“I remember the day the woman called up crying because she hadn’t been able to wash her hair in a few years,” said CC Verallo-Rowell, the North American operations manager of the hypoallergenic company, VMV Hypoallergenics. With the purchase of the brand’s shampoo, the woman finally found relief from years of a painful scalp condition.
Recently, Entrepreneur.com published an article debating how much of a start-up should be science versus art.
In one corner of the ring, is Steve Blanks, a believer that starting a business is more of an art form. Entrepreneurs often go with their gut feeling, as a way to march on with their idea.
Sound a bit ridiculous? A bit too risky? Blanks believes that these gut instincts are the way of the future. He points out these instincts actually come from a lot of pattern recognition, a skill entrepreneurs develop from past experiences and information gathering.
Blank states once entrepreneurs go with their gut instinct, a survival mode kicks in where it is do or die.
In the other corner, stands Kay-Yut Chen, a scientist who thinks just going with your gut instincts can lead to disaster. (more…)
The New York Times recently introduced a contest, Make Your Pitch, for entrepreneurs to pitch their business idea in hopes of gaining exposure and possible capital.
The contest is open to any start-up business and is defined from anyone who has an idea to an actual operating business.
Besides looking for strong ideas with legs, the contest needs a person willing to talk on camera about the ups and downs starting a business, which will be posted on The New York Times Facebook page. (more…)
The New York International Gift Fair (NYIGF) kicked off this Sunday at the Jacob Javits Center with approximately 2,800 vendors looking to attract over 35,000 attendees.
The show is divided up into four categories that include: new, home, lifestyle, and handmade. Within the category division, NYIGF has split the categories into subdivisions: New York’s newest, accent on design, at home, baby & child, Ex-tracts, general gift, handmade designer maker, handmade global design, personal accessories and details, studio, and tabletop & housewares.
As I was enthralled by all the small business owners, I really was inspired by the vendors in the handmade global design division. Everyone I talked to was so proud of their business and dedicated to bringing goodness to the world. (more…)
Image by Ron Dauphin via Flickr
Walmart just launched “Get on the Shelf,” a contest for new invention and product submissions where the public picks the winner.
In this American Idol-like competition, people submit their invention online by uploading a video demonstrating their amazing product.
The public votes on the best product in a two-round event, where the top three get to have their product showcased on www.walmart.com and the first place winner gets to also have shelf space in selected Walmart shops.
The initial voting round begins March 7th and runs until April 4th. Once this round is closed, the top ten will be announced. From April 11-24, the voting period determines the top three winners.
So far, “Get on the Shelf” has garnered over 40 videos. Some of the inventions submitted include The Little Green Money, a business kit for children; A Game Sports Drink, a vitamin fortified, hydrating drink; and Boo-Boo Cover-Up, a band-aid-less healing cream.
To view all the videos click here.
So, if you are a small business with big dreams now is the chance to get discover. Hurry, the deadline is February 22nd.
Image via Wikipedia
In the running for 2011 best new start-up, Codecademy is a brilliant online FREE service that takes the headache out of learning how to code.
Created by Ryan Bubinski and Zach Sims, the duo saw a niche that needed to be filled—people dying to get a piece of Silicon Valley but not having the background to create the next million dollar app. (more…)
Rob Bryn remembers lying above a sweater factory listening to the huge loom moving back and forth below him as he tried to sleep. Living there for years, Bryn witnessed the slow transition of living in an industrial zoned area with working factories to an area full of artists living in these vacant buildings
“I literally saw the last textile business leave this area,” Bryn said.
As the dying breed of manufactories shut down due to cheaper labor overseas, a new purpose arose for the massive rectangular prisms sprinkling the otherwise desolate northern Bushwick neighborhood.
Years ago, wanting to find a place to throw their pottery, chisel their sculptures, or paint their masterpiece, artists clamored to Bushwick looking for space, inexpensive rent, and proximity to Manhattan. They turned to the vacant factories, a place that no longer created goods but now created homes.
Recently Little Dudes and Divas, an online boutique selling infant and baby clothes, was profiled in The New York Times as a small business dealing with the trials and tribulations of being of being a small business competing against much larger companies like Babies “R” Us.
They state it isn’t easy, and I couldn’t agree more. For five years I was the owner of an online women’s contemporary clothing store, and I remember the stress that came alone with trying to compete with the Nordstroms and Shopbops (now owned by Amazon) of the online world.
As I believe and Little Dudes and Divas explains the key to success is in the details. Below are some tips from the article, which I believe will set you apart.
- Carrying unique designers/items: Little Dudes and Divas discussed how they try for only the hottest items as a strategy to beat out the competitors. If you are able to get a hold of the latest high-quality product, do so. As for my e-commerce site, I would approach the strategy a little differently. I would often times speculate what the big competitors were going to carry and pick something else from the designers’ line. By doing so, I tried to create a niche by carrying very unique items.
- Little Dudes and Divas also points out that they are accommodating to their customers by giving them special attention. They did so by taking time to email, listen to customers needs, and going the extra mile for them. Again, I found focusing on the small things a way to sett myself apart from competition. I would write personalized thank-you notes, gift-wrap everything, include a store magnet in the package, and provide very fast shipping. I can’t tell you how many people thanked me for it.
- Lastly, Little Dudes and Divas discussed their marketing strategy to make sure they are connecting to the right customers. The store mentioned SEO and Google Analytics, which was a service I used often to track shopping cart abandonment, landing pages, and time on the site. The store also discusses social media, which is imperative for success. When I had my store it was not as prevalent as it right now but it sure is useful. Not only is it free, but interacting with customers in a social environment does wonders for your credibility.
One concept I am surprised wasn’t mentioned was a forum. I believe having a link to an online discussion board would really help bolster the connection with the customers and possibly increase sales.
What would you suggest for Little Dudes and Divas?
Tom Szaky recently wrote a New York Times blog about the need for start-ups to look at crowd-funding as a means to generate capital in today’s economy.
For those of you unaware of crowd-funding, is basically an online collective group of strangers pooling their money together to provide capital for a start-up.
Szaky touched on sites like Kickstarter, a crowd-funding site targeted towards the art community, as way to get your business of the ground.
As much as I am a cheerleader for crowd-funding and believe is a viable option for small businesses, I believe entrepreneurs need to take crowd-funding with a grain of salt. (more…)
You name it and Business Insider has a list for it.
On Monday, Business Insider launched its 20 Best New (as opposed to old) Start-ups for 2011.
The site boasts a lot of practical companies (Simple, Giftly) and one that doesn’t make any sense to me (Sphero).
Here is a list of my favorites: