brilliant! Jumbo entrepreneurs and their big ideas
An SAT for BusinessCertified Business Laureate Exam
THE BIG IDEA: Giving firms a way to determine which entry-level job candidates have the skills to cut it in the business world. Friedman’s Certified Business Laureate Exam, aimed at undergraduates and recent graduates, measures standard business know-how—financial acumen as well as proficiency in basic accounting, general marketing, MS Office, and business writing. Employers could use it much as colleges use the SAT.
STATUS: Friedman has collaborated with business professors from around the country to create the exam. To ensure scoring that yields reliable results, he has enlisted the test developer McCann Associates. More than a thousand students have signed up for practice exams, and they’ll be able to take the real thing at 221 testing centers nationwide. Fifty representatives have been hired to spread the word about the test on campuses, at career fairs, and with career services offices. Friedman is also offering a guarantee: a refund of the $250 exam fee if high scorers do not find employment in six months. He reasons that securing a substantial wave of subjects for the first rounds of the test could lead to a huge network effect. “Once it’s out there and candidates and businesses start using it, it encourages other candidates and businesses to start using it.” thebusinesstest.com —ALEX BLOOM, A08
Wine on TapSilvertap Wines
THE BIG IDEA: Delivering wine to restaurants, bars, hotels, and caterers in kegs—just like craft beer. By eliminating bottles, foils, corks, cardboard, and labels, wine on tap will save a ton and a half of trash for every by-the-glass wine it replaces, and it could be sold for two dollars less. Because the wine is pushed out of the kegs with nitrogen gas and never comes in contact with oxygen, it stays drinkable from the first glass to the last.
STATUS: Kivelstadt cofounded Free Flow Wines, the first wine-on-tap company in the United States, in 2009. Free Flow launched Silvertap Wines, the first wine brand to be marketed and sold exclusively by the keg, in January 2010. Starting with only two accounts in San Francisco, Silvertap now covers more than a hundred accounts in twenty states. silvertapwines.com
Anything for Rent
THE BIG IDEA: An online marketplace for any type of rental. Through RentCycle, businesses can promote their products, take reservations, and generate revenue around the clock, while consumers can get their hands on everything from skis to bounce houses to tuxedos quickly and easily without having to buy. This, says the company’s mission statement, will “inspire a community of sharing that reduces production, reuses what we already have, and makes the world a less cluttered place to live.”
STATUS: Founded in 2009, RentCycle now boasts some twenty thousand rentable products in sixteen hundred categories, from more than thirty thousand rental shops across the United States. Halter notes that because RentCycle is a web-based business, it has managed to get off the ground for very little money. “The nice thing about technology startups is that, unlike capital-intensive industries, websites can be developed with virtually no up-front money required,” he writes on the company’s blog, “Thoughts for Rent.” rentcycle.com
A Social Network for Pet Owners
THE BIG IDEA: A convenient website where people can find, book, and pay for pet care. Pet It Forward has its own currency system, in which users can buy points or earn them by providing pet care for others. Users also set up a Facebook-like profile with information about themselves and their pets and, if they like, join groups based on their location, type of pet, and other categories.
STATUS: Dreher launched Pet It Forward in New York City this past April. “We’ve had a great response,” she told the Stamford (Connecticut) Patch website. “A couple hundred have signed up already and people have been really intrigued.” The service is now gauging customer satisfaction, tweaking its operations, and gearing up to open in other major cities. petitforward.org
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