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I am now writing about food in Los Angeles for Blackbook Magazine online. Follow fattractive.com on Tumblr for realtime updates and visit www.fattractive.com for more food ephemera.

I am now writing about food in Los Angeles for Blackbook Magazine online. Follow fattractive.com on Tumblr for realtime updates and visit www.fattractive.com for more food ephemera.

I created a regular newsletter for FUEL360 Media about the current events of clients and accounts. These are images of the first one that dropped on September 29, 2011.

(Source: us2.campaign-archive2.com)

M.I.A. and Rye Rye at The Mayan

By: Athena Schindelheim

From: Buzznet, October 2010

In line last night to see M.I.A. perform at the Mayan (which resembles the Temple of Doom turned happenin’ nightclub), a dude in a shredded turquoise muscle shirt and a leather beaded headband shrilled, “We’re going to see some styles tonight!” Instead of retorting, “Look who’s talking, Pocahontas,” everyone turned to gawk as a woman draped in a scarlet, hooded, sleeveless cape entered the venue. Later identified as Sonya Tayeh, a guest choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance, she started the night with the common people bouncing to the fast beats of Rye Rye.  


M.I.A. and Rye Rye at the Mayan Last Night Were Amazaninjing photo 1

M.I.A. and Rye Rye at the Mayan Last Night Were Amazaninjing photo 2

Speaking of styles, Rye Rye jumped onto the stage in a neon-fringed onesie like a fabulous 80s hip hop flapper. Her three male backup dancers with shoulder length dreads wore black hazmat overalls and masks with matching fringe, making them look like Sesame Street Yip Yip aliens. Her set was certainly out of this world. Here’s a clip I took:


 
 

M.I.A. in NYC: “F*CK GOOGLE, ASK ME!”



It’s so refreshing to see frenetic dancing on stage after so many shows with stationary indie bands playing guitars and emoting. Her chant ”damn shawty how you manage to do that dance” vibrated to the tune of her synchronized kicks while she put the fringe on her body to work. The monitors on stage sadly obscured her fancy footwork, but her energy was infectious and warmed up the crowd. 


(((SOUNDWEAR))) M.I.A.’s GALANG-GALANG STYLE 


Not that any warming was needed. The anticipation for M.I.A. was so intense that waves of cheers rippled around the room during the entire thirty minute DJ set after Rye Rye left the stage. Some wondered if the androgynous DJ, cloaked in darkness, could actually possibly be M.I.A. When she did appear, in a military green pancho over a pink sequined pant suit and gold studded beret, she was flanked by two maybe Eastern European male dancers wearing sweaters and zany pants printed circa Prince of Bel Air and had three more dancers clad in Ed Hardy burkhas behind her. A motley crew to be sure.

M.I.A. and Rye Rye at the Mayan Last Night Were Amazaninjing photo 3
One of my favorite photos of M.I.A. performing in 2008 by Macstach
 

By 10:45 p.m., M.I.A. had crowd surfed, climbed on top of the speakers, and made her way to the side stage to spit politically charged lyrics in a somehow simultaneously charming and aggressive way. Like her eclectic fashion sense, M.I.A. finds a way to blend disparate styles. The kids in the audience who had come from everywhere to see her could have been a Benetton ad set to throbbing music. Pocahontas was right.

Tanlines at Glasslands

By: Athena Schindelheim 
From: New York Press blog May 3, 2010 

 

Let’s face it: most people went to Glasslands and waited in a block-long line on Friday night to see everyone’s current darling Tanlines. They came to dance. They certainly didn’t come for the sound quality at the precariously stitched together venue. And, sadly, many of them didn’t come to see the first opening band Psychobuildings, a band that’s hypnotic front man Peter LaBier pranced and twirled in a bedazzled black spandex bodysuit accented with fringe and, yes, pompoms. 

LaBier’s performance with Psychobuildings highlights the polished art of Lady Gaga, taking appreciation for her well-executed costumes and choreography to a deeper level (if that’s even possible). Or, maybe, LaBier’s clumsy popping and locking with Anthony Kiedis hair swinging over his face in an outfit he stole from Brian Boitano just reminds a spinster hag music journalist that she is watching an amateur band with nothing new to say in a dilapidated firetrap on the outskirts of Williamsburg. At the very least, Psychobuildings put some effort into entertaining anyone with nothing better to do at 9 that night.

As much can’t be said for Light Pollution, a snoozy indie amalgamation from Chicago. In fact, hardly anything can be said due to the narcoleptic stupor induced by the band’s brief set. In this post- Animal Collective world, theremins should require some sort of training period and licensing permit before put into the hands of experimental psych-pop garage dudes who take themselves too seriously. Memoryhouse might also fall into this latter category, but at least the actual shoegaze songs they make are enjoyable.

Keepaway, on the other hand, deserves a stack of get out of jail free cards from the fashion police. These three guys are like the electrosurf version of the Jonas Brothers, each wearing a thick plastic chain a la Eazy-E with a pendant emblazoned with the head-scratching word DRIPPA. It seems appropriate, then, that the luxuriously golden-locked lead singer had his parents in the audience. The folks seemed to enjoy Keepaway’s Ozzy-reminiscent vocals over reggae beats as much as the thickening crowd, although they left before the night’s headliner took the stage.

Mom and dad were basically the only ones who didn’t come to dance for Tanlines. Taking notes during the last set was pretty much impossible due to much bouncing, but trust that Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm delivered jams. Check out the band’s MySpace page videos. They convey Tanlines’s sense of humor twisted with a touching optimism. The duo’s live energy conveys how much fun it’s having. More bands should take a cue, let go of how they look, and focus on how they make everyone feel.

Everything I wrote for Inc.

Blog posts, Behind the Scenes, Things I Can’t Live Without, Elevator Pitch, My Place, and sidebars. The only items not included in this compendium are Inc. 500, green, fun, and gift guide company descriptions from packaged issues.

Carson Aquatic Complex, Mesa, Arizona, 6.7.08, 3:15 p.m.

Behind the Scenes: Companies At the Heart of Everyday Life

By: Athena Schindelheim

From: Inc. Magazine, August 2008

Shades

It’s about 30 percent cooler under this structure than it is in the sun. Made of high-density polyethylene mesh, the shade blocks up to 95 percent of ultraviolet rays while still allowing breezes to pass through. USA Shade & Fabric Structures, based in Dallas, has manufactured more than 175,000 of these sorts of structures for airports, amphitheaters, and resorts. The company formed in 2004 when two competitors, both run by South African founders, decided to join forces. Today, it has annual revenue of $70 million and employs about 425.

Chemicals

When it comes to fighting bacteria, signs reminding patrons to “keep P out of the ool” aren’t as effective as chlorine and bromine. But an excess of these chemicals can irritate skin and corrode metal parts. That’s why this pool uses a water chemistry controller by BECS Technology, a $5 million company based in St. Louis. The BECSys5 continuously monitors the water’s pH and chlorine levels and automatically tinkers with the chemical balance. Before starting BECS in 1991, two of the four founders developed their first product for a college project. BECS’s 34 employees design and manufacture electronic controls for a variety of industries.

Kiddie-pool Fountain

In the shallow end, children linger under this 13-foot, stainless steel pole, which pours 25 gallons to 35 gallons of water per minute from its three arms. It’s made by Fountain People, which designs and produces large fountains for municipal districts, hotels, and casinos. A subsidiary, Water Odyssey, creates more than 50 types of these brightly colored, playfully shaped fountains for pools and water parks. Fountain People, based in San Marcos, Texas, was founded in 1987 by three co-workers from another fountain company. Fountain People now employs more than 100.

Diving Board Duraflex International makes some of the springiest boards around. Its diving boards are used in the Olympics and most other competitive diving events. Unlike most other boards, which are made of fiberglass and wood, Duraflex’s boards are aluminum. They are formed with the same 15,000-ton press used to make wings for commercial jets. Raymond Rude, who founded the Sparks, Nevada — based company in 1949, was working as a subcontractor for airplane manufacturers when he discovered that aluminum made a great springboard. His daughter, Jan Rude, now runs the $6 million company, which has 22 employees.

Copyright © 2008 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved. Inc.com, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

Things I Can’t Live Without: Ted Dennard

Founder of Savannah Bee | Savannah, Georgia

By: Athena Schindelheim

From: Inc. Magazine, July 2008

In 2002, Ted Dennard turned his beekeeping hobby into a full-time honey-making operation. Now, instead of tending to hives himself, Dennard contracts with beekeepers around the world. He often travels to sample their wares, primarily in Florida and Georgia, where the company’s bestseller, tupelo honey, is made. Last year Savannah Bee, which has annual sales of $1.9 million and a staff of 17, sold 130,000 pounds of honey through gourmet retailers.

Sea Hunt Triton 196

"When you live five miles from the ocean, you’ve got to have a boat. This one can float in shallow water, and it has high walls, which is safer for our four kids." $26,000, seahuntboats.com

Big Green Egg grill

"You can smoke a turkey for 12 hours on this thing, and it’s perfect. You can flash-cook a pizza in two minutes at 700 degrees." $699, biggreenegg.com

Donald Takayama In the Pink longboard

"Takayama is one of the greatest surfers, and I thought, If he can make it for himself, it’s good enough for me. Even though it’s a longboard, it’s high performance. You can take it on giant waves and small waves." $1,450, hawaiianprodesigns.com

What I Covet

Grumman G-21 Goose “I read that Jimmy Buffett flies his Grumman seaplane to different islands and fishes off the wings. I thought, Good God, that sounds cool! Of course, I’d magically know how to fly. I’d land it and surf right off the back.” About $3 million, antillesseaplanes.com

Copyright © 2008 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved. Inc.com, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

Miami, Dade County Fair, 4.5.08, 5:19 p.m.

Behind The Scenes: Companies at the Heart of Everyday Life

From: Inc. Magazine, June 2008 | By: Athena Schindelheim

Water Game

Bob’s Space Racers of Daytona Beach, Florida, makes these trailer-mounted group games, in which players shoot streams of water at targets. Most trailers include a 100-gallon water tank for the game; some are customized with bedrooms and showers for the owners. In 1970, Bob Cassata, a carpenter, founded the company with his niece’s high school boyfriend, Jack Mendes. They built the first games together. Cassata still owns the 125-person company, and Mendes is president. Bob’s Space Racers also makes arcade games, like Whac-A-Mole.

Ferris Wheel

This 90-foot-tall ride weighs more than 100 tons and sells for about $1.3 million, and it took Chance Rides Manufacturing close to six months to build. In 1961, founder Harold Chance started out making miniature trains for a small carnival in the Midwest. Today, his son, Richard, and grandsons, Michael and John, co-own the Wichita, Kansas, company. Its 125 employees manufacture carousels, train rides, and roller coasters for amusement parks, malls, zoos, and a few individuals. (Michael Jackson bought five Chance rides for the Neverland Ranch). North American Midway Entertainment, which organizes about 130 fairs and carnivals, including this one in Miami, owns more than 25 Chance rides.

Concession Stand

Whether they’re whipping up elephant ears, cotton candy, or pizza, vendors need to make the most of small spaces, because they often rent plots from the fairground by the foot. Century Industries of Sellersburg, Indiana, designed this 20-foot trailer to be compact. It fits up to eight employees. Trailers cost from $50,000 to $150,000, including the food-prep equipment. Brothers John and Bob Uhl started Century Industries in 1978 to make hot dog stands for parks. The company now employs 45 workers.

Stuffed Animals

Win here, and you’ll get a prize from Toy Factory of San Antonio. The company makes more than 1,000 types of stuffed animals for amusement parks and arcades. The toys — including puppies, monkeys, and bears as well as licensed Spider-Man and Batman dolls — come in several sizes, from 7 to 54 inches tall. Most are manufactured in China, but the larger ones typically are stuffed in the U.S. Four co-workers who left another, now defunct, novelty toy company founded Toy Factory in 1999. Toy Factory now has 25 employees.

Copyright © 2008 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved. Inc.com, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

The Judgment Group Will Make Sure You Get Paid What the Court Ordered

Can it raise $5 million?

By: Athena Schindelheim

From: Inc. Magazine, June 2008

The Pitch: “Every day, hundreds of small businesses and individuals win lawsuits against people who owe them money. But many of those court-awarded judgments are never paid. That’s where we come in. We don’t collect regular debts; we enforce court-ordered judgments. There’s a huge difference. We electronically locate where debtors bank, work, and own property. Then, we file the legal documents required to get banks and employers to freeze the debtors’ assets. We keep half of what we recover. Now we’re preparing for a nationwide rollout. We plan to use most of the additional funds to hire staff and to customize our technology for each state, since each state has unique laws.” Company: The Judgment Group Owner: Susan Wilson, founder, president, and CEO Location: Stevensville, Maryland Employees: Six Founded: 2001 2007 Revenue: $500,000 2008 Projected Revenue: $10 million Investment Needed: $5 million to hire new staff and build hardware and software infrastructure for a nationwide rollout Clients: Individuals and businesses with court-awarded settlements of less than $10,000, mostly in Maryland Recent Buzz: Winner of American Express and Count Me In’s “Make Mine a Million $ Business” award; named one of Working Mother magazine’s Best Women-Owned Companies for 2008 The Experts Weigh In

Find bigger fish

This sounds like a big market and a great opportunity. Wilson clearly has a passion for the business, and with a demonstrated track record of revenue, the company is ready to raise money. But I’d think very carefully about the target customers in this business. Signing up creditors who are owed a single judgment is a tough way to scale the company. The Judgment Group needs to focus on creditors with a large number of judgments in their favor. A credit card company, for example, has thousands of people who owe it money. Operational efficiency, such as running a strong call center, will be crucial to the company’s success.

Sunil Dhaliwal

General partner

Battery Ventures Boston

Build a brand

The barriers to entry for this industry are low, and there are a few competitors. So Judgment Group should invest in a brand that becomes the go-to name in this space. Five million dollars should be sufficient to build staff and infrastructure, but it seems light for sales and marketing. Wilson could seek partnerships with lawyers, who could refer their clients. I would also advise her to put marketing dollars where they’re going to catch the attention of small businesses, like in trade publications and on relevant websites. Cash flow could be a problem as she expands nationwide, since the company doesn’t collect any fees up front.

Mohit Daswani

Principal FT Ventures

San Francisco

Start regionally

I think part of what has made the company successful to date is its clear focus: going after judgments in Maryland of less than $10,000. Going national will require significant investment in technology, personnel, and marketing. This could be a big risk if Wilson doesn’t meet sales projections, which seem extremely optimistic. She would probably be better off showing she can expand to a nearby state with some additional bootstrapping or a bank loan. If she really can deliver rapid growth and profitability within a region, then she may be able to attract venture capital investors.

Lauren Flanagan

Co-founder and managing director Phenomenelle Angels Fund I, LP

Madison, Wisconsin

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Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota 3.12.08, 2:24 P.M.

Behind The Scenes: Companies at the Heart of Everyday Life

From: Inc. Magazine, May 2008 | By: Athena Schindelheim

Architecture

To make the 4.2 million-square-foot space less daunting (and to prevent shoppers from getting lost), the Jerde Partnership, an architecture firm in Venice Beach, California, designed the mall like a village, with streets and plazas. Each street has its own flavor. West Market, seen here, is modeled after a European colonnade. Architect Jon Jerde founded the firm, in 1977, with a focus on “place making” — creating engaging community spaces. Since then, he and his 130 employees have designed malls, city centers, and casinos, including the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The firm’s annual revenue tops $30 million.

Retail carts

The mall leases these 5-foot-wide carts to retailers peddling a variety of wares, including Crocs, iPod skins, and novelty T-shirts. Creations Global Retail, a $20 million business in Dallas, started making the carts in the ’90s after mall owners realized they could squeeze more purchases out of shopper foot traffic. Mike Goldfarb started the business, in 1964, to make plastic moldings and acrylic furniture. Today, his son and current CEO, Ben Goldfarb, employs 130 people; they make carts, kiosks, and retail displays.

Background music

Music Imaging and Media International has been partially responsible for sticking Phil Collins songs in people’s heads since 2002. The Culver City, California — based company compiles customized background music for businesses. Each week, a digital receiver in the Mall of America downloads new playlists of songs, which get pumped through the mall’s speaker system. CEO Otis Smith, a music-industry veteran who produced albums for Anita Baker, runs the seven-person company with his son, Otis Smith III, who is the company’s president.

Store directories

Can’t remember how to get from Cinnabon to Pretzel Time? Kiku Obata & Company can help. The St. Louis firm designed all of the mall’s directories and maps, as well as the logo, parking lot placards, and other signage. Men tend to remember numbers, and women are better at recalling colors, says Kiku Obata, who founded the company in 1977. That’s why the directories assign each store a numeric address and a color. Obata’s staff of 30 has also designed interior architecture for retail chains and sports stadiums. Last year, the company earned about $4.5 million in revenue.

Copyright © 2008 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved. Inc.com, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

Things I Can’t Live Without: Elijah Shaw

CEO of Icon Services Corporation, St. Paul

By: Athena Schindelheim

From: Inc. Magazine, April 2008

Seventeen years ago, Elijah Shaw was working as a bouncer for a Chicago nightclub when the club’s owner, Cliff Levingston, then a forward for the Chicago Bulls, asked Shaw to be his bodyguard. In 1998, Shaw launched his own firm, Icon Services, which earns most of its $3 million in annual revenue protecting high-profile clientele. Shaw and his 36 employees, many of whom have law enforcement backgrounds, have shielded Usher, Tara Reid, 50 Cent, and Naomi Campbell.

What I Can’t Live Without

Premier attaché case

"This 7-pound aluminum case has carried everything from $2 million in diamonds for a courier assignment to a turkey-on-wheat Subway sandwich." $590, zerohalliburton.com

C-Series body armor

"This isn’t the most lightweight vest, but if I ever have to take a bullet for a client, all these years of lugging around a few extra pounds will be worth it." $499, pointblankarmor.com

Evander oxfords

"In the field, I can spend up to 22 hours a day on my feet. It’s important to have a shoe that’s comfortable and looks good with a suit." $90, rockport.com

What I Covet

A time-share in St.-Tropez

"I visited once with a client who was a guest of Giorgio Armani, and it’s officially my favorite place on earth. This French town has it all: pristine beaches, great dining, beautiful women, excellent shopping, the wildest parties around, and, most important, potential clients." Up to $200,000 for three months. ot-saint-tropez.com

Copyright © 2008 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved. Inc.com, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

Bedford Toll Plaza, Bedford, New Hampshire 1.12.08, 5:27 P.M.

Behind the Scenes: Companies at the Heart of Everyday Life

By: Athena Schindelheim

From: Inc. Magazine, March 2008

Lane Signals These LED traffic lights, which are housed in aluminum, connect to the toll plaza’s central computer. General Traffic Equipment, of Newburgh, New York, sells these signals to municipalities across the nation, to the tune of $2.5 million last year. Raymond Staffon, who started the company, in 1981, also markets its product line to department stores and other businesses that want to create indoor street scenes. The company employs about 20 people.

Axle-Counting Treadles Embedded in the pavement are treadles—8-foot strips that count the number of axles that drive over them. That number helps determine the toll (a five-axle semi traveling through this location, for instance, would pay $2.50). The treadles, made by TRMI, in Accord, New York, account for both forward and reverse crossings, so that when a car backs up, the axles aren’t counted twice. When Bob Rosakranse founded TRMI, in 1974, treadles were his only product. The $8 million company now makes a breadth of equipment for toll plazas, including automatic coin machines and receipt printers. It employs 45 people.

Cashless Toll Collection With the E-ZPass system, there’s no need to fumble for change. This antenna, made by Mark IV Industries, uses radio-frequency identification, or RFID, technology to scan a small device attached to a car’s windshield, and a toll gets docked from the driver’s account. More than 3,000 toll lanes in 12 states now use E-ZPass. Mark IV Industries, an Amherst, New York, company that was founded by Salvatore Alfiero in 1969, began as a maker of mobile homes. Then Alfiero went on a buying binge, and one of the more than 40 companies he acquired had developed the E-ZPass technology. These days, Mark IV generates more than $1 billion a year and employs 6,000 people. It is owned by a private equity firm.

License-Plate Cameras Toll dodgers, beware: You’re being watched by these cameras from Transport Data Systems, (TDS) in San Diego. When a car passes through the lane, the cameras snap photos of the license plates. If you don’t pay, the images get sent to the ominously named Violation Processing Center, which grabs your information from your state DMV and mails you a fine. CEO Dick Hasselbring started TDS, in 1995, to market an invention that uses radar to distinguish cars from trucks at tollbooths. Today TDS, with a staff of four, brings in more than $1 million a year.

Copyright © 2008 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved. Inc.com, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

White Cat Media Tells You Where to Get a Bargain

Now it’s shopping for $1.5 million.

By: Athena Schindelheim

From: Inc. Magazine, March 2008

The Pitch: “White Cat Media runs two shopping websites—SheFinds.com, for fashion and beauty products, and MomFinds.com, for mothers. We also own 30 similar domain names. Like DailyCandy, we blog about great products in the voice of a trusted friend, but our users can buy any item within a few clicks. We have about 300,000 visitors and 470,000 page views a month. We get a commission on most sales and additional revenue from advertising. We have built the company with $20,000 of my money and by reinvesting profits—our margins are over 30 percent. Now we want to redesign the sites, hire ad sales and editorial staff, launch other sites, and add reader reviews.”

Company:White Cat Media

Owner:Michelle Madhok

Location:New York City

Employees: The founder plus one full-time employee and 20 part-time freelancers

Founded: February 2004 2007

Revenue: Approximately $400,000

2008 Projected Revenue: $770,000 without an additional investment; $1.7 million if funding comes through Investment

Needed: $1.5 million

Clients: Advertisers and retailers targeting female shoppers

Recent Buzz: Winner of “Make Mine a Million $ Business,” a small-business contest sponsored by American Express (NYSE:AXP). Appearances on Fox News and The Tyra Banks Show. Mentioned in BusinessWeek Small Biz and The New York Times.

The Investors React

Focus on reader reviews

White Cat has come a long way on the initial $20,000 investment. But how can it preserve its voice and keep readers engaged as it expands? Madhok mentions “reader reviews,” which is an interesting direction. With more reader-based comments, there’s a lot less risk; if your readers’ tastes shift, the reviews that they’re submitting will then shift accordingly. It is also more cost effective to enlist the users to do the work. Since the company is profitable, White Cat may want to bootstrap its growth and avoid seeking funding until it has successfully launched reader reviews. That could boost the company’s valuation when it eventually seeks venture capital.

Andrew Parker

Associate

Union Square Ventures

New York City

Redesign the site

This space is crowded. There are countless blogs focused on women’s editorial. I have seen SheFinds.com and MomFinds.com—they are decent, but there’s a lot of noise on the page. SheFinds is not user-friendly or easy to navigate. They may need to do a redesign. It shouldn’t cost $1.5 million, though. Web design and software development cost a fraction of what they did a couple of years back. Madhok may be able to find a wealthy individual to help her now, but our venture capital group would need to see more analytics that demonstrate that users are coming to the sites and staying—and that their numbers are growing exponentially.

Sam Sezak

Senior Associate

New Vantage Group

Vienna, Virginia

$1.5 million is high

The sites’ traffic is on the high end, which shows that White Cat has a lot of traction. We’ve jumped in before with companies that had that much traction. And advertisers like sites that are focused on one niche rather than very broad groups of people. There’s also scalability, since Madhok owns so many other URLs. That said, $1.5 million is a little high; Web companies are typically more capital efficient and don’t require that much to grow. We did a similar deal, and the company requested closer to $600,000. In the end, it got $1 million. It didn’t have to pay for content, because the user base was generating it.

Hall T. Martin

Director

Central Texas Angel Network

Austin

Copyright © 2008 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved. Inc.com, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

Nashville International Airport 12.07.07, 1:45 p.m.

Behind the Scenes: Companies at the Heart of Everyday Life

By: Athena Schindelheim

From: Inc. Magazine, February 2008

The Quarter-Ton Trash Can

As airports beef up security, some have installed these 30-gallon blast-resistant garbage bins from Centerpoint Manufacturing. Each 525-pound receptacle is made of alternating layers of steel alloys and dense foam, which enables it to safely contain an explosion producing thousands of tons of pressure. David Fannon, an engineer with a background in metallurgy, founded Centerpoint in 2002. His six employees, in Robertsdale, Alabama, craft these bins, which sell for about $1,500 each to federal buildings, malls, and transportation hubs.

The Big Board The arrival and departure information posted on this 19-foot-wide display comes from many sources. Infax, in Duluth, Georgia, is the company that pulls it all together into a helpful format. Its software, WinFIDS, gathers takeoff and landing times from the Official Airline Guide, real-time flight status from Flightview and the Federal Aviation Administration, and gate numbers from the airport’s internal system. Infax, which employs 25, also sells a program for courthouses that displays docket information.

Crowd-Control-Stanchions Do you know what’s creating lines at the airport? Lavi Industries. The business, based in Valencia, California, makes these metal stanchions with retractable belts. The $30 million company got its start in 1979, when founder Gavriel Lavi’s nostalgia for his time in the Israeli Navy inspired him to import ship wheels for interior decoration. Then came other home accessories, such as towel racks and valets. Today, Lavi employs 140 people and churns out a wide array of mostly commercial products, including security barricades, hostess stands, and salad-bar sneeze guards.

Anti-Fatigue Mats There are worse things than dealing with irritable travelers—such as having to stand behind a ticket counter all day to do so. SATech, in Chehalis, Washington, produces rubber flooring to help curb the hurt. Beneath the surface of its inch-thick mats, which line the area behind this ticket counter, are rows of rubber cylinders that act like springs to absorb shock. SATech, which has a staff of 24 and annual revenue of more than $3 million, was founded in 1991 to manufacture padded surfaces for playgrounds. Today, its flooring can be found in mailrooms, operating rooms, and even horse trailers.

How I Did It: Bobbi Brown, Founder and CEO, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics

From: Inc. Magazine, November 2007 | By: Bobbi Brown As told to Athena Schindelheim

In New York in the excessive 1980s, Bobbi Brown made it big by pushing moderation. She became makeup artist to the stars by introducing a palette of natural hues—and along the way became a star herself, with her name on a global brand.

Bobbi Brown became a name in the cosmetics business by pushing moderation. In the 1980s, when look-at-me colors, stark contours, and shiny red lips were in fashion, Brown designed cosmetics to highlight a woman’s natural look. She had moved to New York City in 1980 with a degree in theatrical makeup and a beginner’s portfolio. Before the decade was done, she’d hustled her way from freelance makeup artist at magazine shoots to product designer with her name behind a global brand. In 1995, Estée Lauder (NYSE:EL) bought Bobbi Brown Cosmetics (the sale price wasn’t disclosed, but Lauder reported that the $74.5 million it invested that year was principally on the acquisition), and Brown stayed in an active role. After some setbacks, the brand is thriving again. Now 50, Brown recently opened the first freestanding Bobbi Brown retail store, with a makeup artistry school in the back, and is at work on her fifth book.

Being five feet tall, the teeniest of all my friends, made me a little more self-conscious and insecure about the way I look. Makeup was something I could do to make myself look prettier. Like any little girl, my makeup style is the opposite of my mother’s. Her’s was very ’60s, sexy, Twiggy, mod. Mine was very Ali MacGraw in Love Story.

I was never directed in school. Nothing really got my attention. After six months at the University of Wisconsin and a year at the University of Arizona, I came back and I told my mom I wanted to drop out. She said, “Pretend today is your birthday and you could do anything you want.” I thought, and I said, “I would love to go to Marshall Field’s and play with makeup.” She said, “I’m sure somewhere there’s a college where you could study theatrical makeup.” A friend of my dad’s told me about Emerson College in Boston. I always say that when I found Emerson, I found myself.

I moved to New York in 1980, a year after I graduated. One of the best things I had going for me was that I was so naive. I never even thought of not being able to do it. Once I unpacked, I looked up makeup in the phone book. Photographers. Modeling agencies. I had a pretty amateurish portfolio of my makeup work from college—which I can’t believe I had the guts to show people. Half of the models were myself.

Makeup was really extreme in the ’80s—white skin and red lips and contouring. I loved more of the healthy, natural, simple skin. I really think I helped the natural revolution.

Around 1988, I was doing a shoot for Mademoiselle. We went to all of these hip downtown places, and one of them was Kiehl’s pharmacy, where I met a chemist. I told him I just hated most of the lipsticks on the market. I wanted it to be creamy and not dry, to stay on a long time, to not have any odor at all, and to be colors that look like lips. He said, “I’ll make it for you.” I mixed a taupe eye pencil, a blush—there was not a lipstick in there—and I sent the swatch to him. “Brown” is currently in my line and my No. 1 selling lipstick. And that’s how we started.

Research didn’t interest me. I wanted the texture, the color, and the smell. I thought, “Wow. If I could make a collection of 10 colors, I can’t imagine a woman needing any other color.” No fuchsia or acid orange, but wearable colors that don’t look like they scream when a woman walks into a room.

The beauty editor of Glamour magazine wrote maybe three lines about this thing I was doing, with my phone number. We got bombarded with orders. I guess that’s when I needed to get serious and get a partner. Rosalind Landis had hired me a year before, at her PR firm, to talk about how you could use eye shadows. We went out to dinner one night—Roz, her husband, Ken, who was in the cosmetics industry, and my husband, who is a business attorney. It turns out Ken’s family had moved to Florida and bought this house. The weirdest thing: They bought it from my mother. We started the company together with $10,000.

I was at a dinner party and I said to this woman, “What do you do?” She said, “I’m the cosmetics buyer at Bergdorf Goodman.” I told her about my lipsticks and she said, “We have to take them.” Later they said they couldn’t take us. They had too much going on that season. I remember my stomach dropping when I got the message. I was at a photo shoot for Saks and telling the creative directors and art directors about this new line, and they said, “Oh, my God. We want it.” I called Bergdorf back and said, “That’s too bad, but don’t worry, because Saks wants it.” Bergdorf called me back 10 minutes later and said, “Uh-uh. We’re going to take it.” I never even went to the right people at Saks. Now I know, that’s called bluffing.

Customers started coming. People said, “You have to do lip pencils. You have to do blush.” Magazines were asking me to do shoots where I was actually photographed. I was even being quoted about other things. They started treating makeup artists as celebrities.

Before Lauder came knocking we had two big offers we turned down. When Lauder bought M.A.C. in 1994, I was bummed. Then Frederic Fekkai said Leonard Lauder wanted to meet me. We sat on Leonard’s deck overlooking Central Park. He said, “We want to buy you because you are beating us in all the stores, and what you’ve done is amazing, and you remind me of my mother when she started.” He loves an entrepreneur.

I sold the company because Leonard said, “I want you to keep doing what you’re doing.” He has never moved from that position. At the same time, Roz and I were always 50-50, and it was a struggle. It was a successful relationship, but we butted heads regularly. Lauder brought her in corporately to help work on new acquisitions. And then eventually she left the company.

At Estée Lauder, our business was flat for a while. Things we were doing were being knocked off. They would call knockoffs “Essentially Brown” instead of “Bobbi Brown Essentials.” I had lunch with the CEO, Fred Langhammer, who basically said, “There’s a problem because you are not setting yourself apart. Blah, blah, blah.” I said, “You want to know what I would do? First of all, move out of the GM Building. Move downtown into a cool loft. Put in my head of marketing, Maureen Case, as president. And completely open, change the culture.” So we moved to SoHo.

Our products became a little more fun and fresh. Our advertising photographs were more editorial, like we were working for a magazine. A regular brand would never do an advertisement with smashed lipsticks. Now you see it all the time. We were one of the first brands to regularly use black models and show them as brides.

Once we moved downtown, the numbers started vastly improving. We hit half a billion at the end of 2006. For a kid that never got better than a D in math! How did this happen?

My favorite aunt thinks it’s really funny that I’ve become a hero to women, and all I do is tell them to take blush and smear it on their cheeks. She says, “I could have told people that.”

Copyright © 2008 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved. Inc.com, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

I am now writing about food in Los Angeles for Blackbook Magazine online. Follow fattractive.com on Tumblr for realtime updates and visit www.fattractive.com for more food ephemera.

I am now writing about food in Los Angeles for Blackbook Magazine online. Follow fattractive.com on Tumblr for realtime updates and visit www.fattractive.com for more food ephemera.

I created a regular newsletter for FUEL360 Media about the current events of clients and accounts. These are images of the first one that dropped on September 29, 2011.

(Source: us2.campaign-archive2.com)

M.I.A. and Rye Rye at The Mayan

By: Athena Schindelheim

From: Buzznet, October 2010

In line last night to see M.I.A. perform at the Mayan (which resembles the Temple of Doom turned happenin’ nightclub), a dude in a shredded turquoise muscle shirt and a leather beaded headband shrilled, “We’re going to see some styles tonight!” Instead of retorting, “Look who’s talking, Pocahontas,” everyone turned to gawk as a woman draped in a scarlet, hooded, sleeveless cape entered the venue. Later identified as Sonya Tayeh, a guest choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance, she started the night with the common people bouncing to the fast beats of Rye Rye.  


M.I.A. and Rye Rye at the Mayan Last Night Were Amazaninjing photo 1

M.I.A. and Rye Rye at the Mayan Last Night Were Amazaninjing photo 2

Speaking of styles, Rye Rye jumped onto the stage in a neon-fringed onesie like a fabulous 80s hip hop flapper. Her three male backup dancers with shoulder length dreads wore black hazmat overalls and masks with matching fringe, making them look like Sesame Street Yip Yip aliens. Her set was certainly out of this world. Here’s a clip I took:


 
 

M.I.A. in NYC: “F*CK GOOGLE, ASK ME!”



It’s so refreshing to see frenetic dancing on stage after so many shows with stationary indie bands playing guitars and emoting. Her chant ”damn shawty how you manage to do that dance” vibrated to the tune of her synchronized kicks while she put the fringe on her body to work. The monitors on stage sadly obscured her fancy footwork, but her energy was infectious and warmed up the crowd. 


(((SOUNDWEAR))) M.I.A.’s GALANG-GALANG STYLE 


Not that any warming was needed. The anticipation for M.I.A. was so intense that waves of cheers rippled around the room during the entire thirty minute DJ set after Rye Rye left the stage. Some wondered if the androgynous DJ, cloaked in darkness, could actually possibly be M.I.A. When she did appear, in a military green pancho over a pink sequined pant suit and gold studded beret, she was flanked by two maybe Eastern European male dancers wearing sweaters and zany pants printed circa Prince of Bel Air and had three more dancers clad in Ed Hardy burkhas behind her. A motley crew to be sure.

M.I.A. and Rye Rye at the Mayan Last Night Were Amazaninjing photo 3
One of my favorite photos of M.I.A. performing in 2008 by Macstach
 

By 10:45 p.m., M.I.A. had crowd surfed, climbed on top of the speakers, and made her way to the side stage to spit politically charged lyrics in a somehow simultaneously charming and aggressive way. Like her eclectic fashion sense, M.I.A. finds a way to blend disparate styles. The kids in the audience who had come from everywhere to see her could have been a Benetton ad set to throbbing music. Pocahontas was right.

Tanlines at Glasslands

By: Athena Schindelheim 
From: New York Press blog May 3, 2010 

 

Let’s face it: most people went to Glasslands and waited in a block-long line on Friday night to see everyone’s current darling Tanlines. They came to dance. They certainly didn’t come for the sound quality at the precariously stitched together venue. And, sadly, many of them didn’t come to see the first opening band Psychobuildings, a band that’s hypnotic front man Peter LaBier pranced and twirled in a bedazzled black spandex bodysuit accented with fringe and, yes, pompoms. 

LaBier’s performance with Psychobuildings highlights the polished art of Lady Gaga, taking appreciation for her well-executed costumes and choreography to a deeper level (if that’s even possible). Or, maybe, LaBier’s clumsy popping and locking with Anthony Kiedis hair swinging over his face in an outfit he stole from Brian Boitano just reminds a spinster hag music journalist that she is watching an amateur band with nothing new to say in a dilapidated firetrap on the outskirts of Williamsburg. At the very least, Psychobuildings put some effort into entertaining anyone with nothing better to do at 9 that night.

As much can’t be said for Light Pollution, a snoozy indie amalgamation from Chicago. In fact, hardly anything can be said due to the narcoleptic stupor induced by the band’s brief set. In this post- Animal Collective world, theremins should require some sort of training period and licensing permit before put into the hands of experimental psych-pop garage dudes who take themselves too seriously. Memoryhouse might also fall into this latter category, but at least the actual shoegaze songs they make are enjoyable.

Keepaway, on the other hand, deserves a stack of get out of jail free cards from the fashion police. These three guys are like the electrosurf version of the Jonas Brothers, each wearing a thick plastic chain a la Eazy-E with a pendant emblazoned with the head-scratching word DRIPPA. It seems appropriate, then, that the luxuriously golden-locked lead singer had his parents in the audience. The folks seemed to enjoy Keepaway’s Ozzy-reminiscent vocals over reggae beats as much as the thickening crowd, although they left before the night’s headliner took the stage.

Mom and dad were basically the only ones who didn’t come to dance for Tanlines. Taking notes during the last set was pretty much impossible due to much bouncing, but trust that Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm delivered jams. Check out the band’s MySpace page videos. They convey Tanlines’s sense of humor twisted with a touching optimism. The duo’s live energy conveys how much fun it’s having. More bands should take a cue, let go of how they look, and focus on how they make everyone feel.

Everything I wrote for Inc.

Blog posts, Behind the Scenes, Things I Can’t Live Without, Elevator Pitch, My Place, and sidebars. The only items not included in this compendium are Inc. 500, green, fun, and gift guide company descriptions from packaged issues.

Carson Aquatic Complex, Mesa, Arizona, 6.7.08, 3:15 p.m.

Behind the Scenes: Companies At the Heart of Everyday Life

By: Athena Schindelheim

From: Inc. Magazine, August 2008

Shades

It’s about 30 percent cooler under this structure than it is in the sun. Made of high-density polyethylene mesh, the shade blocks up to 95 percent of ultraviolet rays while still allowing breezes to pass through. USA Shade & Fabric Structures, based in Dallas, has manufactured more than 175,000 of these sorts of structures for airports, amphitheaters, and resorts. The company formed in 2004 when two competitors, both run by South African founders, decided to join forces. Today, it has annual revenue of $70 million and employs about 425.

Chemicals

When it comes to fighting bacteria, signs reminding patrons to “keep P out of the ool” aren’t as effective as chlorine and bromine. But an excess of these chemicals can irritate skin and corrode metal parts. That’s why this pool uses a water chemistry controller by BECS Technology, a $5 million company based in St. Louis. The BECSys5 continuously monitors the water’s pH and chlorine levels and automatically tinkers with the chemical balance. Before starting BECS in 1991, two of the four founders developed their first product for a college project. BECS’s 34 employees design and manufacture electronic controls for a variety of industries.

Kiddie-pool Fountain

In the shallow end, children linger under this 13-foot, stainless steel pole, which pours 25 gallons to 35 gallons of water per minute from its three arms. It’s made by Fountain People, which designs and produces large fountains for municipal districts, hotels, and casinos. A subsidiary, Water Odyssey, creates more than 50 types of these brightly colored, playfully shaped fountains for pools and water parks. Fountain People, based in San Marcos, Texas, was founded in 1987 by three co-workers from another fountain company. Fountain People now employs more than 100.

Diving Board Duraflex International makes some of the springiest boards around. Its diving boards are used in the Olympics and most other competitive diving events. Unlike most other boards, which are made of fiberglass and wood, Duraflex’s boards are aluminum. They are formed with the same 15,000-ton press used to make wings for commercial jets. Raymond Rude, who founded the Sparks, Nevada — based company in 1949, was working as a subcontractor for airplane manufacturers when he discovered that aluminum made a great springboard. His daughter, Jan Rude, now runs the $6 million company, which has 22 employees.

Copyright © 2008 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved. Inc.com, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

Things I Can’t Live Without: Ted Dennard

Founder of Savannah Bee | Savannah, Georgia

By: Athena Schindelheim

From: Inc. Magazine, July 2008

In 2002, Ted Dennard turned his beekeeping hobby into a full-time honey-making operation. Now, instead of tending to hives himself, Dennard contracts with beekeepers around the world. He often travels to sample their wares, primarily in Florida and Georgia, where the company’s bestseller, tupelo honey, is made. Last year Savannah Bee, which has annual sales of $1.9 million and a staff of 17, sold 130,000 pounds of honey through gourmet retailers.

Sea Hunt Triton 196

"When you live five miles from the ocean, you’ve got to have a boat. This one can float in shallow water, and it has high walls, which is safer for our four kids." $26,000, seahuntboats.com

Big Green Egg grill

"You can smoke a turkey for 12 hours on this thing, and it’s perfect. You can flash-cook a pizza in two minutes at 700 degrees." $699, biggreenegg.com

Donald Takayama In the Pink longboard

"Takayama is one of the greatest surfers, and I thought, If he can make it for himself, it’s good enough for me. Even though it’s a longboard, it’s high performance. You can take it on giant waves and small waves." $1,450, hawaiianprodesigns.com

What I Covet

Grumman G-21 Goose “I read that Jimmy Buffett flies his Grumman seaplane to different islands and fishes off the wings. I thought, Good God, that sounds cool! Of course, I’d magically know how to fly. I’d land it and surf right off the back.” About $3 million, antillesseaplanes.com

Copyright © 2008 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved. Inc.com, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

Miami, Dade County Fair, 4.5.08, 5:19 p.m.

Behind The Scenes: Companies at the Heart of Everyday Life

From: Inc. Magazine, June 2008 | By: Athena Schindelheim

Water Game

Bob’s Space Racers of Daytona Beach, Florida, makes these trailer-mounted group games, in which players shoot streams of water at targets. Most trailers include a 100-gallon water tank for the game; some are customized with bedrooms and showers for the owners. In 1970, Bob Cassata, a carpenter, founded the company with his niece’s high school boyfriend, Jack Mendes. They built the first games together. Cassata still owns the 125-person company, and Mendes is president. Bob’s Space Racers also makes arcade games, like Whac-A-Mole.

Ferris Wheel

This 90-foot-tall ride weighs more than 100 tons and sells for about $1.3 million, and it took Chance Rides Manufacturing close to six months to build. In 1961, founder Harold Chance started out making miniature trains for a small carnival in the Midwest. Today, his son, Richard, and grandsons, Michael and John, co-own the Wichita, Kansas, company. Its 125 employees manufacture carousels, train rides, and roller coasters for amusement parks, malls, zoos, and a few individuals. (Michael Jackson bought five Chance rides for the Neverland Ranch). North American Midway Entertainment, which organizes about 130 fairs and carnivals, including this one in Miami, owns more than 25 Chance rides.

Concession Stand

Whether they’re whipping up elephant ears, cotton candy, or pizza, vendors need to make the most of small spaces, because they often rent plots from the fairground by the foot. Century Industries of Sellersburg, Indiana, designed this 20-foot trailer to be compact. It fits up to eight employees. Trailers cost from $50,000 to $150,000, including the food-prep equipment. Brothers John and Bob Uhl started Century Industries in 1978 to make hot dog stands for parks. The company now employs 45 workers.

Stuffed Animals

Win here, and you’ll get a prize from Toy Factory of San Antonio. The company makes more than 1,000 types of stuffed animals for amusement parks and arcades. The toys — including puppies, monkeys, and bears as well as licensed Spider-Man and Batman dolls — come in several sizes, from 7 to 54 inches tall. Most are manufactured in China, but the larger ones typically are stuffed in the U.S. Four co-workers who left another, now defunct, novelty toy company founded Toy Factory in 1999. Toy Factory now has 25 employees.

Copyright © 2008 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved. Inc.com, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

The Judgment Group Will Make Sure You Get Paid What the Court Ordered

Can it raise $5 million?

By: Athena Schindelheim

From: Inc. Magazine, June 2008

The Pitch: “Every day, hundreds of small businesses and individuals win lawsuits against people who owe them money. But many of those court-awarded judgments are never paid. That’s where we come in. We don’t collect regular debts; we enforce court-ordered judgments. There’s a huge difference. We electronically locate where debtors bank, work, and own property. Then, we file the legal documents required to get banks and employers to freeze the debtors’ assets. We keep half of what we recover. Now we’re preparing for a nationwide rollout. We plan to use most of the additional funds to hire staff and to customize our technology for each state, since each state has unique laws.” Company: The Judgment Group Owner: Susan Wilson, founder, president, and CEO Location: Stevensville, Maryland Employees: Six Founded: 2001 2007 Revenue: $500,000 2008 Projected Revenue: $10 million Investment Needed: $5 million to hire new staff and build hardware and software infrastructure for a nationwide rollout Clients: Individuals and businesses with court-awarded settlements of less than $10,000, mostly in Maryland Recent Buzz: Winner of American Express and Count Me In’s “Make Mine a Million $ Business” award; named one of Working Mother magazine’s Best Women-Owned Companies for 2008 The Experts Weigh In

Find bigger fish

This sounds like a big market and a great opportunity. Wilson clearly has a passion for the business, and with a demonstrated track record of revenue, the company is ready to raise money. But I’d think very carefully about the target customers in this business. Signing up creditors who are owed a single judgment is a tough way to scale the company. The Judgment Group needs to focus on creditors with a large number of judgments in their favor. A credit card company, for example, has thousands of people who owe it money. Operational efficiency, such as running a strong call center, will be crucial to the company’s success.

Sunil Dhaliwal

General partner

Battery Ventures Boston

Build a brand

The barriers to entry for this industry are low, and there are a few competitors. So Judgment Group should invest in a brand that becomes the go-to name in this space. Five million dollars should be sufficient to build staff and infrastructure, but it seems light for sales and marketing. Wilson could seek partnerships with lawyers, who could refer their clients. I would also advise her to put marketing dollars where they’re going to catch the attention of small businesses, like in trade publications and on relevant websites. Cash flow could be a problem as she expands nationwide, since the company doesn’t collect any fees up front.

Mohit Daswani

Principal FT Ventures

San Francisco

Start regionally

I think part of what has made the company successful to date is its clear focus: going after judgments in Maryland of less than $10,000. Going national will require significant investment in technology, personnel, and marketing. This could be a big risk if Wilson doesn’t meet sales projections, which seem extremely optimistic. She would probably be better off showing she can expand to a nearby state with some additional bootstrapping or a bank loan. If she really can deliver rapid growth and profitability within a region, then she may be able to attract venture capital investors.

Lauren Flanagan

Co-founder and managing director Phenomenelle Angels Fund I, LP

Madison, Wisconsin

Copyright © 2008 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved. Inc.com, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota 3.12.08, 2:24 P.M.

Behind The Scenes: Companies at the Heart of Everyday Life

From: Inc. Magazine, May 2008 | By: Athena Schindelheim

Architecture

To make the 4.2 million-square-foot space less daunting (and to prevent shoppers from getting lost), the Jerde Partnership, an architecture firm in Venice Beach, California, designed the mall like a village, with streets and plazas. Each street has its own flavor. West Market, seen here, is modeled after a European colonnade. Architect Jon Jerde founded the firm, in 1977, with a focus on “place making” — creating engaging community spaces. Since then, he and his 130 employees have designed malls, city centers, and casinos, including the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The firm’s annual revenue tops $30 million.

Retail carts

The mall leases these 5-foot-wide carts to retailers peddling a variety of wares, including Crocs, iPod skins, and novelty T-shirts. Creations Global Retail, a $20 million business in Dallas, started making the carts in the ’90s after mall owners realized they could squeeze more purchases out of shopper foot traffic. Mike Goldfarb started the business, in 1964, to make plastic moldings and acrylic furniture. Today, his son and current CEO, Ben Goldfarb, employs 130 people; they make carts, kiosks, and retail displays.

Background music

Music Imaging and Media International has been partially responsible for sticking Phil Collins songs in people’s heads since 2002. The Culver City, California — based company compiles customized background music for businesses. Each week, a digital receiver in the Mall of America downloads new playlists of songs, which get pumped through the mall’s speaker system. CEO Otis Smith, a music-industry veteran who produced albums for Anita Baker, runs the seven-person company with his son, Otis Smith III, who is the company’s president.

Store directories

Can’t remember how to get from Cinnabon to Pretzel Time? Kiku Obata & Company can help. The St. Louis firm designed all of the mall’s directories and maps, as well as the logo, parking lot placards, and other signage. Men tend to remember numbers, and women are better at recalling colors, says Kiku Obata, who founded the company in 1977. That’s why the directories assign each store a numeric address and a color. Obata’s staff of 30 has also designed interior architecture for retail chains and sports stadiums. Last year, the company earned about $4.5 million in revenue.

Copyright © 2008 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved. Inc.com, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

Things I Can’t Live Without: Elijah Shaw

CEO of Icon Services Corporation, St. Paul

By: Athena Schindelheim

From: Inc. Magazine, April 2008

Seventeen years ago, Elijah Shaw was working as a bouncer for a Chicago nightclub when the club’s owner, Cliff Levingston, then a forward for the Chicago Bulls, asked Shaw to be his bodyguard. In 1998, Shaw launched his own firm, Icon Services, which earns most of its $3 million in annual revenue protecting high-profile clientele. Shaw and his 36 employees, many of whom have law enforcement backgrounds, have shielded Usher, Tara Reid, 50 Cent, and Naomi Campbell.

What I Can’t Live Without

Premier attaché case

"This 7-pound aluminum case has carried everything from $2 million in diamonds for a courier assignment to a turkey-on-wheat Subway sandwich." $590, zerohalliburton.com

C-Series body armor

"This isn’t the most lightweight vest, but if I ever have to take a bullet for a client, all these years of lugging around a few extra pounds will be worth it." $499, pointblankarmor.com

Evander oxfords

"In the field, I can spend up to 22 hours a day on my feet. It’s important to have a shoe that’s comfortable and looks good with a suit." $90, rockport.com

What I Covet

A time-share in St.-Tropez

"I visited once with a client who was a guest of Giorgio Armani, and it’s officially my favorite place on earth. This French town has it all: pristine beaches, great dining, beautiful women, excellent shopping, the wildest parties around, and, most important, potential clients." Up to $200,000 for three months. ot-saint-tropez.com

Copyright © 2008 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved. Inc.com, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

Bedford Toll Plaza, Bedford, New Hampshire 1.12.08, 5:27 P.M.

Behind the Scenes: Companies at the Heart of Everyday Life

By: Athena Schindelheim

From: Inc. Magazine, March 2008

Lane Signals These LED traffic lights, which are housed in aluminum, connect to the toll plaza’s central computer. General Traffic Equipment, of Newburgh, New York, sells these signals to municipalities across the nation, to the tune of $2.5 million last year. Raymond Staffon, who started the company, in 1981, also markets its product line to department stores and other businesses that want to create indoor street scenes. The company employs about 20 people.

Axle-Counting Treadles Embedded in the pavement are treadles—8-foot strips that count the number of axles that drive over them. That number helps determine the toll (a five-axle semi traveling through this location, for instance, would pay $2.50). The treadles, made by TRMI, in Accord, New York, account for both forward and reverse crossings, so that when a car backs up, the axles aren’t counted twice. When Bob Rosakranse founded TRMI, in 1974, treadles were his only product. The $8 million company now makes a breadth of equipment for toll plazas, including automatic coin machines and receipt printers. It employs 45 people.

Cashless Toll Collection With the E-ZPass system, there’s no need to fumble for change. This antenna, made by Mark IV Industries, uses radio-frequency identification, or RFID, technology to scan a small device attached to a car’s windshield, and a toll gets docked from the driver’s account. More than 3,000 toll lanes in 12 states now use E-ZPass. Mark IV Industries, an Amherst, New York, company that was founded by Salvatore Alfiero in 1969, began as a maker of mobile homes. Then Alfiero went on a buying binge, and one of the more than 40 companies he acquired had developed the E-ZPass technology. These days, Mark IV generates more than $1 billion a year and employs 6,000 people. It is owned by a private equity firm.

License-Plate Cameras Toll dodgers, beware: You’re being watched by these cameras from Transport Data Systems, (TDS) in San Diego. When a car passes through the lane, the cameras snap photos of the license plates. If you don’t pay, the images get sent to the ominously named Violation Processing Center, which grabs your information from your state DMV and mails you a fine. CEO Dick Hasselbring started TDS, in 1995, to market an invention that uses radar to distinguish cars from trucks at tollbooths. Today TDS, with a staff of four, brings in more than $1 million a year.

Copyright © 2008 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved. Inc.com, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

White Cat Media Tells You Where to Get a Bargain

Now it’s shopping for $1.5 million.

By: Athena Schindelheim

From: Inc. Magazine, March 2008

The Pitch: “White Cat Media runs two shopping websites—SheFinds.com, for fashion and beauty products, and MomFinds.com, for mothers. We also own 30 similar domain names. Like DailyCandy, we blog about great products in the voice of a trusted friend, but our users can buy any item within a few clicks. We have about 300,000 visitors and 470,000 page views a month. We get a commission on most sales and additional revenue from advertising. We have built the company with $20,000 of my money and by reinvesting profits—our margins are over 30 percent. Now we want to redesign the sites, hire ad sales and editorial staff, launch other sites, and add reader reviews.”

Company:White Cat Media

Owner:Michelle Madhok

Location:New York City

Employees: The founder plus one full-time employee and 20 part-time freelancers

Founded: February 2004 2007

Revenue: Approximately $400,000

2008 Projected Revenue: $770,000 without an additional investment; $1.7 million if funding comes through Investment

Needed: $1.5 million

Clients: Advertisers and retailers targeting female shoppers

Recent Buzz: Winner of “Make Mine a Million $ Business,” a small-business contest sponsored by American Express (NYSE:AXP). Appearances on Fox News and The Tyra Banks Show. Mentioned in BusinessWeek Small Biz and The New York Times.

The Investors React

Focus on reader reviews

White Cat has come a long way on the initial $20,000 investment. But how can it preserve its voice and keep readers engaged as it expands? Madhok mentions “reader reviews,” which is an interesting direction. With more reader-based comments, there’s a lot less risk; if your readers’ tastes shift, the reviews that they’re submitting will then shift accordingly. It is also more cost effective to enlist the users to do the work. Since the company is profitable, White Cat may want to bootstrap its growth and avoid seeking funding until it has successfully launched reader reviews. That could boost the company’s valuation when it eventually seeks venture capital.

Andrew Parker

Associate

Union Square Ventures

New York City

Redesign the site

This space is crowded. There are countless blogs focused on women’s editorial. I have seen SheFinds.com and MomFinds.com—they are decent, but there’s a lot of noise on the page. SheFinds is not user-friendly or easy to navigate. They may need to do a redesign. It shouldn’t cost $1.5 million, though. Web design and software development cost a fraction of what they did a couple of years back. Madhok may be able to find a wealthy individual to help her now, but our venture capital group would need to see more analytics that demonstrate that users are coming to the sites and staying—and that their numbers are growing exponentially.

Sam Sezak

Senior Associate

New Vantage Group

Vienna, Virginia

$1.5 million is high

The sites’ traffic is on the high end, which shows that White Cat has a lot of traction. We’ve jumped in before with companies that had that much traction. And advertisers like sites that are focused on one niche rather than very broad groups of people. There’s also scalability, since Madhok owns so many other URLs. That said, $1.5 million is a little high; Web companies are typically more capital efficient and don’t require that much to grow. We did a similar deal, and the company requested closer to $600,000. In the end, it got $1 million. It didn’t have to pay for content, because the user base was generating it.

Hall T. Martin

Director

Central Texas Angel Network

Austin

Copyright © 2008 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved. Inc.com, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

Nashville International Airport 12.07.07, 1:45 p.m.

Behind the Scenes: Companies at the Heart of Everyday Life

By: Athena Schindelheim

From: Inc. Magazine, February 2008

The Quarter-Ton Trash Can

As airports beef up security, some have installed these 30-gallon blast-resistant garbage bins from Centerpoint Manufacturing. Each 525-pound receptacle is made of alternating layers of steel alloys and dense foam, which enables it to safely contain an explosion producing thousands of tons of pressure. David Fannon, an engineer with a background in metallurgy, founded Centerpoint in 2002. His six employees, in Robertsdale, Alabama, craft these bins, which sell for about $1,500 each to federal buildings, malls, and transportation hubs.

The Big Board The arrival and departure information posted on this 19-foot-wide display comes from many sources. Infax, in Duluth, Georgia, is the company that pulls it all together into a helpful format. Its software, WinFIDS, gathers takeoff and landing times from the Official Airline Guide, real-time flight status from Flightview and the Federal Aviation Administration, and gate numbers from the airport’s internal system. Infax, which employs 25, also sells a program for courthouses that displays docket information.

Crowd-Control-Stanchions Do you know what’s creating lines at the airport? Lavi Industries. The business, based in Valencia, California, makes these metal stanchions with retractable belts. The $30 million company got its start in 1979, when founder Gavriel Lavi’s nostalgia for his time in the Israeli Navy inspired him to import ship wheels for interior decoration. Then came other home accessories, such as towel racks and valets. Today, Lavi employs 140 people and churns out a wide array of mostly commercial products, including security barricades, hostess stands, and salad-bar sneeze guards.

Anti-Fatigue Mats There are worse things than dealing with irritable travelers—such as having to stand behind a ticket counter all day to do so. SATech, in Chehalis, Washington, produces rubber flooring to help curb the hurt. Beneath the surface of its inch-thick mats, which line the area behind this ticket counter, are rows of rubber cylinders that act like springs to absorb shock. SATech, which has a staff of 24 and annual revenue of more than $3 million, was founded in 1991 to manufacture padded surfaces for playgrounds. Today, its flooring can be found in mailrooms, operating rooms, and even horse trailers.

How I Did It: Bobbi Brown, Founder and CEO, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics

From: Inc. Magazine, November 2007 | By: Bobbi Brown As told to Athena Schindelheim

In New York in the excessive 1980s, Bobbi Brown made it big by pushing moderation. She became makeup artist to the stars by introducing a palette of natural hues—and along the way became a star herself, with her name on a global brand.

Bobbi Brown became a name in the cosmetics business by pushing moderation. In the 1980s, when look-at-me colors, stark contours, and shiny red lips were in fashion, Brown designed cosmetics to highlight a woman’s natural look. She had moved to New York City in 1980 with a degree in theatrical makeup and a beginner’s portfolio. Before the decade was done, she’d hustled her way from freelance makeup artist at magazine shoots to product designer with her name behind a global brand. In 1995, Estée Lauder (NYSE:EL) bought Bobbi Brown Cosmetics (the sale price wasn’t disclosed, but Lauder reported that the $74.5 million it invested that year was principally on the acquisition), and Brown stayed in an active role. After some setbacks, the brand is thriving again. Now 50, Brown recently opened the first freestanding Bobbi Brown retail store, with a makeup artistry school in the back, and is at work on her fifth book.

Being five feet tall, the teeniest of all my friends, made me a little more self-conscious and insecure about the way I look. Makeup was something I could do to make myself look prettier. Like any little girl, my makeup style is the opposite of my mother’s. Her’s was very ’60s, sexy, Twiggy, mod. Mine was very Ali MacGraw in Love Story.

I was never directed in school. Nothing really got my attention. After six months at the University of Wisconsin and a year at the University of Arizona, I came back and I told my mom I wanted to drop out. She said, “Pretend today is your birthday and you could do anything you want.” I thought, and I said, “I would love to go to Marshall Field’s and play with makeup.” She said, “I’m sure somewhere there’s a college where you could study theatrical makeup.” A friend of my dad’s told me about Emerson College in Boston. I always say that when I found Emerson, I found myself.

I moved to New York in 1980, a year after I graduated. One of the best things I had going for me was that I was so naive. I never even thought of not being able to do it. Once I unpacked, I looked up makeup in the phone book. Photographers. Modeling agencies. I had a pretty amateurish portfolio of my makeup work from college—which I can’t believe I had the guts to show people. Half of the models were myself.

Makeup was really extreme in the ’80s—white skin and red lips and contouring. I loved more of the healthy, natural, simple skin. I really think I helped the natural revolution.

Around 1988, I was doing a shoot for Mademoiselle. We went to all of these hip downtown places, and one of them was Kiehl’s pharmacy, where I met a chemist. I told him I just hated most of the lipsticks on the market. I wanted it to be creamy and not dry, to stay on a long time, to not have any odor at all, and to be colors that look like lips. He said, “I’ll make it for you.” I mixed a taupe eye pencil, a blush—there was not a lipstick in there—and I sent the swatch to him. “Brown” is currently in my line and my No. 1 selling lipstick. And that’s how we started.

Research didn’t interest me. I wanted the texture, the color, and the smell. I thought, “Wow. If I could make a collection of 10 colors, I can’t imagine a woman needing any other color.” No fuchsia or acid orange, but wearable colors that don’t look like they scream when a woman walks into a room.

The beauty editor of Glamour magazine wrote maybe three lines about this thing I was doing, with my phone number. We got bombarded with orders. I guess that’s when I needed to get serious and get a partner. Rosalind Landis had hired me a year before, at her PR firm, to talk about how you could use eye shadows. We went out to dinner one night—Roz, her husband, Ken, who was in the cosmetics industry, and my husband, who is a business attorney. It turns out Ken’s family had moved to Florida and bought this house. The weirdest thing: They bought it from my mother. We started the company together with $10,000.

I was at a dinner party and I said to this woman, “What do you do?” She said, “I’m the cosmetics buyer at Bergdorf Goodman.” I told her about my lipsticks and she said, “We have to take them.” Later they said they couldn’t take us. They had too much going on that season. I remember my stomach dropping when I got the message. I was at a photo shoot for Saks and telling the creative directors and art directors about this new line, and they said, “Oh, my God. We want it.” I called Bergdorf back and said, “That’s too bad, but don’t worry, because Saks wants it.” Bergdorf called me back 10 minutes later and said, “Uh-uh. We’re going to take it.” I never even went to the right people at Saks. Now I know, that’s called bluffing.

Customers started coming. People said, “You have to do lip pencils. You have to do blush.” Magazines were asking me to do shoots where I was actually photographed. I was even being quoted about other things. They started treating makeup artists as celebrities.

Before Lauder came knocking we had two big offers we turned down. When Lauder bought M.A.C. in 1994, I was bummed. Then Frederic Fekkai said Leonard Lauder wanted to meet me. We sat on Leonard’s deck overlooking Central Park. He said, “We want to buy you because you are beating us in all the stores, and what you’ve done is amazing, and you remind me of my mother when she started.” He loves an entrepreneur.

I sold the company because Leonard said, “I want you to keep doing what you’re doing.” He has never moved from that position. At the same time, Roz and I were always 50-50, and it was a struggle. It was a successful relationship, but we butted heads regularly. Lauder brought her in corporately to help work on new acquisitions. And then eventually she left the company.

At Estée Lauder, our business was flat for a while. Things we were doing were being knocked off. They would call knockoffs “Essentially Brown” instead of “Bobbi Brown Essentials.” I had lunch with the CEO, Fred Langhammer, who basically said, “There’s a problem because you are not setting yourself apart. Blah, blah, blah.” I said, “You want to know what I would do? First of all, move out of the GM Building. Move downtown into a cool loft. Put in my head of marketing, Maureen Case, as president. And completely open, change the culture.” So we moved to SoHo.

Our products became a little more fun and fresh. Our advertising photographs were more editorial, like we were working for a magazine. A regular brand would never do an advertisement with smashed lipsticks. Now you see it all the time. We were one of the first brands to regularly use black models and show them as brides.

Once we moved downtown, the numbers started vastly improving. We hit half a billion at the end of 2006. For a kid that never got better than a D in math! How did this happen?

My favorite aunt thinks it’s really funny that I’ve become a hero to women, and all I do is tell them to take blush and smear it on their cheeks. She says, “I could have told people that.”

Copyright © 2008 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights reserved. Inc.com, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195.

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How I Did It: Bobbi Brown, Founder and CEO, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics

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