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: Lam Woon Cherk
An expansion of my university work
I started my business – panoRazzi – when I was in the university. I was in the 2nd year of study back then and I always liked to do my own stuff than working for other people. Before I started my company, I already have 5 years of programming and web designing experience, and I have been intermittently freelancing in the web designing field. My business, in a way, is a natural expansion of the work that I have been doing back then. If asked what’s the main reason I started my own business, I think it’s mainly because I really love what I am doing – to create beautiful websites for people. I am those kind of people who like to control than being controlled, so doing my own business is the best way to me. The dynamics of running of business is another core reason why I choose to do it. To be able to run my business successfully, not only must I be good technically, I also have to learn to face other kind of challenges marketing, finance and sales. These kind of different challenges are the things that I would like to (learn to) overcome.
Thanks to Lam Woon Cherk, panoRazzi
Photo Credit: Robert Hennessy
Having trouble with laundromats
In my early years, I was excited to live, eat and breathe life in the finance capital of the world, having been a southern guy for most of my life and studying business at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. But, when financial warning signs began to emanate from Greece in early 2010, I half-jokingly asked a trusted mentor and friend, what to invest in if the world went completely mad. His response? Laundromats, parking garages and liquor stores. Well, not a huge drinker and not excited by parking garages, I actually thought more about Laundromats and turned our little joke into the start of a new reality. My guiding thought was to answer a question that still perplexed me as a new New Yorker: ‘In a city where I can get a slice of pizza and ice cream at 4 a.m., why can’t I pick up my dry cleaning on a Sunday or even after work!?’ Two years later, myself and my growing 20-plus team at DashLocker have begun to revolutionize a long-dreaded chore by allowing busy people to simply drop off clothes in a secure locker for next-day pick up…at ANY hour they can – finally!! We’re kind of doing for laundry and dry cleaning what ATMs did for banking way-back-when. And since June 2012, we’ve opened four stores by request and started to responded to another by installing DashLocker in apartment buildings so we can directly deliver our services with the same 24/7 convenience.
Thanks to Robert Hennessy, DashLocker
Photo Credit: Lisa Illman
So my pets could enjoy the outdoors too
I was living in a condo and was disheartened to see my rescue cats Madison and Abigail peering out the window at me while I enjoyed the great outdoors. I quickly realized that in order for my entire family to enjoy the outdoors together, I would need to create a safe, effective outdoor cat enclosure. In 2008, I designed a prototype enclosure for her cats. Living in the city center of Philadelphia, I received inquires from neighbors and passers by. Realizing the high need and urgent demand, I launched Kritter Kommunity. Although originally targeted for cat owners, small dog owners also found this to be a safe and effective way to contain their pets outdoors as well.
Thanks to Lisa Illman, Kritter Kommunity, LLC
Photo Credit: Nick Winkler
Helping organizations reinvent their message
I quit my job as an Emmy-award winning Investigative Television News reporter to start The Winkler Group, a strategic communications firm that shows executives, corporate PR staffs, and marketers how to create and steer narratives that add value. The assumptions and cliches that underpin traditional messaging are outdated and ineffective. To disrupt the storytelling process and control their messaging fates, organizations must begin creating premier content and and control a portion of the toll road over which it is distributed. Organizations that reinvent their messaging strategy in this manner vaccinate themselves against crises, upend the flow of modern media content, and measurably reduce their cost per message.
Thanks to Nick Winkler, The Winkler Group
Photo Credit: Shobha Tummala
To help people like me
With a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School and an Electrical Engineering Degree from Michigan State University, I went against the norm in 2001 (including the norm of my family – my dad wouldn’t even speak to me for an entire year!) when I set out to create a beauty salon that catered to people like me: people who see hair removal as a necessity in life. I wanted a place where hair removal was the main focus instead of just some add-on, haphazard service in the back room of a nail salon. I wanted to create a friendly and inviting relationship with clients so they would not feel embarrassed about their hair removal needs. And so, I set out to make a place that stressed cleanliness and sanitary practices, cared as much about quality and customer experience as I did, and provided opportunities for career growth and continuing education in a supportive, team-oriented environment. Today, my company has four salons throughout New York City, an online presence at myShobha.com and an extensive product line. This spring we will also be opening our fifth location in Washington D.C.
Thanks to Shobha Tummala, Shobha
Photo Credit: Cairril Mills
I wanted to level the playing field
I founded Cairril.com Design & Marketing in 2001 because I wanted to see small and medium size businesses benefit from the smart tactics of big business. I wanted to see more competition across a level playing field where the “little person” wasn’t always getting crushed. And I wanted to do that for companies I believe in! From the beginning, we have worked with businesspeople who give back to their communities in addition to creating top-notch products and services. We are constantly researching best practices in brand-building, graphic design, web development, and marketing. We tailor them for small and medium size businesses so our clients have a great shot at success. Whether that’s a logo that captures their brand and will last for years or a website that converts site visitors to customers, our work makes our clients look great and perform well.
Thanks to Cairril Mills, Cairril
Photo Credit: April FitzGerald
To help create a better world one mind at a time
I was disappointed in the current level of education being doled out to our kids. Teachers hands have been tied tighter and tighter over the years to the point where Education is no longer the focus. Test bubbling is. With early-learning literacy and hands-on activities being the gateway to all knowledge, I started robots&things to create fun and fashionable educational tools for kids. Through playful robotic characters, flashcards, stories, games, science projects, literacy presentations and more, I help develop the joy of learning in kids, and give the power back to parents and educators who want to go the extra mile. We work together to create a better world one mind at a time.
Thanks to April FitzGerald, robots&things
Photo Credit: Tim Woda
To keep my child (and other children) safe online
I started my business because my child was targeted and stalked by an online predator. I came home one day to a long phone bill with numbers I didn’t recognize and confronted my 14-year-old son about it. From that conversation, I learned he had created a Facebook account and email address without my permission and he had been “friending” anyone who had reached out to him, like most young people who acquire a Facebook. One such ‘friend’ happened to be an older male who had acquired my child’s phone number and had been reaching out for inappropriate images, asking to meet in person and other things that definitely crossed the line. Thankfully I, along with law enforcement, was able to stop the situation before my child got physically harmed, but it seriously opened my eyes to the dangers of the internet. At the time, I was working at a well-known internet safety company, was technologically savvy, and had parental control software on all of my computers at home. Still, none of that stopped my curious child from getting into a dangerous situation online. uKnow.com, is the creator of Parental Intelligence systems that help mom and dad keep their children safe online and on their mobile phones. uKnowKids, our product, gives parents a bird’s eye view of their child’s social networks, cell phones, and location along with educating them about digital dangers, providing them with an alert system if their child is involved in a risky situation, and much more.
Thanks to Tim Woda, uKnow
Photo Credit: Cali Estes
To fill a void in the healthcare industry
I started my business to combat the 98% failure rate that traditional drug and alcohol treatment centers have. By offering a mobile therapy service and unique coaching company I can travel wherever my client maybe and offer personalized and confidential services direct to the client. I do more than ‘talk therapy’ and utilize the concepts of life coaching, yoga, fitness and nutrition to tackle some of the issues that arise within the client trying to make changes in their lifestyle. I love being able to fill a void in the healthcare industry that uses one model to treat everyone. Not all shoes fit all feet and I am able to prove that and help people that normally could not get the proper care they need.
Thanks to Cali Estes, The Addictions Coach
Photo Credit: LaTanya White
Getting a shot at a new business
One of my sorority sisters asked me to bartend her birthday party back in May of 2006 (to this day, we still don’t know why- I had never picked up a shaker and had never even mentioned wanting to bartend!) and I ended up having some a great time- and making money in the process- that I looked into it further. I began taking bartender training classes within two weeks of her party! I was still working in pharmaceutical sales at the time so I would make a 4-hour commute to Tampa, Florida every weekend for 5 weekends to complete the certificate program. As it happened, my contract in sales ended abruptly but because I had already been using my relationships to develop private bartending contracts, I used the layoff as an opportunity to begin 71 Proof.
Thanks to LaTanya White, 71 Proof
Photo Credit: Jacqueline R. Humphrey
To help people transition
I initially started Silver Lining Concierge to help seniors and those temporarily/permanently disabled maintain their independent lifestyle. While working as EVP of a non-emergency medical transportation company, I noticed that many of our clients could benefit from an “extra pair of hands”. Whether it was reading and translating insurance or financial documents, talking with a service provider, or being onsite to help with a contractor doing work at their home. As the advocate and go-to girl for my Mother, who has multiple schlerosis, and my sister who spends a lot of time in the hospital and recovering, I wanted to offer services to people that would enable them to keep their lives in motion as they recover. Although our target group has since evolved to include managing everyday life for professionals, the mission remains the same – help people go from merely existing to living their best life.
Thanks to Jacqueline R. Humphrey, Silver Lining Concierge
Photo Credit: Thomas Wolff
To help professionals talk about themselves
My wife is a human resources manager for a large company and was constantly talking about the unbelievably poor quality of the resumes that came across her desk. Even candidates with really impressive backgrounds struggled to look good on paper because people generally have a really difficult time writing objectively about themselves. As a copy editor at a local advertising agency, I saw an opportunity to build a business that would help professionals create resumes, cover letters, and social media profiles that helped them win interviews, not lose them. That was ten years ago, and my business has grown every year as word continues to spread about enormous impact a professionally written resume can have in a job search. We’ve worked with clients all over the world and recently hired a small team of writers to handle excess demand.
Thanks to Thomas Wolff, Resume Mastermind
Photo Credit: Patrick Conley
To help entrepreneurs and small business owners succeed
I started my business to help entrepreneurs and small business owners succeed because I believe that small business is the answer to re-energizing the US economy. There are so many start-ups with wonderful ideas and goals, but I have found that many have the same problems: lacking technological expertise to perform many of the essential tenants of a successful business – i.e. lead capture, automatic prospect nurturing through software, the ability to set up payments that are streamlined, etc. My company helps business owners leverage their strengths by using software to automate many of the tedious manual processes that exist in everyday business life. This allows them to focus on growing their business instead of “running” their business, since software is accomplish many of those repetitive tasks. The big picture is that small businesses gain access to the tools that allow them to play the marketing and sales game of the big companies, while still maintaining a very personalized feel with each customer.
Thanks to Patrick Conley, Marketing Automation, LLC
Photo Credit: Jerry S. Neitlich
To fill a gap in the commercial real estate marketplace
I started IN/House Corporate Real Estate to fill a niche gap in the commercial real estate market place. Traditionally, commercial brokers represented landlords leaving tenants to either fend for themselves or rely on a broker to act as a duel agent representing both parties. More recently some brokers began to exclusively represent commercial tenants (“Tenant Brokers”). In either case, the broker focused almost entirely on the transaction leaving the tenant to deal with issues after the lease was signed. While many companies often assigned staff within the company to manage their real estate holdings, few had full time real estate departments. The “part-time” administrators either had other corporate responsibilities or in most cases had little real estate experience. My theory was confirmed by a study co-sponsored by my previous company and the University Of California, Irvine Graduate School of Business Administration. With the confirmation that there was definitely a need for such a service, in 1993 I formed my company to be an outsource in-house real estate department for companies of all sizes. We would not only plan and implement the real estate transaction but continue to service our clients as leasing or other real estate matters come up at any time. We are their real estate department.
Thanks to Jerry S. Neitlich, InHouse
Photo Credit: Ben Walker
To control my own destiny
I started my own company because I wanted to control my own destiny. I had been a partner at a transcription company previously , so I knew I had the technical ability and knowledge to start my own transcription company – I just had to take a chance and do it on my own. But I knew that I would be successful if I had my back against the wall and had to perform. The transcription industry is challenging right now. With the government changes to healthcare, physicians are asking for new products or shifting to using different technology and software, which we now must integrate with. So I’m constantly brainstorming how to tweak our service so that they’re still useful and relevant to physicians. With a partner, you have to collaborate when you make those changes to your business model or when you decide to offer a new service. But as a business owner, I get to make the decisions, so I can adapt to the market quicker.
Thanks to Ben Walker, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC
Photo Credit: Ferdi Roberts
To help other small businesses
When I was building my first business, I lacked the right technology tools to manage all aspects of it. I focused on growth, but struggled with managing cash flow, and nearly killed my business. I knew then that there had to be an easier way for SMB owners to find useful tools to help them manage operations, so they could focus on why they went into business in the first place. The emergence of Software as a Service (SaaS) applications offered a better way – except it was difficult to find the app you needed, and make sure it would work as promised. I felt that just like smartphone users have their app stores, business owners should have a SaaS app store where they can find all the applications they need in one place. So in 2010, I founded SaaS Markets, now a global SaaS app store provider, partnering with organizations, such as state and local chambers of commerce, to provide SMB owners access to browse through over 1,300 pre-qualified SaaS apps of an affordable price. But my vision for my company goes beyond providing online catalogs of SaaS apps; I want to transform these app stores into guides that help SMBs solve problems and success, by providing demos for each app where business owners can learn to use the apps available to them.
Thanks to Ferdi Roberts, SaaS Markets
Photo Credit: Patrick Flynn
For job security
I started Northeast Relocation in 2012 after having spent over a decade in the Industry working for large corporations within my space. The main reasons I started my company were to fill a void in the industry that I noticed, and for job security. I noticed that there was a need for temporary housing that was more personalized for traveling executives, and for those seeking medical treatment in Boston – among other reasons, and sought to provide a high level, high-touch customer service experience at an attractive price point when compared to other lodging options in Boston. I also decided to start the company for a sense of job security in an economy where in most industries there is none, so in order to provide financial security and a bright future for my family, with a newborn on the way, I decided to take a chance. I considered many risk factors before doing so of course, and at the end of the day my experience, age, and energy all drove me in this direction.
Thanks to Patrick Flynn, Northeast Relocation
Photo Credit: Annie Davis
To help kids at a young age
I was working with delinquent teenagers who had been kicked out of the public school system. My job was to prepare them to re-enter high school. As I was working with these children and other children who were living on the streets, I thought why couldn’t all children have someone wonderful to care for them when they are very young. I then got the idea about nannies to take care of children. I opened a business with no idea of what I was doing and began finding nannies for families. That was over 28 years ago. I now have a wonderful staff that handles that part of the business which frees me up to pursue other types of business, such as Companions for Seniors. You can go to my website and read about what we do and about me and my staff.
Thanks to Annie Davis, Annie’s Nannies, Inc.
Photo Credit: Josh Lannon
To help families get loved ones back
Journey Healing Centers was started to help families who are coping with addiction get loved one back. After my wife gave me an ultimatum to get sober 10 years ago, I went to treatment and we both learned the value of family programs for those dealing with addiction. After treatment, I could not go back to running nightclubs in Las Vegas, and we decided to build our own rehabilitation centers where people can heal with dignity and respect. We read Rich Dad books, wrote business processes, got financing and hired addiction experts. We’ve now helped thousands of families heal, run six centers in the U.S., give back to charity regularly, and are preparing for a global franchise launch.
Thanks to Josh Lannon, Journey Healing Centers
Photo Credit: Joy Holland
To create a refreshing space
There are two things most people desire: the knowledge that what they contribute “matters” and the consistent experience of inner peace, regardless of external circumstances. I chose to create Facets of Joy as a refreshing space that provides online resources to encourage and inspire people to vest full presence to transparency in connection and creation. When people feel supported and appreciated, the result is that they choose to “live their truth” which leads to the feel of inner peace and abundance in each moment. I created an online space because the range of distribution of this message is vast; my current audience is international, thus each conversation has depth and variety–the community learns from each other as they explore the resources offered. On a personal level, this format also allows me to work independent of location, to travel, and to vest in connections that enrich and enliven, inviting exploration of expansion as I create my own heart truth.
Thanks to Joy Holland, Facets of Joy
Photo Credit: Kristen Elmer
To follow my passion
I started Silk and Cyanide after dreaming about it since my high school days. I went through college and spent a few years in the corporate retail world learning and gaining experience, and all along the way I couldn’t stop thinking of running a business on my own. Finally worn down by the corporate world, I left over two years ago and haven’t looked back! I have been sewing, designing and collecting vintage pieces from an early age and spent the first few months trying to figure out what I could bring to the fashion industry. I decided to combine my passion, vintage clothing, along with one the frustrations I felt in the corporate world: the lack of stylish clothing that worked well at both the office and at dinner or drinks afterward. I love working at a concept that fills a void in the marketplace.
Thanks to Kristen Elmer, Silk and Cyanide
Photo Credit: Katy Walker
Because online dating wasn’t working for me
When I was single, I tried online dating. It was a total disaster in many ways. We never knew where to meet, what to do or what/if we actually had anything in common. It was unproductive, time consuming and more often then not, we ended up at a bar. I was inspired to offer an alternative to typical online dating sites, since they were clearly was not working for me. We developed an online platform called MERJ that allows single people to find an activity they can enjoy with a partner who shares their interests. Members select an activity and a partner based on shared interests then instead of sending a message, they send an invitation. If they are not a match, they can at least have a bit of fun, like checking out a new veggie restaurant or trying rock climbing. Not only do I love working for myself and with my business partners, but I also enjoy helping people find true love!
Thanks to Katy Walker, MERJ
Photo Credit: Ben Davis
To give men a place for grooming
I hated getting haircuts SO much that I decided to do something about it. Before starting The Gents Place, I had two choices when going to get my haircut: 1) the discount chains that I have named the “XYZ Clips Joints” and 2) my wife’s salon, i.e. the “ladies place” Neither of these options appealed to me, so I found myself getting my haircut twice as short as I wanted so I wouldn’t have to go back for twice as long! XYZ Clips Joints don’t allow you to schedule an appointment in advance, have inexperienced service providers and employ people that care more about themselves than meeting my needs. The ladies places allow for appointments, but they typically staff up with gals that love cutting and coloring women’s hair, gossiping on the latest happenings in town and the décor is so overtly feminine that I felt like a woman when I left! The Gents Place solved all of my problems; we offer a quality grooming experience complete with a full complimentary bar, masculine interior, premium retail goods made just for guys and technology such as online booking and text message confirmations that any business guy would find extremely valuable. Ultimately, my personal frustration turned into long-term business and new way of life!
Thanks to Ben Davis, The Gents Place
Photo Credit: Andrea Bailey
To bring holistic healing to a bigger crowd
When I first started mentioning that I wanted to offer marketing consulting and design for holistic health practitioners, I would typically hear that people in that field were all (a) broke and (b) allergic to marketing, and that I wouldn’t be able to build a successful business serving them. I took that as a good sign that there was a real need for my work, since those were exactly the two problems I set out to solve. My ambition was to help my clients connect with a bigger crowd and build sustainable businesses, so that more people would have access to holistic options when they needed them. One year into it, I have worked with yoga teachers and studios, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and nutritionists – and yes, I can still afford my organic groceries. Turns out many of my clients are naturals at marketing themselves once they develop a style that feels authentic and fits into their everyday lives.
Thanks to Andrea Bailey, Lightbox Communications
Photo Credit: Janice M. Sellers
Because I wanted to have control over my life
I started my own business because I wanted control over my life and health and wanted to do something that I enjoyed. I had spent most of my working life in some sort of administrative or secretarial role. I am not demeaning these jobs; they are vital parts of companies and many individuals enjoy them, but my personality is not well suited for that type of work. After having left another job of that type which had negatively affected my health due to stress, I decided I needed to really try to do the type of work I wanted to do and see if I could be successful at it. I spent the next year developing and marketing my family history research business, Ancestral Discoveries. I learned I was much happier and less stressed doing the work I loved, and I quickly built the business to the level where I am able to support myself with it. I am thrilled I took that big step to personal control and freedom over my working life.
Thanks to Janice M. Sellers, Ancestral Discoveries