Archive for entrepreneur

Respawn

On March 1, 2010 Activision reported the firing of two senior employees to the Security and Exchange Commission. One of these employees was Jason West the Infinity Ward president, game director, co-CCO, and CTO. The other was Vince Zampella the CEO and co-founder of Infinity Ward.

They were dismissed and replaced by Activision, the same company who helped fund their own company Infinity Ward during the golden days of their Call of Duty franchise.

-Jason West on left and Vince Zampella on right

On April 12, 2010, the Los Angeles Times wrote an article about West and Zampella’s new ambitious venture. They were forming a new game developing studio called Respawn Entertainment.

West and Zampella got funding from Electronic Arts (EA) while keeping all intellectual property. After hearing about West and Zampella leaving and starting a new project, a bunch of their old employees from Infinity Ward left to join thier LLC, Respawn.

In June 2013, they debuted Titanfall their new and revolutionary take on first person shooters. The game was released on March 11, 2014 only for xbox. By October 5th of 2015 IGN reported that Titanfall’s sales passed 10 million globally (awesome for a game only on xbox). Recently they have been even more successful with their multi-platform sequel, Titanfall 2.

-Respawn developing team

Official site: http://www.respawn.com/

Los Angeles Times article on Respawn: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/apr/12/entertainment/la-et-ct-callofduty12-2010apr12

IGN article on 1o million in Titanfall sales: http://www.ign.com/articles/2015/10/05/titanfall-sales-pass-10-million-globally

 

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.

blb

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.

Are You Thinking of the Children?

Alain Nteff was, and he was thinking about the mothers too when he created his lifesaving app Gifted Mom.

In 2012, at a twenty years of age, Alain Nteff visited a rural hospital to see his friend Conrad Tankou at a medical practice. At this hospital, Nteff was shocked to learn about the high number of deaths of both mothers and children during the process of birth. Many of these tragedies would be preventable with proper antenatal care. Both Nteff and Tankou set out to see how they could to minimize this affliction in their community.

“The problem of maternal and infant death is not a woman issue — it’s a humanitarian issue. Everybody should take seriously. We all have mothers, we all have sisters, and it’s not just a problem for women or girls.” – Alain Nteff

Nteff and Tankou’s part in solving this problem is an app called Gifted Mom. Gifted Mom offers the following services to women in Cameroon and Nigeria:

– Weekly Antenatal care guide and notifications for pregnant women.
– Vaccination guide and notifications for mothers with children under 5 years.
– Breastfeeding guide for mothers and Career Women.
– Pregnancy Calculator for calculating the expected date of delivery.
– Guide for first time pregnancy and teenage mothers
– Send your concerns to a Doctor and get instant reply.
– Journal your journey

This is a free app and the information it offers is crucial in minimizing unnecessary deaths of mothers and children. If moms have a question, all they have to do is text it to Gifted Mom and they will receive immediate, reliable information. This app also tracks vaccinations in an effort to minimize the 4,000 deaths babies suffer from vaccine-preventable diseases. So far 13,300 mothers and children have been registered through this app. That day trip to the hospital turned into a project that’s give life and hope to many.

It’s Really Quite Pinteresting

Co-founded in 2010, Pinterest is a relatively new company that revolutionized the discovery aspect of social media. With 176 million registered users, it’s clear that millennial founders Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp, and Paul Sciarra (aka Cold Brew Labs) had a stellar idea in the concept of Pinterest.

Pinterest is a visually-driven website that allows users to collect and sort ideas, articles, pictures, and other inspirations. Every “pin” is a photo, and if you like what you see, you can double click to see the pin’s origin or click the repin button to save it to one of your boards. It’s like a virtual scrapbook or file folder- but beautifully designed and much simpler. Additionally, users can add their own content to the site to share their own ideas and work.

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-3-38-40-pm

This wildly successful site was the phoenix that rose out of the founder’s previous app failure, Tote. Part of the reason Tote failed was people hadn’t really begun shopping through apps yet; the main way people used the app was to send product images to themselves. They were image collecting. The recognition of this behavioral trend was the key for Cold Brew Labs’ next innovation. They took this new insight and transferred it over to the web to avoid one of the big potholes Tote had, and voila, Pinterest was born. Its monstrous success is a testament to what can happen when failure is looked at as a learning experience rather than defeat.

Although some have call Pinterest’s CEO somewhat “socially awkward,” it’s clear that his creation is a work of social genius.

[Read more about Pinterest’s origins on Business Insider!]

IdeaPaint

Whilst looking for a way to be able to brainstorm on the walls of his dorm, John Goscha stumbled upon the concept for IdeaPaint, a product that turns any surface into a dry erase board. Through the help of several partners and friends and over the span of four years, IdeaPaint came into commercial existence and revolutionized the process of innovation.

IdeaPaint sells dry erase paint in both clear and white colors, as well as their product PULL, which is a magnetic wall covering that combines with the dry erase paint. The truly unique thing about the paint is it allows you to turn anything into a dry erase board; we’re talking table, doors, and even a camper!

Customers from all over are having IdeaPaint products infused into their offices, businesses, and even their homes. Wayfair, an online home furnishing company, has featured this innovative creation in some of their design creations. TED even had an IdeaPaint coated wall at their 2015 Vancouver Convention Center. It was a prominent place for the TEDsters to collaborate, reflect, and add to artist Cascio’s designs.

IdeaPaint calls their product “the ultimate idea tool” and they hope that they can be a part of their customer’s best ideas. Their innovations are centered around the idea of helping others be innovative, and that’s pretty neat.

Warby Parker

When picking a product, I often hear people toss around the words “fashion” and “function” to describe their purchasing priorities. For me, there’s a third category that warrants equal consideration: the fiscal element. Luckily, one brand that has a tremendous impact of my life discovered how to ace every single one of these divisions. Warby Parker literally affects how I see the world. Yes, literally- not figuratively. They are an eyewear brand whose goal is to provide modish, high-quality eyesight for significantly less than other brands and to impact the world positively while doing it. 

The problem that commenced the creation of this company was the outrageously high price of a crucial product: glasses. The co-CEOs discovered this issue when one of them lost his frames while backpacking, and due to the (previously) expensive nature of the product, had to complete his first semester of grad school in the haze bad vision creates [see the rest of the story here]. They identified that one company had a monopoly on the industry and was creating, “artificially high prices” for the public’s only option. Solving this problem, the team now offers designer eyewear at substantially lower prices whilst simultaneously providing eyewear for those in need with every purchase. Their process is a win for the customer, a win for those in need of eyewear, and- through the buzz it’s created- a win for the company.

Although their number of stores is increasing, online is still a large contributor to Warby Parker’s sales. Glasses, which must be looked at in correlation to each individual’s face, are difficult to pick without having them there in front of you. Warby has two ways to workaround this. The first is a virtual try-on system where you upload a photo and and get to see the glasses on you virtually. The second is Warby offers their customers (and even just potential customers) a service where they send five frames to your home to try them on in person. These innovative methods make online glasses shopping possible and a highly-effective alternative if there isn’t a Warby store near you.

Another key elements of their brand is the atmosphere and community they’ve built. Everything about the brand, whether it be their packaging, website, store, or social media feeds portrays a unique blend of hipness and innovation. The are frequently community events, such as button making parties and concert series, hosted in their quaint and quirky storefronts. It’s very obvious Warby Parker thinks that fun should be a part of the glasses buying process, and honestly, the promotion they do of these events makes me want to be best friends with every single one of their employees. And the community! When I see people in Warby frames I can’t asking about them which without fail has always led to a pleasant, friendly conversation. This cool company has a lot of cool customers.

The best part about Warby Parker’s is that they wrap up fashion, function, social consciousness, and fun, into one neat looking and fiscally-responsible package. What more could a girl with poor eyesight ask for?

 

The Billowing Sails of Innovation.

Expendable energy is a global issue that continues to provoke young entrepreneurs to search for new and creative ways to create renewable energy sources. Many have undertaken to transform the energy market through solar energy, hydroelectric power, biomass and wind turbines, but few have tried to innovate within these renewable sources. Shawn Frayne, the developer and founder of Humdinger Wind Energy, has revolutionized the wind power industry through his wind belt technology. Instead of the traditional, inefficient and unattractive wind turbines, Frayne’s wind belt is microscopic in comparison (ranging in sizes from a couple centimeters- to a couple meters), and 30 times more efficient, edging even into the average price of coal.

"Windbelt technology"

Frayne came up with the idea for the windbelt while on a trip to Haiti, in which he was trying to convert agricultural waste into burnable charcoal. While developing this technology he realized that there was a need for producing low cost energy to provide electricity to impoverished areas. A solar energy plant was out of the question, so the next logical option was wind power. Frayne’s wind belt uses a membrane stretched across a bowed surface that oscillates back and forth when a wind current travels past it. This oscillation creates a current that is transformed into electro-magnetic energy, which is capable of generating a considerable amount of power.

What impresses me the most about Frayne’s innovative style, is not as much the idea he had for the design, but the way he came up with his idea. Frayne had a mind set on a problem, and had a heart that was passionate about finding a solution. He began by focusing on a general need, cheap sustainable energy, and eventually narrowed this need into a specific solution: wind energy.

Hotels for Hope

download

The Brilliant Entrepreneur

After studying hotel management at Penn State, and then beginning a hotel referral service, Neil Goldman initiated a brilliant concept into his business. From owning a broker management hotel service taking overflow business from local Austin hotels in 2008, Goldman began asking his hotel partners to donate $1 per every overnight hotel reservation to aid different children’s charities.  In 2010 this change was made, and matching the $1, “Hotels for Hope” donates $2 to a different children’s charity each time an overnight reservation occurs at any of the 1,000+ hotels Goldman is partnered with.

A Simple Act can Change the Worldimage

This simple concept is ingenious because it encourages people that there is a way to change the world through the simple, very common, act of booking a hotel room. The business model is unique because the people booking rooms are charged nothing. Hotels for Hope handles all aspects of booking the hotels, and out of those profits, donates to charities of choice including “Rock for Kids”, “A Glimmer of Hope Foundation”, “Live Strong Foundation”, “Special Olympics Texas”, and many others.

Hotels for Hope is a for-profit business making a significant social change in the lives of kids through a simple act. Everyday people are so drawn to this business idea because it is proving that having a social impact in the world is tangible. Over 90,000+ nights have been booked through Hotels for Hope, and more than $185,000 has been donated to children’s charities. The company foresees total donations to exceed $1 million dollars by the end of 2015.

Child_with_LIVESTRONG_sticker_700x400An Inspiration to All

 Personally, I see Goldman as a truly   inspiring entrepreneur because of his unique social change twist in his business. I appreciate Goldman’s innovate thought-process in his ability to apply a world influence in a competitive industry. The nature of his business exemplifies the fact that he recognized and evaluated his position in the hotel industry with a new perspective, and then took action. Not only is his thought process and ingenuity commendable, but inspiring through his desire to use his hotel management skills to change children’s lives through these foundations. Neil Goldman is the type of business leader I desire to become and aspire to, and I truly admire and respect his passion to serve others while owning a for-profit company.

For more information…visit www.hotelsforhope.org