Launch a company for $12, sell it for $100,000. Sean Percival didn't have huge ambitions when he launched a website selling customized European license plates. He wanted to flex his business skills and get a little cash. He used a free e-commerce website, partnered with another license plate company to outsource filling and shipping orders and taught himself search engine optimization. Enter the magic of Twitter. Percival tweeted that he was thinking of selling it and got an offer for about $100,000. We'll do the math: that's an 833,233-percent return on investment. (Via @neilpatel.)
Vitaminwater takes product development to Facebook. In an announcement that would have made no sense 10 years ago-and in a potential sign of the apocalypse--Vitaminwater's newest soft drink flavor will be based on the social network Facebook. The beverage company, which sold itself to Coke in 2007 for $4.1 billion, has never been afraid to pursue unusual brand associations (you may recall those billboards with 50 Cent reading the Wall Street Journal). TechCrunch has the news and the Vitaminwater Facebook page, where the company asked for input from customers, says that the drink, called Connect, will be flavored with Black Cherry and Lime and will give you energy to power through marathon Facebook sessions.
Five web apps you should be using. It's apparent that web apps are quickly becoming an effective way to organize your business, but it might not be so clear which apps are the best tools for which tasks. ReadWriteWeb has these five suggestions for startups: use Google Docs for document sharing; Basecamp for managing projects; Dropbox for file storage; MindMeister for brainstorming. And if you're a business owner on the go, look no further than our list of the 13 best smartphone apps for people like you.
The joys of telecommuting. With winter's fury in full effect throughout much of the country, a growing number of businesses are embracing telecommuting as a way to keep their snowbound employees off of icy roads yet productive at the same time. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution offers up some tips on implementing a successful telecommuting program, illustrated by some local businesses that have have managed to do just that. As the article points out, getting a telecommuting program started doesn't happen overnight. "This is not something you can do in just a couple of days," says one consultant. "You need to have a clear policy and guidelines and rules in place so that workers and managers are on the same page."
A new year for the IPO. Yes, last year's venture-backed IPO market was bad. But peHUB says signs are pointing toward a much better year in 2010, with 28 VC-backed companies currently in IPO registration. Newegg is one of them, Facebook is not (yet).
Google deals blow to location-based apps. Just like it barreled its hairy, 800-pound self into the turn-by-turn GPS space, Google is now edging into the territory of location-based app developers with its new "near me now" feature. A post on Google's blog claims the company is aiming to solve the dual problems of finding products and services near you and simplifying the search for popular local categories such as banks or restaurants. Fast Company on the other hand suspects something a bit more nefarious, since both of these functionalities already exist in app land. Kit Eaton writes in a techhead's mini-jeremiad, "we're not saying you're evil Google--you just sometimes make us want to wear a tin hat." At least the augmented reality space is still safe, for now.
Career resolutions for 2010. Let's face it - 2009 was a tough year for entrepreneurs. And whether or not your business is currently thriving, it's always a good idea to make career goals, or goals for your business. "The outlook for 2010 looks a little more promising," says Max Messmer, chairman of the staffing firm Accountemps, who highlighted 10 career resolutions for 2010 in The Boston Globe. Messmer's advice includes growing your network, whether it be through a professional organization or an online platform, being a better co-worker, by helping to boost office morale, updating your resume, building your people skills, and more.