Sunday, August 30, 2009

It all started with an Idea

I was fortunate enough to come accross a story about entrepeneurship, and the pull back of angel investors. This is little concern for me at the moment since I have no need for angel investors. Either way, they talked about one entrepeneur that was able to connect for his novel, interesting and frankly brilliant idea.

It all came from talking with family at a neighborhood party, and the idea became a spark, the spark became the passion, and the passion became the business. All it takes is a spark.

Hot Offers


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ben Franklin

How much do you really know about Ben Franklin? He signed both the Decleration of Independence and the Constitution. He was ambassador to France. All of this without a formal education.

What is fascinating to me is more about his life as a businessman. Franklin retired at the age of 42 before he ever started doing inventions and entering politics. Some of the inventions that are important and used to this day include:

Lighting Rods
Electric Lightbulb

He continually invented products, explored and most important, challenged the status quo. That is what we have to do every day, challenge what is expected or known. That is how innovation happens. Below is a link to a great article in the NY Times about Franklin.

Hot Offers


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Contract Manufacturers

After much explorations I made my first outreach to contract manufacturers. While I found several on the web, it was old fashion paper that helped me out the most. I went to the local library and found a manufacturing directory. Don't discount your local library's reference section. This was in a local township library that I found it, not a huge big city library.

I proceeded to look up the companies and see if they have the ability to create my product. I have a lot of faith in one as on their website they have link directly to OEM/ODM services. You have all heard about OEM's, Original Equipment Manufacturers, think companies like Dell and Apple that make a product. What most people don't realize, is many times behind that OEM is an ODM.

ODM stands for Original Design Manufactuer. Ever notice that a lot of your electronic products look very very similar? That is because they are all made by the same "Original Design Manufacturer" in China. Foxconn makes a majority of the cell phones as well as the ipods and iphone. Quanta makes a majority of the Laptops for companies such as Apple, Dell and Acer.

ODM's are different than a contract manufacturer, because the ODM will actually take your drawings or concept and design your product for you. A contract manufacturer will just build to particular specifications. ODM's are key for those of us starting out early in business.

I will be calling the manufacturers over the next couple of days to ascertain whether they can build my product and for how much. Currently I have asked the question of:

Do they provide contract manufacturing services?
Can they build and develop protoypes off drawings?
What is the cost per prototype development?
Material costs?
Manufacturer value added if not included? (MVA is a fancy term for labor and B & C components like wired and solder.)
Set up and tooling costs and whether existing tools can be adapted? (If they can adapt your tooling and set up costs should be less.)
Minimum lot sizes
Pricing on small and large lots?
Acceptance of payment through the use of credit card? (Important since they would not provide trade terms for a "new company". Might as well get the points.)
Shipping (Understand how they will ship your product and when you take risk of loss. Especially important if shipping internationally.)

Other questions I will ask is whether tooling and set up can be amortized over a particular production run. I will let you know what I find out so you can ask the same questions of your contract manufacturers. Wish me luck!

Hot Offers

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Frontera Foods

Another example of someone finding their passion, and bringing it to the market. If anyone has spent any time in Chicago, you have heard of, or eaten at Frontera Grill or Topolobamba, two of Rick Bayless' restaurant. Rick has taken his passion and knowledge of authentic Mexican food and brought it to people outside the Chicago market, with his Frontera Foods.

Ally Bank


Friday, August 14, 2009

Stages of Entrepeurship

A great article on the Amex Open Forum on the various stages of being an Entrepeneur. I relate to these right now and its amazing how spot on it is. Take a read and let me know what you think.

Ally Bank


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tom's Shoes

I am sure we have all seen the AT&T commercials for Tom's Shoes. It is a fascinating study in capitalism with a cause. Here is an interesting clip about the start of Tom's Shoes.

Ally Bank


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Importance of Vacations

Are you a work-a-holic? I know I am. As I get older, it is something I am trying to get further away from. Not only do I not have the stamina, I don't have the desire to work 70 hours a week for someone else. Either way, until I win the lottery, or some deep pocket decides to buy out my business, I will be working either for myself, or for someone else.

I can't stress enough, how important vacations are to your well being. I went to Hawaii for 18 days. In that time, I didn't post on here (set them up before I left), I barely thought about my business, and outside of having a nice lunch with the former CEO of a fortune 500 company, had nothing to do with my business. Heck, I only called my family twice.

I came back from Hawaii, but refreshed and motivated. Refreshed, because I didn't deal with business in that time, but motivated to keep this moving, and moving forward. I have a girlfriend in Hawaii. I know its wierd but we are both comfortable with something long distance. But I would love to get this business up, so I could live there a couple months a year. Talk about motivation.

What is vacation? That means several things, and many people have a hard time taking a vacation. It means, no WORK email. No WORK phone calls. In fact, if you can disconnect from technology, even better.

I have always told bosses, that when they go on vacation, I will not call them, period. And I expect the same treatment when I go on vacations. In fact, I worked for one boss who insisted on being in touch during my vacation. I told him I was going to a place with no electricity and that if he needed to get in touch with me that bad, one, the company was going under, and I wouldn't have a job anyway, so don't call me, or two, I screwed up so bad, that I was fired anyway, so don't call me.

It is also why I use Verizon, they have poor coverage outside the USA with the CDMA technology. Being that connected is not a godsend but a nightmare to me. I can't stress enough, take a vacation. You earned it!

PeachPit (Pearson Education)

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How to have real email

Your company structure is set up and you are ready to reach out to manufacturers and to various other vendors. But being a small business, you want to be take seriously. I am sure getting an email from is going to put your request at the bottom of the list. If only you could have professional looking email. Well you can.

After I set up my legal structure, I went to godaddy (or any registrar of your choice) and bought a domain that matches my LLC name. I do not have a server, nor do I want to deal with setting up email through a hosting service, nor would I like to pay for it at this time, given I am trying to bootstrap this business. That is where google comes in.

Google will host your email service, provide typical gmail size mail box, as well as a calendar and google docs (poor but free substitute for office) and do it all at no cost to you. You can now have an email address of without the hassles of hosting and setting up. You can host up to 50 email addresses with their free service which means you can even set up dummy mail boxes like,, and others. What better way look like a real company.

If your company gets even further, for 50 dollars per user/per year you can get a whopping 25GB mail box size. What I also like about gmail, is it has POP and IMAP support if you want to use outlook. The system walks you through setting it up and I have been quite please so far. Just search for google aps, and look for the standard version.

SO far it has worked well for me. If I find a substitute I will let you know but the ease of this just can't be beat. Anyone else had experience with this? (Pearson Education)

Labels: ,

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Benefits of First Class

If you are an investment banker or consultant, most likely you are flying first class to your various destinations. Many people look at this as both a luxury or a frivolous waste of money. In fact most companies have policies associated with what class of flight you can purchase, whether you can upgrade and when you are allowed to fly business class. Unfortunately I think this is one of the more penny wise and pound foolish decisions a company can make.

I had the benefit of flying first class round trip on my three week trip to Hawaii. I made the most of it when I could. In fact, it was worth every penny I can see right now, and if I was in business development, even more.

Forget the fact that you can both work more efficiently in a first class seat, but arrive at your destination more rested, but just the people that you meet is in itself, the very reason to fly first class. On my four legs, there were three people I met that stand out from both a personal development as well as interesting people that a business may want to have an in with.

I met, a television producer. This gentleman was quite interesting, and I even knew one of his productions, the documentary, Carrier on PBS.

I met a professional photographer whose main business is going to motor sports and taking pictures of vehicles that drive on Bridgestone tires.

Both of those gentleman were interesting and may know others that can help you in the long run, but the one gentleman that was most interesting to me, was a former diplomat and ambassador to an asian nation. He is now an EVP for a asian conglomerate and has his PHD from Harvard. Interesting guy and am glad to have met him. But can you imagine the possibilities for your company?

Here is the head of business development for a major multi-national. He talked to me about the companies expansion in Russia and in asia. You have got a high level executive, without a gatekeeper in front, and you have a captive audience for a 4 hour flight. That is even better than a golf course.

I was putting him in touch with a couple colleagues, with the hope they could develope something from the relationship. Asian companies are all relationship based and you never know what could happen.

This is why investment bankers and consultants sit in first class. Not because it is posh, but because it is lucrative. First class gets you decision makers in an organization as not every executive flies on a private jet, and in fact most companies have policies around executives being on the same plane.

Next time you are in a first class seat, talk up your neighbor, you might be surprised at who they are and who they know.

250 Free Business Cards at

Labels: , ,