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Female Tech Entrepreneurs Invent Male Co-Founder to Beat Industry Sexism

After noticing that many of the male developers and graphic designers they approached were either condescending or vaguely disrespectful, two female tech entrepreneurs decided to invent a male partner to handle communications. They claim that the difference was “like night and day”.

A year ago, Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer decided to create an online marketplace for bizarre and dark-humored art, as an alternative to big sites like Etsy, which they believe have too much limitations and excessive censorship. With minimal tech skills and a very limited budget of a few thousand dollars of their own money, getting “Witchsy” off the ground was never going to be easy, but one thing the two ladies didn’t expect was to be treated differently simply because of their sex. Some of the people they contacted to work on the site either took a condescending tone with them, like opening an email with “Okay, girls”, while others took it even further, like a developer who tried to delete their site because Penelope refused to go on a date with him. But everything changed when a certain “Keith” took over communications.

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Umbrella Sharing Company Loses Most of Its 300,000 Umbrellas in a Couple of Months

Sharing E Umbrella, a new umbrella sharing company based in Shenzen, China, recently announced that it had lost most of the 300,000 umbrellas it made available since it launched, in April.

China’s sharing economy has been booming, with companies offering anything from bicycles and basketballs to smartphone battery banks on a rental basis. Customers make a small deposit and get to use the item for a set period of time for a daily fee, with penalty fees put in place for every day that they fail to return the product after the deadline. It’s a simple business model, and market data shows that consumers see sharing as a cheap and convenient way to reduce waste and avoid clutter. However, it doesn’t always work out as well as entrepreneurs hope.

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Color-Blind Highschooler Makes Millions Selling Custom Socks Online

17-year-old Brennan Agranoff started his custom sock business in middle school, with a small loan he got from his parents. He has so far sold over $1 million worth of socks online in the last four years and is now planning to get his wacky socks into retail stores as well.

Brennan came up with the idea for his custom sock company at just 13 years old. He was attending a high-school basketball game in his home town of Sherwood, Oregon, and noticed that many kids his age were wearing the same white Nike sport socks. The young entrepreneur told himself that if these plain white socks were so popular with kids, then some cool custom designs would surely be an even greater hit.

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Coffee Shops with Bikini-Clad Staff Spark Controversy

Bikini Beans Espresso is a coffee shop chain with branches in Arizona and Washington where patrons can have their favorite coffee prepared and served by beautiful women wearing bikinis, g-strings or just three strategically-placed stickers.

Thanks to its attractive dress code, Bikini Beans Espresso has become hugely popular, especially among its male clientele. Apparently, a simple visit to one of these coffee shops has a way of brightening up a man’s day, and it’s definitely not just the coffee. But despite encouraging sales, impressive 5-star ratings on Yelp and thousands of followers on social media, Bikini Beans Espresso has its fare share of critics, most of which claim that the mandatory dress code of the staff is degrading for women.

That’s definitely not how the owners of Bikini Beans Espresso shops see it, though. They claim that the girl’s skimpy “uniforms” actually empower women, helping them feel comfortable in their own skin.

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Chinese Villagers Become Millionaires Selling Yarn Online

A few years ago, most of the 2,000 or so villagers in Donggaozhuang, northern China, were struggling to put food on the table by growing wheat and corn. Now, dozens of them are millionaires and more on well on their way of making six-figure fortunes after switching to selling yarn online.

Donggaozhuang’s success story started with the idea of one villager, who set up an e-shop on Taobao, China’s largest online commerce platform, to sell yarn. Things went way better than he had anticipated, and in just three months, he made a profit of $2,900, a small fortune, considering that the highest minimum wage in China is currently around $330 per month. Word of his booming business spread like wildfire around Donggaozhuang, and the village elders soon approached the man, asking him to teach other members of the community how to set up their own online businesses.

Since yarn had worked so well for Donggaozhuang’s first online entrepreneur, everyone followed in his footsteps and they all started making money. Realizing the potential of their businesses, many sold their lands and put their farming days behind them to focus solely on their e-shops. They started buying wool, turning it into yarn and selling that on Taobao.

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Russian Entrepreneurs Give Women the Chance to Rent Flower Bouquets and Expensive Gifts for Women’s Day Photo Shoots

With Women’s Day just around the corner, social networks like Instagram and VKontakte have become flooded with ads from Russian entrepreneurs offering women in Moscow the chance to rent impressive 101-rose bouquets and designer shopping bags for 10-minute photo shoots.

If your boyfriend is cheap, but you want to spark the envy of all your girlfriends without actually breaking the bank, or if you just want to make your boyfriend jealous, and you live in Moscow, Russia, there are a number of online services that you can use to have a gorgeous bouquet and an expensive-looking gift delivered at your doorstep for a 10-minute photo session. You can then post the pics online on March 8 and watch everyone go green with envy.

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Entrepreneur Sells World’s Most Expensive Mountain Air at $167 per Bottle

If you’ve ever been to Switzerland you already know that pretty much everything is expensive there, and the fresh mountain air is apparently no exception. Well, most of it is actually free, but if you want to order a liter of Swiss mountain air collected from a secret location in the Alps, you’ll have to cough up a whopping $167. This is not a joke!

John Green, a British expat living in Basel, Switzerland, is the brains behind “Genuine Mountain Air from Switzerland”, a fledgling online business that promises to ship fresh, high-quality Swiss air anywhere around the world, if you can afford it. Green claims to collect the air from a “secret location” near the town of Zermatt, then bottles it up in glass containers, labels it and ships it to buyers.

Described as “the ultimate present for the man or woman that has everything,” the bottled mountain air also comes with a certificate of authenticity and the exact GPS collection of the place it was collected from.

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Swedish Company Where Nobody Is in Charge Proves Bosses Are Overrated

Do companies need a strong leader to make it in today’s highly competitive environment? Many would say “yes, definitely”, but the employees of one Swedish software consultancy company would tell them otherwise. They don’t have a CEO. Nobody tells anyone what to do, instead all the 40 employees have meetings and decide together.

Crisp, the software consultancy firm that has become world famous for not having a boss, has in fact gone through a number of organisational structures, including the classic formula of having a single person running things. Hoping to get its employees more involved, it moved on to changing its chief executive officer annually, but ultimately, the 40-strong staff decided there was actually no need for a single leader, so they scrapped the position altogether.

“We said, ‘what if we had nobody as our next CEO – what would that look like?’ And then we went through an exercise and listed down the things that the CEO does,” said Yassal Sundman, a developer at Crisp. He and his colleagues quickly realized that many of the CEO’s responsibilities overlapped with their own, with the few roles that didn’t easily shareable among other employees. SO they decided to give the boss-less experiment a try.

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Chinese Restaurant Adopts “Pay What You Want” Policy, Loses $15,000 in a Week

A naive restaurant owner in Guiyang, China, who thought that appealing to people’s inherent goodness would be a good way to attract customers to his new karst cave-themed restaurant, managed to lose over 100,000 RMB in just seven days.

Liu Xiaojun and his two business partners did the math, and decided that promoting their new restaurant by applying the now-famous “pay what you want” policy would be a good idea. Choosing to ignore the disastrous experiences of other restaurant owners who allowed customers to pay what they wanted for the food, the three simply assumed that the vast majority of customers would be rational and fair. They were wrong.

To be honest, their idea wasn’t a total failure. The news that they could order as many dishes as they liked and pay whatever they wanted for them attracted lots of customers, but many of them paid only 10% of the cost of their meal, while a few even dared to leave just 1 RMB (¢15) on the table. In just seven days, the restaurant had incurred losses of over 100,000 RMB ($15,000) and the promotion fell apart. Following the disastrous result, the three owners got into a serious argument and one of them left the city, vowing never to return again.

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Mistress Dispellers – The Controversial Services Keeping Chinese Families Together

In the Western world, when a wife finds out her husband is having an affair she they either confronts him directly about it asking him to stop, or just gets a divorce. But things are a bit more complicated in China, due to the social stigma and financial burden associated with divorce, so an increasing number of women are turning to companies specializing in driving away mistresses. Introducing the “mistress dispellers”.

It’s not uncommon for Chinese businessmen and high ranking officials to signal their status by maintaining a mistress, and with the country’s economy growing at a rapid pace, it’s no wonder that “mistress dispeller” services that combat cheating are becoming very popular. For a considerable fee – typically starting in the tens of thousands of dollars – these companies will coach scorned wives how to strengthen their marriage while employing a variety of tactics to drive away the problematic mistress.

While it may sound like a scam to cheat the poor wives out of serious sums of money, mistress dispellers, or “xiaoshan quantui”, are apparently very good at what they do. Shu Xin, director of  Weiqing International Marriage Hospital Emotion Clinic Group, a mistress dispeller company based in Shanghai, says that every case starts with thorough research on the mistress. An investigation team will analyze her family, friends, education, job and daily habits looking for any information that could help them meet their goal.

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Entrepreneurs Sell Canned Ibiza Air as Souvenirs

A pair of bold Ibiza entrepreneurs have come up with a way of making a bit of money by selling the island’s cheapest and most easily available commodity – air. “Aire de Ibiza” tin cans full of “pure and virgin” air cost just €5.90 ($6.5) and are apparently a big hit with tourists looking for special souvenirs.

Selling canned or bottled air isn’t exactly a new business idea. As far as we know, it all started in 2012, when Chinese billionaire Chen Guangbiao started selling cans of fresh air for about $0.80 a piece, as a way of raising awareness to the country’s air pollution problems. It wasn’t meant to be a real business venture, but it got people interested and before long, veritable bottled-air companies started popping out all across the globe. We even mentioned a few here on Oddity Central, like Vitality Air – a startup selling fresh Canadian air mainly to the Chinese market, Air de Montcuq – a company selling cans of fresh air from the French country side, or this group of Russian entrepreneurs selling air from Yeti’s cave.

But while the air cans sold by the companies mentioned above can be opened and savored, Aire de Ibiza tins are sealed shut on purpose, to prevent buyers from opening them. They are designed merely as souvenirs for tourists meant to bring back memories of their time on the island. While you’ll never be able to check for yourself, unless you’re willing to ruin the souvenir, the brilliant minds behind Aire de Ibiza claim that each can is filled with “100 percent pure air, no additives, made in Spain and gluten free”. The tongue-in-cheek description is a nice touch, but is it worth $6.5? Some people certainly don’t think so.

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This Home Appliance Store Lets You Try Every Product Before Deciding to Buy It

California-based retailer Pirch is setting a new standard in shopping for home appliances by allowing customers to test products first hand in its stores – right from turning on a kitchen stove to standing under a fully functional showerhead. What’s more, shoppers are greeted with fresh coffee and complimentary snacks as they look around.

The idea is to get customers to spend a long time in their stores, and it seems to be working. According to Pirch CEO Jeffery Sears, shoppers are now spending an average of two hours and 11 minutes at each of their locations. And of course, they’re buying stuff too. Some of Pirch’s eight stores across the US are reporting sales over $3,000 per square foot, a number surpassed only by Tiffany’s and Apple shops.

“We know that when people walk through the space they’re just stunned and they start to dream,” said Sears, who co-founded Pirch with James Stuart in 2009. “Water runs, the chefs are cooking and people are learning. Pretty soon you just simply say, ‘My house sucks.’”

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Woman Uses Her OCD to Become Professional Wardrobe Organizer for the Wealthy

Proving that every cloud has a silver lining is 24-year-old Deng Mei, a young entrepreneur from China who is making the most of her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). She has managed to leverage the frustrating condition to her advantage, using it to set up a successful business that helps wealthy people organise their wardrobes.

Deng Mei recently made headlines in Chinese media for her job as a professional wardrobe organiser for wealthy clients in the city of Chengdu, China’s Sichuan Province. Although she credits her previous jobs as salesperson at a fashion boutique and as a nanny as inspiration for her unusual business, the young entrepreneur admits that her obsession with tidiness also helped a lot.

She first came up with the idea for the unique service towards the end of 2014, during a babysitting job. “I have a little bit of OCD,” she said. “I love cleaning my room. I can’t bear to see a mess. I was helping a client organizing her wardrobe out of my paid hours because I couldn’t stand it. Then my client said: ‘Why don’t you turn this into a business?’”

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Twin Sisters Sleep with Plush Toys, Sell Them on Instagram for $333 a Piece

A pair of identical twin sisters from Los Angeles have come up with a bizarre way to make money – they’re ‘sleeping’ with superhero figurines and then selling each one for a whopping $333. In a bid to boost sales, they’re also posting highly suggestive photographs on Instagram of each night spent with a figurine.

Allie and Lexie Kaplan, 22, are working in collaboration with ‘The Most Famous Artist’ Matty Mo, who rose to fame after making $50,000 in one weekend by selling cash on Instagram. The figurine collection, named ‘The Boys Toys’, features seven fictional characters – Batman, Mario, Pikachu, Yoda, Chewbacca, The Hulk, and Darth Vader. The sisters revealed that they purchased the figurines for a total of $130 from LA’s Toy District and are selling each one for $333. According to The Most Famous Artist online shop, they are all sold out.

“Each ‘Boy Toy’ is signed on the tag and includes a signed Certificate of Authenticity sealed with kisses and a framed picture of us with the ‘Boy Toy’. And yes they smell like us,” the twins wrote on Instagram. “We are taking over @themostfamousartist this week to launch our new project ‘Boy Toys’. We slept with each one of them and have the pictures to prove it. This week we are going to tell you all about each ones dirty little secrets.”

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This Guy Is on Track to Make $100,000 a Year Decorating Bananas

We think ‘Bananas Gone Wild’ beats Potato Parcel hands down in terms of most ridiculous business idea ever. But hey, what do we know – both services, started by Texas entrepreneurs, have proven to be insanely successful. While the latter involved sending people messages inscribed on raw potatoes, this newer venture is all about decorating bananas and selling them for $10 apiece.

Davonte Wilson, the brains behind Bananas Gone Wild, first came up with the idea during his stint as an electrocardiogram technician at a hospital. He became popular at the workplace as ‘that guy who draws funny faces on bananas’, with some co-workers going as far as to making fun of his bizarre hobby. But it’s Wilson who is laughing all the way to the bank now, as his business is apparently projected to earn him a whopping $100,000.

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