SUMO DOJO – Discussing businesses we’ve started in the past

Every entrepreneur has started a bunch of stupid (or not-so-stupid) businesses.

Some succeed, some fail, some just chug along.  But lessons are learned every single time.  Noah and I discuss some of the businesses we’ve tried (plus we totally butcher a Blind Melon song) :-)

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    Blog posted on: January 20, 2012

    47 comments on “SUMO DOJO – Discussing businesses we’ve started in the past

        1. Chris

          Yeah, in the best year it made $14k, not bad for college cash! BTW some day I’m gonna buy you guys some tacos for lunch…love the videos

          Reply
      1. Neville

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

        I noticed that after we filmed…that there is a MALE strip club across the street in the window!

        You have a (questionably) good eye ;-)

        Reply
    1. recholes

      I started selling Twitter background design on Fiverr.com. This was a dumb idea because this was right before they went to the new layout so you could barely see my design. I got one paid customer before I realized the limitation of the business.

      Reply
    2. Daniel Gonzalez

      This is awesome guys! I’m gonna launch a website around puppies, somewhat inspired by the chihuahua business idea from Tim Ferris’s blog.

      I’m gonna charge people to list their puppies when they want to sellem….

      Reply
      1. Neville Post author

        Interesting. Try validating the idea on a small scale….or using a pre-existing script rather than re-building a system like that.

        Google the terms:
        “Ebay Script”
        “Ebay clone script”
        “Craigalist close script”

        ….or stuff like that to start

        Reply
      2. recholes

        If you lived by me there is great potential in that. The major Houston highways are sprinkled with folks selling dogs on the side of the road.

        Its never cold around here, maybe you want to take that in to consideration when you plan your target customer. Somekind of service for people to list their puppies as they sit on the side of the road. Maybe amplify tweets or Facebook posts ? Thats a freebie add on to your idea.

        Reply
        1. Neville Post author

          Only problem with this business model (and a BIG problem) is that you have to get exposure to all these people first.

          Places like Craigslist grew organically……and people think they can just replicate that right away. It’s a difficult task…and maybe possible, but it’s always good to start off with a community first.

          Like if the SPCA made a website like that…..it’d make sense because they already have access to many thousands of people looking for pets (and getting rid of them)

          Reply
    3. recholes

      Neville just curious… how do you know that is MALE strip club. I can not tell from the video. I take it you have been there ?

      NO judgement. Just asking. ha ha ha.
      Noah I like the glasses look.

      Reply
      1. Neville Post author

        LOL! Just google “La Bare” and see whatchya find ;-)

        Funny enough…the office is also right next door to a bank with an ATM. Coincidence??

        Reply
        1. Casey

          Hey Nev,

          I’ve been reading through all your posts the past couple days. I knew you were here in town, but when I saw that La Bare, I had to ask what building you’re in! I work for a website at 611 S Congress. Are you guys in the 511 building?

          Reply
          1. Neville Post author

            Right now we’re right next door to Freebirds (old WhaleShark media office).

            Close access to coffee shop, burritos, and of course….a male strip club!

    4. will

      this is great. one of mine was hamstermania dot net – purveyor of top quality hamster care ebooks…

      spot on about 1) needing to fail to figure out what works and 2) the connection between value given and money got

      Reply
    5. Sarah

      1 of the businesses I ran in high school was taking photos of the boys, to order, and selling them to the girls :-) This was in the days of film – no digital cameras back then – 1985!

      Reply
      1. Neville Post author

        Wow….that’s clever…..and possibly borderline illegal :-)

        I bet it would’ve worked a lot better the other way around (and been MORE shady) ;-)

        Reply
    6. Andrew

      In UK over a decades ago, Sky TV was rare entertainment in my little town i used to live in. I used to record films onto VHS and rent it off in school. That was pretty fun as i collect money first things every morning. Until it became popular, i then use to steal sweet and sour chicken from my parent shop and sells them off for breakfast in the classroom. Got in right trouble from school health secretary : )

      Reply
      1. Neville Post author

        hahahahah…..at least you were hustling from a young age! I believe that’s the #1 indication of success….at what young age you start getting businesses going

        Reply
      1. Neville Post author

        Hahahah…..yea, I would see all the counterfeit software and music all over India and other countries too.

        I guess I was in the same business as they were :-)

        Reply
    7. Recholes

      Stupid business ideas are interesting. Nev we should get a list going kinda like a follow up to the old cliche business ideas post. It’s about time that thing is ancient, have you seen that site (http://clicheideas.com/) only cliche idea site I could find in a google search and it was done in ’05.

      Great post I think cliche ideas and stupid ideas work great to build community. Kinda like we have all had them so you don’t feel as failury.

      Reply
    8. Virginia

      Nice Martin, sounds lovely. I picked one up second hand last summer!

      Had an okay business riding horses for folks when I didn’t have a horse. (Really, all I cared about was riding, ended up charging people to cover my gas.) As it turns out instead of paying $2000 for a horse and then another $300-450 a month board plus, farrier, vet, etc etc. People who already pay all of those expenses will also pay you (provided you can ride well) to ride their horse!
      *** can be dangerous b/c people will lie to you about the level of training their horse has had, hoping to get you to break them in.

      Reply
      1. Neville Post author

        Nice job! Getting to do what you like…for FREE! Or even making money at it…

        You could’ve trained yourself a little more and charged them extra for Riding AND Training them :-)

        Reply
    9. David

      In high school I ran a vending business using a minifridge in a classroom. It was based on the honesty system but I made around $3K. In college I started a small DJ business. Both were dependent on being physically present in the specific market so I had to drop them.

      Reply
      1. Neville Post author

        But at least you DID them! All our first businesses were just little hustles. Just part of the learning process :-)

        And 3K in high school is hella-money!

        Reply
    10. Michael (@enjoytheworkout)

      Speaking of illegal businesses…it turns out that publishers don’t like it when you sell the teacher’s edition of a college textbook in pdf format. They sell really well to the students since they have every answer to each question at the end of the chapters, but their lawyers complained about something called “copyright law”. lol. I made close to $600, but since I sold them on ebay the lawyers were able to find out how many I sold and made me pay them back every bit of it. I learned very quickly from that failed “business”. :)

      Reply
      1. Neville

        Hahahaha….wow, I bet the lawyers spent a bunch of time just getting you to pay everything back. Probably cost $5k in legal fees :-)

        …although I totally would’ve bought one ;-)

        Reply
    11. Gregg

      When I was 10 years old my mom had a motor bike shop. She had small mirrors that were meant for sticking to helmets as rear view mirrors. These didn’t sell, so I took them to school to sell them to boys who would stick them on their shoes and use them to look up girls dresses. I ended up giving most of them to friends, but at the time I thought the selling point was good.

      Reply
    12. Jim

      My web site (colosag) really sucks. Trying to adsense all current events even if it only makes $40. I love how you reply to every post. Please don’t reply to this one… tempting isn’t it?

      Reply
    13. Buddy

      Hi Neville,
      I just started following you and have a question concerning affiliate programs. I happen to be a resident where Amazon no longer offers an affiliate program due to the taxes required to be collected by online sales now. I was wondering, since that was probably one of the largest affiliate programs you could belong to, what are my other options with decent affiliates? I know a current work around, but then it would actually go against the validation technique (incorporate myself in another state). Either way, I guess I’ll have to figure something else out. Great site and videos!

      Reply

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