Finalist Q&A: Rain Frog Apparel

Rain Frog Apparel is a maker of high-end, organic bamboo clothing for women and children. Rain Frog Apparel not only makes environment-friendly clothing, but also tries to create a positive environmental consciousness throughout society. To accomplish this goal, the company's founder maintains a blog promoting environmental awareness and is working on a book to do the same.


Finalist Q&A: PALS with PAWZ

PALS with Pawz trains rescued and donated dogs to assist people with disabilities. From their website: Our goal is to Create a Loving Relationship Between the Rescued or Donated Dog and their Disabled Partner; resulting in the enhancement of their physical and emotional freedoms, sense of security, independence and the enrichment of their quality of life."

Finalist Q&A: Charmed Life Products LLC

The second Q&A presents a small company, which is markedly different from the first. This Idea Cafe finalist produces an original grilling accessory that they say is revolutionizing the American cook-out.

We talk to Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products LLC.

Finalist Q&A: WOMbeat!

The WOMBeat! mascot.

The first finalist Q&A presentation is for WOMBeat!, an online source of recommendations for local businesses from people you know and trust.
Information from their grant application is available here. Read below for more, and if you have questions for our finalists don't hesitate to ask them in the comments section.


Idea Cafe: How did you come up with the idea for your business, and what were your influences and sources of motivation?

Linda Olson: To be completely honest, WOMbeat! was sparked by a dream. Literally, I was woken from a deep sleep and began writing down what I could remember. Some people dream of trips or romances, but I dream about new business ventures, and this one was much different from the rest.

About the upcoming presentations of finalists

We sent a short list of questions to the grant finalists, and answers are already being sent back in. In an effort to make the grant campaign a more interesting and visible contest, and to make sure Idea Cafe regulars make an informed decision when voting for the grant winner opens next week, finalists will answer several questions about themselves and their business, in addition to the information they've provided here.

The team here is currently assembling the voting page, and we are preparing for a tight publication schedule with a new batch of presentations published every workday. With regard to the voting page, yes, we are several days bit behind schedule, but, well, please have a little more patience.

If you are a finalist and you did not receive your list of question, please contact us at [email protected] .

Leah Larson and YALDAH magazine win Wells Fargo's Someday Stories contest

Leah Larson and YALDAH magazine won the previous Idea Cafe grant back in September. Now, the magazine has won the Well Fargo's Someday Stories contest (and $100,000), after receiving more than 28,000 votes. Leah started working on YALDAH magazine when she was 12, targeting an audience of Jewish girls.

We at Idea Cafe are proud to have selected her as a winner for the Kent Capener grant, and hope her story will be an inspiration to entrepreneurs of all ages. Read below for an exclusive Q&A.

Meet the Idea Cafe grant finalists

It was not easy to choose from the exceptional line-up of semi-finalists for the Innovation and Originality grant, but the deed is now done. We are honored to present you the people and companies who will compete for winning the grant. Read below for short descriptions of their businesses and ideas.

Five "Must Have" Website Communications Tools for Customer Loyalty

The Idea Cafe blog will be publishing articles that we believe will be of interest to small business owners. This first article is by Oliver Mauss, CEO of 1&1 Internet Inc.

When developing an online business, it is very important to keep in mind the features and web design necessary to facilitate excellent customer service. Growing customer loyalty is especially crucial to the survival of online businesses, as impatient buyers have more and more competitors to choose from, and will quickly leave a site if they cannot communicate their questions or concerns in real-time.

And the semi-finalists for the Idea Cafe Innovation and Originality Grant are...

Here they are, the semi-finalists for the Innovation and Originality Grant. Everyone on that list impressed us with their ingenuity, business acumen, and willingness to help others. If you are on the list -- congratulations! If not -- stay tuned to see which of the semi-finalists will continue to the next stage of the grant campaign.

Idea Cafe talks to business expert Jim Tracy

Please tell us a bit about yourself. When did your passion for working with small businesses start? Jim Tracy, 43, married, two sons, President of America's Best Companies, educated with a degree in Chemistry from Loyola University.

The passion for working with small businesses started when I was nine or ten and my father started a small plumbing company. I watched him experience the highs and lows of building and maintaining a small business. I was destined in life to build my career around helping small businesses. It was easy for me to identify with their needs.

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