March 7, 2010

5 Business Ideas: Some Food For Thought

Forbes has an interesting list of  Break Out Businesses for 2009.  Browse through the partial list I have here, while you enjoy Sunday brunch (or Sunday lunch. or Sunday Bloody Mary. or whatever,) and maybe you'll come across a business idea that you had once thought of yourself (hey--it happens, right?)

1. Moobella: Ice Cream vending machines. Oh yeah! I personally love this idea. Not frozen ice cream bars or popsicles. Oh no. These vending machines pump out scoops, in 96 flavors, on-demand, in about 45 seconds. But this was not a get rich quick business idea. This patented technique for churning and freezing ice cream from a room-temperature dairy mix has been 17 years in the making. If you haven't seen the prototypes running at Northeastern University in Boston and Worcester Polytechnic University, you may see them soon as Pinnacle Food Services will market the machines to cafeterias in universities, parks and zoos soon.

2. IdeaPaint: A kid's dream come true--go ahead, and write on the walls, consequence-free! Three recent Babson College graduates created a paint that turns every wall into a whiteboard. Kids can write with dry erase markers, like on any white board. After six years of trying, one lab finally came up with the right formula. The paint sells for $3.50 to $4.00 per square foot of coating.

3. eJamming:  At eJamming's site, you can hook up with other musicians and "jam out."  This company's software lets anyone, anywhere, jam in real-time over the Web with up to three other musicians. Subscription fee: $10 per month, $25 for three months and $90 for the year.

 4. Activeion: This invention turns ordinary tap water into instant sudsy detergent-strength water. Just fill up a bottle with plain old tap water and spray it on the stain. When you press the trigger, Activeion’s bottles move tap water through a small electrical charge that separates the molecules into positive and negative charges and creates bubbles. This bubbly water lifts dirt and bacteria from any surface like a magnet, making it easy to wipe away dirt and grease. Though first aimed at professional cleaning companies, Activeion recently released a home version, retailing for $169 for a 12-oz. bottle. (pricey maybe...but think how convenient and 'green' this sounds.)

5. APOPO: Imagine spending 10 years learning how to train giant African rats (three feet in length) to detect landmines. Uh....this takes some true dedication and a non-squeamish personality. But that is what Bart Weetjens did. His training methods include clicking noises and food rewards over an eight-month period. While huge by rat standards, the animals are too light to set off the charges and can cover 1,200 square feet in 20 minutes, double the area swept via a metal detector in a day. He's also figured out how to teach rats to sniff tuberculosis in blood samples. APOPO works with governments in Colombia and Thailand, and with mining companies in Mozambique. Ewwww. Very ingenious, but oh so ewwww!!

You can read more Break Out Businesses of 2009 at Forbes.

 Happy Sunday. See you Monday!

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