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Hard Currency – Italy’s Unique Cheese Banks

Cash-for-cheese sounds more like a joke that a serious financial agreement, but in some regions of Italy it’s a reality. The famous Parmesan is so precious that some banks are willing to keep the cheese as collateral against loans to local producers.

The Credito Emiliano bank has hundreds of branches and thousands of employees around central and northern Italy. Its central offices look like those of any other banking institution, with cameras watching every angle, security doors to lock down the place and even a big vault in the back. Only you’re not going to find too many diamonds or hard cash stored in there. Instead, there are hundreds of thousands of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese wheels, neatly placed on giant shelves. The bank takes the Parmesan from local producers in exchange for a cheap loan, and charges a 3% interest as well as a fee for looking after the cheese and making sure it matures properly in the air-conditioned, humidified vault. It might seem strange, but Credito Emiliano treats Parmigiano-Reggiano like other banks do gold. And for good reason, as the mountains of cheese locked away in its secured vault are worth around $200 million.

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It’s No Joke – Man Charges $15 to Sharpen Your Pencil by Hand

David Rees, a cartoonist, humor writer and self-proclaimed pencil sharpening artisan runs a truly unique business. He charges customers $15 to sharpen their pencils to perfections, using a variety of tools, from pocket knives to sandpaper.

I know what you’re thinking – is this a joke? The 39-year-old entrepreneur gets asked that question a lot, so to clarify everything he even created a special section on his Artisanal Pencil Sharpening website telling everyone that he’s actually providing a real service: “If you start a pencil-sharpening business, you can expect to hear this question a lot. The short answer? No, this is not a joke. You pay David Rees money and he sharpens your pencils. It actually happens.” You can supply your own pencil or you can have Rees sharpen his one of his favorite #2 pencils and ship it to you in a in a display tube with the shavings in a separate bag along with a certificate of authenticity that just happens to mention the pencil is so sharp it is considered a dangerous object. To achieve the desired result, the master sharpener uses all kinds of tools, including general sandpaper, pocket knives and even a special $450 sharpening machine. “It depends on what the client wants to use their pencil for,’’ he says. “That determines the most appropriate pencil technique. Some buy them as inspirational tokens, and others for nostalgic memories of classic No. 2 pencils. There also are journalists who prefer my pencils to pens especially in really cold weather because a pen will freeze up, whereas a pencil won’t.’’

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Meet Denis Hope, the Man Who Sells the Moon

If someone tried to sell me the moon, I would dismiss them as con artists. So I was pretty surprised to learn about Denis Hope, a 65-year-old man from Gardnerville, Nevada, who runs a legit business selling land plots on the Moon, Mars, Venus, Io and Mercury. Of course, there’s no legal backing to all this, but there’s nobody stopping him either. As long as he’s able to make people smile, he says he can do anything he wants. He’s been in business since 1980.

Hope is a former-ventriloquist, now in the business of space real-estate. Some people view his work as the selling of ‘novelty items’ such as pet rocks and certificates. Others argue that he’s taking forth the age-old American tradition of land speculators selling plots of useless land. Hope admits that there are several others selling property in outer space, but the difference is that those people are criminal in their intent. He considers himself the legit owner of the Moon, so what he’s doing is all right. How come he is so confident, you ask? Well, he says this is as real as any other property you can buy on Earth, and that’s because he filed a declaration with the United Nations. Otherwise, Hope says he wouldn’t be selling at all.

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Young Entrepreneur Auctions Off His Last Name for 2013 to the Highest Bidder

Jacksonville-based entrepreneur Jason Sadler has come up with an ingenious way to raise some money- he has offered to legally change his last name for the whole of 2013 to the name of the company who offers hims the most money. The online auction ended yesterday, and starting January 1st, Sadler will be known as Jason HeadsetsDotCom.

The soon-to-be-called Jason HeadsetsDotCom is known for his weird ideas of making money. His original business, IWearYourShirt.com, was launched in 2009 and required Sadler to wear a sponsored T-shirt featuring a company’s logo for a full day or an entire week, for a generous fee, of course. During the first year since the company’s inception, Jason wore a different T-shirt every day, and leveraged the power of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or Flickr to get the word out about his clients. “I wore a different T-shirt for 800 days straight. No day off,” he told CNN Money. “I’d make online videos wearing the T-shirts, just going about my daily life.” He also tweeted about the brands, posted about them on Facebook and made a one-hour live video show on Ustream, where he talked about clients. Believe it or not, by 2011, Sadler had hired five people and was earning $250,000 a year in revenue, promoting important companies like Starbucks, Nissan or Zappos. How’s that for an original way of making serious dough?

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Bald Billboard – Man Uses His Head for Advertising Space for $320 a Day

Last month, 27-year-old entrepreneur Brandon Chicotsky launched a unique service called Bald Logo, turning his bald head into a billboard for businesses willing to pay him $320 per day, and walking around Austin, Texas to get as much exposure as possible.

How does the old saying go, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”? That’s exactly what Brandon Chicotsky did after he lost most of the hair on his head at a very young age. “Because I didn’t get to choose to be bald I thought I’d bring bald and beautiful back,” said Chicotsky, who also decided to use his head as an actual business. Last month, the young entrepreneur launched Bald Logo, and since then he’s been flooded with inquiries from businesses interested in having their logos temporarily tattooed on his or one of his coworkers’ heads, for a fee of $320 a day. Brandon and his team have perfected the tattoos to withstand any weather conditions, and will spend six hours a day walking the streets of Austin garnering attention for their clients. Bald Logo currently has three “bald angelicals” on its staff, but the ambitious businessman plans to hire more walking advertising spaces and expand to other cities.

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Chinese Companies Renting White Guys to Look Successful

Believe it or not, in China white guys can get a job posing as businessmen for companies who hire them to look more international to their real partners. It’s called “White Guy Window Dressing” and it’s apparently a very popular business tactic.

What makes this such a great job for white guys in China is that it has some really simple requirements: be white, don’t speak any Chinese, or speak at all unless asked, pretend like you just got off an airplane the day before, and look good in a suit. The people who usually go for this king of gig are part-time models and actors, English teachers and expats looking for a quick and easy paycheck. It’s called “White Guy Window Dressing”, “The Token White Guy Gig”, or simply the “Face Job” and it’s so popular in China these days that there’s actually a company called Rent A Laowai (Chinese for “foreigner”) that helps businesses improve their image by providing fake white employees or partners.

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Successful Businessman Selling His Whole Life on eBay

After working hard to build a business and achieve millionaire status, a Florida entrepreneur is selling it all on eBay. This includes his successful video game stores, two beachside condos, several expensive cars and three kayaks. All for the small price of $3.5 million.

Some people work their whole life and don’t even get close to amassing a fortune as large as 29-year-old’s Shane Butcher. The Tampa Bay gamer owns a thriving video game business as well as several houses and cars and lives a life most of us only dream of, and yet he is ready to sell it all and start over. “My name’s Shane, and I’m putting my American dream up for sale,” the young businessman says in his eBay ad. Butcher got the idea to pass on his success to somebody else after he heard about other people who made similar sales on eBay. He and his family are in search of a new challenge, and want to visit the world, so they decided to sell everything they’ve built so far. “If you build a castle, it’s awesome to sell it and then start building another one, hopefully bigger and better,” Shane said.

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Dog Poop Removal Company Proves Big Hit

Who knew that scooping up dog poop could also rake in the big bucks? DoodyCalls is a company that does just that. They make an annual revenue of $4.5 million, with about 6.6 million poops disposed of in the last year alone. 55 franchises currently exist in 22 states of the US, and there are plans to expand the number to at least 250 in the coming decade. That’s a huge success for an idea as simple as cleaning up behind a dog. Co-founder and CEO Jacob D’Aniello says that the only way his business could fail is, “If one day, everybody in the world woke up and decided they loved picking up dog poop.” That sure is quite unlikely, given that most people with dogs are hard pressed for time. D’Aniello agrees that his customers aren’t necessarily lazy people, but need quick solutions to the mundane tasks in life, so they can have more time for themselves. DoodyCalls allows customers to pay for more leisure time.

D’Aniello first came up with the business idea for DoodyCalls when he was driving home from work in late 1999. On a popular radio show, he heard a man talking about his love for his career – picking up dog poop. The more D’Aniello thought about this, the more he realized how much that guy loved his job, made a great living out of it, did not have to commute, and worked his own hours. Soon, he was talking about the business plan to his future wife, Susan. She wasn’t too enthusiastic at first, but once he presented her with the business pitch, she was quickly on board. DoodyCalls was soon created and ads went live in the local papers. Their first order was a housewarming gift for a friend – a six months dog poop cleaning service for the new home. Since then, there was no looking back. At $15 per week per dog, their service is affordable and popular.

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