Archive for Great Ideas

Zollipops: The Lollipops That Clean Your Teeth

At just 7 years old, Alina Morse saw a need to be filled while in line at the bank. The bank teller offered her a lollipop, but Alina refused because her parents always told her that sugar was bad for her teeth. Exasperated, she later asked her father, “Why can’t we make a lollipop that’s actually good for your teeth?”

From that moment on, the two started working on what later became known as Zollipops. Alina’s father helped with $750 of the startup cost and Alina saved up her money until she had enough to start the company. The whole family participates in running the Zollipops company, and Alina calls herself the “idea person.” She uses her imagination to come up with new products and flavors.

Not only are Zollipops sugar free and made with natural ingredients, but they are also beneficial for your teeth. The company has further expanded to offer Zolli Drops (comparable to hard candy) and Zaffi Taffy. All of these products are held to the same standard of good ingredients that are safe for dental health. They are available in a variety of flavors from mint to assorted fruit flavors.

At such a young age, Alina was able to see a gap that may only be seen from a child’s perspective. I admire the responsibility she demonstrated in caring about dental health, and her desire to provide a way for children to enjoy lollipops without all of the damaging ingredients. Her perspective challenges me to look for gaps I may not see in my daily life since I am no longer a child.

Alina exhibits a drive and passion for her company, and I believe that is one of the reasons why she is successful. She cares about her product because it was a personal “pain” she felt and so she did something about it. I strive to have the perceptiveness in recognizing and solving the pains and inconveniences I encounter in my everyday life.

Dropbox- A Coder Turned Entrepreneur

Drew Houston, co-founder and CEO of Dropbox, has all the symptoms of being an entrepreneur! The creation story of his company, Houston claims, came from an idea that came to him after constantly forgetting his USB flash drive during his studies at MIT.  During his time as a student he found a multitude of problems with storage services and decided to set out to solve this problem for himself.  Little did he know that his solution would end up benefiting millions of others as well.

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In 2007, he and his co-founder Arash Ferdowsi were able to secure enough funding to begin the development of the program were soon launched Dropbox. Within 24-hours of its launch, Dropbox “had 75,000 people signup for the wait-list.”  When they were only expecting 15,000, tops.  Dropbox had an enormous success rate, and, by the end of 2013 Dropbox had gained over 200 million users.

So what sets this company apart from others? Well Dropbox is a technology company that claims to build simple, powerful products for people and businesses.  Unlike many other companies, Dropbox is innovative in that they value the creation of products that are easy to use and are built on trust. When people put their files in Dropbox, they can trust they’re secure and their data is their own. The users’ privacy has always been their first priority, and it always will be.  Image result for dropbox images

Houston believed that technology should get out of the way, so there’s no limit to what people can do. And his tightly-knit team seems very committed to realizing ambitious ideas and making technology work for the world, and I’m sure that the best from them is still to come.

“Sometimes you just get this feeling — it’s a compulsion or an obsession. You can’t stop thinking about it. You just have to work on this thing,” words from the entrepreneur himself, Drew Houston.

Airbnb

Once upon a time, on a cool October night in San Francisco a pair of roommates by the names of Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were just too broke to pay rent on their apartment. They had to get money and get it fast so what did they do? Three air mattresses later and they had an Airbed and Breakfast for people who were attending a conference nearby and didn’t have a hotel room because all of the hotels were full. The pair were then able to get paid by renting said air mattresses and thus were able to pay rent. The end…or maybe not. Why not use this ingenious idea on a bigger scale? That’s exactly what Chesky thought. A few months later Airbnb was started. Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace in which people can rent out their spaces to travelers for both a cheaper price and a more authentic experience. This clever business gives college students and younger families the ability to travel cheaper and better and also allows homeowners to make extra money even while they are away from their homes. Airbnb now connects people to over 34,000 cities, 191 countries, and even 1,400 different castles. So how about we take a trip? Maybe to a castle?

StyleSeat

Have you ever received a bad hair cut? Melody McCloskey has, and she turned this experience into a business. McCloskey in the founder and CEO of StyleSeat, which is an app that connects hair stylists and customers looking for a haircut.

McCloskey was tired of the hassle of booking hair appointments. She found it frustrating when she called a salon sometimes stylists wouldn’t answer the phone or when they did, you just received a random appointment with a random stylist that wasn’t even good at what she wanted to be done. McCloskey decided to fix this problem with her app. StyleSeat makes it easy to book hair appointments with specific stylists. You can search for stylists by where you are and even by what the stylist specializes in. This is such a wonderful tool not only for people in need of a haircut, also stylists. Stylists can promote themselves for what they are really good at and what they prefer to do.

Melody McCloskey really stood out to me because she experienced a problem and made it into a successful business idea. This is such a great entrepreneurial quality to have. I love how she tapped into an industry that pretty much everyone utilizes and made it better. The cosmetology industry is already a saturated industry, but McCloskey found a way to innovate and come up with something new.

 

 

 

Better Life Bags

What started as a personal craft project grew to an Etsy store, to a Pinterest phenomenon, and then to a full-scale business- helping people all along the way.

Rebecca Smith made herself a diaper bag, posting the images on Facebook; she was very unaware of what an impact those images going public would have. She received many compliments suggesting and inspiring her to start an Etsy shop selling these bags. The shop is called Better Life Bags, in reference to 10% of profits being donated to people in third world countries helping them start their own businesses. The bags, in addition to being practical and cute, allow the customer to pick from a wide variety of fabrics and leathers letting one totally customize the accessory.

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BLB allows you to chooses the leather and fabric colors to create a bag perfectly matching your style. [via]

When a well-known blogger, and then her  many followers, saw the brilliance of this customization and pinned one of her bags, orders flooded in. The number of orders far exceeded what Rachel’s one-woman operation could fill.  Faced with the decision to either quit the business or expand, she rejected the idea of moving production overseas reaching out instead to women in her neighborhood. Smith lives in a neighborhood swirling with diversity and filled with women who have “various barriers to employment,” whether they be cultural or religious. A neighbor from Yemen, Nadia, who is unable to leave her home to work, became Rachel’s first employee. As the business has grown, Rachel has been able to hire many other local women allowing them to provide simple necessities like food and furniture for their families.

These charming bags with cute, customizable colors & choice craftsmanship really live up to their name. Not only will they make your life better, they help Rachel Smith employee those in her community with barriers to employment.

Palmer Luckey

Ever since I was a kid, I have wanted to mess around with virtual Reality. Palmer was born and raised in California where he grew up with the same want that I had. Palmer is 24 years old and is the creator of the Oculus Rift VR headset. He developed the first prototype in 2011 in his parents’ garage. This prototype was the CR-1 and it featured a 90-degree field of view. He continued to improve the module until he reached the 6th-generation, which was named ‘Rift.’ He sold his first 100 headsets as self assemble products. A man named John Carmack was one of those 100 customers. He improved the module and showcased it at the 2012 E3. Palmer dropped out of college to work on the Oculus Rift which had become virtually famous in one day. Palmer’s net worth in 2015 was $700 million! Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion in 2014. Palmer followed his passion for VR and became a billionaire doing it! Talk about a successful entrepreneur!

Did Someone Say Scholarships?

In the big bad world of college searching and funding every student will ask the question “how much?” This question almost always refers to both how much it actually is to go to a school and how much scholarship said school will allot them. However, most students do not know about outside-of-school funding, whether it be state or private funding. The reason being is because of the hassle of the applications for said other scholarships and thus students leave a great asset and well of wealth to the wayside. But now there is a brilliant App/Website designed by a student to help students with their funding needs. Scholly is the brilliant and much needed brainchild of Christopher Gray. Being a low-income student himself, Gray searched for months during his latter years of high school applying for various scholarships until he had racked up enough cash to cover all college fees and then some. The process he went through however, was not an easy one nor a quick one. Thus, Scholly was born. Designed to easily connect students to private scholarships, Gray and his co-founders Nick Pirollo and Bryson Alief came up with an 8 parameter algorithm for easy scholarship connections. Even though it is practically a brand new company, Scholly has helped give out over $20,000,000 to 600,000 users since early 2015. From Chris Gray and me to my fellow broke classmates who are required to write comments; you’re welcome.

Pit It! Pinterest.

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There is an online platform that many individuals, particularly millennials, enjoy. Well, often it’s a procrastination mechanism, at least it is for me. Pinterest allows you to save links to various sites including (but not limited to) retail sites and blogs. “Pins”, as they are called, are categorized and browse-able. With one simple click on the image, your computer, tablet or smartphone immediately links to the site from which the picture was pinned. This allows a user to collect and share others ideas, styles, thoughts, quotes, travels and just about anything you could think to take a snap shot of. I have certainly found myself spending a lot of time on this virtual creativity board.

Ben Silberman, born in 1982, co-founded the virtual pin-board known as Pinterest. Silberman is an internet entrepreneur and acts as the CEO of Pinterest. Silberman is quite the accomplished man. He participated in a prestigious high school research program at MIT, and he later graduated from Yale with his undergraduate degree. Silberman worked at Google in the online advertising group, until he started creating his own apps. Silberman said he thought of Pinterest because he has always liked to collect things. Now, with Pinterest, we can all collect ideas!

Ideas at Your Fingertips

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In March of 2009, Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp, and Paul Sciarra founded Pinterest, a catalog of ideas and inspiration. Originally, no one understood the concept but one day, after a program called “Pin It Forward” was started, users suddenly began to realize what they could do with such a powerful interface as Pinterest. Since then, Pinterest became so popular that it had 17 million users in 2012, compared to the 5,000 users it started with.  It has since grown beyond expectations and is used in thirty languages around the world.

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Today, Pinterest is global site that is used for everything from recipes, to clothing inspiration, to home improvements, or even funny pet videos. Although it may seem counterintuitive, they hope to inspire users with their mission and encourage them to get out and do things. Although Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp, and Paul Sciarra may have felt as though they did not know what they were doing as they were designing Pinterest, they have created an international phenomenon that remains fruitful and popular today.

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Hello Alfred

Watering plants, dry cleaning, shoe repair, furniture assembly, stocking the fridge, dog care, prescriptions, gluten-free snacks, home cleaning, dishes, gift shopping and returns.

These and many more are some of the weekly tasks nearly every individual living on his or her own is responsible for. These things take time. Time that for those who have families and busy work schedules wish they had free to spend with their kids or friends to relax or go to the gym or to get more pressing things done.

29 year old Marcela Sapone and her co-founder Jessica Beck, Harvard Business School grads, realized this when they first hired someone to come to their apartment weekly to take care of those mundane tasks that take up so much time. Then they turned it into a business called Hello Alfred.

Hello Alfred is an app that matches you with a carefully vetted personal butler who visits your home each week to handle the tasks you don’t want to do for just $32 a week (or $58 to visit 2x a week).

Testimonials:

A.J. & Christina C. are Legal Professionals

“There is a sense of peace and calm when you walk into your home and everything is put away. Having your groceries already in the fridge is incredible. No other service does it this way.”

Their Alfred list: Returns, Home Cleaning, Dry Cleaning

James M. career is Real Estate Finance

“I’ve used Alfred for a year. It’s freed up my weekends. Rather than spending Saturday running errands, I go to brunch with friends, sleep in, or go to the gym.”

His Alfred List: Dry Cleaning, gift shopping, home cleaning