Forbes recently released its list of America’s Most Promising Companies, and its analysis is compulsory reading for anyone who has ever dreamt of starting their own business. This is more than sales figures and spin – there are some truly inspirational stories about how these companies (some of which are still pre-revenue) got started, what their business plans are, and where they want to be 10 years from now. Possible future household names include Smashburger, Boku, Secondmarket, Servicenow.
One of the coolest outfits on the list is CampusBookRentals.com. It does what it sounds like, renting out text books to college students. Starting capital came from a handful of credit card applications submitted at the same time. Crazy. The result is an astounding business, vibrant and with unreal growth potential in a $10 billion market. In the fall 2011 semester the company saved students $10 milllion by enabling them to rent books they would otherwise have to buy.
Part of the Forbes feature is a video of a mentoring session where CampusBookRentals founder Alan Martin sits down with billionaire business owner Clay Mathile to discuss an opportunity to expand into a new area. Mathile has a killer instinct – his best question to Martin: Weighing up the risk of diversifying is a smart thing to do, but in a competitive world you also have to ask yourself – can I afford not to do this?