Stand Up Startup

Here Get Your BIG On offers information and inspiration for aspiring entrepreneur, inventors and innovators (some of Amy's passions). Discover entrepreneurial wit, wisdom and adventures. Meet individuals with great ideas. Get introduced to new companies that caught our eye or are making a positive difference.  

Helping Women Business Owners:  Jane Out of the Box

BIG is loving the work of Jane Out of the Box:  a research, publishing, and education company dedicated to helping women business owners live the lifestyle of their dreams. The company's knowledge base is grounded in their substantial research with female entrepreneurs. Michele DeKinder-Smith, the company's founder, felt compelled to use her 20-year research career knowledge and personal experiences to help women business owners. By gathering rich information and sharing it with women, and the companies and agencies who serve them, Jane Out of the Box fosters opportunity for all. 

A Mission to Employ and Educate: Ajiri Tea

Ajiri Tea's social mission is to provide employment for the people of western Kenya, educate local orphans and thereby create a sustainable cycle of community employment and education. Ajiri means "to employ" in Swahili, the national language of Kenya. All profits are returned to the community to educate orphans by paying their school fees and purchasing their books and uniforms. Ajiri supports farmers and employs women to create the unique handmade labels on every tea box so they can make a difference. Kudos!

Tempt Your Taste Buds: Fusion Grill

Amy's latest pick for a stand up start-up is Fusion Grill in Dayton, Ohio. A fantastic fresh idea in serving sushi, this new cafe provides a Chipotle-like experience for sushi. You can pick your wrap and customize your sushi order! Check it out!

Tips and Pointers: Mark Cuban's 12 Rules for Startups

Amy is a big Shark Tank fan, so she recommends this article in which Mark shares his experience and insights, in a casual and very personal way, his views on starting a business.

Raising Money:  What Not to Say and What Not to Believe

If your an entrepreneur and need funds, check out this great post from Guy Kawasaki.

When Things are Feeling Tough: Helpguide

Helpguide's mission is helping and empowering people with the knowledge and support they need to take charge of their life and make healthy choices...before bad things happen. The BIG team is impressed with both their mission and with the abundance of information and resources available for mental and emotional health, active healthy lifestyles, and aging issues.

A Good Read: Enchantment

Want to inspire and delight others? If so, you'll find Guy Kawaski's Enchantment full of helpful tips and pointers. Learn "how to influence what people will do while maintaining the highest standards of ethics."

Sustainability:  Threads 4 Thought

Threads 4 Thought, a socially conscious fashion company founded by Eric and Leigh Fleet in 2006, donates a portion of its proceeds to two causes: the International Rescue Committee and the National Resources Defense Council. Thread 4 Thought not only provides financial assistance to these causes but takes the extra steps of advocating for them, donating products, sponsoring events, creating Shop The Cause products, and acting as a corporate partner to develop emergency response campaigns for critical natural or humanitarian crises. Plus, the firm is dedicated to using sustainable business and manufacturing processes. Keep up the good work!

How to Start a Business: A Guide From Inc. Magazine

Thinking about starting a business and not sure you know enough to be asking all the right questions? This Inc. article is a great starting point. It not only offers suggestions, it also provides links - a terrific one-stop shop to spur your entrepreneurial thinking!

The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur 

It's Monday morning and like most other enterpreneurs, I'm starting my week off thinking about my business. I have a weekly routine of reviewing my goals looking at my metrics and then planning my week. A big part of my metric review is my website traffic. If you would like a good read on how to increase your website value, check out Mike Michalowicz's blog on the trick that will get more action from your site.

Helping At Risk YouthCharity Music, Inc.

Charity Music is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public service organization fulfilling a lovely need - bringing music to at-risk youth. Their mission is to help cultivate the next generation of upcoming musicians. They provide musical instruments on loan, at no charge, to individuals wishing to explore their hidden musical talents. Students who are homeless, at risk and/or disadvantaged - and now veterans - have benefited from the program, receiving musical instruments they would not otherwise have been able to afford.

Sustainability:  Yellow Leaf Hammocks

 Joe Denim, Chief Relaxation Officer of Yellow Leaf Hammocks stumbled upon the most comfortable and beautiful hammocks he had ever seen. After learning about how the production and sale of the hammocks had brought an endangered tribe out of slavery and closer off of the Endangered Languages list, he was compelled to go beyond the purchase he had made. He went well beyond by quitting his corporate job and abandoning plans to attend business school. Instead, he launched a social enterprise and lifestyle brand called Yellow Leaf Hammocks dedicated to the four pillars of sustainability (economic health, social equity, cultural vitality and environmental stewardship).

Buy a Book and Save a Life:  End Malaria

Box of Crayons, The Domino Project, and Malaria No More have joined forces to help bring an end to malaria. How? By giving $20 from the purchase of each copy of End Malaria to Malaria No More. The $20 purchases a mosquito net to be sent to a family in need and to support life-saving work in the fight against malaria. As if helping to save lives isn't enough, buying End Malaria gives you great reading material.  62 of America’s favorite business authors, including Tom Peters, Nicholas Carr, Pam Slim, and Sir Ken Robinson, have contributed essays with central themes of focus, courage and resilience. Be inspired to look within for solutions to your everyday dilemmas and for motivation to realize your desires.

Cancer Research and Help:  Hives for Lives

What a moving and inspirational story! When their grandfather died of esophageal cancer in 2003, sisters Molly and Carly Houlahan wanted to do something to both honor his memory and help fund the search for a cancer cure. "He was our best friend and role model," Molly says. "It was the first time we had lost someone, and you recognize how precious life is." So Molly put a family hobby to work and formed Hives for Lives. The Devon, Penn.-based company harvests, filters, bottles, labels and sells its own honey, and all profits are donated to fund cancer research. To date, Hives for Lives has donated nearly $170,000 to the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Penn Abramson Cancer Center and other cancer research charities.

Small Business Owners, This One is for You:  101 Tips from Small Business Bloggers

If you're an entrepreneur or small business owner, access to resources is sometimes beyond your financial reach. We were tickled to discover this post from American Express,  If you're in the market for new ideas or just need some inspiration from folks who walk your talk, you'll find it here.


Online Dating and Safety:

Meet Greg Sanchez, founder of, a free dating safety tool that ensures a safe return home! With the increase of mobile devices and fast internet speeds, online dating has become extremely popular and convenient for busy singles, students and professionals. Unfortunately, the quick and convenience factor also means there is a risk of someone using the online dating scene to search out their next victim. Co-founders Greg Sanchez and Marcello Saldana have 25 years of combined experience in the law enforcement and legal field. 

You Make the News, They Tell the Story:  The PR Grapevine

Here's how Steven LeVine, started his own PR firm. "In April 2007, I scored my first notable client, TV and film actor Michael Carbonaro; so that's when I  renamed my company grapevine pr.  Later that year I had landed a profile of my company on the front page of the Business section of the Asbury Park Press. That's when I was called into the HR office (I'd kept my day job) and received the biggest ultimatum of my life: leave or stay! I decided I couldn't give up grapevine, so I left. I risked my financial well-being and reputation, but it paid off. It's now been five years, and I've had the opportunity to represent nearly 100 clients in lifestyle and entertainment, including TV actor Danny Pintauro ("Who's the Boss") and Project Runway's Jack Mackenroth."

Kids and Hygiene:  EZtoothbrush

Mitra Ahadapurn is the founder of EZtoothbrush  "My son had tooth decay. So I always thought about making the regular toothbrush easier. One day, when I had taken my three kids to the beach, the idea came to me! My solution: the multi-headed toothbrush. By just placing it in your mouth, it covers all areas of the teeth with the right angle. An engineer helped me to build the correct angle in the toothbrush. In seconds, one can have great cleaning in an easy and fast way! My kids no longer complain about brushing their teeth as it is fast and easy." 

Eco-friendly Fun for the Kids:  The Bubble Tower

Here's a fun story about a fun toy, the Bubble Tower. Chasing and popping bubbles is only half the fun with the 14-foot tall, solar-powered Bubble Tower. The other half is seeing kids (and their parents) run and dance after the soaring bubbles. The original rainbow-themed Bubble Tower has been joined by designs including a pink-sequined one for the 2004 Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure. Several designs are eco-friendly:  the Cow Bubble Tower is made from reclaimed and re-purposed billboard vinyl; and the Coffee Bubble Tower features dozens of colorful burlap coffee bean bags from around the world as well as discarded polyester table cloths from the rental linen industry.

Moms, Gratitude and 2 Kids at Home:  The Publicity Penguin

Claire Ratliff, owner and founder of The Publicity Penguin, is a mother first and many things second: a publicist, writer, people watcher, equal opportunity cat and dog lover who is both fascinated and repulsed by pop culture. She lives in Nashville, TN. "In the wake of my husband's Christmas Eve passing after a three year battle with cancer, I quickly realized that my two young sons at home couldn't lose me to a job. And so, just seven months after his passing, I left my comfortable job as a corporate marketer and hung out my shingle as a publicist. At first, I was afraid to turn anything down and became exhausted by attempting to establish and maintain relationships with media in a variety of industries. I learned to specialize and the value of establishing business hours, even working from home. Six years after losing my partner and best friend, my sons are sturdy, honorable men, and I am delighted to count among my clients legendary singers like Lorrie Morgan, Grammy Award winner David Ball and newcomer Corbette Jackson. My greatest lesson? Gratitude. To fall into that deep hole of self-pity would have been an exercise in ungratefulness for the amazing love and gifts I've been given."  

Daniel Isenberg, a Professor of Management Practice at Babson College, wrote a thought-provoking post for anyone considering being an entrepreneur. He presents the 2–minute Isenberg Entrepreneur Test, chock-a-block full of topics that make you look deep inside yourself and examine your motives and reasons. More than 17 "yes" answers....and well, starting your own business maybe isn't such a good idea!

Generous and Clean: Scrubz Body Scrub

Our WorkBIG pick is a start-up that's been in business for 4.5 years. Roberta Perry started Scrubz Body Scrub, Inc. in the dining room of her home. The business quickly expanded into her converted garage and finally moved out into her first shop location. Every year, Roberta and Scrubs Body Scrub plays host to a fundraiser for the Greater New York City Komen Fund. The business also created three scents in their body care line and donate proceeds to different causes. Roberta was honored, along with five other women, for being a woman manufacturer in Nassua County, Long Island, NY. Kudos!

Spreading Smiles: Bringing Us Magic 

Michael Grandinetti is one of the country's leading experts on magic. He has been featured on NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, and radio stations around the country.  Michael has performed live at Heinz Hall with Oscar-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch, New York's Grand Central Station, on the red carpet of ESPN's ESPY Awards at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, at The White House Easter Celebration, and while surrounded by 40,000 people at Citizens Bank Park and Kauffman Stadium. His company "Michael Grandinetti Magic" has designed and produced custom magic effects for Fortune 500 companies and major corporations including Hewlett-Packard, Ernst & Young, Grainger, Bayer, Harley Davidson, and The American Marketing Association.

Overcoming Adversity, Enjoying Success:  Grills Charms

Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, LLC, invented of Grill Charms™. Despite a diagnosis of breast cancer in June 2006 and a bilateral mastectomy in August 2006, Haywood launched her product Grill Charms™ in November 2007. Since the debut of Grill Charms™, Haywood has appeared multiple times on CNBC’s “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch”, on Charleston, SC's ABC affiliate Channel 4 “LowCountry Live” as well as ABC's reality TV show Shark Tank.  Her product has been featured in numerous publications including Inc. Magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray, Parenting Magazine, Health Magazine, Inventors Digest, Chile Pepper Magazine, Fancy Foods and Culinary Products, along with newspaper features, radio and pod cast interviews. 

I"ll Bring Dessert: Potluck App

Entrepreneur Sadiq Okocha and his team built a potluck app that leverages both the and Facebook API so your buddies can easily opt-in to bring a yummy dish. Gone are the days of potlucks where half the dishes are macaroni and cheese. This web app allows you to see what others are bringing, plus it sends a reminder a couple days before the event so you don't forget. is great for parties, church gatherings, and feeding the homeless. 

Helping Children with Speech Problems:  Board Book Albums, LLC

Laura Miranti is a mom, an entrepreneur and started Board Book Albums, LLC. When her child was faced with a potential  delay in being able to speak, Laura saw an opportunity to help.  Her daughter's speech development specialist suggested that Laura find a photo album for her daughter and fill it up with photos of her family, toys, and other familiar objects in her world. When Laura was unable to find a kid-friendly photo album, she came up with the idea to create a board book photo album. Unlike other albums, these albums have thick sturdy pages that are perfect for little kids to handle. Studies have shown that young children only have object recognition with photos. This means that before the age of two, they can not relate a drawing of an object to the actual object, but they can relate a photo of the object with the actual object. Kudos to Laura for her creative idea that helps little ones learn!

Entrepreneur Who Overcame the Odds:  EZShopper

David Alan Slockblower (aka David Alan) is an inventor/entrepreneur/professional stand-up comic/artist who has had and lost millions. He has been featured in People Magazine, appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, the Joe Franklin Show, the CBS Early Show, and dozens of local and regional television news shows. He fought and won a 13-year battle with alcoholism and drug addiction and has endured major surgeries to recover from a near-total disability. This inventor and entrepreneur is launching a new product - his patented EZ Shopper invention, something that literally EVERYBODY can use. He is our pick because he's not only an entrepreneur but has overcome great odds! 

Getting Started:  Mike Michalowicz Interviews Guy Kawaski

Mike Michalowicz,  the one and only Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, is our first WorkBIG pick in this interview with Guy Kawaski. 


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