Each business has a story. No matter if the business is a Goliath like Wal-Mart, or a local business owned by a couple or family, the business has roots in an idea. For each business owner, the story of their journey can range from monetary needs or the passion for a unique project. Each story is different though the reasons may remain the same. No matter the tale, the background behind each and every business is what fuels each entrepreneurship and brand.
Photo Credit: Anthony Lolli
To provide a standard of living my parents deserved
All throughout my childhood I was under the impression that my parents were wealthy. It wasn’t until I was 8 years old and my mother took me to Bloomingdales, where she would often go to try things on but never made a purchase, and I asked her to buy a toy watch for me. She told me no and I was really upset and asked why not, she simply responded “…because we can’t afford it.” Now this was a $12 toy watch I was asking for, not a PS3 or iPhone mind you. It suddenly hit me and I started putting the pieces together and realized that we weren’t nearly as well off as I thought. It was at that point I made a promise to my mom. I said “When i grow up I’m going to buy you a white mansion and a white limousine with a chauffeur.” She told me a couple years later she didn’t need the limousine but did still want the mansion. It wasn’t until years later I found my avenue by which I could fill that promise which was real estate. I started my own company by myself named Rapid Realty NYC and worked tirelessly to keep my word and in 2008 I bought her the white mansion but I didn’t stop there. My company has been named by Inc Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in America because we grew from 1 office to 60 in just 3 years. I’m not looking to slow down until Rapid Realty is a household name and the go to source for everyone’s real estate rental needs.
Thanks to Anthony Lolli, Rapid Realty
Photo Credit: Michael Larsen
To pioneer a change in how employers and job seekers connect
Although I’ve long had an entrepreneurial itch waiting to be scratched, it was only this year that I saw a strong market opportunity that justified stepping away from my corporate career to launch a new business. Whilst leaving a Director level role at the world’s largest employment website was certainly a risk, the personal and financial upside was clear and even more important, the market timing was perfect. My greatest motivation has been the opportunity to play a pioneering role in changing the way employers and job seekers connect to allow people to find a workplace where they can maximize their potential. There are very few times in our lives when the stars align to match our personal capabilities and desires with a real market need so when that happens, it’s time to act.
Thanks to Michael Larsen, Inside Trak
Photo Credit: Caroline Monet
To soothe my own pain
Twelve years ago I developed eczema on my hands so severe that when my daughter was born I couldn’t bathe her without excruciating pain. Nothing I used worked so I decided to develop my own cream to help ease the symptoms. The cream began existence in my kitchen. I had aromatherapy experience so used that knowledge, along with a lot of research to create a healing moisturiser. After months of trial and error and many experimental batches, I found a workable formula that was filled with soothing, natural ingredients. Not only had the cream improved my skin rapidly, the results it had with others in treating a variety of skin complaints such as eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis was incredible. Public demand led me to begin producing Caroline’s Cream in bigger numbers and founding my skincare company, Caroline’s Skincare Pty Ltd.
Thanks to Caroline Monet, Caroline’s Skincare
Photo Credit: Bob Barry
To offer proactive financial advice to everyone who needs it
I started my firm because of an unwavering belief in the value of proactive financial advice for everybody who needs it. Most firms in the Wealth Management space, certainly at the independent level, focus on high-net worth and ultra-high net clients, but middle and upper middle income individuals and families need help too. Most people don’t try to design their lives on purpose. They live bounded by what their “funds” tell them that they’re allowed to do and that’s unfortunate. As an independent advisory firm, we have the autonomy to make decisions that are truly in the best interest of our clients and that’s another reason we started our firm. No broker-dealer, compliance department or other people to tell us what we can offer our clients and what we can’t. Reality is that building our business the way that we have leaves us with no excuses; if we’re not growing the way we should then we’re simply not adding value to the lives of the people we serve and that remains our primary focus to this day.
Thanks to Bob Barry, Barry Capital Management
Photo Credit: Irina Quintela
To help other women save time
I started my business because I didn’t have time to shop for clothes on retail stores. I was a working student and basically I didn’t have time to shop for new clothes and when I actually had the time to shop, it was really hard for me to find clothes that really flattered my body. As a fan of tv shows like “What not to wear” and “Guide to Style”, I thought that other women might have the same problem and that’s why I founded Styling Up. Styling Up is a free online fashion styling service for women where all clothes are recommended by fashion stylists. Basically it’s like entering a custom store where everything fits and flatters your body. It’s awesome for women who, like me, don’t have much time to shop for new clothes.
Thanks to Irina Quintela, Styling Up
Photo Credit: Beverly Solomon
To control my own destiny
After years as an executive in sales and marketing for several major fashion designers, I started my art and design firm because I was tired of working for the other guy and wanted the freedom to control my own destiny. I also wanted to use my experience, expertise and contacts to promote the art and design work of my husband Pablo Solomon. Now, over 20 years later I have expanded my clientele and have international accounts. While there have been challenges along the way–none more trying than this current economy–I have never looked back and have moved forward each year.
Thanks to Beverly Solomon
Photo Credit: Merritt T. Carey
To give local businesses a way to thank their loyal customers easier
I owned a marketing firm which had small businesses as a primary client base. In the wake of GroupOn, my business partner and I saw a need for a platform that used coupons in a more personalized and sustainable way to help small businesses connect with their customers. We formed Birthday Coups, a platform allowing businesses to send happy birthday and other milestone coupons to participating customers. Since the platform is automated, it doesn’t add to the workload of the small business owner – who are decidedly the busiest people on the planet. And we priced it in such a way (free for first 500 customers then $29/month) so it’s manageable for a tight marketing budget: by the time a business is paying for our service it’s paying for itself. Birthdays and milestones are a fun and happy way to connect with customers – everyone loves a little recognition on their special day. Businesses decide what coupon they want to offer and then post their coupon sign up link to Facebook, Twitter, etc. where their customers can sign up. On the first day of the participating customer’s birthday month they receive an electronic coupon from the business wishing them Happy Birthday. Everyone wins – the business, the consumer and us!
Thanks to Merritt T. Carey, Esq., Birthday Coups
Photo Credit: Todd Cherches
To help make the world a better place, one manager at a time
I’ve had some of the worst managers who’ve ever walked the face of this earth. After years of working for an endless series of abusive, tyrannical bosses in a variety of industries (including entertainment – the worst of all!), I started thinking there must be a better way of managing people than yelling and screaming and treating them like.um. garbage. So I started reading one management and leadership book after another, slowly developing my knowledge and expertise in this area.as well as a passion for the subject. Long story, short, during a long stretch of unemployment/self-employment after 9/11, I took a Dale Carnegie course in Public Speaking to boost my skills and confidence, followed by a leadership training for managers course. Within a year I became a corporate trainer and coach, followed by a three-year stint as the head of leadership training for a top NYC-based financial services firm. After getting laid off from there in 2010 as a result of the financial crisis, I decided it was time to join forces with my brother and start our own management, leadership, and presentation skills consulting, training, and executive coaching firm! They say that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. And I love helping to make the world a kinder, gentler place by helping people to maximize their performance, productivity, and potential. And we do it one manager at a time.
Thanks to Todd Cherches, BigBlueGumball LLC
Photo Credit: Christina Daves
To help the injured look and heal their best
In 2010, I broke my foot and the doctor put me in the awful medical boot. I was headed to New York City, fashion capital of the world, literally the next day and thought, “I cannot go to NY looking like this!” I scoured the internet for anything to make the boot look better, which in turn would make me feel better about it and my injury, but there was nothing! That was my “AHA” moment! I had to do something to help other injured people feel better about themselves while recovering. I created MediFashions to help the injured look and heal their best and experience, The Healing Power of Fashion. We have found a way to turn the healing process into something that is fun and fashionable. Since launching in February of last year, we have experienced tremendous response to the product. We were named a leading mom in business by StartUp Nation. We won an inventor’s competition on the Steve Harvey Show. I was just named Woman Inventor of the Month for January, 2013 by the WomenInventorz Network which puts me in the running for Woman Inventor of the Year. We have also had celebrity customers this year including Diana Ross, Olympic Gold Medalist Jordyn Wieber, QVC Host, Jacque Gonzales, and former Extra and Current Affair Host and current News Anchor, Maureen O’Boyle.
Thanks to Christina Daves, MediFashions
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Chabner Thompson, MD
To help patient recover after a mastectomy
I started my company BFFL Co to help other women going through Mastectomy recover with the tools they needed. My patients constantly asked me how to prepare for their upcoming surgery and it did not include a pink baseball cap with sparked pink ribbon on the front. I created BFFL Co to bring useful tools together for patients. It’s hard to collect the “little things” one needs for a trip to the hospital and the transition home. It certainly helps to have a doctor or “insider– been there done that” to help you get ready. We have BFFLBags for Prostate Patients, GYN Surgery Patients, Traumatic Brain Injury Patients and even new mothers.
Thanks to Elizabeth Chabner Thompson, BFFL Co.
Photo Credit: Brent Cahill
To help friends and family send and receive the perfect gift
I started wRapt! to help family and friends give and receive the perfect gifts. I had been, for some time, wanting to create an app that helped me to organize and track my gift giving. The inspiration came when I realized I could also help people to find the perfect gift for others and in the same stroke help to rid the world of rubbish gifts. Thus wRapt! was born, the social gifting platform to help you find the perfect gift for others and also ensure your family and friends know exactly what to buy you. After seeding the idea with some other entrepreneurs around Sydney I recognized I probably wasn’t the lone madman in the forest shouting at trees, then cast around for who I wanted on board with me. I was lucky the two people I wanted on board saw the vision I was pitching and agreed to come aboard as well. So far, so good. We have had some great feedback through the Christmas period which we will be building on this year.
Thanks to Brent Cahill, wRapt!
Photo Credit: Venkat Viswanathan
To cut all the red tape
I stood tall with over 18 years of experience in management consulting, technology and global IT services management. Before founding LatentView, I was part of the global leadership team for a major IT firm. I worked as a consultant for years. Then I worked full time for a major international company for a few years. I hated the ‘institutionalization’ that this entailed, and the fact that so much hard work gets lost between the cracks in a large company. I knew that I could do it better myself, and get better results without all the red tape The potential rewards of a successful company certainly make the risk of forfeiting income from my regular work all the more worthwhile whilst we take on this journey, one that I have not regretted one bit thus far.
Thanks to Venkat Viswanathan, LatentView
Photo Credit: Tammy Martin
To stay true to my values
Previously I found myself in a job where I was asked to complete unethical projects on a regular basis. I live in an area that is primarily residential and industrial so a job transfer would have translated to three hours of commuting each day to an equivalent position. Instead I decided to start my own marketing consulting business where I could select clients who share my values with respect to integrity while maintaining a great work/life balance. Thankfully I made this decision because I am working with clients who are earning their prosperity through genuine service and community support. Staying true to my own values has truly guided me in the right direction to support authentic business owners.
Thanks to Tammy Martin, Martin Marketing
Photo Credit: Mike Stoner
To turn my hobby into a job
I was made redundant about three years ago and couldn’t face going back to an office job. So I decide to turn a hobby into a job and become a professional magician. I spent a year learning the “exotic arts” – magic, mind-reading, palmistry and hypnotism – and testing the market. My dream was to be my own boss and get paid to amaze people. Luckily it turned out that there was a lot of demand for entertainment at parties, weddings and corporate events and a bit of magic really fit the bill. There are very few full-time professional magicians in the UK so I was able to fill a gap in the market and things having been going really well. I’ve done magic for household name companies, celebrities and on TV, it has been great, I’d recommend starting your own business to anyone!
Thanks to Mike Stoner
Photo Credit: Lori Ames
To create a sense of normalcy for my son
My journey to entrepreneurship was unintended. I was Executive Vice President of a boutique public relations agency in New York City, an agency I had been with for twenty years. Then, on a dime, my life, my career, and my son’s life changed forever. He was diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor on October 21, 2010. I never was able to go back to the city. While he was recuperating from one of the four surgeries he needed, and before he started chemo and radiation, I realized that in order to create some semblance of normalcy, and to create the sense that he would be okay, I would need to work. He suggested I start my own business, so ThePRFreelancer, Inc. was born, and we haven’t looked back. He’s made wonderful progress these last two years and business has grown. From an agency that was started on an iPad from his hospital room to a company with office space on Long Island and two employees, it’s been quite an experience.
Thanks to Lori Ames, ThePRFreelancer, Inc
Photo Credit: Nancy Kay
To help people move forward through divorce
When I was thrown into the storm of divorce in 2007, I had no idea how to choose an attorney, what to expect during the process, and how to manage all the parts of my life that fell apart all at once. I lost 20 lbs. in six weeks from not being able to hold down solid food and worried constantly about how to deal with finding out about my husband’s very complicated secret life and the impact it would have on me and our three children. Several years later I realized that although there are attorneys, therapists, private investigators, real estate agents and financial advisers who all work with people going through divorce- I did not see anyone who someone could call to provide the overall support, skills, resources and referrals that people desperately need from the very beginning of separation and divorce. In 2011, I started my business, “Moving Forward Through Divorce” to provide strategic guidance and support for women and men by phone or Skype to clients from anywhere in the U.S. I am excited to offer the support and services that I wish had been available to me when I was going through the most challenging time of my life.
Thanks to Nancy Kay, Moving Forward Through Divorce
Photo Credit: Paul Wike
To create my personal dream job
I started my own business a year ago. After nearly 20 years of PR and public affairs experience with major corporations like Visa, Siemens, Microsoft, Splunk and a few others, I realized that I had acquired a wealth of knowledge that didn’t particularly fit with one job. Based on the work I’d done, I had developed passions for the tourism industry, tech, IPOs and the electronic payments industry. Now, unless there’s an airport out there dying to go public and offer a credit card in the process, there isn’t one job out there that’s going to match my experience. I had an epiphany last year: No one has your dream job – you have to create it for yourself. So I did, which is where Upright Position Communications came in. Upright is my own PR and public affairs consultancy that specializes in tech, IPOs and the travel and tourism industry. It’s a odd mix, but one that fits in perfectly with my experience and what I want to do. And I’m very glad I did it, because from day one, I was thrilled with what I’m doing, the work I’m doing and the clients I have.
Thanks to Paul Wike, Upright Position Communications
Photo Credit: Sharon Levy
To bring civility back to an online world
I initially started my business because I loved to entertain and truly enjoyed the tea experience. I started to notice that with the explosion of online media, that people were not spending quality time face to face any more with family or friends. Everyone was mostly communicating online. No one was sending birthday cards or even calling to say hello. I wanted to bring civility back and encourage people to get together over tea. I also saw the need for social etiquette and dining skills for children and young adults. Some parents didn’t seem to have or make the time to teach their children these critical skills because they were probably working 2 and 3 jobs to make ends meat.
Thanks to Sharon Levy, Taking Tea InStyle
Photo Credit: Sandy Arons
To help people understand the numbers
I started my business because I had no other viable employment options. At age 45, I found myself divorced and needing to generate an income. At this point in my life, I knew that the work needed to fit my family’s schedule rather than my life revolving around work. Most importantly, I saw a need for the services I currently provide; financial consulting specializing in divorcing couples. As I experienced my own divorce, I realized that the attorneys were not focusing on the math. I soon realized that although they were very respected in the legal community, they did not possess the financial training and knowledge to properly address the financial issues. After some research, I realized that the divorce attorneys focus on the law, not the math. So, I started a business to help attorneys and divorcing couples understand the numbers. After couples understand the numbers, arguing is reduced considerably. This reduces legal fees and court room drama that tears a family apart. While attorneys help clients get a legal divorce, I help clients get a financially smart divorce and really enjoy earning a living while making a difference.
Thanks to Sandy Arons, Arons & Associates
Photo Credit: Stan Kimer
To do what I really wanted to do
First, being in a big huge company is kind of low risk in a sense, but I wanted to say that I can do it on my own. I can run the whole shop, make my own management decisions and make this succeed. Second, I realized, that if I start my own business I could choose what I wanted to do and pick those areas that I’m most passionate about. In a company sometimes you can’t decide, you kind of have to do what’s given to you. Of all the things I did at IBM, the two things I was most passionate about was the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) diversity and helping people develop their careers. I felt I had unique expertise in those areas and that was the right base to start this company on. And I am very passionate about making the world a better place – promoting equality for everyone through diversity in the workplace, and assisting people with growing and maximizing their careers can both make a very positive impact.
Thanks to Stan Kimer, Total Engagement Consulting
Photo Credit: Joyce Shulman
To answer the question of ‘Mommy, what are we going to do today?’
The company was inspired by my experience as a parent. I’m fortunate to live in a community that offers tons of great programming for kids and I’m a pretty involved mom, but occasionally, we would still miss out. I got tired of hearing *“where were you yesterday … you missed a great puppet show, Maddie would have loved it.”* So I approached an old friend and colleague – herself a mother of four – and pitched the idea of creating a local e-newsletter compiling all of the info on family-friendly happenings for the upcoming week. It was a huge success in our community and we quickly realized that, if there was a need here, there must be a need elsewhere. Macaroni Kid was born three years ago, when we went out to moms in other communities and invited them to become Macaroni Kid Publisher Moms. Now more than 500 moms, in more than 450 communities, publish Macaroni Kid each week.
Thanks to Joyce Shulman Macaroni Kid Llc
Photo Credit: Dayna Steele
To give people from all over access to NASA merchandise
I started The Space Store because I was tired of people asking me to go to NASA to pick up things for them – if you didn’t live in Houston or Cape Canaveral – you didn’t nave access to NASA items such as Astronaut Ice Cream and the official NASA astronaut patches. I saw a need, researched it, taught myself HTML and built the first NASA e-commerce operation. The Space Store became the most successful NASA gift store ‘in the Universe.’ From that experience, I learned that if you see a need, find a way to fill it. My latest adventure is Your Daily Success Tip, that came from my social media posts, blog posts and speeches – I saw that people were essentially on the right track but just needed a little motivation everyday, a new idea, something to create their ‘tipping point.’
Thanks to Dayna Steele, The Space Store
Photo Credit: Ashley Baxter
To help others find success online
I’ve always been fascinated with the web. However, in my earlier years I never understood how powerful it could be in life. After college, I had a variety of jobs in corporate America and learned that internet marketing was playing a major role in the success many individuals and businesses. I began to study these patterns and use my findings to help my own clients build brands, grow revenues and gain loyal followers online. As new channels of online marketing emerge, I want to make sure that everyone has a chance to stay up-to-date without feeling like it is scary or something that has to take a lot of their time. That is why I started my company, Baxie404. My business has played a role in helping many others find success online and it is more fulfilling than I could have ever hoped.
Thanks to Ashley Baxter, Baxie404
Photo Credit: Katherine DalPra
To simplify techie website stuff for wedding professionals
When I launched my hobby business selling eco-friendly fashion and bridal jewelry on the side while working full time, I didn’t know the first thing about how to build or market a website. At the time I’d never even heard the term “SEO” and thought blogging was something only bored journalists did. Because of this, I wound up pouring thousands of dollars into a website that never sold a dime. Luckily, I’m stubborn and there was no way I was going down without a fight. I learned everything I needed to know about building a profitable website and, when my industry peers started to ask me how I turned everything around so fast, I realized I wasn’t the only one struggling with this website stuff. That’s when I decided to start sharing what I learned and helping other retailers and wedding professionals with their websites and traffic-building too.
Thanks to Kathy DalPra, Bride Appeal Web Design & SEO
Photo Credit: Scarlet Paolicchi
To stay at home and raise my children
I started my business because I wanted to be able to stay at home to raise my kids but I needed some extra income. I chose my business because I thought it was something I could do with little start up costs and during the hours that would work around my kids schedule. I chose a family focused blog because that is where my interest currently lie. Becoming a mother has given my life so much meaning, purpose, and joy and my blog is a great way of sharing with others who are interested in family topics. I had no idea I would love blogging as much as I do and I am so thankful that I have found enough success to be able to help support our household and provide for my kids around their schedule.
Thanks to Scarlet Paolicchi, Family Focus Blog