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Business idea: AND1

Alumnus Seth Berger Scores Success with Basketball Apparel Company AND 1

Freedom nearly scared Seth Berger, founder of the AND 1 basketball shoe and apparel company, into looking for a job.

Berger started AND 1 in May 1993, the day after he graduated from Wharton with his MBA. One of his partners, fellow Wharton grad Tommy Austin, showed up for work a couple of weeks later, accompanied by their summer intern.

“They came in and looked at me like, ‘What are we supposed to do?'” Berger recalls. “And I realized that I had nothing planned. Up until that point in my life, there was always someone telling me what to do. When you start your own business, you don’t get any of that. It took me six months to get comfortable and realize that being an entrepreneur meant total freedom.”

After a false start, Berger, Austin and their third partner, Jay Gilbert, a childhood friend of Berger’s, used that freedom well. Within a decade, AND 1 grew to $280 million a year in sales and staked out relationships with a quarter of the players in the NBA, including such stars as Latrell Sprewell and Rafer Alston. In 2005, Berger, Austin and Gilbert sold the company to American Sporting Goods for an undisclosed amount.

At its peak, AND 1 wasn’t just a shoemaker but also a media phenomenon. Its mix tapes—videos of “streetball” stars set to hip-hop music—inspired a television show and a nationwide tour of games by top streetball players who had endorsed the company’s shoes and gear.

Not bad for a company that had bobbled the ball on its first drive to the rim.

Berger had come to Wharton thinking he might use his MBA in public policy or public finance—he worked on Capitol Hill before enrolling—but soon realized that he would have a hard time paying off his loans with a public-sector job. Investment banking seemed a sensible second choice. He didn’t love the idea of being a banker, but the field paid well, and banks recruited heavily. “My Excel skills weren’t the best,” he says. “My finance skills weren’t the best. And investment bankers do a lot of meetings, and I can’t stand meetings.”

But he was also exploring an idea for which he had far more passion: the business that would evolve into AND 1. It started while he was taking Wharton’s introductory entrepreneurship class, as a plan for a retailer called The Hoop specializing in basketball. “Basketball is who I am,” he says. “I grew up playing ball in New York City. I played high school ball. I played junior varsity at Penn when I was an undergrad (Berger earned a Wharton undergraduate degree in 1989). I played ball every day when I was in grad school.” He and Austin, another Wharton undergrad, met on the court in Penn’s gym.

In his second year in the MBA program, Berger kept hammering away at his idea for a basketball company while working on an “advanced study project,” a self-designed course in which a student works under the guidance of a professor. A retail operation, he decided, would cost too much. A database marketing business made more sense.

Still, he hedged his bets, continuing to pursue a job in banking. That was the safe choice, socially and financially. Many of his classmates would head to Wall Street, and he had those loans. He landed final-round interviews with three banks. But as the meetings approached, misgivings bubbled up. The night before he was supposed to do the last round of interviews, he and Gilbert went out for drinks, and he shared his unease.

“Jay gave me the best advice I’ve ever gotten. He said, ‘Dude, you’re 25 years old. You’ve got no wife, no kids. You’re broke, and you drive a Honda Civic. You can afford to take a chance. If you take an investment banking job, next year you’ll be thinking, ‘What if I’d started that business?’ You don’t go to Wharton to say, ‘What if?’ You go to come out and take your shot.'”

His first shot, which he took with Austin and Gilbert, who also joined AND 1, was an air ball. The three of them went to a sporting-goods trade show to pitch companies on their database of hardcore hoopsters. “They all looked at us like we’re crazy,” Berger recalls. “They said: ‘We already have consumers coming to our stores. Oh, and by the way, you’ve only got 500 names. No thanks.'”

They had failed the first and hardest test of entrepreneurship—making a sale.

But like many failures, this one gave valuable feedback. Seeing all the wares at the show, they concluded that the gear aimed at basketballers wouldn’t appeal to hardcore players like themselves. It didn’t capture the cocky hip-hop ethos of the game.

So Berger, Austin and Gilbert retreated to a nearby restaurant to regroup. What they ought to be doing, they decided, was making T-shirts and shorts. Right then, they started dreaming up the sort of trash-talking T-shirt slogans that would propel the company’s early growth. Among them:

  • “Call 911—I’m on fire”
  • “I drive by you so much I should pay you a toll”
  • “I’m the bus driver. I take everybody to school.”

Even the company’s name captures that street-savvy attitude. “AND 1” is taken from a typical player’s exclamation when he’s fouled while making a shot and signals the single free throw that he’ll be awarded as recompense.

The T-shirts led to shorts—in the long, baggy style common to today’s college and pro teams—and eventually shoes. Making shoes put AND 1 in competition with such international behemoths as Nike, Adidas and Reebok. But the founders’ love of basketball and knowledge of their fellow players gave them the confidence to plunge in. “Nike, Adidas, Reebok are great brands, but they’re all things to all people,” Berger explains. “So there was an opportunity for a basketball player to say, ‘This brand is me. This is who I am. This isn’t about soccer or baseball.’ They left that little opportunity open for us.”

Sometimes, entrepreneurship simply means forging ahead in the face of seemingly impossible odds.

Their marketing strategy wasn’t just a matter of knowing their customers. They also saw an untapped price-point in the market. “There was a niche between $60 and $80 that no one was serving,” Berger says. “Nike, Adidas and Reebok were all selling shoes for $100 and up. We felt you could make very good performance shoes for between $60 and $80 that a kid would be able to play in throughout his entire season every bit as well as the more expensive shoes. And we didn’t need a multimillion dollar TV campaign to justify the price.”

They had to pinpoint their price before their shoes surged in popularity. Their first offering cost $80 and didn’t sell well. “When we marked it down to $65, it really started moving out the door,” Berger says.

Their next breakthrough came when they decided to market their shoes via highlight videos. That began by accident, thanks to a videotape of a game, featuring several streetball stars, that was lying around the office.

“We didn’t realize we had anything till one day we were doing a video shoot with a bunch of NBA players,” Berger says. “We’d set up this room where they could watch ESPN or play video games, but they see this tape and want to watch it over and over. A kid who worked for our ad agency said, ‘We should put this to music and make it a mix tape.'”

They did and offered copies to anyone who came into the Footaction chain to try on a pair of AND 1’s shoes. By the end of the first weekend of the promotion, all 50,000 tapes were gone. “It was the fastest promotion that Footaction had ever had,” Berger says.

The mix tapes led to an AND 1-sponsored game of streetball stars in New York City, which sold out. That game led to five more and, eventually, a 60-city international tour and the television show on ESPN. “It became bigger than we ever expected it to,” he says. “Between ’01 and ’03, when our brand suffered a lull, people would argue that the mix tapes kept us alive.”

Around the same time, Berger, who, like any serious athlete, is relentlessly competitive, began to realize that AND 1 wasn’t ever going to beat Nike, which dominates the athletic-shoe market. “Nike always had between a 60 and 65 percent market share in basketball,” he explains. “We could never eat into their business.” He concluded that his company was consigned to fight with Adidas and Reebok for the distant No. 2 position. “Once I realized that, it became a lot less fun.”

What’s more, consolidation among sports-shoe retailers was cutting AND 1’s profit margin. When Berger, Gilbert and Austin had achieved their early successes, they achieved margins of 10 to 15 percent. But the now-bigger retailers were demanding better prices, and the company’s margin shrunk to the 5 to 8 percent range.

“The combination of not being able to win and the economics getting worse meant it was time to sell,” Berger says. “Our business had gone up, then it went down, and when it started going back up again, we decided to sell.”

Berger, Austin and Gilbert were able to pocket much of the proceeds from the sale because they had few outside investors while the company grew. Berger believed that AND 1 should avoid raising money from investors, if possible, because investors necessarily take equity, which is potentially the most valuable thing an entrepreneur has.

“The whole reason you start a business is for the equity. If you go raising money, you’re limiting your upside.”

“I felt that if I raised money to put money in my pocket for a more comfortable lifestyle, I was just taking money out of my pocket further down the line. The whole idea of being an entrepreneur is that you’re willing to take that risk because at some point you’ll be a volunteer, meaning, ‘I ain’t doing it unless I volunteer.'”

Berger suspects that a lot of young entrepreneurs raise money not because their company really needs it but because they’re intoxicated with the idea of hiring hotshot marketers and rolling out big ad campaigns. They want to look big before they get big. Trouble is, doing that burns through money.

“I rarely find businesses that need the cash that their owners think they do, and I see two or three business plans a week. They want to raise $2 million, $3 million, or $5 million, and I say, ‘Do you know that the product is going to sell?’ They say, ‘No.’ And I say, ‘Till you know the product’s going to sell, what are you going to market? A product’s usually its own best marketing—a good product will sell. Then if it sells, raise money so you can sell more.'”

With the sale of AND 1, Berger achieved his goal of becoming a volunteer. These days, he’s spending as much time as he can with his three young children. “Until my youngest is in school, I think I’ll stay home with my kids.” And he’s an assistant varsity basketball coach at Westtown Friends School. “That’s been a tremendous experience. I might spend the next 25 years of my life being a basketball coach.”

 

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March 28, 2009 Posted by | Business, Entrepreneur, invention, Life, Million dollars Idea, Millionaire, Sports, Television, Uncategorized, Youtube | , | Leave a comment

Young entrepreneur: David Leggett

David is a 20 year old blogger who in the last 6 months has shown he’s definitely got what it takes to dominate a niche. Since launching his site a few months ago he has the rank of top young blogger on Retireat21 and has reached nearly 9000 RSS readers! This interview offers some great advice for bloggers young or old!

First off – can we have a little background information on you David – Where you live? How old you are? (if you don’t mind answering) What motivates you? What inspires you?

Howdy, I’m David Leggett, an independent blogger from Atlanta, GA. I’m 20 years old, and have been designing websites since the age of 10 (no joke – my parents thought HTML was a normal hobby for 10-year-olds I suppose). The internet inspires and motivates me with it’s enourmous oppurtunity to help and teach others as well as with how much there is to learn online.

I actually love to teach. Design is sort of my passion. I combined the two, invited some friends to come along, and started up a little project called Tutorial9, where we teach anything and everything that interests us.

Aside from all that, I’m a learning photographer, a Frisbee enthusiast, a gamer, and somewhat of a political activist.

1) Tell us about your main project, Tutorial9 ? Why did you launch Tutorial9 ? Where are you at now with Tutorial9 ?

Tutorial9 is the worlds most popular, most free Photoshop Tutorial site for beginners and professionals. We do not however only write about Photoshop We’re slowly expanding into offering Photography, Web, and other Design lessons as well as offering quite a few free resources for designers along the way.

I launched Tutorial9 back in May of 2008 after 6 months of planning and preparing. I really enjoy teaching, and helping others (as well as learning), and It is my hope to transform Tutorial9 into a universal tutorial site for everything from design to flying a kite… to create a “Tutorial Bliss” if you will. For the time being, I use it to focus on my primary interest which is visual and web design.

At this point Tutorial9 has nearly 10,000 Subscribed readers, functions as one of my full-time jobs, and brings me great joy as I get to speak with so many interesting people in the industy.
 
2) A lot of Retireat21’s readers are also designers, what advice would you give to someone who wants to go from website designer to internet entrepreneur like your self?

I’m a very young, and by comparison very inexperienced designer compared to many names in the design community. For my short experience as a designer, I’ve learned a few important things that I hold to be true (at this point anyways). First and foremost, I think it’s important to do something you enjoy doing. If you decide to take the path of the internet entrepreneur you’ll have a much easier time with your work if you really like what you do.

I think it’s also important to balance the rate at which you “Do” and the rate at which you “Learn”. I see far too many people constantly learning new and better things without ever putting their knowledge to use. I myself put too much of what I know to use without learning new tricks. It’s a balancing act, and a vital component to online success.
 
3) In just over 6 months you have managed to take Tutorial9 to a very high level in terms of traffic, how did you manage to achieve such a large and growing audience?

There’s usually no easy way to success in Blogging. Folks have tried to sell me on different methods for quick and easy success online in the past, and we’ll probably have to endure with these idealists for years to come probably.

Even though I don’t think becoming successful online is necessarily easy, the process for becoming successful is not a mystery by any means. It takes hard work, a unique approach, and being as incredibly useful to as many people as possible (just like so many other forms of success). For Tutorial9 this meant 100 hour work weeks when we first started, producing content that really helped our viewers, offering free resources that would be widely beneficial to our audience, and even investing thousands of dollars into hiring contributors to offer more useful content.

Strategies for building websites varies of course, but as a general rule of thumb I’d say it’s important to evaluate your own content from an outsiders perspective, “Would I use this website if I weren’t the designer?”

4) I remember running my tutorial website back in 2005 when Adsense was a great source of income for tutorial sites, what would you suggestion to young entrepreneurs trying to make money online with tutorial sites today?

If you’re looking to monetize your sites, I’d recommend trying out multiple streams of revenue. I’ve been slowly trying to ditch AdSense just because it annoys me, but it monetizes alright. I’ve personally been very successful with direct ad sales through BuySellAds.com. I’ve had some success with affiliate links, especially through Amazon.

Don’t focus to much on monetization though. Sure it’s necessary, but it can really put people off and distract you from what’s most important, your viewers.
 
5) What should tutorial website owners be doing right now to help stand out from the crowd?

It seems like List Posts are the big thing to do right now. Actually, probably 90% of the newer Tutorial/Design blogs I see that seem alright tend to be entirely list posts. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily – I’m sure lots of people like lists – but try to mix up the kind of posts you make and broaden your writing style. For some of you, that might mean spend a few more hours every week developing a free resource. For some it might mean putting in A LOT more time to writing a good tutorial.

And for others, it might be time to make a list post or two.
 
6) What do you consider your greatest accomplishment to date and what did you learn from this accomplishment?

Well, I’m currently hosting a contest at Tutorial9 called the Gift of Knowledge Giveaway . People submit guests posts for a chance to win prizes, and we donate $100 to “Save the Children ” for every accepted entry. My goal is to send $5,000, but I’d consider it a HUGE accomplishment if I could get just one viewer to sponsor a child for as little as $30 a month.

It took me a long time to realize that the internet isn’t everything.

7) You have published over 100 tutorials on Photoshop, how are you able to publish so much content and at such a high quality? Any suggestions on how to come up with ideas for content?

300 if you count previous endeavors! Darren Rowse introduced me to Mind Mapping which I think is a very useful way for visual people like myself to develop topics to write about.

I also keep several writeboards and notebooks around the house to write down and develop posting ideas and strategies. I actually have a 12 foot long whiteboard that I can collaborate with co-workers on in one room of the house!
 
8) Is there any online business that you didn’t get involved in (apart from say Google) – that later when you looked back, you wished you had thought of that idea?

Not really, but I have a few Million-Dollar ideas of my own that I’d like to eventually move forward with.

9) Is there anyone that you look up to and model yourself on? (You can name more than one person)

 Collis Ta’eed is always very helpful, very kind, and he’s also an insanely generous guy. I only know about him through what he does online, but I have a feeling he’s the same kind of person outside of the internet. My close friends and I joke about him being my archnemesis because we run “Competing” tutorial sites (there’s no competition really, and if there were Collis who runs PSDTUTS would have been declared the winner long ago), but he’s truly someone I aspire to be more like.

Darren Rowse from ProBlogger is another guy who just continually gives. If more people had the same kind of work ethic as Darren, there would be no room for new Bloggers online. He’s a very personable kind of guy too, almost always responds to my questions on Twitter or anywhere else I see him. I think it’s great when people who obviously don’t have all the time in the world for all of their followers take as much time as possible to be friendly with their fans.

10) Do you have any favourite photoshop related or webmaster related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs or designers?

Don’t Make Me Think ” by Steve Krug might be the best $25 you’ll ever spend as a Designer.

11) What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Never turn down free food.

12) What advice would you give to a Young Entrepreneur starting their first business?

Don’t consider it a full time job until it’s really making a full time income. Do something you really enjoy doing. Invest as much time as possible making your product as useful and likeable as possible.
 
13) What do you like best about the Internet?

The community aspect of the Internet keeps surprising me. Efforts seem to be coordinated on the spot to do meaningful (sometimes meaningless) things or to complete important tasks. In the past year I’ve evserything from thousands of bloggers coming together to help fight hunger and poverty, to hundrends of Diggers come together to complete a 1000 reply chain of “1000 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”.
 
14) What do you like least about the Internet?

It’s not personable. It’s getting better no doubt, but I’d still rather go to a conference with some friends to hear a speaker talk about web design instead of going to that speakers blog and reading about web design all alone.

15) Have you any plans (personal or business) that you can share with us about your future plans / goals / lifetime goals?

link: http://www.retireat21.com/interview/interview-with-david-leggett-founder-of-tutorial9

March 25, 2009 Posted by | Business, Entrepreneur, invention, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Young entrepreneur: Jason Olim

THEN: CDNOW Founders (1994)
NOW: Freshman Fund CEO and CTO

Jason and Matthew Olim started CD NOW  from their parents’ basement just a couple of years out of college. The twin brothers worked on the business — as CEO and CTO, respectively — until 2000, when Bertelsmann offered up $117 million for the company.

Today, Jason and Matthew have resurrected their working relationship with Freshman Fund, an online gift registry for college savings. But things are a little different now. “Back then I was the CEO of a public company,” said Jason in a phone call to SAI. “There were 60- to 70-hour weeks and 550 employees. There were helicopter rides and meetings with Sony, Time Warner and Bertelsmann. Now things are mellower. There are fewer surprises.”

Apart from Freshman Fund, Matthew has been investing in small budget films, participating in local charity work and enjoying life. Jason recently got married, with Matthew as his Best Man.

source: businessinsider

March 24, 2009 Posted by | Entrepreneur, invention, Uncategorized, Youtube | , | Leave a comment

Young entrepreneur: Matt Wegrzyn

Interview with Matt Wegrzyn of Bodis.com – a very young and very successful domainer. (Domain Name Investor)
If you ever wondered how to make money buying and selling domains then this interview with Matt will inspire.
Thanks for agreeing to this interview Matt. I have been following you for sometime now and I have to say I have been very impressed.

Tell me – How did you start out domaining? (age, costs, first domains etc)

I first started developing HTML templates back in the day, when I was
really young. Then when I was around 15 years old, I started programming
in ColdFusion, and that’s basically when I started gaining a lot of
knowledge about the web, domain names, and that sort of stuff.

I believe I got into domaining when I was 17 years old, which is not too
long ago. The first domain name that I bought and quickly sold for profit
was Htmltalk.com. I borrowed $120 or so from my dad’s Paypal account to
buy this domain, and before I knew it, it was sold for $500. This was when
I first got into the domaining business.

But it was funny how this all came about. Before I did the flip, I
actually already knew a little about the market by studying it myself. I
first borrowed $3000 from my mom in order to build 3 separate forums. I
was actually going to develop a network of forums. They were like SQL
forum, Xbox 360 forum, and Html forum. But anyway, it cost $1000 to design
each, and this designer was really impressive. So what happened is that he
actually took the money for the first design, but took over 3 months and
then ended up giving me some very general design that he probably got
somewhere on the web for free. So I got a refund, and then I said – forget
this business. I gave back my mom the $3000 and started researching domain
names that were related to the subject of “forums”. So basically, that’s
why I ended up buying HtmlTalk.com, since this was a forum related domain.
And once I sold the HtmlTalk.com, I was starting to learn how to value
forum-related domain names.

And before I knew it, I was buying up all the forum domain names.
Geekforums.com, Lawforums.com, Mysqlforums.com, etc etc. And I later
resold these. This is how I earned my first big cash in domaining (at
least for that time it was big for myself).

You have sold so many great domains lately, tell us about them. (Price,
Domains etc)

JF.com – Six figure
Redo.com
Gary.com
Valerie.com
XD.com – Six figure
VD.com – Six figure
Oy.com
Stern.com
Occasion.com

What advice would you give someone who wants to make money online Domaining?

Well I think the important part here is to first pick out a niche that the
domainer is interested in. I was interested in the forum niche, since I
was going to actually build forum websites.

Then after you pick out your niche, study recent sales of domain names in
that niche. They don’t have to be something like “games.com” if your niche
is “Video Games”. But maybe something like AvidGamer.com, or
Xbox360Gaming.com, etc. And then once you figure out the value of these
types of domain names, it is time to find good deals out there for them.
You can find perfect deals on the forums such as Namepros.com and
Dnforum.com, or even on Ebay.com or Sedo.com.

Then when you get it, post it for sale everywhere – TalkFreelance.com,
SitePoint, NamePros, DigitalPoint forums, Dnforum, etc. And keep bumping
the thread, or creating a new one once every maybe 5 days to keep it
fresh. Try different time of day. Some users only go on in the evening
after work, while other users may go on only during work. Many times users
such as developers, gamers, and geeks may search these forums for domains
to buy at night since that’s when they are active.  So really – try
everything.

And what I noticed once was, the domains that are hard to sell, never sold
in day time. But at night, sometimes I got the sales for my BIN price.

That’s another thing, it’s good to post a BIN price if your domain is weak.

And if your idea is to always buy/sell for quick cash, then never over
price your domain names. If you buy it for $20, don’t let the ego get to
you. Don’t post for $500 if you know you won’t sell for more than $80. $20
to $80 is good. Some people work an entire day for that amount, and you
can probably do a quick sale with just a few bumps of your thread which
usually takes no more than 3 minutes total.

So 3 minutes behind keyboard vs 12 hours at Burger King. Your pick.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just
getting started. What business related advice would you give yourself?

Well, one important advice in the business world is probably to start out
small, or slow, and then grow. And this is not in the domaining world, but
in general – at least for myself. Here is what I mean:

When I was a developer at the age of 15, I noticed that there were no good
Coldfusion forum software out there. We had/have a great PHP forum
software, but not Coldfusion. Not even CLOSE to great. The best Coldfusion
forum software was an embarrassment to the community (and I think it still
is). And since I was a Coldfusion developer, I was going to develop this
greatest forum software of all time. So I was developing it, FOR A YEAR! A
year I put into development, every single day without any income and
barely any inspiration along the way. So it got so advanced (as advanced
as Vbulletin in some areas), that I never actually ended up finishing
because it started becoming way too complex. I just wanted to get ahead of
myself way too much. So, this applies for many areas of business:

Don’t go out and not release your website because you are trying to make
it so perfect for the launch day. Don’t buy 10 domains at $7 per
registration that are all related, first try 1, then if it works out, get
the other ones. Don’t try to get ahead of yourself. Remember, you can
always build on top of what you have. And that’s really the healthiest way
in my opinion to start out any business. Make it simple, but make it work
well.

Do you think that entrepreneurialism is something that is in your blood?
Or is it something that can be learned?

It is definitely something one has to be born with. It is impossible to
learn it. I guess I have to admit that I cheated in order to answer this
question.   I read a few articles months ago that said something about
psychologists testing this out, and it is something you cannot learn or
teach. So there to you go, you have your answer. 😉

Is there anyone that you look up to and model yourself on?

When I was 10 years old, my brother used to mainly be my model for web
development. He was the one that first brought home an HTML book (he was
like 19 or 20 years old at that time), and I was so bored that I started
coding HTML with him. It was fun, HTML 3.0. Remember those <marquee> tags?
=)

Now it is a bit different. My models are no longer people. It is more of
feeling of accomplishment, respect, how I want to live my life after
getting to the point where I want to get, etc.

Honestly, most people always aim higher in business, which in my belief is
why there is always a rise and fall in almost every business. I think to
get to the top and stay on top is to alternate. To have a finishing point
for a business, and then maybe moving to a different business. But that’s
a very complex story and may not be what many others think. But back to
“model” – feeling of accomplishment. I know the point in my businesses
that I want to reach. Once I reach that point, I can probably feel
accomplished and can sell the business off.

Sometimes enough is enough.

What advice would you give to a Young Entrepreneur setting up their first
business?

There are two advices. The first one is what everyone will tell you –
never give up. And it’s true. Your business doesn’t work out, keep trying.
It doesn’t have to be the same type of business or niche, but keep trying
until something works out for you. Honestly, everyone that I know that has
failed at the beginning, but kept trying hard, has ended up a winner at
the end. I mean it, a real “winner” – with money.

Now the second advice is my advice that I really haven’t heard much so I
might as well say it. If you are starting a business, and somebody is
coming to you for a possible deal with their company, and you are a nice
or shy person – don’t let them have the upper hand. Don’t get suckered
into their deals. Sometimes the deals will be great, but many times they
aren’t. And when I first started I didn’t really have much people-speaking
skills with other CEOs for instance, and well.many times I was like “yes
yes, sure – we have a deal”. Now it’s more like, “Yeah, I will think about
this as a solution for our company, and if we decide on it, then we’ll let
you know.”. They’ll keep following-up, so just keep saying that.

Be careful also not to blow them off completely. Don’t say you are “not
interested”. Because sometimes PLAN A may not work out, and you are stuck
with their plan or no plan. So always keep everything “under
consideration”.


Tell us about your main project Bodis.com, a domain parking service?

Well it is a domain parking service, first off.

We are trying to be different from other parking companies by keeping
things fresh and being innovative. Always trying to introduce something
new that no one really heard of, thought of, and/or expected. Remember,
clients don’t always go to your service just because you are selling
products or services at best price. Maybe they like your website because
it is easy to use, or your service because it has a friendly staff? Think
about it. I know I use some services more than others and it’s because how
they excel in these little details.


What are your plans for the future?

I think in the future I’d like to grow Bodis.com to a level where I don’t
need to show up for work anymore. We also launched a gaming website,
GamingAhead.com, that I’d love to see that rise to the top.

 

Thank you Matt – you have gave some very real / practical advice – we appreciate your generosity. Keep an eye on Matt folks, I have no doubt we will be hearing a lot more of him in future.

March 19, 2009 Posted by | Entrepreneur, invention, Millionaire, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Young millionaire: Robert Small

Sample of miniclip:

MOST entrepreneurial success stories involve years of struggle against long odds. Not so for Robert Small, a young internet games entrepreneur who created an almost instant winner with his business straight after finishing university.

His venture stemmed from a childhood love of computer games. “When I was a boy I was absolutely obsessed with early games like Jetpack on the ZX Spectrum,” he said. “They seemed so exciting and well made. Looking back I think my imagination made those blocks of pixels seem better than they were, but I was hooked.

“I was attracted by the fact that this was entertainment that was interactive rather than passive. It probably helped that my parents didn’t have a television set until I was 10 years old. We lived in the country in a fairly remote area so I was used to amusing myself from a young age rather than just sitting in front of the TV,” he said.

Small was 24 in 2001 when he set up Miniclip.com with his friend and business partner Tihan Presbie. Small used money given to him by his grandmother, and Presbie used cash he had made as a City trader. Together they invested £40,000 in their online gaming site. One of their first products, a simple interactive game called Dancing Bush, in which players made an animated President George Bush dance to their commands, attracted more than 2m players within a month.

It was an easy game to create, said Small, who had never had an interest in writing code for games. “Macromedia Flash was new at the time and it was a great tool for developing this type of content. You could take digital video, chop it up and create animation without any training and only a little practice. I filmed Tihan dancing in the kitchen and we superimposed Bush’s face on to his body.”

Their focus from the start was on simplicity and the player experience, not on sophisticated graphics or complex multi-player shoot ’em ups, said Small. “We wanted to get online and get a global audience but we knew we were never going to do that by trying to create amazingly detailed console-style games.” Small was quick to capitalise on this early success, attracting more users to the website and broke even within nine months. Today the business has 43m dedicated users a month. They come from all over the world and are typically aged between 10 and 18. He has achieved this without any external funding.

Users are attracted by Miniclip’s 400 games, which tend to be simple, addictive and, in most cases, free to play. They include puzzles, Sudoku, shoot ’em ups, and samples from online games run by other sites, for which Miniclip gets commission if users subscribe to the full game.

The site earns money through a variety of other means. Advertising was the early revenue earner and is still an important part of turnover, which was between £18m and £20m in 2007. Subscriptions to paid-for games as well as sponsorship from film makers who pay Miniclip to create games round their latest releases – such as Spider-man and Pirates of the Caribbean – make up other significant chunks of Miniclip’s income. It is a profitable business, too, with margins of about 35%.

Small ascribes this rapid success to understanding very clearly that instead of trying to aggressively control his intellectual property as the bigger brands were trying to do, he should set it free by allowing other sites to use Miniclip games.

“Getting users to the website early on was the big challenge,” said Small. “It’s something we were very focused on. Luckily we realised the value of the internet lay in helping users to share information. Our content was built for the internet and it was built to be shared. About 300,000 other websites use our content now.”

The fast-moving nature of online businesses holds danger as well as opportunity, said Small. In a sector with plenty of competitors and very few barriers to entry, nimbleness and constant innovation are the only way to ensure sustained success and growth.

It is advice other start-ups should take to heart if they want to survive, he said. “It helped to be small. We could make decisions instantly and get things done quickly. When you are small, you should capitalise on the opportunity this gives you to move quickly. First-mover advantage can be very powerful.”

Sustaining the enthusiasm of your online community is also vital, he said. “Make your product great and it will get talked about. Don’t get distracted by PR and marketing until you’ve got that right.”

Understanding what your target audience wants and putting yourself in their shoes is the single most important factor to focus on, however. “Make your service simple for the customer even if the execution is complex. We offer 400 games in 11 different languages but we keep the home page simple.

“We never asked the advice of some business evangelist to tell us what to do. The point of view of 30 average gamers drives most of our decisions.”

Unsurprisingly, Small’s life is dominated by the need to keep on top of a rapidly growing business that creates new games all the time. Now aged 32 and single, he admits to being chained to his laptop, often checking the web statistics and plotting his next moves late into the night. Such dedication is not motivated only by money, however, but by the love of the community he has created.

“I love the fact that when I go home to visit my parents the kids in the village know me as Mr Miniclip. I certainly don’t do this out of a desire to be wealthy. For me the idea that 43m people are using our site is the thing that makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. It has become a bit of an obsession.”

Website: http://www.miniclip.com/games/en/

Link: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/entrepreneur/article3341684.ece

March 17, 2009 Posted by | Comedy, Entrepreneur, Million dollars Idea, Millionaire, Uncategorized, Youtube | , , | 4 Comments

frugal Millionaire: Paul Navone

It doesn’t take a fortune to build one. Saving a little at a time is an established path to accumulating wealth.

You don’t need to earn much to make millions. Paul Navone, 78, never made more than $11 an hour as a quality-control inspector in a glass-container factory. But last year he gave $2 million to two New Jersey schools. He has about $1 million more saved for his retirement.

Navone, who lives in Millville, N.J., was hired by Wheaton Glass when he was 16. After taking a break for Army service, he returned and moved in with his older sister (paying her for his room and board) until he scraped together $6,500 to buy his own duplex at age 23. He lived in one half and rented the other. Eventually, he bought two other properties in Millville and two in Atlantic City.   Income from his rentals paid Navone’s living expenses. “I never spent any of my wages,” he says. He owns no phone or TV. He collects Hummel figurines — dozens of the ceramic pieces decorate his home. But for the most part, he squirreled his money away in savings and investments, and he gives credit to “four very good brokers.” Navone invested in “a little bit of everything” and stuck with a buy-and-hold strategy. He is partial to utility stocks, with their steady earnings and dividends (which he always reinvests).

When he retired two years ago, Navone couldn’t help wondering “what all this accumulation was going to amount to.” He decided to give part of his fortune to St. Augustine College Preparatory School in Richland, N.J. His current broker, Douglas Smithson of Wachovia Securities, suggested that he also speak to Cumberland County College in Vineland, N.J.

Last year, Navone donated $1 million to the college for its nursing-education program and $1 million to the high school for a swimming pool.

“I never had the pleasure of a swimming pool,” he says. “I used to go to the swimming hole at the gravel pit.”

March 12, 2009 Posted by | Life, Millionaire, News, Television, Uncategorized, Youtube | Leave a comment

Innovative Idea: Twitter

Nightline: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfnoWk3x2RU&feature=related

March 5, 2009 Posted by | Business, Entrepreneur, invention, Million dollars Idea, Television, Uncategorized, Youtube | , , , , | Leave a comment

Young millionaire: Alex Tew

Video: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=1203405n%3fsource=search_video

alex by Jeff Metal.                                        

Alex Tew, a 21-year-old student from Cricklade in Wiltshire, England, conceived The Million Dollar Homepage in August 2005.  He was about to begin a three-year Business Management course at the University of Nottingham, and was concerned that he would be left with a student loan that could take years to repay.  As a money-raising idea, Tew decided to sell a million pixels on a website for $1 each; purchasers would add their own image, logo or advertisement, and have the option of including a hyperlink to their website. Pixels were sold for US dollars rather than UK pounds; the US has a larger online population than the UK, and Tew believed more people would relate to the concept if the pixels were sold in US currency. In 2005, the pound was strong against the dollar: £1 was worth approximately $1.80, and that cost per pixel may have been too expensive for many potential buyers. Tew’s setup costs were €50, which paid for the registration of the domain name and a basic web-hosting package. The website, hosted by Sitelutions, went live on 26 August 2005.

The homepage featured a Web banner with the site’s name and a pixel counter displaying the number of pixels sold, a navigation bar containing nine small links to the site’s internal web pages, and an empty square grid of 1,000,000 pixels divided into 10,000 100-pixel blocks. Tew promised customers that the site would remain online for five years – that is, until at least 26 August 2010.

More article: http://www.moneyweek.com/news-and-charts/profile-alex-tew-founder-of-millondollarhomepagecom.aspx

2. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/8c31b4e8-a3a7-11da-83cc-0000779e2340.html

March 1, 2009 Posted by | Business, Entrepreneur, invention, Million dollars Idea, Millionaire, Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments