In real estate, the old adage is "location, location, location," but when it comes to the success of a small businesses idea, the maxim is more akin to "timing, timing, timing."
For these small businesses, the demands of the marketplace coincided with the launch of their big idea.
Brides want to look good. Usually, that means a crash diet, a good foundation garment and a flattering dress. Increasingly, though, brides are focusing on their overall wellness, using the wedding as an opportunity to change their junk-food-eating ways.
That’s where Laurie Towers comes in. She created The Bridal Body Shop to help brides get in shape for one of the most important days of their lives with personal training sessions in their own home.
Towers said the desire for at-home training, combined with an increased interest in overall health and well-being beyond big life events, made it the right time to launch this business.
“As I pass by schoolyards and see the number of overweight children multiply each year, I realize that there is no better time and we are probably long overdue,” she said. “Fitness is a billion-dollar industry that constantly gets recycled and packaged.”
Preparing for their nuptials can be a catalyst for brides to make lifelong changes in their exercise and nutrition routines, Towers said.
“Undernourished and poorly educated in keeping their bodies strong and healthy, most young woman only choose the ‘event of their lifetime’ to embark on an investment in getting their bodies into shape,” she said. “Our vision is that while we have their attention, let’s try to convert their way of thinking into making this a lifetime commitment to their health and not just to look good in their dress.”
We carry around our digital lives — smartphones, iPads , laptops, digital cameras, you name it — in our pockets and in our bags. When we lose those items, we lose a bit of ourselves, including data, phone numbers and irreplaceable photos.
After misplacing a digital camera on a trip with his brother to attend the annual Running of the Bulls event in Pamplona, Spain, Brian Nichols, CEO of RewardTag, knew there had to be a better way to retrieve these devices.
Nichols, along with Danny Coorsh, the company’s CFO, developed a fairly low-tech way to reunite owners with their high-tech devices.
The company developed RewardTag labels, a sticker that goes on your high-tech device. The price ranges from $3 to $5 per sticker, depending on the number of tags purchased. The person who finds a device with a sticker goes to the website address on the sticker, enters an identification number and is connected to the owner, who has offered a reward for the return of their electronic lifeline.
“Now, more than ever, people carry around incredibly valuable devices and items every day,” Nichols said. “The smarter our cellphones become, the dumber we become without them. The data that is stored on these devices is irreplaceable. Because of this, there needs to be a way to get that device back.”
The reward depends on the device and how valuable it is to the owner, Nichols said. “We do not take a cut of the reward that is offered to the person who returns the device.”
As a father of five, Jolly Backer, the CEO of Fresh Healthy Vending, has had to search far and wide for healthy snacks when out with his children. A quick trip to the vending machine was not making the grade. His personal mission, combined with Michelle Obama’s current campaign to fight childhood obesity, meant the time was ripe for a more nutritious alternative to machines that spit out chips and candy.
“I describe our vending machines as mini Whole Foods,” Backer said.
The company launched in 2010 and there are now about 500 Fresh Healthy Vending machines in schools, hospitals, health clubs, shopping malls and other locations across the country. Backer expects to reach 1,000 machines by the end of the year. The vending machines are owned by 55 franchisees.
While the choices vary by location, the vending machines are stocked with healthy food options from more than 500 well-known brand names. The snack offerings include soy pudding, fresh fruits and vegetables, protein and granola bars, yogurt and baked crackers and chips. There are also healthy drink options, including protein drinks, teas, energy drinks, 100 percent fruit juices and soy milk.
Backer said a remote monitoring system helps to ensure that the machines are always stocked, and the machines' glass design makes the snacks clearly visible to consumers.
“They can really see what they are getting, which we believe has really spurred the popularity of these machines,” he said.
As marketing and advertising budgets have been slashed in recent years, companies have been looking for fresh ways to connect with their customers that produce results without busting their budgets. On the flip side, consumers are also watching their budgets and looking for ways to earn flying miles so that they can get to their desired destinations without shelling out cash (or at least get an upgrade or their baggage fees covered).
e-Miles has a solution to both problems.
With the e-Miles program, passengers earn frequent flyer miles on airlines such as Continental, Delta, US Airways, Frontier and points at hotels such Hilton Hotels by watching 30-second ads online and responding to brief surveys consisting of three to four questions.
For the advertiser, their message is highly targeted based on lifestyle, demographics and other factors and the advertiser is charged only when the consumer views the ad and responds to the survey.
“This is a great time for our business, because there is an increased emphasis on measurability of advertising and marketing,” said Mark Drusch, president of e-Miles. “We want to be the CFO’s best friend.”
The “secret sauce,” Drusch says, is the fact that the survey opens up a dialogue with consumers. “By asking the right three or four questions about the product and the company, marketers can open up a two-way conversation with their customers and send them more relevant offers.”