Category Archives: Internet

You don’t say

“She was like Houdini.”

Kimberly Duncan on her daughter, Sydney, who escaped her mother’s attempts to get her to stop sucking her thumb until she created the Thumb Glove and turned it into an online business

IFurn.com CEO says company going out of business due to Internet competition

WICHITA — IFurn.com, a company that CEO Tracy Norris last year said was poised for growth, is going out of business.

“iFurn has proudly served customers across the nation for 17 years and delivered quality home and office furniture right to your door,” Norris wrote in an e-mailed response to Have You Heard?

In that e-mail and in one he sent to customers on Feb. 27, Norris wrote:

“Regrettably, iFurn.com, Inc. has been forced to cease day-to-day business activity. This has been caused by deteriorating sales activity and increased competition within the internet.”

Norris started iFurn.com in 1998 to sell home and office furniture. Last year, he told The Eagle the company had sales of more than $12.5 million in 2012.

Norris also reported sales of about $2.5 million for his other main company, PainReliever.com, which sells a variety of medical products to consumers and businesses.

It’s not clear if or how that company may be affected by iFurn’s struggles.

A former chiropractor, Norris sold his practice and began devoting his work full time to Internet companies in 2007.

Both of Norris’ companies have been named to Inc’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies list: iFurn.com in 2008 and Pain Reliever in 2010.

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Get Real Wichita site debuts with recipes, meal ideas and coupons

WICHITA — Krista Sanderson is using her past experience working in marketing with Candlewood Suites along with her decade of experience as a stay-at-home mother for a new venture called Get Real Wichita.

“It is about real food and helping people try to realize the resources that we have in Wichita,” she says.

Her website is free until January when she’ll then charge users $10 a month for resources such as recipes, meal ideas, customized shopping lists and discounts to local restaurants and merchants.

“We feel like there’s a lot of opportunity to help people,” Sanderson says.

“We have these great local restaurants,” she says.

She’s also a huge fan of farmers’ markets and wants people to know what’s available here.

“We’re trying to help educate people.”

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Wichita couple’s children inspire them to design shoes and start Ten Tiny Toes

Shania Moore, now 2, inspired her parents, Katie Clark and Maurice Moore, to start Ten Tiny Toes.

WICHITA — The shoe business might not seem likely for someone with an IT or health sciences background, but it’s a natural for Katie Clark and her fiance, Maurice Moore.

The birth of their children – Shania is 2 and Victor is six months – inspired them to start Ten Tiny Toes to sell shoes for children.

“We had babies, and we noticed that there’s a lot of issues with shoes,” Clark says.

Shania suffered blisters from her shoes.

“They didn’t fit properly,” Clark says. “She’d always take them off.”

Clark and Moore started designing what they hoped would be better shoes.

“The big thing that was our overall concern was how they fit her.”

Clark, who recently graduated from Wichita State University with a health sciences degree, began contacting pediatric podiatrists and doing research about shoes.

“Well, my background, you do a lot of research,” she says. “That’s what my degree mainly focuses on.”

Ten Tiny Toes is now Clark’s full-time job. The company’s office and warehouse are on the northeast side.

Moore is a Kansas State University graduate and is getting his MBA while working in contracting.

Clark says they’ve been working on children’s shoes for two years.

“They’re better than we imagined you could come up with really,” she says. “Now we’re happy with them so we thought we should start sharing.”

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Lowen IT purchases Wichita-based Cardinal Technology Consulting

WICHITA — For the second time in three months, Lowen IT is expanding, this time with the acquisition of a Wichita company.

Lowen IT has purchased the one-man shop of Cardinal Technology Consulting, according to Lowen IT operations manager James Starkweather.

He says the company is “just kind of your generalized IT support.”

“We’ll add a few more variables to the offering,” Starkweather says. “Their clients will get some added benefits. We can offer things like voice and virtualization.”

Lowen IT is part of Hutchinson-based Lowen Corp., a 62-year-old graphics and sign company.

In August, Lowen IT purchased Buhler-based IdeaTek Consulting Division.

“They wanted to get away from IT services and support and focus mainly on telecommunications,” Starkweather says

Lowen IT has clients all over the state, he says, and is looking for overall growth.

“Wichita is an obvious choice for us because it’s 45 minutes away,” he says.

“Any opportunities we find down there, we take advantage of.”

BidKansas.com auction is back in business

Nazir Jesri, left, and his brother Ammar Jesri of Absolute Natural Stones are now running an online auction company at their store on East Kellogg.

UPDATED — Brothers Nazir and Ammar Jesri, who own Absolute Natural Stones, are reviving an online auction company they incorporated in 2009.

“We just brought it back to life,” Nazir Jesri says of Auction House LLC, which does business as BidKansas.com. “We’re starting that with a bang.”

He says “it’s like eBay, but it’s right here.”

Jesri says he used to use Purple Wave for online auctions.

“I was using the auctions to auction stone in the off season,” he says. “We lost money the first two auctions, but I kept at it.”

Eventually, he says, Purple Wave informed him that what he was selling was too small to continue trying to sell through its site.

“By the time they dropped us … we were doing really good.”

After looking for other options and not finding anything he thought would work, Jesri decided to start his own company.

“We did a little research, and we found an auction software company that leases the software,” he says.

Next, he negotiated for warehouse space to start the business. When that didn’t immediately work out, he decided to wait on the idea.

Since then, he’s decided he doesn’t need to take possession of merchandise to be auctioned, so he doesn’t need a warehouse. The business will be based at the stone company, which is at 10909 E. Kellogg.

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You don’t say

“… some people must be really bored to pick on a small business like us.”

– An e-mail from Sandbar Trading’s Rick Gottsponer, whose former website was hacked by someone in Turkey (and whose new one is doing just fine)

Duct Tape & Glitter helps Oyster.com tell its attention-getting story

UPDATED — A website that’s recently been called one of the top travel sites has had some help from Wichita’s Duct Tape & Glitter, the design division of Justin McClure Creative.

Travel expert Peter Greenberg recently named New York-based Oyster.com one of the top five sites that travelers need to know.

The 3-year-old Oyster.com is a site that reviews hotels and is known for providing pictures that hotels have on their brochures and comparing them to actual pictures of the hotels, which aren’t always the same.

Oyster.com approached Duct Tape & Glitter with what McClure calls “this huge amount of data” about the company that it wanted to put on its website.

“We just helped explain what they do in a better, informative way,” McClure says. “We outlined what they do and where they’ve been.”

The key, he says, is Duct Tape & Glitter did it in a “fun, unique, very quirky” way.

For instance, the website reviewed 250,000 hotel rooms by August 2010, which is shown with a graphic of a trendy twin bed and one beside table and lamp. By February 2012, the website had reviewed 825,000 rooms, which is shown with a graphic of a full-size bed and two bedside tables and lamps.

There are fun stats, too, such as “Calls received asking for actual oysters on the half shell,” which was three and shown with a graphic of three oysters on the half shell.

McClure thinks the creativity is “probably what has opened the doors for a lot of this other national work coming in.”

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Sandra Denneler’s pinata cookies attract attention from thousands, including Pee-wee Herman and the Huffington Post

WICHITA — She’s not going to quit her day job just yet, but Wichita State University art director Sandra Denneler is getting a lot of attention for some pinata cookies she created.

It was Cinco de Mayo 2011 when she first made the now-famous cookies. The year before, Denneler had made mini taco cookies that co-workers loved. She wanted to top them, so she created three-in-one pinata cookies. The middle cookie is hollow and spills mini M&Ms when broken.

Sometime in the last year, someone pinned Denneler’s recipe on Pinterest, and word spread.

More recently, the SheKnows food blog asked Denneler to create a tutorial on how to make the cookies.

So far, more than 40,000 people have “liked” it on Facebook, and more than 188,000 have pinned it on Pinterest.

“It was kind of weird because all these other blogs started posting it,” Denneler says.

The Huffington Post called this week and wanted to feature the recipe as well.

Even Pee-wee Herman commented on it on Facebook and Twitter.

“Oh, god, I was thrilled and excited and just laughing out loud because I thought of all people in the world, I never thought Pee-wee Herman would be a fan of mine,” Denneler says.

Her favorite comment came from one of his fans, though.

Denneler says the fan wrote, “Martha has finally been upstaged.”

“I was like, ‘Yes!’”

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Cash Mob Wichita to debut this week to help local mom-and-pop businesses

Cash Mob Wichita founder Jill Miller (left), who has chosen Aimee McCarter's Junk in the Trunk Clothing as one of seven businesses to mob in Delano on Saturday.

UPDATED — Flash mobs have descended upon Wichita before, but now the city is going to experience what appears to be its first cash mob.

That’s when groups of people visit selected local businesses en masse to offer an economic boost.

Wichita business consultant Jill Miller, whose specialty is working with small businesses, had been mulling how to better help local mom-and-pop businesses when she decided to ask some Facebook friends what they thought about doing a cash mob.

They thought it was a great idea, so late last week Miller issued something more formal to Facebook users.

Within 36 hours, she had about 1,500 people join Cash Mob Wichita.

“Jiminy Christmas,” Miller says. “I had no idea. I thought there’d be, like, 200 people or something, and it’s just blown up.”

The first cash mob will be Saturday – which happens to be National Cash Mob Day – in Delano.

“It’s just rife with small business owners that need support,” Miller says.

She’s chosen seven businesses that cash mob participants are invited to visit. They’re encouraged to spend at least $10 at one or more of the businesses.

Those include Auntie Mae’s Attic at 1301 W. Douglas; Junk in the Trunk Clothing at 728 W. Douglas; Bluebird Arthouse, which is a client of Miller’s, at 924 W. Douglas; Buy the Book Used Bookstore at 805 W. Maple; Sugar Sisters Bakery at 917 W. Douglas; and Pour Haus Restaurant & Tavern at 1021 W. Maple. The new Flying Stove — Gourmet Street Cuisine also will be in Delano to serve mob participants.

Miller says some business owners were confused about the concept when she approached them. They thought she was trying to sell them something. Miller says it’s they who will be doing the selling.

“The impact that it’s going to make to these business owners I think is going to be huge.”

That’s why she wants to choose only a few businesses to mob at a time.

Too many businesses “spreads the money out too much.”

Miller hopes to hold two or three cash mobs a month.

“This is something I want to do to help our community,” Miller says. “Being a consultant that specializes in small businesses, I see my clients struggle.”

The first cash mob will be a daylong event – from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. – instead of only a couple of hours so businesses aren’t overwhelmed.

Miller hopes cash mob participants will meet at a local watering hole or eatery after each event to help support one more business. This time, it will be the Pour Haus at 6 p.m.

“People in Wichita want to support local business,” Miller says. “I have been completely blown away by the response.”