From the October 1998 issue of Startups

Christmas greetings may come and go, but personalized cards for National Pickle Week make customers sit up and take notice! CardSenders, an Albuquerque, New Mexico-based company whose 137 licensees help companies make connections with their customers and employees, delivers customized cards for every occasion--birthdays, Thanksgiving and, you guessed it, National Pickle Week.

"We all like to be recognized as individuals," says Robert Boverie, the company's vice president and co-owner. "In today's economy, with the Internet, fax machines and e-mail, it's advantageous for businesses to use personalized greeting cards to show they really care."

CardSenders licensees sell their services to local businesspeople, then use company software to create cards and mail them on designated days. Cards include individual business logos and signatures as well as special messages designed with the help of licensees. While the financial community is the company's largest market segment, licensees do mailings for a variety of businesses, including real estate agents, automobile dealers and dentists.

You can get started with CardSenders' introductory training period for an investment of $6,900 to $8,500, depending on which program you choose. Additional costs include a computer and office equipment for your home. CardSenders provides toll-free support for your first year in business and holds an annual convention. For further information, call (800)?43-6055 or visit http://www.cardsenders.com

Now You're Cooking

Health-conscious consumers may spend extra cash to cut calories, but Alfa Metalcraft Corp. (AMC), makers of multi-purpose cooking systems that eliminate the need for oil and water in food preparation, cut not only cookware expenses, but also energy consumption, fat content and time spent in the kitchen.

In 60- to 90-minute presentations in customers' homes, AMC sales consultants demonstrate the products' ability to preserve nutrients while minimizing salt and calorie intake. Several days later, consultants make appointments to get feedback and discuss purchasing options.

Once you become a consultant, pay the $20 registration fee and begin booking demonstrations, you can buy a full set of cookware and presentation charts for $549.99. Consultants receive two days of training, observe four or five on-site demonstrations, and receive additional training and support from a regional manager.

Although most of AMC's business comes from word-of-mouth, people aren't just talking about AMC cookware: The company has 10 million customers and 20,000 consultants in 36 countries. Call (800) 766-8262 for more details.

T-Time

"Ball crunchin', tee breakin', smooth puttin.' " What do these phrases have in common? They're all part of Def-i-ni-tions, an Omaha, Nebraska, company that manufactures T-shirts, hats and more for people proud to be golfers, grandpas, truckers . . . you name it.

Armed with a line of more than 60 designs, Def-i-ni-tions has set up kiosk and cart locations in malls nationwide since 1989. While Christmastime is the most popular season, Def-i-ni-tions' products sell well year-round.

As a Def-i-ni-tions operator, you receive advice on kiosk set-up and initial orders. An investment of $10,000 to $20,000 for the eight-week holiday season covers the cost of inventory and renting space. The off-season is significantly less expensive, at about $1,000 to $1,500 per month, with no minimum number of months required for investment. Additional expenses include a cash register and advertising signs.

So if you're a hard-workin', sales-promotin' businessperson interested in opening a Def-i-ni-tions location, call (800) 844-1804.

Contact Sources

Alfa Metalcraft Corp., 595 Summer St., Stamford, CT 06901

Def-i-ni-tions, (800) 844-1804, (402) 393-7227