Not just another WordPress.com weblog

Business Idea: Chocomize

Article from: http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/07/27/chocomize.sweet.success/index.html?iref=allsearch
By: Jacque Wilson
The candy had melted in the backseat of the car, turning the dark chocolate, marshmallows, granola and Gummi Bears into a hot, sticky mess. But Nick LaCava wasn’t having any of this “throw it away” nonsense.

When he and his friends arrived home, LaCava, 23, tossed the bag into the fridge. A few hours later they dared him to eat it.

“It actually was really delicious,” LaCava said. “That was the moment that the lightbulb went off in our heads.”

The three friends — LaCava, Eric Heinbockel and Fabian Kaempfer — had just graduated from Columbia University. Heinbockel, 24, had left his low-paying job on Wall Street to move back home with his parents in New Jersey. LaCava, unable to find a good job in the financial world, was living with the Heinbockels as well. Kaempfer, 24, after looking at an equally bad job market in his native Germany, had returned to the States for a visit.

They had been bouncing ideas around for their own company for months.
“We all like chocolate and candy but Nick is kind of a candy addict. He has an incredible metabolism, so he can just sit there eating candy all day,” Heinbockel said. He credits LaCava’s sweet tooth as the inspiration for Chocomize.

It was a simple concept — a customized chocolate company where people could go online and create their own chocolate bars, combining ingredients like nuts, fruits, spices and candy with dark, milk or white chocolate. But going from brilliant idea to real-life company wasn’t so simple, even for three ambitious young business grads.

“Almost everyone seems to have a great idea that they think would work for a business,” LaCava said. “The biggest challenge is actually forcing yourself to take the risk and get your business started … you’re facing the imaginary and that can be pretty daunting.”

The U.S. Small Business Administration was created to help entrepreneurs like the Chocomize men. The SBA’s main job is to encourage people to make that jump, said Penny Pickett, associate administrator for entrepreneurial development.

First up, Heinbockel said, was research, then writing a business plan. The business plan includes everything from an analysis of your company’s competitors to the organization of its management to your financial projections. It’s a guide for you to follow, Picket said, but it’s also something to show potential backers that you’re serious.

“It’s a blueprint for where you are and where you want to go,” Pickett said. “You don’t build a house without having a drawing in place.”

Writing the business plan forced them to think about a lot of different aspects they might have otherwise overlooked, Heinbockel said. The Chocomize men went to Google, looking for pricing on rent, machinery, packaging, website development and liability insurance. They sent a survey to everyone they could think of, asking what they would be willing to spend on chocolate and what ingredients they’d most like to be able to include. They even had responders vote on their company name.

Kaempfer said the next step, getting financing, was the most difficult in Chocomize’s start-up. According to the SBA, commercial banks are the largest lenders of debt capital to small businesses, but friends and family are also a huge resource to entrepreneurs.

The partners thought they had a general idea of what they would need to start the company, but the things they hadn’t thought of quickly added up — like three $15,000 chocolate tempering machines instead of just one.

So Kaempfer sold his car and the trio found more funding through family. Heinbockel’s grandparents put up a significant chunk so that the men could maintain 100 percent ownership.

The men moved at light-speed, trying to open Chocomize for the 2009 holiday season. They settled on a name, found an office, hired interns, found a production location and bought the necessary equipment. After their website launched in mid-November, orders started rolling in. In March, the company had its first profitable month — a huge step for a new business, Pickett said.

“We never expected the whole thing to take off that quickly,” Kaempfer said. “I’ve thought about the whole thing — if I had stayed in college to get my master’s degree, I wouldn’t have been any more qualified than I am now. You have to just do it and have to get started.”

LaCava agreed. He said he’s working in a business he loves, with partners he respects, in a new industry that’s teaching them something every day because they had the gall to believe they could.

“If you never force yourself to take the first step, then a good idea will always just be a good idea,” he said. “Being my own boss is great … every time we have some sort of success, I know that it is because of the hard work and risk that we put into starting the company and keeping it going. Plus, being able to eat all the chocolate and candy I want without having someone yell at me is pretty awesome.”

July 28, 2010 Posted by | Business, Entertainment, Entrepreneur, News, Television, Uncategorized, Youtube | Leave a comment

Business Idea: Two men and a truck

The company was founded in the early 1980s by Lansing brothers Brig Sorber and Jon Sorber. Using an old pickup truck, they performed moves to earn extra money. Their mother, Mary Ellen Sheets, drew the logo for their new company. That stick-figure logo still represents TWO MEN AND A TRUCK today.

Sheets took over the business when her sons left for college. In 1985, she purchased a 14-foot truck for $350 and hired a pair of movers. This is the only money Sheets personally invested in the company. A fellow panelist at a university business seminar in 1988 suggested Sheets consider franchising. After further research, the first franchise was awarded in 1989.
article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_Men_and_a_Truck

July 20, 2010 Posted by | Business, Entrepreneur, Life, News, Television, Uncategorized, Youtube | Leave a comment

Business Idea: Fresher than fresh snow cone

WHO WE ARE: We are Kansas City’s 1st all natural snow cone stand on wheels! We have reinvented the snow cone in order to please modern tastebuds that are looking for fun and refreshment without all the artificial stuff.

Our snow cone syrups are made from 100% natural ingredients without ANY artificial colors or flavors. We use as many organic and local ingredients as possible. FTF snow cones also happen to be gluten free, dairy free and fat free, so we have many regular customers with food allergies and dietary constraints that can enjoy this worry-free treat.

Fresher than Fresh is housed in a renovated 1957 Shasta trailer and our mascot, Snowie the Snow Cone is always standing by with a proud perma-smile. Currently, we park the trailer in a small urban green space in downtown Kansas City where customers can sit on a tree stump, enjoy the sunshine and drink in the natural goodness that is Fresher than Fresh!

WHY WE ARE FUNDRAISING: Much to our delight, our first summer in business was a success! We were fortunate to be featured in publications such as Food Network Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Organic Gardening Magazine and BUST Magazine…so we can’t help but believe we are on the brink of something good. We just need some financial support to keep up with this positive momentum. The requested funds would help us afford equipment and renovations to our trailer that would enable us to expand our reach and take our refreshing all natural treats to farmer’s markets, weddings and many neighborhoods in Kansas City.

The $6,300 will be just enough to finish off the Shasta trailer…I’ve already invested all of my personal savings (and then some…) so I decided to give Kickstarter a try before approaching private investors. If we happen to receive more than 100% (fingers crossed!), anything extra will go toward building my ‘dream fleet’ – starting with the old ice cream truck that’s patiently sitting in my back yard…

THE BIGGER PICTURE: The immediate embrace of this business makes me believe that people are craving simple pleasures to balance the demands of our fast-paced, gadget-filled lives.
Seeing little kids sitting on a tree stump, enjoying a snow cone with their mom or dad makes me feel like everything is right with the world. It makes me feel like I’m doing my part to make life just a little bit happier. And to me, THAT is success.

Thank you for reading and thank you for your support!

For links, photos and more information, visit: http://www.ftfsnowcones.com

Project location: Kansas City, MO

July 16, 2010 Posted by | Business, Life, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Business Idea: Cupcake Stop

Article from his website: http://www.cupcakestop.com/
What do you get when you combine a recent law school grad, a bad economy and an entrepreneurial spirit? New York’s First Mobile Gourmet Cupcake Shoppe.

CupcakeStop is the brainchild of Lev Ekster, an honors student who graduated law school in the Spring of 2009. Frustrated with the legal job market, Lev decided to take an unlikely path. With the support and financial push of friends and family, he set out on a journey to put the conventional cupcake market on its head.

First came the cupcake. After months of scouting bakers and sampling countless different recipes, Lev hired a talented team with impressive culinary training and years of professional baking experience.

Next came the location. Instead of being limited to a brick and mortar location and wanting to share the delicious creations with everyone, CupcakeStop was born.

The simply sweet idea spawned a cultural phenomenon.

Within a year’s time, CupcakeStop has grown to a second cupcake truck on the South Street Seaport, a retail location in the new Limelight Marketplace and a new bakery in Montclair, New Jersey. We are also proud to be the first cupcake bakery to offer both international and national shipping. And while CupcakeStop expands, its goals remain the same: bake delicious cupcakes from scratch and serve them with friendly service, with any leftovers donated to City Harvest to feed the less fortunate.

Stop by any of the convenient locations and experience what everyone is raving about.

July 16, 2010 Posted by | Business, Entrepreneur, News, Television, Uncategorized, Youtube | Leave a comment

Young Entrepreneur: Diane Keng

Article by Geoffrey A. Fowler: http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/article/109472/teenage-entrepreneurs?mod=career-work

Here is one indicator of the allure of Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial culture: Diane Keng just launched her third start-up — and she is still in high school.

In March, the 18-year-old launched Internet company MyWeboo.com to help teens manage their digital lives and social-network identities in one place. She is now pitching the company to venture capitalists, and earlier this week presented at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.

Yet each morning, Ms. Keng also heads to Cupertino’s Monta Vista High School for a schedule of classes that includes Advanced Placement economics and government. In the afternoons, the high-school senior squeezes in varsity badminton practice.

“My age, my gender and my lack of experience don’t deter me from going after what I want for the company,” says Ms. Keng, who runs marketing for MyWeboo.com from home and co-founded the venture with her 25-year-old brother, Steven.

Ms. Keng has several advantages in pursuing her entrepreneurial ambitions, including her father, a venture capitalist who splits his time between Beijing and Cupertino and gave her $100,000 in seed money.

Another big advantage is that Ms. Keng is here in Silicon Valley and can tap the region’s unique ecosystem of tech resources and experience — not to mention supportive parents and teachers. Her high school alone is home to about 10 entrepreneurs, including a student who buys and flips websites that he thinks have potential.

The Valley is filled with teen-entrepreneur legends: Gurbaksh Chahal started online ad company Click Agents in San Jose when he was 16, and sold it for $40 million two years later. He then founded ad network BlueLithium, which he sold for $300 million when he was 25.

Kristopher Tate, who five years ago finished high school early and drove his parents’ car from San Diego to Cupertino at the age of 16 to launch photo-sharing site Zooomr, says Silicon Valley is a great place for budding entrepreneurs. “Everybody is there, and when you want to step up or feel like your idea is worth a grain of salt, there are people who will take it seriously.” Today, Mr. Tate is 22 and runs a portfolio of Internet companies from Tokyo, but isn’t involved in Zooomr’s day-to-day operation.

Despite the encouraging business environment, teen entrepreneurs have their own set of work-life balance issues.

“For the first two years that it took me from starting Click Agents to selling it, I basically sacrificed my youth,” says Mr. Chahal, who dropped out of high school to focus on his start-ups. “I slept and worked in the office.”

In addition, many start-ups don’t succeed, which can bring some particularly harsh lessons for young entrepreneurs. They are, as a set, more inclined to overvalue their own ideas, according to YouNoodle Inc., which tracks start-ups. In a recent survey, YouNoodle found that founders under the age of 25 expected their companies would be worth about 27% more after three years than other founders (who are, on average, 35 years old).

Ms. Keng co-founded the venture with her 25-year-old brother, Steven.

Other young entrepreneurs end up putting school first. Virtual goods marketplace PlaySpan Inc. was founded in 2006 in the garage of San Jose sixth-grader Arjun Mehta, who wanted a better way to sell items he had won in online games. He created a mock-up of his ideal website, then passed the baton to his dad, who now runs the company while Arjun attends eighth grade.

“In my free time, I test out the commerce side of the site,” says Arjun. He says he doesn’t demand a salary, but has kept the title of co-founder.

Ms. Keng launched her first venture at age 15, when she started a T-shirt screen-printing business and later began a teen marketing-consulting firm. She says she ended up dropping the T-shirt company because it wasn’t making enough money, and the second business because she felt she was spreading herself too thin amid activities, and needed to devote time to prepare for the ACT.

With MyWeboo.com, it helps that Ms. Keng’s school encourages entrepreneurial activity and makes allowances for an enterprise’s demands. Fiercely competitive Monta Vista offers business classes that include marketing and finance, and brings groups like the Silicon Valley Private Equity Roundtable to workshops on how to write a business plan. Teachers allow Ms. Keng to miss class and make up tests as needed.

“If they’re going to fail, they might as well fail when they are young,” says Carl Schmidt, Ms. Keng’s business teacher at Monta Vista. He teaches students that 90% to 95% of all new products fail, so they must focus on doing their research and solving a real consumer need.

Still, balancing so much requires focus. Ms. Keng, who says she gets As and Bs and will attend Santa Clara University beginning in the fall with a full scholarship, turns off her cellphone and email while at school or doing homework. “If it’s a business call, that’s what voicemail is for. I will call you back,” she says.

And her father, Brian Keng, says he insists academics remain his daughter’s top priority. Ms. Keng’s parents also ask that she communicate with them about all her business activities.

“She is just in high school,” says Mr. Keng, “and sometimes it is very difficult for her to make a judgment.”

Even with those boundaries, developing a business is a far cry from traditional high-school diversions like glee club or yearbook. Those activities are still around, but “there needs to be a place for those kids who are entrepreneurs and are a little bit eccentric and are willing to push the envelope,” says Mr. Schmidt.

website: https://www.myweboo.com/index.html?mode=

July 10, 2010 Posted by | Business, Entrepreneur, invention, Life, Television, Uncategorized, Youtube | Leave a comment

Business Idea: The Divine Cupcake

Website: http://www.divinecupcake.com/”

July 6, 2010 Posted by | Business, Entertainment, invention, Life, Television, Uncategorized, Youtube | Leave a comment

Business Idea: Pizza Fusion

Article from: http://www.pizzafusion.com/our-story/
Pizza Fusion was born in February of 2006 out of the (not so) genius minds of Michael Gordon and Vaughan Lazar. Weeks prior to Lazar getting married, the two college mates began brainstorming how they could do something different that would not only spark their creative juices, but start a business that would make a difference in people’s lives. After a few meetings and several ‘not so genius ideas’ later, Pizza Fusion was born. They realized that there was a huge void in the restaurant sector that prevented people from eating out organically. Sure, it was simple to go to the nearest Whole Foods or Wild Oats, but where could you go to eat this type of food on the run or, better yet, have it delivered to your door?

Even though Gordon and Lazar felt that by providing the public with organic pizzas, salads, sandwiches, wines and beer was an awesome idea… it still wasn’t complete. What good would they be doing this fragile Earth if they had followed the same practice of allowing their food delivered in a broken down car? They took their concept into a whole new world… they decided that they would buy their own delivery cars, and not just any cars… hybrids! All of Pizza Fusion’s delicious food is delivered in company-owned, hybrid delivery vessels that get excellent gas mileage and have low harmful carbon emissions.

So fresh, delicious, organic food delivered in only hybrid delivery vessels sounds like all the bases were covered… not for Gordon and Lazar. They made it their mission to care about the quality of their food and their impact on the environment, but realized that one last piece was missing… the quality of their work environment. Michael and Vaughan wanted the culture and dynamic of the Fusion Family to be treated as carefully as the food and the environment. They opted to offer all employees working more than 20 hours a week health insurance. They realized that maintaining a healthy workplace not only made sense, it was the key to their business. Great employees serving delicious food would prove to be the makings of success. .

The founders of Pizza Fusion were committed to the integrity of their entire concept. They agreed early on that if it doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it. They lived by the mantra that ‘All Things Happen for a Reason’. That mantra was reinforced in August of 2006 when Randy Romano walked into the first Pizza Fusion store in Deerfield Beach to see what all the buzz was about. The second he walked into the store and tried the pizza, he wondered why this idea wasn’t in every town across the globe. You see, Randy’s background is in franchising awesome ideas like Pizza Fusion. He went home and pulled up this very website to see if it was a franchise and the second he saw that it was just the lil ole Deerfield store only, his entrepreneurial fire started burning. Ironically, what Romano didn’t know was that his soon-to-be son-in-law was Vaughan’s childhood friend. A call was made, a meeting was had… the rest is history! Now Romano, Gordon and Lazar are determined to bring their recipes of delicious, organic food to your door.

July 6, 2010 Posted by | Business, Entertainment, Entrepreneur, invention, Life, Million dollars Idea, News, Television, Uncategorized, Youtube | Leave a comment