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Ant Bytes — AA23

"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
— Napoleon Bonaparte
By Stephen Sammartino

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Tania de Jong

In this Year of the Idea, we are asking a series of successful Australian entrepreneurs about big ideas – their best, their worst and the ideas they wished were their own. This issue the spotlight falls on talented opera singer Tania de Jong, Founder of Music Theatre Australia, internationally renowned singing group Pot-Pourri and The Song Room.

What was your best idea?
When I was studying as a young opera singer at VCA, myself and colleague Jonathan Morton started a small group called "The Hums of Pooh". We played small venues and then started to get more work for private and corporate events. We decided that name would not take us far on the world international stage and changed our name to Pot-Pourri. The drawcard was that we sang everyone’s favourite hits, from operas to Broadway, all in one performance and we wrote special lyrics about topics as diverse as concrete, cars, banking and gynaecology! We were the first act in Australia to present these sorts of performances as feature act entertainment for the corporate events and conference market. Now Pot-Pourri has toured overseas on more than 35 occasions, released six CDs and spawned many other acts in this genre nationally. It also enabled us to develop our national and international entertainment and production company/agency, which books about 2,500 diverse acts, ranging from big names, circus and roving acts to bands and comedians. The idea for The Song Room was born when Pot-Pourri was performing at Dame Elisabeth Murdoch’s 90th birthday as the feature act.
What was your worst idea?
Thinking that we could turn Pot-Pourri into an international act without a big commercial record company or promoter behind us. We have always been so used to managing ourselves and dealing with clients and other promoters. Our niche was opera/music theatre, etc. before the days of Bocelli and IL DIVO and there just were not promoters and record companies around who were interested in that whole classical contemporary market. Now, a decade down the track, it is a huge market. Timing is everything!
Which idea do you wish was yours?
I wish I had set up a business like seek. Being a person who likes to connect with others, I resisted the internet for a long time. Now I realise the potential of web-based businesses.
With climate change the buzz term on everyone’s lips, more people than ever are seeking ways to leave less of a dent on the environment… and their wallets. In an effort to reduce petrol consumption and vehicle emissions, many commuters are switching to smaller cars, and some are ditching cars altogether in favour of the trusty bicycle.
In the not-too-distant future, cyclists will be a far more imposing presence at night, by number and by sight, thanks to a new super-light created by Australian design company Catalyst Design Group. The KNOG Gator 604 was named the overall winner at the 2007 Australian Design Awards (ADA). It contains 6watts of LED technology, which makes it (in Catalyst’s words) “obnoxiously bright”. The ADA judges were also impressed with design of both The Gator’s handlebar fastening mechanism and its high-powered lithium ion battery, which charges faster and lasts longer than existing bike lights.
Keep an eye out for this one. (It might be hard not to.)
A little while back, a young Melbourne businessman by the name of Scott Handsaker contacted us with an intriguing offer. He and a few colleagues at web consulting company Huge Object were launching a new web company and were offering to provide us with a diary of the company’s progress as it unfolded.
It’s certainly not the first time we’ve received this offer. However, such offers in the past have always been motivated by a quest for shameless self-promotion, with little benefit for readers. But Handsaker and his team offered to provide an extremely candid account of their start-up journey, with exclusive access to blog posts, photos, audio, video and, most courageous of all, financials. So we agreed. Here is Handsaker’s initial post.
The idea and the model
Scott Handsaker – 20th May 2007
Our new business is called TrickyTix. It is a web based ticketing solution aimed at small businesses and will exist online at www.trickytix.com.au.
An event organiser or company will have the ability to visit the website and create a ticketing account for themselves. This account will allow them to then create events which people can purchase tickets for.
The tickets for any event will be available for sale on the TrickyTix website, as well as on the website of the event organiser. Customers will be able to purchase a ticket using a credit card, and have the ticket sent to them via email or SMS.
The money for the tickets sold will be received by TrickyTix and held for a defined period of time. After deducting bookings fees and charges levied to the ticket purchaser, the remaining funds will then be electronically transferred into the Event Organisers nominated account.
The fundamental business model is therefore one in which TrickeyTix take a small fee from the cost of every ticket sold.
That is about as complex as it gets. There are a few small to medium companies out there offering a similar service, and one 900 pound gorilla.
We believe our approach has a number of fundamental differences which position us to capture a previously untapped segment of the market, but I will go into much greater detail in future postings. Suffice to say, we are excited about the potential.
Licensing to the grave
In a lively new twist on what you might call a dead industry, Eternal Image is bringing licensing to the afterlife—through branded caskets and cremation urns. Now lifelong supporters of select sports teams and other brands have the option to take their loyalty all the way to their final resting place.
Eternal Image has licensing agreements with 30 Major League Baseball teams (urns and caskets will available late 2007), the Vatican Library, Precious Moments — and there are even special urns licensed by the American Kennel Club and Cat Fanciers Association to preserve the ashes of beloved pets.
[Source: Springwise]
Out of sight!
Two US students are proving the theory that there is a market for pretty much everything… and you can find them all online. As reported in TechCrunch, Jaimen Brill and Asmah Abushagur are launching White Cane Label, a not-for-profit online clothing site to assist blind and visually-impaired people to shop and keep track of their wardrobes. The site will be driven by sound rather than images, and will rely entirely on donations from clothing designers, to be sold at full price to prevent sighted people consumers from taking advantage of bargains. The purchased garments come with tags containing a description of designer, clothing type, size, colour and washing instructions in brail.