September 10, 2014

Walmart became the largest retail chain in the U.S. by offering customers the same low prices every day. As it expanded globally, however, the company found out that not every culture responds to this pricing strategy. For instance, Walmart has had a hard time winning over Brazilian consumers despite opening 550 stores in nearly 200 cities. That’s because most people in the large South American nation are happy to hunt for the best deals at a variety of stores rather Continue reading

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September 6, 2014

Nobody likes to wait in line for the bathroom, but sometimes that’s just the way things are at big, busy venues like stadiums and airports. Entrepreneur Allen Klevens couldn’t accept this fact of life, however, and set out to fix it with his new product Tooshlights. These small beacons rest at the top of a bathroom stall door and glow red if the space is occupied or green if it’s free. Klevens hopes this clever stop-and-go system will drastically speed Continue reading

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August 23, 2014

 

caregivingIn order to turn a successful business into a successful franchise, an entrepreneur needs a strong concept along with good people to implement it. That’s exactly what Allen Hager set out to do when he launched his home health care company, Right at Home, as a franchise nearly 20 years ago. By expanding the business plan and setting strict hiring policies, Right at Home has grown into a company with nearly 400 locations across the world and $265 million Continue reading

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August 19, 2014

 

When Howard Schultz first joined Starbucks as marketing director in 1982, the small Seattle company made most of its money selling coffee-making equipment. Once Schultz landed the CEO position, however, matters changed drastically. Looking to bring the European café experience to American shores, Schultz transformed the regional chain into an international behemoth within two decades.

Starbucks changed again when Schultz stepped down as CEO in 2000. After a rapid expansion saw the company grow to more than 15,000 stores Continue reading

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July 25, 2014

 

loliwareFor many entrepreneurs, the best ideas come around when you least expect it. That’s what happened to Chelsea Briganti and Leigh Ann Tucker after they graduated from New York’s Parsons The New School for Design in 2010. In an effort to expand their portfolios, the pair of young designers entered a number of product creation competitions. At one event centered on Jell-O, Briganti and Tucker designed an edible drinking glass using agar, a seaweed-based gelatin that is odorless and Continue reading

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Cigarettes kill more than 5.4 million people each year, a 30 percent increase over the past two decades. Although cigarette use has generally fallen in the U.S., increased use in Asia and Eastern Europe has ensured that the tobacco industry is bigger than ever. Innovation has also hit the cigarette business in the form of e-cigarettes, electronic devices that heat up liquid nicotine to a vapor that is then inhaled.

Like everything related to tobacco, e-cigarettes have been controversial since Continue reading

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June 25, 2014

As recently as the early 2000s, the stereotypical image of the corporate careerist typically included a flashy convertible jetting down the highway with a set of expensive golf clubs stashed in the trunk. Nowadays, though, these once weighty symbols of wealth and status have plummeted in popularity. Instead of a cherry red Corvette, modern executives and ladder climbers would prefer to cruise to their next meeting in a big SUV. And thanks to smartphones, the golf links aren’t the same Continue reading

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diningIn the world of fine dining, the food may be the focus, but the customer is king. That’s certainly the case at New York’s exclusive Eleven Madison Park, where professional servers iron table linens and polish silver before diners arrive. Like any three Michelin-star establishment, they want to ensure that guests will be as comfortable as possible even before they sit down to eat. While this includes primping that is common at other elite eateries, the maître d’ at Continue reading

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Advancements in technology have allowed entrepreneurs to experiment with radical new ideas that wouldn’t have been possible even a few years ago. However, often these innovations end up disrupting established businesses that have operated the same way for years. The latest example of this phenomenon can be seen with the new wave of “ridesharing” companies like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. Although these startups have made a splash with young, tech-enabled consumers, taxi companies and local governments don’t share the same Continue reading

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Over the last few years, brick and mortar retailers have come up with some ingenious ways to gather data about the customers who walk into their stores. We’ve taken a look at some of them in past posts on this blog, including one story about “smart” mannequins that observe consumer patterns using cameras in the dummies’ eyes. Although that may skew a bit on the creepy side, it’s important to keep in mind that physical retailers are merely trying to Continue reading

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