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 and brand.
To fundamentally change the way businesses communicate online
After starting 3 successful companies I decided it was time for a new challenge. In my past roles I had seen that in a sales environment we are limited in the ways that we communicate. Many still resort to email or Microsoft Word. I wanted a way that I could quickly and easily create a beautiful, interactive one page website that I could use to personally communicate to eventual clients. I started Populr.me because there was no way for me to easily accomplish this, and I didn’t need or want to resort to a blogging platform or website builder. We live in a world where every day we are overloaded with information. In a sales environment the ability for your message to stand out is as important as the message itself. Populr was created to empower our users to do just that. Starting Populr was a risk, but the reward of seeing our customers use the product successfully has made it all worth it.
Thanks to Nicholas Holland, Populr
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For one big reason
My vivacious beloved grandmother, Rose Winer (I called her Mimi), died suddenly of a heart attack. I flew to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to attend the funeral and to be with my family. My supervisor at the large public relations firm where I was working reprimanded me for taking extra time off to be with my family. That was the last straw at having to ask permission to take time to have a personal life. I quietly saved up, bought equipment and looked for “freelance” clients. Six months after my grandmother died I left the agency, took eight weeks to visit Australia and then hung out my shingle as M. Young Communications. My business became a major player in food and beverage public relations and special events helping to create and launch major industry programs like The James Beard Foundation Awards and New York Restaurant Week. At the height of my business I employed 15 terrific staff and has dozens of wine, food, publishing and not for profit clients. I was also working non stop to bring in business to cover my growing overhead. I closed M. Young Communications in late 2010 after facing a major personal health challenge: I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I worked non stop through my treatment and did not tell anyone in my professional world. After I finished treatment I decided I wanted to simplify my business and create balance in my life. I felt the stress of running a high-profile PR business was a contributor to my breast cancer diagnosis. At one point I felt the business was starting to run me and not the other way around. I re-branded and launched The Connected Table, which provides marketing consulting services to wine and food companies, and I have turned to writing which is my first love. My first book will be published in September! For me, it is important never having to ask permission to live my life the way I choose and to always run the show and not have others run me,
Thanks to Melanie Young, The Connected Table
Helping others live longer
Founding PrescribeWellness was very personal for me. Three years ago, after turning 50-years-old, I reflected on the fact that I had two siblings and my mother not make it to that very age. At that moment I decided that I would spend the second half of my life helping others live longer, healthier lives. Over 160 million Americans have at least one chronic disease. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 70 percent of our health care costs are related to preventable chronic diseases. The mission of PrescribeWellness is to improve health and lower healthcare costs in America. We develop and deploy the latest digital communication technology and services to help health care professionals educate and motivate their patients.
Thanks to Al Babbington, PrescribeWellness
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Playing by our own rules
Having a creative mind led me to try on many different hats in my professional career; from developing screenplays, and overseeing production and marketing with movies like Rapid Fire and Free Willy 2 to becoming the Director of Brand Marketing for an enterprise software company serving Fortune 100 clients. Still, my life was lacking something; I wasn’t sure what that something was until we came up with the genius idea of creating our own atmosphere where we can play by our own rules and say goodbye to the mundane 8-5. We built a business that encourages our team to lead fulfilling, balanced lives — which empowers us to provide exceptional service and creativity to our clients, partners and community. Becoming entrepreneurs was by far the best decision we have ever made.
Thanks to David Eichler, Decibel Blue
Because our banking industry is broken and our country needs real jobs that add value
I was a non-profit fundraiser for 10 years where I managed large teams in call center environments. My big plan was to get a J.D./Ph.D., knock on the front door of the United Nations and announce that I was here to fix everything. I soon realized that “fixing” international economics was too slow for a results-driving person like me. Over the summers I tried different things – energy law, immigration law, intellectual property law – and I hated it all. I was offered a banking internship during the summer of 2007 and I thought, “Why not?” I was assigned at random to CDOs and credit default swaps – the heart of the financial crisis – and discovered that I was well-suited for high pressure, complex problem-solving. I started 8of9 Consulting because I saw a few things: first, I could see that the banking industry had a serious infrastructure problem. Second, I could see that they really needed smart, motivated, and creative thinkers to assist in interpreting the onslaught of regulation. Third, I knew that the current options of big four consulting, plain vanilla lawyers, or plain IT people did not provide the magic combo that was necessary to face such a massive infrastructure overhaul. So I decided to start a “nerdfarm” of charismatic leaders who make it happen. We hire recent law graduates who are fluent in technology and train them in a 10-week boot camp focused on global financial regulation. Then we place them on a bank project. And to bring it full circle, 8of9 has a division called the Ninth Element, a think tank that dreams up ways that modern financial technology can be used to finance philanthropic endeavors.
Thanks to Mary Kopczynski, 8of9 Consulting
When it grew too big
We started our business when it grew too big to be in our house in 2001. We had a haunted attraction in our home for several years, for four days in the month of October leading up to Halloween. We would have the likes of 500 people going through our house. We had up to 11 actors with a story line throughout our house. We would have a party on the last day with all of our friends. It was a lot of fun. But it was also a lot of work. My husband Bill would start in August to set up these high tech animatronics that we would buy at a show called Transworld and from a company called Scarefactory. So we ended up selling our grain business and bought property in our home town Sandusky, OH. And the rest is history. We now have a haunted attraction call Ghostly Manor rated the “Best Places I’ve Ever Been” by the Travel Channel, we are in the top ten by D.A.F.E. and America’s top 25 haunted attractions in the U.S. I immersed myself in learning about marketing and my husband did the business side. It’s run along with our family entertainment center and we are open all year long. Also inside of Ghostly Manor Thrill Center is a 4D motion theater, 3D black light mini golf, bounce houses, roller skating, food and an arcade.
Thanks to Jayme Criscione, Ghostly Manor Thrill Center
Because no one was hiring
In early 2009, I was laid off as an associate attorney, and with the stock market at such a low, no one was looking to add to their bottom line. So I s tarted the arduous task of ‘hanging my own shingle’ in the worst economy of my life with lots of help from family, friends and other attorneys in the area. My long-term plan always involved opening my own office, but I had no idea i ts opening would be before I turned 35 or in the economic mayhem of 2009. Since then, I’ve worked to grow my practice from client and attorney referrals. In fact, at least 90 percent of my business originates from referrals now. Now almost four years in, I couldn’t be happier with the results. Each day presents its own challenges, and I’m still a one-man shop with a little part-time help, but every effort I put in helps grow my business while I help families across the Chicago area navigate their family law issues and our legal system. There would have never been an ideal time to leave the comfort of working for someone else, and while a layoff isn’t fun, I really am better off now and have the experience of opening and running my own business before turning 35.
Thanks to Nicholas W. Richardson, Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson
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To build on my passion for engineering and create a welcoming place to work and do business
Early in my career as an Electrical Engineer I was the Principal in Charge and Chief Engineer for a major pool renovation project for a public school in the Bronx. The school needed other renovations, but the pool in particular was a place of recreation not only for the students, but other inner city families in the area. The swimming teacher was a swimming advocate and approached me with hope and a sketch. Despite budget challenges, I happily accepted the project. The completed renovations were more than what we could hope for, and because we took a chance together, the students and other members of the community were able to have a fun, safe place of recreation to look forward to. This was only one of many cherished experiences in my first seven years as an engineer and it solidified the soft prompting in my heart to start my own engineering company along with my partners Mr. Jose Valencia and Mr. Arkady Kats. As senior engineers, Mr. Valencia and I had a well-rounded experience involving not only in the design aspects of projects, but also the business administration processes and we decided that it was time to work for ourselves. Because the engineering field can be very stressful at times, we wanted to create the type of company that would have a non-traditional engineering office environment where everyone could work together in a relaxed setting. We also wanted to make sure that the design transition into construction was also a smooth one for clients every time, so we emphasize one-point communication throughout the entire process. DVL Consulting Engineers, Inc. has since been in the business of MEP Design Engineering Consulting for more than 23 years, many of which have been heavily involved in projects for the New York School Construction Authority, but have also included projects involving airports, performing arts centers, historical renovations, and sports facilities in the NJ/NY Metro Area.
Thanks to Hector H. Mena, DVL Consulting Engineers, Inc.
To help other people live their values (and to jump off the cliff)
Like much in life, this story has two threads – one business, one personal – that finally converged. A few years back, I was an environmental advocacy attorney, happy as a clam, fightin’ the good fight to protect New York City’s drinking water…and then I had a baby. I loved my work, my organization, my mission, but let’s face it, NGO work meant money was tight and I wanted to have more fun! “Mommy brain” (that thing I’d scoffed at until it happened to me) also kicked in, and I became a “consumer” like never before. I wanted to buy ethical, healthy, sustainable products for my new baby, and NERTS, that was hard! * Problem 1: How do I weed though all the “greenwashing” to find, and understand, what I really want to buy? Even for a lawyer, trying to understand the maze of laws, regulations, and third-party seals and certifications that applied to kids stuff – or any retail product – gave me a serious headache. Who should I trust? * Problem 2: There were a fair number of organic and sustainable products available for babies, but a lot of them were just plain ugly! I was not convinced that being an environmentalist meant that I had to settle for poor design, poor quality, or boring beige hippy crunchy products that were decades behind the times. Eventually, that “Eureka!” moment hit me. If I was going to solve these problems for myself, I should solve them for other people too. And thus, the idea for Green Rainbow Revolution was born. I use my geeky legal research skills to help other parents find beautiful, modern, sustainable, and educational products with a range of benefits they’re interested in. By creating a visual, “benefit icon” system, I save them a lot of time. Because I’m an environmental advocate at heart, GRR is more than a “store.” I carry products I believe in (art supplies, science toys…items to inspire creativity and innovation in kids of all ages), provide educational content, and support social issues that I believe are important for all of us. At the end of the day, my motivations for being a lawyer and entrepreneur are the same (to save the world, of course!), but the methods are different. I used to sue people, now I teach people and offer them things they want. I’m happier. The money’s still tight, but I jumped off the cliff, and I’m having more fun.
Thanks to Leila Goldmark, Green Rainbow Revolution, LLC
So I wouldn’t be bound by working for someone else
One of the huge benefits that running a Jim’s Test & Tag Franchise business offers is the flexible work hours, as a Mum I can take the children to and from school every day and work within school hours. I am no longer bound by working for someone else. I am in business for myself but not BY myself, as I have ongoing support. I enjoy the challenges of running my own Jim’s Test & Tag Franchise. I am constantly surrounded by like-minded people who are driven to succeed and achieve their goals. I also love knowing that everyday everything I put into the business is for me and my family. The coming year for Jim’s Test & Tag is very exciting. As for my own slice of Jim’s Test & Tag, my goal is to continually strive to succeed to select and support our Franchisees and uphold our brand so we remain the first choice in test & tag.
Thanks to Stella Sutherland, Jim’s Test & Tag
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Because I think more people should experience happiness
I have always been willing to share my experience to help others. I think sharing life experience and lessons learned help others make critical decisions in their lives and can save them time, energy and unnecessary pain. I decided to go into life coaching because I think more people should experience happiness and personal success. We all have what we need inside of us, but sometimes we need help and guidance to help us reach our goals. I want to help as many people as possible live out their dreams.
Thanks to Tamara Hartley
To give hardworking dog owners peace of mind
I’ve always been a driven, results-oriented person, so owning a business was a natural progression. Before starting Dogtopia, a national dog daycare and boarding franchise, I was working in telecommunications and had a successful career, but still didn’t feel fulfilled. At the same time, I felt guilty about leaving my dog, Griffin, home alone all day while I was at work — especially work I wasn’t passionate about. The first location was in Tysons Corner, Virginia, a perfect spot to attract Washington DC area commuters. After grossing more than $1 million in 2004, I realized I wanted to expand. Since then, Dogtopia has grown to include 5 company-owned stores and 24 individually-owned stores.
Thanks to Amy Nichols, Dogtopia
To help tech start ups market the coolest innovations
I used to work at a large, multi-national public relations firm, leading their San Francisco office and their worldwide tech practice. As with most larger PR firms, they were not set up to profitably serve smaller companies, such as tech startups. This was 2003, and the tech world was just emerging from the hangover of the dot com boom. I realized pretty quickly that startups were where the action was in terms of innovation and creativity. I started my own firm to focus on working with these amazing people. Our firm today offers a wide range of public relations and marketing services, designed to be a one-stop shop for startup CEOs and CMOs, who don’t have time to deal with separate PR, graphics, website design and other firms. In addition, for several of our clients, other than a CMO, we are the entire marketing department. We often work directly with CEOs, CTOs and other senior executives, as well as the leader of the marketing team. Our clients are doing some of the coolest things around, such as developing new touchscreen materials that will enable foldable mobile device screens, or screens that can wrap around kiosk poles.
Thanks to Tim Johnson, Stearns Johnson Communications
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To spread my wings and create a new approach to the industry
I started my own public relations firm to spread my wings and create a new approach to the industry. I wanted to offer clients more than a traditional approach to PR. By creating my own firm I have been able to bring together a hand-picked specialist team and together we develop new, creative and quirky concepts that traditionalists would shy away from. Being a new mum, I also have added flexibility for the perfect work life balance.
Thanks to Naomi Spies, Ruby Public Relations
Out of necessity
I started my business 7 years ago for a number of reasons. Firstly my husband who had always been the main provider for our family of 6 found himself very sick and in need of recovery time. I was at home on a 50 acre property in a small rural town with very few job opportunities and none that would pay enough to support our family. I had a new ‘late’ baby (her sisters were 14, 16 & 18) and with a sick husband, a baby to take care of, necessity became the mother of invention. I had purchased a Family Organiser Calendar on a couple of occasions and some years I could not find one to buy. Thought they were a brilliant time management tool for parents and wanted to produce one that was Australian made and reflected our lifestyle and seasons and had our school and public holidays marked on it, as well as moon cycle and daylight saving dates, that was affordable and of good quality. The calendars I had purchased previously were printed in China, cost up to $30 and had nothing Australian depicted in the pictures or holidays etc. The business has grown each year and so have our loyal customer base. I started exporting last year to New Zealand and we will distribute 11,500 around newsagents this year as well as supply 2 catalogue companies and have doubled our web and eBay sales yearly since starting selling on the web 4 years ago. This year my business is one of 6 finalists in 2 of the 5 categories in the Telstra Business Awards and we have added 3 new products to our range as well as on the verge of putting our App on the App store. I still run the business from our home office thanks to cloud technology, e-mail, the web, mobile phone and wi-fi technologies. I am the only employee and am excited at how my hard work and persistence is starting to pay off. Attached is a photo. Our new website with new product range will be able to be viewed by the 16th July at the latest.
Thanks to Amanda Belot, Smart Calendars 4 U Pty Ltd.
Everyone should have the opportunity to own the latest technology
While studying at University I had a business which helped corporates recycle their old IT equipment such as laptops, desktops and servers. I would then refurbish and resell the secondhand equipment for really cheap prices and recycle the items couldn’t be reused. Many of my customers who purchased the secondhand equipment were purchasing a computer for the first time. These customers would nearly always comment how they would love to own new computers, but they weren’t able to afford them. I looked around the marketplace and saw that while many rent-to-own companies existed, but these same companies appeared to have bad support, unclear terms and just not a great deal for customers. Because I wanted to address these issues and give my customers what they wanted I started Make It Mine. A year in and with some initial success I made the decision to drop out of university and focus on building the business. Five years on and we now make it easy for people on low incomes and disadvantaged situations to rent the latest appliances, TVs, computers and more, which they can own after just one year. Still the focus is on great customer service with clear terms and a great deal for our customers.
Thanks to Andre Lang, Make It Mine
Because I loved to match-make people
I got into the dating space because I love to match-make people, whether it’s for love or business. I’m also fascinated with how technology is helping people to connect and how it can solve certain dating problems. I am a big believer that most chemistry happens offline, however most dating sites/apps try and keep people online, so fancied focuses on helping people meet sooner and in places that are contextually right.
Thanks to Christie Sharpe, Fancied
Because I knew I could do it
I started my business for several reasons. Firstly I had a successful business with a partner that I left to start a family, having done it once I knew I wanted to do it again but on my own so that I could have a product that I was completely happy with. Having already had one business I felt that I had many of the skills I needed to start another one.The challenge of setting up and running your own business is a great buzz for me and I enjoy the challenges I face. There are days when it is overwhelming but I keep going as I want my blog to be a success. I also felt that there were no products available that reflected what I was looking for. I run a small blog aimed at the over 45s that features news and views on what concerns us as we get older. There are lots of blogs aimed at older age groups but very few in that niche and I felt I could fill the gap. I still haven’t started to make a living yet but I hope to soon.
Thanks to Samantha Jeffries, Midadult
To make renewable energy work for everybody
My co-founder and I were working in a 20,000 employee renewable energy company, mostly selling wind energy to large utilities and investment funds. One of our main realizations was that utilities and banks were reaping huge profits by investing in wind and solar. But why should they have all the fun? It is well known that small scale renewables are less efficient and profitable than the large scale counterpart. However, if you remove the middleman (banks, utilities, developers) then homeowners, farmers and small businesses can make similar profits with renewable energy. So we decided to create a web application to help homeowners and small businesses find renewable energy. Of course, more freedom, more control and the challenge of constantly learning new skills are other reasons to start a business. But our main reason is to make renewable energy work for everybody.
Thanks to Dr. Alvaro F. Boirac, renooble
Filling a void in the market
I was working as a regional catering manager for a barbecue chain and people kept asking us to provide beer and wine for events. I kept telling them we couldn’t do that because of issues with South Carolina laws, which included getting permits and alcohol insurance. Basically, we and other legitimate catering companies wouldn’t take the risk. However, that got me to look at the laws and wonder if a company that just focused on liquid beverages and high-end bartending only could work? A lot of my friends thought I was crazy for leaving a solid catering post to open a very niche market, but I did my homework and saw the potential. Three years later, our sales are through the roof because people wanted the service, but couldn’t get it.
Thanks to Tammy Johnson, Liquid Catering
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