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Sexy Industries: The Sandbag Business

10 Aug

FloodFight SandbagsHere’s an interesting business idea and product: “self-inflating” sand bags. Not exactly sexy, but immensely practical. A 25 year old in Worcestershire, UK has rapidly created quite a high-volume business in sandbags after he experienced the flooding this summer first hand. The product actually sounds quite innovative since it can be easily stored and transported dry, then “inflated” in water – perhaps there would be a market in New Orleans?

A young entrepreneur is making money from the recent flooding in the United Kingdom by selling an innovative ‘self-inflating sandbag’ selling 200,000 units in the first months trading... within 4 weeks of the floods that caused so much havoc, Simon has launched FloodFight selling a revolutionary ‘self-inflating sandbag’.

The self-inflating sandbags require no sand, you just submerge them in water and within 3-5 minutes they expand from 1lb to 34lbs. The bags work by using recyclable type bags filled with polyacrylate polymer which absorbs the water and protects from flooding up to 2 feet high.

Check out the press release: “On my way to a million – How One Young Entrepreneur Is Making Money From The Floods

SeedHive: An Entrepreneur’s Social Network

30 Jul

SeedHive Honeycomb

The Core of the Idea:

SeedHive would be an online community build around the collaboration of entrepreneurs on startup businesses and business ideas. It is a site not purely about networking and relationships, but also content.

A Community of Entrepreneurs

Individual members form the core of the community and are predominantly a mix of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and people with an interest in entrepreneurship. As a community, they have ideas, knowledge, and opinions about business and are eager to collaborate with their peers.

A Network of Providers

Service providers, freelancers, businesses, and consultants form another important part of the community, meeting the product and service needs of the core. They use SeedHive as a prospecting platform for finding new business and employment opportunities.

A Showcase for Venture Capitalists

Venture capitalists are not only an active part of the core community, but also form a special group of shoppers looking for promising ideas and individuals with whom they can develop relationships and make investments. SeedHive helps them find them.

How It Would Work:

SeedHive would build upon the successes of other virtual communities such as LinkedIn and Doostang, which have begun to help professionals build their networks by maintaining contacts and relationships, but extend the idea further: to content.

When I recently moved to London from San Francisco and found myself with suddenly no social life and a lot of time on my hands, I began to look for a website where new business ideas were shared, emerging trends in business and entrepreneurship were discussed. I wanted to be able to quickly immerse myself in a part of the business world that was new and unfamiliar. That was two months ago, and I have yet to find such a site.
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Domestic US All-Business-Class Airline?

25 Jul

On l'Avion airplane, which flies between Newark and Orly Airport in Paris. The walk-up airfare for a recent trans-Atlantic flight was $1,650.

An article today in the New York Times (“Demand Grows for All-Business-Class Flights“) discusses how airlines with only business class seating have been successful in the trans-Atlantic flight market. According to the article, four startups, L’Avion, MAXjet, Eos and Silverjet are all doing business only on long (5+ hour) international travel.

This raises the question, could the all-business-class model work for domestic service within the United States? I think it could, and am surprised that I have not heard of airlines pursuing this niche (with one exception, below).

Arguably, the profile of the average business class customer on coast-to-coast flights is not entirely different from those crossing the Atlantic. Whether going from New York to London or Los Angeles to DC, a business traveler has the same needs: quality lay-flat seats for sleeping, on-time departures, limited waiting time and hassle, decent food, and good service. He or she also has the same budget: substantial.

United Airlines is the only domestic airline I know of which offers a service in this arena, which they call P.S. for Premium Service. Having flown this service from San Francisco to Boston, however, I can certify it does not truly compete with the all-business-class airlines.

For one, it suffers from all the standard delays and hassles of flying domestically on United. Additionally, it uses old, outdated aircraft with few modern niceties such as individual video screens. The experience is more akin to flying your typical United flight than to a truly premier airline.

What would an airline need to do to really compete here?

  1. Offer reasonable prices for the quality of service (most likely in the $900 – $1500 range)
  2. Utilize smaller airports with fewer delays and easy access
  3. Equip new aircraft with modern amenities and comfortable, lie-flat seats
  4. Choose routes which are common for business travelers, but under-served by services like P.S. (for now), such as Seattle – New York and San Francisco – Washington DC.