Jeff and Rich Sloan, who went to Carman-Ainsworth schools and Gov. Jennifer Granholm proclaimed as “rock stars of entrepreneurship,” want to make it easier for those with business ideas to get a company up and running.
They’ve reached out to people through their website, StartupNation.com, a radio show on dozens of stations, television appearances, a book and now through a newly released DVD titled “StartupNation: Open for Business with the Sloan Brothers.”
The DVD is available for about $20 through sites such as Amazon.com and Borders.com.
“Rich and I have never held a job by any entity we didn’t create ourselves,” said Jeff, 49, of Birmingham. “We are true entrepreneurs.”
Being their own bosses came early to the Sloan brothers, whose grandfather Sam Laro started his own scrap metal yard in Flint after immigrating from Poland.
Jeff Sloan said instead of finding a traditional summer job at 17, he and a friend bought a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development home.
“My partner and I and Rich fixed this house up and resold it at the end of the summer,” Jeff Sloan said. “It really galvanized our entrepreneur fires.”
The pair have done a little of everything since, from managing rock bands in the 1980s to creating and selling an Arabian horse breeding and marketing operation in Metamora to inventing and marketing the Battery Buddy, which they licensed to MASCO Corp.
“Rich and I received some really meaningful royalties from that project,” Jeff Sloan said.
They later worked as agents to other inventors and ran a venture development and financing firm where they helped build companies, while holding equity positions in them.
In 2002, using all their experiences, the brothers launched StartupNation to provide a one-stop shop environment for information on what to do when starting a business, said Rich Sloan, 42, of Santa Monica, Calif.
The site features more than 175,000 pages of content, with everything from articles and advice to podcasts and blogs, to the ability to connect you to other entrepreneurs, even in your hometown.
Brothers Jeff and Rich Sloan, formerly of Flint Township, have released a DVD titled “StartupNation: Open for Business with the Sloan Brothers.”
“It’s our mission to reach as many people as possible with our inspirational message and our message is, ‘Believe it or not, you can have your own business and you can lead the incredibly fulfilling life of an entrepreneur,’” said Rich Sloan, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Asian history. (His brother Jeff has a bachelor’s in English.)
The profitable site, which has seen its traffic grow 30 percent this year, makes money from advertisers, sponsors and selling small business services such as help incorporating businesses, Rich Sloan said.
Late last year, the brothers began talking with Detroit Public Television about producing a special to help Americans break through barriers and take steps to become their own bosses.
The special, which aired earlier this year, is full of step-by-step advice on things such as developing a business plan and raising funding and two-minute drills where people come up with business ideas based on their passions.It also includes examples of real people who were successful in starting a business, Rich Sloan said.
They’ve taken that special and added some features for the 90-minute DVD, which was released last week.
“The DVD is kind of designed to bring entrepreneurship and possibility right into your living room,” Rich Sloan said. “(And) to transform that living room into your world headquarters.”
Haralee Weintraub, who started a company that sells wicking sleepwear to women after she suffered from night sweats during breast cancer treatment, is among business owners featured in the DVD.
Over Skype, the brothers interviewed Weintraub, 57, of Portland, Ore. about how she knew Haralee.com would be a success.
“I knew I was solving a problem and I was helping other women,” she said, adding she gives a portion of each sale to breast cancer research.
Her business is projected to have more than $100,000 in sales this year, with sales up 30 percent from last year.
Weintraub got to know the Sloan brothers after her business won the 2009 Home-Based 100 Boomers Back in Business contest sponsored by StartupNation.Weintraub said her business took off after she won the contest because her company was mentioned on national television and was listed among winners on www.MSN.com.
“I had to call my Web hosting company to give me more room, because I was afraid my site was going to crash because of the response,” she said. “It was so fantastic.”
Rich Sloan said they hope the DVD will help people to pursue their passions, start businesses and lead more fulfilling lives.
He said he was a child when he decided he wanted to work for himself.
“I remember as a child in the early 70s driving in Flint on a weekend and seeing unemployment lines at a factory and I basically made an oath…,” Rich Sloan said. “I said, ‘I don’t wait in lines to see if I have a career or not.’”
Aside from running StartupNation.com, the Sloan brothers remain active in other business ventures.
Rich Sloan is working on building a renewable energy company called Fwd. Power, that will take trash and tires and convert them into electricity. He said he’s working to locate a facility in Wyandotte.
“We think we’re going to convert thousands of tires a day into electricity in a no-landfill, no-pollution process,” he said.
And Jeff Sloan is a partner in NextWave, a business incubator in Southeast Michigan that provides entrepreneurs with help in business planning and even getting vendors.
“We’re aiming for 30 to 50 different companies to be born out of NextWave over the next couple of years,” Jeff Sloan said.
As brothers who believe in where they came from, they think new ideas can help bring Flint back.
“Flint became the extraordinary model city it became because entrepreneurs were ambitious and created personal wealth, and wealth for the community as well, and spun off industry,” Rich Sloan said.
“There is nothing standing in the way of entrepreneurs thriving again in Flint and creating extraordinary benefit for the community, and that’s true for the whole state of Michigan.”
You can read the full story from http://www.mlive.com/business/mid-michigan/index.ssf/2010/08/entrepreneurs_and_former_flint.html