Don´t Start This Business!  Neither the Seven Samurai of the East, nor the Magnificent Seven of the West, will come to rescue you.


I. Seven businesses you do not, repeat NOT, want to start!

    The first two are real estate ventures, one a U.S. example, the other international; the next two are global health/wellness enterprises, and the two thereafter are social franchises, a bureau for arranged marriages in India and a dancing studio for just about anyplace people dance. The two members of each business pair could have a strategic alliance with one another. The last business is a stand alone, and the only one entailing manufacturing. It is for a designer attaché case.  The pursuit of an eighth venture, a specific strategic alliance for a consulting franchise for SMBs and start-ups, is a corollary of future Bridges Enterprise Centers. Therefore it is not discussed presently.

    If you are so irrational as to want to start one of the businesses treated here despite our ominous warning, by all means make contact with us. We can counsel you on how to avoid evil tidings (Hiobsbotschaften) or unwittingly opening Pandora´s box. The ventures, each treated on its own subpage, are (1) the Master MAI Franchise, (2) The Munich Multiple Listing Service, (Munich as an example) (3) Crystal Herbal LLC, (4) Dr. Paul´s Turbo Vitapills Inc., (5) Lashkami´s Marriage Bureau, (6) The Salsa 123 Dance Studios and (7) Amadeus Attaché Ltd. Section III, Seven Serendipitous Ventures brings you to the associated subpages.


Their Origins

    The first two real estate ideas came as a result of writing my MBA thesis on aspects of foreign direct investment into U.S. real estate. Primarily I was looking at corporate investment, for instance as part of starting manufacturing in the U.S., or as part of the assets acquired from purchasing a U.S. corporation. I noticed that appraisers were locally oriented, and that the U.S. MLS was not widely spread abroad. I considered both of these ideas ahead of their time. Internet has made them feasible, and why there are not multiple companies pursuing them perplexes me. 

    The two health oriented businesses are ideas twenty years apart. The idea for customized vitamin pills came from noticing the increasing popularity of health food items and diet supplements carried at local gyms in Laguna Beach, California in the 80s. Perhaps one could add a line of premium priced, beautifully packaged, customized vitamin pills to this upscale market niche. The idea for crystal herbs came from receiving a gift of flower tea during a trip to mainland China in 2004. Again, both ideas are well suited for Internet marketing.    

    The marriage bureau and Salsa Dance Studio are both 21st century. I looked into marriage bureaus in India when a friend there confided in me about her arranged marriage. Her enthusiasm was, shall we say, limited. (She repeatedly fled to the bathroom to vomit with fear the day of her formal engagement party.) Unfortunately her worst fears about her mate, selected by horoscope, have materialized. Her life has degenerated to a state of "permanent rape" while her father, brother and sisters all turn a blind eye, in denial: "Submit to your fate; nothing can be done." The somewhat happier origins of the dance studio are explained in the comic strip about it.

    The Amadeus Attaché Case is derived from an interesting patent for the automotive aftermarket. Although a licensing agreement was eventually signed, a product was never brought to market. The story is related in "7. Licensing - Follow up by Fits and Starts" at the subpage "Thirteen Lamentable Losses" of Testimony.  

II. In contrast, a business you DO want to start!


    The Internet is not going away any time soon. If you are interested in starting a web-based business, be sure to look at the next, and last, subpage of this section: "6. Internet Startups: Berkeley Stanford Genome Reports." In the unlikely event you are not already offering your products and services on the Internet, you should! The Internet offers cost-efficient access to global business. China and India alone have 500 million Internet users, and the growth is astonishing. A Mckinsey Quarterly market survey "Riding Asia's Digital Tiger", Sept. 2010, estimates 700 million additional users in five years with an associated $80 billion of Internet commerce. In China the 440 million Internet users (30% of the population) are expected to reach 770 million (55%) by 2015.

    A key language for global business is English. India, where English is entrenched, could move from 81 million users (7% of the population) to 360 million (28%) by 2015 -- a four-and-a-half-fold increase in five years! Now that is market opportunity. It is among the reasons that Mumbai, the financial capital of India and one of the three largest cities in the world, is the site of new offices for the major management consultancies.    

    A technological new arrival is The Cloud, i.e. Internet based computing. Software, data and information are provided by servers, which the user accesses through a web browser. Clouds are an appropriate metaphor for this new environment. They may be grouped into three categories: cirriform (wispy), stratiform and cumulus. Wispy ventures and nebulous flights of fancy, the first category, need not concern us here.

    Stratiform clouds are formed in relatively quiet air, typically along slow moving fronts and in low-pressure areas. In other words they reflect a relatively stable environment. The Internet, however, is neither slow moving or low pressure. It is better represented by the third category of cumulus clouds, specifically by the nimbus. This is a heavy, towering cloud mass that is associated with shower bursts, thunderstorms and hurricanes. A nimbus forms in turbulent air, especially along fast moving cold fronts.

    Of course there are many degrees between "wispy" and "violent storm" providing their respective problems and opportunities. Just one example is the Morning Glory, a rolling cylindrical cloud that appears over an Australian Gulf. (Wikipedia, 2010) This cloud accompanies a powerful ripple in the air that can be surfed by a glider: the entrepreneur as stealth pilot!

    For some interesting benchmarking of both laudatory and lamentable practices, see "Instant Internet Empires: from Siren Songs to Real Tycoons" at Papers. The industry has some peculiar characteristics. One has to suspect that a number of the new generation of Internet gurus "surfing for dollars" are Internet carpetbaggers.* Their common denominator is to make astronomical income clains, "virtual claims," one suspects. In dramatic contrast, there are legitimate Internet entreprenerus, making no claims at all, who are known to control billion dollar businesses.

    Growing exponentially, not just in Europe and the U.S., but worldwide, are the social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, and with them the use of smart phones. In combination they offer opportunities for very targeted, cost-effective advertising, for a campaign to go viral, and also for a lot of frustration in trying to use media that have their own distinct "rules of the game."

* Yankee carpetbagger refers to unscrupulous Northerners who flocked into the South after the American Civil War ended in 1865. They had everything they owned in a carpetbag and pursued various business schemes. These ranged from dubious real estate ventures to the promotion of wildcat banks, penny stocks and snake oil by outright charlatans. Legitmate Northern businessmen viewed them with the same disdain legitimate Silicon Valley entrepreneurs view the modern day Internet carpetbaggers touting various get rich quick schemes.


III. Seven Serendipitous Ventures

Beware! (wahrhaftig mit Vorsicht zu genießen)


    Serendipity is a word derived from the Persian legend "The Three Princes of Serendip," ca. 1300. (Serendip is the original name of Ceylon.) Through a combination of humbleness, keen observation, sagacity and good fortune, the princes received munificent rewards without having sought them. Even if this scenario applies to you, these seven businesses are not your own ideas.

    One tends to love one`s own child more than someone else's. If you are going to adopt a child, best is to adopt one who has just graduated from medical school -- no unpleasant surprises while the child is growing up. Adopting an adult child is, in effect, what the best franchise systems offer -- no unpleasant surprises while the business model is growing up. (See "Franchise Facts & Fallacies" at Papers.)

    The seven concepts presented on their respective subpages are not even infant businesses. In fact, they have yet to be borne. To begin with, they require:

  • thinkíng through the concept 
  • determining a USP (unusual selling proposition)
  • forming the team 
  • deciding on team assignments (the W's: who does what, when, where) 
  • some kind of presentation (video, slide show, or business plan) 
  • a written plan for raising money (should you need it) 
  • beta customers 
  • a starter website


1 Musashi Miyamoto is shown with two bokken, wooden quarterstaves used as practice swords (, photo of scroll too old to be copyrighted, hence in public domain). Musashi was a sumarai in the 17th century, the greatest of his era, who invented the two sword technique.

    He is the subject of Musashi, a fascinating 1,175 page novel (in the German edition) by Eiji Yoshikawa (1892 -1962). It was first published in 1935, in English in 1982, and in German in 1984. In the concluding duel of the novel, Musashi, using only a wooden practice sword, defeats his archrival (armed with a razor-sharp steel sword), killing him with a blow to the temple. In the first 50 years after the book's publication it sold 120 million copies and was the basis of seven films.

    The "Seven Sumarai of the East" in the title of this subpage is a reference to the film The Seven Sumarai by Akira Kurosawa in 1954. This wonderful black and white film is rightfully considered one of the greatest -- and influential -- ever made.  

    The "Magnificent Seven of the West" is a reference to Hollywood's The Magnificent Seven, adapted in 1960 by John Sturges from the Japanese film. The adaptation closely followed the original. Its star-studied cast included Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and Eli Wallach.



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