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tv   Nightly Business Report  PBS  September 2, 2013 7:00pm-7:31pm PDT

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this is "nightly business report" with tyler mathisen and susie gharib brought to you by. >> sailing through the heart of historic cities and landscapes on a river, you get close to iconic landmarks, to local life, to cultural treasures, viking river cruises, exploring the world in comfort. good evening everyone and welcome to a special edition of "nightly business report." i'm susie gharib. you'll be hearing from tyler mathisen throughout the program. well, today is labor day and fittingly the biggest economic event this week will be the jobs report and while the forecast is for hiring, the u.s. unemployment rate is sitting at the lowest level in more than four years. that's the gad neood news, the there are millions of americans out of work after the recession.
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it's no wonder more and more people are trying their hand at starting their own business. after all, there are more than 28 million small businesses in the u.s., many starting from a simple thought. tonight, we want to highlight a few of these bright ideas and show you how some entrepreneurs followed different paths to get from concept to reality and we'll be joined by an expert to give tips on how to get your business started and how to tell fur if your bright idea will be successful. the ideal way is to not worry about risk. we're not that lucky but we begin tonight with someone able to chuck it all, quitting a lucktive job to create games, word games and done so well making well into six figures these days that there is a good chance you're familiar with his work. in fact, it's not too big of a
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stretch. >> if everyone agrees, everyone has to agree. >> reporter: who looks for puzzled? david hoist or these fifth-graders? if your answer is david, that's okay. his specialty isn't solving puzzles, it's making them. >> i have become the most inindicated puzzle maker in the world. >> reporter: starting at 4:00 a.m. every day he has the icon of puzzles in more than 600 newspapers, reaching about 32 million people every single day. when he's done, there are about 13 others to piece together. >> i have word round up in usa today, up and downwards in usa today. >> reporter: not bad for a high school dropout who never went to college. he traded options in chicago, did pretty well, but it left him puzzled about his future. he notice add friend was inventing games and making money from it. >> i decided i'm going to quit my job. i'm going to save up a little
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money and instantly become successful. well, that didn't quite work out. >> reporter: he tried peddling this game and that between part-time jobs for four long years. it was a struggle but his cup is half full attitude paid off. >> if i had been successful on my first run i would have thought i was smarter than i was. i needed no and why. >> reporter: in 1996 he brought a word game into tribune media services, hoping to mary it to the brand. they bit and thumped it into jumbo plus but that was the beginning my brain thought wow, if they are willing to do this, maybe how about jumbo crosswords, brain busters. >> reporter: it's no wounder the vp is one of hoit's big fest fans. >> i don't knl't know anyone the as many versions as he has.
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>> reporter: in 2011 he took over the original when his predecessor retires to breathe new life into a brand that the been around since the mid 50s. he also developed word games for word winder, where players aimed to string words all the way across the bored. over beers at an english pub on chicago's north side he and several friends polished a game they say sold in the tens of thousands since it came out last year. at about 20 bucks each. >> people have to work together -- >> reporter: the cross room version, that bright idea belongs to an illinois schoolteacher that saw their demo last fall. now hoit and his team are obsessed with finding a way to manufacture it at a cost schools can afford. it's a puzzle yet to be solved. >> it costs $800 to make. teachers demanded we do this, because they are not taking no for an answer and the kids just love it. so now we have to do this.
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>> well on tests across the country, teachers have given them a big thumbs up. they have gone the kick starter route to raise money and looking for private investors to get the giant game made. sometimes life causes you to take drastic measures like steve richardson born after he lost his job he taught himself how to design and cut wooden jigsaw puzzles. putting the pieces together finds new, ingenius and devilish ways to keep his fans guessing. >> here is a 1-inch. they fit side by side. man, do we get some nasty phone calls about that. it drives them nuts. >> reporter: a customer complaint usually means business is good for steve richardson. >> they pay me to drive them crazy. >> reporter: he's the self-proclaimed tormentor and chief at northeastern vermont. >> i can easily design a puzzle
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they can't do. well, they won't buy any more so i can't totally crush them. >> reporter: stav is steve and dave, dave tibbits designed games and puzzles after being laid off in 1969. for five years they struggled until one phone call changes things. >> when we got the call from this wealthy person, he said these guys are out of business and i need a puzzle. >> reporter: hi didne didn't kn to cut wood but knew an opportunity. they got lucky. >> averaged $50,000 a year for 20 years. bingo. we hit the lottery. >> reporter: richardson bought his partner out for all of $1 a few years later. they are still good friends and richardson is still keeping customers, well, puzzled. >> that drives them nuts. >> reporter: by the 1980s he became known for trick puzzles.
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>> instead of a right angle piece to work, we split it like that. there is the fake one there. we got bored and the customer gets bored, like the fox and the hound. we have to keep one step ahead of them. >> staying ahead of the puzzlers is no easy trick. among them, the gates family, the bush family and the royal family. >> mrs. bush was our currier. we got a nice note back from the queen who appreciated it. >> reporter: designing, painting and cutting labor intensive. no two puzzles are the same. it can take a year, sometimes more to train the master wood cutters. >> we sell about, roughly, 3600 puzzles a year. >> reporter: not bad when they go for anywhere from 750 to $7500 a puzzle. sometimes even more. >> in the last set, it went for $20,000. hundred sets of a $20,000 puzzle, that's like wow. >> reporter: back in the day richardson couldn't pay to print
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pictures on the box. now he jokes with a smirk that would be too much of a hint for the victim, or customers. instead it features the logo, the clown and each puzzle as one clown piece. >> david came up with that. it's brilliant. we're the court jesters in people's lives. >> reporter: sometimes that clown is a wild card, a joker, bending the minds of puzzlers everywhere. >> i think they will figure it out, it's obvious. they didn't. so then we put a little sign under the clown that says sometimes i just don't fit in. >> back in 1999 that $20,000 set of five puzzles was selling for a mere $14,500. that was good enough to put it in the guinness book of world records. nerd looked at which cities are the most
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welcoming for small businesses. some of the factors the company looked at were local taxes, growth rates and of course, regulatory environment. here is the top ten, san jose, charlotte, indianapolis. san antonio, houston and baltimore came in two through five and the top city is austin, texas and it's interesting that four of the top five are in texas. meanwhile, new york, l.a. and san francisco were all near the bottom. when we come back, we'll introduce you to a man whose making money by making the point. it's been said if you can
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dream it, you can do it and a pencil and a dream can take you anywhere. well, as brian tells us, one man is really taking this to heart and making it pay off. >> want to do it with a knife? that scars me a little bit. that's good. that's a good sign. >> reporter: sharp whit and pen pencils have been good to david reese. lucrative hobby, part time job run like a business. sound crazy? listen closely, there are methods and a little madness. >> i was a professional cartoonest, which is amazing and i was lucky but once it was my job it couldn't be fun and i stopped liking it and i quit.
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>> reporter: he took a temp job knocking on doors with the u.s. census burro. his kit is a pencil and sharpener. >> you don't use this anymore? >> no, it's there for historical purposes. >> reporter: when he realized he liked sharpening pencils, he had an idea. >> people would send them to me to be sharpened, they would use them and resharpen them and over the life of the pencil, i would make like $300. >> reporter: he launched a website, $15 for pencils, including shipping, the shavings and a signed certificate but not long before reese had to erase the business plan. >> you find it ironic that most people buy them and don't use them? >> yeah, i mean, frankly, it has been a complete refutation of the model. they keep it in the business tube like artwork.
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>> reporter: he sold about 1600 pencils thin three years. >> it was a shift. it made sense. not like i did a good job sharpening the pencil, the real value is i was the guy that people paid to sharpen a pencil. it becomes like very conception l like a snake eating its own tail. >> reporter: reese is particular about his pencils. remember these? reese says generals are the last number 2s made in america, jersey city, new jersey. he over analyzes the simple act of sharpening a pencil, a point he makes not book and teaching. >> i'm enjoying it. >> that's why everyone says you have to be mindful of the weird thing that you've always done without thinking about it. you're trying to achieve certain idea you have in mind. >> reporter: an idea in the valley where lots of people sell food and wine they call
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aradvertise nil. >> it's like a marketing decision. that's how you convince people to spend $40 on a jar of pickles, or whatever. >> reporter: he's charging just as much, almost, $35 a pencil. >> this is what i love about my job. >> living the dream, man. living the dream. >> this is my pencil. this type of business seems like a fit for reese. he studied psychology in college. another entrepreneur making a different point from the heart following her life-long passion for dancing, one new york city woman is proving there is no business like shoe business. >> reporter: for years ballerinas suffered the agony of the feet. >> initial burning from the
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blisters and throbs. >> reporter: they remember turning in pain, as well. >> coming down from a jump and all of a sudden having it hurt and hearing a cloud noise changed the experience of class for me. >> reporter: she was shocked to see ballet companies spend thousands of dollars on shoes that wore out after one performance. so she decided to take matters into her hands. >> i bought a pair of every brand of point shoes available and cut them open with a saw and i couldn't believe what i found inside. none of them had modern materials and one had a toe made from newspapers and i couldn't believe they were expected to perform in this equipment. >> reporter: she spent eight years developing a patented, high-tech point shoe. they launched the company in 1993 but despite the comfort and durability, they were not an
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instant success. >> ballet is a very traditional art. there was a scandal the first time a ballerina wore a tutu on stage. so while some embraced from the beginning, others needed to be convinced. >> reporter: to win over the hearts and souls of prima ba ballerin ballerinas. claire davidson is an apprentice. >> they are comfortable, consistent and look really nice and i feel like they really compliment my work and point work and feel really good in them. >> reporter: the shoes retail for $115 a pair. while some dancers favor traditional brands like capizzo, christi has been wearing these since she was 15. >> you have a lot of choreography to remember walking out on stage, and the last thing you want to worry about is if
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your shoe will break. does it fit right? does it look right? will it last throughout the entire ballet? to have that peace of mind for me is key. >> reporter: the shoes are made in a solar powered factory in lawrence, massachusetts. most of her sales staff is in new york city. >> almost everybody who works here is a former or current dancer, so we know how to speak to customers and dance teachers in their terms and language. >> reporter: today the shoes are shipped to 86 countries and dance companies. up double digits nearly every year. two decades after launching her company, eliza measures success not just in dollars but in feet. >> mindon is courting a new generation of prima ballerinas. she introduced a mini line for kids. >> coming up, we'll talk to a small business expert about what it takes to make your i -- ideas
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come to fruition. they got cooking and surrounded by the sweet smell of success. their bright idea is next. by now you're probably thinking how you can make money by turning one of your bright ideas into a business. our guest tonight helps people to do just that. john jance is the founder of duck tape markets. hi, john, welcome to the show. you know, a lot of people
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watching these inspiring stories are probably thinking i got an idea and i can turn that into a business, and some work and some don't work. what is the magic formula to turn an idea into reality? >> well, i think one of the interesting things about really all four of these pieces was the people were really passionate about the idea. it was something they were interested in that they felt was fun and that they wanted to pursue. that part you really can't overlook. so often times people think here is a way to make a whole bunch of money. i think almost every single one of these people said here is a way i can make a difference or pursue something i'm really interested in and that is so key. >> they also want to make the money. >> you bet. >> and you need money to turn an idea into a successful business. so how do you go about to get the money and get the financing? >> well, i think that today it's gotten even harder in someways to say here is my business plan, i want to be financed. i think the best way to really
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go about it and particularly if you don't want to risk everything to start off, is to really spend time discovering is there a demand for what you do? is there a customer? do you need to tweak it or change it or alter it in someway so you really get a little momentum to the point where you can actually demonstrate. there are people that want this idea. there are people willing to pay for this idea and now i want to scale it. you mentioned kick starter or one of the programs mentioned kick starter. they are really today some pretty incredible ways to fund things. so many people now are coming one ideas where there is a small maybe kind of fringe community that loves that idea, and now they have the ability to actually fund it $5 a person. >> and that's -- even though you have no track record of running a business or starting a business, you can get the money? >> well, certainly. i think it will be a little harder if you try to show up at a bank and say here is what i want. some angel investors, the programs like kick starter, the
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crowd sourcing, or crowd funding options, really a lot of times you're looking for people in love with your idea as much as you are. the pencil person is a great, great example. there are people if you took that idea to a bank they would laugh you out of the place, but there are people out there that love that fringe idea and now, because of everything going online you can reach those people. >> you know, for all of the successes we've been talking about, there are thousands and thousands of failures that companies just don't make it. what is the common mistake? >> the biggest thing is fall in love with the idea. they hatch the plan and say here is what the business will be and go out there and just try to force it, if you will, down people's throats and you really have to be willing to discover what is going to work. every single one of your example
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s or case studies, they went out with an initial idea but the business didn't turn out being what the initial idea was because they listened to market. they figured out what would sell, what people wanted and the common term now is pivot. they pivoted their business to really meet what the actual demand was. >> john, is this a good time to start a business? we see so often all the reports we do on our program about a weak economy, is this a good time? >> i think if you wait for the economy to be certain, you may wait the rest of your life. it's such a great time because the risk is so low in someways because of everything that's gone on that is going on online with all the tools that are low cost and free and the ability to access markets and networks globally really for no cost has really made it so easy for you to at least test an idea without really having to, you know,
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mortgage your house to do so. so i think today right now is a brilliant, brilliant time to start a business. >> you gave us a lot to think about. thank you so much john. founder of duck tape marketing. finally tonight, when you run your own business, the goal is to bring home the bacon. well, a couple of hungry entrepreneurs set out to do that, and now they are making a big impact in fancy foods. >> reporter: impressing the big buyers is what it's all about at new york's summer fancy foods show. more than 2,000 of those buyers sampling 180,000 plus products from all over the world, some familiar. >> this is the -- >> this is the original -- >> reporter: some not. all looking to catch the right wave. >> smoke it, we grind it. >> organic. >> low sodium. gluten free. >> usa grown. >> reporter: hungry for a shot at the big time?
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better make sure you have the stomach for it. >> we really didn't have any idea what we were doing. my first business failed. >> was it easy? >> i got run over by a truck. >> reporter: prior experience can help, but it's no requirement. >> i was selecting real estate locations for national retailers. >> i was an attorney. >> i started in art school. >> started making it in my kitchen. >> it was pretty ghetto to begin with. >> reporter: and d'anglo? >> inclusive baby back, backed and ready to go for expect tablet mothers. >> reporter: until a trip to austria brought back memories of the pumpkin seed oil she tried as a teenager. >> they use it on everything, in lieu of butter, subpoenas, every single night we would have a pumpkin seed oil sunday. >> reporter: so she had some shipped home to massachusetts and sold some out of her trunk to gourmet food shops.
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about seven months later she met ian johnson at the fancy food show. he saw her. his bright idea, a full line of seed oils. >> spicy, that's got a kick. >> reporter: the rising star, cherry seed oil. >> it was a risk, unusual. >> reporter: after it hit the market in january, they called it a hot trend for summer. the cherry seed oil was named an award finalist, specialty outstanding food invasion. >> this is the oscars of the food industry, like being nominated for best actor and picture. >> reporter: it's a big deal because it can lead to big deals. there is a consensus of sorts on this. >> it's been validated by a whole bunch of retailer whose voted on it. >> it validates the product. >> just a great validation. >> it's really validating. >> and the award goes to l
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los chiliros. >> reporter: winning the award for best oil is the best publicity money can't buy and if there were an award for celebrating an award, d'anglo and johnson might win that, too. >> yay, we got it. >> reporter: and you already know what else they might be thinking. >> it validates what we believe and what we've been telling everybody. >> we're on a roll. >> already writing orders. >> the sugars have certainly been able to cut the mustard with their oil. they are cutting williams-sonoma and whole foods among their customers. this will do it for this labor day edition of "nightly business report." thanks for watching. have a great evening everyone and tyler and i will see you right back here tomorrow night.
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nightly business report has been brought to you by. >> sailing through the heart of historic cities and landscapes on a river you get close to iconic landmarks, cultural treasures, viking river cruises, exploring the world in comfort. 
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