Why Did You Start Your Business? Week of March 17th

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.

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Because I love empowering people to enjoy everything that life has to offer them, without fear

More than 30 years ago, having earned black belts in multiple martial arts disciplines, I decided to open my own martial arts school. Very quickly I began to notice that the majority of my students wanted to learn martial arts out of fear-because of a traumatizing experience or a close-call with violence. After hearing story after heartbreaking story, I began thinking about how I could use my skills to help my students protect themselves from attack. But I didn't want to focus on just the physical aspect of safety education; I also wanted to help survivors of violence recover mentally and emotionally by rebuilding their confidence and arming them with the tools to begin living a joyful life again. So, in 1993 I left the lucrative martial arts business to create GET SAFE, an organization on a mission to spread hope and strength to as many people as possible. I wanted to create a world in which fear is replaced with awareness, understanding and acceptance, and a company that helped people smile again.

Thanks to Stuart Haskin, GET SAFE


Out of personal need

I started my business, HomeZada out of personal need. After building a home and realizing that a tool did not exist to help me manage my home, myself and two co-founders decided to build HomeZada. Our experience in previous software start-ups and the commercial construction space gave us the confidence to build another start-up. After building my home and moving from the East Coast to the West Coast where maintaining and taking care of home was much different, I needed a solution to help me keep track of my possessions and the documents that are associated with my possessions. I needed help understanding what maintenance activities to do to maintain my home and when to perform the tasks and who in our household was going to take care of the task. In addition, I was keeping wish list items of home improvement updates and projects in file cabinets and managing my budgets in an Excel spreadsheet. There had to be a better way to track everything about my home in one location and in the cloud so that if something ever did happen to my home, my data would be available to me instantly. HomeZada was born of this personal need and now we have a solution that other homeowners find value in using. HomeZada tracks everything about your home in the cloud.

Thanks to Elizabeth Dodson, HomeZada


To help people communicate effectively

I knew I had discovered my niche several years ago when I found myself involved in a serious discussion among a group of colleagues about the use of ‘onto' versus ‘on to' in educational text. Most people are not schooled regarding the intricacies of the English language to effectively promote their message. I've always been a lover of the English language, having taken to writing at an early age, and wanted to share that talent to benefit businesses, nonprofits, students, and writers. It occurred to me that both businesses and people could be much more successful if they could communicate effectively–say more with less, use brand-building content, and talk about their customers instead of themselves. This led to the establishment of Precise Proofing–an editing, writing, and proofreading agency. I truly enjoy working to promote effective communication for my local and national clients, whether I'm writing press releases, video narratives, and web content or editing thesis papers or writers' manuscripts. My clients are more successful today because they understand the importance of effective communication.

Thanks to Nikki Corbett, Precise Proofing

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To create an easier way to watch your stocks

I wanted to provide a better way for the average investors to watch their stocks throughout the day. My day is business so I wanted to see all of my stocks and know their daily status in just one glance. The way we achieved this was through heat maps, which show price changes based on colors rather than just numbers. The darker the green the more the price has risen, the darker the red the more it has fallen. Scientifically, your mind can read colors much much faster and more accurately than it can read and interpret numbers (price changes), so this system is much more effective. Other websites do show market heat maps, but we are the first to allow you to create your own custom heat map, as well as providing unique pre-made market heat maps.

Thanks to Ryan Suchet, Heat Maps


Getting to start a business together

My wife and I had always wanted to start a business together. When we first met when we were 24 years old it was one of thefirst things we talked about when discussing jobs and careers. It took us about 8 years, a marriage, and 2 kids before we decided to take a good chunk of our savings and invest in our idea. We obviously believe we identified a market and a unique business that can service that market, but the other main reason we started a company was because of the excitement of building something that's truly your own. We were both doing well in our professional lives, but it was lacking the excitement and feeling of ownership we truly coveted. I heard a great quote that entrepreneurs work 80 hour weeks so they don't have to work a 40 hour week; I find this to be perfectly fitting for why we decided to go out on our own.

Thanks to Alex and Heidi Lieske, Borrow Baby Couture

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A passion for bringing people together

I started my business back in June 2000 because I had a passion for bringing people together. I noticed a need out there for professional services and I saw the Internet as the perfect delivery mechanism. Over the years there have been a few challenges, but in a way that's what makes running your own business interesting and fun. For every setback there has been an opportunity to not only fix the problem at hand, but to refine the overall business method to the point where mistakes are not repeated. Hosting editing, translation, and graphic design services over the last 13 years has been a great source of pride and I hope that I can bring even more clients and professionals together in the future.

Thanks to David Costello, ServiceScape Incorporated


To help people start and grow their business

I started my business to help other people start (and grow) their business. I am a doctor – my passion is healthcare technology that has the potential to make healthcare better, quicker, more convenient and…more affordable. There are lots of great entrepreneurs designing apps, platforms, devices and delivery systems that will move healthcare from our current “get in the car/waiting room model of care” to one that is easily accessible, via a smartphone or computer. My company, Health Tech Hatch, provides entrepreneurs a platform for crowdfunding and codesign so they can raise seed money and get early feedback on their ideas from doctors, patients and caregivers. We also offer consulting and mentorship to help early stage companies develop infrastructure, business plans, and teams as well as opportunities to meet potential funders and strategic partners. We hope to become the destination site for health tech entrepreneurs.

Thanks to Patricia Salber, Health Tech Hatch


Developing the best customer service experience possible

The Holy Grail for any online business is the ability to develop the best customer experience possible. Part of this quest is determining ways to mirror the experience a site visitor might find offline. As businesses look to do this….one pressing question remains – “how do I provide customers the ability to “pick-up,” manipulate and spin products 360 degrees much like they would in a brick and mortar store?” This single question is why I started Snap36.. After spending 10 years listening to major online retailers ask this question, and watching their disappointment when I presented a convoluted (truthful) answer, I realized there had to be a simpler way. So, I kept my eyes and ears open…and got lucky. In late 2008 I was presenting at an eCommerce Expo in Germany. Afterward I was walking the trade show floor when I stumbled into a jam-packed booth…there in front of me was the missing link in the 360/3D spin question: industrial-strength, photography robots that completely automate the 360/3D spin photography process. I knew this foundation would help me create what every one of my clients had been asking for – an easy, affordable way to do 360/3D product spin. This breakthrough, combined with the confluence in the market toward mobile/tablet shoppers, and a new generation of higher image expectations, convinced me this was what the world had been asking for…and Snap36 was born! Today, the market is just at the beginning of the adoption cycle and we are in a market leading position, with customers like Walmart, Home Depot, Kohls, Golfsmith, Smith Optics and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Finally, a critical piece of the online Holy Grail is at all of our fingertips.

Thanks to Jeff Hunt, Snap36

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Taking all the ideas filling my head and making them a reality

I started my business because I wanted to take all of the creative ideas that were filling my head and make them a reality. Entrepreneurship really provides a creative outlet where you have complete freedom of expression. It's rare to find a company where you can change, evolve, and adapt as quick as you can when you have your own company. This is also why the start-up phase is so much fun for companies. It's similar to an artist painting his or her masterpiece. It's all about the creative process.” LEAF Lifestyle, based out of Santa Monica, California, seeks to provide clients with guidance, motivation, empowerment and community in order to achieve the greatest results that go farther than just fitness, but to truly reach their goals and ideal lifestyle. LEAF is a personal training company that focuses on all aspects of health and wellness, not just its workouts. They provide comprehensive services that incorporate workout programs, nutrition plans, lifestyle coaching, manual therapy, and even cooking classes. The core of LEAF’s services is personal strength and conditioning training, weight loss, and corrective exercise. Through the utilization of functional diagnostic nutrition, metabolic typing, stress load analysis, bio-signature modulation, breakthrough coaching, and proactive lifestyle implementation, clients see their lives transform right before their eyes. They also take into account each individual’s food sensitivities to design a personalized nutrition plan.

Thanks to Luke Sniewski, LEAF Lifestyle


Always wanted to open my own business

I decided to set up iMonkey while I was on holiday with friends in Noosa. I'd taken redundancy from my previous role and was decidedly uninspired by the roles being advertised and felt I was at a cross-roads. I'd always wanted to run my own business so much so that one my favourite time-waster exercises was to think up new business ideas and ways to make money. One of the frustrations in my last role was that social media marketing always dropped to the bottom of the to do list no matter how much we tried, we never dedicated time and effort to listening, evaluating and proactively developing the best content to engage our audiences. We worked reactively and as a consequence, we missed endless opportunities. And nothing upsets me more than an missed opportunity. So one weekend, I sat down at the laptop and mapped it all out, built a website on WordPress and made a list of every business owner in my networks. A week later iMonkey was born and I secured 3 clients in my first week leaving me to wonder why I'd waited so long to follow my dream.

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Thanks to Samantha Devlin, iMonkey

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After realizing the market was missing a specific company

Enjoying what I do everyday is a really important part of my work, and while I don’t always achieve this, I am fortunate that I work in a company in which I have varied and interesting tasks, varied and interesting colleagues and clients and most importantly a company in which my personal values are aligned with those of the organisation. I started Psylutions in 2005, a business psychology consulting company, after recognising that the market was missing a boutique, highly flexible and highly innovative company specialising in psych testing and behavioural assessment for both selection and development. The company was started in the graduate recruitment space, and we were fortunate enough to win a large client straight off the bat. From there we have expanded our horizons to include assessment at all levels of an organisation and a focus on talent management and talent development. There are three reasons why clients work with us, and thos e are our values – we are passionate about what we do, professional in the way we do what we do, and personable in how we do what we do with clients and colleagues! As the company has grown it has been even more important for me to maintain a culture that is inclusive, values flexibility and innovation and that can be maintained by all who work with Psylutions.

Thanks to Prue Laurence, Psylutions


Identifying a painful problem, providing an awesome solution

I founded AdventureHoney: a safe way to search and book the worlds best adventure tours and activities. This is something I'm more than passionate about, I live for adventure travel, for experiencing things that get me out of my comfort zone and teach me about myself and the world around me. However, passion ISN'T enough to start a business. In fact, passion is over-rated. You start a businesses only when there's a big, painful problem with a customer who craves your solution. This is why I started AdventureHoney. The world is filled with incredible adventure travel experiences, but it's so hard to find the AWESOME experiences that you crave. AdventureHoney brings together a highly fragmented industry where it's otherwise painful to find the awesome stuff in amongst all the lame, touristy and downright dodgy stuff. So the formula is simple: identify a painful problem, provide an awesome solution.

Thanks to Chris Ball, AdventureHoney


To help people save money

I started Mozo, a financial comparison site, to help people get a better deal from their financial provider. Too many of us put up with bad deals because it's just too hard to do anything about it. We know we should, but we just don't act. By comparing banks side-by-side, it's much easier to see where the best value is. I called it “Mozo”, short for “Money Zone”, as I think it's quick, simple and friendly – everything the banking industry should be. Prior to Mozo I started and ran Virgin Money in Australia, so I had seen the world from both sides of the financial marketplace fence. I've always loved taking something from a blank sheet of paper right through to reality, and being able to start my own business and help thousands of people every month was the perfect opportunity. Over the past couple of years we've expanded from b eing a comparison site providing information to more actively helping over 300,000 people and businesses every month to get better deals.

Thanks to Rohan Gamble, MD., Mozo

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To protect families and businesses from the inevitable

I opened my estate planning firm shortly after law school. Growing up in a family where small business owners were abundant, I knew they needed protection. While in law school and immediately after, I saw the need for attorneys to connect on a more personal level with their clients. And because I always knew I wanted to work for myself and give back to my community, I hung out my shingle. I vouched to develop relationships with my clients and become a lifetime lawyer, not just a document producer. My passion is working with small businesses and families to protect what they love and have worked so hard for. It's never easy talking about death or planning for a tragic accident, but the truth is at least one of these is inevitable. Every day families and business delay in preparing a proper plan, is another day they have risked losing it all. If I can help prevent some of the pain and heartache, I will.

Thanks to Carmen Rosas, Law Office of Carmen M. Rosas


Getting to creatively manage my career while staying true to myself and my music

As a singer/songwriter, I remember the day that I was offered my first recording contract. While many musicians dream of signing a record deal, I was stunned by the harsh reality of the contract. If I was to sign, I would need to hand over the creative reigns to the record company and give the large majority of the revenue from my music to them as well, all the while financing my first album out of my own pocket. I wasn't about to do all that, just for the pleasure of telling my friends and family that I had a record deal! Since my dream is to make great music that inspires me and my fans, rather than to sign a recording contract, I excitedly started my own company. I especially love having the freedom to map my own musical destiny, the ability to maintain complete creative control over my projects, and the opportunity to connect directly with my fans on a deeper level without having a middleman. I also recently expanded my business to include voiceovers, where I innovatively merge my passions for vocals and education (I previously worked as an adjunct professor) as I narrate eLearning projects for clients. Being an entrepreneur allows me to have a meaningful, flexible career with an amazing work/life balance, and I have a wonderful time working in my pajamas from my home recording studio many days!

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Thanks to Julie Kaylin


Getting to utilize my creativity

I launched a women’s tennis wear line a couple years ago. My college and graduate school degree is in business and accounting, so I had started my career in accounting, but after about 5 years in this field, I started to question my place in this industry and in the corporate world. I had always been a creative person but I wasn’t utilizing any creativity in my work. I also wanted to become more independent and be the driver of the business instead of a tiny part of the operation. I was always interested in the fashion world so I knew I could have a more rewarding and satisfying job in this industry. I initially wanted to do women’s contemporary wear, but I knew the market is saturated and extremely competitive so I had to think of a better niche. I had played tennis growing up, and always struggled to find cute and fashionable tennis wear. I knew there was a market for this so I decided to do tennis wear.

Thanks to Ami Hongo, L'Oeuf Poché


Out of our desire to put unique and personalized art on our walls

Instacanvas grew out of our own desire to put unique and personalized art on our walls. We were tired of buying the same mass-produced images. We believe that mobile photography has become the most interesting modern art form and wanted to make it tangibly available to everyone. We see ourselves as the leader in Instagram printing because we not only print on museum-quality products, but we provide a virally growing community where artists – professional and amateur – can share and promote their mobile creations for sale to art-lovers all over the world. We bring photos once stuck in your phone to life in the most beautiful ways possible.

Thanks to Matt Munson, Instacanvas


To provide entrepreneurs with the tools they need to start their own business

I have been working as a business consultant and strategic marketer for a while now and over the years the demand for business consulting on the general steps of how to start and grow a business from scratch as well as marketing consulting, has grown so much that I wanted to think of a way to be able to help entrepreneurs and small businesses beyond my limited time to personally work with them, so I was inspired to create EntrepreneurLead, where I built two membership courses that outline the general format I go through with my clients. This allows not only the businesses I personally consult, but also start-ups and entrepreneurs with a business idea to sign up and go through the mentorship and guidance regardless of where they are in the world and what time of the day it is. All in all, I created EntrepreneurLead in order to serve the needs of Entrepreneurs and Businesses in regards to Business Planning, Marketing Strategy, Brand Promotion, and overall cost minimization.

Thanks to Nicole Elmore, EntrepreneurLead

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Because I have walked in their shoes

Some kids are good at sports; I was more of a business-geek kinda kid. I started my first business when I was ten and created other businesses throughout my teens. It is no surprise that I quit my post-college corporate job 25 years ago and have become a serial entrepreneur. When we started out, we were broke… improvising office space in the basement of a factory and putting out fires and fighting alligators! So, I have HUGE respect for small business owners. They do so much, and then have to spend precious time wrestling with non-income-producing administrative tasks (like payroll, payroll taxes, bookkeeping, hiring, website design). As a budding entrepreneur, I often thought somebody should automate all this stuff. The software should be simple, reliable, and affordable. It became my life goal – my passion – to bring that solution to small businesses, and Patriot Software, Inc., was born. Our attitude throughout all of Patriot Software is: make it work; keep it simple; price it low. In fact, our software is intentionally priced for the smallest of small businesses. Patriot Software is going to help millions of small business owners across the United States.

Thanks to Mike Kappel, Patriot Software, Inc.


To teach generation Y how to make amazing decisions, fast

We are a generation of options overwhelm – too many choices, too many opportunities, too many places to go. We have become gridlocked in opportunity. So many of my clients and peers are paralyzed with fear of making the ‘wrong' choice, in business, love or life that they end up not making any choices at all. I take that fear, that uncertainty, and turn it into action. I show generation Y that they have the strength to change their lives for the better. After graduation college and landing the job of my dreams running and environmental non-profit, I had it all, the job, the success – I had everything but happiness. I was confused and disheartened that the so-called “dream job” did not satisfy me the way I expected it to. One night, I had a long and detailed conversation with a friend living in Mexico who was terribly stuck in her life. After helping her make some pivotal life choices, I realized that this is what my generation needs. We need some guidance making decisions, we need to actively make choices that we know will make us genuinely happy. Shortly thereafter I became a certified career and life coach. I founded The Creative Giraffe to help people make better decisions, and live their dream lives.

Thanks to Ellen Ercolini, The Creative Giraffe


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