Bacon Salt: Best Product Ever

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Bacon salt is a zero calorie, zero fat, vegetarian and kosher seasoning that makes everything taste like bacon.”

Not only is bacon salt a great idea, but it has a cool backstory as well.  The two “bacontrepreneurs,” Justin and David, decided to start the company after a dinner conversation about their love of bacon.
They not only have a great product and great marketing, but they also have a unique funding source:  One of the founders’ sons won $5,000 for winning on America’s Funniest Home Videos.
They now have a few different flavors and are coming out with Baconnaise shortly.  This is a great idea that should have been done earlier.  I’m going pick some up today to try it out and report back later.

How Much Does it Cost?

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Citizens for Responsible Government, a citizens’ action group based in Milwaukee, recently generated a searchable database for all of the expenses from the Milwaukee Public Schools.  It allows anyone with internet access to easily see how our tax dollars are being spent.

I would love to see a similar searchable database for all hospitals and doctors, listing what they charge for every procedure, office visit and drug.  Apparently there is a huge difference between one hospital and the next.  It would be great to allow people, especially those without insurance, to start to decide where they went for medical procedures at least somewhat based on price.

The Paypal Wars

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I just finished reading The PayPal Wars by Eric M. Jackson who was the former head of marketing at PayPal.  This book is a must read for anyone who is thinking about starting a company or has started a company.

It tells the inside story of PayPal from when it was startup called Confinity all the way to its sale to Ebay.
There were three main themes that I really enjoyed from the book.  
PayPal did not hesitate to hire smart people, even if they did not have a job in mind.  During the author’s first two days on the job, he has to find a place for himself to work in the company.  PayPal’s management team did not mind moving smart people around the company, even if they had no previous experience in the area.
PayPal also had a philosophy of meeting its customers’ needs.  Whenever there was a problem on the business side, the management team looked for solutions that were product driven.  For example, when PayPal was loosing millions of dollars per month on free transactions, instead of forcing users into paying accounts, risking user loyalty, they designed new features to funnel users into paying accounts.
The most important aspect of the book, not to mention PayPal’s success, was its open, entrepreneurial culture.  This meant that anyone in the organization could bring ideas to the table and have them taken seriously.  If they were good ideas, they would be implemented.  It did not matter if the idea came from a recent hire or the CEO.  By empowering everyone in the company to think about all issues, it forced everyone to always be thinking about the big picture and way to improve the company.
Its also amazing how many of the people who worked on PayPal started new, incredibly successful companies.  The PayPal Mafia has founded YouTube, Yelp, LinkedIN, Slide, WorldNetDaily, Digg and others and has funded Facebook.
  
There are some great stories of obstacles that the PayPal team had to overcome, along with power struggles and disagreements.  This book is a must read.

Creative Destruction and Congress

A company invents a lotion that absorbs and neutralizes chemical weapons “seven times better” than the current solution.  The military wants to buy it to help save lives, instead of continuing to buy the inferior product.  Makes sense, right?

Well, in the real world, what really happens after the military decides that it wants to buy the better product?
Companies who make the inferior solution make campaign contributions to Senators who represent the states that produce the inferior product and tell them to issue earmarks forcing the military to buy the inferior product, of course.
That’s what really happened over the last two years when Senators Clinton D(NY), Schumer D(NY)and Spector R(PA) sought out $7.6 million in earmarks, forcing the military to buy the inferior product.  They also received a total of just under 100k in campaign contributions.
This type of government intervention is not only sleazy because it risks American lives, but also prevents the creative destruction that is vital to US competitiveness and creating an entrepreneurial culture.