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Monthly Archives: January 2017

6 Businesses to Help Kick Off the New School Year

As August comes to a close, students, parents and teachers are preparing for back-to-school season. The new academic year means buying school supplies, planning school lunches and considering options like tutoring services to help make the school year go as smoothly as possible.

Heading back to school can be stressful, but these entrepreneurs aim to make it easier. Here are six businesses to check out before school starts.

Decorating lockers is a surefire way to make going back to school a little more fun for kids and teens. LockerLookz sells decorations made specifically to fit in and spruce up school lockers. Plus, the company has an online locker design tool, so students can see how their chosen decorations will look together and even purchase the entire design all together once they’re happy with the outcome. The decorations are easy to install and won’t damage lockers (so schools can rest easy). Decorations include wallpaper, photo frames, dry-erase boards, and even rugs and mini-chandelier lighting.

Most stores sell the same plain notebooks and folders. If you want to make things a little more personal, check out Frecklebox, an online store that lets you customize your school supplies. Frecklebox sells everything from binders, bookmarks and journals to lunch boxes, stickers and sketchbooks, all of which can be personalized with students’ names and favorite prints and patterns. The store is also a great place to find gifts for kids, as you can shop by occasion, theme and age.

Step away from the everyday classroom accessories and spice up your desk with accessories from Poppin. Their selection of colorful and whimsical supplies range from notebooks, desk organizers, planners and even filing cabinets. The simple designs, bright colors and fun patterns will make planning for the school year more exciting for your little one as they’re sure to dazzle any classroom with these accessories. Poppin features a “most popular” selection, so you can keep up with the trends and be sure to have what kids want the most before they return to school.

Sometimes all it takes is a little help on a particular project or lesson for struggling students to make the grade. Chegg Tutors, formerly known as InstaEdu, is a great alternative to the typical tutoring service. The online-based tutoring service employs current students and graduates from top colleges around the country to help junior-high, high-school and college students with their assignments. Students can either sign up for traditional scheduled tutoring sessions or find tutors on-demand when they need immediate help with a particular assignment or problem. Tutors and students connect via a virtual lab that includes chat and video features as well as a shared virtual whiteboard and the option to upload documents.

If you’re a parent struggling to pack a healthy lunch that your kids will love, Revolution Foods is the company you need. Revolution Foods creates healthy on-the-go lunch boxes (known as “Lunch Bundles”) — think Lunchables, but without all of the artificial ingredients and preservatives — and nutritious snacks called “Granola Bundles” that are created specifically to help kids get more protein. The brand’s Lunch Bundles come in five different flavors: turkey and cheddar, ham and cheddar, cheese pizza, popcorn chicken, and hummus and pita chips. Along with these retail products, Revolution Foods also offers programs that provide healthy, freshly prepared meals to schools throughout the United States.

Not all schools can provide teachers with the supplies they really need to make sure their students get the best education possible. AdoptAClassroom.org, a national nonprofit organization, aims to help teachers get the classroom supplies they can’t otherwise afford. Teachers can register their classrooms with AdoptAClassroom.org, where they’re provided with outreach materials to promote their donation page. Donors can also search for classrooms to adopt by teacher, school name, school type and poverty level. All donated funds go directly to teachers, and donors are given personal feedback from the teachers themselves to let them know exactly what their donations were used for and the impact it had on their class.

Could the Legal Cannabis Industry Expand to Every State ?

The legal cannabis industry is rapidly expanding, so much so that some researchers expect cannabis will be legal — either medicinally or recreationally — in every state by 2021. Market analysts for cannabis industry research organization GreenWave Advisors anticipate that in four years 22 states will have medicinal programs and 29 states (plus D.C.) will fully legalize cannabis, leading to a projected $30 billion in sales revenue nationwide.

GreenWave Advisors’ projection is in line with the estimates of other research organizations watching the fledgling industry closely. According to cannabis-dedicated finance organization The Arcview Group, the legal cannabis industry could be valued at $21.8 billion by 2020. Yet another estimate, released by investment bank Cowen and Company, anticipates that the industry will reach $50 billion in sales by 2026.

And the legal cannabis industry is certainly showing signs of accelerated growth. On election day, voters in eight states approved new legal cannabis initiatives. Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota all supported new medical marijuana initiatives, while voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada all moved to legalize recreational adult use.

While the cannabis industry is experiencing explosive growth, many in the industry fear that it is sometimes perceived to be a part of the “stoner culture” rather than as a legitimate business. In reality, cannabis entrepreneurs come from all walks of life, cater to a wide variety of consumers and put money back into the communities in which they operate. Like any other business, there are consultants, financiers, cultivators and dispensary owners who sell the actual cannabis products, and contractors who help build out cultivation and production centers.

To get a better idea of what it’s all about, Business News Daily connected with some entrepreneurs who are already operating in the cannabis space, and asked them where it’s heading and how it has already changed since the first legal markets were created. These are some of the cannabis entrepreneurs who are shaping a post-prohibition industry.

Mike Ray, the owner of medical cultivators Bloom Farms, hails from “cannabis country” in Calaveras County, California, where the black market supported a number of families during prohibition.

“There was always a big, unspoken industry there in an underground sort of way,” Ray said.

Ray struck out on his own and headed to work as a hedge fund trader in New York City. However, when the financial crisis erupted, Ray felt the urge to change his lifestyle. He was “disgusted” at the misbehavior of some financial institutions that occurred leading up to the crisis, and he decided to return home and get back to his roots.

Ray reconnected with his childhood friends, who were now successfully cultivating medical cannabis, and he decided that cannabis was the next opportunity he needed to seize. Medical cannabis use has been legal in California since 1996, so Ray was able to study what his friends had learned so far and examine the growing industry inside and out.

“I absorbed as much as I could. I started cultivating, I examined how the sales channels worked,” Ray said. “I found the industry was just a bunch of people who cared about other people.”

From that discovery, Ray launched Bloom Farms and dedicated its mission to removing any stigma surrounding the cannabis industry. He wanted to dispel the idea that cannabis was just for “stoners” or “hippies” and emphasize the health benefits and recreational lifestyle that he saw associated with the plant and its products.

Sara Gullickson has been working in the cannabis industry as a consultant for seven years. She got her start as a marketer for spas and health facilities, and soon a dispensary licensing business approached her for help. She worked with the young DispensaryPermits.com for about a year as a marketer, but soon realized that she had a knack for the business and bought it from the owners.

Today, Gullickson helps clients win their dispensary licenses and open their doors.

“We have a process that will help get them open in eight to 12 weeks,” she said. “It includes interior design, policies and procedures, compliance, and a certain level of patient experience.”

In the beginning, Gullickson said that the business was almost like seasonal work, and every client had to be sought out and courted. Now that the industry has grown, it’s the other way around.

“I never worry about finding work or clients; we’re in a situation now where we can’t keep up,” Gullickson said. “It’s amazing that it’s exploding to the point where we’re growing so fast we’re trying to outrun it.”

In the past six years, Gullickson has seen the industry go from something people looked at with suspicion, to a mainstream, exciting, rapidly growing industry. Election night was the culmination of the industry’s growth and maturation, she said.

Diane Czarkowski and her husband, Jay, began their careers in a field that was very different from the cannabis industry. Diane and Jay worked in real estate development: Diane was a licensed agent and Jay was a general contractor. However, after the 2008 housing crisis, the duo set their sights elsewhere. Diane and Jay reinvented themselves by opening a medical dispensary.

“Early on, we had a big dedication to serving patients and really catered to an older demographic,” Diane said. “A lot of local doctors  [referred] people to us because they knew they’d be taken care of.”

In 2012, Diane and Jay decided to sell their dispensary and grow operations to focus on campaigning for Colorado’s Amendment 64, an initiative that would later legalize recreational adult use of cannabis. At the same time, an aspiring cultivation operation in Connecticut, which sought the husband-and wife team’s help in obtaining a license, contacted the duo. The effort was successful, and soon Diane and Jay were helping companies with their licensing applications in Massachusetts, as well. Thus, Canna Advisorsconsulting and licensing was born.

“We’ve witnessed a lot of change in Colorado from when we first opened our doors,” Diane said. “We had to go through a regulation bout in 2010 and [we’ve] gone through many, many revisions — some still occurring. So we’ve really taken our consulting business to focus on new markets.”

Ron Sassano is a 20 year veteran of construction and land development. His first introduction to the world of cannabis cultivation two years ago was quite by accident, Sassano told Business News Daily.

“I kind of stumbled into it,” Sassano said. “I was invited to look at some facilities, both cultivation and production.”

He learned from cultivators that the persistence of pests, mold and mildew was causing product inspection failures at the state level. Drawing on his construction background, Sassano recognized that much of the problem could be attributed to conditions at the facilities, and that recognition launched his cannabis industry career.

“I showed owners, cultivators and producers a better system of building the interiors and structures of facilities because the old drywall techniques just aren’t working for these guys anymore,” Sassano said.

Sassano realized that he could provide a service to cultivators that would increase their inspection pass rates, which is invaluable when an entire crop is at stake. He set out to help cultivators build facilities from scratch or retrofit existing structures to optimize them for cannabis-growing operations. His company, Scalable Solutions, a subsidiary of the Medical Cannabis Innovation Group, also works with clients to obtain city or county approvals and building permits.

 

7 Fun Businesses Started for Kids

Parents know how hard it can be to keep children entertained and healthy. Especially in the digital days of internet surfing and video games, it can be hard to get kids to step outside and experience the world.

The good news is from cooking classes to science expeditions, there are plenty of businesses out there that cater to children of all interests. These companies not only give children and young adults something fun to do after school, but also help them learn valuable skills, develop their creativity, or improve their fitness. What’s better than having fun and growing at the same time?

These 7 successful businesses were made just for kids.

Rebounderz helps kids soar! If you’re children are the acrobatic type, then look no further. With locations throughout the U.S. and franchising opportunities, Rebounderz is spreading to serve kids (and adult children too) everywhere. Not only does the indoor trampoline park offer an opportunity for fun, but it also helps promote fitness in children, not to mention get their energy out before bedtime. Currently, the franchise maintains locations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan, California, Florida, Texas, and Panama City.

Young Chefs Academy (YCA) offers cooking classes to children so they can learn their way around the kitchen in a safe, creative environment. Along with giving lessons on how to make food, the company’s kid-friendly cooking classes teach children everything from menu planning and table setting to etiquette and kitchen safety. YCA offers camp, field trip and birthday party services as well. The franchise has U.S. locations in California, Georgia, Louisiana, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and Virginia, as well as international locations in the Dominican Republic, India, Indonesia and more.

Cartoon Cuts knows that haircuts can sometimes be a trying experience for anxious or impatient kids, and that’s why it tries to make the experience more fun. The hair salon is designed especially for children — the waiting room is filled with art tables, video games and toys; the shampoo station (known as the “trunk wash” station) is shaped like an elephant named Ellie; and children can choose cartoons and movies to watch or games to play during their haircut. Cartoon Cuts even gives kids a “First Haircut Certificate” after their first visit, and offers salon services for parents, too. The salon chain currently has locations in Florida, Maryland, Texas, Virginia and Puerto Rico.

Drama Kids International is a children’s acting program that helps kids to learn and pursue the art of stage work, as well as to build important skills and qualities like confidence, public speaking, leadership, teamwork and creative thinking. The company offers programs for kids ages 3 to 18, with different classes for each age group, as well as summer and holiday camps. Drama Kids International has more than 1,500 locations, including in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Southeast Asia and Europe.

Abrakadoodle is a mobile art program that brings fun events, like art parties and summer and holiday art camps, to kids at schools and other community groups. Abrakadoodle aims to help kids immerse themselves in learning and creative art through hands-on, interactive programs that teach them different art techniques, forms and styles. The program also teaches kids about art history and modern artists. Abrakadoodle has locations throughout the United States as well as three international locations in China, Japan and Singapore.

Fitwize 4 Kids helps kids ages 5 to 15 learn how to stay fit and live a healthy lifestyle. The company is a small chain of health centers just for kids, with locations in Florida, New York and Virginia (and locations in eight other states coming soon). These centers offer weight training, cheerleading, boxing and kickboxing, yoga, self-defense and more, and even provide parent-child classes and an educational nutrition program. Fitwize 4 Kids also offers fitness and academic services to schools, as well as after-school programs and summer fitness programs for kids.

The Tumblebus is a gymnasium on wheels made just for children, converted from a full-size school bus and filled with equipment like trampolines, monkey bars and zip lines, among other kid-friendly gymnastics staples. These buses are taken to schools and day cares to provide kids with a way to make physical fitness more fun, and they can even be used at birthday parties and other special events. Currently, there are more than 300 Tumblebuses in the United States, and interested entrepreneurs can purchase fully outfitted buses and acquire training through the company to start their own Tumblebus business in their area.

7 Unique Food Trucks Serving Up Business Inspiration

“Street food” has been around for a long time, but these days, tiny food carts, stands and trucks are more popular — and more gourmet — than ever. The culinary entrepreneurs who run them know you don’t need a huge sit-down restaurant to give customers a delicious dining experience.

These 7 food trucks from around the country are serving up so much more than just mobile meals — aspiring business owners can learn a lot from their creativity and innovation, too.

Bacon can do more than just top off breakfast platters and sandwiches, and that’s exactly what San Francisco-based food truck Bacon Bacon is out to prove. The truck offers a dozen different bacon-centered dishes and several sides, including a bacon bouquet. There are even some interesting dessert options: candied bacon chocolate chip cookies, and chocolate-covered bacon. In fact, the only thing on Bacon Bacon’s menu that doesn’t include bacon is their french fries — and even then, you can order the truck’s special “Porky Fries,” an upgrade on the basic potato dish, which includes pork shoulder, pork belly, bacon and peppers.

Del Popolo is a mobile pizzeria in San Francisco, and it’s one of several food trucks out there changing the way people see food trucks — literally. Del Popolo is a food truck created out of a repurposed trans-Atlantic shipping container, complete with a wall of glass doors so customers can see the interior. The truck comes with a traditional Italian-made wood-fired oven and serves “rustic Neapolitan-inspired pizza using ingredients sourced from small, generational producers,” according to its website. Some of their mouthwatering pizza creations include an oven-roasted asparagus pie with green garlic pesto and fresh mozzarella and pecorino; a fennel sausage pie with crushed tomatoes, Calabrian chili and spring onion; and a traditional Margherita pie.

This New Jersey food truck company serves up fresh empanadas and tamales throughout the state. Empanada Guy maintains a fleet of eight trucks, with a ninth on the way. True to the empanadas history as a versatile food, there’s a wide variety of fillings available, from beef and chicken to pulled pork and even lobster. New Jersey residents are used to seeing the truck pop up around town and at festivals, usually with a sizable line at the window. “Empanada Guy Food Truck has given me a chance to do exactly what I set out to do from the beginning, bring my product to the people. It brings me great joy to interact with my customers and watch their reactions when they first try my stuff,” Carlos Serrano, founder of (and also the) Empanada Guy, said on his website. In addition to their common public appearances, Empanada Guy can also be hired to cater private events

Made from a repurposed fire truck, Fire Truck Crepes is run by two emergency medical services professionals who were fascinated by the food truck industry. The Denver-based truck serves a variety of sweet crepes and savory crepes, so whether you’ve got a taste for cheesecake or chicken, this menu has a crepe for every craving. You can even add ice cream to some of the truck’s crepe creations by ordering them a la mode (though we wouldn’t recommend it with the steak and cheese). According to the company’s website, Fire Truck Crepes can be booked for parties, company events, luncheons, concerts and even weddings.

If you ever find yourself in Atlanta on a hot day, track down King of Pops. This truck is all ice pops, all the time — and not the boring, sugary, fake-fruit-flavored treats you’re used to from the grocery store. With both fruit- and milk-based options, and flavors like blueberry lemongrass, cereal milk, creamy avocado, honeydew lime zest, Mexican chocolate and tangerine basil to choose from, you can’t go wrong. The best part: If you’ve got food allergies, you’re in luck, as the company’s website lists which ice pops contain milk and gluten. And since King of Pops uses locally sourced ingredients, you can see exactly where the fruits, veggies, herbs and even dairy products come from on the website, as well. King of Pops also provides catering services for events.

Love macaroni and cheese? Mac Mart Cart in Philadelphia puts its own unique spin on the staple noodle dish. You can order Mac Mart’s classic seven-cheese mac ‘n’ cheese if you want to keep things simple, or turn things up a few notches by trying dishes like the Buffalo chicken cheesesteak mac or the “crabby mac,” which includes crab meat dip, cream cheese and Old Bay-seasoned potato chip crunch. For the vegetarians out there, there are plenty of options like spinach artichoke mac, jalapeño popper mac and even tater tot mac. And you’re not limited to a boring bowl of pasta — you can turn your macaroni and cheese order into a sandwich between Texas toast or hash brown patties, or order it on top of french fries or a hot dog.

Seattle-based food truck Maximus/Minimus is all about options — that is, the option between hot and spicy foods, and sweet and tangy foods. Each item on the truck’s menu comes in a hot variety (“maximus”) or a mild, sweeter variety (“minimus”) even down to the drinks. For main dishes, Maximus/Minimus serves up pulled pork sandwiches, vegetable sandwiches and grilled chicken sandwiches, with side dish options including coleslaw and macaroni and cheese. If you’re more of a maximus kind of person, you can always order extra maximus sauce to further spice things up. And did we mention that the truck is designed to look like a huge metal pig? That might be why Maximus/Minimus is best known for its pulled pork.