Category Archives: Business Ideas

Top 3 of 25 Student Entrepreneurs

This past few weeks has been an exciting blur. I recently had the opportunity to participate in the Utah Student 25 Event, where David Kasteler and I placed in Utah’s top 3 student entrepreneurs. Third place isn’t bad for a true social venture to place in a competition like this.

I expect to see more social ventures show up in the future…

It was a lot of fun to see the businesses that were represented there. It was a spectacular event with addresses from the Governor, Steve Gibson, (I’m a big fan of that social entrepreneur), Josh James, and others.

Again congratulations to first and second placers, Taylor Turnbull and Craig Guincho. Both emerging business leaders in the beehive state!
I want to thank everyone who supported and cheered for Worldwide Book Drive!

If it wasn’t for everyone else who made Worldwide Book Drive a reality, it certainly wouldn’t have been able to donate and recycle the millions of books it has to date. Thank you!

BYU Student Entrepreneur Of the Year 2009 (SEOY)

This past week I, (John Keller) had a great opportunity to participate in the BYU Entrepreneur of the Year event. This is the first time in nearly 5 years that I’ve entered a competition like this. Amid building a number of different businesses, it was a challenge to find the time and focus to put together a compelling argument. I feel extremely blessed with a talented and flexible team at Worldwide Book Drive team and an extremely supportive wife to actually help me pull together.

Hands down, one of the funnest parts of the event was getting to know the other emerging Utah entrepreneurs. Tyler Turnbull and Craig Guincho are both very talented entrepreneurs whom I expect to hear a lot more of in the future.

For a social venture to play an integral part of a entrepreneurship competition in Utah is a great accomplishment. Go Worldwide Book Drive!

Premier Data Center Coming to Utah

Every business that stores, organizes or shares large amounts of digital information, uses a data center in one form or another. Whether in house, (often found in a retrofitted closet or larger room) or outsourced, (just about anyone who has hosted a webpage somewhere has used a data-center space).

With the large amount of Utah Tech Companies growing regularly, it’s no surprise that there is more than one utah data center. However, most data centers in Utah are either extremely old themselves, or retrofitted within an older space. Three general rules for data-center technology is 1) More power 2) More power and 3) You guessed it… More power.

That’s what makes the announcement of Consort so exciting. As a modern data center facility in Utah that offers colocation (ping power pipe, Software as a Service (SAAS), Platform as a Service, (PAAS), this data center will will draw on state of the art architecture built into one of Utah’s premier mixed use developments, The Proscenium. A unique aspect of the location and layout of this data center is that it is situated between two of Utah’s largest and most reliable power grids–Thus ensuring many years of more than enough energy for the data center technology upgrades sure to come.

Named Consort, from the “Consort”ium of experienced businesses coming together to provide this service, this combined entity has experience in both data center and building facilities management. Contributing to safe, secure and carefully managed environment.

For more information, visit the Consort webpage.

More Than Just Fish Stories…

Social Entrepreneurs want things to be different. Is that too much to ask? I think most people would agree that there are plenty of resources in the world. Most people will also agree that the allocation and distribution of these resources are extremely inefficient. So we want to change it.

Most people will tell you to “Go Fish” when you tell them you want to use business to create a positive social impact. In some cases at least–they’re right.

During my recent expedition to meet with more Social Entrepreneurs in Utah, I had the great opportunity to meet with just such a demanding individual; Ben Nolte, the founder of Big Amazon Fish and Adventure Giving. Ben is an intelligent and personable business man who was intrigued by the challenge of bringing sustainable social change to a segment of the world he deeply cares for: The Amazon. His conquest to raise public perceptions of indigenous Amazon and divert more tourist spending dollars to build social infrastructure has been a risky business.

Re-distributing tourist dollars is a simple but effective idea. According to Adventure Giving, just 1% of the Adventure-Tourist industry could provide more than 60 million dollars for communities in need. — Nice. The cool part is that figure doesn’t even begin to measure the socio-economic collective impact of more people experiencing service and sacrifice for others. —

Things can be different. Don’t believe me? Go fish!

It’s All About The Triple Bottom Line

I have spent the last three years of my life working in the growing segment of businesses known as triple-bottom-line companies or social ventures. According to the Skoll Foundation ( –a foundation based on the principles that strategic investments can lead to lasting social change) a social entrepreneur is: society’s change agent, a pioneer of innovations that benefit humanity.

Although this is a relatively new movement, all around us we see the growing momentum of companies identifying and implementing aspects of social responsibility into their models. This is as much a financial decision as anything else! Dollars spent on social programs can often make more marketing or operational sense than traditional advertising or waste management methods. In these circumstances everybody wins. As society continues to demand more responsibility it continues to pay for companies to develop and demonstrate a competent social strategy.

There is a wealth of knowledge on the subject, best summarized and directed, (In my personal opinion) on Wikipedia. and the internal and external links provide a very good summary. Applying these principles in a business certainly does not have to be a gigantic overhaul, or a substantial change in the business model. Sometimes it’s as simple as a personal change in perspective. Implementing these principles into a business model however, can create lasting strategic partnerships and goodwill that provide a legacy and public image much bigger and better than money alone can provide.

Business Ignitor for Grow Utah Ventures– A great event.

I had a great opportunity today to attend a “business ignitor” event hosted by Grow Utah Ventures. I have been so busy working in the trenches lately that I began to feel out of touch with the rich entrepreneur community here in Utah. The topic was “How to Approach an Angel Investor.” The perfect topic for the situation in which I currently find myself. It was so refreshing to hear from experienced panelists regarding what they looked for in applicants and to hear questions from other attendees reflect my current questions.

The panelists, Alan Hall, Brad Walters and Brad Angus were all successful entrepreneurs and investors in the Weber Davis Morgan region of Utah. I have had the paradigm that Northern Utah Entreprenuership was fertile grounds, but I was grateful and impressed by what I saw today. Although my current business exploit is a social venture and not directly applicable to much of the material covered in the conference, I did gain a lot of useful knowledge and also made some good contacts.

To anyone in Utah County, Salt Lake or Northern Utah who might be considering attending a Grow Utah Ventures event, I would highly recommend it. Thanks guys!

Online Dating Rapid Penetration Dilluting the Market

For a long time online dating has been one of the fastest growing segments on the internet. The relationship of Large Online Dating Companies and profitability has taken a sharp turn. Although market adoption has still been growing at substantial leaps, the number of new companies entering the market has grown at a much faster rate, absorbing most of the growth for themselves. Here’s an article that tells more about it.

The concept makes me smile when I think about the little online dating company that my friend has recently purchased and is working to build it up. The website is LDS Friends… Which as you might imagine specifically targets the LDS Dating niche. It includes a craigs listing type sales page. as well as a number of other member services that lds match seekers could enjoy.

Niche dating websites are popping up all over the web. Although large corporations are trimming their fat, eventually the market will stabilize and new companies will work to the top. While now is not the best time to enter the market, it seems like a great time to be a player while things remain so mobile.

To help start your website… Get G.I.M.P.

Either for fun, or if starting a website for your own home-based business, here’s a few helpful tips to start your own business website and hopefully avoid some problems.

When a person first wants to start their own website. There are few costs they need to take into consideration, (these are not all in the order they might appear in your individual quest).

Domain Registration

Graphic’s Editor

Page Editor (unless you program from code, which can get a little long after a while)

Pictures (Unless you plan on taking all of your own)

Merchant Account

Today I just want to briefly mention Graphics editor. I once purchased a full photoshop suite from an O.E.M. reseller. About 8 months later, my hard-drive crashed and I when I contacted them to get another key to unlock the software, they were no where to be found. I came to find out later that the company I purchased from got caught in a big scam and is now editing his graphics in prison.

Honestly, if you have the money and want to invest it in some good software, I would suggest you get Photoshop (at least) the other programs that come in the suite are nice as well.

If you have don’t have the money or otherwise don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on software you may not use, I would suggest you get The GIMP. This program takes a little bit to download and install but is really a helpful little tool.

It’s a little less than super-user-friendly, but i’d imagine that you could install it less than 15 minutes… Visit and check it out… For people who have windows and want to skip right to installing it… Here’s the quick links. once you get here, Install the appropriate add on, (I prefer to run XP but select the add on appropriate for you), then download and install the “GIMP FOR WINDOWS” button.

Install it, then enjoy! You’re that much closer to making the website of your dreams!

Utah Inventions… High on Ideas–Low on Capital

I recently had a business idea that I was sure would revolutionize the home remodeling industry. I talked with my brother (Patent Attorney) about it and he helped me understand that to take an idea to market takes a lot of steps.

  • First, I needed to run a patent search. This typically costs about 1,200 to 2,000 dollars.
  • Next, I needed to write up a provisionary patent. This would cost only a few hundred dollars.
  • Getting a lawyer that knows what they’re doing to help write up and file the real patent starts at 5,000 (this is a favor) and can easily reach 10,000 dollars.

Well, what if I didn’t have that kind of money yet. What options do I have?

After speaking with a relatively successful idea entrepreneurs he talked about how he sometimes starts with the poor-man patent. That is, he makes a working prototype of his idea, takes a picture of it, writes up a brief description of how it works, seals it in an envelope and sends it in the mail to himself. Definitely an option.

Okay, so once you’ve got the patent, then comes the marketing and further development for mass distribution.

This is the step where most people really get stuck. (Or bankrupt at least… (especially in Utah:))

There are of course a few organizations out there that do have more capital and plenty of experience in helping inventors bring their ideas to lucrative market. I did a little research and came up with a few different names that might interest readers to further research. (I’m sure similar organizations exist in your home state if you’re not from Utah).

I’ve known some incubator groups, and of course there are a number of Utah Venture Capital Firms, but really I think the resources are somewhat limited for people who have an idea but no other business experience.

There is no substitute for hard work. When you put your idea on the table, if you don’t move on it, others may.

I have heard however, that if you have an idea and want to turn it into a marketing reality, you may want to speak with a gentlemen by the name of Stuart Reeves as a great guy to point the way on this subject. You should be able to contact him (or his secretary) at his company,Technology Solutions Group.

I’d also be interested in any more useful leads for this subject. Let me know!

Life Line-Umbilical Non-Profit

My wife and I have been doing a little research into the options of preserving our upcoming baby’s umbilical cord. I cannot believe the prices of preserving these cords. The low packages start just under 2,000 dollars and then charge another 5,000 dollars to store the cord over a 40 year period. Also the number of people doing it is relatively small, so the if your cord doesn’t match, then you might run into problems getting one to work.

I once spoke with a very wealthy individual who was in the process of setting up a rather substantial non-profit. His organization is going to do amazing things to help the people of this world. During our conversation he said something that I’ll never forget. He said, “Look John, at the end of the day, a non profit is about money. If you can’t fund it, you don’t have one.”

Umbilical cords, like blood and plasma, are things you can’t just sell. (Contrary to popular belief, you donate plasma and they compensate you for your time). Yet, when a hospital or pharmaceutical industry buys blood or plasma, that is extremely expensive. There’s a reason why the Red Cross can afford to pay its executives so much.

My first impression is that a non-profit that stores umbilical cords would easily be able to acquire them. (My wife and I would donate our child’s.) This increase of supply would almost certainly lower the per unit cost of preservation. In addition what is the value of finding a cord that matches an individual’s needs? That blood would also be very valuable and would certainly be able to help fund some of this venture. In addition to that, wouldn’t it be awesome to help so many people?

This is an undertaking I would love to be involved in, although right now I’m pretty busy battling global illiteracy. If anyone has heard of a social venture like this taking place, please let me know.