Alex Andon, 24, a graduate of Duke University in biology, was laid off from a biotech company last May. For months he sought new work. Then, frustrated with the hunt, he turned to jellyfish.
In an apartment he shares here with six roommates, Andon started a business in September building jellyfish aquariums, capitalizing on new technology that helps the fragile creatures survive in captivity. He has sold three tanks, one for $25,000 to a restaurant, and is starting a Web site to sell desktop versions for $350.
Plenty of other laid-off workers across the country, burned out by a merciless job market, are building business plans instead of sending out rÃ©sumÃ©s. For these people, recession has become the mother of invention.
Economists say that when the economy takes a dive, it is common for people to turn to their inner entrepreneur to try to make their own work. But they say that it takes months for that mentality to sink in, and that this is about the time in the economic cycle when it really starts to happen – when the formerly employed realize that traditional job searches are not working, and that they are running out of time and money.
There are some peculiarities to this wave of downturn start-ups. Chiefly, the Internet has given people an extraordinary tool not just to market their ideas but also to find business partners and suppliers, and to do all kinds of functions on the cheap: keeping the books, interacting with customers, even turning a small idea into a big idea.
Photo by brainware3000.