Welcome back to Baby Breakerdom! This time, our ongoing quest to uncover budding Rule Breakers finds us gagging on a Gootube wannabe and flipping a new light switch.
First up this week is ExpoTV, which describes itself in press releases as "YouTube meets Consumer Reports."
What's that mean, exactly? Expo hosts what it calls "videopinions" -- videotaped reviews of products produced by average Janes and Joes, who are paid as much as $10 for their time. More than 100,000 videos have been made thus far.
And reviews can cover almost anything. Popular videos have covered eye makeup remover, night-lights, and a gel treatment for sunburn. (Anyone else see the cross-promotion possibilities here?)
For me, ExpoTV is somewhat reminiscent of our last second act, TvTrip, which has deals with Hilton
Sponsorship opportunities must be equally abundant for ExpoTV. Think about it. Wouldn't it make sense for a company to financially boost an ExpoTV that has gathered a stable of good reviews of its products. Or at least link to it from its own site?
Where the money is
I'll grant that Expo's blatant attempt to draft off Google
Nevertheless, the business model makes sense. Reviewers get paid a modest fee for their work instead of their endorsement. Advertisers, meanwhile, get to spread the word across the Web and, thanks to a deal with Charter Communications
How much is anyone's guess. Earlier this month, Expo collected an undisclosed sum from new investor DFJ Gotham Ventures, which joined Masthead Venture Partners and Prism VentureWorks in Expo's private equity party.
But I wouldn't bet on that undisclosed sum being much. Why? The allure of a business model like Expo's is that -- in theory, at least -- it shouldn't take much capital to grow the business significantly. If I'm right -- and I think I am -- then smelly, cheesy, beautiful ExpoTV is worth adding to your IPO watch list.
A bright idea
Next up is Group IV Semiconductor, which, like high-growth peer Color Kinetics
I love the idea. History proves that business rebellions work best when they tackle an outdated technology that everyone depends on. Take a look at the Rule Breakers portfolio. Our biggest winner to date -- a four-bagger -- is robot doc Intuitive Surgical
The light bulb hasn't much changed, either. Its problem isn't one of function so much as efficiency. Group IV says that today's bulbs waste as much as 75% of the energy they consume and, in the process, give off far too much heat. A more efficient bulb could aid conservation and, thereby, reduce carbon emissions. Or so the theory goes.
All IV one
Color Kinetics makes the same argument. But its solution is to use light-emitting diodes -- small semiconductors that reflect light more efficiently than incandescent or fluorescent lights. Group IV says plain old silicon is an even better material for reflecting light, arguing that it can deliver the same brightness as its classic counterparts, and more cheaply than LED technology.
That's an intriguing argument that rings at least partially true. Silicon has become a commodity material, thanks to PCs and other electronic devices. (Seriously. Try counting the devices in your home that require a chip of some kind.)
There's only one problem: Group IV has yet to introduce a workable product.
Still, some venture investors believe one is inevitable, including Rules For Revolutionaries author Guy Kawasaki and the venture arm of Applied Materials
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Tim Beyers is a regular contributor to Fool.com and the Rule Breakers team. He didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. Find Tim's portfolio here and his latest blog commentary here. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is a rebel on Wall Street.