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.
Because I was disappointed with a PR firm
My background and my passion is in International Marketing. More than 20 years ago, I decided to hire a PR firm to assist me with media outreach for the technology company I was working for at the time. I was very disappointed with the firm’s technical grasp, poor positioning and lack of senior input. I had to do the positioning, messaging, and strategy for them. Turns out-I loved it and decided to launch my own public relations firm. Now with over twenty years of PR expertise, my tech public relations firm, Vantage Communications, is focused on delivering high impact results for clients, helping them increase their bottom line, create brand awareness and gain industry traction.
Thanks to Ilene Adler, Vantage Communications
To provide a 360˚ solution for entrepreneurs to grow and scale their businesses
I founded Incubation Station after serving as an attorney and business consultant to the entrepreneur community for over 15 years. In that time, I came to realize that entrepreneurs needed not only access to a top-notch legal provider, but they also had difficulty hiring outside of their own discipline in a range of service industries. Incubation Station was founded to provide a 360˚ solution for entrepreneurs to grow and scale their businesses. Our purpose is to build and support diversified industries in Austin by providing entrepreneurs with high-potential, market-validated companies with the education, connections, and growth funding they need to succeed. I have a background in consumer science from my father, who founded the Consumer Sciences program at UC-Davis. We have been serving the entrepreneurial community in Austin for many years, and when tech companies suffered from bubbles bursting and tough economies, the consumer companies kept Austin going, and based on the deal flow we were seeing at the law firm, and the fact that almost half of the investment dollars in Central Texas were flowing to consumer products companies – we saw a need because there was a significant lack of support and networking for these companies when compared to tech companies.
Thanks to Shari Wynne, Incubation Station
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So I wouldn’t be criticized for exceeding sales budget
I worked for a paycheck starting at 10, back when kids used to be allowed to deliver newspapers. I allows wanted the independence that money provided and I liked being my own boss. After college, I worked for a local payroll company and quickly became their top sales rep, but was constantly criticized for exceeding my sales budget or something like that. Finally, I decided to strike out on my own. I approached the first client that I’d sold payroll services to, and he agreed to back me as I owned my own payroll office. Fast forward 16 years later and we’re still partners in the largest privately owned payroll company in the region. It was a good choice!
Thanks to Rob Basso, Advantage Payroll Services
To fill a void in an industry I was familiar with
I, along with my lifelong friend and business partner, Gregg Lavin, had already cultivated and sold our first online sample company when we noticed a void. Former clients’ needs were not being met when it came to market research. As an entrepreneur, I felt compelled to take action based off the numerous complaints about the lack of do-it-yourself services. That’s when we created uSamp, which directly addressed the issue of the DIY market research by offering customers the technology needed to develop and publish their own market research studies and added more transparency and direct management into online audience sampling. Since starting uSamp in 2008, we’ve worked to advance the market research industry by building a global panel of over 12 million respondents, providing clients with instant access to these respondents, and through technical innovations like our mobile app and Instant..ly platform which enable companies to view consumer insights in real-time. Of course, we know our mission is not yet complete. We plan to continue to innovate and develop new technologies to empower our customers and help them reach their market research goals.
Thanks to Matt Dusig, uSamp
Because I love helping businesses with their people issues
I started Employee Matters because I love helping small to medium businesses with their people issues, solving problems for them, saving them time and money. I get a buzz when I help a client with a difficult long standing employee issue and seeing the relief on their face when everything is working as it should do. I could see that there was a gap in the market of providing ad hoc or flexible HR / Recruitment support to businesses and we are thrilled to be plugging this gap. Businesses like the fact that they can tap into a highly skilled HR Manager at their point of need, reducing their risk and ensuring legal compliance. I love watching the business evolve and grow, even in 12 months it is better than I could have imagined. It is one hell of a ride but I am loving it.
Thanks to Natasha Hawker, Employee Matters
Because I was totally done with some of the other body care products I tried
Scrubz Body Scrub, Inc. was started because I was totally done with some of the other body care products I had tried. Or they were crazy expensive. I was making the body scrub for myself, but realized it might incorporate everything I loved about business into a product line I not only believed in, but used myself on a daily basis. I have never looked back.
Thanks to Roberta Perry, Scrubz Body Scrub
Because I love to eat, drink and travel
I started my business because I love to eat, drink and travel! Yes, it’s was a bit of selfish motivation but seriously having worked with one of the best and most unique hotel and restaurant companies out there – Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, I was able to see what was missing in the market as it related to great public relations and marketing for restaurants, hotels and destinations. Our company was born to act as the outsourced marketing wing for these businesses. We pride ourselves on really “digging” in and becoming part of the teams that we work with. The hospitality industry is vibrant but also extremely competitive, we offer solutions to build and maintain active guest acquisition. In the end – for us it’s all about putting heads in beds and butts in seats. We love what we do – and find our work very rewarding. The only downside – waistline challenges! When you dine out every night – you got to keep active on those Stairmasters.
Thanks to Andrew Freeman, Andrew Freeman & Co.
A happy accident
My business partner and I often refer to our company as “The Accident”, because it was just that! He and I met in a Social Theory of Networks Class at the University of Arizona back in 2005. We gave back to back presentations (he had launched a project that was like Facebook before Facebook was Facebook, and I was trying to get students involved with the community outside of campus) and everyone including the professor took notice to how well the projects complimented each other. We decided to join forces to create something that combined the best of what we each had to offer, and utilized our knowledge of social theory to solve real world problems. Our goal was to build a communication tool that would bridge the digital divide by giving non-profit organizations, informal groups, and local businesses access to mobile technology that was currently only accessible to big business. Less than a year later we were asking local businesses and nonprofit organizations to pilot our new and shiny group text messaging and mobile marketing platform. They did, and they liked it, and the next thing we knew, he, with his degree in Sociology and me with mine in Political Science found ourselves going all in on with our new venture. Hence – the accident!
Thanks to Debra Brown, MobilizeUs
To create the sort of business I never had access to
I grew up in the former Soviet Union, where things like customer service and product quality were hardly given much consideration—we waited in long, uncomfortable lines to obtain the most basic of goods. I know how it feels to be treated like just another faceless consumer. I’ve also seen plenty of businesses struggle with creating professional, visually appealing print marketing. It can be frustrating, especially when you have limited options available to you. For that reason, I made it my goal to create the sort of business I never had access to, one that treats customers the way I’d want to be treated and provides them with the very best quality and selection. Thus, I created Company Folders, offering excellent service, high-quality marketing materials and over 15 million possible combinations of custom folder options.
Thanks to Vladimir Gendelman, Company Folders Inc.
Because the last straw was when my own employer stole from me
Without question working for someone else made me content and it paid the bills but it also suppressed the drive and ambition that college and my mother instilled in me. Not only did I not feel compensated for my hard work and dedication but the feeling that my job was always on the line gave me an uncertain feeling that I was expendable at any time. The last straw was when my own employer stole from me. I realized then that the only way I was every going to be paid and recognized for what I was worth was going to be to start my own business and work for myself. Fast forward six years later and I have one of the most reputable and growing real estate brokerages in the Orlando, FL area with two offices and several Realtors. I would say I made the right decision!
Thanks to Aaron Mighty, Mighty Realty
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Because the notion “the way things have always been done” is not the right answer
I developed the Burton Law concept on the notion that “the way things have always been done” is not the correct answer on how to run a law firm. The legal profession has many great characteristics; however, one of them is not being susceptible to major changes. Our firm recognizes that a traditional brick and mortar setting may not be the best way to serve clients. Since lawyers may excel in different work environments, the use of cloud-based technology to collaborate while working in a distributed manner, results in advanced client service. This led to our virtual law firm model.
Thanks to Chad Burton, Burton Law LLC
Because my temporary layoff gave me the push I needed
I started my own company, Bayer Public Relations, in October 2003 after being temporarily laid off from a new job because work was slow. I had always wanted to have my own business, so I used this temporary layoff as my motivation to start my own agency. It’s been over nine years since I founded Bayer Public Relations, a full-service public relations, consulting and marketing agency specializing in culinary and hospitality, and I have never looked back. Bayer Public Relations is a company built on dedication, integrity and positive thinking, combined with a genuine passion for what we do. We have invaluable experience in the fields we represent, and we excel at creating compelling, results-oriented campaigns for our clients based on their specific goals. Based in the heart of Manhattan, we have developed strong relationships with top media and industry leaders, and we continue to grow our network. We understand that our clients want to “B Seen. B Heard. B Known.” and we know how to make this happen. It takes hard work, discipline and strong work ethic to start and run a business, but it’s extremely rewarding because it is your own. I encourage anyone who is driven to be self-employed, simply to go for it!
Thanks to Shari Lyn Bayer, Bayer Public Relations
Because I knew there had to be a better way
Every responsible business owner knows that budgets should be monitored, and forecasts created, on a regular basis. But this can be a daunting task with popular spreadsheet and bookkeeping software. I experienced this pain first-hand during my career building budgets and plans. So, I combined what I learned through frustrating attempts to make projected financial statements tie-out, together with a basic forecasting software package that my father had created a decade earlier. My partners and I completely rewrote the software and reinvigorated PlanGuru with 21st century marketing know-how to transform the company. Our software is a cost-effective solution that includes extensive free user support – including daily webinars. Today, over 1100 customers are making better decisions using our intuitive software; they range from entrepreneurial start-ups to major universities.
Thanks to Christian Wielage, PlanGuru
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Because I wanted to change the way Information Technology was delivered
In 2004, I realized I wanted to change the way Information Technology was delivered. Thus, Precision IT Group began as a startup with a twist. We weren’t driven by the money factor – and we still aren’t. By placing humanity into our business model, we didn’t want to rip off our customers or constantly bill them for time or material. Every client contract is a fixed fee only support, and winning our clients’ trust has greatly contributed to the success of Precision. Precision’s headcount grew from 4 to more than 30 in just four years, but did not have a sales team until 2010. So how did we do it? We pride ourselves on referrals and word of mouth marketing. By focusing on the value of our customers, we’ve created a proactive culture and monitor our clients’ situations in real time. This prevents issues from occurring because we’re constantly looking at their network. Our name represents what we do – we do things with precision and continue to “aim higher” as our mission.
Thanks to David D’Arcy, Precision IT
Because I tend to think outside the box
I am an M.D. but I tend to think outside the box. I came up with this idea of using a pulse rate for sinus irrigation. Medically it was obvious that my patients could get well without antibiotics this way. I went for years to medical meetings to try to interest manufacturers to make this device. I spent hours talking to a dozen companies, time I could have spent much more advantageously. After hours of conversation I would get the same answer, “The profit is in drugs and not in gadgets.” Finally I had no choice, for my patients, to make the Hydro Pulse myself. Then, the demand for a drug free treatment increased, so I made a company, Hydro Med to market the product. Same thing happened with nasal gel. All nasal gels at that time, you put it on a Q tip or your finger and put it in your nose, sometimes causing it to bleed. Why not make a tube with a tip that slides into the nose? Again, no one was interested, so I made it myself. Same thing with Clear.ease – a lozenge for bromelain and papain to reduce swelling. I needed something my scuba diving patients could take to avoid blocked ears and no one would make it for me. I am not sure if you would really call my Hydro Med a company in the sense of what others have – dozens of salesmen, etc. Essentially for years it was my kids who were the company, packaging and mailing, etc. I had to make a decision to keep practicing my profession and not leave it.
Thanks to Murray Grossan, M.D.
Inspiration from family
My primary inspiration to become a business owner came from my family. My grandfather owned a resort at Lake Arrowhead in the Southern California mountains called Pine View Lodge, ran a “nautical camp” at Balboa, and had various other business interests. I grew up hearing stories from my father about these places and my grandfather’s experiences, both good and bad. My father worked at NASA when I was younger but also started a small business on the side selling a device for testing optical filters. And my parents encouraged me as a kid to recycle newspapers, mow neighbors’ lawns, and in high school my dad gave me a loan to start a retail business. When I got a job in 1999 at a dot-com startup, it didn’t take long before I looked at what the founders were doing and thought “Why am I working here making $13/hr when I could be running my own business?” I hadn’t grown up with any mental barriers to the idea of running a business, so all it took was for me to see someone else doing something I wanted to do myself, and that was it. I quit the dot-com, started my own business, and have never worked for anyone else since.
Thanks to Josh Steimle, MWI
Because I wanted to create a safer environment for cosmetic laser clients
I started my business to create a safer environment for cosmetic laser clients. When I opened my first med spa 10 years ago, the industry was like the Wild West. I soon realized that while procedures like laser hair removal and laser skin rejuvenation were growing in popularity, there were no training or safety standards in place for the people performing the treatments. Education was limited to a four-hour demo from the laser manufacturer, and anyone could fire a laser regardless of training. I wanted to make sure that clients would be treated in a way that was safe and effective, so I created the country’s first structured curriculum for cosmetic lasers.
Thanks to Louis Silberman, National Laser Institute
Because we were tired of creating value for other people
I founded Acropolis with two business partners ten years ago because we were tired of creating value for other people. The three of us had worked together for 10-15 years at a bank that was gobbled up by larger banks three times. Even though each merger was good for shareholders, it wasn’t great for us and it wasn’t good for clients. After the last merger, we decided that enough was enough and that it was time to work for ourselves. At the time our accountant told us that we were going from W2 people to K1 people and we were unlikely to go back. He was right. It hasn’t always been easy, but we started with almost nothing and ten years later, we have 25 employees and manage almost $1 billion on behalf of our clients.
Thanks to David Ott, Acropolis Investment Management, LLC.
Helping good reporters educate and inform
I began my business after noticing far too many mediocre attorneys with large PR budgets getting quoted in the news saying some pretty dumb things with neither the public or the reporter being none the wiser. My thought was since good reporters want to educate and inform, why not give them the best sources possible for a reasonable price.and some cover-story scoops besides? Bonus points: This also satisfies the little part of me who is a Lois Lane wannabe, which I never really, quite got over. It’s been working out well since 1999.
Thanks to Bonnie Russell, Personal Public Relations
To solve a spousal disagreement over recycling
As a husband who recycled sometimes and a wife who recycled always, there were frequently disagreements in our house when Liz would find recyclables in Jeff’s wastebasket. We decided to solve the problem by buying a trash/recycle bin for each room in our house. The only trouble was, we couldn’t find any in stores! Frustrated, we set out to develop our own solution. After over a year of work on different prototypes and many late nights the Solecan™, an eco-friendly trash/recycle can, was born. We are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to bring the Solecan™ to production, keep millions of pounds of recyclables out of landfills, and end recycling disputes among spouses worldwide!
Thanks to Jeff and Liz Helfrich, Solecan
Because I wanted to properly manage a company
I started by business because I wanted to properly manage a company. I realized that my previous workplace was controlled by too much office politics and it made productivity very difficult. Although, I was young (24 years old) when I ventured off on my own, I knew that my lack of experience wasn’t going to get me the top position I was looking for. However, I knew I had the capability to manage and run a successful business. In addition, I had the ability to choose the client I wanted to work with. It’s easier to build a good relationship with people you trust and have excellent work ethnics as oppose to dealing with people just because you are getting paid to do so. Today, I couldn’t be any happier. I can share my expertise with people who need it and I enjoy all the benefits of knowing I was able to help others and their business all by doing it in a productive and organized way, just like I always wanted.
Thanks to Belkis Cardona-Rivera, Belkis Marketing
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Because of a call to 911
My husband woke me, unable to speak and held up a piece of paper that said simply “Call 911”. We got to the hospital where he was diagnosed with Acid Reflux Disease and he was told to sleep head elevated. There were no products on the market that provided him the kind of elevation the doctor had recommended or the comfort he needed to actually rest, so I came up with an idea that I eventually patented, licensed and started to manufacture called Gravity1st elevated sleep systems. We are now shipping product to people everywhere who suffer from Reflux and who are looking for an alternative to expensive prescription drugs that have negative side effects. Our solution to a good nights sleep with Reflux has become a mission to educated people about the dangers of Reflux and the fact that it is the number one cause of esophageal cancer. My entire story with pictures is attached.
Thanks to Kelli Minson, Gravity Solutions, LLC
After realizing there was no global small business marketing firm in existence
I started my business in 2004 after owning a creative agency for 5 years and realizing that there is no global small business marketing firm in existence. Furthermore, everyone provides services that are the same, just different quality, and what small businesses need more than anyone else, is ways in which they can minimize expenditure while not sacrificing marketing efforts. We also give small businesses a voice through the Marketing Eye magazine distributed to more than 60,000 other business owners. It’s this collaborative marketing, education and media effect that has accelerated the growth of our clients exponentially. Making that leap from one successful business to a startup was the best decision I ever made.
Thanks to Mellissah Smith, Marketing Eye
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