Entrepreneurs cash in when times are tight. As businesses struggle to stay afloat in the midst of the recession, cost-cutting measures have become more important than ever. That's a perfect opportunity for entrepreneurs who have figured out ways to help other businesses trim the fat. The Dallas Morning News takes a look at four companies that are making money by helping others save more of their own. One such example, CompanyMileage, offers businesses a way to monitor their employees' driving habits to make sure they aren't fudging their vehicle expenses. The company says it can save their customers about $1,500 per person per year. Given this economy, every little bit helps.
In praise of profits. 37Signals is a great little software company based in Chicago, and it's founder Jason Fried, a must-read business blogger, is always up for a good screed. Most recently, he takes on the tendency of startups to tout statistics like number of users, web traffic, and revenue growth instead of honest-to-goodness profits. He points to a glowing New York Times profile of Evernote, an iPhone application, that noted impressive revenues but no plans for making actual money until 2011. "Would you take your next paycheck in page views? or users? or followers? or visitors? or eyeballs (remember that one from the 90s)?" he asks. "Go down to the corner store and plunk down a million impressions for a gum ball. They'll probably call the cops."
Mint lands even more cash. Watch out Quicken. Mint.com, whose founder Aaron Patzer was featured on last year's 30 Under 30 list, has been growing like crazy thanks to its free, easy-to-use personal personal finance software. Silicon Valley has taken notice. Mint recently landed another round of venture capital funding, getting $14 million from a consortium of VCs led by DAG Ventures. Techcrunch has the news, and notes that the valuation of $140 million, which is very high for a $14 million round, suggests that "Mint is on a roll, and they don't seem to need much capital."
The back door to winning stimulus dollars. Small businesses trying to stake their claim on the billions of federal stimulus dollars being doled out by Washington may be aiming too high by applying directly to the federal agencies, reports the Wall Street Journal. But, for companies with no previous government experience, subcontracting can an easier and more lucrative way in. Large companies bidding on big contracts need small company subcontractors to meet the goals set by government regulators. Meet-and-greets held by federal agencies, trade shows, conferences, and SBA-sponsored networking events can be a good way to introduce your company to prime contractors and federal agency decision-makers. You can also put up a profile on sites like Federal Contracting Network and mySBX.com or identify large prime contractors through the SBA's Subcontracting Network. Want a primer on the ins and outs of the sector? Check out How to Become a Government Contractor from our April issue.
iPhone, read me a story. Ever see an adult snatching a cell phone away from a child, shouting, "This is not a toy!"? Well, Woody Sears and Graham Farrar, the creators of iStoryTime, a platform for creating children's books for the iPhone, may soon be to blame for many a crayon-marked touch screen. The Los Angeles Times reports that the two dads spent four months creating their first iPhone book, "Binky The Pink Elephant." Readers can choose either an adult or child's voice to narrate the story as images and text slide across the screen. Their self-funded company, FrogDogMedia, now has six titles, with another 40 books on deck for release. "Our kids love the books ... That's the best reward," said Sears. Does a free AppleCare subscription for the iPhone come with purchase?
21.4 billion chances to make a buck. Placing ads against online videos--especially the amateur videos that populate sites like YouTube--has always been a difficult proposition, which is why YouTube is working on a deal to allow users to watch full-length movies, according to The New York Times. A deal like this has been in the works for a while but
given that a recent Comscore report says that video junkies in the U.S. gobbled up 21.4 billion videos in the month of July alone, there couldn't be a better time to enter the field.
Weekend watching. Speaking of videos, your daily links team recommends that you use the long weekend to get caught up on Mad Men. And if you're feeling guilty about being entertained and want to learn something, you should read Mike Hofman's blog, where he unpacks the management lessons from each episode. We'll be off until Tuesday, but we'll expect a report on our desk when we return. Happy Labor Day.
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