Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:
Cashing in on Mother Nature. Today's Wall Street Journal has an interview with Joel Babbit, an Atlanta-based advertising entrepreneur, who raised $10 million worth of start-up funding in a day. Last year, he founded Mother Nature Network, an environmental news site, which counts Dell and Miller Brewing Co. as advertisers. He was driven to the world of "green media" after noticing that "what had started as a small group of experts, scientists and activists had turned into a mainstream audience" for Earth-friendly news. While at lunch with Tom Bell, former chairman and CEO of marketing company Young & Rubicam, Babbit mentioned his idea for the news site and the fact that it'd cost $10 million to start up. "[Tom] said, 'If you do it, and you run it, I'll give you 20%,'" Babbit tells the Journal. Bell then called a friend, who matched the investment, and so on. By the end of the night, Babbit had raised it all. He left his position at Grey Global the next day to begin work on the site. Not surprisingly, then, Babbit's key piece of advice to entrepreneurs is, act now. "If you wait until the time is right, you'll never do it," he says. "There's never a good time to start a business and take a risk like that. You'll be waiting the rest of your life."
Getcha popcorn readyTM? NFL players are notoriously brash, bombastic, and sometimes crude, which can cost them valuable endorsements. But they're also entrepreneurial, and The New York Times reports on a few savvy players, who are beginning to turn their images - including their nicknames and catchphrases - into marketing ploys. The Times notes that these slogans come in all varieties, including "trash-talking ("Stomp You Out," claimed by the former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan); self-aggrandizing ("I Love Me Some Me," registered by Bengals wide receiver Terrell Owens); self-deprecating ("Manny Being Manny," claimed, and later abandoned, by the baseball slugger Manny Ramirez); and just plain weird ("Got Strange?" registered by Vikings defensive end Jared Allen)." No word yet on this trend carrying over to less physical sports, like chess or bowling.
Netflix to Blockbuster: told you so. In 2000, Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings flew down to Dallas to meet with then Blockbuster CEO John Antioco. The two were supposed to discuss a partnership, CNET reports, but Antioco didn't let the discussion go on very long. Here's how Netflix CFO Barry McCarthy remembers it: "Reed had the chutzpah to propose to them that we run their brand online and that they run [our] brand in the stores and they just about laughed us out of their office. At least initially, they thought we were a very small niche business." McCarthy went on to say that "they ignored us and that was much to our advantage." Indeed, Netflix went on to achieve more than $1 billion in annual revenue by 2007. Blockbuster, meanwhile, was forced to file for bankruptcy this past September.
Watch Groupon's CEO dodge the Google question. Andrew Mason, the 30-year-old CEO of Groupon, was on the Today show this morning to discuss the meteoric rise of his company. As the video shows, Mason does a good job discussing the basics of Groupon, but when Matt Lauer asks about "the elephant in the room"--Groupon's reported rejection of Google's $6 billion buyout offer--Mason employs some rather clever footwork to dance around the topic. Rather than answer the question, Mason goes into a long-winded non-sequitor about how his classmates used to make fun of his middle name in the fourth grade. A strange, but effective, way to change the subject.
Why cash is NOT king. Jay Goltz thinks entrepreneurs need a new catch phrase. The owner of five Chicago small businesses knows there are plenty of ways to score cash: banks, investors, customers, asset sales. Bernie Madoff had tons of cash, he points out. It just wasn't his. Profit, he says, is the real king, and there should be a slogan for that. He takes a crack at it in The New York Times: "'Profits before Porsches?' or 'Cash pays the bills but profits pay back the investors?'" So they're not perfect just yet, but you've got to admit, the man has a point.
World's coolest underground lair? It's a former war bunker equipped with generators from German submarines and decked out with a glass bridge, granite walls, a "floating" conference room, solar lighting, walls of green plants, and $420 Konstantin Grcic chairs. And it's where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stores 250,000 not-so-secret U.S. embassy cables, the New York Postreports. What do you think, should we have included the WikiLeaks lair in our World's Coolest Offices 2010 package?