Ideablob Voting for January has narrowed the January contestants down to the final eight. If you have not heard of it before, think of as American Idol for entrepreneurs via the Internet. People post their ideas on the web site, and visitors vote for their favorite idea. The winner each month with the most votes gets $10,000 for their business.
As some of you know, one of our students here at Belmont, Andy Tabar, is a finalist this month. Andy is a junior, majoring in Entrepreneurship. He has been working on his web development company from his first day here at Belmont. Here is a link to his business web page.
There is now a new round of voting for the finals. Even iff you voted before, you cn now vote again in the finals. If you did not, please take a few minutes to go to their site, register, and VOTE FOR ANDY!!!! It is quick and easy.
Here is where you go to register and vote. If you have voted before, use your same user name and password. Andy’s business idea is titled “Expand my global tech company”.
If Andy wins the final round of voting, he will get $10,000 to help him grow his business!!
PLEASE help out Andy on this. Pass this along to friends and family. The more votes we can get, the better his chances to win. Every vote counts!!

Social Enterprise Latest Ideablob Winner

A social enterprise is the latest monthly $10,000 Ideablob winner.
Marci Bossow Schankweiler of North Wales, PA is President and founder of Crossing the Finish Line (CFL), a Blue Bell, PA-based non-profit organization that provides excursions for young adult cancer patients and their families. Schankweiler founded CFL after her first husband passed away from cancer at the age of 30. She plans to use the prize money to help fund a home for cancer patients near Orlando, FL. is an on-line community where small business owners and entrepreneurs are sharing business ideas in exchange for feedback, advice and votes from the community. The monthly prizes are sponsored by Advanta, one of the nation’s largest credit card issuers (through Advanta Bank Corp.) in the small business market.
“We are thrilled that the ideablob community picked a non-profit as this month’s winner,” said Ami Kassar, Advanta’s Chief Innovation Officer. “There are more than 1.5 million non-profit organizations in the United States, most of which are small and face the same daily struggles for survival as millions of small businesses.”
“We’ve been talking about securing a home near Orlando for a while and when I heard about I thought I’d put the idea out there,” explains Schankweiler. “There’s such a demand to provide young patients a respite from the traumas associated with cancer. Thanks to the support of the ideablob community, we now have the money to provide additional assistance.”
Go to to put your idea into the mix and to vote on this month’s ideas.

Dancing Under the Feet of Dinosaurs, Part III

Whenever I talk with journalists about my blogging I feel uncomfortable. I do not at all consider what I do as being “journalism” as I have known it all of my life. But, many of them tell me that by blogging for as long and consistently as I have been I have become part of an entrepreneurial movement that is transforming the industry of journalism.
I have written about this type of phenomenon before as it relates to the music industry and retailing. I also experienced it being an entrepreneur in the health care industry during the early days of its transformation in the 1980s and 1990s. Entrepreneurial activity in an established industry that is dominated by giant corporations is often referred to as being like “little mammals dancing under the feet of dinosaurs.”
Saulo Hansell at the New York Times blog (imagine that — the New York Times now has a blog!!) reflects on the entrepreneurial undercurrents in journalism today at this post.

Every now and then, I meet someone idealistic and perhaps foolish enough to want to embark on a career in journalism. Until recently, my advice was largely the same as anyone had given for many decades: Find a gig where you can write — a small town paper, freelancing for an alternative weekly, a business trade publication (my route). If you’re good, the story went, you would find you way to bigger publications and forge a career.
Today, it’s hard to give that advice, when the economic underpinnings of all those places you were supposed to be trying to work for are so shaky. Is there any good advice other than to learn how to trade mortgage-backed securities? I’m not sure that that opening an account on Blogger and hoping for the best will pay the rent.

Maybe not, but I don’t think that taking an entry level job at a newspaper owned by a national holding company has a much brighter future….
(Thanks to Ben Cunningham for passing this idea along).

Join in on this Month’s Ideablob Voting

There are eight ideas vying for this month’s $10K prize at ideablob. Today is the last day to vote!
Kemper Barkhurst, Albuquerque, NM
Kemper is a 26-year-old multimedia designer and developer. His idea, Urban Harvesting, is to collect and distribute local foods to local markets, thereby eliminating wasted fruit that local homeowners cannot collect, store or distribute.
Nicole Brooks, Riverview, FL
21-year-old, Nicole is a single mom and student. Her idea is, a secure system that allows parents to log in and watch their children while they are at daycare.
Susan di Rende, Los Angeles, CA
Susan is an independent filmmaker. Her idea is to expand and grow the Broad Humor Film Festival, which celebrates comedies written and directed by women.
Sherrie Gossett, Fairfax Station, VA
Sherrie is the managing editor of a new politics and culture magazine. Her idea is to develop news webcasts that allow the audience to become active participants.
Collin LaHay, St. Louis Park, MN
Collin is an 18-year-old student, internet marketer and entrepreneur. His idea is to develop, which helps bloggers promote their blogs and helps visitors discover new blogs about subjects they are interested in.
Geoffrey Ravenhill, Islesford, ME and Palos Verdes, CA
Geoffrey is a 30-year-old marine biologist and co-founder of a non-profit organization for kids. His idea is to develop an online community where people can post their dreams, develop a game plan for accomplishing them, and receive feedback from other dreamers.
Marci Schankweiler, North Wales, PA
Marci, 39, is the founder of a non-profit organization that provides excursions for young adult cancer patients. Her idea is to purchase a home near Orlando, FL that can be used by cancer patients and bring joy to families in turmoil.
Vaughan Woodruff, Bozeman, MT
Vaughan is a 32-year-old educator. His idea is to develop PLACE, a non-profit organization that will assist American Indians in gaining power over their lands.

Industry Disruptions

Entrepreneurs often miss market disruptions once they’re in business, and today, disruptions are everywhere. “There is no safe industry,” says Jeff Cornwall, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Belmont University. “We can’t assume we’re going to find a safe little niche to operate in.”

This is from an article that Chris Penttila wrote for this month’s Entrepreneur magazine about industry disruption.
Change creates most of the opportunities that drive the 50% of our economy in the hands of entrepreneurs. And that process of change doesn’t stop once we open the doors to our new business. Change and industry disruption are a given in almost every corner of our economy. We live in an age that Peter Vaill once described as “permanent white water.”
While change and disruption are the fuels that drive entrepreneurial opportunity, they can also sew the seeds of failure for entrepreneurs who do not recognize that they have to keep moving.
Entrepreneurs should think of themselves as sharks — if they stop swimming forward, they will drown.


I came across a site that if you have not visited, you need to. It is called Ideablob. One recent visitor called it a place for idea junkies. Each month people submit their ideas for new businesses. Visitors to the site then get to vote on the best idea for that month. Think of it as Survivor meets the elevator pitch. Each monthly winner gets a $10,000 check to help with their business idea.
The site is funded and sponsored by Avanta. They are being very low key about their connection, however. Marketing of the site has been solely through viral means to this point, such as Facebook, blogs, etc.

Home-based Business Ideas

There are millions of Americans running businesses from home. A recent SBA report estimated that 52% of all registered American businesses are home-based. Are you ready to end your commute and work from home? Need an idea or some inspiration on what kind of home-based business you might be able to start? StartupNation has posted their Home-based 100 ranking, which shows the creativity and innovation that is going on in kitchens, garages, basements, and bedrooms all across the US.
The list is broken into several categories, including the best financial performers, the most innovative, the yummiest, and “boomers back in business.” One of my favorites is from the Wackiest category. OK, maybe it is because it is from right here in Nashville and it involves dogs, but it is certainly fun and creative. The business is called Nashville Lappy Hour:

The venue, more often than not, is a local Nashville watering hole. Clough provides a way for dog lovers to meet other dog lovers in an environment that’s more fun than a dog park or a training class. The variety of sizes and breeds that attend provide plenty of entertainment, along with plenty of comedy, kisses and drool. Call it Barktoberfest.

Thanks to fellow Nashville blogger Ben Cunningham for passing this one along!

Look into the Future

Want to find your next opportunity? Look to the future and spot the next big change. After all, change creates disruptions and gaps in markets, and it is these gaps and disruptions that create some of the best opportunity. After that it is all a matter of timing and execution.
I love the fact that my father and his partners (octogenarians all) still keep their eyes off into the horizon. Dad sent along a copy of Futurists “Top 10 Forecasts for 2008 and Beyond.” (You can order their full report as a pdf download here).
Here is a summary of their top ten:

1. The world will have a billion millionaires by 2025.
2. Fashion will go wired as technologies and tastes converge to revolutionize the textile industry.
3. The threat of another cold war with China, Russia, or both could replace terrorism as the chief foreign-policy concern of the United States.
4. Counterfeiting of currency will proliferate, driving the move toward a cashless society.
5. The earth is on the verge of a significant extinction event.
6. Water will be in the twenty-first century what oil was in the twentieth century.
7. World population by 2050 may grow larger than previously expected, due in part to healthier, longer-living people.
8. The number of Africans imperiled by floods will grow 70-fold by 2080.
9. Rising prices for natural resources could lead to a full-scale rush to develop the Arctic.
10. More decisions will be made by nonhuman entities.

More wealth, more people, less water to drink, no cash, and a scarier world. All of these will be creating opportunities for traditional entrepreneurs. But, they will also call upon a greater role of social entrepreneurs as governments are increasingly showing their inability and even incompetence in dealing with many of our problems.

Change in the Music Industry

For years the music industry made its money primarily through the creation of a physical product — first the record and then the CD. But with the evolution of the digital age, the physical nature of music is fast becoming obsolete. Just at vinyl records hold nostalgic value, soon CDs will be a novel relic of a bygone era.
So is this the death of the music industry? Of course not. Music has been written, performed, and enjoyed for centuries. Music is part of culture. In many ways music as a business is thriving more than ever before. It is a period of fundamental change for this industry.
Those who have a vested interest in the current system of packaging and distribution (that is, the CD) are hurting in a big way. Like many large businesses in a rapidly changing environment, they are stuck. They are the proverbial super tanker that can’t change course quickly enough to avert disaster. They are stuck due to their capital and intellectual investments.
So these big companies react to change like we often see in other industries under going fundamental change. Rather than adapt, they attack the change. They try to hold back the forces of change like the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dam trying to hold back the impending flood. How do they respond to the digital age of music? Do they shift their corporate strategy and change their business model to maintain their relevance and competitiveness? No. They sue 14 year old girls for downloading music.
So how will money be made in the new digital era of music? From a post at TechCrunch:

First, other revenue sources can and will be exploited, particularly live music, merchandise and limited edition physical copies of music. The signs are already there – the live music industry is booming this year, and Radiohead is releasing a special edition box set of their new album…simultaneous to the release of their “free” digital album.
Second, artists and labels will stop thinking of digital music as a source of revenue and start thinking about it as a way to market their real products. Users will be encouraged (even paid, as radio stations are today) to download, listen to and share music. Passionate users who download music from the Internet and share it with others will become the most important customers, not targets for ridiculous lawsuits.

Just as in an industry that is undergoing fundamental change, there are opportunities. It just takes open minds, creative thinking, and entrepreneurial nimbleness to find them.
(Thanks to Andy Tabar for passing this link along).