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Could We Create a Business Together?

    • 234 posts
    October 29, 2006 12:24 PM EST
    • 234 posts
    October 29, 2006 11:17 PM EST
    All these details can be worked out by the Point with assistance as needed from the rest of the group, however since some discussions here seem to take on a life of their own, I`d like to say that the staff of StartupNation have demonstrated themselves to be very capable. I`ve heard Rich discuss the benefits of an extranet, so I`m sure they have that capability. It all depends on how much staff effort and server capacity they are willing to commit to a separate venture. Until these details are worked out all confidential communication should be off forum. Personally I`m dying to hear Eric`s great business idea.

    Anyway, we have a ton of options and plenty of people available who know how to make them all happen. Let`s not worry about this detail right now.

    Steve2006-10-30 6:45:36
    • 234 posts
    October 30, 2006 10:15 PM EST
    hold up everyone...... we`ve gone off into left field!

    I`m requesting all interested parties review pages 19 and 20 of this topic. 

    Please start by taking note of IdeasandInnovations suggestion (the last comment on page 19).  He aimed us in a good direction and we were on course at that point.  See if you can find where we changed course and hung a left.  Here`s a hint..... it begins to happen on page 20.

    MiteyMite, you`re pasting your link URL after the "http://" in the link pop-up. You`re ending up with  "http://http://www..." which doesn`t work. You need to replace the existing text in the pop-up, or only paste what`s after the "http://" in order to get a link that works.

    Here are the links again: page 19 and page 20

    • 234 posts
    October 30, 2006 11:13 PM EST
    Hi All,

    Lets elect somone to be in charge an co-ordinate step 1.

    I nominate MiteyMite

    Anyone second the motion?

    Any other nominations for the job?

    OK, RexieDexie. You`re supposed to be 12 hours ahead of us, not a couple of days behind. We already have three nominees and an election going on.

    Plus we appear to have a lot of comments on the election thread from people who have only joined StartupNation in the last two days. What`s up with that?

    RexieDexie, you know I`m just having fun with you. When you pull the plug, does the water in  the bath tub really spin the other direction down there?

    • 234 posts
    October 31, 2006 3:02 AM EST
    hold up everyone...... we`ve gone off into left field!

    I`m requesting all interested parties review pages 19 and 20 of this topic. 

    Please start by taking note of IdeasandInnovations suggestion (the last comment on page 19).  He aimed us in a good direction and we were on course at that point.  See if you can find where we changed course and hung a left.  Here`s a hint..... it begins to happen on page 20.    

    MiteyMite, I for one need another clue. What do you mean?
    • 234 posts
    October 31, 2006 4:02 AM EST
    What do you guys think about moving the poll up?  Can the poll date even be changed?  Just my 2 cents for the hour!
    I thought Monday to Friday was a bit long. I`m all for moving it up.
    • 234 posts
    October 31, 2006 4:03 AM EST

    From left field:

    Has anyone been paying attention to the legislation coming forth to tier internet access on a "subscription basis"?  There is a strong lobby for this and it deals not only with tiered pricing for speed, but for access, simliar to cable and sattelite subscriptions now.

    Although I truly hate the idea of having to pay a premium to use, let`s say, ebay, or SUN for that matter, I can`t help but think that if this is going to happen, how can we use it, or at least prepare for it? 


    can you provide links?

    • 234 posts
    November 1, 2006 6:35 PM EST
    A common concern seems to be...

    can StartupNation provide a secure forum for
    communication limited to project team members?

    I recall reading about private threads as a proposed enhancement to SUN. Jeff, can you tell us how soon these might be available?

    Along with this a number of other features would be helpful, such as:
    • Software that would encourage group collaboration such as a wiki, secured and archived.
    • A database, the more powerful the better
    • A secured extranet for file exchange
    • A mailing list feature so all project members can be included in a mailing in a single action.
    Can anyone else suggest ways SUN could facilitate this project? This may be a case where "we have not, because we ask not."

    We need to remember that this project, while conceived and developed on the SUN forums, is a separate business entity. Now, the more we can do using SUN / Sloan resources, the more we can grow before we have to start paying our own way. The question of how much, for how long, at what price can only be answered by the Sloans.

    This is however not a "one-way street". I believe StartupNation stands to benefit greatly by becoming known as a business development forum that isn`t just talk; but the place to "start it up". The PR potential is huge. That alone makes it more important than ever that the first venture be successful.

    It`s 1:30am, so I think it`s time to put this rambling post, and myself, to bed.
    • 234 posts
    November 2, 2006 4:29 AM EST
    I`ve recently joined several "business" communities, and this one is by far the best for focus and direction.
    This is good to hear. StartupNation is the first and only online community I`ve been a part of. I`m glad to know I found the best first.
    • 234 posts
    November 7, 2006 5:53 PM EST
    In compiling and organizing the info for the submission process I`ve noticed several.... um, I`ll call them "skill holes".
    What are the specific gaps you`ve observed?
    • 234 posts
    November 15, 2006 11:36 AM EST
    My vote is for an online mall with a variety of stores selling physical as well as virtual goods and services.

    Vendor Benefits
    Imagine a centralized shopping cart system, with shipping rate lookup capability (UPS, USPS, FedEx, etc.) as well as credit card processing available as a package.

    An assortment of standard CSS templates would be available to alter the store`s facade. SUN community members with CSS skills could offer their services, as vendors in the mall, developing customized facades for people who want a truly unique appearance.

    A mall newsletter would allow people to keep their stores in the public eye as well as highlite promotions. We could also offer an opt-in mailing list capability if a store owner wanted to send their own newsletters.

    Offering all these services in one place as a package deal would eliminate the need for someone to obtain their own:
    •  website hosting
    • shopping cart
    • UPS and USPS accounts
    • credit card gateway
    • customer tracking
    • newsletter service
    Just knowing that everything will work right away would be a huge selling point. Many people would gladly pay just to eliminate the stress of having to coordinate all these details.

    This mall would easily host any of the e-commerce ideas proposed (security / identity theft store, advertising specialties, cosmetics, etc) which could also be SUN community member  joint-ventures as well as individuals.

    A set-up fee as well as a percentage of each sale would be the revenue source.

    Customer Benefits
    Having a single sign-in for several different stores would be an added value for the customers.

    One way of building traffic and guaranteeing repeat customers is to have an automatic rebate, similar to the Discover Card "cash back bonus". A couple of percent from each sale would be credited to the customer`s account. Like the Discover bonus, it would have to reach a certain level before it could be redeemed for any product or service available at the mall.

    In addition to credit for their own purchases, what if people could  also receive a credit for purchases of people they referred to the mall? This would create a viral marketing effect as people refer friends and family as well as on blogs, etc.

    While not a trivial undertaking, this is not impossible either. My day job is as a computer programmer (at least until December 1st ). Trust me this is very doable.

    I can`t say that there`s nothing else like this out there but I`m not aware of anything. The income potential can be huge and that`s what most of us want from our businesses.

    I guess this falls under 1a, 1b, 1d, 1e, 2, 8a, 10, 19, 26, 29.
    • 234 posts
    November 19, 2006 5:31 AM EST
    Could someone explain to me the revenue model for the e-learning /
    knowledge transfer business idea? Perhaps walk me through a "typical"
    customer scenario.
    • 234 posts
    November 19, 2006 9:04 AM EST
    I`m not trying to shoot holes in the idea. I really want to know more about it and the only way to learn is to ask.

    Are there any other companies doing the same thing, offering online instruction for sale to the general public? Can you provide links?
    • 234 posts
    November 19, 2006 3:39 PM EST
    Have to laugh at "glutten" free cookies!  Isn`t that a contradiction?
    The word is gluten (pronounced like glue-ten). It`s a protein in food products made from wheat, barley and rye. Our products are primarily made for people with a gluten intolerance called Celiac Disease. Children with Autism and people with Fibromyalgia also experience benefits from eating gluten-free.

    The combination of online mall and university sounds interesting. Seems to me like the online learning center would be another one of the stores in the mall selling a virtual product, online courses. Wow, this is cool.
    • 234 posts
    November 19, 2006 4:31 PM EST
    Mike, a couple of key factors in business decisions are incremental cost and competitive advantage. If you`re already going to do an online business, what is the additional, or incremental, cost of including an e-learning program? You already have web hosting, a shopping cart, credit card processing, etc. The only additional cost is the course content.

    One competitive advantage we would have in this scenario is that the software to compile the content has been offered to us for free.

    In every business you`ll have competition, and the market place now days is constantly in a state of transition. Competition is not bad; competition is good.  If you don`t have competition, you probably don`t have a very healthy market. The business that can introduce the most products or services into a healthy market with the least incremental cost has a serious competitive advantage.

    I happen to believe that the best opportunities only present themselves as you move towards them. It`s up to us to start moving in the direction we see as most likely to present opportunity.

    • 234 posts
    November 20, 2006 12:38 AM EST
    Yeppers Steve! Thanks for scoop, I now quite realize the importance of your product...was an amusing typo to see tho...
    Lots of people mispronounce gluten. Don`t know you well enough to know if you were serious or teasing. I figured the explanation couldn`t hurt either way.

    Part of our business mission is to raise public awareness of Celiac Disease. Approximately one out of 133 Americans has it, but 29 out of 30 who have it don`t know it. That makes it the most mis-diagnosed or under-diagnosed common disease in America with some very serious consequences. Osteoporosis, anemia, infertility, cancer; all avoidable if diagnosed in time and treated by simply eating gluten-free.

    • 234 posts
    November 20, 2006 1:19 AM EST

    I didn`t say, don`t do it.  As a matter of fact I think I said there is money to be made.  It is just a matter of how much and for how long. 

    If everybody (every web site) started offering a link (as an affiliate website)  to a complete library of free e-learning programs and everybody knew about it instantly because it was promoted extensivly how many people would purchase from SUNU.  Im actually surprised that someone hasnt already done this. 

    Such a program would be very easy, already designed it out aacouple years ago.  The difference is that I wouldnt  have had to spend any resources at all to compile the library

    Now I`m not saying don`t do it,  I`m just trying to say that the life expectancy of such a program could be short lived and not to be surprised.  20 bucks a program, 100,000 people , thats some pretty good profits. 

    Yes it should be done, because when the time comes when people are no longer willing to spend money on such a program we could use them as a premium for the other services that will be offered.

    many options available,


    You raise some very legitimate questions. I believe there is a big difference between someone offering a link as an affiliate site and being the actual content developer. I`m willing to bet the best selling courses will be something no one has even thought of yet. It doesn`t have to be limited to business. When it comes to things people are interested in learning, the sky`s the limit.

    We can offer a commission to content developers for course material they contribute. Imagine a graduate student who`s already doing research on a particular topic anyway. If we offered a commission for every course sold, how many would jump at the chance to gain some extra income as well as the visibility. They could even claim to be published! We`ll never know until we start what direction it could go and how far. It could be like You Tube except with some real content value. Someone someday would pay serious money to reach an audience of people who are thinking.

    Right now the Internet is going through a "cotton candy phase" where anything that is sweet is good regardless of how little substance there is. It`ll grow up so that sweet alone isn`t enough. Some people are already there; enough I believe to make a good market.

    • 234 posts
    November 20, 2006 7:30 AM EST
    How would the news below, mentioned in another topic, alter the group`s course on the University/Mall idea?
    I wondered about that too.

    Don`t forget that our business idea was hatched on SUN. It was never expected to actually be hosted here. Our target market is the whole Internet not just those that happen to be on SUN.

    My take on the mall / university blended concept is that the university is simply just another store in the mall where the products happen to be online course material.
    • 234 posts
    November 21, 2006 5:56 AM EST
    I`ve got an idea to throw out that just might be crazy enough to work. I`m pretty sure the Sloans have no irons in this fire.

    I have at my disposal a 10,000 sf bakery equipped with mixers and an oven perfectly suited for medium to high volume food production. As most of you know, ours is a gluten-free bakery (wheat, barley, rye and most oats are prohibited).

    This is a market with lots of screaming needs. I have some ideas for niches in the market that are hot right now. If we can come up with a gluten-free food product that can be manufactured and packaged with the equipment I already have or can obtain, I would consider offering my facility under a contract manufacturing arrangement at a competitive price.

    Any thoughts?

    • 234 posts
    November 21, 2006 9:46 AM EST
    Yes Steve, I have two unique ideas for "Gluten-Free For Celiac Diets" food products. They are not out there yet, they are sweets. I know they are not trademarked yet. I have both domains. How do I confidentially present the ideas to you? I hope these two will go good with your line-up. Yes, two thoughts. 
    First I want to know if this is something the group is interested in doing. I thought it would open up a whole new area to consider since up till now we`ve had a serious case of tunnel vision.

    I`m not necessarily looking to add a product to my line-up. If we choose to do this business, we`d have to develop our own brand identity including packaging and marketing material, come up with formulas, establish broker relationships, set pricing and get distribution, etc.

    Bringing a product to market takes a lot of work but done right it can be very rewarding.

    Everything except the actual baking can be done in collaboration on a virtual basis. I`m offering our facility on contract to do the parts that require a fixed location.

    • 234 posts
    November 22, 2006 7:32 AM EST
    Am I the only one who sees this... oh, how to put this delicately...

    I see a lot of people promoting their own products/patents/agendas/ideas – and they may very well be great products/patents/agendas and ideas...  I just don`t get the sense that there are many people who are interested in being a part of this virtual business unless it includes their product/patent/agenda or idea.

    It also seems that many (not all) are putting a lot of hope in Jeff and Rich jumping in and making everyone`s dreams come true.  Jeff has definitely committed to helping, but not by driving.  He`s just one more passenger amongst many...

    Am I wrong?  I certainly hope so and ask everyone`s forgiveness right now if I am way out of line.

    I`ve been quietly keeping track of all these threads and for some reason today just felt like the day I to bring this up...

    Thanks and/or sorry, whichever fits best!

    I have a lot of respect for Ross and I appreciate him speaking his mind. I believe it`s important that we all be honest with each other, especially if we have concerns.

    Ross, I think you may be misinterpreting what`s going on. We are nearing the end of the second business idea submission period. We`re supposed to be throwing out new ideas.

    Others have questioned MiteyMite`s 1st rule, not suggesting ideas related to our own business. Time and again I`ve heard Jeff and Rich say the best business ideas are all around us, they come from our daily life. If an entrepreneur doesn`t think their idea is the best thing since sliced bread they probably should be doing something else. We`re neither venture capitalists nor angel investors. We don`t have the resources to bring a patent to market. Those ideas we`ll have to set aside for now. As for people not being interested in playing unless we play by their rules, maybe I`m missing something, but I haven`t detected that. If anyone has that attitude, it`s probably best that they not be involved.

    My most recent suggestion was an attempt to free us from the "it has to be online in order to be virtual" mindset. Yes, I&I, it is an offer to private label a brand.

    I suggest that all involved read Norm Brodsky`s criteria for starting a business. He seems to have done alright with them.

    Personally I see this as a great learning experience. I hope we make a bundle, and then do it again with a new idea.

    • 234 posts
    November 23, 2006 7:30 AM EST
    I`m sorry  I found My Mistake here.

    I thought this was going to be a Members Business.  A business in which the members organize, develope and benefit from, yes  sun will receive huge benefits from it, if not simply from the traffic we drive to the site.  

    SO I propose my new question to all...

    Is this a SuN business or is this our  business?

    because if this is our business I don`t know why there is any discussion at all about SuN doing this  or doing that.  If it is a SuN business I completely understand.  

    There is another option, maybe some of us don`t have the confidense that we can do this on our own.


    Go back to page 10, the last post on that page answers this question. Jeff reveals more about his intentions on that page than at any other point in this thread.

    • 234 posts
    November 27, 2006 12:00 PM EST
    I`m not sure how many people are familiar with my business and where this suggestion is coming from.

    I have started a gluten-free food company and things are going very well. I have a 10,000 square foot building with a semi-truck loading dock and fork-lift, a mixer that can handle 500 pounds of dough and a 50 foot long tunnel oven with a continuous steel belt for baking. This type of oven allows us to produce a continuous stream of product with much less labor than would be needed if we were loading cookie sheets into a standard oven.

    Our bakery is located in a rural community where there are many people who desire to work for reasonable wages.

    The market for gluten-free products is significant and growing rapidly. If any of you seek evidence of this, I encourage you to go to the largest health food store in your area and ask to see the gluten-free section. Gluten-free is not just a fad diet. For many people it is a medical necessity. It is a wave that is growing and we have the opportunity to get on it in a big way.

    My proposal to the group is that we develop a high quality gluten-free baked food product line that can be branded and sold through a network of regional and eventually national brokers and distributors. This business would require product formulation, package design, test marketing and promotion in addition to the actual food production and packaging. I believe all of this is within the capability of the StartupNation community. Depending on how quickly we move through product development and testing it`s possible to see revenue in a matter of months.

    I am offering my facility and services as a contract manufacturer to produce the products we develop at a competitive rate with a reasonable contract commitment period.

    Steve2006-11-27 18:19:27
    • 234 posts
    November 27, 2006 8:03 PM EST

    How much of the development of this business can be done virtually?  Would you be willing to oversee any portions of the development which need to be done on-site?  What is your knowledge on the cost of developing such a product to fruition?

    Here are some basic steps I see and how they can or must be done (not necessarily in this order):
    • Identify Product Niche - individual research leading to group brainstorming sessions
    • Identify Broker Candidates - one or more people doing online and phone research / talking (or meeting) with candidates; group selects
    • Develop Product Formula - can hire a pro or can be an individual with culinary skills working in their own kitchen; submit samples to group members for internal taste tests
    • Develop Brand Identity - creatives working virtually and with broker; pitch ideas to group
    • Identify Packaging Supplier - one or more people doing online and phone research; group reviews pricing and samples
    • Develop Package Design - creatives working virtually with broker and packaging supplier; pitch ideas to group
    • Determine Product Costs - one or more people compile numbers for group review
    • Establish Product Pricing - with input from broker based on competitive research and desired retail/distributor/broker margins - do numbers work?
    • Production Test Run - must be done in dedicated gluten-free licensed bakery in order to sell or give product to public
    • Test Marketing - group members in different regions place product in selected stores; do sampling to get feedback
    • Obtain Nutritional Data - Must be done before packaging is produced
    • Obtain UPC Barcodes - Must be done before packaging is produced
    • Develop Promotional Material - creatives working virtually and with broker; pitch ideas to group - contract to print
    • Line-up Distribution - one or more people working with broker
    • Begin Production - at bakery
    • Distribute Product - store completed product at bakery and ship to distributors
    • Repeat - develop additional products/variations to fill out the line
    Pretty much everything except the actual baking can be done virtually. I see a fair number of conference calls to discuss options and make decisions.

    I realize my position as a member of this group business (I hope) as well as a supplier to the business may be a little unusual (maybe not depending on how other aspects are contracted out). For that reason I purposely did not offer to do the baking for free or even at cost, but at a competitive rate. I have a partner who I have to be fair with not to mention my own suppliers and lessors who want to be paid. That said, I am willing to oversee all the baking and will pull my weight as a member of the group. This is my first venture into private label contract manufacturing. I ask that the group be patient as I learn.

    The cost of bringing our first product to market depends on how fancy we want it to be. I did it on a shoe-string budget and my packaging looks like it. But as simple as it is, it`s selling out in stores. I plan to upgrade packaging as profits increase. This market wants good products so much it`s willing to overlook simple packaging and give start-ups a chance.

    I really can`t say what it would cost to develop first class packaging and marketing collateral material. We can base our spending on available funds and build from profits. Personally, I`d like to see us do this without outside investment. That`s the beauty of having a bakery available ready to begin production. We can be on the market in a couple of months. It`s really up to us to decide how much we want to spend, which determines what per capita investment is needed to join.

    For the sake of full disclosure, I must say that my packaging right now is all by hand (weigh product, bag and seal). That`s not all bad because it gives us flexibility until we finalize product lines, however I plan to invest in packaging technology as the business grows.

    • 234 posts
    November 27, 2006 8:22 PM EST
    To give you an idea of how receptive the market is for high quality gluten free food, here`s an e-mail I just received tonight. Feedback like this makes me happy to be in business producing a product people need, want and appreciate.

    Just thought I would send you a note to tell you My daughter (19 months old), just recently diagnosed with celiac, loves your vanilla wafers. Mike T. got us some from you guys. What we are finding out is that gluten free items can be a hit or miss with her. Some food I have tasted was so bad I actually think food we ate in Symkent Kazakhstan where we adopted her from tasted better.