This winter, while the public at large continued to fill booksellers' pockets with the proceeds from novelistic tell-alls like Bridget Jones's Diary and Memoirs of a Geisha, our readers stuffed Inc.'s mailbox with comments on our real-life Start-up Diaries and E-Diaries, both of which made their debut in the January issue.
New Kids on the Block
Our January cover story, the Start-up Diaries, " Taking the Leap," profiled five teams of business founders at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journeys. This reader felt compelled to set a couple of the story's younger subjects straight, drawing on his own work and life experiences.
Your story on FÚxito Worldwide and its two founders rubbed me the wrong way. Here are two kids barely out of their teens who are simply looking for a get-rich-quick scheme. These are not your typical hardworking entrepreneurs -- the kind of folks that I feel should be the focus of your magazine. Come on: $46 million in revenues in the next 36 months? Get real. What really irritated me was the basis for the business -- not to create value for people, not to improve on an aspect of business that already existed, but simply to get acquired or do an initial public offering in order to make a lot of money and retire.
Retire? Hello? These kids are in their early twenties. What's the big rush to make a ton of money? Do something you passionately believe in. Create an environment and a product line that are better than the competition's, and create the kind of corporate culture that makes the world -- and especially the work world -- a better place. Inc. should concentrate on real entrepreneurs -- founders who have experience, passion, vision, and a strong work ethic -- and not on schemers who add very little value to the business world.
Way Cool Inc.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Unfortunately, not every start-up will make it out of the trenches. One Inc. reader has already chosen his pick for "most likely to fail" among our profiled companies.
My vote for the business in the Start-up Diaries that is most likely to fail is 10 Minute Manicure [" Three Women and a Kiosk," by Karen Dillon]. Although the founders' concept is the simplest one reviewed, I expect that the trio -- Karen Janson, Vivian Jimenez, and Lorraine Brennan O'Neil -- will run into a wall in meeting their customer traffic-flow expectation (five customers per hour at each two-chair kiosk for 13 hours every day of the year). Keeping busy at a $4- shoe-shine kiosk is one thing -- it's cheap and both sexes use it. Keeping busy at a $15-manicure kiosk is quite another -- it's relatively expensive and more than half the airport visitors (men) will never use it.
Summit Resources Group Inc.
Other readers, however, drew inspiration from the dedication and sheer energy exhibited by the entrepreneurs we profiled. Among them was this reader.
It's a joy to find an article about such wonderful people as the mother-and-son team of edu.com [" Mother Is the Necessity of Invention," by Leigh Buchanan]. Linda and Adam Kanner make it clear that one of the most important parts of any new business is the contagious drive shared by the founders. And if you're lucky enough to have a member of your family participate in the dream of creating a new business, the rewards are even greater. I should know: seven months ago, my life partner and I started a couture business. It's been a long time since I've taken the time to read your magazine, but now that I've picked up the Start-up Diaries, I recall how much fun and how inspirational it is to read about others like me. Such stories remind me to keep focusing on the future.
Cantu & Castillo
Gaga over Gazooba
In January we ran the first installment of E-Diaries, by Andrew Raskin, cofounder and CEO of Gazooba Corp., an outsourced-viral-marketing dot-com based in Redwood City, Calif. In his first column Raskin described his decision to leave the life of a New York City salaryman for the start-up insanity of Silicon Valley. In February he described the intricate (and unexpectedly profitable) process of choosing Gazooba's quirky name in " The Game of the Name." Readers couldn't get enough of the saga.