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The Power of Free


The Power of Free

It was in the summer of 2006 that singer/songwriter Derek Webb promoted one of his albums for free online, asking very little in return from the thousands of followers, fans, and musicians who provided as little information as name, email and postal code. In just a matter of months, the success of Derek’s musical generosity provided him with a list of 80,000 emails from those who had downloaded the final product. It was after this stunning response that Mr. Webb realized the potential in extrapolating this type of internet business model throughout the music industry.


Free music is nothing but commonplace in a post Spotify world, but back in the early years, was way ahead of its time when it came to downloadable music. The folks working behind the scenes quickly realized that that their model of free music let artists raise donation money for the content they wanted to give away, and recruit a fan base quicker and more substantially then the normal route that iTunes and CD sales provided. The musician is not only building a larger fan base, but building a “targeted” following. Allowing him to play shows in areas where he knows the people will receive him best.


Music isn’t the only source of media that the company is planning to stick to, as in recent months they have received commitment from dozens of authors and novelists who want to give their works to the people, so that their fans will hunger for more. This is a kind of business that could have only evolved from a music internet entertainment platform that is constantly evolving to benefit the consumer and the creator.

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Food by Mail?

What is this sorcery am I right?  It’s crazy to think that we can sell different food products through the mail.  I mean if it wasn’t obvious enough you can sell things like granola bars and canned or boxed goods, but now you can even do refrigerated or frozen things!  Subscription boxes like Blue Apron are doing just that.


Blue Apron is a subscription box that “delivers all the fresh ingredients you need to make delicious meals in exactly the right proportions.” They offer two plans, the “2-Person Plan” and “Family Plan”.  Inside the box you will find a recipe as well as all of the fresh products and the right amounts to go with it.  All you need to do is cook them.  Something that is nice about this is that you can skip any week’s delivery in advance or cancel at any time.


Blue Aprons website says:

“We’ve designed our service to teach you how to cook new recipes, expose you to seasonal, farm-fresh produce and reduce unnecessary food waste. By letting us shop for you, we can bring you fresher and higher-quality food than you can get on your own in the supermarket, all at a better price.”

Blue Apron Logo

Not only is their product pretty cool (I mean they can ship foods like steak and fish and other cold items without it going bad), but their website is awesome too.  It is very easy to navigate, you are able to learn about what you are eating as what goes into different meals, and I believe the phrase kids say now a days is “on fleek”.  They use a continuous page flow style which is my personal favorite page style.  I feel like it makes everything clean cut, modern, makes things easier to find, and is more enjoyable to be on.


Not only is Blue Apron’s website the main place where you order your subscription box, but they offer other things as well.  You are able to order food, wine, recipe card holders, knives, a blue apron, and other kitchen prep tools.  Something also I find unique about Blue Apron is that even though you may not decide to subscribe to their product, they offer you free recipes every week.  All you have to do is give them your email.


Blue Apron delivers the good foundations of a successful internet business model of being simple, easy to navigate, offers a great product, and generally enjoyable to be on.  If I wasn’t a college student and/or lived in the apartments where I could cook food, I would definitely invest in their product.  For me, I either have the issue of not knowing what to cook or not having the food to even cook a meal.  Blue Apron is able to solve both of my problems by sending me different recipes each week as well as the food and correct portions to go with it.  Of course it doesn’t cover every single meal a week, however, in the future I don’t want to be living off spaghetti and mac and cheese every night (nothing against those they’re my absolutely favorite).  Blue Apron is unique product and I’m definitely interested in subscribing to this product in the future.

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Why Didn’t I Think of That?

6a0147e102ac3c970b019aff0dc0d4970b-800wiI keep having these moments where I discover a new internet businesses and I have to say to my self, “why didn’t I think of that.”  I think this is an all too common occurrence, even with non-internet based businesses.  I was just reading about several internet businesses and my reaction for these was pretty much what I just described above.  A lot of business models are very simple and have a pretty focused effort that when repeated over and over again creates value and generates revenue.  Sometimes I think I need to be spending less time focusing on the day to day things and spend more time just sitting and brainstorming about potential business Ideas.  I feel like the thing that stops me the most from attempting to implement any of the ideas I have had, is that I find one road block or hole in the idea and then I say to myself, “Oh, that won’t work.”   I need to adopt a different mind-set, the mind-set of an entrepreneur.  If all the people that have created great businesses, that are thriving today, stopped the moment they reached their first roadblock or inconsistency, we wouldn’t have any great businesses.

A couple of these internet businesses that gave me the “Oh, why didn’t I think of that,” moment, are as follows.  SantaMail is a business that was started in 2003 and it is exactly what it sounds like.  People pay around $10 so that a letter from “Santa” will be sent to their children.  The letter actually comes from North Pole, Alaska.  Another business is called The Something Store.  It’s really an interesting idea, where a company houses a ton of different items in a warehouse, you spend $10 and they will send you “Something” from their warehouse.  You have no idea what you are going to get, but it will be worth at least $10, and sometimes quite a bit more.  It could be a necklace, an electronic gadget, it could even be a windows tablet or something much more expensive.  More than anything it seems like a unique way to have some fun with $10 and then wait expectantly for your “something” new.  In fact I actually just ordered “Something.” I’ll have to comment and let you all know what it is when I get it, haha.  I hope it’s a rolex.

The point I guess i’m trying to make with this post, is that there are endless possibilities for new and innovative internet business Ideas.  I need to start thinking more about those possibilities and actually take steps toward actually creating the next internet phenomenon.  You too, should be encouraged to do the same.  Thanks for reading. Also, the article I read which touches on some of these unique businesses can be found here.

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The Convenience Model

convenience-kills-everythingSo today, myself and Eric Stratton presented on Curbside, which if you recall is the business that will go and pick stuff out for you at their partner locations and have it ready for you at the curb when you pull up.  This really is an innovative e-commerce model that uses an app to deliver their service, though a major element of the business model involves a physical location and people actually providing a service.  Again you can see a similar model with GLAMSQUAD.

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The Future of Online Dating


I thought I would write a post about online dating in general since my idea, “The Dating Pool” focuses on this area.  There definitely seems to be a trend where online dating is not only becoming more popular by the numbers, but increasingly more accepted and seen as a real way to obtain a date.  The Pew Research Center did a study on online dating at the beginning of last year; their research indicates that at least 11% of the American population has used online dating as an attempt to obtain a date or meet that special someone.  This is an estimated 33 million people!  Also, as compared with a 2005 study, almost 60% of Americans believe that online dating is a legitimate way to meet new people, whereas in ’05 this number was 44%.  Also on the opposite side of the coin, in ’05 29% of Americans thought that people who use online dating were “desperate.” The new study shows this number now at only 21%.  These numbers represent a trend towards better acceptance of online dating which in all probability will result in an increase in members for these types of sites.

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Business Idea Generation

I have been given the task of coming up with an internet business idea, yet I have been unable to come up with an original, clever idea.  In hopes of getting my creative juices going, I took the time to look into ways to generate new ideas.  Upon my research on the internet, I came across an article on the Wall Street Journal discussing several opinions on idea generation.  These opinions are collaborated by various different founders and CEOs.  Here are some of the different strategies I found interesting.

One of my favorite strategies came from Angela Benton the founder and CEO of NewME Accelerator.  Her takeaway is to “be present in life.”  At first I was not quite sure what she meant, but upon her explanation it hit me.  We are constantly busy doing something, and in most cases we are juggling multiple different tasks at once.  To generate a solid idea it is best to keep up with your daily activities, but to focus on that one activity.  It is when you step away from the craziness of your everyday life that you are free to think clearly on new ideas.

Another interesting strategy was to “head into the weird places.”  This idea was brought on by Victor W. Hwang the co-founder and managing director of T2 Venture Capital.  His idea claims that walking in weird places or viewing/listening to weird documentaries/podcasts bring in an array of new of ideas.  Like the other strategy, it is when you have a fresh take on something that you see the purpose.  These new and indifferent places and media begin to provide a new perspective allowing for the free flow of new ideas.

The third strategy I found interesting came from the founder and president of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Inc, Sam Calagione.  When coming up with his brewery company, Calagione took a look back on history.  He found out what had been incorporated in beer during ancient brewing techniques and decided to replicate it in his new business.  It was this inspiration from history that created his business idea.

From these strategies I have realized that inspiration can come from anything anywhere.  The key to generating business ideas is to clear the mind of all distractions and think freely.  Whether it be during your daily routines, walking in weird places, or even looking back at history always keep your mind open for new ideas.

Click here to see the entire list of idea generation from the WSJ.

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