Categorized | Shoestring Startup

Less than a shoestring budget…we launched on a bandaid budget!

Less than a shoestring budget…we launched on a bandaid budget!The Next Big Zing dot com was launched in 2008 with zero dollars.

I am very resourceful and decided to “trade” services with my web designer, I was to give him marketing help for the design of the site.

It worked for awhile until I realized the functionality of my site wasn’t working-lesson #1. You get what you don’t pay for. I had to ask for help, and thankfully my uncle stepped in with some seed money so that I could hire a web designer who knew how to work with videos. Other than that, their was no additional financial resources, I love the idea of trading services, so each summer I’ve had interns from various universities and truly it was a win-win for all of us. I love teaching them the benefits of creating a startup and utilizing today’s marketing strategies-Social Media.

The Next Big Zing is the first award program dedicated to innovative products. Much like the toy industry award programs (Dr. Toy, Creative Child and Parent to name a few). The Next Big Zing searches out and finds these trends and with our esteem judging panel select products based on 12 questions to see their retail readiness. What makes us even more unique is we have dedicated pages on our site for the winners to either upload their own video or have us do video reviews and link to their own sites (additional fees apply). We also showcase products with our Featured Zing, a billboard type ad on the home page and on each of our 11 category pages.

Less than a shoestring budget…we launched on a bandaid budget!

Dhana Cohen

I love the hunt of finding these diamonds in the rough, products that haven’t gotten the exposure they deserve. Prior to starting the site, I would always search for great, different gifts for family and friends, so it was only natural on how I came up with the idea of The Next Big Zing. One day while watching Oprah ( of course…) she had the creators of Youtube on the show and I thought I could create a website with videos of cool products. That day I started searching the internet, I would call the inventors and tell them my idea-most of them said sure- no cost to the first 80 products, why not right!

Once I hit the magic number of 80, I launched the site with a video streaming party. Had all the Chicago based clients over for a luncheon and interviews. What I never anticipated was the almost impossible way of getting noticed. So I began to teach myself social media, listening to webinars, watching and creating youtube videos about Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. And began to build my social media relationships (, (, (, I don’t sit ideal for the one way to promote mentality. As a web based business I have learned to connect with as many people and businesses as possible for the hopes of something big to hit! From writing a treatment for a TV show, sending video segment pitches to the likes of Oprah and Rosie O’Donnell, co-hosting my own radio show ( and talks with to be an on air correspondent . I know what it takes to get the word out- I am a solepreneur so its tough making the time to do it all!

Yet, I think the one thing I did right was to design a very upscale website. And the one thing that almost killed my business was switching the look and functionality of the site, taking advice from a big developer who wasted about 2 months of my time and almost took me to the bank with his fees. Trust your instinct and you will be amazed that you know your own business best!

Funny enough, the best advice I never got was ‘throw in the towel’. I believe in what I do, and every so often I get down, but then I remember I created this website from an idea, I have over 200 products on the site and everyday I meet amazing inventors and artists! I hope at one point I will make a difference in at least one of their businesses. I hear it takes about 3-4 years to get a web-based business to make money, the next 6 months I believe is the turn around time I need to make it happen.

Transitioning into full throttle after summer will be tough, but I am ready to take the site to the next level, pushing the Rosie show idea out there


as well as attending as many trade shows as possible. Trade shows are one of the best marketing strategies for my business, the face to face connection beats emails and calls anyday!

I attend the in Atlanta and the Chicago Gift show (, both are great places to reach prospects. Besides trade shows I have had the fortune to be a guest judge here in Chicago for an As Seen on TV event, as well as the largest inventors show-INPEX. Being a judge shows the inventors your expertise, and credibility.

Any website needs eyeballs to increase ranking. I would love to hit it big with one strategic partner, that is my hope. In the meantime I am plugging away evaluating products to see who really has the next big ZING!

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