KISS (Who’s Stupid?)
One of the things that really struck me about many of the companies we featured in this issue who are experiencing significant early success is how simple their concept is. For instance, the 2012 Cupid’s Cup business competition winner Reed Street Productions is in its second year of operation and is approaching the $10 million revenue mark. Its co-founder is a University of Maryland undergraduate on an ROTC scholarship, and its concept is simple: Run and be chased by zombies. People are paying $77 a ticket for the privilege.
The business that won the Cup a year earlier, MyFridgeRental.com, rented dorm-sized refrigerators to college students.
Other examples of simple concept companies in this issue include an energy drink producer who previously sold bulldog collars (talk about a niche business), an electric vehicle charging station provider and a bakery that avoids food additives. And we can add to the list Under Armour founder Kevin Plank’s early entrepreneurial effort, Cupid’s Valentine (for which the Cupid’s Cup award is named), a Valentine’s Day rose sale business, as well.
All of these entrepreneurs are taking very simple concepts and parlaying them into big bucks. It goes to prove that the next big idea doesn’t have to be, say, a teleportation device or nanovacuums that suck all the excess bad cholesterol out of your body (although those both would be really nice to have). But these fledgling entrepreneurs are Keeping It Simple — and Smart.
With a Little Bit of Help
Many, possibly the majority, of the entrepreneurial endeavors that experience rapid success have a little bit of help. Business and technology incubators, entrepreneurial competitions such as the University of Maryland’s Cupid’s Cup, angel investors and supportive bodies such as the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) and the Chesapeake Bay Seed Capital Fund that provide seed funding all give a boost to the next great idea — provided that idea is well-researched and backed up with facts and figures and the would-be entrepreneur is persuasive and confidence-inspiring.
And there, my friends, is the real reason for the early success of these companies, or any company, for that matter. Investors, partners, landlords and customers all need to be convinced to take a risk on the entrepreneur in the belief that that risk ultimately will pay off. As contributing writer Tony Salazar tells us about Christopher Columbus’s quest for funding for his voyage, Columbus had to sharpen his proposal and impress his potential investors. When it comes right down to the dollars and cents — and sense — of it all, the explorer or the entrepreneur needs to have all his or her ducks, and ships, in a row.
Joan Waclawski, Editor