Subject :Your Daily Entrepreneurial Ideas The Pet Business: Dedicated to Cats, Dogs and their loving Owners
A lot of us take our pets seriously. In fact, most of them are already deemed as part of the family. Reports have shown that in the US a handful of consumers spent USD 45.5 billion in 2009 on these critters, as relayed by the American Pet Products Association. A huge bulk of this money progressively goes toward treating domestic animals in methods that depict their owners' own lifestyle preferences. Here are five products and services that portray this anthropomorphic trend:
1. FIDO FACTOR — Fido Factor is an up to date US directory of dog-friendly restaurants, venues, bookstores and other establishments. The site encourages user-generated content through its iPhone app, Facebook integration, and with the promise of a donation to San Francisco SPCA when new content gets included for that city.
2. COUNTRY DOGS — Country Dogs forges ties with farm owners near US cities to establish boarding facilities for dogs in unused barns, stables or other worthy structures. Referring itself as a more stress-free alternative to urban kennels, the service puts weight on fresh air and exercise for customers' pets in a spacious, rural environment.
3. VET CARE EXPRESS — Vet Care Express offers emergency and non-emergency transport for sick and injured pets in the Florida area. They also provide a taxi service when pets need to be moved from one area to another without their owners. Their 'animal ambulances' are fully equipped with suitable cages, gurneys and first aid facilities.
4. VIYO — Prebiotic drinks like Yakult and Actimel have become very successful in recent years by infusing some fairly sober medical rationale about immune systems with upbeat and positive lifestyle marketing. Now, there's actually a Belgian prebotic for pets. Viyo comes in cat and dog formula, with varieties for different ages. Like its counterparts for humans, the drink is said to contain friendly bacteria plus nutrients, vitamins and other supplements.
5. PET SPEAKERS — Cats and dogs are more sensitive to sound than their owners. Pet hearing specialists Pet Acoustics have devised a music system geared towards pleasing both man and beast: My Pet Speaker gets rid of harmful frequencies that are unnoticeable by humans but could be harmful to cats, dogs, and horses too. What makes this interesting is the controls are all adjusted so they can't be flicked by passing tails.
The Online Room Makeover Business
Not everyone has a knack for interior design—or the budget to hire a certified, custom service provider. But, California-based Avenue Interior Design recently launched an online service package that hopes to provide consumers a more affordable way to get a professional look for their home.
Clients start by selecting the room or rooms they want to make over. They then browse through Avenue's I Heart Design site, which offers nine very different styles endorsed by its designers. Each is represented by a door with a corresponding style; when clicked, users can see inside for a closer look. Once they find a look or style they like, users tell I Heart Design about their goals for the room and any special considerations, such as pets with a penchant for muddy paw prints. Then the room is measured, followed by uploading a few photos including any furniture that will be reused. For a fee of USD 3.50 per square foot, I Heart Design will then send out a custom box including two space plan options for each room; a spec card for each piece of furniture the designers selected; a paint card with recommended colours; a window treatment card with recommended styles; and a tape measure and other small tools. I Heart Design selects items from a mix of flea markets, national retailers and trade-specific vendors, according to a report on Daily Candy. Consumers can purchase their preferences directly from their personal online design board on the site.
This fall, I Heart Design by Avenue will launch a similar project targeted at hospitality providers. Perhaps something to try out on your own hotel or restaurant, or emulate in another part of the world?
Bike Seat Cover Advertisements
As the popularity of bicycles grow so, do similar opportunities for smart entrepreneurs and marketers. An idea we've regularly noticed in bike-loving European cities—including our own rides in Amsterdam is bike seat advertising.
Ads are printed on plastic bike seat covers, which are then placed over the seats of parked bicycles, keeping seats dry and leaving a truly lasting impression. By selecting specific locations or even certain types of bikes, advertisers can target an audience that's as narrow or wide as needed. Parked bikes near universities to reach students, for example, or schools and cargo bikes—the Amsterdam version of the minivan—to identify parents.
In Europe, the covers are sold by a number of companies, including Zadelhoesje, which addresses environmental concerns by selling seat covers composed of recycled plastic. This one is definitely something to look into if you're in advertising or promoting products. Or why not establish a one-stop business, offering both printed covers and promotional teams to disseminate them?
Thanks to GPS-enabled mobile technologies, neighbours are communicating in more unique and unimaginable ways. This is where BlockChalkfacilitates geo-tagged messaging in general, Anttenna focuses on creating a fresh, location-aware approach to the usual classifieds.
Using a free iPhone application, Anttenna enables real-time, location-based, person-to-person exchanges by turning conventional classified listings into geo-tagged, Twitter-sized “microlistings,” as it calls them. With a platform that's actually built on top of Twitter, Anttenna lets users quickly connect with people nearby to purchase, sell things or just reach out. Items for sale get posted to the site's “supply chain,” while wanted goods are placed on its demand side; either way, posting takes less than a minute, the company says. Listings can be sorted by keyword, category, location and proximity; examples might include finding a concert ticket on location at a music festival, helping lost pets reunite with their owners, or finding a free sofa right down the street. Following pilot tests in San Diego, Seattle and Austin, Anttenna is now available in most key cities across the United States and Canada.
Marcus Wandell, Anttenna's cofounder and CEO, explains: “With the exception of posting ads online and making them searchable, classified ads really haven't evolved all that much since they were introduced 300 years ago. Anttenna makes full use of the smartphone platforms and new communications standards to give individuals a whole new method of using classified advertising. Anttenna delivers a constant stream of hyperlocal, real-time listings, always relevant given the moment and location in which they are seen.” For businesses, of course, the advertising potential is nonetheless as convincing. Mobile-minded entrepreneurs: time to fire up the location-based buying-and-selling machineries near you...?
Open education platform for short university courses
We've already seen a lot of open education initiatives—including, Betterfly and the University of the People just recently—but we couldn't resist sharing news of one more. Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) is an online community of open study groups for short, university-level courses.
Aiming to enable “learning for everyone, by everyone, about almost anything,” P2PU forms small groups of driven learners and supports the design and handling of free courses. At present, the project is in a test phase, and offers scheduled courses that run for six weeks and cover university-level topics. Each course package—organized by a volunteer—contains the syllabus, study materials and a schedule; learning is done in small groups of between eight and 14 students. Peers in each course evaluate each other's work, and online certificates are given upon completion of a course; P2PU is working towards acquiring format credit as well. Ultimately, the goal is to become more of a platform so anyone can use P2PU to organize, design and offer courses. In the meantime, registration for the next round of courses will begin in September.
P2PU is supported in part by the Hewlett Foundation, the Shuttleworth Foundation and the University of California at Irvine. Social entrepreneurs: Here’s another reason to be motivated!