Who’ll ﬁre up the Dragons?
For the second successive year, the JC and the London Jewish Cultural Centre invited aspiring entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas for a special Dragons’ Den-style event. In the second of a two-part feature, We profile the remaining finalists chosen to face the Dragons
James Brookner and Matt Garcia
Everyday Models — a company that enables you to rent out personal space to advertisers
James Brookner and Matt Garcia have come up with a pioneering way to advertise. Their start-up, Everyday Models, invites people to rent out a variety of personal spaces — such as their clothes, car, house or online social networking profile — to advertisers
Launched last year, the company, believed to be the first of its kind, is already generating considerable attention and was named the Board of Innovation’s Most Innovative Business Concept of the Year 2009.
Mr Brookner, 22 (pictured on the left), came up with the idea at university. He says: “I read about a guy in Nebraska who had auctioned his forehead to paying advertisers. It made me curious as to what else could be constituted as advertising space.” He teamed up with Mr Garcia, a family friend who runs his own design studio and has 15 years’ experience working in the media. Mr Garcia, 35, was confident the idea had considerable potential. He says: “I was excited by the notion of empowering individuals with new ways of earning money, while offering brands cost-effective ways of reaching their target audience.”
Mr Brookner turned down a job at Lloyds TSB in Monaco to develop the concept together with Mr Garcia. The duo are now benefiting from the tough economic climate, as people seek news ways to make money.
“We spent a great deal of time thinking of innovative ways for people to earn themselves some extra income without it encroaching on their everyday lives,” says Mr Garcia, who lives in north London. “We felt confident that if we were able to find enough people willing to take part, we would find enough keen advertisers looking for cost-effective advertising methods to find people work.”
An “everyday model” can make money by advertising on their social networking profile, clothes, possessions, vehicles or business products.
The company, which is based in Mr Garcia’s offices in Crouch End, is on target to have around 25,000 people on its database by the end of the year. Mr Garcia and Mr Brookner have been fielding enquiries from abroad but are concentrating on developing the UK-side of the business. “Our long-term plan is to franchise Everyday Models to every country and region throughout the world.” Mr Brookner adds: “Any assistance from the Dragons in doing this would be great, as would any contacts. It is really developing into a very credible and exciting business.”
Gabriel Gherscovic and Wayne Chodosh
The Bio-Pen — a writing tool that recognises your signature
Gabriel Gherscovic and Wayne Chodosh are proposing a high-tech product that they believe could revolutionise the security market.
Mr Gherscovic, a security expert, and Mr Chodosh, a technology enthusiast, have teamed up to pitch the Bio-Pen. Not yet available for use in the UK, the Bio-Pen recognises and records signatures for a range of purposes, notably to provide access to an office or site. Instead of analysing the image of a signature — a method that can be forged — the Bio-Pen measures the movements used in the act of signing.
The duo have secured the exclusive rights to market the product in Europe. They will do so under Mr Gherscovic’s security company, GEG Consultancy. They are now seeking exposure, introductions and advice from the Dragons to help them do so. Mr Chodosh, 55 (below right), says: “Security is such a big thing at the moment and other methods have their flaws. Fingerprinting is not very politically correct, and people mistrust methods using swipe cards, face-recognition and DNA. People have been using signatures to identify themselves for years so it makes sense to use it for security identification purposes. It is also less invasive. The Bio-Pen has the potential to revolutionise security.”
Mr Gherscovic, 33, adds: “I see this as a very useful tool for kindergartens and schools.” The businessmen have been in talks with Jewish schools about its implementation. “There is nothing else like it on the market and to be able to develop it for the mainstream market is fantastic.”
The men, members of Norrice Lea Synagogue in north London, will market the Bio-Pen as part of a package priced from £200.
Some of the other entries
Hyde House, affordable bespoke furniture
ABC Accounts, a quick way of balancing the books MartinLevin@ntlWorld.com
Silkra, property company
Cook with Lisa, cookery school