Looking for creative merchandising ideas? Here are five novel concepts that entrepreneurs have used to launch profitable mobile businesses.
- Rethink the “food truck.” Who needs gasoline? SoupCycle of Portland, Ore., delivers organic soups via bicycle-powered cart. The League of American Bicyclists ranks Portland among the top U.S. cities for two-wheeled commuting, and that statistic, plus the region’s mild climate, is creating opportunities for bicycle-delivery services. The company’s vision is “a yummilicious sustainable future where everyone has access to wonderfully tasting, local, organic soups.”
- Start a “traveling culinary carnival.” When the Fojol Bros. of Merlindia cruise the streets of Washington, D.C., in colorful circus-style attire, you might think a three-ring circus has come to town. The “brothers,” all four of whom sport handlebar mustaches (and only two of whom are actually related), prepare ethnic recipes from the fictitious nation of Merlindia. Despite their comical circus-style antics, the Fojol Bros. are serious about cooking: The company garnered a coveted spot on QSR Magazine’s list of Top 20 food trucks in 2011 and has received rave reviews for its East Indian curries.
- Transform an RV into a gaming theater. GameTruck (pictured) operates a video-game theater inside a recreational vehicle that it drives to clients’ homes for parties. The mobile gaming room — which is climate-controlled, outfitted with multiple giant TV screens, and powered by generators — accommodates up to two-dozen gamers playing simultaneously. CEO Scott Novis says he had seen friends in Tempe, Ariz. haul their Xboxes off to a garage for parties, and he thought, “Wow, why don’t we make that effortless for people?” The parent company, which has franchisees in more than 50 markets, holds a U.S. patent for its novel “method of entertaining using a mobile entertainment environment.”
- Eradicate pests. Who doesn’t want to keep the creepy crawlers out of their home? Screenmobile repairs window, door, and patio screens on call. The company also stocks a full assortment of screens, including retractable ones, and sells pet guards, too. Screenmobile offered it first franchise in 1984 and since then has opened close to a hundred locations in the U.S.
- Do something “nutty.” The Nutty Bavarian, based in Sanford, Fla., licenses the use of its nut-roasting and glazing carts to sports arenas, zoos, and other venues. Despite the humorous depiction of the company’s “nutty Bavarian” mascot, founder/owner David Brent is a rocket scientist with a graduate degree in aeronautical engineering who automated the century-old process of cooking nuts in a copper kettle over a fire.