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Howard

I just love that car. I am keen on buying a Schwinn Electric for the summer. If you are looking at gadgets that have simple yet elegant technology and really have a socially useful purpose; look at out the ExpressCube Dimensioning or Cubing device (www.expresscube.com). ExpressCube uses photo diodes and integration software to help mailrooms and warehouses across America avoid overcharging based on Dimensional (DIM) weight to actual weight differentials. Folks shipping light things in big boxes can especially run up huge back charges and make their warehouses much more efficient using the ExpressCube cubing device.

M. Simon

I think oil price will collapse if there is a global down turn.

The Euro market has a significant real estate overhang.

Michael B

Another great small business online is http://www.printsmadeeasy.com , they have some great design options for business cards, postcards, envelopes, and letterheads...kind of like a small business to help small businesses :D

Geoman

Interesting to look at this from the perspective of 2017:

Nannosolar - bust. Great idea. But the high cost of silicon solar cells was largely due to high polysilicon prices. Those have come way down, and given silica solar cells have higher efficiency, it broke the back of nannosolar.

Tesla - going strong.

23and me - ditto.

Desktop factory - failure. think the problem here was overreach. People love 3D printing, but the technology is advanced enough to ensure that a 3D file sent to services like Shapeways would come out as expected and so the real need to have a desktop 3D printer is a bit of overkill. Great tech, no market.

Zazzle - going strong. Not a runaway hit, but decent.

A123 - Went bankrupt. Got tied too closely to Fisker, which never panned out. Bought by china, now seems to be doing alright.

Luxim - Doing fine.

Ugobe - still around. Went bust 2009, got bought by Innvo labs, still around.

so of this list, 2 companies and their ideas are dead. 2 went bankrupt, but are still around in some form, 3 are decent sized companies, but not runaway hits. And 2 grew to be giants.

There is a lesson there somewhere.

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

Thanks for checking back on old articles.

If I were a VC at the time, my returns would be higher than most, from the time this article was published. Tesla offset the losses of the duds several times over.

A123 did go public (so the venture investors could get out at profit), and only went bankrupt after that. But Tesla investors might have sold to early for the same reason.

Nanosolar was the most surprising failure from the time this was written, because Swanson's Law never stopped, but thin-film ended up not being needed at all, for the reasons you mention.

Geoman

I was pretty surprised about Nannosolar too - it made perfect sense. But as these things go great ideas rarely die, they just take more time than necessary hatching. In 10 years it will come roaring back in some bizarre form. Probably as a special paint that turns anything into a giant solar collector. I mean, why not? Heck, they could start by painting satellites and ditch the solar panels.

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