From the monthly archives:

November 2010

Three Killer Businesses That I Want(ed) To Start

by Ryan on November 23, 2010

Good Business Photo

I’m a big advocate of telling anyone and everyone my ideas. I believe strongly that the entrepreneur who’s afraid to share his / her idea, ultimately goes no where. Seriously, when was the last time you met someone successful that had a good business idea but was unwilling to share it?

Following in the tradition to share my business ideas and seek feedback, I’m going to throw out 3 business ideas (admittedly somewhat “half-baked”) that I’ve thought of over the past fews years but been too busy to execute on because I’m busy with my stock music and sound effects business, AudioMicro. If you would be so kind as to leave your opinion on each of the 3 ideas in the comments, I would greatly appreciate it. Without further adue, here are the 3 ideas…

1. Celebrity Groupon – once a week, a celebrity goes up for auction. Fans each buy “tickets” (say for example, $100 each) and only when the total tickets sold reaches a milestone (e.g. 5,000 tickets or $500k) the celebrity agrees to attend a private event / party for the 5,000 “celebrity groupon” ticket holders. 50% of the proceeds go to us (i.e. Celebrity Groupon), 25% goes to a charity of the celeb’s choice, and 25% goes into the celebrity’s own pocket.  If the milestone to unlock the groupon is not met, the “fans” are simply refunded their money.  Out of our 50% rake, we pay for the costs of putting on the event – venue, security, etc.  Annual revenues of this company could easily reach $2M per month or $24M per year within year one.  The biggest issue I can see with this idea is that the celebrity may be unwilling to share how much they charge for a personal appearance.  To work around this, I suppose that we could always disguise the total number of actual tickets sold / needed to unlock the Groupon.  This model would also work well in attracting rock bands and other musicians to play private concerts.  Fans would have to pay for their own travel and accommodations to attend the actual “celebrity groupon” event.  We could ultimately even up-sell merchandise, hotel, and other travel arrangements to the fans.

Credit to Mike Bracco and Norm’s for helping to formulate this idea.

2. Ad Network for Commuter Vehicles – Inspired by sitting in traffic on the 101 and staring at the backs of cars, I wondered “why not stare at an advertisement instead of a blank bumper?”. In short, the clients of this business would be large outdoor advertisers and they would place massive ad buys to places ads onto the backs of 100+ vehicles in a particular zip code all at once.  Big brands would pay us to have ads run on the backs of commuter vehicles. E.g. $200 per month per car.  The ad network (us) would take 50% and the commuter would get 50%.  We would only accept commuters with cars that are new (e.g. leased within the past 3 years) and drivers with good driving records.  The ads get “wrapped” on the cars and all commuters are screened for good driving records and proper insurance coverage.  If you’re not familiar with car wrapping, the following photo says it all:

Wrapped car Pictures, Images and Photos

The reason this business is different from just the “wrapping” business is that we would be creating a massive ad network for big brands to get their products onto the backs of thousands of commuter vehicles in a particular location all at once, rather than a one off car owner deciding to wrap his own car with an ad for his own “dog watching” business as in the image above.  Imagine driving past 50 cars (all being paid $100 per month per car) on your way to work all with Coca-Cola ads on the back?  Wouldn’t that likely compel you to purchase a Coke (versus a Pepsi) at lunch?

NOTE:  There’s actually a company in LA doing this.  They are headed by one of my favorite new LA entrepreneurs, Jeff Blake. Check them out at

3.  Lockboxes for Everyone – don’t you hate getting checks and having to drive to the bank to deposit them?  What if you could 1.  mail your checks to the bank or 2.  have the people who owe you money mail the checks directly to your bank?  The bank would then scan and deposit your check and place it into your account for you saving you the hassle of every having to go to a bank or ATM to deposit your checks.  Businesses all around America have this service already and it’s called a “Lockbox“.  The banks provide it to them for free because of the high volumes of checks they receive on a daily basis.  So what if we started a company that provided “Lockboxes for Everyday People”.  Once the business reached scales – i.e. $100M in daily deposits, we’d have a pretty serious business on our hands – better known as a bank!  Now I know that Chase and PayPal already let you take a photo of your check on an iPhone and deposit it but what about all the other banks out there are folks that don’t have an iPhone or know about the app?  Lockboxes for everyone s0lves this problem.

4.  BONUS – here’s 4 more businesses that are certainly not original ideas but that would likely succeed if executed in a new market, perhaps a small town like Nashville, where I grew up:

– A Burrito chain like Chipotle, Willy’s, or Moe’s – these places are gold mines!

– A Yogurt chain like Menchies, Pinkberry, or Red Mango

– A “choose your own” salad place in Nashville – like one of those salad stations that are everywhere in NYC, including deli’s

– An indoor digital ad display network (like those TV’s you see with constantly rotating ads)

The reason I’m sharing all of these ideas here is because I profoundly believe that ideas are a dime a dozen.  Execution is everything in the business world.  Your idea will never take shape and evolve into an executable business unless you are willing to share it with friends, mentors, colleagues, co-workers, family, investors, and most importantly, customers.  If you want to get anywhere, don’t be afraid to talk about your business and share your ideas.

So what do you think of these business ideas?  Have some business ideas of your own to share?  Please email them over to me or feel free to discuss openly in the comments below.

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Seek and Destroy: How to Make the Most of Conferences & Panels

by Ryan on November 5, 2010

power networking,conferences,panels,connections

This is post is part of a new series of planned posts on “Networking”.

As a startup founder, I try and attend only one “full day” conference per year (if you’re in tech, try TechCrunch Disrupt) and to attend networking events that occur only during the evenings, for no more that 2 hours at a time, and no more than one evening per month. Go into all events with a mission of who to “seek and destroy” – i.e. who at the event you have not met before, need to meet, and have and “ask” prepared for those that you will meet.  e.g. A good ask for an experienced auto industry exec might be ” would you mind intro-ing me to a few of the top auto-parts supplies for my new website which sells European tailpipes”.

IMPORTANT – When you’re at a conference or other networking event for that matter, try your best to avoid talking to people you already know or those that you can otherwise presume (even if you’re wrong) in the first one minute of meeting them will provide little to no value. Get in, connect with the folks you need to meet, and get out. Another general tip that works well for me is that I try and avoid, at all costs, having to sit in a room and be talked to by a panel or a speaker – i.e. for any event you go to, the impact is made in the connections.

Skip the lectures, presentations, panels, and pitches and go straight for the networking session.  Spend 1.5 hours at the network session at most, seek & destroy, and get out.   To avoid the time wasting panel discussions, you can even show up at the end of a panel just to approach the panelists.  If you absolutely must sit listen to someones speech / panel session, simply catch the online video version on your own time.

Lastly, bring tons of business cards and for everyone you talk to, even if it’s only for a brief minute, be sure to get their business card.  Stop at nothing until you get their contact info.  A conversation with someone at a networking event where you don’t get their contact info is like a wasted moment in the life of an entrepreneur.

In the next post in this series, I’ll provide a few tips on what to do with the business cards you collect.  Special thanks to Chris Seckler for encouraging me to publish this series.

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