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.
To create an important change in storytelling
When you’ve spent your career working in different forms of entertainment content and distribution as I have (magazines, music, books, television, etc.), you see options, unlike those who spend all of their time focused on one area and can’t see outside the box. Successful models of entertainment distribution get stuck in past successes and are slow to innovate. To me, this represents a terrific opportunity. Digital delivery of content offers more clear and less expensive ways to distribute, and presents a new way to manipulate content to make it truly interactive. I saw this as a big opportunity. A new library of content is emerging, creating an important change in storytelling. This is why I started Audience Entertainment.
Thanks to Barry Grieff, Audience Entertainment
To break free from the status quo
I started my business to break free from the status quo. I saved up enough money. I knew my competition was far behind in my industry. I knew I could do it better. I had the time, the intellect and the ability to make an impact. With all of the resources on the Internet, there was never a better time to start a business. My secret weapon was this: I wanted to focus on business – not office drama, worrying about my salary, a raise or other meaningless distractions. I also understood that starting small was an advantage. To me, the “small” in “small business” meant moving faster than any bigger or better-funded competitor. And most importantly, I wasn’t afraid of failure. Matter of fact, I welcomed it.
Thanks to Dimple Thakkar, Synhergy
To build a legacy
I started a business with my daughter Amber because of a deep desire to not only have a family business, but to build a legacy. In today’s fast paced business world, I read about so many companies that are started simply to sell it as fast as possible, and for as much as possible. Vibrant Culture was built to last, for generations to come. I am most inspired by innovation and businesses that are family-owned such as Ford, Toyota, Wal-Mart, Wendy’s, and Chic-fil-A, to names a few. I am especially driven by the idea that my daughter and I can build an company that will provide a quality product to the world, while creating opportunities and careers for people and their family for years to come.
Thanks to Lawana Kelly, Vibrant Culture
To ‘Underpromise’ and ‘OverDeliver’
I started my consulting business, TSG One Stop, because the Big 5 consulting companies were overcharging customers for system implementations that lasted longer than necessary and included junior resources. I was able to bring aboard my good friends who were more talented than me and we were able to quickly implement a full system with more bells and whistles that solved major business process flows. After I found the formula to save clients money and time with quality results, I was able to tackle the high level need so C level executives can see what they care about quickly through online intelligence – the creation of EnsyncTrends. Helping my clients be competitive and sustainable is what makes all the hard work worth it all. Now I offer clues for the executive in all of us to reach our career and entrepreneurship goals.
Thanks to Temeko Richardson, TSG One Stop
To eliminate the need for ‘second best’
I started my business a way to help people make sense of a traditionally complicated world – the credit card industry. We all need credit cards for one reason or another, and nowadays, we all have plenty of them to choose from. For those who have never looked for a credit card though, this expansive market can be stressful, confusing, and overwhelming. I wanted to develop a site that would minimize the time and struggle that goes into credit card selection, allowing people to quickly find the best options for their personal finances. Through side-by-side comparisons and constantly updated information, people using my site can see all they need to know to find the best credit card(s) for them. No matter what happens to the economy, I want to be there to give people easy access to the financial help they deserve.
Thanks to Chris Mettler, Compare Cards
To strike out and do something on my own
Around eight years ago, I was working at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. I wasn’t unhappy, but also felt like I wanted to strike out and do something on my own. Years before I had the fortune of sharing a dinner with the founders of J Crew and Nantucket Nectars. Hearing their stories of how they started from nothing and grew their businesses to a major success motivated me to go the path of the entrepreneur. I got a sense of what it was like controlling your own destiny, having unique challenges as an owner, and creating the life that you want. I was young (only 23) and didn’t any major responsibilities, so quitting my career and starting my furniture company Viesso seemed like a great move. Eight years later, I’ve been able to do things like set my own schedule, travel when I want, and have an ever-changing set of obstacles to overcome. I still have a long way to go to reach their level of success, but so far I’m happy with the decision to start something new and go my own way.
Thanks to Travis Nagle, Viesso
To help online shoppers save
As an avid online shopper I was always appalled by the high shipping prices I would get stuck with at check out. In 2007, my husband and I wanted to see a website with only free shipping coupons, so we created FreeShipping.org. Later, to help spur online shopping later in December,we created the shopping holiday Free Shipping Day, where we required online stores to guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve and offer a free shipping deal. As we continued to work in the free shipping coupon space, we learned more ways to save online and started creating TheFrugals.com. Our goal with The Frugals has been to create a family super heroes that will help your average consumer save money on shopping with easy and innovative coupons, discounts, and price comparison.
Thanks to Maisie Knowles, Kinoli
To help people cross their ‘finish lines’
Twenty-six years ago, a severe reaction to a medication sent me to the burn unit.. I was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), an autoimmune reaction causing your skin to blister to the point that you have 2nd and 3rd degree burns. Unlike many with SJS, I survived and was not left blind or severely scarred. I felt so blessed by this outcome. Yet, as I started running, I discovered that SJS did leave my eyes very sensitive. If sweat drips into my eyes, it burns so badly that I find it hard to focus on anything else. Wearing hats and sweatbands help, but in the Texas heat, I found that the sweat still dripped, causing extreme pain and an excuse to stop my workouts. With my first marathon in sight, I needed a solution. That’s when I created Handana. It is a high performance fashionable sweatband that wraps around your hand. You can use both sides of your hand to wipe sweat from your neck or forehand, while leaving your hand completely free. Handana does more than protect my eyes: It has become a powerful reminder to cross my finish lines, to persevere. It is amazing to see that already happening. I’ve met so many people and learned innumerable powerful and heart-stirring stories because of Handana.
Thanks to Katie Niemeyer, Handana
To help students with their story
3 days after my fiftieth birthday, I quit my job as Director of Development and Communications at Macaulay Honors College-City University of New York, and took my first storytelling class, returning to the manuscript I’d started when I was a sophomore in college in 1978. The day before my father died in February 1975 he winked and said to me, “If I don’t finish that book about beating cancer, I want you to finish it for me.” I had tried several times, but I just couldn’t finish. I started Story To College after my son Zach said, “Mom I don’t think you see what’s right in front of you. You love high school students. You love teaching more than any of the other things you’ve ever done. You are the best college application essay coach out there. Take storytelling, teach it to high school students who are applying to college and you could help a lot of people.” He took the napkin off his lap and mapped out the first business plan for *Story To College.* And then he winked just like my father.
Thanks to Carol Barash, Story to College
To help organizations be more effective
I started TechSoft Systems back in 1983 after seeing the potential of the personal computer and the impact it could have in both business and nonprofit settings. The company has grown significantly in both size and scope since then. Part of our focus now is to serve as an “IT department” for small businesses and nonprofit organizations who cannot afford dedicated IT staff. This allows them to focus on their mission and more effectively utilize the resources they have without worries over data backup, server issues or new equipment setup. I created TechOrders, a division of TechSoft Systems, to combine the purchasing power of smaller organizations in order to negotiate lower prices on hardware and software tools. That way smaller companies (with smaller budgets) can get some of the same discounts that big buyers do.
Thanks to Clifford A. Bailey, TechSoft Systems
To jumpstart local rail economies and help commuters
Every month there are crazy train delays, people all over the place sitting on their bags, but the truth is you don’t have to. You can go grab a fantastic Greek yogurt at the local coffee shop or find the perfect bottle of wine before heading home in the evening. That’s why we invented *StopTips * — digital screens which give commuters real time train schedule information coupled with tips on local businesses and ads for everything from parking to air travel to museums. Living in the suburbs of CT, we were frustrated that train stations lack the robust kind of information displays you might find at any airport. My partner and I found a way to bridge this gap by deploying internet-enabled digital signs at or near rail stations. Ultimately, the goal of StopTips is to help create a thriving rail based economy, where commuters will know where to get quality services and goods at local merchants without having to hop in their cars.
Thanks to Kenyon Weiss, StopTips
To have more room to grow
Simply put, I was like a plant that had outgrown my pot and needed to be repotted with room to grow if I ever wanted to flower again. Known for being a little restless, I wanted a bigger challenge—the kind of challenge that would be worth working around the clock for. I wanted to align with inspiring businesses to help them achieve their goal by making the biggest impact possible. I really wanted to say, “yes” when I wanted to. And, I only wanted to work on things that really excited me. I launched Olive PR Solutions, Inc. in May 2009 with a vision to create a team that worked in harmony with brands that we could authentically get behind. All too often, public relations professionals are required to represent brands that aren’t exactly in alignment with their values. I wanted to create an environment where everyone could have a say in what they wanted to be involved with. I take great pride in our growing team and in knowing that everyone on our team is working on projects they love.
Thanks to Jennifer Borba Von Stauffenberg, Olive PR Solutions
Because it was just the right time
I founded The Agency in 2009 and started the company for two reasons. First, I guess I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit as since beginning my career I always wanted to start my own boutique PR firm. Second, when I started my firm, the timing was right… it sounds funny, but it made sense timing wise and from a career development perspective – I had enough corporate experience leading departments that I felt I was ready to break out and grow my own team. As an entrepreneur, I lead my business first and foremost by example. I strive to be professional, creative and most importantly provide value to my clients. I work hard and expect my team to do the same, which they do. At the same time I do not believe in leading with ‘an iron fist’ and I absolutely do not tolerate bullying or intimidation. Instead I aim to ensure that the work environment at The Agency is professional, committed but still fun – a place where people are happy to come to work each day and give their best effort to serving our clients.
Thanks to Arleigh Vasconcellos, The Agency
To help people reject their negative labels
We are all born with a label! However, as we grow up many times we have labels placed on us due to cultural stereotypes and sadly people might be in a bad mood. A teacher told me that I had one of the worst writing [abilities] she had seen in my graduate school class- a label. Several months later I was inspired by my mother to write a book after an incident that happen to me at a parcel delivery company. 5 years later I have authored 4 books, executive produced and directed 2 animated films and I am the Founder of TNG Publishings, LLC along with my mother. TNG is a custom publishing company which mission is to enhance to moral character in families and help children act on their beliefs. My life’s passion is to help others Deliver their Potential whether it’s published or produced thereby rejecting their own negative labels.
Thanks to Damien Nash, TNG Publishings
Because I was tired of being miserable at the gym
I started a business because I was tired of being miserable at the gym. As a young woman in college, my friends and I were all health (and self!) conscious. So we’d drag our feet to our university’s gym in the cold weather and trudge along on the elliptical for 45 minutes like zombies. At a nightclub on a Spring break trip to Miami, my best friend and I noticed something amazing: everyone was sweaty, everyone was exercising (dancing) yet everyone looked happy as could be. We came up with the simple idea to fuse fun and fitness under one roof. At 305 Fitness, our nightclub-inspired cardio workouts mimic a night out with your girlfriend. Think: strobe lights, a live DJ, and a bartender making healthy smoothies. The 305 Fitness movement isn’t about weight loss or punishment, it’s about empowering participants to have fun and feel sexy in their own skin. Since expanding to New York from Providence, the company has widened its reach and is one step closer to sweeping the nation!
Thanks to Sadie Kurzban, 305 Fitness
Because of the demand for affordable and high quality contractors
I started R.Y.L.L. Icon Custom Construction because of the demand for reliable and affordable contractors and builders of the highest quality. I also love being creative. Initially I started off purchasing homes with the intentions of rehab and resale. Before investing in homes I went to school for construction so I had basic knowledge of what was necessary to create a quality product. As an investor I had a difficult time finding qualified contractors who performed at a level that I was comfortable with. If this was a problem for me, I figured it was a problem for other investors and homeowners and that’s how R.Y.L.L. Icon was born. Five years ago the market began to change and I needed to adapt. My response to the need to adapt was to add cabinet making to the list of services that I offered. Since starting R.Y.L.L. Icon Custom Construction the market has gotten weaker and the demand has increased but because of my professionalism and attention to detail my business has remained afloat.
Thanks to Kedar Pittman, R.Y.L.L Icon
Because long-distance phone calls didn’t seem like quality family time
When I traveled in the mid-2000s, long-distance phone calls didn’t seem like quality family time. I thought it would be great to spend time with my son via video – and, on top of that, watch YouTube clips together (my son was learning to play the drums and loved watching accomplished performers online). Problem was, there was no way we could do it. With several technology patents under my belt, I thought why not build the tool I wanted. So I hired some programmers, created the multimedia conferencing platform, and turned it into a company, Watchitoo. Videoconferencing while sharing content was a great way to bridge the distance with my family. Now Watchitoo is reshaping the world of broadcasting, education and business. TV producers use Watchitoo to conduct interactive “after shows” that connect stars with fans. Schools use Watchitoo to add a human touch to distance learning. Businesses use Watchitoo to conduct all hands conferences and training online instead of in conference rooms or over dedicated networks.
Thanks to Rony Zarom, Watchitoo
Because an apple for the teacher isn’t enough anymore
Teachers have a tough job-helping our kids grow, learn, and become our leaders for tomorrow-and inspire them to flourish in the process! I’ve been an education entrepreneur for many years and have great awareness of and regard for the work teachers do. I formed Teacher Peach in May 2012 to help meet the ever-changing, ever-growing demands educators face today. Teacher Peach provides strong social-emotional learning support for educators. Why grapple with an apple, when you can reach for the peach? Teaching is fuzzy, juicy, and quite full of the pits. Teacher Peach helps educators in many areas-from integrating Common Core State Standards to presenting a professional and proud image by using tools designed by teachers-for teachers. Every product we create has been conceptualized with teachers or tested and refined by teachers. I love working with real educators who share real issues so that our team can truly contribute smart solutions and make a difference. Right now, we are deeply focused on school safety. That’s the other thing I love about being an education entrepreneur: sadly, school safety is more critical than ever just now. As the Chief Peach, I can quickly redirect our company’s priorities to focus on this issue and I don’t even need to raise my hand to be called on to answer!
Thanks to Randi Brill, Teacher Peach
Because I fell in love with the business of music
I fell in love with the business of music when I was 20 years old and got the opportunity to manage Singer/ song writer Ray Kennedy. Working with some of the industry’s biggest musicians and influences, I was able to see first-hand the collapse of the music industry from the inside. I was shocked to witness the music take a back seat to business deals and ego-centered contracts. I wanted to somehow restore humanity back into the industry and give control back to the artists. By no means did we invent the idea of music brand partnership. We have seen brands and bands team up many times in the past. However, these deals often turn out to be one-sided. Meaning, either the band or the brand are getting more out of the deal while the other is left shorted. During these deals there is rarely a third party to mediate and guide the process along. Through Mirrored Media, we have developed a process to create long lasting partnerships that are equally beneficial for all parties involved.
Thanks to Justin Lefkovitch, Mirrored Media
To give hikers the essential equipment
In 2005, my brother disappeared while he was hiking in Yosemite. In spite of the most expensive search in the park’s history, his remains were never found. During the following years, I started noticing stories in the news about lost hikers – while almost all were eventually found, many did not survive. I was surprised at how often people ventured out into the wilderness without really being prepared. I discovered the list of “ten essentials,” that most experts (from the Mountaineers to the Scouts) recommend that every hiker carry on every hike (even a day hike). I did months of research, looking for the best, lightweight, reasonably proper equipment. Finally, in 2011, I started PACK6 in order to 1) equip more hikers with quality hiking essentials, and 2) educate the public (particularly youngsters) about safe hiking practices. Working full-time at another job, we have had a slow start, but now seem to have hit our stride. In addition to selling our kits, we also give Hug-A-Tree presentations to children’s groups, teaching them basic survival techniques. We have now also reached out to autism groups, since autistic kids have a tendency to “elope” or wander. We are growing every day. My hope is that someday a lost hiker will come home because of something he or she learned in one of our classes, or learned on our website, or used a whistle or signal mirror he got from us.
Thanks to Honor Boone, PACK6
To solve a problem I was having in my life
After finishing grad-school I went on the classic Euro trip like so many others. And like most Americans I found the trip planning process to be complex, time consuming, and a bit stressful. When I arrived in Europe I had a blast but continually fell into holes in my itinerary, things I did not account for, and misinformation. When returning from this amazing adventure I continued to ask myself, ‘how do other modern travelers plan highly personalized trips?’ After months of searching the web, speaking with friends, and thinking about the perfect solution I decided to start Utrip. Utrip allows any user to plan a highly personalized itinerary (quickly, easily, and for free) using the most advanced travel technology in existence.
Thanks to Gilad Berenstein, Utrip
To let users share their allergies and stay safe
I almost lost my step-sister to a drug allergy a few Christmases ago. She was rushed to hospital, died twice on the way and ended up in a coma for five days. The first thing the doctors asked us was “what drugs is she allergic to?” We didn’t know. It took us five hours before we found someone to break into her condo (in a different city) and fax in her allergy list. Three of five drugs already administered were on her ‘allergic-to’ list. A doctor immediately ripped off the IV and alternatives were found, which helped save her life. We just launched our site, which lets users list then share any allergies they have with other site members. It’s free. We just want to prevent others from enduring the same stressful experience.
Thanks to Drew Aveling, Online Allergies
To improve the image of Gen-Y
I felt compelled to start my company, Survive and Succeed, because Gen-Y constantly appears in the media as useless, lazy and unskilled. Like all generational statements, this was a generalisation that only blamed and demoralised young people. Though the blame game is not useful, if a generation is unskilled, then surely the parents and role models of that group of young people should be made accountable for failing to teach those skills. Everything skill in life is learned, but young people are not being taught. I decided to assist other Gen-Ys to improve their life skills, study skills and cooking skills to enable them to get the most out of life and to “survive and succeed in the real world.” We launched this year and will provide life skills, study skills and cooking master classes, along with websites for free advice.
Thanks to Emma Earley, Survive and Succeed
To simply help people
When I graduated from Dental School, I became an associate in a few dental offices in Southern California. Soon I began to realize that a big portion of the population in Los Angeles are on Dentical, a government aid to help them with their dental needs. Unfortunately, what also came to my attention was that very few Doctors are willing to work with patients on Dentical due to the low reimbursement rates from the government. As a result many of the kids and adults on Dentical were being treated in facilities that were not particularly pleasant for the patients. That’s how I decided to open up a Dental Office providing Dental Care for Kids and Adults who are on Government Aid where they can receive the best treatment in a state of the art office. Everyone deserves excellent care no matter what their insurance coverage is. As Doctors, it is our duty to provide the best care in the most comfortable setting for our patients. I have had that office open now for almost 10 years and my patients are so thankful for the care they have received there over all these years. I am proud to say that we have become a community staple in Panorama City. As the Health care budget decreases every year, I get even more motivated to provide the utmost in care to those kids and adults who need my help most.
Thanks to Dr. Nina M. Gray, DMD, Dental Plus California
To create new ways to keep computers safe
Like many others in the IT security market, my co-founders and I watched malware threats evolve, morphing from basic everyday attacks on e-banking sites, to large scale enterprise threats which we now call Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) that have the power to take down entire networks, effecting business operations throughout a company. Back in 2010 when we came up with the idea for Seculert, security solutions were falling short and we saw an opportunity. We knew that we could create a service that would allow our trained security researchers to serve as an asset to large enterprises by detecting malware that had, in the past, been able to bypass their existing security systems. The key to our offering would be that users would not need to install actual hardware or software and that we would be able to scale and analyze huge sets of data using the power of cloud computing.
Thanks to Dudi Matot, Seculert