Presenting the Entrepreneurial Spirit 2009 Grant Finalists, Part I

In a two-part feature, we will present the business ideas that made it to the final phase of the Idea Cafe grant. Read below, be inspired. You can vote for your favorite finalist (free registration is required).

The iTie, LLC
Tampa, FL
The iTie makes the only necktie in the World that stays in perfect position and features a concealed pocket which attaches to two buttons on the user's dress shirt. The patented iTie pocket can store business cards, credit cards, money, an iPod, mP3 player, etc.

Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue Ranch
Walla Walla, WA
We rescue abused, unwanted, homeless pets and gets them ready for adoption, but we want our shelter to be built with "green" housing. We are planning to build a windmill and have solar panels for all housing. We will also do educational workshops, which I'm doing now as a fund raiser.

Bean Sprouts
Bean Sprouts (, a hip and healthy kids’ cafe, opened to much anticipation in Middleton, Wisconsin in 2007. Bean Sprouts has drawn great media attention for providing a place for families that is both healthy and fun. Under the guidance of a child nutritionist, Bean Sprouts built its menu with the help and enthusiasm of Gale Gand--renowned chef, author, and Food Network star, who believes in Bean Sprouts’ mission. Bean Sprouts gives families a 30-minute vacation. Its innovative kid-friendly design removes the reluctance for parents to take their kids out to eat, while appealing to adults with its chic atmosphere. More importantly, it relieves parents’ guilt of feeding children hot dogs and deep-fried foods, the usual kids' menu fare. Bean Sprouts features yummy, good-for-you food for kids, parents, and even babies - winning rave reviews as the only restaurant in the country to offer homemade organic baby food! Bean Sprouts has many choices for menu-challenged families by offering gluten-free, casein-free and other dietary options. Bean Sprouts delights families with its cooking classes. These courses for toddlers and grade school children let kids have fun with food and explore new ingredients. Our Bitty Baker graduates have made everything from cannoli to empanadas! Bitty Bakers--the most popular class-- is produced into a kids’ cooking show which airs in Madison on WYOU. Bean Sprouts will open its second cafe in 2010 with plans to “plant” many more as there has been 30+ franchise requests.

Otter Bay Wetsuits
Manufactures custom wetsuits for cold water diving. We also do repairs and alterations on existing suits.

StepPro, Inc.
Mesa, AZ
Manufacture and market stepladder accessory items. The Product is called the FlipTray.

Go Green Go
Auburn NH
My business, Go Green Go, creates T-shirts that promote eco-friendly activities, such as walking, hiking, biking, sailing, etc. The logo is a "little green guy" carrying the earth. Our tag line is "Saving the Earth One Shirt at a Time". These T-shirts are a walking billboard- not only do they raise the awareness of the need to preserve the environment but they also promote eco-friendly activities. This is a truely a grass roots company in that I have zero funding. I'm working with local college students to design the T-shirts, develop a marketing plan and spruce up the web site. This company was created to help fund WorkcampNE, a non-profit organization that repairs the homes of the elderly, low-income and disabled residents of the community. We work with 300 high school and college students(adults too) for 2 weeks in July. The repairs include new roofs, replacement windows , doors, painting the homes and even wheelchair ramps. The students pay $325 to come to camp - this money is used to purchase all the supplies involved in camp - there is never any expense to the residents or the community. Go Green Go's T-shirts will help to save our environment and will also help to preserve the environment of the less fortunate in our communities.

Ammo Arts LLC
New Orleans, LA
Ammo presents monthly exhibitions by emerging to established artists. The gallery opened in December 2008, and is located in the heart of the French Quarter on Royal Street. We provide a cultural service by representing living artists, many of whom have connections to the city of New Orleans..and for money, we sell original works of art.

Advertising Spark
San Francisco, CA
I teach very small businesses how to advertise effectively using free and low cost tactics. I do this through an affordable tutorial that is a culmination of my 20 years of experience at some of the world's best known advertising agencies and as a V.P. of Internet marketing at Wells Fargo coupled with scouring the best-selling books and the Internet for the latest ideas. I also teach classes in a traditional classroom setting. Unlike other books and software programs, my tutorial is specifically geared for very small businesses with little to no money to spend on marketing. It is also a comprehensive approach to advertising with the belief that any advertising campaign should be rooted in a well-conceived strategy. I talk about developing a strategy based on only three areas: deeply defining your target audiences, developing key selling messages that truly resonate with that audience and developing goals. Then I go into about 15 categories of free and low cost ways to advertise. And wrap it up with starting a marketing database and tracking results for end-to-end cost savings.

EcoVisual Communications dba and
Wayland, MA
We are the world's first company to print photographs and other graphics in a completely green, healthy and sustainable manner. We have developed a proprietary combination of 100% cotton papers made from recovered post-industrial waste cotton and locally sourced, plus VOC-free inks with no toxic fumes, and biodegradable mounting adhesives and mounting substrates made from soy and/or 100% post-consumer recycled paper.

Engines of Creation Web Design & Development
Amsterdam, NY
We offer website design, development and search engine marketing services to small and medium sized businesses. We have a large focus on customer service and providing a quality service at an affordable price.

Little Mango Imports
Lyons, CO
Little Mango Imports is a small business offering imported indigenous handicrafts and textiles at retail prices through, entirely built by myself, Whitney Taylor. The merchandise is purchased directly in Latin America and Asia, requiring close work with suppliers and import/export brokers as well as travel and shipment organizations. Orders are processed, packaged and shipped from the Lyons, CO warehouse. Little Mango’s webstore doubles as a resource for customers and visitors, providing travel suggestions, extensive information on a variety of crafts, and book recommendations through’s affiliate program.

Angel Wings Day Care
Benton, TN
Provides economical child care to a rural community, Benton, Tennessee. Community has one of the highest poverty levels in Southeast Tennessee. We service children of all ages. In addition, we are the only local facility that services special needs children. We currently have 1 Downs Syndrome child, 3 Autistic children, and 1 Bipolar child.

Altavert Alternative Advertising
Santa Monica, CA
Altavert is a specialty advertising service that allows you, for the first time, to take advantage of a practically limitless advertising medium – freeway traffic. We let commuters advertise for you by placing your ads on the personal vehicles of people who live, work, and play in your target markets. You can accurately target specific neighborhoods and even streets, schools, or shopping centers with mobile advertising from Altavert. Best of all, we actively maintain your fleet with GPS tracking and provide you with proof of performance measures, so you know that you're getting the greatest impact for your investment. Going where billboards can't go, and for a fraction of the cost, is why we say, "Traffic is your new best friend."

Energy cafe
La grange, KY
The Energy Cafe is an internet cafe next to a high school. The entire concept developed with the collaberation of the high school students who would become the customers. I figured that the best way to get their business was to invite them to make it into something that they wanted. The high school kids helped in every aspect of building and opening this cafe, giving them a real world application for some of the stuff they are learning in school.

Jasco New York LLC
White Plains, NY
Started by my father-in-law over 60 years ago, Jasco’s beginning coincided with the beginning of American fashion. Over five years ago, we launched a luxury organic and sustainable line of fabrics called Jasco Eco, and our sales and the collection have been growing steadily. - We are members of the OTA – Organic Trade Association - My partenr and husband Howard is a member of the CFDA – Council of Fashion Designers of America - We donate our organic fabrics to fashion departments across the county to inspire design students and raise awareness - We hold the position as the only high end eco resource to the American fashion community.

Nurturing Beauty LLC
Nurturing Beauty is a natural bath and body. I make all my products handmade, using the highest quality natural ingredients. I develop products that help people heal their skin from eczema, psoriasis and severe dry skin. Helping people “create their own definition of beauty” is Nurturing Beauty is about!

Calandre Designs LLC
Dundas, MN
I have designed a high-quality American made line of dog beds & accessories called LoveBarklee. I've been told by many people that they are impressed with the concept and idea, and that they are definitely something new to the market. These beds can be perfect for an interior designer that might be looking for a little surprise for their client, or for a regular dog lover that loves to pamper their pooch.

HomeSpot HQ
Durham, NC
Our web application allows home and property owners to organize three key groups of information: routine maintenance tasks, projects and weekend to-do items, and historical facts about their property. Further, users of HomeSpot HQ will have access to special content and discounts from Home Improvement centers and local service providers. HomeSpot HQ is designed as a single, central repository for the critical information about one's home and property. Our Maintenance management tool allows homeowners to proactively care for their home through routine preventative maintenance. Users can create maintenance plans for each room or space in their home, and configure reminders and shopping lists for materials (such as furnace filters, batteries and garden supplies.) HomeSpot HQ's Project Planning feature provides homeowners with a unique way to organize the projects they wish to do around their home. When creating a new project, homeowners will be presented with specific discounts, tools and a directory of local service providers who can assist them in completing the project. Additionally, a homeowner can create a shopping list that they can print out and take to the home center when purchasing supplies. Finally, HomeSpot HQ's Facts and History feature will allow homeowners to create a knowledge repository about their home. Entries may include everything from what paint color is used in the kitchen, to the warranty information about an appliance. The Facts and History repository will be transferable to the new homeowner in the event that a property is sold. HomeSpot HQ has a multi-channel revenue model that includes affiliate and web-based advertising, private label, consulting and subscription sources. The application is under development and will have an initial public launch in June, 2009.

Louisville, KY
Superbus is a full size school bus that has all the seats removed, and retro fitted into a gym for ages 2-7. Superbus "delivers" fun to area child care centers and schools in the Louisville KY area! We have different themes such as Dora The Explorer, where we use our imagination to help solve mystery's and help each other complete a weekly changing obstacle course. Our obstacle course changes every week, we have equipment such as : cargo net, climbing board, monkey bars, mountain wall, zip line blance beam high/low bar, tumbling equipment (just to name a few pieces.) Our program teaches a non-competitive love for sports and fitness and helps children with their self confidence! We visit area schools once a week for their 30 minute Superbus class!

PALS with Pawz/READING Pawz
South Pittsburg, TN
PALS with Pawz trains Rescued and Donated Dogs as Autism, Mobility, Therapy and Neurological Disorder Service Dog Teams for physically, emotionally and psychologically disabled persons. 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. As a Public Service, PALS with Pawz has two additional programs. All of the Pawz candidates must participate in our READING Pawz and Therapy Pawz programs as part of their training. This way the dogs are exposed to various types of people and situations; and at the same time we are providing a valuable community service. READING Pawz RIF, utilizes our Therapy dogs and their handlers by volunteering their time to children who need a little extra assistance with their reading and at an At Risk Youth Program. Classroom Pawz, takes the Service and/or Therapy Dogs into the elementary and middle schools, educating students on subjects such as: How to approach a strange dog, Importance of Service Dogs in our society, Dog Safety, etc.

Heavy Duty Construction & Recycling, LLC
Payson, UT
In a little old town in Utah, where the majority of it's older residents worked at a Steel Plant called Geneva Steel, I have felt a strong desire to update & beautify our community. Call me old fashioned, but I like the feel of an "old town", and I feel like the people who have lived here all these years deserve to have their history honored and restored - not bulldozed and built over. My husband has been a contractor & has worked in construction for 13 years; has great knowledge in "old architecture". My dream is to use his knowledge of construction/demolition, and use my knowledge of history & great people skills to RECYCLE old buildings in this community by carefully bringing them down, re-designing the structure using new technologies & current building methods, but using all of the "old growth" wood, (that you just can't find today) the classic steel beams & other timeless structural materials. My goal is also not to just build a building, but to create something beautiful, efficient, and GREEN, from something that another construction company might have just bulldozed.

Misfit Candies
North Hollywood, CA
Misfit Candies is a Rock n Roll candy store for the kid in all of us. Gone are the days of the candy cigarette, but we still feel that we can have a sense of humor about the macabre. We're based in Los Angeles California, the misfit capital of the world. It takes all kinds and there's something about everyone that makes them unique. These qualities are what make us great & strong, a colorful tapestry woven to make a great country. We've added a dash of rock 'n roll and a pinch of gothic to our misfit candies. Set your inner dementia loose and laugh it up while biting the head off of a chocolate tattooed bunny, or show that special someone you love them to death with decadent truffles delivered in a classy coffin shaped box. We're dying to hear from you!

New York
My business installs the Stressbusters program on college campuses and provides guidance, print materials, and school-to-school best-practice facilitation to support their ongoing operation and expansion. Stressbusters is a college wellness and prevention program that contributes to the creation of a healthier campus community through continuous outreach efforts, resource education and training. At its core, Stressbusters trains students to be wellness coaches who calm and connect thousands of students and staff with support services and free backrubs at planned events all over campus, all year long. Beyond backrubs, Stressbusters supports campus mental health safeguards by encouraging self-care and help-seeking behaviors while reducing student isolation. The program’s high visibility and mobility allow it to reach sometimes hard-to-reach students in residence halls, libraries, classroom buildings and other locations. Stressbusters programs are now operating at Harvard, NYU, St. John’s, Johns Hopkins, Columbia and Washington University in St. Louis. Stress is consistently the biggest barrier to academic success according to the National College Health Assessment, and suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Stressbusters was created to address these statistics and bust the belief that nonstop stress is the only route to success.

AK Studio
New York
We are a small independent art studio located in Harlem, New York. AK Studio, founded by artist Adrian Kondratowicz, focuses on compelling interactive art installations within New York City, focusing on environmental awareness, community interaction, and simply the creation, and enjoyment, of art. Our current project,TRASH: anycoloryoulike is a vivid art intervention for urban beautification and environmental awareness. The project consists of select city blocks in which new artist-created bags transform standard piles of trash into vivid sculptures of color through the participation of local business owners and residents. Each TRASH bag is 100% biodegradable and naturally scented to repel insects and vermin. Adrian Kondratowicz is looking to bring TRASH to public schools in New York.

Part 2 is coming soon!


There are many great

There are many great businesses listed here. Misfit Candies is the only one that make me want to do the devil horns hand gesture, though.

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