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Napster founder and former Facebook president Sean Parker speaks during the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, October 17, 2011. (Robert Galbraith/REUTERS)
Napster founder and former Facebook president Sean Parker speaks during the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, October 17, 2011. (Robert Galbraith/REUTERS)

Small Business Briefing

Napster co-founder Sean Parker invests in e-cigarettes Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz.

Vapour wares

Sean Parker, co-founder of the music-sharing site Napster, has joined with an investor group to buy a stake in NJOY Inc., a company that makes e-cigarettes, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The long-time donor to projects involved in cancer research sees the products as a safe alternative to smoking tobacco, though regulatory hurdles remain. E-cigarettes are not federally regulated in the United States, and government agencies have said the safety of the products remains unclear.

But investors, and even traditional cigarette companies that are planning to enter the e-cigarette market, clearly see the economic benefits. E-cigarettes are viewed as having far more appeal than other nicotine alternatives such as patches. “Industry experts say U.S. retail sales of e-cigarettes could reach $1 billion this year,” the Journal story says, “just 1% of the country's cigarette market but twice that of 2012, as they spread from the Internet to store shelves and generate buzz through television advertisements and celebrity endorsements.”

Arizona-based NJOY is one of the top-selling brands in the U.S., along with Lorillard's blu, LOGIC, and 21st Century. Mr. Parker is investing about $10 million in the company, with tens of millions of additional funding coming from three other partners.

Back to nature, back to work

Who needs a home or office when you can work out of a tent? That was Swedish developer Thomas Backlund’s thinking, at least, according to a post on the Fast Company website. He claims to have quit his job and given up his apartment to start coding in the woods with an eye on “bringing software development to the masses.” In a post to thelistserve.com, Mr. Backlund wrote: “I power my laptop, phone and external battery with two portable Brunton 62 Watt solar panels. I cook nice food on my Primus OmniLite stove. I live in a comfortable Hilleberg tent. I carry all 35 kg in a Norrona Recon back pack.” No matter how the project ends up, he’s certainly taken the “you can work from anywhere” mantra to heart.

Chobani founder wins global competition

Hamdi Ulukaya, who is founder, president and CEO of U.S.-based Chobani, has been named the 2013 Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year. He was one of 49 finalists who had already been named Entrepreneur Of The Year in their home countries, a press release states. The Turkish-born business owner started his company in New York in 2005, and he launched Chobani Greek Yogurt two years later. It is now the best-selling yogurt brand in the United States, with nearly $1-billion (U.S.) in annual sales. Chobani has 3,000 employees, it operates the largest yogurt factory in the world, and it also records sales in Australia and Britain. Mr. Ulukaya was born into a dairy-farming family, moving to the United States in 1994 to learn English and go to business school, which he never completed. When his father came to visit him in 2002 and complained about the quality of the cheese available, Mr. Ulukaya started making feta. The rest is business history.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Time is ticking to cast your vote

The 2013 finalists have been named in the BDC Young Entrepreneur Award, which honours “outstanding young entrepreneurs who have reached a turning point in their business and proposed a solution to take it to the next level.” The deadline to view video clips and cast your vote for one of the nine projects represented is June 11 at noon ET.

New-school manufacturing

The Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show takes place in Toronto from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3. It’s Canada’s largest manufacturing event for buyers and sellers that want to evaluate new products and solutions and learn about hot topics currently impacting the industry.

EDITOR’S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

When partners become adversaries

To paraphrase a Neil Sedaka tune, ‘breaking up with your business partner is hard to do.’ But, as some entrepreneurs in this story can attest, becoming competitors after you’ve gone your separate ways can be just as challenging.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

When it’s truly over

Whether it's the neighbourhood bakery, corner store, mechanic or flower shop, owners who dedicate their working lives to their business may see it disappear when they retire. If they can't find a successor, be it a family member or new owner, they must shut the door and sell the real estate, as this story from December, 2009 points out.

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