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Illustration: Harry Campbell

Brilliant! Jumbo Entrepreneurs and Their Big Ideas

Bee Mine

BIG IDEA: Helping to preserve agricultural ecosystems by providing gardeners with their very own honeybees. Plants can be more productive with honeybees to pollinate them, but the insects’ numbers are in decline. Best Bees remedies the situation by bringing hives right to gardeners’ backyards, even in urban areas. The company manages the bees, too. Customers get to keep the honey and the beeswax, and their money supports research by Wilson-Rich, an ecologist whose current projects focus on improving honeybee health. “This is about saving the world, one honeybee at a time,” he says.

STATUS: Founded in 2010 and based in Boston’s South End, Best Bees currently serves clients in the Boston area and on Cape Cod. It is also fostering education about honeybees by providing classrooms with observation hives. bestbees.com

Preserving Communities

BIG IDEA: Opening people’s eyes to how the time-honored practice of canning and preserving can make a cornucopia of fresh, local, seasonal food available year-round. The fruits, vegetables, and herbs for the products Filippo and his wife-cum-business partner, Ali Rudel, produce come from the farms around them in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the two make a point of sharing their know-how in workshops and after-school programs. “Peppers may not be available locally in January, but that doesn’t have to mean sourcing them from South America,” says Filippo. “We want to show children that they can make delicious preserves that will be accessible in the pantry anytime.”

STATUS: This & That set up operations in Chapel Hill in June 2011, offering such intriguing treats as grapefruit cayenne curd and garlic, white wine, and rosemary jelly. The past fall has seen workshops on beet jam and pepper jam, as well as a purple sweet-potato butter demo. Over the coming year, This & That will be taking its first wholesale orders, selling goods at local farmers’ markets, and, most likely, working with local chefs and bakers to develop jams that pair with their dishes, breads, and other comestibles. thisandthatjam.com

iSpeech Therapy

BIG IDEA: Making effective therapy for stuttering more affordable and available. Treatment has typically required expensive recording equipment and frequent, costly one-on-one sessions with specialists. Balbus Speech cofounders McDermott and his childhood friend Michael Cotter, a Harvard student, have developed an app called Speech4Good for the iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone that changes all that. As in the past, stutterers work through therapeutic drills, speaking into a microphone and listening to a playback of their speech moments later. Since they’re using an app, they can do the exercises any time and simply email the files to their speech therapist to check their progress.

STATUS: Since Speech4Good went on the market in October, it has found customers not only in the United States but as far away as the Philippines and the United Kingdom, primarily through Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. “We’re really taking a social media stance on our marketing,” says McDermott. “It’s what we know best.” balbusspeech.com

Cloud Computing Solutions

BIG IDEA: A helping hand for companies that want to make cloud computing work for them. Monroy points out that the technology often requires complex tools and operations, and that many users struggle to get their software to run in the cloud. OpDemand’s Command & Control offers a library of preassembled templates to ease the process. It also enables users to stop, start, and manage all their cloud services with the click of a button, which can result in a saving of more that ninety percent on cloud hosting.

STATUS: OpDemand, based in Boulder, Colorado, launched Command & Control in November 2011. It runs on Amazon Web Services, and, for now, is free. The company intends to begin charging for it sometime this year. opdemand.com óBeth Horning

 
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