The $1,000 iPhone app. It helps law students study for the bar exam, it's selling well, and its profitable. TechCrunch catches up with the company behind BarMax, which sells for $999.99 in the iPhone App Store and has sold more than 100 units, enough to turn a profit. Part of the reason for BarMax's success is the fact that bar-preparation classes cost three times as much. The success is evidence that 99 cents isn't the only viable price point for iPhone apps.
A pot entrepreneur heads home to the U.S. Adam Dunn, a native of Woodstock, N.Y., has built quite a name for himself amongst Amsterdam's marijuana enthusiasts. The 40-year-old Dunn moved to Amsterdam in 1989 when he was just 19, initially with the idea of selling old concert T-shirts. Since that time, Dunn has gone on to create a $3 million pot empire, operating a business that sells seeds for marijuana growers, a hemp clothing company, and a brick-and-mortar store that sells pot-related accessories. However, as CNN reports, with Amsterdam tightening their marijuana laws and states like California and Colorado loosening theirs, Dunn has decided to return home with the hopes of creating a new empire in the U.S. Dunn chose Denver as his new home base, where, thanks to lenient marijuana laws, he can legally cultivate seeds for medicinal marijuana. Marijuana reform experts now say that entrepreneurs like Dunn are the catalyst to America's changing attitudes towards pot. As one explained, "The thing that is really driving legalization is entrepreneurialism."
Avatars invade D.C. As House and Senate representatives enter their last leg of negotiations over the financial overhaul bill, small business lobbyists are sending in the troops - albeit two-dimensional troops (via The Wall Street Journal). The Chamber of Commerce has asked members of its national network to create avatars for a "virtual march" on Capitol Hill. They're protesting, among other things, the bill's proposed creation of a consumer financial-protection bureau. So far, 24,000 avatars are ready and waiting on a Google Maps image of D.C. That's right. 24,000 avatars, and James Cameron is nowhere to be found.
Fred Wilson: IPOs, then and now. On his blog A VC, Union Square Ventures's Fred Wilson gives the example of two different IPOs: one (from a few years ago) failed, but still came with a $3.5 million legal bill. The other, which happened recently, was successful--the $100 million profitable company raised $75 million in the public markets and is now trading at a market cap of about $300 million. According to Wilson, these two companies tell a sad tale about the IPO market. It's too expensive to go public. If it doesn't work, there's still a massive bill to pay. And if you do get it done, your company will get a lower valuation than it would in late stage private financing. In the '90s, after watching the vast majority of his companies underperform in IPOs and get abandoned by Wall Street, Wilson, writing from an investor's perspective, says he no longer sees it as the ultimate exit for a venture-backed company. "I believe the IPO exit is appropriate for only the very best companies, maybe one or two companies per fund . . . For every other company, I think liquidity offerings followed by an eventual sale transaction is the best outcome."
R.I.P. suburban malls? In the wake of the credit crisis, with ripples of retail closures, including empty big-box stores, and shuttered shopping centers, The Chicago Tribune rings the death knell for sprawling suburban malls, most notably Chicago's Randhurst, the city's oldest enclosed shopping center. But, there is life after death: "Today, in an act of radical design surgery, Randhurst is being remade into an open-air, mixed-use development that will have many features of a traditional downtown, including shops, movie theaters, offices and a hotel," the Tribune writes. Call it retrofitting suburbia, or urbanizing the dead mall. The movement could create affordable space for small business, as well as urban fairs, markets, and new housing. Despite a lingering lull in retail growth, cities are trending toward mixed-use growth in order to fight blight. And the retail space is certainly there to transform: General Growth Properties, a Chicago-based firm, identified 13 malls it is likely to forfeit to lenders after emerging from bankruptcy later this year.
Find an angel investor before you need one. The New York Times You're the Boss blog has gathered a few lessons from one entrepreneur about raising angel funding, often one of the most frustrating parts of building a business. Her first tip is to build relationships with potential angel investors before you actually need money. Interestingly, the business owner also recommends paying angels to pitch. "For me, it's well worth the $500 to have the chance to talk to 40 to 70 investors about my business," she tells The Times. The Wall Street Journal, on the other, hand, ran a story about free services emerging in the midst of growing criticism of the pay-to-pitch model. For more on angel funding, see Inc.'s guide to angel investors.
How to become a millionaire in three years. While admitting that dollars should not be a entrepreneur's primary metric of success, Jason L. Baptiste, the co-founder of Cloudomatic, which provides businesses with SaaS apps, is still game to dole out advice on how to rack up over a million clams in a few short years (via BusinessInsider). Among other pearls, he suggests that, "we're often fascinated with the shiny things in the Internet industry. Many overlook the obscure and unsexy. Don't make that mistake."