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Monthly Archives: February 2017

7 Crafty Culinary Businesses

The restaurant business isn’t the only entrepreneurial option for food lovers. The desire to offer people a unique culinary experience has spawned interesting food trucks, subscription services and green eateries, to name a few.

These 7 businesses have succeeded because of their off-the-beaten-path approach and delicious delicacies.

Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly Love, and Philly pizza jointRosa’s Fresh Pizza truly lives up to its hometown’s name. The restaurant is decorated with a wall of colorful sticky notes worth $1 (or one slice), which feeds its homeless visitors.

“One day, a customer asked to buy forward a slice for a homeless person,” Mason Wartman, the owner of the shop, said in a video for the Ellen DeGeneres show. He then purchased sticky notes, which now cover the wall of the restaurant. “Then a homeless person takes a sticky note and trades it in for a slice of pizza.”

According to the video, Rosa’s feeds approximately 40 homeless persons a day. Visit for a slice of pizza and the gift of giving back. If you’re not in the Philly area but still wish to help out, the restaurant has set up a donation page.

Since the growth of subscription services, items for dogs (made by the humans obsessed with them) have gotten really popular. The Farmer’s Dog is a subscription service which delivers healthy farm-to-dog bowl dishes carefully formulated for your dog’s breed.

Answer a questionnaire about their breed (mixed or otherwise) weight, activity level, current dog food, and The Farmer’s Dog suggests the perfect combination of healthy ingredients, all of which are sourced from restaurant suppliers and human food purveyors. According to the site, the dog food is never frozen and delivered days after it is cooked. Furthermore, the recipes are tested on humans, for a happier and healthier pup.

If basic, store-bought ice cream isn’t unique enough for you, Mix ‘n’ Match Creamery will likely meet expectations. Mix ‘n’ Match Creamery is an Oregon-based ice cream parlor that serves liquid nitrogen ice cream, and every order is custom, so you can have any flavor you want.

According to the company’s website, the liquid nitrogen “freezes everything so fast that ice crystals don’t form,” making its ice cream extra smooth and creamy. Customers choose a base — premium milk, nonfat sugar-free milk, or vegan coconut milk — then from more than 30 different flavors like caramel, cheesecake, coffee, gingerbread, and mint. From there, customers can choose from dozens of different mix-ins like almonds, bacon, cereal and chocolate chips. Mix ‘n’ Match makes the ice cream right there in front of you, with a blast of liquid nitrogen.

Opaque, a restaurant in California, promises to change your view of going out to eat by wining and dining you in the dark. And yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like—you eat your meal in a pitch black dining room.

When you arrive at Opaque, customers look through the menu in a lighted lounge and order food. The restaurant’s staff will then check coats and bags, and lead you to your seat. According to the restaurant’s website, Opaque is staffed by blind and visually impaired servers who have been specially trained to serve food in the dark.

Dining in the dark may seem like a strange concept, but according to Opaque’s website, it’s all about having a more in-depth sensory experience with your food. Opaque has multiple locations in California.

The food truck trend has hit its stride. Popular trucks in major cities have long lines of eager customers waiting outside on their lunch breaks. But Drive Change, a hybrid profit/nonprofit organization, is taking food trucks to a new, socially-responsible level by giving back to the community.

The organization hires, trains and mentors formerly incarcerated young adults, and the food trucks serve as a form of transitional employment with the ultimate goal of preparing these young people to go back to school or start full-time employment.

Drive Change currently operates only one food truck, located in New York and called Snowday. It farm-fresh foods prepared in their kitchen in Brooklyn and served at the truck. Drive Change plans to open more food trucks in the future, and each truck “employs and empowers 24 young people per year.” All food truck sales go back into the organization’s re-entry program to help more former inmates get on the right track.

Back to the Roots was started by two college students who were inspired by something they learned in a class: You can grow mushrooms using recycled coffee grounds. Co-founders Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez wrote of their experience, “After watching hours of how-to videos and turning our fraternity kitchen into a big science experiment, we eventually decided to give up our corporate job offers to instead become full-time mushroom farmers.”

In an effort to get people more connected with their food, Back to the Roots created an easy, 10-day grow-your-own organic-mushroom kit. Their organic mushroom farm comes in a small box (the mushrooms grow right out of the box) and simply requires watering twice a day.

The company also sells a “garden in a can” product that makes growing organic herbs at home even easier, a self-sufficient water-garden aquarium (the fish feed the plants and the plants keep the water clean), and ready-to-eat organic cereals.

Do you love cheese? Bet you don’t like it as much as Sarah “The Cheese Lady” Kaufmann, who makes her living as a traveling cheese sculptor.

She creates cheddar-cheese carvings for grocery stores, sporting events, festivals, photo shoots, and any other business or event that needs a giant hunk of cheese. Kaufmann has carved everything from a scene of the first moon landing to the Chicago skyline.

Though she makes most of her money carving cheese, Kaufmann also hosts seminars, where she informs audiences about the art and traditions of cheese making.

7 Disgusting (But Successful) Businesses

Successful businesses all have one thing in common: They solve a problem for their customers. Unfortunately, some problems are less pleasant than others, and some are downright disgusting.

Don’t want to clean up after your dog? There’s a business for that. Dealing with a lice infestation? There’s a business for that, too. Hate the hassle of dirty diapers? Not to worry, there’s a business out there ready to help you.

These seven businesses give new meaning to the phrase, “it’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.”

An in-home lice removal company

Parents of school-age children (and anyone whose job or day-to-day activities are likely to expose them to head lice) will appreciate LouseCalls, an in-home lice and nit removal service located in Florida. Founded in 2005 by Amy Graff, LouseCalls helps people get rid of head lice infestations. Graff, who has a master’s degree in public health, was inspired to start the business after her daughter’s elementary school class became infested with lice.

LouseCalls’ technicians make it a point to educate customers about head lice along with treating them (including manual removal of lice and knits, as according to the company’s website, many over-the-counter and prescription-removal methods are less effective and can even be harmful to those who use it). The company’s unique house-call business model allows technicians to instruct customers facing lice infestations on how to properly remove lice from their homes, too. Technicians even stay in touch with customers for the week following treatment to make sure the infestation doesn’t return.

A cloth diaper cleaning and delivery service

Disposable diapers may be convenient, but they’re not exactly good for the environment. New parents who want to go green by switching to cloth diapers, but who don’t want to deal with the mess and hassle of cleaning them, can turn to Blessed Bums, an organic cloth diaper service in Los Angeles. Owners Chris and Laura Gately started the company in 2010 when they realized Laura was pregnant. The pair wanted to use organic cotton diapers to minimize their impact on the environment and their baby’s health.

So how does Blessed Bums’ service work? The company delivers a set amount of diapers right to your door every week, in a diaper pail with a reusable pail liner and a deodorant disk. When your baby is done with a diaper, just drop it in the pail — at the end of the week, Blessed Bums will collect the dirty diapers for cleaning and deliver a new batch in a clean pail liner. And the cost? Just $24 per week, plus a $25 pail rental fee when you sign up.

A skeleton cleaning business

We’ve all got skeletons in our closets, but Skulls Unlimited International takes that saying to a whole new, literal level. As the world’s leading supplier of osteological specimens (e.g., skulls, skeletons, teeth and fossils), Skulls Unlimited International, located in Oklahoma City, doesn’t just buy and sell skeletons and replica specimens. They’re also tasked with a very unique and disgusting task: cleaning them.

Cleaning these specimens doesn’t just mean dusting off dirt and debris from bones and fossils. The company has to clean off any remains, degrease the specimens and then whiten them with chemicals. In an interview in 2007, owner Jay Villemarette admitted that it’s not the most pleasant job to take on, noting that some specimens (like humans) are greasier than others or have distinct odors.

And don’t worry, all of the specimens Skulls Unlimited International takes on are legally and ethically obtained, according to the company’s website.

A high-tech hygiene company

The word bidet may conjure up images of commodes in upper-crust European society. But you might be surprised to know that not only have bidets gone high-tech, their demand is alive and well, even in America. Brondell, located in San Francisco, is one business prospering from the “bidet boom.”

Brondell was co-founded in 2003 by David Samuel and Scott Pinizzotto, after Samuel accidentally got soaked by a bidet in a Japanese restaurant bathroom. After some research, the pair found that most American homes did not have bidets, and a company was born. Brondell’s product line includes a bidet called the “Swash 1000,” which the company describes as a “highly functional toilet seat that provides users unparalleled comfort and personal hygiene.”

Brondell’s core market focus is North America, but they also distribute internationally and through various partnerships.

A dog poop clean-up service

Dog owners may love their pooches, but most people would rather not have to pick up their furry friend’s poop. Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life for pet owners. The good news is, there’s a business that will do that for you: POOP 911. Started in 2005 by Geoffrey Bodle, a former consultant for Fortune 500 companies, POOP 911 is a dog poop clean-up service based in Orange County, California, that will keep you, your dog and your lawn happy.

With a startup investment of less than $5,000, Bodle initially operated POOP 911 as a weekend-only outfit until he could gauge the company’s real money-making potential. Thanks to publicity, customer referrals, and simply driving his POOP 911 vehicle around town, the much-needed service and recognizable phone number got people’s attention. The company has even grown into a franchise, and services start as low as $7.95 per week.

A junk removal chain

They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and this business is proof — sort of. Longtime friends Michael Andreacchi and Brian Reardon launchedJunk King in 2005 to provide environmentally friendly junk-hauling services. What initially began as a service offered to family and friends quickly became much more when they realized the potential in the market — now, Junk King operates in 45 cities in the United States and Canada.

Headquartered in San Carlos, California, Junk King removes junk of all shapes and sizes, ranging from old furniture, appliances, tires, yard waste and practically anything in between. The company even does foreclosure cleanouts. And, according to Dennis Mulgannon, director of franchising for Junk King, their approach to junk hauling has saved nearly 2.3 tons of waste from local landfills by recycling up to 60 percent of what is collected from customers.

Andreacchi and Reardon began Junk King with their own personal investment, but potential franchisees can own and operate their own exclusive Junk King territory for an initial investment ranging from $83,500 to $150,000.

A bacteria-fighting baby business

Poor baby! For Joe and Linda Smaldore of Springfield, Virginia, necessity really did breed invention. Noticing that their new grandson had crusty, yellowish patches on his scalp (an ailment commonly known as “cradle cap” — or seborrheic dermatitis, to get technical), they sought a product that would help remove the dry skin. Cognizant of his tender scalp, they searched for a product that that did not contain harsh chemicals or toxins that might harm the child.

To their shock, no such product existed.  As a result, they created their own solution in 2009: Bean-B-Clean, a scalp-massaging brush that helps combat cradle cap. According to the company’s website, Been-B-Clean is a more hygienic alternative to the brushes hospitals use that have sponges on the back. Why? Because those sponges “can become a breeding ground for bacteria” and are only meant for one-time use. The Bean-B-Clean is a safer tool that is also soft and soothing for cradle cap-afflicted babies.

7 Killer Business Ideas

Whether you’ve lost a loved one, buried a family pet or had a near-death experience, death is simply a fact of life. And, as it turns out, the business of death can be quite lucrative.

From afterlife preparations to unique burial methods and memorials, it turns out that there are more businesses related to death than you might expect. Here are 7 businesses that are cashing in on the dearly departed.

Just because you’re no longer alive doesn’t mean your tattoos can’t live on. The National Association for the Preservation of Skin Art (NAPSA) hosts a website called Save My Ink, which is dedicaed to preserving tattoos of the deceased and leaving them in the care of their next of kin.

The tattoo preservation community isn’t just for the recently deceased; the living are so interested in the process that NAPSA is retooling to offer their services directly through funeral homes. The move comes just in time, as Americans are getting record number of tattoos. Will the future homes of millennials be commonly decorated with the ink once worn by their loved ones?

You’ve heard the expression, “There’s no use crying over spilled milk,” but what’s the consensus on spilled blood? If the idea of mopping up gore makes your eyes water (or worse), don’t worry: There’s a business you can call to tidy up even the bloodiest of messes.

Baxter Restoration, a cleaning and reconstruction company in Orlando, Florida, does something your average maid won’t: It cleans up after the Grim Reaper. Whether it’s a crime scene, the aftermath of a suicide or the remains of an exploded meth lab, Baxter will disinfect, decontaminate and leave things looking less macabre.

Industry insiders refer to such sluicing down of blood and brains as “biohazard” cleanup. And while this unusual service makes some people squirm, it’s reassuring to know that there’s someone you can call to perform this most unpleasant of chores.

Leaving behind a hefty inheritance for family members to squabble over is a nice gesture. But what if you want to bequeath something more meaningful than money? There’s an app for that.

Your Last Will is an iPhone app developed by former video game publisher and entrepreneur Wolfgang Gabler. The app lets users prepare for the afterlife by recording a short video with a final message for those they’ll one day leave behind. Whatever your final words are, the app lets you record them in a 5-minute video, which is then uploaded to the company’s servers.

Your Last Will then generates a QR code for you to share with a trusted confidant who can sign in to your account after your demise and distribute your video to friends, family, archenemies, old flings and whomever else you choose to haunt. You can even make your will public and inspire (or sadden) the entire Internet.

A company that lets you send messages from beyond the grave is one thing, but a business that facilitates the sending of messages directly from your grave is quite another.

Invented and patented by Robert Barrows, president of an advertising and public relations firm in California, the “video-enhanced grave marker” is a tombstone for the modern age. Embedded with a remote-controlled video screen, this high-tech memorial caters to those unwilling to go quietly into the hereafter.

As Barrows explains on his website, the invention allows people to record messages for family, friends and even complete strangers before dying. Once the person is 6 feet under, these messages are broadcast right in the cemetery. Mourners can just sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

Barrows envisions a future in which graveyard visitors will pay a fee (headset included) to wander from grave to grave, listening to the dark secrets and final advice of lost love ones, as well as dead strangers.

Sure, you eat organic apples and have sworn off plastic shopping bags, but will your green lifestyle die when you do? That’s the question this next business wants you to consider before it’s too late.

The Natural Burial Company is an online retail and consulting business that sells biodegradable coffins, caskets, urns and other funeral goodies for eco-conscious mortals. The business aims to facilitate the natural burial process for those who take the whole “dust to dust” thing literally.

To that end, the company sells goods like the “Everybody” Coffin Kit, a biodegradable cork coffin that you can put together in your living room. Talk about a fun do-it-yourself project! The company’s online retail store also features a line of products for pets, including a biodegradable urn in the shape of a yarn ball for the eco-minded (but aging) feline in your life.

If you want to be cremated but aren’t sold on the idea of being hoisted onto a conveyor belt and pushed into a giant oven, then this next business is for you. Anderson McQueen Funeral Home in St. Petersburg, Florida, specializes in a new kind of cremation that utilizes water, not fire, to dispose of human bodies.

The process is known as alkali hydrolysis, or “flameless cremation.” And while it sounds less scary than its fiery cousin, the end result is much the same. In this process, the body is soaked in a tub of water and alkali for a few hours. According to the company, the process results in 75 percent fewer carbon emissions than traditional cremation, and is marketed to those looking for a greener way to go.

The process is still in the early adoption phase and is only legal in a few states. However, legislation is pending in many states that could bring this bizarre alternative into the mainstream.

Lots of people want their ashes scattered across the surface of the sea, but those looking for a unique postmortem experience may want to consider permanently joining the seafloor instead.

Decatur, Georgia-based Eternal Reefs specializes in the construction of “memorial reefs.” The company mixes human remains into concrete, artificial reefs. The reefs are then lowered to the seafloor, where they play host to local sea life and help maintain marine diversity.

The company’s “reef balls” are designed to withstand even the strongest of ocean currents, so mourners don’t have to worry that a loved one’s remains will drift into unchartered waters. Each reef also features a bronze plaque bearing the name of the deceased person it’s made from, making this memorial much like an underwater tombstone.

7 Businesses Transforming Travel

Traveling is a rewarding experience. Between food, drinks and sights, there are a multitude of memories and experiences not to be forgotten.

Often, planning your trip and getting to the destination is the hardest part. These 7 businesses aim to make traveling less stressful and more enjoyable.

Snapshots are the best part of vacation; it gives you the opportunity to relive your favorite moments. Flytographer takes that concept and helps you plan a trip. According to the company’s website, you can “meet with one of [the company’s] local photographers around the world, have a stroll together and bring home the best souvenir possible — memories.” Simply search for a photographer you like in the location you’re traveling to and book a photo shoot via the company’s website after you’ve finalized your trip details. When it’s time for your shoot, your photographer will guide you around and take candid photos (though he or she will also take posed portraits, if you prefer).

Love the water but not sure how to properly rent a boat while away?GetMyBoat provides a peer-to-peer marketplace giving boat owners the power to rent their boats and vacationers the opportunity to experience a yacht, speedboat or watercraft of their dreams at an affordable price. GetMyBoat is bridging the gap of boat ownership costs. Boating enthusiasts get the benefits of worldwide inventory without the cost or headache of ownership. And as the average boat is only used 8 percent of the year, boat owners get the chance to make owning a boat more affordable by earning some income from their under-utilized asset, the site said.

Remove the hassle and pressure of planning activities on vacation with Peek. The site curates a selection of fun activities for you that you can book online or via the company’s mobile app. You can also use Peek’s Travel Guides to see an overview of the top things to see or use the “Perfect Days” feature to book a complete itinerary with “insider tips and hidden gems from tastemakers,” according to the website.

If you’re flying solo but would prefer to travel in a group or make new friends while on vacation, The Trip Tribe makes it easy. The company allows members to create a profile and search for trips — they’ll use your profile information to match you with other travelers who share your interests so you can book a trip with like-minded people. When you view trips on the site, you can see which other members are going, as well as the dates, price per person and other important details. Some of The Trip Tribe’s featured trips include an eco-retreat in Puerto Rico, a food and beer tour in Ireland, and a cycling and boating adventure in the Czech Republic.

Welcome Beyond is dedicated to those travelers who prefer to forgo staying in a big-name hotel and would rather have a unique vacation experience. Welcome Beyond strives to curate hotels and vacation rentals that are “truly original.” These exclusive rentals range from quirky to posh and are easy to search for and book. Choose a country and region for your stay, and search by interests like architecture and design, nature and ecotourism, and secluded retreats. You can also refine your search by accommodation type, with selections ranging from boutique hotels to private islands available in more than 30 different countries, including the United States.

If you thought UberBlack made you feel like you were riding in style, try traveling on a jet. Book a seat on a private jet with BlackJet. According to the company’s website, “BlackJet members enjoy the convenience, reliability and private jet experience at prices you would expect from American, Delta or United first class.” As with all flights, costs vary depending on your origin and destination locations and the date of travel, but prices start around $1,000. BlackJet memberships are limited but free until you book your first trip — after that, there’s an annual fee.

Travelers with a spontaneous streak will love Triposo, an app that gives you personalized suggestions for things to do on your trip while you’re on the go. Users can book tours and activities via the app, as well as learn important information about their destination’s history, culture, currency and language. Before you go on your trip, download Triposo’s destination guide to your device, and while you’re there, get real-time updates about what’s going on nearby. Bonus: The app works offline too, so you don’t need to search for Wi-Fi to find your next activity.