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Punky Brewster, season four. Airing on NBC from 1984 to 1986, it starred Soleil Moon Frye as eight-year-old Punky. (DVD Handout Amazon.com)
Punky Brewster, season four. Airing on NBC from 1984 to 1986, it starred Soleil Moon Frye as eight-year-old Punky. (DVD Handout Amazon.com)

Small Business Briefing

'Punky Brewster' goes into business with Moonfrye 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.

Actress-turned-entrepreneur

Soleil Moon Frye, best known for her leading role on the 1980s TV series Punky Brewster, has teamed up with an entrepreneur named Kara Nortman to launch a parenting-focused business called Moonfrye, PandoDaily reports. The venture has already received $2.5-million (U.S.) in seed funding.

The mother of two young children has been working hard to attract an audience to the Moonfrye website for about two years, and her team now has more than 1.5 million followers on Twitter and 500,000 Facebook fans. While specific details of the business venture are yet to be revealed, the partnership was forged on a pain point for both founders: a lack of engaging activities available for children during idle periods, such as travelling. A mobile app will launch this summer.

“If moms are shutting off passive entertainment in favour of engaging their kids actively on mobile devices then we have made our small dent on society,” Ms. Nortman told PandoDaily.

Extreme focus on e-commerce

Toronto-based Extreme Startups has a new cohort: five companies in its accelerator and another eight in the “precellerator.” In this cohort, says managing director Sunil Sharma, “we have ended up with a heavier focus on e-commerce companies than seen in previous cohorts. This is an indication of our confidence in this space. We have also selected companies that are taking innovative approaches to disrupting traditional industries such as scientific research, visualization of complex data sets and radio broadcasting.” Techvibes has listed the five businesses in the accelerator on its website.

A harrowing tale of escape

The victim of a carjacking by the two men accused of the Boston Marathon bombings gave an exclusive interview to the Boston Globe this week. Known only by his nickname Danny, in order to protect his identity, and referred to as a 26-year-old “Chinese entrepreneur,” his story goes into detail on what happened between the murder of an MIT officer and the shootout with police that followed. “The story of that night unfolds like a Tarantino movie,” writer Eric Moskowitz points out, “bursts of harrowing action laced with dark humour and dialogue absurd for its ordinariness, reminders of just how young the men in the car were.” Danny graduated with a master’s degree from a U.S. university in January, 2012, before returning to China and waiting for a work visa. He had been back in the United States for two months, “diving into a startup.”

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Startup Weekend Calgary ups its game

The next Startup Weekend Calgary event is planned for July 12 to 14. “This next edition ... will have a bigger focus on enterprise and B2B applications,” says Lloyed Lobo, partner at Boast Capital and one of the organizers. Houston’s SURGE Accelerator, which has a focus on energy software, is awarding a prize to Best Energy Tech Startup. Best Enterprise Startup and Best Consumer startup will also be awarded at the event. Early bird tickets are now on sale.

Everything under the retail sun

The 2013 eTail Canada conference features multi-channel strategies, international expansion strategies, shipping and logistics topics, acquisition and retention campaigns, consumer profiling trends, mobile and social. In other words, its organizers state, “virtually every topic impacting your retail business today.” It takes place in Toronto from April 29 to May 1, and you can register here.

EDITOR’S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

First Nations boost partnerships

Mines, office towers, big-box retail stores, shopping malls and hotels built by non-Native partners are emerging in aboriginal communities. As First Nations commercial development grows, statistics show aboriginal business income in Canada will rise to $13 billion by 2016 from $9 billion in 2012. “It’s definitely a trend that is increasing,” says JP Gladu, president and CEO of the Toronto-based Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Hot commodity in cold North

Forget New York city as the entrepreneur’s go-to success barometer. Making it in the Big Apple is a breeze compared with hanging out a shingle in one of Canada’s northern communities, Kira Vermond wrote in February, 2012.

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