Monthly Archives: April 2005

New Venture – FancyBlog.com

Starting a side income is not hard as most people think. Take for example the “business” I thought of, then created in 15 minutes: www.FancyBlog.com

FancyBlog will be one of the only sites that offers free blog templates for a variety of blogging formats.

FancyBlog will offer:
Blogger Templates
Xanga Templates
Xanga Skins
Movable Type Templates
WordPress Templates

Here is the quick story of how I thought of and ACTED UPON the idea behind FancyBlog. This all happened on Sunday (4-10-2005) at 2:15pm:

  • 2:15pm – Doing some work at a coffee house when….
  • 2:16pm – Realized people like to “fancy up” their blogs.
  • 2:17pm – Checked availability of domain name.
  • 2:19pm – Had the domain name registered.
  • 2:20pm – Setup the DNS service on my server
  • 2:22pm – Designed a simple yet dynamicly upgradable site.
  • 2:25pm – Posted 2 blog templates for each blogging format.
  • 2:28pm – Adjustments and preperation for more templates.
  • 2:29pm – Added an advertisment for another business.
  • 2:30pm – BAM!! NEW ONLINE BUSINESS!

Will I make any advertising money on this? Who knows. Did I complete a business from “idea” to “live” in the time it takes to watch half a sit-com?….you betchyour ass I did. New blogs will continually be added and the business will hopefully take off.

Ideas are all around, just keep your eyes open for them.


On another note, people have lately been asking how much traffic I get. Here is a direct screenshot of my Plesk reports:

(Keep in mind that April is not over, so all traffic is not accounted for)

Piggy Banks Aren’t JUST for Children

Ahh, the famous piggy bank. Call it a piggy bank, money box, change jar….whatever. The point is to put spare change from time to into this container for savings.

I think the power of the piggy bank is very underestimated. Take a look at MY piggy bank (Actually it’s a 3-year old Snapple bottle).

I stash away spare change AND SPARE BILLS. If I have five $1 bills, I will (without thinking) stash away two of them in the change jar. I do this all the time. I even stash $10′s and $20′s in there at times.

If you use a lot of cash or change, make a subconcious habit of putting some of it away everyday. DO NOT USE THE CHANGE JAR FOR SPENDING. This defeats the whole purpose.

Once, you’ve got a nice amount built up:

  • Go to a CoinStar or similar machine that gives you cash for change (at local grocery).
  • Get your ca$h.
  • Count all cash.
  • Deposit all cash into bank.
  • Keep 10% or 20% of the money for spending purposes (this will “reward” you for stashing money away).

Since January I will have “made” over $100 from my change jar. Not bad considering it would have just been money wasted in other places.

Also make sure to pickup EVERY penny, nickle, dime and quarter you see laying around. It truly adds up. I was once walking with a multi-multi-MULTI-millionaire who caught sight of a penny from the corner of his eye. Without breaking his line of conversation, he stopped, turned around, walked to the penny, picked up the penny and continued walking with me. He proceeded to carry on the conversation like nothing happened.

I understand why….it’s FREE money. No matter what economic class you are in, you’ve gotta like free money.

This has got to be the simplest form of savings possible. Do it…….NOW.

I’ve Got Friends In HIGH Places

I’m attending a Texas Entrepreneurs event this Tuesday when I get an offer I COULD NOT refuse…hob-nobbing with the WEALTHIEST people all over Austin…

…..oh yeah, including ELTON JOHN and ANDY RODDICK.

I rushed home, put on nice clothes and headed over to the Four Seasons Hotel where I was helped into the this exclusive event by “Bob” and a special access wristband:

This event was an extremely exclusive, private party hosted by the Andy Roddick Foundation. With less than 400 people, the group raised over $800,000 last night.

I had the pleasure of meeting Andy, he was a really nice guy with a really great organization:

The first hour and few minutes of the event was more like a bar scene. Everyone was walking around, talking, eating hors d’oeuvres and drinking champagne. Everything was FANCY. The food, drinks and even the bathroom:

Later on I got to meet Elton John for a little while and shake his hand. I didn’t get a picture, but after dinner and auction that raised over $300,000 alone, he began his performance for a very enthusiastic group of around 350 lucky people:

This performance was taking place while I was being served a six-course meal and “free” booze.

Elton’s performance was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. He got the entire room standing up and singing along. Someone then paid (donated) $19,000 to hear him sing Candle In the Wind!!

The room looked incredible as everyone held up candles during the song:

Click here to see a small video clip of Elton’s Candle In the Wind performance (1.3 MB)

SO. Besides me showing off the fun I had last night, there is a lesson to take away from this. MEET PEOPLE. Meet LOTS AND LOTS people. Network. If it weren’t for me networking, I would have just had a plain-old Tuesday night. Instead, Bob, who I met through networking, helped me connect with some of the nations wealthiest and most powerful people (I met TWO billionaires that night…that’s right…with a capital B).

Try THAT sitting at home watching TV!

Here are some pics of Elton mingling with the crowd (Courtesy of Bob):

Lots of people were wearing crazy “Elton John Style” glasses

If you’re Elton John, it’s hard to walk through a crowd without signing your name and taking a million pictures.

All in all, it was an AWSOME night. I got to meet tons of powerful and successful people, wine and dine, meet two major celebs and get more experience on how to “work a room.”

I almost forgot….Thanks for everything ‘Bob’! Its not everyday that I go to a party that requires a 4-figure payment and an exclusive invite just to get in ;)

Gaga for Google

I love google and everything they do. Google.com is my homepage and I use just about every feature on the Google Toolbar (which is the BEST software product in the WORLD….in my opinion).

Check out this simply AMAZING map tool. It’s a version of Google Maps where you can actually view satellite images of any location you enter. You’ll see what I mean: Google Maps (click on “satellite” at the top/right).

They are extremely innovative, fast-paced, a money-making machine and OVERPRICED.

Google is in a quick-growth phase. Take a look at a yearly chart:

It took only 5 months for the stock to double, not uncommon, but this is a stock with a $50,000,000,000 market cap. ($64 Billion at the time of this writing). The P/E ratio for Google has been over 140 for quite some time….it’s like a bull maket relic!

I’m sure there is tons of money to be made with the Google stock, but I am going to stay conservative and not buy. “Everyhing reverts back to the mean” according to Warren Buffet, who was also one of the few investors to come out of the tech bubble in a profit.

Take a look at a five year chart I pulled of Google:

Viewing the yearly chart really shows the rapid growth of Google. While I love ‘em, I feel paying for a stock trading with a 140 P/E spells disaster in the longterm.

I’m looking to open an E-Trade account in addition to my current Ameritrade account. E-Trade allows you to buy specific international stocks, and I’ve had my eye on a few lately.

I could really go for a Google Lunch right now.
Ciao.

Billion Dollar Ideas Are WORTHLESS

After talking to a couple wannabe entrepreneurs last week, I noticed some extremely strong misconceptions about starting new businesses and entrepreneurship in general.

One phrase that pretty much sums up entrepreneurship:

“It’s not the idea, it’s the jockey”

To prove this point. I am going to give away an almost sure-fire way to get rich:

———
As China is currently undergoing its own industrial revolution, simply replicate some of the services offered in the fully developed western countries. Start large chains of dry cleaners, gas stations, coffee shops, law firms, tax firms, shipping centers etc. and you will become filthy rich.
———

There, I just gave away a very feasible idea to literally become a billionaire. But who will act on it?

The person that has the courage to relocate to China and hurdle over the untold amount of obstacles is worth a billion dollars. NOT THE IDEA.

I told all my friends about my first online business idea, but I was the only one who acted on it. The idea wasn’t exactly unique, I just had the audacity to carry it out. After the business became lucrative, everyone wanted to be a part of it.

As Gandhi said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

If you’re not the type of person who wants to jump all the hurdles and face the uncertainty of opening your own business, who cares! A franchise can offer great potential along with a tried-and-proven method to running a business already backing you. I suggest you check out Dane Carlson’s Business Opportunities Weblog for tons of great franchise ideas and articles about entrepreneurship.

So next time you hear someone tell you about a new idea, make your judgement based 10% on the idea and 90% on the person carrying it out.

The Cost of Going Out

Take a look at my current assets and glance at my Spending Account.

Balance: $.86 (That’s 86 CENTS)

So it looks like I will be living very frugally this weekend! I will stay away from 4th Street (Where I have been very often recently because of the Alamo Apprentice) and I will not spend on any frivolous expenses. I need to be careful of making it to Downtown this weekend:

The Downtown area of Austin has a few primary attractions:

  • 6th Street - Cheap drinks, lots of live music and tons of college students. Austin is the Live Music Capitol of the US. On weekdays regular drinks are generally in the $1 range, very cheap. Weekends the price goes up to at least $2.00 specials and an average of $3.50-$6.00 for anything else. 6th Street is blocked off at nights due to the mass amount of people that walk through (It’s like a mini Bourbon Street). Lots of small food vendors on 6th also. I DO NOT leave 6th without getting pizza first (and maybe a Bratwurst). It’s a strict rule.
  • 5th Street - A mixture of clubs, restaurants and nicer bars. Priced between 4th and 6th Streets, but leans more towards 4th Street prices.
  • 4th Street - Mainly the more affluent, 25+ crowd. The bars and clubs here are swankier and appropriate dress is required. Expect to pay $6.50 – $12.00 for a relatively common drink (Mohito, Martini etc). There are lots of very nice restaurants in this area. My record is a $150 bill for 2 people at a Hawaain Fusion restaurant. I tend to have a drooling problem on 4th because of the amazing cars.

Going Downtown with friends generally ends up being pretty expensive, especially when you pay for other people also…but it’s also terribly fun!

Luckily I am good about not exceeding my spending account (I still have $20 in cash for the weekend), but I must spend it wisely. I also need to keep at least a $50 cushion of money in the Spending Account.

I wish I was a non-drinking, anorexic vegetarian. Life would be so much cheaper :-)

Alamo Apprentice Results

The Alamo Apprentice event held by my Texas Entrepreneurs team, the Profiteers, went even better than expected.

We sold out the entire theater in no time and maxed it out till the fire code allowed, and set a RECORD IN FOOD/DRINK sales! We also sold movie prop bags for $8 each which sold out in no time also. The SouthPark Singalong was a HUGE success thanks to our great team.

The entire point of the Alamo Apprentice competition was to maximize our revenue, and we did that with flying colors over the opposing team. The lowest grossing waiter at our event sold 1/3rd MORE food and drink than the ENTIRE staff at the opposing teams event held yesterday!

Needless to say, I think our team won. We also had a very vibrant team which provided tons of great footage for the Alamo Apprentice movie being shown on April 30th. I turned myself into a walking billboard to advertise the event, and wore an afro wig just to gain more attention, but in the end it didn’t matter since we already had a sold out show.

This event provided real life experience (and tons of fun) that cannot be taught in a classroom. Texas Entrepreneurs will get 50% of the revenue generated from our event. The other team has to wash dishes.

Checkout a small video of our event. (Download Here. 2.4 MB). Warning: There is some foul language in the video. You had to be there to understand how much fun the audience was having!

Alamo Apprentice

I’m involved with a group called Texas Entrepreneurs which is hosting an event: The Alamo Apprentice.

The owner of the Alamo Drafthouse (A highly successful chain of movie theaters that serve food/drinks during movies), Tim League, is acting as “The Donald” and each team is overlooked by either “Caryn” or “George

Texas Entrepreneurs has split up into two groups, each with the goal of making more money in one night than the other. All meetings, events, boardroom meetings and shows are filmed at all times. There will be a movie made out of this and will show at the Alamo Drafthouse on April 30th.

I am on the team: The Profiteers

Our event is tomorrow. We will be hosting a SouthPark Movie Singalong (the craziest things make the most money at the Alamo Drafthouse). We are expecting a full house. Profits will come from ticket sales, props sales(for use during the movie), drink sales and food sales.

Yesterday, the opposing team (Dishwasher Productions) held their event which featured live music, comedians and a movie. We decided to sabotage them.
We scored 20 free pizzas from Gumby’s Pizza, 250 wings from Plucker’s, and gave out all the free food any ticket-holder could eat! This effectively reduced their food sales. Ruthless.

Today is our big event!

Free Publicity

Publicity, companies pay dearly for it and many people (such as bloggers) want it.
But how can you get free publicity?

An easy answer can be found by viewing some successes of the free publicity world. This is the stuff they do not teach in marketing classes:

Eminem -
A white rapper that spits out lyrics which offend, criticize and make fun of every imaginable race, gender, ethnicity and celebrity out there. He has effectively used “bad” publicity to propel him to one of the top selling rappers of all time.

GoldenPalace.com -
In the extremely lucrative online gambling business, it is important to get your name out there. GoldenPalace has taken on a completely unorthodoxed approach for their advertising.
They bought on Ebay:

  • Ad space on a woman’ cleavage. (here)
  • A 10 year old grilled cheese sandwich which has an apparent image of the Virgin Mary for $28,000 (here)
  • A “haunted walking cane” bought for $65,000
  • Bumper sticker for $10,000
  • Much more crazy stuff

Is this the most foolishly spent money ever, or the sign of a brilliant ad campaign? By buying a $28,000 grilled cheese sandwich, GoldenPalace got tons of free media attention on CNN, The Register, BBC, Fox, local stations, newspapers, magazines and now my site. Looks like their “silly purchases” bought them a lot more name recognition than a television ad or other conventional method.

Marilyn Manson -
Gained tons of free publicity from his outrageous stage antics. His name is now known all across America and all the way to the bank. People would stage protests during his concerts which would just give him free media attention.


Maddox -
The prodigal example of how controversy = free advertisement. His painfully simple website which is not even updated that often receives more traffic than McDonald’s. He recently surpassed his 100-millionth visit. His website is so popular that his Google PageRank rivals CNN.com. The “Mothers Against Maddox” online petition actually boosted his visits, because:

controversy = exposure

If you ask me, this guy knows what he’s doing. He now has a book coming out thanks to his mass exposure.

——–

Controversy, scandals and rivalries get lots of attention. The effective use of these can mean tons of exposure for $0.00

These are just a few examples, fill up the comments section with other examples you may know of. I love hearing of how people exploit the free publicity machine.

Noah Kagan brought to my attention this blurb. In the comments they call me a “Bernie-Ebbers-in-training”….but they are just bringing more and more attention to my site. As a media-whore entrepreneur friend of mine once told me, “Let them say what they want, just make sure they spell your name right.”

Bubbles In History

There is all sorts of talk about why the “Tech Bubble” was created then burst so suddenly. It’s really no secret, especially when looking at it in hindsight.

Bubbles happen over and over in history because the chance to make a buck is generally too appealling for the public to resist.

Bubbles have happened all through history, in every country and in various sectors of these economies. Let’s take a quick stroll through a few major bubbles over the centuries:

Tulip-Bulb Bubble of 1634

  • A non-lethal strain of virus caused some tulips to devlop stripes.
  • Enthralled with these new flowers, tulips were in high demand.
  • As more and more people watched all their friends getting rich by selling tuplip bulbs, they too saw an opportunity to get rich quick.
  • People from every walk of life starting selling the bulbs, even selling their homes to buy them.
  • With such nice high prices, everyone started selling their bulbs to extract profit. Supply now far exceeded demand and the prices fell dramatically.
  • Many small investors were highly leveraged to buy tulip bulbs, and many loans were defaulted on.
  • The small investors ended up being hurt the most.

The South Sea Bubble:

  • In 1711 The South Sea Company was formed in England.
  • Public saw enormous potential in the South Sea Company and the soaring stock price showed their sentiment.
  • All sorts of new companies went public after seeing The South Sea Company’s success on the market. All these stocks enjoyed immediate stock inflation as the public poured in money.
  • The directors of the The South Seas Company saw their stock rise from 55 to 1,000 and knew it had no relationship whatsoever to the company earnings.
  • They sold all their stock at its highest price.
  • Directors then made the announcement that the stock was not being based upon actual earnings, but public speculation.
  • The stock plummeted as people began bailing out of the stock
  • The small investors ended up being hurt the most.

Florida Real Estate Craze of the 1920′s:

  • Land bought in Miami for around $800,000 in 1923 could be subdivided and sold in 1924 for twice the price.
  • The next year, that same land could be sold for $4,000,000. With real estate red hot, the public saw an opportunity and acted.
  • One third of the Miami population had become real estate agents by this time.
  • The bubble then collapsed as there was a lack of buyers and huge supply of sellers.
  • The small investors ended up being hurt the most.

Needless to remark on, the severe stock crash of 1929 was also just a giant bubble that burst.

What I’ve noticed is the remarkably similar situation we are currently experiencing with real estate. The popularity of books like “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” which promise riches from buying old properties and selling or renting them out has encouraged everyone and their dog to become involved in real estate and become an agent.

The small investors will invariably get hurt in the end.

You cannot predict the madness of the masses, so a better lesson to take out of this is how to profit from it: Get on board early and when the masses of people start entering the sector, get ready to bail.

Obviously this is easier said than done.