Grow Your Own

(Business 2.0) – Your cover story provided the clarity I needed to help my small team create something bigger ("The new Instant Companies," June). My company makes spa products for hotels and individuals. This spring we came up with an idea for a party kit, but we were stalled in our tracks when we thought about manufacturing these kits in large quantities. Thank you for showing us how to take a limited product line and make it grow.

Robin Berlinsky, Charleston, SC

Your article about getting a product off the ground and growing it fast was encouraging, but the hurdle I face is the cost of patenting my product idea. I've read that if costs at least $10,000 to get an attorney to thoroughly process a patent. Next time I'd like you to address less expensive avenues.

Mike Ciavola, Northbridge, MA

The "instant companies" in your cover story are hardly instant—and your list of the 100 fastest-growing tech companies later in the issue is itself the counterpoint. Building a successful company and creating a competitive advantage is not easy. It is easy to lose control of your intellectual property, and the story is quite different if you do. Many companies take a quick-to-market approach and fail. There is no single path to guaranteed success, but a nice addition to the article would have been a list of pros and cons of different strategies. Creating an instant company can allow experimentation and reduce some financial risks, but it also adds competitive risks and lowers the barrier to entry. In the future, please try to add more balance to your stories.

Fred Heller, Stamford, CT

My friend suggested that I take a look at your publication, so I signed up for the free issue. I have to say that I was shocked. Not only was the information helpful, interesting, and actionable, but it was also perfectly suited to many ideas I was talking about just days earlier. The cover story was just what I needed. It stimulated me to shift my business focus and speed up the timeline on my best ideas. And the articles on Urban Outfitters ("Lessons From a Retail Rebel," What Works, June) and Intellifit ("The Siz-atron." What Works, June) helped me see the possibilities of a clothing line I've had in mind for years. I don't remember the last time I felt compelled to read a magazine cover to cover. Thank you for your publication and your timing.

Carolyn Soltes Matthies, Ladera Ranch, CA

CELL-EBRATION

Your article about the new IBM chip project paints a picture that is easy to see ("The Cell of a New Machine," June). The applications of the Cell chip are unlimited, as are the implications of what it can do—from geographic and geologic uses to home videogame consoles and computer monitors. The writing is on the wall: A new era of electronics is upon us.

Jason W. Womack, Ojai, CA

WINDS OF CHANGE

I enjoyed your article "Banking on the Wind and the Sun" (What's Next, June). However, it fails to note the main problem with setting up a profitable wind farm: Wind power can't be stored; it must be pumped straight into the grid. This creates a problem when the spot price is below cost. The alternative problem is that during periods of high spot prices, there may not be enough wind. With the high cost of wind farms, this creates an economic unknown and is perhaps limiting the flow of capital and debt into this sector. For that reason, hydro still remains a better alternative.

Shaun Garrity, Melbourne, Australia

SATELLITE SMACKDOWN

XM Satellite Radio CEO Hugh Panero may be all smiles putting Major League Baseball, A1 Franken, and Bob Edwards up against Howard Stern, Martha Stewart, and Nascar ("Why Is This Man Smiling?," What's Next, June), but XM is still bleeding red ink and has nothing significant to offer. Sirius is differentiating itself from XM and traditional radio by offering unique programming. I believe that satellite radio will really hit it s growth spurt when Stern arrives at Sirius. Then Sirius will shape the future of satellite radio while XM is out looking for bargains.

Dave McMullen, Connellsville, PA

THE INFOTAINMENT AGE

Though you called your article "Stronger Sales in Just 28 Minutes" (What Works, June), the standard length of an informercial is actually 28 minutes and 30 seconds. But the point is moot, as a mere 30 seconds of TV advertising is reaching fewer consumers these days and thus having less impact. I run an independent station serving Philadelphia that broadcasts infotainment 24/7. So I take exception with your statement that "not every product is right for an informercial." After being in ad sales for 20 years, I can confidently say that virtually any business can spend 30 minutes telling you a story of satisfied customers, why it's better than the competition, and why the consumer must have its product now! It's becoming evident that today's television viewers are too busy channel surfing, TiVo-ing, or ordering video-on-demand to pay attention to a 30-second ad. Ironically, the television landscape is coming full circle to the "golden age" when sponsors underwrote or even owned programs outright, taking significant airtime to pitch or place their brands.

Steve Cass, Atlantic City, NJ

A HEALTHY MARRIAGE?

After reading the article "Breaking Through Excuses" (What Works, May) and realizing that I now ready every issue of Business 2.0 with highlighter in hand, I have officially concluded that I'll be a Business 2.0 reader for life. In fact, getting my business partner to concur will determine how long we'll work together. One thing that makes your magazine different is that you preach relentless entrepreneurship. Keep it up.

T.J. Chibuike, Atlanta, GA

CORRECTIONS

In "Why Is This Man Smiling?" (What's Next, June), we reported that Toyota factory-installs Sirius Satellite Radio. It's a postproduction or dealer-installed option only.

In "The Fastest-Growing Technology Companies" (June), we misstated our methodology for compiling the list. We actually screened companies not for a minimum of $50 million in sales but for a minimum market capitalization of $50 million.

In "A Gas Pump for 300 Million Phones" (What Works, June), we should have stated that a 10-minute phone charge results in eight hours of standby time, not talk time.

In "Top of the Heap" (What Works, May), we mistakenly called Jay Adair the CEO of Copart. He is the company's president.