By Cliff Ennico
As I bounce around this great country of ours giving talks at conferences and trade shows and discovering the finer points of airport cuisine, I was pleased to have the chance to speak closer to home at the New York Business Expo and Conference last week (www.newyorkbusinessexpo.com).
This semiannual event, hosted at New York City’s Jacob Javits Center, is widely considered to be the region’s Number One business conference, trade show and networking event, featuring dozens of exhibitors and leading experts on small business marketing, operations, finance and, well, you name it.
Whenever I attend any sort of trade show, I always make it a point to troll the exhibits looking for small or startup companies offering products and services to the small business community. Here are 12 new products and “players” I hadn’t known about before, and some old dogs with a few new tricks:
- Looking for someone to sing “Happy Birthday” in Welsh to one of your employees wearing only a thong and a wooly hat for only $5? Check out Fiverr (www.fiverr.com), an online platform for novelty “gigs” where prices start at – you guessed it — $5.
- Looking for a birthday cake for that same employee with an edible 3-D photo of the employee and you “baked in”? Check out YouCake (www.youcake.com).
- Looking for a publication that will give you in-depth coverage of the People’s Republic of China going far beyond what is available in the mainstream U.S. media? Check out Epoch Times (www.theepochtimes.com).
- So you thought Geico only did car insurance? Turns out the little green guy with the Australian accent is a leading purveyor of commercial liability, errors/omissions, and other key coverage small businesses need (contact marketing buyer Steve McArthur at firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Looking to learn the “legal and tax stuff” your business needs to know without having to listen to a stuffy lawyer drone on for hours? Check out “The Smart Entrepreneur,” a series of DVD programs by Dianna Stallone (www.smartentrepreneur360.com), a lawyer and business expert who’s almost as funny as I am.
- Want to offer online payments to your customers but feel you’re too small to get the service you need from PayPal? Check out BluePay (www.bluepay.com), where human beings respond to every customer service call.
- Do you need cash for your successful business, but your business doesn’t have the assets and receivables that a traditional lender wants as collateral? Check out Berkman Financial (www.berkmanfinancial.com), a lender that focuses on your cash flow as a source of repayment.
- Looking to pitch your business to venture capitalists but can’t afford the plane fare to Los Angeles to be on “Shark Tank”? Check out Angel Week NY (www.angelweekny.com), a two-day event on November 30 and December 1, featuring a “speed dating” type event with investors called Startupalooza (www.startupalooza.com) – they even have a program on “Cannabis Investing”!
- Afraid you will run out of power for your digital gadgets in the middle of nowhere? Dawan Global (www.dawanglobal.com) offers a variety of solar-powered battery chargers, power banks, lanterns and panels that synch with just about every type of mobile device.
- Looking for customized safety products like hardhats, reflective vests, fire extinguishers, gloves and other protective apparel for your construction personnel? Check out Safety Supplies Unlimited (www.safetysuppliesunlimited.net).
- Looking for a really cool software app that will take your two-dimensional Web graphics and “bring them to life” with 4-D “augmented reality” digital animation? Check out PopUpCool (http://popup.cool).
- Looking for a way your customers can post streaming video on your website or banner ad without the need for an app like Periscope®? Check out “Video Pipeline,” a patent pending recording tool offered by VipeLine (www.vipeline.com).
And, as always at this event, there were several actual entrepreneurial startups offering wares ranging from the culturally beautiful to the “really, really out there,” such as:
- ShenYun, a celebration of classical Chinese dance scheduled to be held January 14-17 at New York City’s Lincoln Center (www.shenyun.com);
- GeumHong, your source for genuine Korean Geumsan Ginseng, “a product that is created by a collaboration of the will of heaven, the energy of the Earth and the sincere endeavor of humans” (www.geumhong.kr);
- VapeNY, your exclusive source for “BonVape e-Liquid” for e-cigarettes, whose “base mix is comprised of USP grade, Kosher materials that . . . is safe for people with peanut allergies” (www.vapeny.com);
- Arbonne (www.arbonne.com), a network marketing company focused on high-quality skincare products, oils and botanicals (and whose cookies were the hit of the show);
- “The Dudes of Disruption,” a talk radio show/podcast on the lifestyles of disruptive, game-changing people with Y chromosomes (www.facebook.com/dudesofdisruption);
- Ivy League Early Learning Academy, a fast-growing chain of pre-kindergarten education centers (www.ivyleagueearlylearning.com);
- Mila-Such, a line of silk scarves with psychedelic tie-dyed themes (www.mila-such.com); and
- My personal favorite – “The Cat Mat,” a bath mat in the shape of a reclining feline that is billed as the “Number One After Sex Towel” (www.thecatmat.me).
Cliff Ennico (email@example.com) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series ‘Money Hunt’. This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2015 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Follow him at @cliffennico.