MOBILE & TECH
Foursquare races past a million users
Smartphones are taking over. By 2012, Nielsen researchers say, they will be the most commonly used mobile devices in the U.S. And you know what that means: more apps--and tons of money--to be made. In fact, smartphone customers this year are expected to spend $6.2 billion on more than 4.5 million downloads.
MORE TO WATCH FROM MOBILE & TECH
An app that turns mobile phones into digital news bulletins. Leave messages ("Pothole on Elm Street")--and reply to others.
The free Bump app lets users exchange information by bumping two phones together. PayPal's new app uses this technology to move money.
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey's newest venture seems likely to be a big one: Square turns mobile phones into credit- and debit-card readers. Say bye-bye to expensive hardware.
Billshrink trims the fat out of budgets--and is making a mint doint it
The Age of the Tightwad shows no sign of ending. Despite economic upticks, Americans are still spending 30 percent less than they did in 2008, Gallup's consumer spending poll shows. That's just $63 a day. At the same time, they have been furiously dumping debt--$101.2 billion of it came off the books in the last 14 months. And businesses selling value--dollar stores, discount services, retail shops--are thriving amid all the penny-pinching, an attitude that seems destined to linger even as the economy turns around.
MORE TO WATCH FROM VALUE
A free e-newsletter and website that offers exclusive deals at top restaurants in New York City and Los Angeles.
Copy Cat Chic
Interior designer Reichel R. Broussard follows the latest high-end home design trends and then scours the Internet for sales, closeouts and bargains to achieve the same look for a fraction of the price.
Capitalizing on the power of group-buying, this website offers members a daily deal on stuff to do, see, eat and buy in cities across the U.S.
Don't laugh at Doggles: Fashion sunglasses for dogs are $3 million a year business
They say no industry is truly recession-proof, but the latest numbers from the American Pet Products Association say something else: A whopping $45.5 billion was spent on pets in 2009, up--yes, up--5.4 percent from the year before.
MORE TO WATCH FROM PETS
A Dog's Life
This maker of natural hand-baked treats recently expanded to include people products: wine with customizable labels featuring your pet.
Camp Bow Wow
The fast-growing pet-service franchise has more than 200 locations in North America, offering doggy day camp and full-service in-home pet care.
Using UVC light and filters, these air purifiers and surface disinfectants get rid of pets' allergies--and probably human ones, too.
Florence Henderson wants to outrun the Geek Squad with Floh Club, her new tech service for seniors
Last spring, actress Florence Henderson admitted she had a problem: She couldn't e-mail on her new smartphone.
"We were talking about how we were going to launch FloH, the brand she wanted to start to promote better living for seniors," says Tony Hirsch, a business partner. "And when we showed her how to use e-mail, she said, 'I want all my friends to be able to do this!'"
MORE TO WATCH FROM SENIORS
A boomer think tank and marketing firm that aims to attract older consumers to brands in industries as varied as pharmaceuticals, financial services and packaged goods.
Dating for Seniors
Dating site targeted at singles 45 and older that screens for fake profiles and spam. Monthly membership ($29.95) after a free three-day trial.
A style blog featuring senior street fashion. "They're already wearing what you covet and they have been for decades."
Terracycle turns old packaging into some of the coolest goods on the shelf
You can learn a lot from worm poop. Just ask Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of Terracycle, who once manufactured fertilizer made from the stuff. "It got me thinking about waste streams, because we had to collect uncrushed soda bottles from thousands of schools to hold the worm poop."
MORE TO WATCH FROM GREEN
Advanced Electron Beams
AEB's sustainable manufacturing technology sterilizes products and cures coatings, all the while producing less pollution than the usual chemical processes.
The Sunnyvale, Calif., firm is behind the Bloom box, a miniature power plant that creates electricity from air and fuel cells--without emissions.
A sophisticated furniture line that uses eco-friendly materials such as reclaimed wood and aims for low environmental impact.
More and more of domestic life is being outsourced, and with Booty Camp, that includes potty training
It's no secret that busy parents are willing to pay for help around the house. In fact, child care, sports coaching and tutoring are expected to be a $47.5 billion industry in 2010, according to the research group IBISWorld.
MORE TO WATCH FROM DOMESTIC FRONTIER
This website matches pro housekeepers with households that fit their cleaning style.
Mommy group on steroids: Instead of play dates, they gather for, say, an Ivanka Trump shopping event.
One-on-one professional tutoring in a secure web environment, with instant messaging and collaborative work spaces
Ian Ippolito saw the potential of outsourcing. Now Rent A Coder is raking in millions
Do businesses hire actual employees anymore? Maybe not. As employment numbers plummeted, more than $24.7 billion of outsourced contracts were dished out in the fourth quarter last year--up 8 percent year over year, according to TPI, a sourcing advisory firm.
MORE TO WATCH FROM OUTSOURCING
This crowdsourcing site helps companies increase efficiency by breaking large projects into smaller tasks and distributing them to a virtual work force.
More than 20 million users a month use Docstoc.com to access free professional documents including legal agreements, HR forms, business plans and tax forms.
Thousands of designers compete for clients who need logos, websites or anything else designed for their small business.
Blik's arty $50 wall decals are bringing high design to the masses
Fifty dollars doesn't go very far in the world of interior design, unless you know about Blik--a stylish, graphic-art alternative to dreary wallpaper.
MORE TO WATCH FROM HOME IMPROVEMENT
Aeonian Brick Homes
These clay-based, eco-friendly, interlocking bricks are waterproof, fireproof, termite-proof, soundproof and mold- and mildew-resistant--and they can withstand hurricanes.
Anna Sova Food Paint
Zero-VOC paint and stucco made of as much as 94 percent food-grade ingredients--it even smells like a vanilla milkshake.
This roof tile company created Solé Power Tile, which allows Mission-style houses to go solar while preserving their aesthetic.
Hard on the scuffed heels of the craft movement come the 'treps bearing hand-crafted goods, made to order
The handmade. The small batch. The locally sustainable eco-whatever.
The do-it-yourself movement hit new heights in recent years. There are people living in cities who brew their own beer, farm their own vegetables, knit their own woolens ... and many more who will pay a premium to get a piece of it.
MORE TO WATCH FROM HANDCRAFTED
Customers can design lighting, wallpaper and other home décor accessories from scratch with the help of this online micro-manufacturer and retailer.
AntiDesigns began silk screening T-shirts by hand in 2005; five years later, the Boston press lets buyers select graphics, colors and tees to create their own shirts.
Start with the base: Chewy or crunchy? Organic? Nuts? Fruit? You create the recipe, paying about $3 a bar for the privilege.
HEALTH & FITNESS
XRKade combines two of the biggest trends--fitness and gaming--to create a workout that's actually play
The national obsessions with healthcare reform, childhood obesity and organic foods are generating more customers for health and fitness businesses: Fitness clubs and health stores now amount to a $41.44 billion industry--that's up a stunning $1 billion from just the year before. In a recession, no less.