Twenty-five years ago, Jeff Shavitz was crunching numbers 100 hours a week as an investment banking analyst for Lehman Brothers and preparing to pursue a master's in business at Columbia University. But something didn't seem right. What he really wanted was to become an entrepreneur.
That's when Shavitz met the inventor of folding paper binoculars. Shavitz got the idea of putting a commercial logo on the binoculars and then proceeded to sell a quarter of a million of them to the National Football League for Super Bowl XXV in 1991. Emboldened, he quit the world of high finance, converted his New York City apartment into an office and began selling the paper binoculars full-time under the name "Spectoculars." The endeavor grew into Mericom Marketing Inc., a promotional firm that kept him occupied for the next eight years.
Then in 2001, Shavitz discovered the merchant services industry and soon joined his father and a family friend to form an ISO called Charge Card Systems Inc. "We didn't really know what we were doing," he recalled of their early days in card processing. "Fortunately, over 13 years, we grew the business into a respectable ISO." He became active in First Data Corp. events and joined The Green Sheet Inc.'s advisory board. In 2013, CardConnect bought Charge Card Systems, and Shavitz became an employee of the new owner.
A little later, after stepping down from day-to-day duties at the ISO, Shavitz began strengthening his voice as a business writer. Having already contributed articles to The Green Sheet's Education section, he accepted a one-year assignment as the publication's Street SmartsSM author. He also penned articles for American City Business Journals, Entrepreneur and The Business Journals.
Then one day Shavitz found himself helping his daughter write a business plan for a college class. It's probably fair to say he got carried away. "I ended up writing a book," he said. Titled Why Size Doesn't Matter – Small Business is Big Business, the 200-page volume tells the story of transitioning from the corporate world into entrepreneurial endeavors. Released in May 2015, the book made No. 1 in three Amazon business categories.
Since then, Shavitz has written four more business books for the publisher Happy About Books. Each volume contains 140 thoughts expressed in 140 characters. "They're very simple to read," Shavitz said. The series covers such subjects as residuals, networking and advice.
As Shavitz's writings were earning him a following as a small-business guru, he began cold calling merchants to ask what they viewed as their biggest problem. Often, they replied that they were searching in vain for ways to grow their businesses. To Shavitz, that suggested a need for more traffic, and the idea for his new business, called TrafficJamming, was born.
It's a membership website that merchants can use to grow their businesses, Shavitz said. For a monthly fee (currently $27), merchants can read articles, take courses, practice networking skills, soak up business advice, sit in on interviews with thought leaders and even learn how to generate sales leads, he said. The site functions as adviser and confidante to members, he added. What's more, a buying co-op associated with TrafficJamming offers discounted merchandise to members. Even those who don't join qualify for a free biweekly newsletter.
"I look at TrafficJamming as a packager of information and a community," Shavitz noted. For example, if a pizza restaurant operator wants to know how social media is affecting his or her business, the site and its six employees can help, he said.
Shavitz said that ISOs and merchant level salespeople who promote TrafficJamming to their merchants as a value-added service can earn $7.50 a month in residuals per member, and he intends to provide leads to established salespeople. By the end of 2017, he hopes to have 25,000 paying members.
Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.