From the December 1997 issue of Startups

Looking for a franchise that doesn't just make you money, but also helps advance kids' educational values? Well, here's your opportunity to educate and entertain the next generation of scientists.

The Mad Science Group has developed a unique service franchise that uses science to engage children at schools, parties, camps and on cruise ships. Franchisees hire staff to conduct science presentations, geared to kids ages 5 to 12, that allow hands-on participation with bubbling potions, lasers, slime and chemical magic.

The initial investment to start the homebased franchise ranges from $49,350 to $56,500. Training seminars will provide you with the strategy and systems to become a "mad scientist." Program kits provide a laser-light system and a sound-effects processor, curriculum manuals, marketing materials and more.

From the Mad Science Group, Montreal, Quebec. For more information, call (800) 586-5231.

Eggcellent!

This egg is low in cholesterol, and you can send video e-mail with it. The EggCam, a new color desktop video camera introduced by Panasonic, provides teleconferencing and video e-mail capabilities.

Designed to sit on top of a computer monitor or desk on a tilt-and-swivel base, the EggCam produces images with 542 x 496 pixels and 330 TV lines of horizontal resolution. The EggCam also has an omnidirectional microphone and an adjustable-focus lens that captures subjects as close as 3.9 inches. Its receiver- friendly software enables users to create and send personal video messages to virtually any computer and can be used for realtime audio/video communication between two or more people.

The EggCam is a complete video-communication system for small businesses; you can use it to create an online presentation for your newest client. Suggested retail price: $199.

From Panasonic Computer Peripheral Co., Seacaucus, NJ. Call (800) 742-8086 for your nearest retail supplier.

Popular products to sell at your retail location

Where The Games Begin

Do your customers know where Hell's Canyon is? Where to find flowering dogwood? If not, give them a geography lesson.

Resource Games offers richly detailed TerraCarta USA, a deck of cards that teaches U.S. geography. The deck features 52 traditional playing cards with custom faces that display state maps and key state symbols, including flags. These beautiful maps depict capitals, important cities and towns, rivers and lakes, plus national parks, state flowers and other fun and interesting features.

Perfect for the classroom, at home or on the road, TerraCarta USA replaces standard playing cards for all your favorite games, and they make great flashcards.

Wholesale price: $3.50 each. Suggested retail price: $6.95. Minimum order: one case of 12 decks.

From Resource Games, Redmond, WA. To order, call (800) 275-8818.

Silky Dreams

Don't let your customers come back from vacation grumpy and tired; have them take silk sheets to the back country. The DreamSack, a versatile, silk sleep sack made by WestWind Trading Co., is perfect for restful sleep on trips away from home. While sleeping in some questionable guest houses as she traveled throughout remote regions in Asia, Nancy Morgan decided travelers needed a more comfortable way to rest, so she designed the DreamSack.

The DreamSack is light and compact and keeps your customers warm in the cold and cool in the heat. It's made from 100-percent silk in four vibrant colors: burgundy, teal, blue and purple. The DreamSack is strong and durable, washes in cold water and air-dries quickly. Your customers can have the luxury of silk on every adventure with WestWind's DreamSack.

Wholesale price: $27 to $28, based on the quantity and style purchased. Suggested retail price: $50. Minimum order: 15 units.

From West-Wind Trading Co., Ashland, OR. To order, call (800) 670-7661.