Semi-finalist Q&A: Bamboo Bike Studio

Bamboo Bike Studio is a working laboratory that develops natural materials science, design, and engineering, educational programs that create a more conscious, participatory consumer-product relationship, and sustainable personal transportation alternatives. Bamboo is our current focus material, and the bicycle is our focus form of transportation.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

BBS co-founder Marty Odlin conceived the idea of a bamboo bicycle after visiting China and witnessing the power and scale of bamboo use in structural scaffolding; when he got back to the US, he wanted to build his own bike, and realized bamboo would be a perfect and easy material to work with. At the same time, Sean Murray and Justin Aguinaldo were working with the Bamboo Bike Project at Columbia University.

Semi-finalist Q&A:A Festive Touch

A Festive Touch is a new florist in town. They offer the most trendy and unique flower arrangements, while also making the more traditional customers happy. We also carry giftware, candles, gift baskets, and gourmet chocolates.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

My mom and I both grew up in the business. Her mom owned a flower shop when she was younger, then after selling it , her mom continued to work in the floral industry for years. My mom, has the same story. She owned her own shop for 5 years. But sadly she had to close it after having 4 kids, all in school, and my dad worked out of town. The shop became so busy, so fast she couldn't stand being away from us kids all the time.

Semi-finalist Q&A:Sheila+Sharon's Cookies

Sheila+Sharon's Cookies makes handcrafted cookies and brownies using as many local, organic, and fair trade ingredients as possible.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

I came up with the idea for a dessert business after the failure of my previous business, a consignment shop in 2007. After going back and forth with different dessert business ideas, I finally settled on cookies. I like cookies and the idea that you can take a basic cookie and add so many different ingredients to it to dress it up.

Semi-finalist Q&A: GreenHab

GreenHab wants to better the environment by providing consultations to homeowners to show them how to make their home more energy efficient and sustainable; to educate them on the benefits of going green and the tax incentives offered to do so.

What makes your business unique? Why do you think it will be a success?

I know that there are policies for new buildings to make sure they are constructed to be more energy efficient and reduce the impact on the environment; but there aren't any policies for existing buildings. Not only do I want to help homeowners greenhab their home, I am also helping push policy further in our government to turn some focus onto the existing residential sector.

Semi-finalist Q&A: is the parent company that runs the website It is an online store that provides advice and products of comfort for pre and postnatal women.

What are some of your top business-related accomplishments, or business lessons learned?

Starting a business is an accomplishment on its own. We sometimes get regimented and accept status quo. A support system doesn't always exist amongst friends and family. When you can just push through the doubt and succeed to the point of getting your first sale its gives you a sense of pride that is indescribable.

Preliminary Voting Results for Selecting the Five Finalists Unveiled

For the first time Idea Cafe Regulars are selecting the finalists of the Eighth Idea Café Small Business Grant. Since the poll has been open, the nominees have received significant support from their admirers. The competition is going very strong. Trends are starting to appear with some of the semi-finalists taking a lead. However, the candidates who occupy the leading 10 positions are with very close voting percentages. So nothing is decided yet. There is still time, until November 1st, for the overall picture to change.

Five Financial Questions Every Owner Should Be Able to Answer

In today’s challenging economic environment, it’s more important than ever for small business owners to have a firm grasp on their company’s finances.

When all is said and done, there are a handful of basic financial questions that every small business owner should always know the answers to after the monthly financials have been put in the drawer. If you have a trusted CFO, controller or financial advisor who looks out for some of these, that may be fine—as long as the daily decisions you make take these factors into account. This means your trusted advisor must keep you informed.

Untapped Strategies for Success in Today's Market

"Desperate times require desperate measures" I overheard someone say the other day. I was standing in line to order my late afternoon Latte at a well-known coffee establishment and the buzz in the room wasn't from the caffeine, it was from the customer chat. They were expressing their feelings of being down and out; hopeless of ever getting back what they've lost or of ever achieving what they were hoping to achieve; waiting for times to change before they would dare to decide what they should do next and their belief that there were no opportunities in existence anymore.

Is Your Business Working for You? Or...Are You Working For Your Business?

I hope you’re doing work that you enjoy. Because I believe that if you don’t love what you do, you will lose out to someone who does.

However, just working in your business isn’t enough. Yes, we all have to make sure
that orders get fulfilled, phone calls get returned, new prospects contacted and the plethora of things you want to get done. I call it the busyness of business.

But in order to excel, we have to work ON our business—and on ourselves. We have to step back for a better perspective. We have to ask tough questions and be willing to be honest with ourselves.

Semi-finalist Q&A: Sapona Green Building Center, LLC

Sapona offers a "one-stop-shop" for green home and business solutions. They sell and install cork and bamboo flooring, Icestone countertops, and high-efficiency plumbing. Additionally, they offer services for home efficiency upgrades like blown insulation and HERS rating.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

The idea for our business came from a local growing demand for renewable energy support. New governmental incentives (up to 65% off!), a growing green community, and technological developments have primed the solar and wind industry for a rapid launch...

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