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Why Did You Start Your Business? Week of May 5th

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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 make working out fun

We created a workout method, piece of equipment and, subsequently, a market for surf-fitness. We noticed that all of the fitness trends were focused on getting ripped, counting reps, keeping track of time while you’re already doing something you probably don’t want to be doing. So we wanted to bring the challenges, fun and, ultimately, the results (long lean physique) you get from surfing. We created a surfboard that mimics the instability of water so that just by standing on the board your core is engaged by trying to stay stable and your balance is constantly working and improving. Everyone associates surfing with a good time so we wanted to recreate that atmosphere in a gym setting where people can have fun and forget they are working out but remember the next day when their entire body is sore. We started about a year ago and are in over 60 gyms across the US. It’s not your typical day at the beach.

Thanks to Nick Karwoski, SURFSET Fitness, Inc.

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Having aircraft information all in one place

The idea first came to me in 2005 while working at Travelocity. I managed airline relationships for Travelocity and Site59. Even back then, the airlines were struggling to differentiate their products and services. Problem was, and is still today, that no distribution channel highlights the experiential factors flyers care about most. All flight search is based on price and schedule and as an experience-obsessed flyer, I wanted to find comfort as well. I am the kind of person who goes to one site to find aircraft information, another site to check seat layout, and another site to read reviews and tips. I spent so much time triangulating data and realized it should all be found in one spot. Thus, the idea for Routehappy emerged. I’ve been in many uncomfortable seats. The worst was probably Aeroflot in the early 1990s. I was working for the American Embassy in Moscow and traveled extensively around the former Soviet Union on Aeroflot. More than once, I found myself on a plane with livestock including chickens and small goats! That doesn’t happen anymore, but there are still a lot of differences between planes, seats, amenities and airports that flyers need to know about to improve their experience.

Thanks to Robert Albert, Routehapy.com

 

Because I didn’t like taking orders from others

Put simply, I didn’t like taking orders from others. I thought I could do my job faster and be of more value to my clients if I did things my own way. I admit I wasn’t an easy employee to lead. I had my own opinions and challenged my bosses. If I didn’t agree with them, I would find a way to work my methods and ideas into my work. I wasn’t arrogant – I see it as having high expectations for myself and for others. I found myself grumbling and complaining about how things were done on the job. That wasn’t healthy for me or for my company. I knew I’d only be happy if I stepped out and did things on my own. And THAT has been healthy for me and for everyone around me.

Thanks to Lori Dernavich

 

Getting to live my passion

As a big dreamer type A, I’ve long had a passion for working with other motivated entrepreneurs. I started to see that these hardworking and passionate business owners were struggling to wear all of the hats necessary to keep a business thriving and their marketing was suffering. I started Wired PR to help other entrepreneurs share their story and convert consumers into passionate advocates. My goal is to enable them to keep doing what they love doing and grow their business. Every day their passion fuels mine, and the traction we are getting for their business in turn keeps them motivated and focused on growth.

Thanks to Beth Cochran, Wired PR

Related Post: Proudest Business Accomplishment

 

Out of necessity

I started my business, KiMedia Strategies out of necessity. I had recently almost died from pneumonia, lost my Dad, Grandmother, Aunt and Nana and moved from St. Louis to Tampa to be with family. I found out my Mom was losing her house to foreclosure back in 2009 and started to take on mentoring and management clients to make money to try to save it. One thing honestly led to another and although I wasn’t able to save her house I did start my Social Media Marketing and Strategy company and have been going strong ever since taking on reputable authors, bands, restaurants and many B2B clients.

Thanks to Kim Randall, KiMedia Strategies

 

Because business should be a positive force

I started Dean’s Beans twenty years ago with the notion that business could and should be a positive force for social, economic and environmental change in the third world. I was the co-founder of the first non-profit development organization in the coffee world, Coffee Kids. Yet sitting in a Guatemalan village during a well celebration I was troubled. Sure, the villagers got a well, but the companies that donated money were not changing their business practices that kept people in a chronic state of underdevelopment. I wondered what would it look like if a company paid real money for its raw materials in the developing world? What would it look like if that company took a sense of responsibility for the conditions in the source villages? Could the company make a difference and still be profitable? We have grown and been profitable every year since we began. Our work in the coffee villages has been meaningful and impactful, and we have been recognized by the UN, Nobel Laureates, the Coffee Industry and elsewhere for our business model and work in the communities we buy from. This is not marketing fluff, but real and deep work in the world.

Thanks to Dean Cycon, Dean’s Beans Organic Coffee Co.

 

Because I knew I could do a better job helping customers

I was working in the tech industry and was a very active real estate investor on the side. Through my own deals and interactions with numerous real estate agents along the way, I was frustrated with the low quality of service and high costs of working with many real estate agents. I started findwell because I knew that I could do a better job helping consumers when buying or selling houses. It is a very complex and often confusing transaction, and a good agent can make the difference between a good and a bad deal. Realtors have a fairly negative perception with consumers because the level of expertise and advice often doesn’t match up with the dollars being earned. There are simply too many agents that are totally inexperienced or part-timers who pressure their clients for a quick closing. It doesn’t have to be that way. I wanted a company where agent expertise, teamwork and reputation are our most important results. We’ve setup a unique and dedicated group of agents who live by that goal, and clearly rise about the typical agent in our industry.

Thanks to Kevin Lisota, findwell

Related Post: Tips on Winning at Customer Service

Getting to merge my love of taking care of animals and helping people

I love taking care of animals and I love helping others, the marriage of these two objectives resulted in the birth of my business. Camp Bow Wow not only provides safe haven for many animals nationwide, but it also creates a great business opportunity for any individual looking to open a franchise of their own. The idea rose from the need to find great pet care for my two beloved furry friends back in 1994. My first husband Bion and I could not find anything suitable, and wrote the business plan for what would later become Camp Bow Wow. After finishing the business plan, Bion suddenly died in a small plane crash, leaving me with a large settlement that eventually was lost due to bad investments, loans to friends, and two failed start ups.. Five years later, my brother helped me pick up the pieces and launch Camp Bow Wow. I started this company because I was so passionate about providing great care for our animal companions. It was so important to me to that the camps create a fun and safe experience for both the animal and their parents.

Thanks to Heidi Ganahl, Camp Bow Wow

 

As a labor of love

While working full-time, I started my website, ccs-digital, as a labor of love to advise people on how to save money on various items including ink and toner cartridges. Then visitors advised me to offer the items I was recommending. Eventually the site was taking all my spare time and my wife was urging me to give it up. Massive layoffs at my company took the decision out of my hands. Today that hobby is a full-time family business.

Thanks to Izzy Goodman, CCS Digital.com

 

The desire to prove that I could start a successful online business

I feel that it’s impossible to just choose one reason to start a business. For me, it was at least three (and many more.) I used to be working in house, and while helping one company grow is great, helping an endless amount of companies grow made me feel even better. So I knew I wanted to start something where I could do that. It was the desire to be able to prove that I could start a successful business! And finally, it was the opportunity to help my city of New Orleans, because I realized that many needed the digital marketing I would be able to provide. Granted, those are just the large reasons – you could also throw in a drive to do more, wishing I could be more creative where I was, and maybe just slight boredom! It all came together in a moment when I realized, I am going to start my own business.

Thanks to Flynn Zaiger, Online Optimism

 

To prevent injuries and save lives

Actually I started my business after I realized people wanted a gift I was giving them so much they asked for another! One day I was backing up in my SUV and backed into a fire hydrant. Ouch! I did dent my rear bumper, but luckily I didn’t damage the fire hydrant. I was exasperated about how poor the rearward viability out of my rear window was and realized all vehicles with vertical rear windows like SUV’s, minivans, station wagons, and crossover have this same problem. There is a 14-50 foot “blind zone” right behind all of these vehicles where you just cannot see. I did extensive research and along the way to becoming a vehicle safety expert I found out that over 50 times EVERY WEEK a parent or relative “backs over” a young child in a driveway or a parking lot, often fatally. And that doesn’t include the thousands of back over accidents like mine that go unreported as there were no injuries or fatalities involved. Thousands and thousands of serious injuries and over 250 fatalities a year are caused by back over accidents, plus all the accidents where you hit “stuff” like tricycles, toys, pets, etc. that go unreported. I coincidentally found a product at a Western Auto store, a rear window diffuser/magnifying fresnel lens that solved this problem. I did not put two and two together at first. I was buying these fresnel lenses and giving them to clients and friends who had just bought an SUV or minivan recently. When people started asking for another lens for a friend or relative, the light went off- this could become a business and thus Back Up Better was formed. We sell vehicle safety products to people who drive these types of vehicles and our products prevent injuries and save lives.

Thanks to Tony Nestora, Back Up Better

 

A boost from a good friend

I was working at a busy real estate office which managed over 300 rental properties. The owner himself owned another 300 homes. The software we used to manage the property was difficult to use and not flexible enough for our particular situations. So, I endeavored to create a better software. The problem was, though, is that I didn’t know how to program computers at the time. That led to night after night of teaching myself to program, reading complicated manuals, and writing code. After about 2 years, I had a basic program which our company started using. Manfred, who was the owner, was a strict but lovable German immigrant that had escaped Berlin during WWII to make it successful in the USA after starting with nothing. He didn’t even speak English when he arrived. Manfred kept after me to constantly improve the software, and make it simpler yet more comprehensive. Manfred and I became very close, and he was like a father figure to me. He encouraged me to start selling the software and even attended 3 day trade shows with me all over the country to help me sell the product. The Tenant File software for property management got rave reviews and soon was doing very well. With Manfred’s blessing I left his company to work full time on the software business and rented an office behind Manfred’s office. We stayed very close until he passed away from leukemia. Now the software is used by over 10,000 real estate offices nationwide and offers 10 other products. To this day I still take care of Manfred’s widow. I miss him.

Thanks to Wayne Gathright, Tenant File

 

Getting paid to do what I love

I played “Hotel Barbie” as a child. My aunt Arden made all these fabulous Barbie travel clothes for me. The first room I wanted to put together and decorate in my first apt. was a guest room so all my friends and family could come and stay – water pitcher, great linens, art… so how luck am I that my love for travel and all things fun lead me to a career in resorts (HI, Vegas, Steamboat Springs, Mammoth Lakes) in reservations (making peoples vacations amazing is what I called it), sales and operations? EXTREMELY! I get paid to do what I want and have my own places to travel to! I now own Cle Hospitality, LLC, with hotels in GREAT destinations. We are small, growing and fun! With locations in awesome places.

Thanks to Deb Pierrel, Cle Hospitality, LLC

Related Post: Why Entrepreneurs Love What They Do

 

Helping tech leaders get into the right company

My skill set is in synch with creating, defining, and driving my own search firm with a team that I have selected to source, select, and place the best tech leaders in the firms that best match their passions and talents. As an entrepreneur at heart, I have founded several search firms with special focus on early stage start ups. The best tech firms survive and thrive because they have the best talent to conceive and deliver the next big thing. These leaders change with way we think about our world and how we interact in our daily lives. In addition to having a profound interest in what makes people tick, I am drawn to how the best ideas get funded and gain traction. This focus is evident in my speciality in our Venture Capital and Private Equity practices. As an industry professional with a long term view, I find it tremendously rewarding to mentor promising leaders and to be a part of the career successes of so many fascinating business leaders.

Thanks to Charley Polachi, Polachi Access Executive Search

 

Lowering the cost of razors

Shortly after the airline lost our luggage, My partner and I had to shop together in the middle of the night for some basic over-night supplies. We were both shocked by how expensive the razors on the shelf are – almost $20 for a handle and four cartridges and almost $35 for eight cartridges! $35! For eight razor cartridges! We both agreed, this was an industry ready for disruption. We became obsessed with one simple goal: Give the market a good, quality razor at a fair price. Research revealed that this could not be disrupted at retail. One company has virtually monopolized the retail distribution of razors for the past thirty years. With 70% of the market and no quality competition on the shelf to speak of, they charge whatever they want, burning us all with every shave. But the internet provided a level playing field. We knew we needed to build the best razors possible if they were going to take on the retail giant. We held meetings with manufacturers from all over the world but the quality and commitment just never felt right until they met with an American company that’s been making high-quality safety razors since the 1800s. This new partnership worked tirelessly over the next year to create a special line of products built to Steven and Phil’s exacting standards. The razors are so good, we decided to guarantee their customers’ satisfaction with The Burn-Free GuaranteeTM – “If you feel burned for any reason, we will give you a full refund, no questions asked.” And to save you the hassle and make sure you stay burn-free, they decided to bypass the shelf altogether and deliver them right to your door. FOR FREE!

Thanks to Philip Masiello, 800 Razors

 

To enrich community and foster sustainability at colleges and universities

As a parent of three college students, I was not thrilled when I found out my children were meeting strangers downtown to procure a bike or furniture for their dorm. I was baffled that to find a ride-share home for holiday break, one of my daughters went looking for flyer postings on campus bulletin boards. And I was shocked when I went to move them out at the end of the school year to find piles of household goods, furniture, etc. abandoned in dorm hallways–only to be discarded. When I realized that most campuses do not offer online campus classifieds, CampusWall was born. CampusWall is the virtual marketplace for students and staff to Buy, Sell, Swap and Share goods and services within their particular campus community. A user must have a valid .edu email address to register for their school. I love that we address multiple issues: safety–curbing the need for students to meet strangers or leave campus; savings–allowing students to cost-effectively obtain and resell items and share services such as rides, tutoring, etc.; and sustainability–promoting a greener campus environment by eliminating the last minute discarding of items at the end of school terms. Being the Founder/CEO at CampusWall enables me to stay connected in the fields of technology and education, but also feeds my passion for community and the environment. And, as an added bonus, I’ve had the opportunity to spend time on some amazing college campuses!

Thanks to Tina Snyder, CampusWall

Related Post: Getting Your Teen Started With Entrepreneurship

 

To radically transform other people’s lives

I started my business because I want to radically transform other people’s lives. I read a book called “The Passion Test” by Janet Attwood and discovered that one of my top 5 passions is to help other people grow and improve their lives. I know from past experience that I feel incredibly good when I help other people to grow. And if I can make money at the same time, I figured that this would be the best business in the world for me. I started speaking with life coaches to work with them and to figure out their biggest challenges. Now I interact with clients who want to change their lives, as well as the coaches who will help them make the changes. In the future I’d like to do life coaching myself as well, that way I can help people directly to make positive changes in their lives and get what they want. I believe that every human being has the potential and birthright to be happy, fulfilled, and feel great about themselves. I’d like to share this gift with every person on the planet.

Thanks to Tom Casano, Life Coach Spotter

 

To bring the focus back on client relationships

My career in this industry began with me on the other side. I had a very successful modelling career and taught myself all about social media, marketing, advertising, etc. What I realized very quickly, was that part of why I was moving ahead was because I focused on the relationship with my clients and not just the pay day. Given that I was older then most (27) when I began, I always had a maternal instinct to others in the industry and found myself helping them get work and sort through the good & bad clients. It was a natural progression when I began Iris Blu National Event Staffing because my business partner and I shared a vision of creating new expectations in event staffing, putting the focus back on relationships and ensuring our clients curate events became experiences worth remembering.

Thanks to Anissa Holmes, Iris Blu National Event Staffing

 

A happy accident

Soulful Moon came about by accident! After leaving Wall Street and exploring different career paths; I was well into the research phase of a completely different business idea when a family member had a large celebration that required a large amount of invitations.  So I designed an invitation for fun and it generated so much excitement because it was contemporary but also Eastern.  So I then realized that I had found my product. And before the website was even up, I had a large corporate order for invitations.  And as Soulful moon grows, so does our charitable giving to organizations including UNICEF, Project FEED, Girl Effect Project, among others.

Thanks to Salwa Ansari Datoo, Soulful Moon

 

To fill a gap in the industry and help startups

I was working at a large industry agency when I realized that I had hit a wall on what I could offer to the client. Creativity was limited and stifled by corporate and financial barriers within the organization. I noticed this at several agencies that I have worked at in the past as well. Projects and campaigns weren’t’ run with the idea that we would provide quality and meet results by dedication to the project, but moreso depending on how much the client was paying us. My father instilled a crazy work ethic in me that made me believe that I should be providing quality results no matter what the organization can pay and that Karma and good work would come back around to provide for the business. So far he has been right. My agency has grown at a rate that I could have never imagined and clients appreciate the close attention that we pay to them, like they are a member of the family, no matter what the financial commitment. We practice setting expectations and budgets at the very beginning so that there is opportunity to grow the accounts and for us to be able to appropriately manage our daily commitments to the client. I have always been passionate about working with startups and smaller companies because they hold the projects dear to their heart and still have the fire to achieve success. We are very lucky to have worked with some larger companies that still have the heart of a startup as well. Our goal is to be able to integrate any communication platform that strengthens brand awareness and achieves results. Through a mixture of communication platforms that will continue to change as the media and social environment changes, The Silver Telegram integrates traditional public relations with social media and experiential marketing for a flat fee. All services are available under one umbrella so that smaller companies don’t feel nickel and dimed and larger companies have the luxury of working with a single vendor. We are also incorporating design and AV, so that we can serve as a media extension for companies looking to build their online presence more visually.

Thanks to Ronjini Mukhopadhyay, The Silver Telegram

About Gresham Harkless Jr.

Profile photo of Gresham Harkless Jr.
Gresham Harkless is a Media Consultant for Blue 16 Media and the Blogger-in-Chief for CEO Blog Nation. CEO Blog Nation is a community of blogs for entrepreneurs and business owners. Started in much the same way as most small businesses, CEO Blog Nation captures the essence of entrepreneurship by allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to have a voice. CEO Blog Nation provides news, information, events and even startup business tips for entrepreneurs, startups and business owners to succeed.
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