Aaron Radin was visiting New York's Museum of Modern Art when he got to thinking about the clunky headphones rented as part of the audio tour. In the age of the iPhone, shouldn't there be a better way to get your culture? Along with a partner, Radin founded Toura, a company that provides a free programming platform to museums looking to create self-guided tours for mobile devices. Art lovers download the finished application, and Toura splits the revenue 50-50 with the museum.
Michael O'Toole was in college when he discovered that gondolas once sailed the waterways near Long Beach, Calif., in the early 20th century -- a tradition he resurrected as a business. Although the past two years have been tough, revenue this quarter is expected to return to pre-recession levels. "I'm thinking it's not so much that the economy's gotten better," he says, "but I'm marketing better, and will be stronger forevermore."
Innovations for Learning, a Chicago-area nonprofit, has grown rapidly in the past 18 months, even as funding cuts hobbled most of its peers. The foundation gets 20% of its budget from sales of TeacherMate, a hand-held device with software designed to boost literacy in English and Spanish. The devices are manufactured in China, keeping the cost to $100, and an iPhone application planned for next year should make the program even more widely available.
Every successful entrepreneur needs resolve to get through tough times, but resolve can easily turn into delusion, its "evil twin," Jay Goltz writes. Easy credit and unrealistic sales projections can feed delusions, making it harder to spot fundamental flaws in a business, he notes.
Mediocre companies sometimes let rules get in the way of customer service, columnist Steve Strauss writes. If the culture of a business encourages managers and employees to make independent decisions to satisfy customers, the business will operate better, Strauss writes.