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 every brand.
Because of a Mid-Life Crisis
Catoctin Creek started, honestly, because of a mid-life crisis. I was a 20 year veteran of telecom and government contracting, and decided that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a windowless cubicle making worthless PowerPoint slides. So I convinced my chemical engineer wife, Becky, to become chief distiller in a brand new craft distillery. Since then, we’ve doubled our sales every year since we were established in 2009, and we’re now shipping spirits internationally. Catoctin Creek is the first legal distiller in Loudoun County, VA since prohibition.
Thanks to Scott Harris, Catoctin Creek Distilling
We Fulfilled a Need
We created a board game our first year together (The Abounding River Game) and we needed a place to play it ! We decided on a raw vegan restaurant because at the time 11 years ago, there was a lack of good raw, vegan food.
Thank you to Matthew & Terces Engelhart, Cafe Gratitude
To Fulfill a Need for CRM & Project Management Solution
“Over the years, I’ve founded several small businesses and it was through those experiences I realized the need for a CRM and project management solution designed to integrate with email and specifically cater to small businesses. I decided to take a risk, and sold that business to begin development on what is now Insightly. After Insightly was introduced into the market it has grown quickly and now has more than 300,000 users worldwide. Looking back, I’m surprised at how much I was able to accomplish before I needed to enlist the help of others.”
Thank you to Anthony Smith, Insightly
Life is Short
I quit my highly paid IT career in 2009 because money just wasn’t enough. Life is short and I wanted to know that I had done something meaningful with it when I died. Success isn’t measured in money, it’s measured by self-worth. Using my talents, I started Happiness International to transform the science of happiness into everyday tools you can use to live a happier, more fulfilling, and satisfying life. Our first product, the Happiness Planner, does exactly that. My best reward comes from people telling me how “spot on” their results are. My purpose is helping you fulfill yours. Happiness is locked within you, it’s my job to be the locksmith.
Thank you to Kenneth Benjamin, HappinessInternational.org
I Was Dissatisfied
In 2008, having been working long hours as an attorney and doing a long daily commute, I felt dissatisfied not only with my personal appearance but how a felt on a day-to-day basis. I was in a rut, going through life on autopilot. While my “personal transformation” of sorts started with diet and exercise, it quickly spilled over to other aspects of my life — notably, skin care. I was also quite eager to share my newfound passion for wellness with other women which my profession at that time did not give me the opportunity to do. I searched for the best way, for me, to accomplish to accomplish this goal. For me, it ended up being to start a skin care company that had empowerment, compassion and wellness as brand pillars — I have always loved cosmetics and skin care as a personal outlet. While skin care may seem superficial, women consistently told me that healthy, radiant skin gives them a sense of confidence personally and professionally, since it is the first thing someone notices when meeting you. That’s not to say that healthy skin is necessary for a woman to feel beautiful, confident or successful, but it was the best way I could incorporate my personal mission into a business that suits my interests and knowledge (outside the law).
Thank you to Tessa Yutadco, My
To Give Back
I started my business so I can give back to my local and global community. I am a man of humble beginnings. My tough childhood lead me to becoming a dreamer who would one day turn those dreams into a reality. I imagined a better world for myself and my family- that one day we can live in that world. To make this happen, I pursued a business in housing development. With this path, I knew that I’d be able to provide not only myself and my family the world I knew they deserved, but others as well. My success has given me the opportunity to constantly give back.
Thank you to Mayer Dahan, Dahan Properties
The Freedom of Choice
The main inspiration was seeing my friends, who are entrepreneurs, how they can manage their own time and life, without being forced to follow orders from some boss. Simply put: the freedom of choice. And maybe also my lack of respect for authorities was one of the reasons. I was born to have a business one day. My career in Czech Republic had some turning points (I was a journalist, then software project manager) but finally I made it to C level position in mid-sized IT company, leading the sales and marketing department. I quit and now I am working on my start-up company Mix My Own here in USA with my fiance. We love the freedom of running our own business, working on own ideas and not being told what should be done.
Thanks to David Filipi, CEO, www.mixmyown.com
My Grandfather Inspired Me
I started multiple businesses because as a child I watched my grandfather run his businesses effortlessly. I started my first business in middle school and sold craft string during the lunch hours. I employed some of my classmates in different lunch hours to work for me. I learned the basic business principles before I was 18 years old. Today I have a real estate company, virgin hair line, a non profit and I recently sold my income tax firm to H&R Block. I plan to start many other businesses and hope that I can inspire my daughter to follow in my footsteps.
Thanks to Ebony Cochran, Shop Pure Strands
Freedom, Innovation & Reaching A Goal
There is a general satisfaction with being in charge of yourself, a sense of control over your destiny. Although there are many roadblocks and detours, you always have the hope to be successful. The main reasons I have started more than 1 business over the years: (1) The freedom to be in charge of my schedule. I spent many years in a 8-4:30 job and putting the time in doesn’t always equate to a job completed. (2) Our current business allows us to travel domestically and abroad and enjoy the beauty and diversity of the world. (3) It allows my fiancé and I to work happily together towards the same goal. (4) To present a product to the market that is new and different.
Thanks to Christopher Nelson, Glass Handbag
To Help People’s Self-Esteem
I started Inferno Fitness, unisex fitness powerhouse, because I felt the need to spread the word and give others the encouragement necessary to increase their self-esteem. Not just your ordinary gym environment, I provide a space where you can focus on becoming a healthier you. From personal experience, I understand that being able to remain motivated and stick through a fitness routine is very difficult if you don’t have anyone in your corner. I like to work with others and foster hard work and discipline to get them into the best shape of their lives.
Thanks to Jo Williams, Inferno Fitness
I Realized that Moms Needed Help
After teaching plant-based kids cooking classes in schools and having every mom come up to me after class asking for recipes and support,I knew there a demand for my services. Along with my fiance Peter, we created a membership site for moms wanting to get their family on the healthy eating wagon. We send out weekly recipes, shopping lists and video demonstrations. Not to mention answer any questions moms may have about gluten free and cooking.
Thanks to Peter & Sarah O’ Toole, Cooking With CSA
Bringing A New Angle to a Stale Industry
I started iQ media to bring life back to the media monitoring industry. For years, the industry has remained unchanged. After spending some time in the banking and credit card industry developing new and innovative ways of transforming endless data into valuable information, I realized I could apply the same idea to the media monitoring industry. I picked this particular industry because of the data versus information disparity, unique technology challenges that no one was overcoming that I felt were easy to solve and to work in an industry where technologies were constantly evolving. With our flagship product, cliQ 4.0, I feel that we are providing a new approach to media monitoring, one that has become so effective that we hope to change the industry from media monitoring to media intelligence. We are celebrating our successes thus far by debuting at the PRSA International Conference next week and we just closed on our best quarter yet.
Thanks to John Derham, iQ media
Lack of Available Information
I got the inspiration start my new company Porch.com while in the process of working on my first home in Seattle. I quickly realized that getting educated and finding the right professionals to do the work was a comically hard. I spent a month searching the internet and asking my community for referrals and ideas before having a revelation. Though there was a lot of information out on the web – how come there was still no centralized place that organized inspiration, project data, and word of mouth referrals? With that, I decided to start the first online home improvement network – allowing homeowners to get inspired by projects in their neighborhood, see photos and costs, and connect with the professionals endorsed by their community.
Thanks to Matt Ehrlichman, Porch.com
Mobile is Big & Life-Saving Information is Even Bigger
I started Ping4 Inc. – the developers of ping4alerts!, a smartphone app that leverages proprietary location based technology to deliver emergency alerts – because we live in a mobile driven society and putting life-saving information at your finger tips is the future of disaster management. Ping4 Inc.’s public safety and emergency management capabilities address next generation, relevant, emergency information services in an increasingly violent and hazardous world. In emergency situations, immediate information can mean the difference between life and death.
Thanks to James Bender, Ping4 Inc.
Solve A Parent’s Frustration
Myself Belts was invented to solve a common parenting frustration. My potty training toddler’s pants wouldn’t stay up. Myself Belts patented belt closure helps to make a child’s(and parent’s!) day a little easier. Children with an “I did it by myself!” moment by when they can use their Myself Belt independently. Myself Belts promote independence and boost self-esteem by allowing children to easily fasten and unfasten their belt on their own. Great for potty training, preschoolers, school uniforms, and kids who just love to accessorize. Even the littlest of hands can master Myself Belts. Myself Belts come in adorable designs like airplanes, hearts, trucks, and even traditional leather. No more droopy drawers, and a frustrating problem is solved for both parent and child! A simple invention for a common parenting frustration. You never know where motherhood will lead you!
Thanks to Talia Goldfarb, Myself Belts
I Was Inspired By My Work In Afghanistan
I got the inspiration for the company in 2004 when I was working with Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson on an international mission to Kabul, Afghanistan. I saw the power and utility of the briefing books Thompson got, which enabled him to make eloquent speeches and form real connections with people. It was just incredible to see how quickly people could get up to speed and then take that information and connect with one another. It was that experience that resonated so deeply with me. That’s when it hit me that most of the business productivity that we see happens because people can connect. At the time, building a company based on that inspiration was impractical; in 2004, there were only a handful of social networks, led by Friendster and MySpace, and they weren’t used by many people. I went on to start a gaming company and then eventually – years later – founded Refresh to duplicate the “dossier” experience for ordinary people.
Thanks to Bhavin Shah, Refresh
There Wasn’t Any Places Around
The major reason I started Gainesville Coins was that there were very few places to purchase physical gold and silver online, let alone 24/7. I believe that we have revolutionized the way the general public buys and sells precious metals through our state of the art website. Before we entered the market most bullion dealers required the customer to call in during business hours to place an order. Furthermore the majority of dealers who had websites would not display current pricing and so it made it very difficult to compare prices. We developed our website to show the current price of our items based on the constantly changing metals market. Additionally we allow our customers to purchase from our website 24/7 without ever having to pick up the phone. We continue to look for new ways to improve the customer experience while keeping our industry low pricing.
Thanks to Joseph Yaffe, Gainesville Coins
Because I Wanted to Bring Beauty to More People’s Lives
Tea is pure liquid wisdom, and in the West, a good cup of tea is hard to find! I founded Zhi Tea because I fell in love with the history, tradition and beauty of tea. I’m strongly committed to organics and sustainability, and Zhi Tea was an opportunity to merge my professional and personal passions. Zhi Tea let’s me be her advocate and share the story of the leaf with as many people as possible.
Thanks to Jeffrey Lorien, Zhi Tea
To Help Solve the Growing Job Crisis for New Grads
The job-search process is broken for college kids and new grads. They are facing skyrocketing education costs, are drowning in student loan debt and yet up to 50 percent still can’t get hired using their degrees. I’ve been blessed with a prosperous career as Google’s former product marketing chief and had two companies acquired by Microsoft and Motorola. Now that my kids are growing, it’s my turn to give back with Collegefeed. If I can transfer my experience, the professional networks I’ve built and my own passion to help first-time jobseekers start their careers – and make them successful – I’ve done my job well.
Thanks to Sanjeev Agrawal, Collegefeed!
I Was Diagnosed With Cancer
I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 23. My battle with cancer spurred my desire to be an entrepreneur and to do something that would create an impact in people’s lives everyday. Every day is a gift to me, so I started Giftovus to share and brainstorm gift ideas.
Thanks to Jessica Jessup, Giftovus
There Was A Strong Demand for Action & Adventure Sports
We started Mountain Sports International (MSI) in 1996 in the quaint mountain town of Crested Butte, Colorado. While living the ski bum dream Swany and I discovered that there was a strong demand for action and adventure sports events. In conjunction with several influential players, we started with the goal of developing competitive freeskiing events in North America with the invention of the Freeskiing World Tour and what would ultimately become the SWATCH Freeride World Tour by The North Face in 2013. These experiences quickly developed into a unique set of marketing competencies, which transferred to many event formats for a variety of clients including Red Bull, The North Face, Burton and others. More than 15 years later we are a full service nontraditional marketing agency specializing in matching clients with targeted demographics through authentic brand experiences and activations.
Thanks to Adam Comey and Dave Swanwick, Mountain Sports International!
Inspired from Homemade Beef Jerkey
In late 2011 myself and two friends (Scott Fiesinger and Tom Donigan) started selling artisan crafted FIELD TRIP All Natural Beef Jerky to stores and since have expanded to over 5,000 retail locations – including every flight of jetBlue Airways, Costco San Fran Bay Area region, Wegmans, Vitamin World (450 locations), Eastern Mountain Sports, and many other major accounts. FIELD TRIP Beef Jerky is a revolutionary product that is changing the oldest multi-billion dollar snack industry in the United States — bringing an end to “gas station-like” beef jerky and replacing it with quality beef jerky that can be eaten as a daily snack for a reasonable price. We came up with FIELD TRIP Beef Jerky on a ski weekend in Vermont about seven years prior to the company’s store launch. While on the trip we found a country store that sold groceries, jerky, and guns – an authentic Vermont country store! The jerky in this store was homemade, and we could immediately taste the difference. This store inspired us to develop our own product.
Thanks to Matthew Levey, FIELD TRIP Beef Jerky!
Showing There’s A Better Way to Sell Watches
I was selling a couch on Craigslist and the buyer was going to meet me at my office on evening. It was pretty late and I was one of the only people left in the building. The buyer shows up in a dirty white van and I immediately realized that this was probably not the best idea. Although my situation turned out alright, I was thinking that there had to be a better way to sell items. That is when I began to think about negatives of using an option like Craigslist to sell items that are more precious and valuable than a couch. After researching several different industries, I learned that the luxury watch selling industry was extremely fragmented. Owners of luxury watches, such as Rolex or Cartier, did not have a great way to sell their expensive timepiece. Many were attempting to sell it through venues such as Craigslist, which is not the best place to sell a very expensive item. I started Crown & Caliber to serve as a solution for people who are looking to sell their luxury watch. All our customers have to do is to visit our website and submit a free quote request form and we will get back to them in less than three business days. We strive to make the process as simple and rewarding for all of our customers.
Thanks to Hamilton Powell, Crown & Caliber
We Started Humbly
Cellairis started as a single humble cart and grew into the wildly successful franchise it is over the course of a few years. It wasn’t always easy though, the first cart we opened failed and we struggled together until we reached success! We shared a one bedroom apartment and took home around $100/week until our mobile accessories kiosk finally took off.
Thanks to Taki Skouras, CEO of Cellairis
I Hated Flying Commercial
I hated flying commercial airlines, so I created my own airline. I was tired of arriving at the airport two hours before a flight, being groped by security and being treated poorly by the flight crews. I devised a way for travelers to avoid the chaos, confusion, and congestion related to air travel. Our customers fly out of private terminals on the grounds of major airports. Check-in time and security screening are completed in just a few seconds allowing customers to arrive at the airport shortly before their flight, but the best part of the service is free cocktails on every flight!
Thanks Greg Stallkamp, Lakeshore Express
Starting with Excitement & Passion
I started my own business because I was designing advertising and doing marketing for a variety of other businesses and was helping them to become successful, so I figured, why not start a business involving something I’m excited and passionate about- jewelry and accessories- and make it successful for myself. I realized that there was a need in the market for all-inclusive accessory sales kits. No one else was selling anything like this online. The way I figured this out was because I myself was looking for this type of sales kit and couldn’t find what I wanted, so I created it.
Thanks to Megan Andrus, My Accessory Business
Tell us why you started your business below in the comments!