Fast Money

Interested in capital gains? Convert real estate commissions into cash.

After working in real estate for more than 20 years, John L. Stedman knew there had to be a way for agents to get their commissions sooner than the standard 30 to 90 days. So in 1992, he started Commission Express.

"We provide a valuable service for real estate agents and brokers to convert their commissions into cash," says Stedman. Agents can sell their accounts receivable to Commission Express and get their money in two days.

Since the company started, it's purchased $12 million in commissions; sales for 1998 were more than $3.5 million. Commission Express began franchising in 1996 and currently has 11 franchises in Virginia, Maryland, Georgia and North Carolina; it's looking for franchisees nationwide.

Franchisees receive an exclusive territory, initial training, ongoing support, proprietary management software, and information on marketing and advertising. Start-up costs range from $34,000 to $43,000. During their first year in operation, franchisees also need access to at least $80,000 in capital for buying commissions. "Real estate has [traditionally] been a business of delayed gratification," says Stedman. "With Commission Express, brokers can sell a house today and get paid next week."

Knowledge Is Power

New educational program from Sylvan founder.

Since W. Berry Fowler founded Sylvan Learning Centers 20 years ago, he's seen huge growth in the private education industry as well as a substantial increase in fees. His latest idea was sparked when a friend approached Fowler for advice about her daughter's problems in school. His solution: A Thousand Points of Knowledge, an educational program designed specifically for each child, which he started last October.

This new venture is an extension of Fowler's original concept. "When I founded Sylvan, my vision was to build a nice business for teachers that would allow them to provide services in their neighborhood," he says.

Licensees have the flexibility to build a business that meets their lifestyle, goals and objectives while providing a much-needed educational service. Start-up costs for the new program are approximately $40,000. Teachers can provide these services as a homebased business and set their own hours of operation and prices (usually $18 to $25 per hour).

Since the program started last October, it's gained three licensees. The company is currently seeking interested educators, but is also considering those investors interested in partnering either with one or multiple teachers to develop a territory.

Contact SourcesCommission Express, (703) 560-5500,

A Thousand Points of Knowledge Inc., (800) 647-7114,

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