and fan-based passion into unexpected success stories.

For Jennie Whitaker, founder of the Gilmore Girls Fan Fest, she was passionate about rekindling the love of Gilmore Girls and creating something new. At the time, the show had been off the air for about a decade.

The idea came to her while in Connecticut (where the Gilmore Girls takes place). She thought, “Why hasn’t anyone organized a Stars Hollow celebration for fans?”

Whitaker couldn’t imagine a world where people couldn’t visit Stars Hollow alive and present, the website says. She, with the help of her husband and co-founder Marcus, decided it was time to “bring the idea to life at least one weekend of the year.”

The inaugural weekend drew 1,500 guests from across the globe and are planning to do it again this year. In addition to experiencing the town the show is based on, attendees were able to meet numerous cast members.

“For us, what was important was that we created something memorable, that the attendees had a great time, the cast got to get away from their day-to-day chaos, the media had a feel-good story to tell and the town we utilized enjoyed the visitors,” Whitaker said. “Really, we wanted to walk away making everyone’s weekend one to remember. And, I think we accomplished that.”

Exploring an interest in these topics doesn’t necessarily require going to a physical place, either. Fanatics of shows and movies can access numerous podcasts that chat and reminisce about their favorite episodes. From “The West Wing ” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to “Gilmore Girls” and even Disney Channel Original Movies (DCOM), fans of pop-culture can enjoy new content featuring their old favorites.

“Pop culture podcasts were really coming into their element when I started – shows like U Talkin U2 To Me? and Gilmore Guys were taking my social media feeds by storm,” said Zetus Lapodcast host Zach Heltzel. “I … asked myself what parts of my childhood stuck with me and were not already being covered sufficiently by other podcasts. I eventually landed on Disney Channel Original Movies.”

Though the podcast began with nostalgia, it’s grown to much more than that for Heltzel.

“The podcast is a wonderful excuse to ask amazing writers, comedians, and DCOM super-fans to hang out with me and go on little adventures for a few hours every week,” he said. “Every long-form discussion I have with my guests teaches me a lot, and … these conversations I have with these funny and smart people have helped me grow.”

Similarly, Gilmore Guys co-founder and co-host Kevin Porter said people tuned into his show “because it was specifically about something they already knew and liked.”

Porter and co-host Demi Adejuyigbe didn’t set out to make money with the show especially since there is “so little of it.”

“We did to have fun,” Porter said. “All of the money-making opportunities were born out of necessity. We wanted and needed to do live shows due to demand.”

Tickets started at $5 for the Gilmore Guys’ first show. It grew from there, and the duo eventually signed with a podcast network called HeadGum and monetized their show through ads. The “Guys” have merchandise as well, which has helped create a positive cash flow for them.

Nostalgic businesses thrive and hold fan’s attention for a reason: They remind us of things that brought us happiness in our youth.

“It’s partly an idealized sense of the past; it is also an ability to escape from the present moment,” said Jessica Koblenz, a licensed clinical psychologist in New York. “We tend to highlight positives of items that are comforting even when situations have actually improved. For example, we have nostalgia and glamorize the moments we didn’t have cell phones because we remember the fun adventures that ensued from trying to meet up.”

“I think the business of nostalgia and the reason we’ll see x-amount of Star Wars movies, “Twin Peaks” and “Full House” revivals is because people are chasing that feeling that they had when they were young,” Porter added.

Koblenz notes that some nostalgia is based on a mythical time that never was: “For example, in Disneyworld Main Street, U.S.A. isn’t an actual place. It’s cleaner and friendlier, and only has the best elements of that time,” she said.

If you want to start a business based on a nostalgic love, it needs to be based on a real passion.

“There is definitely a big market for [it]. Everyone wants to relive great memories, and the fact that you can meet other people with similar interests while doing that makes it a slam dunk,” Maccoby said. “It’s all feel-good vibes and nostalgia is a positive feeling that people will always want to experience.”

As with any business, you should understand your target audience and their needs. Heltzel suggests creating a plan for how you will make that connection.

“Have an extremely nuanced, detailed understanding of the people who share the same nostalgic feelings that you do for whatever it is you want to explore,” Heltzel said. “To get their attention, you are going to have to connect with them on a level that is deeper than just a mutual respect for a shared experience you once had.”

Maccoby notes that entrepreneurs should make sure the number one reason to pursue this type of business, “will not only be happy but that happiness will lead to success.”

When getting your business off the ground, Maccoby offered the following advice:

Be smart with your money. “Invest it wisely in your business, don’t overspend,” he said. “You don’t always need the most expensive hotels or food, or cars. Get by with what you need.”

Take care of the people that help you. “We have an amazing team helping us, including booking agents, promoters, press/social media managers, artists we work with, etc.” he said.

Create positive relationships. “The people around you will ultimately help you be more successful,” Maccoby said.

“Find something worthwhile that won’t feel like work most of the time,” Whitaker added. “Work harder than you’ve ever worked, and one day hopefully it’ll make you burst with pride.”