Archive for the ‘Announcements’ Category

When the Competition Copies You!

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

In our modern society and marketplace it’s hard to be original. It seems all good (& bad) ideas have been tried.

I should've thought of that!

I should have thought of that!

Dollars and dreams have been pursued and wasted, some things catch on while others don’t.  And more often than not a good idea poorly executed goes nowhere – which in my opinion is one of the  main reasons small businesses fail.

But when you have a good idea and someone copies it, try taking it as a compliment. And do not fret if they’re a competitor of yours, as their efforts will only force you to enhance your own. I know that’s easier said than done but it’s something I try to keep in mind. Especially considering that:

  • In 1999 I copied a company from Marin County where I grew up. They were a multi-million dollar organization while I was just a start up.
  • In 2001 I copied the other local newspapers by building a website. It sounds ridiculous but back then not everyone had websites nor thought they were worth the investment. I’m glad I did.
  • Throughout the years I’m sure I’ve copied or “borrowed” ideas from many sources and most recently in 2010 we copied Groupon by launching Axxess Daily Deals. It’s been a huge hit for our clients and subscribers and I’m well aware of others trying to enter the market. Are they copying Axxess or are they copying Groupon like I did? And does it matter? Probably not.
  • Google tried to buy Groupon and their $6 Billion offer was rejected just a month ago. This week they announced they are launching their own service – and guess what? They’re copying Groupon.

My point is that all good ideas get copied: books, movies, pick up lines, software, businesses, consumer products, etc. Just think how many brands of ibuprofen or toilet paper there are. Starbucks owns the coffee market and McDonald’s owns the fast food market, so McDonald’s copies Starbucks with their McWhateverLatte and boom – they’re now competing with the coffee giant. Before we know it, Starbucks will be serving assembly line burgers and kickass french fries. Sorry, I digress…

Anyway, like most people I strive for originality – but I also know a good thing when I see it…and know when to copy it! Hopefully it makes everyone better in the long run.

I doubt anyone ever copied this idea

One idea we WON'T be copying!

Free Coffee or $1 Espresso Drink Tomorrow

Monday, December 6th, 2010
What could be better!

Free is Good

I’m inviting you to the 805 Deli for a FREE medium cup of Joe or any Espresso drink for a buck tomorrow only, Tuesday December 7th.

Located on the corner of Carrillo and Santa Barbara Street they open at 6am and serve breakfast and lunch. They recently added self serve frozen yogurt too.

This is no gimmick, just show your Axxess Card or mention Axxess if you don’t have a Card. So skip Starbucks tomorrow and give them a try.Tell your friends too. Enjoy!

Thank you Ear

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Thanksgiving , is an interesting holiday in which we dine with family & friends and take time to recognize what we’re thankful for – and rightfully so since I think most of us are extremely fortunate compared to  many others across the world. At most Thanksgiving get-togethers I hear the usual expressions of thankfulness for one’s loved ones, friends, the meal on the table, etc. – all things I am definitely thankful for.

bush turkeyIn January of 2009 I underwent a 10 1/2 hour brain surgery to remove a tumor inside my skull that was pushing up into my ear canal and against my facial nerves. The recovery was as intense as the procedure and I learned a few things throughout the entire process about myself and about life.  I could go on and on about the experience but because it’s Thanksgiving I’ll stick with tradition and share some things I’m thankful for. In doing so I’ll try to mention a few things that traditionally get overlooked because they’re so obvious.

My list is in no particular order and doesn’t cover it all, but it’s a start and I’m sure much of it is relevant to all.

I’m thankful for my eye balls and that they work; my legs; the fact that I have hands with opposed thumbs; I’m thankful that I can feed myself; that I can talk; for the excellent education my surgeons received and for their dedication to their trade; that modern medicine has developed amazing drugs; I’m extremely thankful that I have one ear that works perfectly despite my other one being permanently and 100% out of order.

I’m grateful for the fact that running and hot water is a daily part of our lives, electricity too; that I can get a hot cup of coffee anytime the mood strikes; that our roads are paved; that I own a car that does more than get me from A to B; that dial up internet is a thing of the past; that the Giants won the world series; and that my daily work commute is under 5 minutes.

I’m very thankful that I’ve experienced no tragic deaths in the past five years; those that I care about are healthy and for the simple fact that I woke up this morning (at 4am due to my adorable one year old who seems to be an early riser!) and am alive. I’m also thankful that you’re reading this, hopefully it’ll resonate with you. (And the Bush Turkey photo has no relevance, I just thought it was funny.)

South Coast Deli to Open 3rd Location!

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

South Coast Deli is planning on opening up a 3rd location on State and Carrillo where the former Tuttini’s was.

I’m not sure what happened to Tuttini’s, but I know the previous owners worked so damn hard to make a go of that little place that they probably just gave up due to pure exhaustion. (You may recall Tutti’s in Montecito? The word on the street back then was that their lease was up the landlord didn’t renew it and was instead seeking a more long term corporate renter. Tutti’s old location is now home to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Coast Village Road.) Tuttini’s, the spin off a few years later was on the way to my office and before I had a wife and baby, or a life – I used to often get to work just after 5 am. I could always count on Susan being there so early each day, prepping treats and brewing a pot from  Roco . And although I was a business owner myself busting my tail and working ridiculous hours, I was always so impressed at her hard work and dedication. Also, her perseverance – because when her Montecito restaurant closed they re-opened it in Ventura (Tutti’s off Main) and opened Tuttini’s in downtown Santa Barbara.

I tried for years to get them on board with Axxess but never got anywhere. But regardless, it’s a bummer to see them go. The good news is that one of Santa Barbara’s favorite eateries is going in there – Yup, South Coast Deli.

Again, here’s a couple who has also worked endlessly hard at building their business and it’s nice to see they’ll soon have 3 doors open. I’ve known them for over ten years as they were one of my very first clients in Axxess Book #1 back in 1999 -  and amazingly they’re still with us (Axxess). Over ten years ago, they had a location in Carpinteria and the one that’s still on Hollister at Patterson. They believed in what I was doing and give me the opportunity to prove that it could work and for that I’m most thankful. If I didn’t have clients like them I’d be long out of business!

South Coast Deli on Chapala

South Coast Deli on Chapala

Anyway, I think they’ll be open in the next few months so look out for an Axxess email announcement.

(My favorite sandwich is either the South Coast Cajun Turkey or Mark’s Panini. My wife loves the Cobb)

Moving Green with Movegreen

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Moving companies are not exactly companies you think of every day nor do many of us even know any local moving companies. But, in the last few years movegreen has come on the local scene and there’s a reason they’ve quickly become the go to company for the Tri-Counties.

Movegreen puts their money where their mouth is and are truly Eco-friendly – they use biodeisel trucks, recycle their  boxes and materials, and take numerous measures to reduce the carbon footprint behind every move. It seems to me they’re pioneering the industry.

In the company’s infancy they made it a priority to get certified as a green business and can actually boast of being our County’s 3rd certified company. They  were green before it was cool.

Founders Patrick and Erik went to school together in Bend, Oregon. Patrick then moved to San Luis Obispo and owned a Pita Pit franchise. He later moved to Santa Barbara after purchasing the Pita Pit in Isla Vista and randomly bumped into his old friend Erik. Both ended up working for a local moving company to make some money and both  really enjoyed the work, particularly providing a more satisfying feeling than serving pitas all day. As time went on Patrick and Erik realized there was room for improvement in the move industry and felt it important to be more than just a moving company with good service; and thus the idea for Movegreen was born.

What strikes me most about this company is not only that the founders are young and passionate, but that they “get it”. They get the big picture and are more concerned with doing what’s right than doing what’s profitable. Fortunately, they’ve found a way to do both and there philosophy appears to be working  because I think they’re already expanding the company nationwide.

Last fall, movegreen delivered nearly 10,000 Axxess Books to local schools who were fund-raising with Axxess. They donated their time, their energy and their trucks to help us help the schools. It was extremely generous and I was extremely thankful that for the first time in 7 years I didn’t have to deliver boxes in my own car! (Thank guys.)

An Eco Friendly Tip!

An Eco Friendly Tip!

John Nordstrom is a person too.

Friday, April 16th, 2010

I’ve been so busy lately I don’t think I’ve posted anything in weeks. I feel like a sinner: Please readers (all 3 of you!), forgive me as it’s been nearly four weeks since my last post.

I’ve been wanting to share with you some stories and background on some of the businesses that you see in the Axxess Program. Prior to my life as “the Axxess Guy” it  never crossed my mind that each business in the world has a person or multiple persons behind it. It’s not that I’m a numskull or that the concept is hard to grasp, it’s just something that didn’t cross my mind. I always felt that a business was something bigger than me and over time I unknowingly or unintentionally developed sort of an adversarial attitude towards them.

For example, at a sandwich shop maybe I (or someone you know) would take a second refill at the soda machine when refills were not allowed. Who cares right? Or maybe I got arrested when I was 16 for shoplifting at Nordstroms. Again, who cares? It just never crossed my mind that each penny or dollar that I might have unjustifiably taken – was taken one in way or another directly out of the pocket of another person. Not that John Nordstrom was going to miss the $60 shirt I might have tried to walk out with – but certainly those types of “losses” add up. And had  I known or been friends with Mr. Nordstrom I’m quite sure that incident never would have happened in the first place. (And it didn’t! I’m just using this as a hypothetical example. And even if it did happen I was proabbly a minor at the time so I shouldn’t have any police record of such an incident anyway.)

Whether it’s the local deli or the local CostCo – the result of what you’re seeing and where you’re spending your money started out  simply as an idea by a regular person just like you or I.  So every time you’re in a store, big or small; Axxess participant or not – remember that the store, like every individual person, has a story to tell.

So stay tuned as I share some stories with you over the weeks to come in an attemp to connect you with local “merchants”.

This did not happen to me!

This did not happen to me!

Getting Started.

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Most of us business owners have a unique story to tell, particularly surrounding how we got started and what prompted us to start the business. But interestingly enough, all our stories are surprisingly similar.

Usually, someone thinks they can do something better than it’s being done or comes across a concept that isn’t being done at all. They get all excited as the ideas start flowing. Then, as the ideas get put down on paper the fear and doubts set it. Ultimately, a few of us put those aside and figure out a way to “go for it.”

I was 22 and had about $6 to my name. Like most other young first time entrepreneurs we borrowed money from our parents. I’m not sure who was crazier them – for lending me the money or me – for thinking I could pull this off! Then, we got some family friends to invest once we had published our first book about a year later. It was tough going but each business owner I talk to has a very parallel story involving the hunt for money or the depletion of a savings account, possibly leaving a career and Oh yah – being told over and over again by the naysayers that it can’t be done. Or even worse, that it can be done…but not by you.

So many business owners start out in their garage ( Bill Gates) or in their dorm room (Michael Dell) or on the side of the road in a little shack with a grill (Ray Kroc: McD’s). And at that time most of them had very little capital and possibly even less experience. But they had passion and an idea, coupled with a naive optimism and that just might be enough to make a business thrive.  Another great example of this would be Paul Orfalea – the one time UCSB student turned curb side copy boy turned mega-millionaire. Amazing.

First Kinko's headquarters in IV: a tiny, 100-sq.-ft. copy shop next door was a taco stand. Founder Paul Orfalea later cut a hole in the connecting wall so he could order lunch without leaving the store. The first Kinko's occasionally became so crowed that Orfalea rolled a copier out on the sidewalk for self-serve copies.

First Kinko's headquarters in IV: a tiny, 100-sq.-ft. copy shop next door was a taco stand. Founder Paul Orfalea later cut a hole in the connecting wall so he could order lunch without leaving the store. The first Kinko's occasionally became so crowed that Orfalea rolled a copier out on the sidewalk for self-serve copies.

I hope to highlight some of the Axxess Advertiser’s stories in the next few weeks and if you have a story to tell please share it with. Because I could talk about Axxess all day long…

Hot Patios

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Such nice weather really makes me want to get outside and enjoy our town. I hike or a trip to the beach is pretty standard for my weekend, but so is hanging out at some of the best patios around. One of my favorite off the beaten path places to sip a beer in the sun is Padaro Beach Grill – but be prepared to deal with all the kids running around. If you’d prefer  something a little quieter and “adult” – try the Garden Market (also in Carpinteria). They’ve got a pretty good wine menu and a peaceful patio in the back worthy of a few hours. Also down that way is Cafe Luna – which I think has beer and wine but also serves up coffee and treats.
In town – Eladio’s is a spot that every time I go, I tell myself I need to go more often. If  you want to stay on State Street to do some people watching – I think Aldo’s, The Chase or State & A are perfect.  State Street of course also has plenty of serious watering holes – like Madison’s. And if you’re forced to spend a day in a mall, schedule an hour on Pizza Mizza’s outdoor area or at Hollister Brewing Company up near Costco.

Please enjoy your Patio responsibly!

Please enjoy your Patio responsibly!

Of course, if you’re in the mood for Coffee – and I always am, Jitters or Java Station both serve the local favorite Green Star Coffee and both have good sun and people watching too.


This is hard work

Saturday, March 6th, 2010


I haven’t written anything in almost two weeks despite the fact that I try to every other  day or so.  Sometimes I blank on topics and even though there’s plenty of things in the news to comment in – I try to keep this site light.

The past few weeks I’ve just been way too busy to write anything. Busy – hanging out in Sayulita Mexico with friends & watching my old business partner Nate Williams get married.  It was a blast.

Nate & I were roommates and best friends throughout and after college. We were actually in Mexico right after college graduation in 1998 with his parents when we decided that we had to start a business. Of course, we had no good ideas at the time but over a few beers anything seemed possible. A year later, we scraped together $30k from friends and family and went for it.

A few years into Axxess we were both barely hanging on financially. Bar-tending on State Street just wasn’t cutting it. We paid rent with our credit cards and were getting into some serious debt because the business certainly wasn’t providing us with any financial return. We parted ways as business partners in 2002 and surprised everyone by remaining best friends. He then traveled South America for a year and later finished top of his class becoming a firefighter in Orange County. Many of you knew Nate and might even recognize him from the Fox reality show The Academy in which Fox chronicled his particular class’s training – which is actually quite typical of Nate. Not only does he get into the academy, but he gets to be on TV.

Oh well, Axxess is on TV all the time.  (For $2 per second!)


Friday, December 11th, 2009

During the holidays, especially when it’s really cold out  I always look forward to having cocktails at The Chase Bar. It seems festively decorated year round but in December they really go all out with the holiday decorations. The Chase is back in the Axxess Program this year so stop by, and if you go tonight or next Friday at happy hour I’ll meet you there.  Be sure to say Hi to George the owner who’s often behind the