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Spotlight: Storelli Provides Protective Products for Soccer Players

Sports related injuries can lead to potentially serious damage. But one company, Storelli, is dedicated to finding ways to protect against those injuries effectively. The company has developed a solution that’s been clinically tested to protect against head injuries in soccer. You can read more about the company and its products below in this week’s Small Business Spotlight. What the Business Does Provides head guards and other protective products for soccer players. Founder Claudio Storelli told Small Business Trends, “Storelli manufactures protective soccer gear for a variety of purposes. Our ExoShield Head Guard was just ranked by Virginia Tech as the top soccer headguard in the market, with an estimated decrease in concussions of 84%. We created the Head Guard because head injuries in soccer are a serious problem- the rate of concussions in soccer is second only to American football and lacrosse, with girls being 2x at risk vs. boys. However, the world of soccer is at a loss to find a solution- recently US Soccer prohibited heading the ball below certain age groups and in specific circumstances, but that’s only a partial solution. We believe that in addition to education (e.g., well defined concussions protocols), proper training and rules, equipment can play an important role in reducing risks. So we set out to create a soccer protective headband that would greatly reduce the impact due to body-to-head collisions, headers and impact with the pitch or the goal.” Business Niche Industry leading protection couple with elegant design. Storelli says, “Storelli makes protection that works and players are excited to wear because it makes them feel like super-heroes.” How the Business Got Started After realizing the prevalence of sports injuries. Storelli explains, “Born and raised in Italy, I came to the US to study English at the age of 15. I was “adopted” by a family in Dayton, Ohio and was supposed to stay 10 months and go back. 10 months later I had secured a college soccer scholarship and went straight to university at 16, graduating from Stanford by age 20. After that I went to Columbia Law School,…

Spotlight: Fireball Approves Aims to Protect Online Buyers from Scams

The sharing economy and online selling platforms have brought about many new opportunities for entrepreneurs and consumers. But it has also led to new opportunities for scammers. Sometimes, spotting a scam can be difficult for an individual. That’s where Fireball Approves comes in. The company’s owner was once almost a scam victim herself. And the experience led her to want to start a business that could provide guidance and protection to other buyers. Learn more about the company and the story behind it in this week’s Small Business Spotlight. What the Business Does Confirms the identity of product advertisers to cut down on the risk for scams. Owner Tammy Sorrento told Small Business Trends, “Fireball Approves will confirm the identity of the advertiser of a specific listing of interest. Examples of listings we verify are: property rentals (short term and long term including homes, apartments, townhouses, condos, timeshares, etc., motor vehicle purchases (cars, trucks, rvs, boats, motorcycles).” In addition, the company provides services for property accreditation. Sorrento says, “We will vouch for property owners and/or leasing agents/authorized contacts who pass our robust vetting, which includes: proof of property ownership, positive Identification, phone and email.” Business Niche Providing affordable service. The company just charges $19 to verify any listing, and there are no additional service charges or commissions taken off listings. Additionally, all services are currently free for a limited time. Sorrento adds, “We refuse to make our customers pay service fees.” ? How the Business Got Started After realizing just how easy it is for customers to get scammed. Sorrento says, “After a personal experience of ALMOST getting scammed when renting a vacation home online, we decided to fight back!” Biggest Win Getting some early press coverage. Sorrenty says that the team’s first news interview with WJXT JAX was a major win early on in the company’s life. ? How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000 Rent an office. Currently, the business is a lean operation with two team members. So Sorrento says she’d like to rent an office space to perform daily activities. * * * * * Find out…

Spotlight: CHAT South Florida Finds Unique Niche with Cultural Tourism

There are plenty of guided tour companies out there. But not all of them dive into the rich cultural heritage of the area. But the Cultural Heritage Alliance for Tourism, or CHAT South Florida, aims to provide a unique experience that dives into some of the lesser known locales throughout the Miami area. Read more about the company in this week’s Small Business Spotlight. What the Business Does Offers cultural tours in South Florida communities. CHAT President Stephanie M. Jones told Small Business Trends, “CHAT provides rich cultural and heritage bus and walking tours and tastings that allow locals, domestic and international tourists off the beaten path experiences. Our tours highlight diverse cultures including African American, Haitian, Bahamian and Cuban that immerses our tour guests into the rich culture of heritage neighborhoods allowing them to interactive with local folks, taste authentic foods and drinks, listen and dance to jazz & Caribbean music and shop with local vendors and small businesses and attractions such as museums, galleries, book stores, restaurants and bars, and cigar shops. Our tours guests gain a better understanding and appreciation of the diverse cultures and history of inner-city neighborhoods.” Business Niche Providing authentic experiences from those immersed in the culture. Jones says, “CHAT is unique in the South Florida market because we are the only African American tour operator providing cultural and heritage tour experiences. CHAT uses local historians, hires and trains local residents as our community tour guides thus creating job opportunities. We are also known for providing high quality signature tours and exceptional customer service.” ? How the Business Got Started As a way to include more cultures in tourism activities in the area. Jones started CHAT in 2016 to partner with local small businesses and attractions in heritage neighborhoods and multicultural communities as a way to curate cultural and heritage tours that drive locals, visitors and tourism dollars to their businesses and communities. Biggest Win Partnering with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. Jones says, “As a result of this partnership, many other key partnerships have been formed throughout South Florida.The Broward…

Spotlight: Propaganda Premium Makes E-Liquid for Vape Shops — and is Millennial Run

  Millennials are making a major impact on the workforce. But they’re also changing up the business world as well. One company that’s run completely by millennials is Propaganda Premium E-Liquid, a supplier of e-liquid for vape shops. You can read more about the company and its young team in this week’s Small Business Spotlight. What the Business Does Manufactures e-liquid for vape shops. Co-Founder Nicholas DeNuccio told Small Business Trends, “Propaganda manufacturers and distributes five distinct lines of e-liquid flavors to 5,000+ US vape shops and more than 40 countries around the world. From the everyday smoker to the conscientious consumer looking to kick a bad habit, we offer 19 different flavors in nicotine strengths ranging from 0mg-12mg.” Business Niche Being the “young bucks” of the industry with a fully millennial team. DeNuccio says, “My executive team and I continue to embrace and foster this 20-something image in brand attitude and approach. We also possess all the qualities and skills, like tech-savviness and social media smarts, of a successful millennial team.” How the Business Got Started In the family kitchen. DeNuccio explains, “Propaganda was started in my parent’s kitchen with $200 worth of materials purchased online. From there, my partner and I spent nine months in research and design to develop three initial flavors, each featuring high-quality ingredients at just the right percentages to create what is known in the industry as an “all-day vape.” When we were satisfied with our results, we launched an instantly recognizable brand with a memorable, edgy name and a powerful logo that reads across every platform. Once this was in place, we simultaneously began grassroots consumer and custom retailer/distributor campaigns. We literally went door to door to vape shops around the country. Soon, we were selling in more than 200 retailers nationwide and everything else just grew exponentially from there.” Biggest Win Creating a major industry force. DeNuccio says, “From turning a profit in nine months to selling outside the US for the first time in China, we’ve had lots of wins in just four years. That said, one of my favorite wins…

Spotlight: Smylelytics Aims to Make Your Website Analytics a Bit More Fun to Read

Web analytics offer insights that can be incredibly powerful for your business. But they can also be somewhat boring and difficult to make sense of. So one company has created a unique way of getting more businesses to actually use their analytical data. Smylelytics takes that information and translates it into interesting and entertaining photos. Read more about the solution and the company behind it here. What the Business Does Presents analytics in a fun way. Matt Weber, CEO of Smylelytics’s parent company, ROAR! Internet Marketing, told Small Business Trends, “We offer a free tool to help small businesses measure their website traffic in an entertaining and engaging way.” Business Niche Including visuals to make analytics data fun and easy to understand. Weber explains, “We turn Google Analytics data into memorable photographs.” How the Business Got Started To try and convince business owners to make use of their analytics. As the CEO of Smylelytics’ parent company, ROAR! Internet Marketing, Weber realized how difficult it was to get business owners to actually use the info from Google Analytics. Weber says, “Despite the importance and value of it, small business owners don’t review their Google Analytics.” ? Current Challenge Communicating the value of this offering. Weber says, “We continue to try different landing page variations to communicate the value proposition. We haven’t cracked the code yet and our story is one of continually trying different messages and marketing techniques to find that ultimate connection.” Biggest Risk Utilizing resources. Weber explains, “Our costs are mostly internal and our story is how we continually weigh the increasing internal costs vs. the potential benefit.” Lesson Learned Learn about your audience. Weber said that if the team could do it all over again, they would invest in better focus group testing. How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000 Refining the product. Weber says, “Improved focus group testing on the user flow and refining the math behind the product.” Brainstorming Method Using life experience. Weber says, “We used our life experiences as a way to brainstorm the images used in the product. Each theme set has to communicate…

Spotlight: FlowState Marketing Produces Branded Products for Athleisure Niche

Custom apparel can be a unique and effective way to market a small business. But when not just any type of apparel will do, FlowState Marketing offers a high quality solution within its athleisure niche. You can read more about the company and the innovative solution that sets it apart in this week’s Small Business Spotlight. What the Business Does Provides custom branded products for businesses. Ben Thomson, COO of FlowState Marketing told Small Business Trends, “FlowState Marketing is a digital marketing and branding agency offering impactul solutions to help businesses thrives. We custom design and produce corporate identity products. FlowState has worked with over 300 brands including some of the biggest tech companies and breweries like SendGrid, HomeAdvisor, Blue Moon Brewing Company, Ibotta, Breckenridge Brewery, iHeart Radio, Kenny Chesney’s Blue Chair Bay Rum and many more.” Business Niche Using unique and high quality materials. Thomson explains, “We invented (TM pending) our own high quality fabric for the athleisure wear market that is water resistant, wrinkle-free, and is incredibly durable for repeated wash and wear.” How the Business Got Started Out of another lifestyle brand. Thomson says, “FlowState Marketing was born from Belong Designs, an apparel and lifestyle brand built on the premise ‘Follow your passion, do what you love, find where you belong’. The motto originated from all three founders agreeing to pursue a work life built upon passion, and after considering our options we settled on athleisure wear. After all, where better to place our new motto than on a t-shirt where it would be easily seen and discussed? Applying our backgrounds in mechanical engineering, we created a soft and durable fabric with the purpose of sublimating prints onto cotton. Sweat resistant, and wrinkle free, this premium fabric began garnering attention—and other companies wanted their logo placed prominently on this quality design. To avoid the conflict in branding for Belong these opportunities represented, FlowState Marketing was launched in early 2016. Since then, FlowState Marketing has rapidly evolved into a digital and branding agency creating impactful design and branding solutions to help businesses thrive.” Biggest Win Pursuing the business…

Spotlight: BirthdayPak Provides Businesses with Unique Birthday Coupon Promotions

Birthdays can be a great time for businesses to reach out to customers with unique promotions. And BirthdayPak has created a system for doing just that. The company focuses on businesses with a very specific customer niche and aims to deliver serious results. Read about the company and its marketing process in this week’s Small Business Spotlight. What the Business Does Connects businesses with customers using unique birthday coupon promotions. CEO Paul Berman told Small Business Trends, “BirthdayPak is an award-winning, multi-channel marketing program that only works with a limited number of upscale businesses, such as restaurants, day spas, salons, and boutiques and is only sent to affluent female consumers who are about to celebrate their birthday. What makes BirthdayPak offers even more appealing to the recipient is the fact that the offers are presented in the form of gift cards, not coupons…a game changer for sure! Connecting the best businesses in the community with their best customers at exactly the right time is what BirthdayPak is all about.” Business Niche High performing products. Berman says, “Most of our advertising clients tell us that BirthdayPak works better than anything they have ever experienced in their business, especially in the restaurant space. We consistently perform at or above an 80% advertiser retention rate.” ? How the Business Got Started After working in other marketing spaces. Berman explains, “A small group of smart direct marketers (most of whom are current investors in our company) realized that print and digital media would converge and also that nobody was doing a great job in the “Happy Birthday” space. We jumped on this opportunity and glad that we did!” Biggest Win Consistently reaching company goals. Berman says, “Since July 2016 when I became CEO, our culture, sales energy and growth has been consistently improving, we made a profit in 2017 and are just about half-way to our goal of becoming a national brand in the 41 states we have identified where we will be doing business.” Biggest Risk Starting a business during an economic downturn. Berman says, “In 2010 the “great recession” was going strong…

Spotlight: Unplugged Yacht Charters Makes a Business Out of Sailing in Exotic Locales

Plenty of entrepreneurs dream about jetting off to exotic locations and running their businesses from scenic beachfronts. And that’s exactly what Lisa Roland and her partner, Flair, get to do on a daily basis. Their company, Unplugged Yacht Charters, provides scenic yacht charters for visitors to Antigua. Read about their journey and the business in this week’s Small Business Spotlight. What the Business Does Offers exotic sailing experiences. Roland says, “We are a catamaran charter company, offering week long sailing charters in Antigua, West Indies. Our beautiful Lagoon 450 is fully crewed with a Captain and a chef, and specialize in all things ocean!” Business Niche Going the extra mile for every customer. Roland says, “Whether it is sailing through the night to make sure our guests get to that extra special destination they dreamed of, arranging specialized outings, or working in depth to ensure all travel goals are met, the most common theme in our client reviews is that we have always gone above and beyond. Some times it comes down to picking up that sweet treat a guest mentioned in passing!” How the Business Got Started Because of a lifelong love of sailing. Roland grew up sailing, then joined the yachting industry, along with Flair. Roland explains, “After building excellent client rapport and a million ideas on how we would do things we finally decided to take the leap into entrepreneurship and launch our very own company.” Biggest Win Receiving positive feedback from customers. Roland says, “Being a new company, our biggest win so far was when we reached out to our past clients and asked them to leave a little testimonial. The response we got was overwhelming, and the things they said were so heartwarming, it was an instant confirmation that we were doing the right thing.” Biggest Risk Investing in a long-term lease. Roland says, “We have decided to lease a boat for the full season, with confidence that we will be able to fill bookings. Stay tuned for the result!” How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000 Starting a community outreach program. Roland explains, “Of course…

Spotlight: SellApp Enables Chat and Sales on One Platform

Messaging apps have become commonplace for a lot of consumers. But for businesses, many of these apps lack the ability to actually complete sales and get paid without leaving the conversation. That’s where SellApp comes in. The company aims to provide a solution that actually works for businesses and their customers alike. Read more about the offering and the business behind it in this week’s Small Business Spotlight. What the Business Does Offers a commerce messaging platform with instant mobile payments. Founder and CEO Keith White told Small Business Trends, “Think WhatsApp and PayPal together or WhatsApp and Venmo.” Business Niche Helping businesses connect with customers and get paid. White says, “Connecting businesses and customers by instant text messaging and enabling instant debit or credit card payment transactions to happen right in the chat window.” ? How the Business Got Started After connecting with clients via mobile chat apps. White explains, “For the 2016 Rio Olympics I setup a VIP hospitality service called RioVIPPass to help foreigners going to Rio for the Games that needed accommodations, transportation, tours, security and getting tickets. We noticed that 80 percent of the first contact came by email and 20 percent by phone calls. Negotiations of the clients needs mostly took place by email. And payment were sent by PayPal. As our clients got closer to coming to Rio for the Games, we started moving them over to WhatsApp for communications and once they were on the ground in Rio the communications was 100 percent WhatsApp. What started happening next, was clients started asking for new things, like opening tickets, etc. All the back and forth negotiations, pricing, etc. happened over WhatsApp. This happen with several clients. We even had a CEO from India request a private jet to fly to the Iguazu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina for two days. The entire negotiations including photos and video of different jet options all got done over 12 hours by text messaging. The one common problem or pain-point that all our clients had was when it came time to pay. We had…

Spotlight: Keyk Founder Filled Need for Baking Supplies in a New Market

Selling baking supplies might not seem like a completely unique business idea to many U.S. consumers. But in parts of the world, those supplies can be more difficult to come by. A U.S. expat learned this lesson the hard way when she moved to Germany years ago. But she took the opportunity to turn the problem into a business, now known as Keyk. Read about the company and what sets it apart in this week’s Small Business Spotlight. What the Business Does Provides supplies and resources for bakers. Founder Sepi Gazeri told Small Business Trends, “Based out of Germany, Keyk offers over 800 baking products including cake pans, food coloring, cookie cutters, fondant and aprons. The portfolio includes leading industry brands including Wilton, Silikomart and RainbowDust. In combination with instructional YouTube videos and over a hundred recipes, the company is a great source for products and inspiration for baking fans.” Business Niche Providing helpful instructions along with actual products. Gazeri says, “We produce great instructional YouTube videos, offering tons of recipes and step-by-step guides to creating trendy cakes.” How the Business Got Started Because of the founder entering a new market. Before moving to Germany from the U.S., Gazeri used to love going to Michael’s to purchase Wilton products. She says, “Living in Germany made it more challenging to find great Wilton products and other fun baking supplies. That was the main inspiration. The rest is history. Kind of.” ? Biggest Win Seeing customers’ creations. Gazeri explains, “When our customers purchase products and recreate our recipes, that’s a pretty rewarding experience.” Biggest Risk Focusing on American style products in Europe. Gazeri says, “The biggest risk in our business is also our asset. We’re different from our competitors in that we focus more on American cake styles than traditional German pastries.” How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000 Increasing the reach of the YouTube channel. Gazeri says, “Hire a cake queen and create 3+ videos per week.” First Location A garage. Gazeri says, “Like many other success stories, we started in our garage. That was the main storage for our inventory during…

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