Friday, 30 March 2012

FashionPlaytes Story

Book Of The Day - Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup

When Sarah McIlroy's oldest daughter turned five, she asked if she could design her own clothes.

McIlroy liked the idea, but there was one problem: She lacked the time to help her and the skill to stitch the clothes up.

So she found a way for moms and daughters everywhere to get their designs made into real clothing.

Armed with a gaming background from Atari, which included working with Hasbro Interactive, McIlroy co-founded FashionPlaytes in Beverly, Mass., in 2009, giving tween girls online tools to create one-of-a-kind clothing.

She had learned from her Hasbro experience that the market for tween girls -- ages five to 12 -- is lucrative.

At FashionPlaytes, most garments cost under $30, although some can run up to $60. Girls choose from 13 silhouettes, ranging from long-sleeve shirts to shorts-and-tank sets. They select a size, and deck their creations out with rhinestones and other adornments. Base garments are produced overseas and then customized at a factory in a Boston suburb.

"It's close enough that we can get right over there if need be," said McIlroy.

Last autumn, FashionPlaytes crossed over the $1 million in revenues mark. "We're delighted about making the million-dollar mark. The feedback we get from girls and moms is phenomenal," said McIlroy. "We like to think we're on the cusp of something big."

McIlroy's mission is to build the website into a big lifestyle brand. She wants to see the company hit the hundred-million-dollar mark someday.

About 800,000 designs have been created through FashionPlaytes -- 200,000 within the last two weeks. To date, 50,000 tween designers have used the site.

Indeed, the tween population is growing, and they are spending a lot of time online, experts said.

Massachusetts resident Heidi Vaughan's eight-year-old daughter has used FashionPlaytes many times and spends about 45 to 60 minutes creating an outfit. "My daughter wore one of her dresses recently, and her friends were all asking where she got it," she said. "When she told them she made it, they thought that was the coolest thing." Vaughan said her daughter also creates matching outfits for her Build-A-Bear.

"The average time on the site is an hour for repeat users," said McIlroy.

McIlroy's largest challenge was getting potential partners to believe she could turn a profit while still selling the clothes at affordable prices. She interviewed 50 factories. "A lot of folks would say, 'You're a crazy lady. There's no way you can do it at this price point," recalled McIlroy.

She eventually was able to partner with a factory.

To start the company, McIlroy threw in $20,000 of her own money. "For the first nine months it was really a bootstrap operation," she said. And in March 2009, she got her first round of venture capital. The additional money allowed FashionPlaytes to create proprietary, custom software and bring her tech team in-house last year, as well as add marketing and gaming departments. There are now 18 full-time employees.

In November, the company partnered with Hasbro to create a Littlest Pet Shop clothing line, its first foray into integrated licensing.

Last year, FashionPlaytes added gaming aspects to the site, including the ability to pick an avatar and create a stylebook to e-mail out to family and friends. The girls can also vote on each other's designs.

Juggling family time -- she has two daughters and a son -- with her company is exhausting, she said. "Having the opportunity to work with my kids on the business helps that guilt factor," she said.

[Via - CNN Money]

Writing For Profit - BrandJournalists.Com Story

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Thursday, 29 March 2012

Cool Startups -

Daily advice link - Freelancer? We are hiring!

When former journalist Thomas Scott started blogging about his home-staging business in 2007, he discovered that his industry-related content radically improved how business prospects perceived his company's brand. Scott realized there was an untapped market for providing other businesses with content that's well-written and entertaining, while helping consumers relate to them on a personal level.

Soon after, he launched Brand Journalists, a Nashville, Tenn.-based firm that specializes in corporate storytelling. Scott says that because today's consumers don't like being "sold" with heavy-handed marketing messages, successful branding is more about crafting interesting and consumer-relevant narratives. "The marketing materials and the logo don't become the brand," he says. "It's the company's story and how it's expressed."

Brand Journalists offers blog and web content, ghostwriting services and reporting on the human stories that make companies relatable for consumers. For example, for an insurance broker, Scott's team blogs about issues related to city life, such as what to do if the tub in the apartment upstairs overflows through your ceiling. "If you try to sell renter's insurance as an agent, people tune out," he says. "But when you talk about the coffee they drink and neighborhoods they like, and how important it is to have renter's insurance as part of that story, it connects with people."

Brand Journalists saw its income double in 2011, an achievement Scott expects to repeat in 2012.

[Via -]

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Daily advice link - Freelancer? We are hiring!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Standing In Line For Other People For Fun And Profit

Book Of The Day - Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup

Time is money and in DC it's apparently a lot of money. At least that's the impression I get from the service offered by Washington DC courier service called Washington Express.

The company offers to send in line for you for cool $40 an hour (and $50 an hour if it's Supreme Court).

Here is description of the service

Do you need to attend a congressional or judicial hearing but don't have the time to stand in line? Washington Express, a leader in DC area courier services, provides professional, competitively priced line-standing and seat holding services for congressional and judicial hearings.

Our rate for line standing is $40.00 per hour and Supreme Court line standing is $50 per hour. Washington Express has provided line-standing and seat-holding services for over 20 years, and in that time, we have developed significant expertise in all of the sometimes complex details of seat holding and linestanding.

The WEX Advantage

Professional line-standing team monitors hearing schedule.

Regularly surveys committee website to check for hearing relocation and postponements so that your line-standing is done at the right time and place.

Washington Express constantly checks the demand for individual hearings so we can advise line-standing start times.

Our line-standing couriers hold printed WEX signs with hearing attendees names on them for easy identification.

Apparently the servce is quite popular with DC lobbiests, because access to many places is via live queue only and they don't want to waste their billable hours standing in line.

For more unusual ways to make money, visit this site

[Via - MadConomist]

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Monday, 26 March 2012

New Startup Undercuts Cybersquatters and Branding Agencies, Offering Risk-Free Naming Services.

Book of the day - The Million-Dollar Idea in Everyone: Easy New Ways to Make Money from Your Interests, Insights, and Inventions

New startup is hoping to revolutionize naming industry by turning it upside down. Currently, when a company needs to come up with a new product name, domain or slogan, it basically has two choices – either rely on own marketing department, or hire naming/branding agency that will charge thousands of dollars for the work. When acquiring premium domains, domain brokers are usually involved and the cost is also usually in the thousands of dollars for each domain purchased on the aftermarket.

With a person or company simply places an order, specifying what kind of domain, name or slogan they are looking for. As soon as the order is active, hundreds of registered contributors start offering their ideas. When client finds domain, name or tagline that is a good fit, the order is closed and contributor, who made the winning suggestion, gets 50% of the total order amount. (Finding unregistered premium domain costs only $50). If client decides that none of submitted suggestions fit, he or she does not pay anything. Hence, there is no risk involved.

So far has successfully come up with over two thousand domains, names and slogans, like LimoQuoter.Com,,,, and many others. Some of the stranger naming projects involved naming a Nevada brothel and finding a perfect name for gangster rapper’s adopted pitbull puppie. In November 2011 Yahoo! News wrote about Canadian couple Jon Peters and Brittany Gardner, who hired to name their baby, making it probably the first baby in the world whose name has been crowdsourced.

Currently over 50,000 people have registered with PickyDomains as contributors, some making over a thousand dollars in contributor fees. After witnessing rapid growth in its primary market, PickyDomains has decided to expand to countries where English isn’t a primary language. The company operates in Russia under the name of VotImenno.Ru and has plans to offer its services in Germany, China, India and Brazil.

[Via - Yahoo!News]

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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Weird Profits - How To Get Rich Selling Unicorn Meat On

It sounds cliche, but in order to succeed you have to stand out. You may offer outstanding quality or lowest price, but more and more companies use ‘weirdness’ as their strategy. Case in point – Canned Unicorn Meat from

Now, you probably know that unicorns don’t exist (no judgement here), but that’s exactly the point. A typical ‘product review’ reads along these lines:

Of course this isn't as good as fresh, but who has time to hunt unicorns these days? I'm a busy professional so I don't have the luxury of just grabbing my bow and quiver and spending days in the high glens hunting fresh 'corn. This product allows me to come home from a hectic day and enjoy a meal packed with that special nutrition only unicorn can provide. I even keep a few cans at the office for those late nights.

While selling ‘unicorn meat’ may seem silly to you, ThinkGeek got a ton of free publicity from the product and made over a hundred thousand dollars.

You don’t even need to come up with a wacky product in order to get attention. You may simply ‘rebrand’ your existing product. Let’s do a test – what gets your attention.

1. Hand sanitizer
2. Maybe You Touched Your Gentials Hand Sanitizer

See, I told you so.

Friday, 23 March 2012

How Birds Barbershops Took Over Entire Austin

Tip Of The Day - How To Find Any Person In US, Do Reverse Phone Lookup And Check For Criminal Records

Michael Portman has heard his salon customers share information with their hairdressers that they wouldn't confide in anyone else. As he says, it's a business built on trust. After all, how many deals compel the service provider to wield a sharp pair of scissors to your scalp or neck?

Today, six years after he and childhood pal Jayson Rapaport opened the first of five Birds Barbershops in Austin, Texas, Portman is especially pleased when a customer comes in for a haircut in advance of a job interview. "That's a pretty trusting moment there," Portman says.

Like many entrepreneurs, Portman has found that savvy branding efforts go a long way toward cultivating that trust. And while there's no single formula for branding your way into a client's warm embrace, it's generally agreed that it takes more than a clever slogan or a catchy jingle. At the very least, it takes strong job performance, effective marketing (often online) and favorable public opinion. Yet experts say building trust through branding also requires an ineffable something that leaves customers feeling good about the whole exchange.

"Branding now is trying to measure not just the affinity, but the trust a consumer has in you," says Todd Copilevitz, a branding consultant in Atlanta.

To build trust through branding, says Karen Post, a Tampa, Fla.–based consultant and the author of Brand Turnaround, an entrepreneur must establish a distinct identity. Portman and Rapaport did this by offering standard haircuts at below-market prices--$19 for men, $39 for women--and keeping salons open seven days a week. ("Every salon in the world is closed on Mondays," Portman says. "What's with that?") Tapping into Austin's rich musical heritage, they installed old-fashioned jukeboxes, then turned up the volume. Because Austin is such a bicycle-crazy town, they offered men who rode to Birds a free hair wash. (Women get a shampoo with the standard cut.) And abiding by the company ethos of keeping things local, they formed myriad partnerships in support of hometown causes and events.

Their mission was simple, really: They wanted to make the haircut experience more fun. And that's where the beer comes in. After noon each day, anyone who gets a haircut at Birds receives a free can of Shiner beer. Birds pays nothing for the beer but gives Shiner plenty of promotional punch, including a neon sign in every salon window. Shiner comes from the Lone Star State's oldest independent brewery, so it holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Texans. For Portman, the arrangement has been invaluable in helping Birds establish its identity.

And that has led to success. Last year, Portman says, Birds took in nearly $3 million in revenue. Birds has relied heavily on social media to build its brand. Copilevitz says the online world, which gives consumers a robust and timely forum for expressing opinions, has forced businesses to revert to old-school customer service. "That is, dealing with people as people," he says. "They're using social media to talk to their customers in an open, honest way, and they do that on a stage where millions of eyeballs can focus on that discussion." Using social media effectively, adds Portman, also means knowing when to lay low. "We're part of the conversation, just like when you're sitting around the table with friends," he says. "You don't say anything unless you have something to say."

For more unusual ways to make money, visit this site.

[HT - Entrepreneur]

Catering To Startups - ZeroCater Story

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Thursday, 22 March 2012

Making Million Raising Wild Buffalo

Book of the day - The Million-Dollar Idea in Everyone: Easy New Ways to Make Money from Your Interests, Insights, and Inventions

Dan O'Brien, the owner of a 3,200-acre ranch in Rapid City, S.D., had been raising a few buffalo with his wife since 1997. But the hobby was proving costly.

"We wanted to make this a better place for our (buffalo) herds," said the 64-year-old, a wildlife biologist. "The way to do that was to play the business card."

Dan decided to farm buffalo for commercial consumption.

In recent years, bison has become more popular as a healthier alternative to other red meats, because it is leaner and has lower cholesterol.

Demand for the meat grew 10 percent in 2011, the sixth straight year of double-digit growth, according to the National Buffalo Association.

Wild Idea Buffalo Co. -- which raises and processes meat from herds of bison in South Dakota -- started on a small scale in 1997.

"The first year we slaughtered three or four buffalo and sold them to family and friends," Dan said. "We sent out 50 or so boxes."

In December, Wild Idea, bolstered by the opening of their processing plant in May, crossed over the $1-million-in-revenues mark, essentially doubling its business from the year prior. To staff the new plant, they hired 10 more employees, bringing the total to 14.

"We set $1 million in 2011 as our goal," said Jill, 48, his wife and business partner. "In November, we were thinking 'Are we going to make it?'

But by December, they were sure that they would hit their goal, because of the number of gift boxes that were ordered, said Dan. Afterwards, "we did a little happy dance," he said.

Jill met Dan when he made a sales call to her Rapid City restaurant 14 years ago to sell bison. She was impressed with the quality of the meat and taste. Today, Jill, who grew up on a prairie, helps Wild Idea by developing recipes. She's also working on a cookbook.

In the past 15 years, the O'Briens have grown their herd from 13 baby buffalo to 300. They also process buffalo sourced from five other ranchers and Native Americans at a nearby reservation.

South Dakota has the most bison producers in the country. But the O'Briens are not too worried about competition. Their bison are grass-fed, free-roaming, antibiotic- and hormone-free, as well as humanely treated, creating a high quality meat, Jill said.

One of the company's largest roadblocks is shipping.

"The biggest challenge was finding out how to get it to people in an affordable fashion. That remains the one thing that we continue to work on," said Jill, who constantly checks rates for refrigerated shipments via FedEx, UPS and other means.

Enduring long days is also a challenge. "My phone starts ringing at 6:30 a.m.," said Dan, who then pursues morning chores while Jill runs over to their retail store in Rapid City. Their day is spent caring for the buffalo and managing office tasks like invoicing and marketing. It wraps up around 8 p.m.

Bringing back the buffalo population is the couple's ultimate goal. Bison were killed off in a span of 100 to 150 years, Dan said. Between 40 and 60 million bison roamed the Great Plains prior to 1600. By 1900 there were less than 1,000, and today there are around 450,000 in North America, he added.

"We're working with folks to build the herds and bring the buffalo back," said Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association. "Dan has carved out a really strong area: the desire for small-scale, grass-fed production." According to the USDA, 50,000 heads of bison are processed each year, compared to 125,000 heads a day in the beef industry.

Right now "demand exceeds the supply," Carter said.

Wild Idea Buffalo's meat appears on menus at Toro in Boston and Catalyst Restaurant in Cambridge, Mass., and butchers that include Dean & DeLuca and Ottomanelli Butcher Shoppe in New York City.

"It's the only meat I eat. I'd been a vegetarian for 10 years prior to trying buffalo meat," said Steve Gully, owner of Country Meat Market in Goleta, Calif., and a buyer of Wild Idea Buffalo's bison meat for the last year. "It's a little sweeter and has an all-around good, hearty taste. On a daily basis, I'll have two or three phone calls inquiring about the bison cuts I have."

For more unusual ways to make money, visit this site.

[Via - CNNMoney.Com]

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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Catering To Startups - ZeroCater Story

Things Called Books - Normal Gets You Nowhere

If you’re one of the growing number of startups in Silicon Valley area that gets regular deliveries of catered food, you’ve probably heard of ZeroCater. And if you haven’t yet, you should: The startup is quickly becoming the go-to place for handling all the logistics of ordering lunch (and other meals). With a flexible delivery schedule and a huge number of food vendors that it’s partnered with, it could be the easiest and most efficient way to make sure your office gets fed.

What I really love about ZeroCater, though, is the story: It’s all about one dude with some entrepreneurial drive that created a business by solving a problem for himself, then offering up a solution to others.

ZeroCater founder and CEO Arram Sabeti moved to the Bay Area after becoming a bit obsessed with Paul Graham’s essays. Sabeti wanted to work in startups, so he saved up some cash, got a place in the East Bay and just started looking for work. He landed at, where he says he handled a lot of the office management, QA and all sorts of other things that no one else wanted to do.

While at he handled daily lunch orders for the startup, which was routinely the most problematic part of his job. From talking to other folks in similar positions, he found out he wasn’t alone — dealing with catering was a huge pain for everyone who handle such things. So he took on another startup client and began outsourcing his expertise to as well.

At first, ZeroCater was just Sabeti, a bunch of hustle, and a spreadsheet with about 500 columns in it. Then he brought on CTO Bill Moorier to build some code to automate some things. Like invoicing, for instance: Prior to getting a software platform in place for managing accounts, Sabeti was spending some 20 hours a week just filing invoices for various companies he worked with. With that simplified, the business began to operate a lot more smoothly and started to grow.

ZeroCater was part of last spring’s YCombinator class and raised $1.5 million last summer from investors like Keith Rabois, SV Angel, Start Fund, Stewart Alsop, founders Justin Kan and Emmett Shear, Alexander Goldstein and Starling Ventures. With financing in hand, it’s been aggressively expanding within the Bay Area: In the past eight months, ZeroCater has grown from three employees to 15, with six account managers and two salespeople now on board.

That’s translated into some real business, as ZeroCater is expanding beyond just word-of-mouth marketing and serving startups, and branching out into other verticals. It serves about 175 companies a month, offering a rotating menu from various caterers, restaurants and food trucks around San Francisco. Those companies range in size and in the volume of business they drive: Some are multinational corporations that you know and love, while others are startups you’ve never heard of; some order just a few meals a month, while others get food catered everyday. For taking care of all their catered food needs, ZeroCater charges just a 7 percent convenience fee on all orders.

On the vendor side, working with ZeroCater means regular business for a number of food service operators that otherwise would be reliant on the whims and fancy of the general public. In exchange for volume discounts, ZeroCater provides a steady stream of orders for a number of local businesses.

While ZeroCater has cut its teeth serving the Bay Area, Sabeti tells me he hopes to take this business worldwide. And there’s plenty of interest: ZeroCater has a waiting list of more than 165 companies in major metropolitan areas around the country. ZeroCater’s next market has yet to be determined, but it’s clear that the lunch problem is pretty universal, whether it’s a matter of feeding a 15-person startup or a large financial services company.

[Via - GigaOm]

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Mint.Com Success Story

Monday, 19 March 2012

YBuy.Com Tries Shareware Model With Hardware Goods.

Daily giveaway - Free $50 bonus for your next PPC campaign

YBUY is a try-before-you-buy online subscription service that charges users $24.95 to give them a chance to test drive the latest in electronics, home and kitchen gadgets for 30 days before they commit to purchase.

“For most consumers, when it comes to electronics or products for the home, the idea is that they want to test the product out first,” said YBUY CEO Stephen Svajian. “Typically, you’ll wait in line for hours. Then, when you finally get into the store, there’s someone right behind you breathing down your neck, pressuring you, and maybe even dripping sweat on you. And at the end of the day, you may only get five or ten minutes with a device that hundreds of other people have had their mitts on. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen someone wipe down an iPad after they use it. This can make for a pretty gross and stressful shopping experience.”

With YBUY, Svajian said, there’s no reason for brick and mortar showrooms to exist. “We can actually bring the showroom straight to your living room,” he said. “Our unique alternative, that comes to you brand new or completely sanitized, allows consumers to test it out for 30 days in the comfort of your own home. This can really help you get to know the item you would like to invest in, before fully committing to make the purchase. There’s no other experience like it out there on the market.”

YBUY, who’s site appears to be overloaded at moment because of this announcement, will be offering the new iPad on their site for $24.95 for a one month test drive.

Sounds like how you sell puppies. “Why don’t you take it home overnight and see if your family likes him. If not, bring him back tomorrow.”

[Via - Business Opportunities Blog]

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Saturday, 17 March 2012

From Hobby Calligraphist To Home Based Business

Book Of The Day - Work at Home Now: The No-nonsense Guide to Finding Your Perfect Home-based Job, Avoiding Scams, and Making a Great Living

The moment Robbie Crawford touched a calligraphy pen to paper, she fell in love with the beautiful form of handwritten expression.

That was more than 30 years ago.

Now, at the age of 60 and after 36 years in nursing, Crawford has finally chosen to do what she loves.

She retired from her nursing career in September to start her own full-time calligraphy and engraving business out of her Tallassee home in Blount County.

"I decided when I retire that I would do something I would love to do for the rest of my life," Crawford said. "This is so much fun, so much fun."

The baby boomer spends her days writing fancy letters on certificates, addressing wedding invitations and using a dentist's drill to engrave calligraphy on wine bottles and decorative stones.

After years of doing calligraphy work sporadically, never believing she could make a career of it, she said she finally took the plunge because nursing had become difficult and exhausting. She worked night shift on the oncology floor at Blount Memorial Hospital the past nine years.

"The hours were horrible," Crawford said. "I thought, 'You know what? I'm going to do it.' I knew I had the talent. I knew I had the skill. Plus, it's marketable. People always want something personalized."

Crawford first learned calligraphy as a 26-year-old working in Memphis. During one of her women's Bible study meetings, a member taught calligraphy.

"You don't have to have good handwriting," Crawford said. "Calligraphy is an acquired skill. The more you practice the better you get."

It's all in how someone holds the pen, she said.

When she first started, she thought

she was good, but now she laughs at how "primitive" her first tries were.

She began practicing every day for about an hour. That's about all she could do without her hand cramping.

It took eight years for her to become comfortable enough to sell her calligraphy work.

She had several successful years doing calligraphy part-time while still working as a nurse.

At one point, a greeting card company offered her $5,000 for rights to a print she did with the story of Jesus written in calligraphy in the form of a Christmas tree. They wanted to put it on a Christmas card, but Crawford didn't sell it. She still uses it today for her own work.

When she and her husband moved to Chicago for her husband's work, she lost her calligraphy contacts and stopped selling her work.

The couple moved to the Maryville area in 2001 because they wanted to move back to Tennessee.

While working at Blount Memorial, she did calligraphy for family and friends about once a month, keeping her skills fresh.

She put a small calligraphy studio in her basement complete with a writing desk, a filing cabinet of hundreds of her prints and framing equipment.

She recently added an engraving station.

She never thought of engraving before she heard of an engraving course given by Ken Brown, a widely recognized calligrapher.

When she teaches calligraphy at local art stores, she uses Brown's book. She took a short course on engraving in Dallas in November and since then has been hooked.

"I can't keep away from this engraver," Crawford said. "I engrave all the time. Even if I don't have an order, I just engrave glass."

Some of her favorite items to engrave are wine bottles and small stones on which she engraves people's names. She said the stones are perfect wedding favors.

She personalizes perfume bottles and has even engraved golf clubs.

As part of her new business, she also attends bridal shows, perfume events and craft fairs promoting her business.

She keeps a calligraphy pen in her purse so she can write people's names on the spot.

The best part of this venture, she said, is that she doesn't have to watch the clock to see when she has to leave for work.

She has more time to spend with her husband, fish and hunt for rocks in the woods with her grandson.

"I wake up happy and excited to get down here," Crawford said. "My life is my own for the first time in a lot of years."

For more unusual ways to make money, visit this site.

[Via - KnoxNews.Com]

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Thursday, 15 March 2012

Startus 2.0 - Houzz

Daily advice link - Freelancer? We are hiring!

Drew Sivgals used to do most of his landscape design near Newport Beach, Calif., where his five-employee office is based. Now nearly one-third of his business comes from out-of-state or overseas clients. He attributes much of his newfound clientele—including a Dubai homeowner who wanted a semi-enclosed air-conditioned patio—to a three-year-old website called Houzz. “I’m getting quite a few inquiries from all over the United States and internationally,” says Sivgals. “I just got an e-mail from a lady who lives in Capri.”

Houzz is an online directory that homeowners use to find architects, general contractors, and myriad other home-improvement pros for construction or remodeling projects. Combining elements of local review site Angie’s List (homeowners can read reviews fellow homeowners post) and image-sharing network Pinterest (professionals can post photos of their work for homeowners to browse), Houzz has more than 60,000 professionals in the U.S. who actively manage their profiles, adding photos and answering questions. Sequoia Capital led an $11.6 million investment in the Palo Alto startup in December.

Does the world need another service aimed at making comfortable people more comfortable? The commercial benefits aren’t just for furniture makers and other brands that pay Houzz to advertise their products. The site helps small business owners like Sivgals broaden their reach beyond their local area, says co-founder and Chief Executive Adi Tatarko. “Now Houzz turned on the light and we can see what’s going on around the world,” she says. “I think Dubai is an extreme example, but there are definitely many others who are reporting that they are getting jobs across the U.S. and not in their local metro areas.”

Houzz’s ability to connect professionals with homeowners regardless of location builds on a national trend: an upswing over the past year in remodeling as new construction stagnated. Contractors who typically did new construction before the housing bust “broadened their geographic coverage because they’ve been able to pick up remodeling work,” says David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Homebuilders in Washington.

“The housing cycles prior to this one had not been so severe,” notes Crowe. “Most builders had ways of surviving that require them to travel farther or take on work they didn’t usually do—but this cycle it’s a new phenomenon. It surprised me in that it was that widespread.”

[Via -]

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The Titanic up for auction

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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

It's Not Just Beer, It's MrBeer.

Web 2.0 Names - A Sooper Smpl Xuide

“Not bad. In fact, my first home brew wasn’t as good as this.”

That was Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery, and what he had to say when he gave a MrBeer beer kit a try for himself. And believe us—he wasn't drunk when he said that.

Oliver described the “Mr. Beer Process” in three steps: "We sanitize, we brew, and then we bottle."

And how much did it cost him to make a 2-gallon beer?

It took him $40 for the complete kit—and a 2-gallon beer worth $.25 cents to $1, depending on the size of the bottle that’s being used.

That's not bad, considering it tastes good. Comedian Andy Dick once had a test run of the Mr. Beer as well, and all he had to say was: "That's smooth. That's probably the smoothest beer I've ever drank." And unlike those that have been shipped and exposed to outside air, Mr. Beer’s aroma is more intense because it comes straight from the plastic beer keg.

Mr. Beer has been in the business of creating the world's easiest home brewing systems and supplies since 1993. They use barley, wheat, and hops for their malts, and are brewed on their modern facility on South Island NZ. They use a complex process of cracking, heating, and separating grains and then adding in hops to produce the color, balance, and flavor that beer is known for. However, the difference is that with Mr. Beer, all the excess water is removed, and the concentrated malt extract that’s left would be canned for shipping.

Their most popular product is the Premium Edition Mr. Beer Kit, which comes with a 2-Gallon Fermenter, first batch of beer (Standard Booster Recipe with Hopped Malt extract, dry brewing yeast, and No-Rinse Cleanser), eight amber-colored bottles with caps and labels. These bottles are designed to accommodate carbonated beverages, and are FDA approved.

Other Mr. Beer products also include Cider Kits a nd Root Beer kits—and they taste good as well.

With such high-tech procedures, does it guarantee perfect beer all the time?

Not necessarily. It depends on how you brew it.

"It's a little bit sweet and needs a little bit more carbonation." Oliver observed, after tasting his first batch of beer.

But here’s where he made a teeny-tiny-itsy-bit mistake: he didn’t wait long enough for the beer to ferment.

A good way to avoid this is to let the beer sit longer than a week to reduce its sweetness. The longer it ferments, the less sweet it becomes.

As with everything else, patience really IS a virtue when it comes to brewing your own beer. According to Drew Vics, a.k.a "The Brewologist", you can have home brewed beer in two weeks, but if you want it to taste its best, then wait for four weeks—or three and a half, if you can't wait any longer.

A good solution for that "le ss head" or "less carbonation" problem so often encountered by first-time brewers is to dissolve no more than 3/8 of a cup of sugar or confectioner's corn sugar into 1 pint of hot water and then let it cool. Then divide them evenly among your bottles instead of adding each sugar in each bottle (as what the direction says). This results in better and more even carbonation.

Really, it doesn’t get any simpler than that. Vics put it succinctly: "Mr. Beer makes a good beginner home brewing kit, and it is a great kit to keep around and reuse, even for the more advanced brewer. This is a great way to get your feet wet, and learn the basics of the home brewing process."

For Mr. Beer coupons, click here.

[Via - Odd News]

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Tuesday, 13 March 2012


New tattoo shops pop up all over the place...globally...scribblers or not, once the market is saturated, prospective new tattoo collectors could be baffled with all the choices..logic would tell anyone to "DO YOUR HOMEWORK !" do NOT wanna leave disappointed and disillusioned with something that doesn't wash off as easily as last nights guilty escapades...hmmm...

Juan, has left the shop.. we're all proud of him for his new venture. Superfly tattoo in the city of Leon in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. His own shop, his own model machine....

ANYHOW...Juan "Superfly" Arreguin...YES the Godoy Machines "Superfly" tattoo machine model is his...has opened a WINNER OF A SHOP in the city of LEON in the Mexican state of GUANAJUATO!!!

An escape for any tattoo collector who is choosy and demands perfection...this isn't a fly by night locale...You come here with a purpose you leave here with your dream embedded in your skin.

Juan "Superfly" Arreguin is an award winner, not limited by style, technique or genre...harboring a never ending river of creativity, style, professionalism and personality.

Yes this shop is SUPER, the tattoos he administers are SUPER !

The Godoy Machines "Superfly" is SUPER...


Subscription Based Startups - Dollar Shave Club

Book Of The Day - Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup

Dollar Shave Club, a startup in Santa Monica, Calif., has decided to take the Razor Industrial Complex head-on. Earlier this week, it began selling razors on a subscription model. You pay $1 per month and have five, two-bladed razors delivered to your door. (For $6 a month, you get four-bladed razors and for $9 per month, you get six-bladed razors.) All the products feature aloe vera strips and swivel heads. Ooh la la.

Dollar Shave Club says it partnered with a large razor manufacturer to create its line of products and centers its pitch on the idea that it can give you a good razor at a low price. It also seems to want to capitalize on the idea that men are lazy.

“Do you think your razor needs a vibrating handle, a flashlight, a back-scratcher, and 10 blades?” the company asks in a very funny YouTube ad that has garnered it a lot of early attention. “Your handsome grandfather had one blade and polio.” If Hollywood director and manchild bromance specialist Judd Apatow were a business model, he would be Dollar Shave Club.

Without a doubt, Dollar Shave Club kicks off memories of such legendary dot-com boom fiascos as, which promised to deliver just about anything to your door in less than an hour, and, which seemed to base its business model on a funny puppet. But where raised about $250 million in venture capital, Dollar Shave Club has taken only $1 million so far from such big names as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Andreessen Horowitz.

[Via -, Submitted By Minty Mike]

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Doba Does Dropshipping Right

KillerStartups -

Dumping China for American job shops

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Monday, 12 March 2012

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Cool Startups - ScootNetworks.Com

Save-A-Link - $99 Logo Coupon For 99Designs.Com

Scoot Networks wants to be the Zipcar of electric scooters. Scoot unveiled its service, still in a closed "alpha" testing period at the Launch conference in San Francisco, the location where Scoot will initially kick off its service.

Scoot is targeted at regular urban commuters who might otherwise attempt to dash around the city via taxi, bus or train, as well as those who might use the service to get around town only once in awhile. What's more, the scooters are controlled by your smartphone—you can reserve a car through an app on your iPhone, and then the phone in effect becomes your key, and dashboard. The scooter starts when you plug in the phone.

The company says it is a hybrid of three new but proven technologies: Chinese electric motorbikes (tens of millions are on the road, growing by over 10 million per year); European bike sharing (hundreds of cities have deployed such systems in recent years); and real-time, mobile transportation services (e.g. GetAround, Uber). The scooters top out at about 30 mph.

Scoot Networks expects to charge about $5 an hour for a trip, though monthly deals will be available for regular riders. At the start, users will only be able to reserve round-trips. Scoot will provide helmets, and handle theft and insurance requirements.

The company comes out of a GreenStart accelerator program, which helps entrepreneurs build clean tech initiatives. Scoot certainly found a favorable audience at Launch. Tim Young, the co-founder of and one of the judges evaluating start-ups at the event, offered to write Scoot a $50,000 check on stage.

[Via - USAToday, НТ - BeerCoupons]

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Sunday, 11 March 2012

Doba Review

Daily advice link - Freelancer? We are hiring!

Have you ever thought about setting up your own online store but got put off by the necessary paperwork, a need of big financial investment and too much potential risk? Well, have you ever heard of drop-shipping? Exactly. It’s a way of moving goods from the manufacturer directly to the retailer without going through the usual distribution channels. There are many companies on the market offering drop-shipping softwares and solutions; one of them is Doba from the United States, the industry leader.

Jeremy Hanks, the Co-Founder and Chairman of Doba, explains how it works. “We’ve provided a web platform so that small-business retailers that are selling predominantly through e-commerce can come online and access an inventory and fulfillment system. We help retailers find products to sell and help wholesale providers find retailers to distribute their products.”

According to Doba, all you need to do is find the products you want to sell, list products for sale across the web and fulfill orders without having to store, pack or ship anything. They guarantee the lowest drop-ship price. And they also provide a Money Back Guarantee in case you’re unable to recoup on your initial purchase in product sales by the end of your membership.

At the moment, you can choose three different subscriptions depending on various options like supplier access (core or pro), size of your inventory (between 1K and 25K), Pre-Pay possibility (on or off) and Elite Seller Report feature (on or off). There is Doba ($59.95 per month or $599.50 per year), Doba Advanced ($69.95 per month or $699.50 per year) and Doba Pro ($89.95 per month or $899.50 per year.

Once signed in, you’re going to have access to more than one and a half million products consolidated into one catalogue which you can search through by category, brand, price etc. You’re going to create your own Inventory List which you can customize and edit according to your needs. You’re going to be able to Push to Facebook and eBay. You’re going to have access to training materials, special deals and many other available features. It’s too good not to try it.

And you can try it any time and for free! The company is now offering a 7-day trial (here is a coupon for 14-day free trial). You provide your email address (future username) and create a password, fill in your contact and credit card details in case any sales are billed during this period. You can sign in from any country all over the world; however, Doba only operates within the United States. This means that all your activity, i.e. sales, marketing and client service is going to be focused and operating in the U.S. Taking under consideration that the U.S Retail Industry operates in trillions of Dollars, there’s plenty of market share for everybody.

For more unusual ways to make money, visit this site.

[Via - Madconomist.Com]

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Site of the day -, world's first risk free naming agency

Friday, 9 March 2012

Get Ready For Cupcake 'ATM'

Daily advice link - Freelancer? We are hiring!

Get ready for an ATM where your dough comes out freshly baked -- with icing on top.

Sprinkles, a gourmet cupcake chain with 10 locations nationally, is set to open its first 24-hour cupcake vending machine on March 9 at its original store in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Company spokeswoman Nicole Schwartz says that there will be ten of the machines in operation by this summer, and even more by the end of the year.

At first, the Cupcake ATMs will all be within Sprinkles stores, but accessible from outside so that customers can indulge even when stores are closed.

Eventually, Schwartz said the machines will be at remote locations apart from the stores.

Sprinkles opened in 2005 and remains privately held. It has locations in Beverly Hills, Newport Beach, Palo Alto and La Jolla, California, as well as New York City, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Dallas, Houston, and Scottsdale, Ariz. The New York, Washington and Chicago locations are next in line for the cupcake ATM

The company had intended to call the machines 24-hour Sprinkles, but Schwartz said the name Cupcake ATM just kind of suggested itself.

There won't be an ATM fee per se, but cupcakes in the machine will cost $4, compared to $3.50 inside the store. The machines will only take credit or debit cards, no cash.

Schwartz said the selection in the machine will be rotated daily, although a few of the company's most popular selections, such as red velvet, will always be in the machine.

The machines will be able to hold 600 cupcakes at a time.

"It's going to be a lot bigger than a typical vending machine, let alone an ATM machine," she said.

[Via - CNN, Submitted by Domain Namer]

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Thursday, 8 March 2012

Homeless by Choice: How to Live for Free in America

More than a decade ago, Daniel Suelo closed his bank account and moved into a desert cave. Here's how he eats, sleeps, and evades the law.

"Our whole society is designed so that you have to have money," Daniel Suelo says. "You have to be a part of the capitalist system. It's illegal to live outside of it."

Suelo has defied these laws. His primary residence is the canyons near Arches National Park, where he has lived in a dozen caves tucked into sandstone nooks. In the fall of 2002, two years after quitting money, he homesteaded a majestic alcove high on a cliff, two hundred feet across and fifty feet tall. Sitting inside and gazing into the gorge below felt like heralding himself to the world from inside the bell of a trumpet.

Suelo's grotto was a two-hour walk from pavement, and he settled in for the long haul. He chipped at the rocky ground to create a wide, flat bed, and lined it with tarps and pads and sleeping bags that had been left out with someone else's trash. He built wood-burning cook-stoves from old tin cans. He learned to forage for cactus pods, yucca seeds, wildflowers, and the watercress that grew in the creek. He drank from springs, bathed in the creek. From a chunk of talus he carved a statue, a ponderous head like some monolith from Easter Island.

In warm months the cave attracted occasional hikers, and when Suelo was away, he left a note. Feel free to camp here. What's mine is yours. Eat any of my food. Read my books. Take them with you if you'd like. Visitors left notes in return, saying they were pleased with his caretaking.

Then one day, after several years of peace, a ranger from the Bureau of Land Management arrived to evict him. Suelo had long since violated the fourteen-day limit.

"If I were hiking along here and I saw this camp," said the ranger, "I'd feel like I wasn't allowed here, that it was someone else's space. But this is public land." The ranger wrote a ticket for $120.

"Well, I don't use money," Suelo said. "So I can't pay this." Not only did he not use money, he had discarded his passport and driver's license. He had even discarded his legal surname, Shellabarger, in favor of Suelo, Spanish for "soil."

The ranger felt conflicted. He'd spent years chasing vandals and grave robbers through these canyons; he knew that Suelo was not harming the land. In some ways, Suelo was a model steward. The ranger offered to drive him to the next county to see a judge and resolve the citation.

The next day, these odd bedfellows, a penniless hobo and a federal law enforcer, climbed into a shimmering government-issue truck and sped across the desert. As they drove, Suelo outlined his philosophy of moneyless living while the ranger explained why he had become a land manager-- to stop people from destroying nature. "And then someone like you comes along," he said, "and I struggle with my conscience."

They arrived at the courthouse. The judge was a kindly white-haired man. "So you live without money," he drawled. "This is an honorable thing. But we live in the modern world. We have all these laws for a reason."

Suelo hears this all the time: that we're living in different times now, that however noble his values, their practice is obsolete. He even heard it once when he knocked on the door of a Buddhist monastery and asked to spend the night, and a monk informed him that rates began at fifty dollars. The Buddha himself would have been turned away, Suelo observed.

"We're living in a different age than the Buddha," he was told. But Suelo simply doesn't accept this distinction.

To the Utah judge casting about for an appropriate sentence, Suelo suggested service at a shelter for abused women and children. They agreed on twenty hours. Suelo volunteered regularly at the shelter anyway, so the punishment was a bit like sending Brer Rabbit back to the briar patch. And within a few weeks of eviction from his grand manor, he found a new cave, this time a tiny crevice where he would not be discovered.

It's tempting to conclude that Suelo's years in the wilderness have transformed him into a crusader for the earth. And clearly his lifestyle has a lower impact than virtually anybody else's in America. Without a car or a home to heat and cool, he produces hardly any carbon dioxide. Foraging for wild raspberries and spearfishing salmon has close to zero environmental cost--no production, no transportation. And although food gathered from a dumpster must be grown and processed and shipped, rescuing it from the trash actually prevents the further expenditure of energy to haul and bury that excess in a landfill.

Suelo brings into existence no bottles, cans, wrappers, bags, packaging, nor those plastic six- pack rings that you're supposed to snip up with scissors to save the seabirds. As for the benefits of pitching Coke bottles into the recycling bin-- Suelo is the guy pulling those bottles out of the bin, using them until they crack, then pitching them back. The carbon footprint of the average American is about twenty tons per year. Suelo's output is probably closer to that of an Ethiopian-- about two hundred pounds, or about one half of 1 percent of an American's.

"He wants to have the smallest ecological footprint and the largest possible impact at improving the world," says his best friend, Damian Nash. "His life goal since I met him is to take as little and give as much as possible."

That said, Suelo constantly rethinks and interprets the rules of living without money. In the spring of 2001, Suelo had his one major lapse. While staying at a commune in Georgia, wondering how he was going to get back to Utah for a friend's wedding, a most tempting and confounding piece of mail arrived: a tax return in the amount of five hundred dollars. "This experiment of having no money is on hold now," Suelo wrote in a mass email to friends and family. He cashed the check, paid the deposit on a drive- away car, and blasted across America at the wheel of a brand- new, midnight- blue, convertible Mercedes-Benz 600 sports coupe.

"What a kick it is to go from penniless hitchhiker to driving a Mercedes!" he wrote. "I got a deep breath of the southern U.S. all the way to New Mexico, riding most the way with the top down. On top of that, I get so much pleasure seeing the look on hitch-hikers' faces when a Mercedes stops for them." Later that summer he ditched the remainder of the money "because it felt like a ball and chain," and has not returned to it since.

Suelo's quest for Free Parking might be easy if he availed himself of government programs or private homeless shelters. But Suelo refuses these charities as by-products of the money system he rejects. He does, however, accept hospitality that is freely given. He has knocked on the door of a Catholic Workers house, a Unitarian church, and a Zen center, and has been offered a place to sleep. He has spent time in a number of communes, including one in Georgia where members weave hammocks to provide income, and another in Oregon where residents grow their own vegetables. In Portland, Oregon, he stays at urban squats populated by anarchists, or in communal homes that welcome transients.

Suelo is also welcomed by family, friends, and complete strangers. He has lost count of the times someone picked him up hitchhiking, then brought him home and served him a meal. A Navajo man gave his own bed to Suelo and slept on the couch, then in the morning treated him to breakfast. Through two decades in Moab, Suelo has developed a reputation as a reliable house sitter. In a town of seasonal workers who often leave home for months at a time, his services are in high demand.

Even with all the roofs offered, Suelo spends the majority of his nights outdoors. He camps in wilderness, the red rock country around Sedona, Arizona, or the Gila of New Mexico, where he spent a few weeks learning survival skills from a hermit. One summer, Suelo commandeered a piece of plastic dock that had floated down the Willamette River, in the heart of Portland, and paddled it to the brambles of the undeveloped island. "I had visions of building a cob house," he says, but that didn't pan out.

He spent another summer in the woods by Mount Tamalpais, just north of San Francisco. He dropped his pack just thirty feet from a trail and lived undetected in the heart of one of the wealthiest zip codes in America. He spent a month camped in a bird refuge on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville. Turns out there are plenty of places to sleep free in America: you just have to know where to look.

Adapted from Mark Sundeen's The Man Who Quit Money

[HT - MadConomist]

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


If we had to define Godoy Machines we would use the following words:

Education, Innovation, Function and Direction.

Lets break down the industry into groups in order to better understand the motivation behind Godoy Machines.

*A Client who needs a tattoo, well done of course but they have no artistic ability nor knowledge of how tattooing works...pain factor, technique, machine function, sterilization proceedures, time it will take to apply, care instructions...WE HAVE TO CATER TO THEM, THEY FEED US...and REGARDLESS HOW MUCH THEY ANNOY YOU, THEY DESERVE THE BEST YOU CAN GIVE THEM.

-----We tattoo daily so we understand their insecurites and needs ...we were all clients once-----

*Artists in need of products to apply the tattoo...artists of various technical and artistic levels are consumers...all of us are buying ink, needles tubes, machines and disposables/throw aways (paper towels, bandages, skin cleansers etc)...ALL THE WHILE RELYING ON THE SUPPLIER TO PROVIDE US WITH THE NECESSITIES TO APPLY THE TATTOO in an efficient, hygenic way...Some artists with all the blind faith in the world trust the suppliers to provide quality products such, especially MACHINES...Some artists are so egotistical that they will DENY any education regarding technique or machine function as they ignorantly raise their glasses to toast an obsolete generation of old men who may have "pioneered" the art of tattooing AND never advanced it. Education NEVER hurt anyone.*

---------We tattoo daily and believe in the advancement of tattooing... artistically, socially, technically... with no limits.

Tattoo by Steve

Tattoo by Art

*Suppliers who PROVIDE all these "useful" things to artists YET have NO CLUE about machine function AND whose main goal is to pull in money in order to liquidate readily available hyped products with no regard for what defines true quality...sometimes taking back used machines covered in biohazard and replacing them with a new one due to their and the clients lack of knowledge pertaining to machine function. These people come in different levels aswell...the "kit salesmen", the businessman who buys cheap Chinese machines and re-sells them, the corporate distributor who sells every machine "brand" and doesn't realize that they all look alike and have the SAME components as eachother.

-----We scrutinize all of our suppliers and have a long check list of demands and criteria they must follow in order to carry our machines...thats why Godoy Machines are hard to find in the mainstream industry...also thats why we have the best and highest quality innovative machines available to only professional tattoo artists-----

*Machine manufacturers who...

1-Don't tattoo, can barely tattoo or aren't artistically current enough to apply today's artistic demands onto skin.

2-Builders who copy eachother's recipies..derived from copying a guy who copied another guy who copied another guy...and so on for the last century...with no actual knowledge of each part assembled on the machine and its function...guided myths,superstitions AND misinformation.

3-Manufacturers/machinists who jump into this industry to profit...knowing that because its NOT REGULATED by the artists involved...they can sell to em...easy money.
It's impossible to regulate this entire industry BUT we can regulate ourselves by educating ourselves and spreading the knowledge and ethics behind what we do in order to avoid intruders selling us hyped machines or buying from egotistical "jump on the bandwagon no talent havin' machine building clowns" who truthfully are just happy that the machine makes a noise and the a-bar goes up and down....TRUTH IS: WITH MACHINE EDUCATION WE CAN BUY ANY MACHINE AND WITH SOME PRACTICE... REBUILD, RETUNE AND REFINE IT.

4-Ex tattoo artists with hyped up names whose low end products are being sold by non tattooed sales reps to tattoo artists...while they enjoy the money the hype brings em.

-----We do not support hacks in tattooing nor in machine manufacturing...we do not buy the hype and do not name drop...we are for the people, we believe everyone has the right to machine education and do not buy into the old "secret society" machine thing...the thruth is THEY NEVER KNEW MACHINE FUNCTION and STILL DON'T-----

WHO ARE YOU GONNA SUPPORT AND WHERE DO YOU FIT IN??'s a little story of an encounter this past weekend at Musink Tattoo convention...
Sittin at the Godoy Machines come 3 guys interested in our guys TELLS me, just by looking at our machines in the class cases that they look like "whip shaders" or "color packers"...I asked "WHAT ? Are you SERIOUS???"...Realizing that i had to have EXTRA PATIENCE with this guy ...i calmed down to hear him out, if anything...for entertainment value...He had one arm sleeved with new below average stuff and nothing on any other visible part of his body...i would say he barely had 3-5 years in this business unlike Art and my 27 years each. This guy claimed to be a machine builder and tried hard to compare himself and put himself at OUR LEVEL...I had to laugh and put him in his place with science, physics and FACTS...Now...whats the moral here???


There are a million clowns like him roaming around...preaching to anyone who will listen.
We all know there are tattoo artists of different artistic and experience levels out there as well as new ones comin into the industry every day...with or without apprenticeships.

Like it or not, to anyone NOT involved in tattooing, we are and will be associated with them. we are...between a rock and a hard place i would say...SO lets EDUCATE them AND ourselves in order to breed a new strong generation to stamp out the "old ignorant, irrelevant ego driven one"...sounds GOOD right???

Well...We here at Godoy Machines have laid out a business based on advancement of tattooing through INNOVATIONS on electromagnetic machines that will facilitate tattoo application and technique with Patented machine systems assembled and designed for true FUNCTION while promoting EDUACTION on this subject as WE wrote 'Tattoo Machines and Their Secrets' an industry text book available in various languages with countless benefits for any tattoo artist with little or no experience to master artists with many years under their belt ,who understand that technique and quality tattoo application comes directly from machine function...
WE teach seminars globally in order to better the industry!!!

Here we are in Italy - 140 people.

All this finally gives us our DIRECTION...

We keep innovating our machines, constantly improving their performance!! New components, features, advancements and designs... ALWAYS!!

WE teach true machine function with the ONLY TRULY EFFECTIVE SEMINAR OFFERED to ALL artists of ALL levels ALL over the world...We still tattoo AND understand an artists needs, therefore our customer service is unbeatable.

NOT for the substandard asshole.