When life gives you lemons - the business version

When life gives me lemons, I make lemonade, lemon meringue pie, lemon rosemary chicken while I am sipping tequila with lemon.

But what if life gave me lemons as the main resource for my business? I need to come up with a business plan using the lemons!


Here are a few ideas:

  • Start a lemonade stand! Call it Citrus-elixir and see if PinkBerry or Starbucks would acquire you.
  • make lemon confectionary (lemon drops, lemon pie, lemon bars…)
  • get the juice out, paint the skins gold and sell it on eBay
    (Bonus if you can make the peels look like virgin Mary)
  • Shave the lemon zest and sell it as potpourri
  • Plant the seeds and wait - in 30 years you will have a lemon orchard
  • Sell the lemons as a spare battery for a digital clock; work with big three auto makers to see if lemon batteries can be used to power electric cars.

lemon clock

  • Sell lemons as a miracle product to clean metalllic surfaces
  • Sell it as a all purpose cleaning product for kitchen - clean your cutting board, counter tops, microwave, garbage disposal.. it really works.
  • Sell it as a natural highlighter for hair
  • Sell it as miracle anti-aging product
  • package the juice and sell it as “invisible ink”
  • Make invisible ink printer and sell overpriced ink cartridge


  • Sell it to all the banks as a replacement for little moist-pads that they have to help the teller count money
  • Create a recipe for lemonade and sell the recipe as a digital download
  • write a book on 200 uses of lemons and sell it on Amazon
  • figure out a way to use lemons as bio fuel; ask congress for reaserch money or bailout money
  • Use it as a collateral and get a loan to start another business (OK, this would have worked in 2007, but not so much in 2009)
  • Buy forward contracts for lemon delivery in 2010 and manipulate price of the lemons to strike it rich

But my favorite business idea for using lemons is: put ads on the lemon skins to monetize it. If you can’t find sponsors, just put google adsense on it.


Have a wonderful holiday season and a very strategic New Year


We wish you a wonderful holiday season and a very strategic new year!


The Google Adwords : the reality


Yes, this is the reality of the online marketing; been there, done that!

Even now, it is so common to find big holes in the calculations people do in their business models - grossly underestimating the cost of marketing, especially online adwords marketing.

Just a few weeks ago, I saw a presentation where the company was selling a widget for $99 and they had allocated $12/unit as adwords cost. In the first month, their actual cost was $44/unit and in the second month it was $34/unit (and I am not convinced that the reduction in the second month was because of better targeting or better conversion primarily attributable to adwords program).

Another misconception that I have seen way too often, is the belief that somehow the cost of adwords marketing is related to the cost of what you are selling.

The argument goes like this “I see people are selling widgets for $10 on adwords; I know it costs $5 to make it, so they couldn’t possibly be spending more than $5.00 to acquire a customer!”

Unfortunately, this is not correct. In many cases, the vendor who is selling $10 widget might be spending $12 to $15 for adwords and hoping that a person buying $10 widget will buy something else from them or will become a returning customer and the over all cost of the adword expense will be low.

So unless you have a matching offering and have ways to convince a customer to buy additional things or have the customer return for something else, you can’t win the adwords game.

The only way to correctly gauge the adwords cost is to gather conversion data and look at real time bids for the keywords and base your calculation on 2nd and 3rd highest bids placed. Why 2nd or 3rd bids and not the top one? Because invariably I have found people over spending just so that they can stay on top. Typically this happens when there is a disconnect between the part of the organization selling the product and the part of the organization marking the product.

Adwords and other online marketing can be excellent and very cost effective tools, you just need to understand what is the true “cost” and how you measure “effectiveness”.

Source of the picture.

Ten tips on how to demo your startup


Jason Calacanis has heard and reviewed hundreds of startup and has excellent advice for all of us on how to demo your startup.

1. Show your product within the first 60 seconds.
2. The best products take less than five minutes to demo
3. Leave people wanting more.
4. Talk about what you’ve done, not what you’re going to do.
5. Understand your competitive landscape–current and historical.
6. Short answers are best.
7. PowerPoint bullet slides are death.
8. How to use this new device called the phone.
9. How to handle questions you don’t know the answer to
10. Always confirm the time of your meeting/call, and always be 15
minutes early.

This is a great list for “how to demo” your startup. May not be a perfect list for how to present your company for fund raising. “Show me what you got” is not the same as “why should we help you?”

Especially item number 4, “talk about what you’ve done, not what you’re going to do”. If you are a startup, there are more of “things to be done”, compared to what you have done. A showing of a clear path as to where do you plan to take the the things you have done is equally important.

The item one, “Show your product within the first 60 seconds” works only when your audience is well versed in your space. I try to take the first 30-45 seconds to connect with the audience, you don’t have to connect to them by showing the size of the market, or by showing your market share, but you need to take them to a level where they can follow your plans.

You typically have one to fifteen minutes to tell your story. No matter how hard you try you will NOT be able to bring out all the important things; so you need to focus on thing that are going to be important to your targeted audience. In this case, Jason wants to see a demo, sort of like an end user. Show him the demo, talk about what you have done and what your product can do. If you are giving a presentation to a potential investor, they want to know “how would you sell this” and you got to focus on that.

29 queries. 0.344 seconds.