Continuing my list of my favorite business books of 2007 brings us to another unconventional one: BMOC. While the book, by Warren Meyer, is fictional, it does contain a number of interesting business ideas, including my favorite outlandish business opporunity of all time: fountain coin harvesting.
On the basis of this market research and his quirky insight, Preston Marsh founded 3Coins, Inc, and began an intensive six month research and development program. He hired engineers from several hot tub and spa companies that had developed the modular spa, a design where all the necessary pumps and plumbing were integrated with the tub into a single portable unit. His designers worked long weeks coming up with three modular fountain designs, driving down the estimated manufacturing cost to just $350 per unit.
Next, Preston Marsh took these fountain designs to mall owners, architects, building managers, landscapers and anyone who designed or owned public spaces. In every case, the deal was the same: Preston Marsh would give the client one or more free fountains to adorn their public spaces, and would even provide the labor to clean and treat the fountains once a week. In return, Preston Marsh literally “kept the change”. Preston Marsh paid local entrepreneurs 25% of the change drop to clean the fountains and empty and deposit the change. The rest was pure profit.
The resulting economics were startling. For each installation, Preston Marsh had up-front investments of about $750, including the $350 tub plus delivery and installation. In return, Preston Marsh gained about $50 a week in revenue, or $37.50 after the servicing agent took his 25%. Over a year, the fountain would produce $1,950 in revenue, with virtually no expenses or overhead.
After five years, 3Coins had nearly 10,000 fountains in place, generating almost $20 million in annual revenue, over half of which was profit. And Preston Marsh owned 100% of the company.
I have a copy of the book to giveaway. To enter, comment on this post with your most outlandish business idea, or subscribe to my RSS feed via email.
Publisher’s description of the book after the jump:
Susan Hunter is a brilliant but lazy student at the Harvard Business School, who has a long-term plan for succeeding at Harvard and getting a high-paying job with the absolute minimum of work. Her plans begin to awry when she receives an invitation for a job interview with Preston Marsh, the quirky millionaire who has built his fortune on oddball businesses from selling designer musical tones to harvesting coins in fountains. Marsh convinces Susan to abandon her path of least resistance to work in his new business called BMOC, which guarantees its student clients that it will make them popular. But nothing in the job description prepares Susan for getting sent to LA to investigate a young woman’s suicide. Susan has to struggle to adapt her business school training to what increasingly appears to be a murder investigation, as a consortium of media companies, tort lawyers, and even a US Senator fight to hide the truth. And that was before they started shooting at her.
Fountain photo by mscaprikell.