Author Archive for Ian Jones

Another GCC Entrepreneur

A good friend of mine made a unique business last summer. Josh Barham is a North Carolinian and a sophomore here at Grove City. Instead of interning, Josh Barham made Adirondack chairs. For those of you who aren’t from the Appalachians, Adirondack chairs look like this


Josh purchased wood at a discount from one of the local lumber companies and hand crafted each chair. The chairs took about 20 hours each to make, including the weatherproof finish. He didn’t tell me how much money he made, but he turned a profit over the summer with his one man business. Although it was not as glamorous as starting uber, Josh found a need in the market and satisfied it.


Nick D’Aloisio was only 12 years old when he taught himself to code, and had coded several apps by the time he was 15. Nick saw a problem with how people consume news: we have so much information at our fingertips that it would be impossible to read even a tiny fraction of it, much less all of it. Nonetheless, it was often necessary to read full articles because summaries often left out important information or were just generally hard to read. At 15, he got his first investor for his app Summly, an app that uses an algorithm designed by D’Aloisio to summarize news in a way that was both thorough and easy to read. The app was published in December of 2011 and immediately took off. Yahoo aquired it in March 2013 for $30 million, making D’Aloisio one of the youngest self-made millionaires. D’Aloisio won Wall Street Journal’s “Innovator of the Year” award in 2013, was named to Forbes “30 under 30,” and received many other awards for his innovation and work with Yahoo. Now 21, he studies at Oxford University.

Life Saving Entrepreneurship

Brian Fisher was by all means a successful businessman. He served as Executive Vice President for a start up financial firm that grew to $1.1 billion in assets before it was bought out. Rather than returning to the world of business, Brian decided to use his skills to help a cause that he was more passionate about: the pro-life movement. There are about 7,942,623 pro-life organizations in America, so Brian looked to what he could provide that would be unique. In 2007, he founded The Human Coalition (formerly called Pro-life Online). The Human Coalition uses technologies like Google Analytics and other Search Engine Optimization tools to promote pro-life options to abortion minded women. Brian and his team work to ensure that when women are searching for a pregnancy test or ultrasound that local pregnancy medical centers are featured as prominently as abortion providers. In a world where customers often research (and decide) on a service/product online, this unique approach has helped save thousands of lives. Also they have awesome stickers.


A Musical Entrepreneur

The music industry is dominated by flashy personalities. For those of you that have forgotten, Justin Bieber makes news for being a constant hooligan, Kanye West claimed to be a god, and Lady Gaga wears stuff like this


Yikes. Some artists have taken the “sell when everyone else is buying” approach and found a niche of normalcy without compromising their music. J Cole is one musician in particular who sticks out. He keeps a fairly low profile (chances are most of you haven’t heard of him) and does not come out with music at the rate of rappers like Gucci Mane. (Fun side note: Since 2005, Gucci Mane has released a mind boggling 87 albums, mixtapes, and EPs, a fact that is even more incredible because he spent 3 of those years in prison. It would take over 3 months of not stop listening to listen to all of his music once). Nonetheless, when J Cole’s album dropped, his first in two years, its ten songs were all among the top 11 most played songs in the US on Spotify. Instead of being erratic in public appearances, J Cole has quietly built a loyal following by doing things like turning his childhood home into a transition home for struggling families and attending a fans graduation (and offering to help her with tuition). While he obviously does not do these charitable things to “be an entrepreneur,” J Cole has found a unique value proposition: a genuine rapper who is still committed to musical artistry. And people are buying.

J. Cole performs on day one of the Budweiser Made in America Festival on Saturday, August 30, 2014 in Philadelphia. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Bear Butt Hammocks

The StoryPosted by Bear Butt on Tuesday, October 25, 2016

If you have been outdoors much at all, you know that the hammock market is dominated by one name brand: Eagle Nest Outfitters. (Caleb Arisman wrote an excellent piece on Enos, which you can read here.) Enos are portable and durable, but a hammock and straps could cost you $100 or more. Michael Whiteley saw that hammocking was becoming very popular but realized that a lot of the hammocks were way overpriced. He set out to make a quality hammock at half the price of the other guys, and Bear Butt Hammocks was born. They sold their first hammock last November and have not looked back. Soon they were selling 300 hammocks a day. Their hammocks are $35, but perhaps the most unique portion of their value proposition is their  “Way too easy money back promise” Per their website:

“Hot diggity that means that at any time for any reason – seriously.. any time and any reason you aren’t stoked with your Bear Butt Gear or a ninja comes by and chops it to pieces. We will give you a FULL REFUND or a REPLACEMENT. Bam!  That is pure respect right there… Shaaaaaambamskies!”

Given the prevalence of ninja attacks, it’s no wonder that Bear Butt Hammocks is exploding as a leading alternative to more pricey hammock brands.

Combatant Gentleman

For decades, suits have been the dress of wealthy men. A nice suit would cost well over $500, and it was difficult to find a suit of even decent quality for less than $250. Entrepreneur Vishaal Melwani set out to change that, starting up online clothing store Combatant Gentleman. combatant-gentlemen

Melwani grew up in a family of Italian tailors, so he was familiar with suits… and how pricey they are. Without compromising the quality of the suits, he used his knowledge of the industry to make suits as cheaply as possible, sourcing materials and constructing the suits in various places to deliver savings to customers. Men can now buy suits that look good and are durable for $140-$220 and skip the warehouse, an added value for the professionals working 60-80 hour weeks. Here is a man with poor balance wearing a suit from Combatant Gentleman: