Friday, April 16, 2010

From Wall Street to Doggy Day Care

Maybe it was the shorter and far less stressful commute. Then again, it could have been walking down city streets without the whole shoulder-to-shoulder effect.

More than likely, though, those two elements, along with less hustle and bustle altogether, gave Amy Ryan what she could only describe as “major-league culture shock.”

But the franchise owner of Camp Bow Wow’s newest Greater Cleveland location in Highland Heights knew what she was getting into and wanted every bit of it. She didn’t go into detail, but she didn’t mention many fond memories from her time in the Big Apple — all 22 years of it.

During that time she worked for a few large, famed companies like Prudential Securities and Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. on Wall Street. Before her move here two years ago, she asked herself what she was going to do next with her life. Ryan said any move had to fulfill two prerequisites: Allow her to continue making money (she undoubtedly made a lot of it as a specialty retail analyst on Wall Street) and enable her to have fun at the same time, something that eluded her in her final years in the big city.

The jingling chains and playful barks heard at 31 Alpha Park let you know what Ryan’s choice was. Joining the Camp Bow Wow franchise was also inspired by her own four Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

“The demographics and the opportunity was there for pets,” she said. “There’s this whole humanization of pet trend going on. I don’t think a lot of people realize that the dog population in United States equates to 90 percent of the child population under (age ) 18.”

Ryan was born in Ohio, but raised in Terre Haute, Ind. She got her MBA at Vanderbilt University before her stint in New York. She has no real ties to Northeast Ohio, but said Cleveland was one of a few options when she decided to go into the doggy day care business in a slower paced setting.

But not everybody could make such a decision, especially when the money and benefits are good and the city never sleeps. So, again, why did you do it, Amy?

“I (lived and worked in New York) for 22 years, and it really does get old. As you grow and get older, your values change. What was important then isn’t important now. There were times when I would leave work and say, ‘what did I do for the good of mankind today except for make some money?’ I wanted something a little more worthwhile. I miss a lot of it, but at the same time I’m really excited about this.”

You have to respect that.

-- Brandon C. Baker

Photo: Maribeth Joeright

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Monday, April 12, 2010

More on an Area App Developer owner Matt Staton, like other direct iPhone app developers, has a 70-30 percent revenue agreement with Apple for his two apps: Get Served and Unclaimed Funds.

That’s on top of a $99 a year fee. Still it could be well worth it if either of his apps make it big. As described in this article, Get Served already has about 2,000 downloads in 45 or so days and Staton can envision it picking up steam. Staton isn’t oblivious to the idea that one runs the risk of looking silly holding up on iPhone to flag down a bartender, though he insists it’s been a hit everywhere he has tried it out. If that’s the case, more downloads will come in. If that happens, more advertisers will come and Apple could be compelled to give the app more promotional attention. His eventual dream is to procure “real money” by approaching entities like the Miller Brewing Co. to purchase advertising within his app, which by this point would be a success with the downloads and subscriptions to back it.

“It’s exciting for me because I’d love to walk in as a Matt Staton, who lives in Willowick, Ohio, but knock on the door of a multi-billion-dollar company like Miller and say, ‘look what we can provide to you. We have 100,000 users and they are using your products.’ We have some high hopes for it because there are lots of companies with lots of advertising dollars.”

The belief is that a free app like Get Served is better suited to make money by limited use and ads, while a for-money one like Staton’s Unclaimed Funds draws in dollars by the user fees. His Miller idea, as well as previously discussed ones about GPS-based advertising of area sports bars, may sound far fetched to some, but what business idea doesn’t seem that way to outsiders before it actually happens?

Staton and others are also prepping apps for Blackberries, Droids and other mobile devices, but it’s obvious that Apple’s popular App store is where it’s at (Google is incentivizing app developers with comparably light annual fees to create apps for the Droid). It will be interesting to see how many other business owners in the area decide to develop apps themselves or employ others to do so. It is certainly another useful way to market products and if Apple opens its iPhone to other carriers, like the rumored deal with Verizon, then the technology’s foothold and power will only increase.

-- Brandon C. Baker

-- Screenshot courtesy of

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