With recent economic stability, American entrepreneurship is alive and well. This is especially true for
baby boomers, or those born between 1946 and 1964. They make up 24% of all new entrepreneurs, a
higher percentage than millennials, the largest demographic group.
Many baby boomers start a new business to supplement their income or to stay active by doing
something they love. Additional contributing factors may be the IT revolution, which has made it easier
to be an entrepreneur, not to mention the 2008 financial crisis, which has forced them to reassess their
retirement plan. Baby boomers aim to earn $50,000 – $75,000 annually, often running a one-person
business with a flexible schedule.
Many of the entrepreneurships launched by those over 55 are lifestyle businesses based on their
hobbies or passion for traveling. One such example is American Musical Furniture, which has established
its reputation among guitar lovers. It was founded in 2013 by Darrell Jennings and his brothers-in- law in
the suburb of Philadelphia. Mr. Jennings himself is a guitar aficionado, who has played the instrument
for many years and has collected numerous guitars. The company specializes in building cabinets to
store collectible guitars that have increased in value over the past 50 years. (Some are worth over
$100,000.) All the materials they use are made in America.
According to American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), more than 75% of baby boomers have a
part-time or full-time job. For some of them, using their passion and experience to launch a new
venture has become a new type of retirement plan.
The American pet industry has continued to grow in recent years. According to Pet Sitters International (PSI),
the industry generated $332 million in 2014. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) estimates the total U.S. pet industry expenditure to be $62.75 billion in 2016, a 4% increase since last year.
Among all pets, dogs are the most popular, owned by 54.4 million households. While many owners consider their dogs to be family members, they often encounter situations where they need to find a reliable dog sitter right away, because of an unexpected meeting or business trip.
The Seattle-based Rover and the Los Angeles-based Wag! offer innovative services, connecting dog lovers with dog sitters instantly through their database. These companies allow pet owners to input detailed information, such as where they live, when their dogs need to be cared for, their dogs’characteristics and what to do when walking them. The website then lists potential sitters that match the owners’ criteria, along with the sitters’ past experiences and reviews by other pet owners, making it easier to decide on a suitable sitter.
At Rover, the fee for an overnight dog sitter in New York City starts at $35; a 30-minute dog walker starts at $20. This past August, Rover.com, the leading American company in the industry which operates Rover, introduced an app that provides instant notifications. Pet owners can receive updates from the sitters about their dogs, or where and for how long they have been walking.
These pet care companies offer convenience and peace of mind to busy professional men and women who are willing to spend any amount of money for their precious pets.
Exercising to strengthen one’s mind and body while also reducing stress is now part of everyday life, especially for the millennials, those born between 1980s and early 2000s. According to 2014 data, the fitness industry in the U.S. has annual sales of over 24.2 billion dollars with 34,000 fitness clubs across the nation.
Among the lifestyle businesses, the fitness industry is known for constantly creating new trends. In the past, you joined a gym by paying the initiation fee, then monthly fees. Or, if you were interested in a particular class, you bought a DVD and exercised at home. However, in the past few years, online and ondemand fitness services have been on the rise, completely overturning the industry’s traditional business model. With these new services, you don’t need to take the time to go to the gym. Instead, you can use any of your digital devices, whether it be a computer, tablet, or smartphone, and work out wherever you want, whenever you want.
Ondemand services are particularly popular among the millennials. Seeking to attract this age group – who also make up a quarter of the American population – thousands of classes are made available online for a fee, or free of charge. The New Yorkbased Crunch Gym, which was founded in 1989, has 155 fitness centers and 400,000 members nationwide. In addition to their workout facilities, the company offers many online programs, including yoga, aerobics and spin classes, which can be accessed in 30 countries. These classes are available to members free of charge, and to nonmembers for a monthly fee of $9.99.
The competition among fitness clubs is becoming fiercer. The success of each company depends on how attractive their class offerings are. We are beginning to witness the fitness business transforming into a type of media business providing new contents.
Death Wish Coffee Co (http://www.deathwishcoffee.com) roasts, blends, and sells what they claim to be the world’s strongest coffee. The company was created in 2012 in upstate New York. The founder, Mike Brown, worked for the New York State before buying a local café and starting his own business. Hearing everyday from many of his java-loving customers that they wanted a stronger cup of coffee, he spent a few years developing his own blend, and switched his business focus to manufacturing and sales, with a provocative brand name, “Death Wish.”
Death Wish coffee contains twice the caffeine of regular coffee. Their artisan roast, which uses a blend of organically grown and fair-trade coffee beans, is available for purchase online, either as whole beans or ground coffee. Prices range from $19.99 for a one-pound package to $79.99 for a five-pound package.
Death Wish Coffee was also the winner of “Small Business Big Game,” a competition that Intuit, a company that develops accounting and financial software, has been organizing since 2014 under the brand name, QuickBooks. This competition, which targets small and medium-sized businesses, is based on fan votes. The winner is awarded a chance to put on a free TV commercial during the Super Bowl, which is well known for recording the highest ratings every year. A 30-second air time for this year’s Super Bowl on February 7 was approximately $5 million.
Beating out 15,000 companies that entered the competition, Death Wish Coffee got the incredible opportunity to advertise to a total of 111 million viewers. After the Super Bowl, the company’s sales doubled, and requests from supermarkets and gourmet shops have been non-stop. Most of Death Wish Coffee fans are men, especially those who work late at night. Their deep loyalty to the world’s strongest coffee helped the company collect the largest number of votes, which led to its latest success.
In the past few years, subscription based wine clubs have been gaining popularity. A new type of wine club was launched in October 2015 by Turner Classic Movies (TCM), the cable television network and subsidiary of Time Warner.
Founded in 1994 by Ted Turner, TCM airs movies mostly made in the 1930s to 1950s, the Golden Age of Hollywood. With its original and ingenious film editing and programs, the network is treasured by fans of classic movies, from the young to the experienced.
What makes TCM Wine Club unique is that it combines wine and lifestyle, offering a selection of wine with movie themes. The curator is from Wines That Rock, a company noted for producing an original blend of wine inspired by the music of the Grateful Dead to celebrate the rock band’s fiftieth anniversary.
One of TCM Wine Club’s featured bottles is “Café Zoetrope,” a unique blend of red wine created by Francis Ford Coppola. The famous director of The Godfather film series is also known as a passionate wine lover. After purchasing a winery in California’s Napa Valley in 1975, he has been producing high-quality wine, achieving great success.
Every three months, members receive a total of 12 bottles of red and white wine selected from vineyards around the world. As an introductory offer, the first delivery ($79.99) includes three additional bottles. Subsequent shipments are $149.95 for every quarter. Each case comes with information about the wine delivered as well as movie recommendations and food recipes to pair with the wine. As a member, you can input your favorite wine on the club’s website, and they will customize your future delivery to suit your taste.
TCM Wine Club is a new creative venture that helps to enrich our experience with wine and movies.
Published in Nikkei Sangyo Shinbun, September 18, 2015
In the past few years, online food delivery business has been on the rise. One company that caters to foodies — those with a passion and refined taste for food — is Caviar (http://www.trycaviar.com). It partners with some of the top restaurants that do not offer their own delivery service, or popular places that have a long waiting time, such as those managed by celebrity chefs like Daniel Boulud.
Caviar was founded in San Francisco in 2012. Its business expanded after securing some major investors, including the founder of Twitter. It now operates in 16 major cities, including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. Services in Manhattan began in late 2014 and in Brooklyn this year.
The delivery fee, which ranges from $1.99 to $5.99, depends on the distance between the restaurant and the location to which the food is being delivered. There is an additional service charge (18% of the entire order), but no tip is required.
Customers can look for food items they desire by searching on Caviar’s website, which has lush enticing photographs, all carefully shot by professionals specializing in food photography. A wide range of cuisines are available, from American, Italian, Chinese to Thai, Indian, and Mexican. In New York City, the three most popular cuisines are Chinese, Southern BBQ, and Mexican. Japanese ramen has also been receiving good reviews. It was reported that cold ramen, or hiyashi chuka, was popular this summer.
Caviar has developed a special software to deal with logistics. This software enables customers to receive status updates on their order, from the time it is placed to the time it arrives. The company employs freelance couriers — on a bike, motorcycle, or car — for delivery. These couriers are compensated for the number of deliveries they make and the distance they travel. This arrangement gives them the incentive to provide fast service so they can maximize the number of orders they complete.
Since this past June, Caviar has been in partnership with Fastbite, a company that delivers meals from nearby restaurants for less than $15 within 15 minutes. This service is available in San Francisco and New York. It targets those who value time, and are therefore willing to pay for speed and convenience.
In the past few years, on-demand streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu, have radically changed the way Americans watch movies and television programs. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of people who subscribe to these services, which offer affordability, flexibility, and convenience. Joining this rapidly growing industry is Curiosity Stream, a subscription video on-demand service, which was launched on March 18 this year. It specializes in streaming documentary programs, attracting viewers who are attuned to informational and educational content.
Because media services that generate income through advertisement often feature highly entertaining content, they provide fewer documentary programs, such as those about science or nature. Yet, according to a study conducted by Curiosity Stream, approximately 25% of TV viewers are interested in non-fictional content, with documentaries being their main interest.
To meet those needs, Curiosity Stream was created by John Hendricks, the founder and former president of the Discovery Channel. After retiring from the world’s largest documentary channel, which he had started thirty years ago, Mr. Hendricks came up with the idea of creating a company that could essentially become the online Discovery Channel./
Curiosity Stream offers over 1000 titles, largely documentary programs on science, history, and technology. For now, most of these titles have been licensed from other content providers, such as BBC and NHK, but the company is also in the process of producing its original short 7-10 minute programs called “Curiosity World.”
Subscription starts at $2.99 a month for standard resolution, $5.99 for high-definition content, and $9.99 for 4K video. Since viewers can watch as many programs as they want for a flat fee, it is a great deal for documentary fans, who range from young people to stay-at-home mothers keen on educating their children.
When asked about the difference between CuriosityStream and other streaming services, the company’s president, Elizabeth Hendricks North, has said: “Because our company specializes in documentaries and factual entertainment programs, we can insert detailed tags for all the contents, and allow viewers to perform a detailed search on them.” The company plans to expand its business outside the U.S. this year, starting mainly with other English-speaking countries.
Published in Nikkei Sangyo Newspaper, March 13, 2015
Securing an affordable office space is an arduous task in New York City, where rent continues to
be pricey. Even after finding a good space, the complicated process of negotiating the lease,
moving, installing furniture and telecommunication equipment requires a massive amount of time
and cost. Moreover, many entrepreneurs, especially those only a few years into their business, do
not want to be constrained by a commercial office lease, which usually runs for a minimum of five
In the past few years, sharingeconomy businesses, such as the homesharing company, Airbnb,
and the transportation network company, Uber, have been a huge success. This business model
is also used by companies providing attractive shared workspaces with flexible conditions, which
are becoming popular among young entrepreneurs.
New Yorkbased The Yard is a leading figure in this business. Since opening its first coworking
space in 2011 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, it now operates in four locations with the fifth one
scheduled to open in midtown this summer. (The photograph is from its space near Lincoln
Available office spaces range from individual desks to large suites for 15 persons. The most in-
demand are 34 person office suites. Monthly rates are $225 for a personal desk space, and $800
for a 1person private office suite. The rent includes various amenities, such as utilities, high-
speed Internet connection, and use of a kitchen and conference room. Leases can be renewed
The Yard, along with other companies, like WeWork, similarly servicing shared workspaces,
provides benefits to its members. These include taking care of administrative tasks and offering
discounted health care. They also partner with nearby restaurants and hold wine tasting events to
help members network and build a working community that is comfortable and convenient.
We can expect to see more and more of these real estate services offering reasonablypriced and
easytouse shared work spaces for startups and creators wanting to focus on their business.
Frozen food is a staple of American life. It is said that the industry has an annual revenue of approximately $50 billion, and that on average Americans eat 71 frozen food products a year. Yet despite its popularity, frozen food is also considered to be low or ordinary in taste and not as nutritious as fresh foods.
Babeth's Feast (babethsfeast.com) defies these stereotypes about frozen food. It is America's first all-frozen food store that specializes in French cuisine. The store, which opened in New York City this past summer, offers a total of about 360 gourmet products in ten different categories, including French-style breakfast, pastries, bread, hors d'oeuvres, appetizers, soup, main courses, and desserts.
The company's owner, Elisabeth de Kergorlay, has been a fan of frozen food. Her home country, France, has long since embraced frozen products thanks to the development of flash freezing techniques that help to preserve foods' original taste and nutritional value. After moving to New York, Ms. de Kergorlay launched her business, realizing the need among its busy residents for high-quality frozen products that could be ready in little to no time for daily meals and occasional parties.
Popular products are beef bourguignon ($25, serves 3-4) and potage ($6, serves 2). There are also fancy gourmet lobster dishes for those who want to host dinner parties at home ($35-50, serves 2-3). While many of the desserts and bread sold at the store are supplied by other companies, most of the main dishes have been created by chefs at Babeth's Feast, who are constantly developing original recipes to suit American taste. In addition, the modern-looking store has a kitchen, and offers various events to help educate New Yorkers about the tastiness of their products.
As its economy starts to show signs of recovery, New York continues to see the emergence of businesses introducing a new food culture and offering high-end services.
Manhattan’s Flatiron district is the center for IT and new media companies, a neighborhood where one sees many young people in their 20s and 30s. Here, a chic-looking and technology-driven medical clinic opened in November last year. It is One Medical Group’s sixth office in New York City.
One Medical Group was founded in 2007 by Tom Lee, a physician and a startup entrepreneur. With a focus on establishing a better physician-patient relationship, the company provides membership-based primary care services. Starting in San Francisco, it now has 27 clinics in various cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, New York and Washington DC.
Most family doctors who specialize in internal medicine have private practices, and have been slow at digitizing patient care, still using paper charts to keep medical records. Because of this, operating costs increase every year, and to meet these costs, doctors see an average of 25 to 40 patients a day. As a result, physicians end up spending less time with their patients, leaving many of them unsatisfied with their visits.
By contrast, at One Medical Group, doctors see 15 to 16 patients a day. The company makes full use of technology to limit its fixed cost and improve the efficiency of its physicians and staff members. Patients can use smartphone apps to make same-day appointments and receive test results through email. If they have any questions, they can contact their doctors directly through email as well.
The annual membership in NYC costs $200. Members can visit One Medical Group’s clinics in other cities so they can see a doctor even when they get sick on a business trip.
So far One Medical Group has succeeded in securing $117 million in venture capital, and aims to expand its business across the nation. The company’s rapid growth and the attention it has received from the media reflect how strongly Americans are longing for a new type of medical service that looks forward to the future.