Money makers: Netting a billion from pollock

When crab stocks began to dwindle, American fishing tycoon Chuck Bundrant turned it to his advantage with a little lateral thinking.


Chuck Bundrant made a fortune selling pollock to Americans
(Image credit: Credit: john angerson / Alamy Stock Photo)

"Chuck Bundrant's story is the stuff of industry legend," saysAlexander Sazonov on Bloomberg. "He knew nothing aboutfishing boats, or catching and processing crab and salmon,"his son and Trident Seafoods CEO, Joseph, explained in acorporate video two years ago. "He'd only watched a moviewith John Wayne in it called North to Alaska." That inspiredthe first-year student in 1961 to drive to Alaska "to earn a fewbucks fishing". With two crab fishermen, Kaare Ness andMike Jacobson, Bundrant built the 135-foot Billikin in 1973,and kitted it out with crab cookers and freezing equipmentso that, unlike other fishing vessels, the boat could stay atsea for longer.

In the early 1980s, as the crabs grew scarce,Bundrant switched to fishing pollock, then "swarming" theBering Sea. While popular in Asia, the fish was regarded inAmerica as "trash fish". Yet, compared with cod, pollock wascheaper and more sustainable, leading to deals with fast-foodchains McDonald's and Burger King. Today, Bundrant is the51% owner of Trident Seafoods, which last year turned over$2.4bn. Bloomberg estimates his personal wealth at $1.1bn.

The edible lipstick making a tasty $30m

"What you put on your lips, you eat," Susanne Langmuir tells the BBC's Jessica Murphy. So Langmuir set out to create a line of lip products made from "all-natural, food-grade ingredients". When major cosmetics production facilities said they needed to use some synthetic ingredients, Langmuir built a lipstick factory in her native Toronto, where her products are still handmade. She overcame a second setback when the chemist she hired to come up with the first formula quit.

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She was able to draw on her own experience, having developed an organic face oil 20 years before, to come up with a formula to show Sephora, the France-based chain of global cosmetics stores. In 2012 Langmuir launched Bite Beauty in partnership with Sephora. The following year she rented a shop in the SoHo area of New York to set up the first Bite Lip Lab: outlets where customers can customise their lipsticks within half an hour. The concept caught on, and in 2014, with annual sales estimated at $30m, Bite Lip Labs was bought by Kendo like Sephora, part of French luxury-goods giant LVMH. Langmuir stayed on after the sale to keep the brand "new and exciting".

From cut-price therapy to student tours

Two events inspired Lee McAteer, 33, to go into the travel industry with his friend Nick Steiert. The first was a trip to Dublin organised by a student tour operator for 100 law society members where everything seemed to go wrong, says Hazel Sheffield in The Independent. The other came in 2004, when McAteer worked as a counsellor at an American summer camp. While his US colleague earned $1,500, the agency McAteer had used took a $500 cut of his pay.

So the next year, McAteer went to the camp director in Winadu, Massachusetts, offering to send out reliable counsellors for a lower fee. "Because they already had a good relationship with me, and they knew they would pay less and the counsellor would get paid more, they said yes," says McAteer. In 2009, the duo founded student tour firm Invasion, and AmeriCamp. Together, the businesses turn over £4m a year, and now plan to expand in Australia. McAteer keen to encourage other aspiring business people also offers office space and support to young entrepreneurs in Salford.


(Image credit: Copyright (c) 2017 Rex Features. No use without permission.)

Comic Con nerd-fest sells out and rakes in $17m

Comic Con, the annual nerd-fest gathering of comic-book and sci-fi enthusiasts, began life in the basement of San Diego's US Grant Hotel in 1970, when it attracted a close-knit community of around 300 fans. Since then, the flock has mushroomed, as nerd culture has gone mainstream. San Diego is still Comic Con's spiritual home. But this year's event at the city's Convention Centre, which ended on Sunday, was expected to attract 167,000 people, many dressed as their fictional heroes.

"San Diego's growth has been mind-boggling," author John Jackson Miller, who also owns Comichron (which tracks comic-books sales), tells the BBC's Natalie Sherman. In 2015, Comic Con raked in $17m, while the local area is estimated to receive a $140m boost from tourism. Furthermore, the popularity of comic-book-based blockbuster films has helped spread similar festivals to cities around the world, including London.

"Hollywood has long seen the fan gathering as a crucial marketing opportunity," says Brooks Barnes in The New York Times, who went along to this year's Comic Con in San Diego. Many production studios now lay on big-budget attractions to entice the crowds such as "Westworld: The Experience", an HBO marketing stunt promoting the sci-fi television series. Fans "step inside the show" about a futuristic theme park, where wealthy visitors live out Wild West fantasies amid robot hosts.

Not everyone is pleased by the success of Comic Con. Retailer Mile High Comics had exhibited in San Diego every year since 1973. But not this year. "Celebrity-filled panels" and "flashy off-site events" that kept people away from what used to be the raison d'tre of Comic Con buying comics made it impossible for Mile High to recoup the $18,000 booth rental cost, says Katie Rife on entertainment site AV Club. "So while the geek culture wave doesn't seem to have crested just yet, it appears that the people who started it all actual comic-shop owners are increasingly beingleft behind."

Chris Carter

Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.

Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.

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