Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More shameless pleas for input

Ok, informal survey. My entrepreneurship group has hit a wall. Our super-brilliant airport terminal fitness center came out with a thumbs-down at the feasibility analysis stage, so we need to proceed with something different. Since we have a good deal of research on the airport concessionaire industry, we want to make use of it and keep the business plan within an airport terminal. But what do airport terminals need that they don't already have? More to the point, what will airport travelers pay for that isn't already available?

Following are some ideas we brainstormed. Which of them do you think you would be most likely to actually spend a buck or two on? If one strikes you as interesting (i.e. you would actually stop and walk into the store), how could we improve it? What would make the sell?

Thanks for any thoughts you have.

  • Virtual Golf Arcade--Grab a club, and step onto the astroturf. You can work on that swing before you get to your destination. Or if you're more talk than game, pick up a golf mag and gloves and brag about the last course you played over a beer.
  • Urban Nomad Video Gaming Center--Looking for a diversion? Here you can test drive the latest and greatest in gaming innovation, whether it's XBOX, Nintendo, or computer games. Challenge your travel buddies to a Dance Dance Revolution competition, try out the Wii, or ally with complete strangers in a World of Warcraft battle on a 40" flat screen. Oh, and if you can't tear yourself away from the awesomeness, we do sell the games too.
  • Urban Nomad Backpacker's Guide Shop--American travel more than any other nationality. And with rising gas prices and compressed schedules, the e-boarding pass is quickly replacing the RV. Just like the US highway system, the airport terrain has its own character and challengers. The Urban Nomad is here to help. Here you can pick up travel books for where you're going, "trail guides" to individual airports (complete with advice on the local wildlife), nifty travel essentials for the backpack-and-jeans road warrior, and even licensed shirts and pins for each airport to advertise how well-traveled you are.
  • Airportchat.com--Ever run into people in the airport you already know? Why make those encounters chance? With Airportchat.com you can log in and see who is in the same airport you're in, message them, and arrange to meet up for a drink. You can even meet someone new--hey, you've got an hour anyway! If you're thinking ahead, you can log in when you book the trip and see if anyone you know will be in the airports on your itinerary at the same time. Or if you're looking to meet someone with particular characteristics (say, a venture capitalist), you could even arrange to sit next to such a person on one of your flights (provided that person is also registered on our site).
  • Sleep Station--The "coffin hotels" in Tokyo aren't just cool in Japan. Ever see people waiting for flights crashed out on those awful vinyl chairs or the floor (gross!) in the terminal? Ever been one of those people? Wouldn't you rather have a private capsule, complete with pillow, blanket, and luggage compartment? I/O psychologists have been telling us for years that cat naps during the day make us more productive. I'm a fan. Rents by the half-hour.
  • 7-11 style mini mart-The idea here is normal, non-airport prices and high volume. Basic toiletries, medicines, bottled drinks, and such at the prices you're used to seeing outside security. Why doesn't this already happen? We have no idea.
  • Health food/Juice Bar--Good all-natural foods and smoothies. Not really feeling a greasy burger and soda? Starbucks have too many calories? Vegan diet cutting down on your options? Clear your mind and reach for the protein powder and soy. For dining-in or packaged to-go for a easy unmessy meal on the plane.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

For fun, there's been a bit of a kerfuffle over Bob Jones III's public endorsement of a presidential candidate yesterday. No one I know can remember a time when the university ever explicitly endorsed a candidate (though who are we kidding), and they aren't claiming to now. They came out with a statement not long after Dr. Bob's disclaiming that he spoke for the university. I'm not sure that anyone heard or believes the "personal opinion" line, but they tried, I guess.

So now alumni are mad, either because he endorsed a candidate, or because he endorsed Mitt Romney. The media are having a heyday. And who knows what this will do to Mitt in the polls (if anything).

I myself am a bit chagrined that Dr. Bob publicly endorsed a candidate, but I can't say it really changes much for me. If people want to attribute my alma mater's "media issues" to me, a Romney endorsement is really the least of my worries. I have to say I am a little surprised at Dr. Bob's choice of candidates. I wouldn't really have expected him to choose a Mormon who rides the center over Huckabee out of blatant pragmatism (just gotta have someone who can beat Hillary? Really?). I haven't decided yet whom I favor for the election, but I doubt this endorsement will have much effect on my decision.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Continuing obsession

Did you know they make bike saddlebags that have cup holders!? Now I can have my morning workout AND my morning coffee. Can life get better? I submit that it canNOT!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Going green

A few weeks ago, I got this weird little itch to get a bike. Well, the itch didn't go away, and I did in fact procure a bike. It's a mountain/street bike hybrid Schwinn I got for about $180 at Target. I'm happy to report that I LOVE it. I've ridden it to school, to work downtown, and I'm about to take it over to the mall (which is a much shorter bike ride than it is a car drive, due to weird road layout and traffic lights). At school the student parking lot is a 10-minute walk from the law school. Downtown, I have to park at least 3 blocks away from the building where I work. And I've discovered that a lot of stores around here, like my school and work, have bike racks right next to the entrance. I had never noticed them before.

I'm not ready to pitch the car just yet--the bike isn't always a feasible mode of transportation. Church is still a little far away, and I like to dress up a little more for church. Also, this town (like many) is not well-designed for biking, once you get more than a block away from Notre Dame. The road I live on is narrow, and has no shoulders and no sidewalks and quite a lot of traffic, so I don't like to ride on it at night. And then there are school days when I need to carry more books than fit in my bag, or a French horn for rehearsal--a little awkward to balance on the handlebars.

But overall, great investment. I get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, less frustration with parking, less gas expense, and am developing some impressive muscle tone in my legs. Oh, and I love the smug feeling I get when I jet past a long line of cars at a stoplight. I plan to keep it up until it snows.
And since I'm outside with my camera, here's my herb garden. The tall stuff is sweet basil (GREAT on chicken), and there's some mint, sage, and catnip. The basil got a little nipped by frost night before last, but no serious damage. I'll probably have to bring it in soon.
And this is my kitty, who is a bit miffed that he is not allowed outside and thinks I should bring him a catnip leaf as consolation.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Happy Help a Grad Student Day!

For entrepreneurship I am working in a team that is developing a business plan to open small health clubs inside airport terminals. We want the clubs to be inside security and open to the public. They would have locker rooms and showers, some cardio-type equipment, and bottled health drinks and prepackaged food. We originally envisioned a full juice bar, but space constraints may make that very difficult, and it’s a completely different kind of business that we aren’t sure we want to tackle in one semester. We’ll sit on that idea for later.

You ask, “How can I help?” I’m SO glad you asked! You can go to our short and simple online survey and take it. Market research is essential to our success, both in having a good business plan, and in convincing our professor that we have a good business plan. So go take it! Tell all your friends to take it! (Just don’t take it more than once. That will skew our results.)

Thank you, and have a good day.

UPDATE: I got reports that there were problems with the survey. It's fixed now. Thanks for the reports. You can go back and take the survey now.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Moralistic comic of the day

Sometimes I think this is kinda like a lot of welfare legislation. We invite them to partake in the nation's wealth and criticize them for not taking up the offer, all the while not recognizing that they don't have the tools to even get to the party. A tad cynical, perhaps.

Here's a link to the original, if this is too small to read.