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Category Archives: business

6 Inspiring Yoga-Based Businesses

Chakra 5 Yoga

McKenna Rowe opened her first yoga-based business in Los Angeles in 2011. Her studio grew out of a desire to help her clientele and spend her career working in a positive environment. Unfortunately, excessive real estate costs, insurance expenses, and so on became too much to manage. That’s when she realized she needed to make a change.

That’s when she came up with the idea to bring yoga to the client, rather than the client to a conventional studio. Thus Chakra 5 Yogawas born. Rowe offers mobile yoga classes on location, scheduling appointments for companies that want to offer their employees the benefit of work-day yoga.

“I love making people feel better. I’ve seen how transformative yoga is for mental, physical and spiritual health, both as a student and as a teacher,” Rowe said. “All you have to do is do it — regularly.”

Wanderlust Festivals

Jeff Krasno and Sean Hoess founded theWanderlust Festival in 2008 after noting a lack of large-scale music gatherings for the yoga community. A hybrid celebration of music and movement, Wanderlust is part music fest and part yoga immersion, allowing yogis to practice with renowned instructors such as Jonny Kest and Shiva Rea in tranquil settings while enjoying live performances by familiar bands. Since its conception, Wanderlust has grown by leaps and bounds.

Hoess credited Wanderlust’s popularity to grassroots marketing, direct outreach, and its symbiotic relationships with yoga studios.

Jade Yoga

While many yogi entrepreneurs begin as students and evolve into the business, Dean Jerrehian, founder and CEO of Jade Yoga, maker of environmentally friendly yoga mats, towels and blocks, took the opposite path.  At the start of 2000, Jerrehian was in the business of natural rubber rug pads. A chance encounter with a yogi who said that existing yoga mats made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) material lacked proper slip resistance inspired Jerrehian to turn his rug pads into yoga mats. The mats, which were the first natural rubber yoga mats, were well-received in the yoga community. It was only after that time that Jerrehian began to realize the wellness benefits of yoga.

Blissoma by Iriestar

Julie Longyear is a self-described “lifestyle businessperson,” has always believed in integrating her business pursuits and spiritual beliefs.  That philosophy guided her to start Irie Star in 2001 directly out of college. The company introduced its Blissoma Yoga Mat Cleanser in 2005. Along with a network of studio customers, single location specialty boutiques and estheticians, Blissoma Mat Cleanser is sold in select Whole Foods Markets.

olumbus & Company Consulting

Even the most well-intentioned yoga businesses owners can use guidance in the form of best practices. That’s what makes Tracy Columbus, a lifestyle, branding and strategic marketing consultant, serving the entertainment and yoga industry, a valuable asset. Based in Los Angeles, Columbus observed that the yoga studio population had taken on a consumer shift in the early 1990s.

 “Yoga had gone mainstream and the new yoga devotee was more likely to be a stressed-out business person in search of a place to unfurl — and willing to pay for it,” said Columbus.

Pravassa

In 2009, Linden Schaffer was leading distribution for a multi-million dollar fashion shoe brand. Traveling the globe and struggling to find time for yoga led her to create Pravassa, a New York City-based retreat planning company that brings teachers and students together for healthy retreats.
Schaffer said that by serving a niche within the travel market, Pravassa has found particular marketing value through its blog, which reviews classes around the world. That in turn, creates valuable buzz and viral activity, when reviewed instructors share the blog with their students.

5 Best Wedding Businesses

Brides and grooms are (understandably) picky about the services they choose to make their nuptials special and memorable. These unique businesses help couples make their pre- and post-wedding plans as stress-free as possible.

Though not all couples choose to have one or both spouses change their last name after marriage, those that do often find the legal process intimidating.MissNowMrs.com makes it simple by streamlining all the paperwork you need in one place for one flat fee. Newlyweds looking to make the switch answer some questions about their current and married names and various accounts they hold. Then, these answers are used to complete the appropriate forms. Proofread, print and file, and your legal name change is well underway.

Kristen Rocco, founder of Love Notery, has always been a communicator. Her passion for storytelling led to a fruitful public relations career (even working with Gary Sinise, better known as Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump). Like any good romance, she took a leap of faith with Love Notery to tell great love stories. Rocco’s journalistic skills help her craft a customized “love story” through in-depth interviews with couples. The stories are then printed out as an heirloom keepsake.

This app is a multilayered wedding tool, with checklists for the engaged couple leading up to the wedding, vendor lists, ways to stay on budget, and tools to create a wedding site and registry, the site said. The Knot, which also published a print bridal magazine, even has answers to various social and etiquette questions answered by experts. In addition, the app provides a countdown to the day, so nearly-newlyweds can stay excited.

The quality of smartphone pictures has greatly improved, making collecting guests’ wedding photos worthwhile — and a pain. WedPics is a free app that aggregates wedding photos captured by guests. Users can keep photos organized with the albums feature, which is great for capturing photos of all wedding events such as the engagement party, wedding shower, rehearsal dinner, reception, ceremony and more, the site said.

Registering for wedding items often means signing up with multiple brands to create the best registry. Zola consolidates the process by allowing couples to register for a variety of brands, curated experiences and cash funds on a single page, the site said. Zola goes a step further by giving you autonomy with shipping: Each time you receive a gift, the site notifies you to ship now or later, or in the case of cash gifts, transfer to your bank or convert to a Zola store credit.

8 Spooky Small Businesses

“You have 60 minutes to escape the room. There is 1 hungry zombie chained to the wall. Every 5 minutes a buzzer sounds & the chain is released another foot from the wall!” That’s the description of Room Escape Adventure’szombie-themed escape room. You’ll have to gather the clues and solve the puzzle if you want to avoid being eaten by the undead.

Three Muses Clothing has been selling women’s Halloween costumes and accessories online since 2005. Four years later, owner Candy Keane opened a retail boutique in Florida to sell her one-of-a-kind sexy (but not NC-17) outfits year-round. In addition to carrying popular costume brands like Leg Avenue, Three Muses also sells handmade items from local artists.

This online store features made-in-the-USA items and vintage collectibles from Halloween past. Vintage Halloween sells party supplies, ornaments, clothing and accessories, stationery and other products related to the holiday. While the Arizona-based retailer sells throughout the year, special sales and giveaways are reserved for October.

Larry Kirschner owned and operated several haunted houses in the 1980s and ’90s before founding HauntWorld, the largest global database for Halloween resources and activities. Part discussion board and part directory, HauntWorld’s website and magazine allows members of the haunted house industry to connect and share their insights, while haunt seekers can locate attractions like haunted houses and trails in their area.

For more than a decade, The Horror Dome has been providing animatronics, props, masks and costumes for homeowners and Halloween attractions. The online retailer’s products have been featured on TLC, “Mythbusters,” Jay Leno, and even in the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park.

Ever wonder how to get unnatural-looking eyes like you see on monsters, vampires and other Halloween characters? Try ordering special effects contact lenses from Haunted Eyes. Based in Wyoming, this e-commerce startup sells high-quality prescription and nonprescription lenses in colors, special patterns and even full-eye black (sclera) for that spooky, theatrical effect.

Halloween Adventure is a year-round retail store for costumes and accessories. A landmark for all costume and Halloween enthusiasts in New York City’s East Village, the two-story shop spans an entire block (it cuts through from Broadway to 4th Avenue) and sells a wide range of outfits, from pop culture icons to unique, offbeat characters.

This haunted house empire has been running for more than 20 seasons.SpookyWorld, which also owns Nightmare New England, operates seven attractions in New Hampshire, each more frightening than the last. Every year, SpookyWorld strives to change and refresh its haunted houses to keep its visitors terrified.

7 Unique and Useful Pet-Inspired Businesses

Pets are a part of your family. They play with you, sleep in your bed and gleefully greet you after you’ve had a long day at work. Many pet owners are on the lookout for items to spoil their four-legged friends or that will make their pets’ lives easier. Here are just a few businesses offering unique products and services for your furry family members.

Cats are capable of taking care of themselves for the most part, minus cleaning their litter boxes and getting fed (in some cases, however, they know how to break into that, too). But what if your cat could use a cat-size toilet? Dream no more. The Cat Genie, is a full-size cat box that looks, and operates, similarly to a toilet.

According to the site, Cat Genie is a full-size, automatic cat box that uses permanent Washable Granules. Unlike disposable cat litter, Cat Genie’s Washable Granules never need changing and are 100 percent dust-free, biodegradable and septic-safe. The self-cleaning product rids itself of liquid and solid cat waste without owners ever having to handle cat litter again.

If leaving your felines alone while you go off to work every day makes you sad, Kittyo might be just the thing you need. Cat owners can use the device and app to interact with their furry friends even when they’re not in the same room.

The device, which retails for $249, allows users to speak to their cats, play with them, dispense treats to them and even watch what they do while the owners are gone. The product works by connecting to a smartphone app, which in turn allows you to control the device from anywhere, as long as you’ve got an internet connection. You can use the device to shine a laser around the room for your cat to play with and record videos with a few taps on your screen. With Kittyo, you don’t have to work from home to play with your cat on your lunch break.

Do you love your pet so much you want an exact copy? Although actual cloning may not be an option, Cuddle Clones solves this problem by making custom stuffed animals that look identical to your fur baby.

Cuddle Clones creates one-of-a-kind plush replicas of your pets, based on photos and your chosen customization options. You can personalize everything from eye color and ear position to pose and tail position, so that your stuffed animal is as close to the real thing as possible. And yes, you can even get one that’s true to size. You’re not limited to dogs and cats, either; Cuddle Clones will replicate horses, turtles, rabbits, ferrets, birds, pigs and more.

Cuddle Clones also donates to animal-related causes, so while you’re getting a plush copy of your furry friend, you’re also helping Cuddle Clones give back and assist animals in need.

The thought of having farm-fresh eggs at your disposal and an adorable feathered friend to call your own might be appealing to some, but not everyone is equipped to handle a hen. Rent The Chicken gives you the opportunity to see exactly what goes into raising chickens before you bring one into your home permanently.

So how does it work? According to the company’s website, Rent The Chicken provides you with everything you need, including two egg-laying hens, a portable chicken coop, food and water dishes, enough food (with a non-GMO option as well) for the length of your rental time, and instructions for everything. Rental periods are open from May to November, which is when chickens lay the most eggs.

And, of course, if you absolutely fall in love with your chickens, you can adopt them for a fee that includes their supplies.

DoodyCalls says it’s “the nation’s trusted leader in pet-waste-removal services for homeowners and communities.” That’s right — DoodyCalls is the company you call to help pick up after your pets.

Providing dog-pooper-scooper services, cat-litter-box cleaning, patio and deck deodorizing, and dog-waste-station setup and maintenance, DoodyCalls helps keep your yard and community waste-free. According to the company’s FAQ page, DoodyCalls will scoop deer and goose poop, too: “We are happy to help keep any kind of poop off your lawn or off your community common areas.”

Sometimes, you just can’t get outside to take your dog for a walk, or can’t make it home in time to let your pets out to do their business. With The Pet Loo, you don’t need to worry; it brings the outdoors inside, so your dogs can relieve themselves without ruining your carpet.

The Pet Loo is a portable, square pet toilet that has a layer of synthetic grass to resemble the outdoors and drain urine into its base. It also contains a removable waste container for easy cleanup. According to its website, The Pet Loo is ideal for apartments and new puppies, and is a more convenient alternative to pee pads and midnight bathroom breaks. The company also sells cleaning products, odor-eliminating cat litter and more.

Does your furbaby get cold in the winter due to its small size? Why not make them warm and fashionable with hoodies and other cute clothes? The Posh Puppy Boutique offers up multiple styles for multiple breeds, including hoodies for warmth and dresses for play. The site offers a handy sizing guide so you can get the sizes right for your pup from scruff to tail. Don’t worry if the clothing gets dirty, there are washing instructions for the products.

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 withEntrepreneur.com 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.

7 Cool Vegan-Friendly Businesses

Being a vegan means a whole lot more than eating a meat- and dairy-free diet — it’s a lifestyle committed to not using any animal products. This means that strict, dedicated vegans don’t wear materials like leather and suede or use any products that have been tested on animals or harmed animals in the production process in any way. And it’s not always easy to find products you love that fit the vegan lifestyle.

Fortunately for all you vegans out there (and for food allergy sufferers and environmentalists, too!), there are more and more stores and brands dedicated to this animal- and eco-friendly lifestyle, so you can meet all your needs with ease.From food and cosmetics to clothes and accessories, here are 13 businesses every vegan needs to know.

Just because you’re vegan, doesn’t mean you need to skip dessert. While most sweets, from baked goods to candies, are loaded with not-so-vegan-friendly ingredients like butter, milk, eggs and honey (though not all vegans cut out honey), Allison’s Gourmet is home to tons of delicious vegan takes on your favorite confections, like fudge, peanut brittle, chocolates, caramels, cookies, brownies and more — all of which you can order online. Allison’s Gourmet also sells organic coffee, tea and cocoa and offers memberships to monthly clubs, like Cookie of the Month, Brownie of the Month, Fudge of the Month and Taste of the Month (this one gives you a little bit of everything). According to its website, Allison’s Gourmet uses “only the finest organic, fair-trade, vegan ingredients that honor and respect growers, animals, the planet and of course, you!”

Move over, Dunkin’ Donuts. Mighty-O Donuts knows how to do donuts well (and vegan, too). The company’s reasoning for making all of its donuts vegan? The organization’s website simply states, “We do not need any extra ingredients [like eggs and dairy] to make a delicious donut everyone can enjoy.” Bonus: Not only are all of the donuts at Mighty-O Donuts vegan, the shop also does not use any artificial colors, dyes, additives or preservatives in its donuts or toppings, so you know exactly what you’re getting into when you take a bite. And if you visit the company’s shop in Seattle, you’ll see that it also supports the local art community by offering up wall space for monthly exhibitions. The only downside: Mighty-O doesn’t deliver unless you’re one of the company’s wholesale retailers, and even then, when it comes to out-of-state orders, Mighty-O only ships to Oregon and Colorado — though the company does plan to expand.

If you’re not already vegan or considering going vegan, you may not realize that living a vegan lifestyle means giving up seafood, too. Sophie’s Kitchen offers great alternatives for those who love to eat fish and shellfish but can’t (the company’s products are perfect if you’re not vegan, but have allergies, for example) or those who choose not to. Sophie’s Kitchen sells products like crab cakes, breaded scallops, breaded calamari, breaded coconut shrimp, prawns, smoked salmon, tuna and more — all of which are vegan and plant-based. The company is Non-GMO Project-verified and uses ingredients like seaweed, textured vegetable protein and konjac (elephant yam root) to make sustainable alternatives to your favorite fishy foods. If you want to stock your own store with the company’s products, you can find Sophie’s Kitchen products at some local food stores, or you can order the products online — either as an individual or a retailer.

Think breakfast can never be the same when you’re vegan? Think again. Thanks to The Vegg, you don’t have to live without eggs — well, sort of. The Vegg makes several vegan egg substitute products so that vegans can still eat things like omelets, breakfast sandwiches and baked goods to their hearts’ content. The company sells a scrambled egg mix made from soy protein and nutritional yeast (among other ingredients) as well as vegan egg yolk substitute, an egg replacer for baking and a special French toast mix — all of which boast an authentic egg flavor and can be purchased online on the company’s website. The Vegg also sells a cookbook to make using its products even easier.

We should warn you — this next business is a little cheesy (literally). As a vegan, you can’t eat cheese, since it’s made from animal milk, but that doesn’t mean you have to go without cheese forever. While you can purchase cheese substitutes from big brands like Daiya and Tofutti at your local grocery store, fancy vegan artisanal cheeses aren’t exactly easy to come by. Dr. Cow makes delicious cheeses made out of tree nuts, like organic cream cashew cheese, aged macadamia cheese and more. The company also makes granola and oatmeal products, and you can purchase its products online or at the company’s retail location in Brooklyn.

Vegans and wine lovers alike, rejoice! The Vegan Vine is a wine brand that is grown and produced by a family-owned winery, Clos LaChance Winery, in California. You may be wondering how wine can be anything but vegan, and that’s exactly why The Vegan Vine was developed — to educate people on the wine production process, which often uses animal products. According to the company’s website, The Vegan Vine started when a family member “was curious if Clos LaChance’s wines were suitable for his animal-free lifestyle,” which prompted the owners to meet with a production team and find a way to produce high-quality wines that support a vegan lifestyle, along with ways to keep wine lovers informed. The Vegan Vine currently offers a 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2013 Chardonnay available for purchase on the company’s website, along with a Web page that features vegan recipe pairings for each wine.

Want to make sure your wardrobe is animal friendly? VauteCouture, a Brooklyn-based clothing store sells everything from tank tops to winter coats and accessories for both men and women. Founder Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart started the company in 2009, after attempting to create a vegan dress coat warm enough to get through the cold Chicago (where Hilgart is from) winter. VauteCouture — like “haute couture” but with a V for “vegan” — became the first all-vegan label to show at New York Fashion Week in 2013. Whether you’re looking for coats, hats, jewelry or casual clothes, you can find it at VauteCouture. You can shop online, or if you’re in New York, you can shop in the store — though you’ll have to make an appointment first.

6 Game Changing Sports Businesses

Want to become a better coach or athlete? There are several sports-related businesses out there that can help you do just that and more.

From virtual reality sports platforms and game footage analysis to family-friendly youth sports programs, these six businesses put a whole new spin on sports, helping coaches, athletes and families do what they love.

Whether you’re an athlete or just a huge sports fan, you can turn your skills and passion into a business — just take some inspiration from these companies that are totally changing the game.

EON Sports VR

EON Sports VR is a virtual reality platform that help athletes get better at their sport. The platform simulates different game situations to help players improve their decision-making skills — EON Sports VR boasts an improvement rate of up to 60 percent for players who use the platform. The company offers 3D-playbook and playbook-simulator products for coaches, simulators for athletes, and plans to launch a virtual-reality baseball platform, which you can preview on the EON Sports VR’s website. The company currently offers a simulator, called SIDEKIQ, which is compatible with a headset or projector, and plans to launch a smartphone-powered simulator, too.

i9 Sports

I9 Sports is a company that seeks to make sports more fun — and less stressful and competitive — for young people. According to the company’s website, i9 Sports “offers an alternative to the disorganized, hyper-competitive, win-at-all-cost culture that pervades most youth sports programs today.” The company aims to provide a safe and fun experience that helps kids develop their athletic skills and boost their self-esteem and is more convenient and organized for parents.  I9 operates around five important core principles: fun, inclusivity, safety, good sportsmanship and healthy competition. Started initially as a flag football league, i9 has since expanded, with team sports in soccer, basketball, baseball and cheerleading too. The company offers leagues, camps and clinics for both boys and girls ages 3 to 17 throughout the United States.

Sportsy

Aspiring athletes will love Sportsy, a website and mobile app (available on both Android and iOS devices) that helps people get better at sports. Sportsy members have access to videos to help them learn the proper way to perform drills, special challenges to help them practice the way professional athletes do, and exclusive tips and tricks from professional athletes and coaches. Members can also compete against each other, and upload videos of them playing to get feedback from Sportsy coaches. The company is new and currently only offers these features for soccer. However, Sportsy does plan to launch sections dedicated to several other sports, including basketball, volleyball, tennis, figure skating, surfing, hockey, swimming, skateboarding and even Hacky Sack, among others. Interested users looking for one of these sports can sign up for updates on their launch on the company’s website.

Coachbase

Want to be a better coach? Coachbase is a tremendous resource. The company is part marketplace, part Android and iOS app and helps coaches find, diagram and share new plays. With the app, coaches can ditch chalkboards and whiteboards and switch to using their mobile devices to create new plays for their teams. The app has a step-by-step system for animating your plays, and features automatic backup and automatic syncing so that the plays you create are accessible across all your devices, and easily shared with assistant coaches and players. And through the Coachbase marketplace, coaches can buy, sell and trade plays and drills with other coaches.

Krossover

Krossover is another great resource for coaches and teams. Most teams record their games so they can analyze the footage later and see what went well and what went wrong. Rather than trying to analyze the film yourself, Krossover does it for you. Teams can sign up for a Krossover package for a whole season based on how many games they play per week. Just upload film from your game, and the company’s experts will analyze it and break it down by event, tag it by play and with player information, and extract stats from the footage for you. Athletes can also purchase individual packages to analyze their performance even if their team doesn’t participate in the program. Krossover offers services for basketball, football, lacrosse and volleyball.

Fandeavor

Looking for the ultimate sports fan experience? Fandeavor is here to help. The company aims to help sports fans plan the perfect trip or celebration all at once with sports-based packages that include hotels, airfare, land transportation and game tickets. Hotels are curated based on their distance to the game, their ratings and amenities and things to do nearby, and transportation includes both to and from the airport and the game. Fandeavor also helps customers get the best experience out of their tickets, with unique information and VIP packages for different stadiums. The company can even help you plan a big family sports excursion or gift for a special occasion.