From the January 1998 issue of Startups

Doughnut-loving Homer Simpson would say "whoohoo!" to this business opportunity. Lil' Orbits Inc. has designed a self-contained kiosk for in-store locations to sell minidoughnuts.

Measuring 9 feet by 9 feet, the Lil' Orbits kiosk assembles conveniently in food courts, malls, convention centers, retail shops, arenas and flea markets. The equipment package includes a doughnut machine that produces 100 dozen minidoughnuts per hour, a hand sink, a cash register, a utility counter, down-draft ventilation and automatic fire-extinguishing systems, plus accessories and start-up supplies. The kiosk can also be equipped with a high-volume doughnut machine, included with the franchise fee, that produces 200 minidoughnuts per hour.

The kiosk package is sold factory-direct for $20,000. For more information, call (800) 228-8305.

Musical Machines

By Jessica Hale

Vending machines are a low-maintenance, high-profit method of selling just about anything. But when was the last time you got to taste a candy bar before you bought it? Intune Inc. has introduced a new, interactive vending machine that sells CDs instead of chips and chocolate bars. Each machine holds up to 24 CD titles and features sturdy, built-in headphones so customers can listen before they buy. Customers simply select the disc and song they'd like to listen to, adjust the volume using the machine's control panel, and the music does the selling.

Once the customer is ready to buy, the machine accepts cash, credit cards or debit cards. Intune Inc. provides a catalog of the latest music titles, but there's no obligation to buy from Intune. You're free to stock the machine with any music you'd like, whether it's local talent or top-40 hits. Intune machines range in price from $7,800 to $9,000, depending on which features you choose.

For more information, call (800) 6-INTUNE.

Seasonal Work

By Jessica Hale

What's the most traditional and romantic Valentine's Day, Christmas or Easter gift? A box of chocolates, of course.

Fannie May Candies offers you the opportunity to take advantage of seasonal sales upswings by owning your own part-time business. While year-round stores are stuck waiting for the next holiday rush to provide the sales they need to survive, you could be turning seasonal sales variations into a business opportunity by selling Fannie May chocolates. Fannie May offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to open temporary seasonal kiosks in malls across the country.

The kiosks are licensed units rather than company-owned outlets or franchises, so there are no franchise fees or royalties, but licensees must buy all candy directly from Fannie May. Because sales of chocolates and other candies peak at three clearly defined times each year--Valentine's Day, Christmas and Easter--offering mall shoppers a convenient way to purchase high-quality chocolates during these times makes good business sense.

Start-up costs average $30,000 and include the kiosk, initial candy inventory, cash register, fax machine, computer and software. For more information, call (312) 432-3471

Comfort Zone

By G. David Doran

Mall shoppers suffering from aching backs and necks will be glad to see you if you're manning a Comfort Zone sales cart. Comfort Zone operators demonstrate and sell a line of high-tech health and fitness products, ranging from chemical heat and cold packs to electronic neck massagers, from sales carts at malls and consumer shows.

Comfort Zone supplies everything you'll need to start a profitable business, from a start-up inventory of patented products to a computerized management system that handles payroll and sales management. Company representatives will help you find a location, negotiate the rent or lease of the sales cart, and train you to operate both the cart and the software. Cart operators don't have to worry about competition because there isn't any--sales territories are protected. There are no franchise fees, and renting the cart on a monthly or seasonal basis keeps overhead low. Average profits vary according to the duration of the lease and the time of the year, from $1,000 for a three-day consumer show to $10,000 for a 60-day lease during the Christmas season.

Investment costs also vary, with the average for a full year of operation between $12,000 and $17,000.

From Prism Technologies Inc. in San Antonio, Texas. For more information, call (800) 432-8722.

A Winning Hand

By G. David Doran

Help customers merge onto to the Information Highway by becoming a technical consultant for Hand Technologies Inc., a discount computer company that sells hardware and software and offers hands-on training sessions through in-home "technology parties."

Technical Consultants (TCs) who receive certification of their computer know-how from Hand Technologies demonstrate the computers (which range in price from a $1,000 Net PC to a $3,000 IBM Aptiva multimedia system) from home and take sales orders from customers, which are then posted to Hand Technologies' Web site. TCs can also certify as trainers or technical specialists in order to offer customers technical support or upgrades.

TCs operate from home on a full- or part-time basis--without quotas or overhead--and can earn anywhere from $150 to $250 for each computer system they sell. Getting started requires a $95 registration fee. Hands-on training videos and certification are extra.

For more information, call (800) 390-4263