I am a failed entrepreneur.
As far as my memory can take me, I have attempted to start two businesses and I have failed at both.
The first flop is not that surprising considering I was probably about ten when I metaphorically hung my initial shingle. My grand plan was to sell my baseball cards in a stand by the curb outside of my house. I planned to charge a nickel apiece although some of my favorites would have gone for a dime.
The large gaping flaw in my business plan was that I failed to see that there is absolutely no consumer who is a) driving home from their work, b) driving past my house, and c) really, really needs a cheap baseball card.
That business lasted for about three days before I folded up my card table, tossed my hand-made sign into the garbage, and went inside to see what Bugs Bunny was up to.
As for the second attempt…
This is that story.
The year is 1996 and the public’s adoption of the Internet is just beginning to hit a critical mass. I hit upon a bright idea that would marry my loves of trivia and radio broadcasting and wed them to this upstart technology dubbed the “information superhighway”.
No, seriously, that’s what we called it back then.
Called FactsFAX, my brainchild was to provide radio stations with a daily dose of interesting and fascinating information that was historical, timely, and witty. The morning crews of radio stations always seemed to be talking about how today was either Take-A-Pickle-To-Work-Day, the grand opening of the Second Largest Ball of String located in Smyrna, Delaware, the Xth anniversary of the Great Emu War, or the birthday of some actress, musician, or writer.
My business would help those stations fill their insatiable need by scouring my collection of trivia books and the Internet and transmitting that compendium of arcane knowledge to the broadcasters through the sorcery of the fax machine.
Based from my world headquarters in San Diego, California, I would cold-call radio stations around the country, give them my spiel about my company and my offerings, and then provide them with a free week of my sample fare. I offered rates and subscriptions for a month, a half-year, and for a whole year.
As a finishing touch to show off the smartness of my organization, I gave my company a Latin motto that I emblazoned on all my official correspondence and on the actual daily FactsFAX sheet that housed the trivia tidbits. I thought that placing the words (and one of my two favorite Latin phrases) Tua Mater Nivis Bestia would give a sense of gravitas to my product. I also was able to give myself a private chuckle because that phrase artfully translates to “Your mother is a snow beast.”
My gravitas and humor were ignored. Despite the need I saw out there in the radio industry for my product, the media outlets I made my pitch to saw no hole in their business model that I could fill. As it turned out, they also had interns who could wade their way across the Net.
FactsFAX would fold after only a month in operation.
That’s my story.
P.S. If you are curious as to what my other favorite Latin phrase is…well, that’s a story for another day.