52 Entrepreneurs Explain Why They Started Their Business
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 be the same. No matter the tale, the background behind each and every business is what fuels each and brand.
We asked some entrepreneurs and business owners, why they started their businesses:
#1 – I Have a Dream
I did start my business because I have a dream. The mission of my Brand is to make feel comfortable all the mens who have to wear a classy Dress Shirt. Many people need to wear a shirt like a uniform and they feeling not comfortable. They need to do many thing and they looking like blocked inside a stress full shirt. So we study the most comfortable dress shirt in the world and the people can wear it and feel comfortable all day long. The Golden Brat™ Shirt are crafted with Mercerized Cotton Lisle Yarn made in Italy, Certified High Quality , the shirts are natural stretch and follow the movement of the body, so are a No stress Shirt. My dream is to make this project successfull world wide and to Help people to live a better life.
Thanks to Enrico Bratta, Golden Brat™!
#2 – To Reinvent Myself After a Tragedy
When my Japanese husband died at a young age almost 16 years ago, I had been doing medical writing for a major New York Hospital and also helping him with his documentary films for Japanese and American public television. I decided I wanted to something different that I’d never done before that would fulfill me and bring pleasure to other people. All my life I’ve had a passion for gemstones and minerals spending time at the Museum of Natural History in New York and collecting them on my travels. I took jewelry courses for 18 months and then launched my website. I wish I had done this years ago. I’ve built a loyal customer base and by selling directly through image consultants, stylists, at shows and on my website I am able to give my clients top quality at almost wholesale affordable prices. (I am also in a few select boutiques and Hotel Gift shops including the famous Mohonk Mountain House and a design collective in Australia) My collection features unexpected combinations of raw and polished gemstones, opulent pearls, precious metals, custom clasps, and exotic minerals from the world’s treasure troves. My goal is to give women something beautiful to wear, something that makes them look and feel their best in every situation. I’m thrilled when people who wear my designs get compliments and feel great about themselves. That’s the best reward of all.
Thanks to Bess Heitner!
#3 – There was a Need
The idea for my business came when I was stranded on the side of the road with my broken down vehicle. I knew it was an easy fix, so I really didn't want to pay for a tow truck in addition to the cost of the repair. I called a mechanic friend of mine and asked if he could come out and do the repair on site. He laughed and said I don't do house calls. I just thought to myself why not?! It was an idea that I just couldn't get out of my head – so I had to pursue it. From that one line – GoWrenchAuto.com was born. GoWrench Auto brings licensed and insured mechanics to your home, workplace – or wherever you might need them. Saving you time, money, and headaches in the process.
Thanks to Joshua Lombardo-Bottema, GoWrench Auto!
#4 – There Were 2 Gaping Holes in the Industry
After a stint in the military I became a corporate freelance pilot, which included flying private jets. One particular mission was to fly an empty aircraft from Nice back to Oxford. I was sat on the Nice airport tarmac waiting to taxi and there was a BA flight alongside us, with 100s of miserable passengers filing across the tarmac to board the plane. It struck me that had the technology existed, travelers could have taken advantage of our empty aircraft to get back to London and then the aircraft could be dropped in Oxford, with minimal additional cost. This led me to realize there were two huge gaping holes in the industry, not just in terms of the way the industry served its customers – although undoubtedly this was a problem – but more importantly, inefficiencies and wastage that were always going to stop the private jet industry being accepted by a wider audience. So, I began working on the concept of a system that would – for the very first time – bring the private jet industry online. Five years of hard work later, Stratajet is the result; the world's first fully-automated private jet booking platform – the only system that can provide accurate availability and costs of private jets in ‘real-time'.
Thanks to Jonny Nicol, Stratajet!
#5 – Old Man Strength
I've been asked recently by a few people, quite understandably, why I started this new company. The conversations usually go down the same path, ending with a you're how old? or can you make a living at that?. At which point my answer is always the same; 56, and maybe. The real answer is I see some opportunity. I'm not reinventing the wheel, or trying to challenge the industry models, just see the need. That's the WHY, the HOW is with some good old OMS: Old Man Strength [Urban Dictionary] – a physical quality that entails unforeseen strength of an individual, including unexpected techniques based off life experience, and the ability to conquer others based on having more age than them. The last time I started a new company, I was 33, put my back into it for a long time to get it where it is today. At 56, maybe I'm just starting to understand I need to work with my brain, not my back, maybe. As age advances, there becomes a whole lot of new maybe's that were not considered a couple decades ago. There are a new set of advantages/disadvantages to work through; maybe I'm a little smarter, but I can't do 20 hr. days anymore. Maybe I can invest heavier up front to grow quick, but the time to recover from a bad bet is considerably shorter. Bring on the old man strength!
Thanks to Joe Battisto, Haven Environmental LLC!
#6 – To Inspire Moms
As a stay at home mom of three children I found myself burned out, overwhelmed and in need of a way to help me calm down and enjoy my life more. I also happened to practice yoga a lot, and had experienced all the physical benefits of my practice, but wondered if there was more yoga could offer me. It turned out that there was! I soon found that yoga taught me 2000-year-old strategies, to be more present with my kids, be more patient with my family and feel more calm and energized at the same time! I soon got certified to teach yoga and started my Nourished Motherhood business because I knew there were many other moms out there who wanted the same kind of relief! Now my digital products, blog, classes and workshops serves women all over the world teaching them how to use yoga as a tool to juggle their busy life and kids without burning out!
Thanks to Keya F. Williams, Nourished Mother Creations.
#7 – Focus on Work I'm Passionate About
I wanted to focus on the type of work that I'm passionate about. While working for a large business or agency, you don't have the privilege to choose which projects you take on. Starting my business gave me the ability to say no to certain clients that didn't fit our brand's style or didn't interest me. A byproduct of this was more free time to spend with family and personal time.
Thanks to John Surdakowski, Avex Designs!
#8 – Huge Void in the Marketplace
I’m a IIN Certified Health Coach with a specialization in family wellness. I started my business last year as a health coach when saw a huge void in the marketplace. There was no one helping parents try to get their kids healthy. There was no direction for wives who had to help their husbands lose weight or lower their blood pressure. So many people who want to get healthy often have significant others that are part of the process! I streamlined my program to include family members as support systems to help people truly thrive. This position has made my program instantly successful since it's the only one of its kind that people know about. I use my social media and massive amounts of public outreach to bring awareness to my program (my Instagram grew to 12,000 engaged followers).
Thanks to Michelle Gindi, Buddha Bowls and Burpees!
#9 – Safe & Healthy Option
I started Bruno’s Barkin’ Biscuits, LLC because I want to offer dog owners a safe and healthy treat option when it comes to their pups. I was tired of reading about dog food company recalls every time I opened up the news or social media. Bruno’s Barkin’ Biscuits, LLC is a small, home-based company in Michigan specializing in all-natural, preservative free, and healthy dog treats. The ingredients used are all human grade, and we strive to use organic and local farmer’s market/CSA ingredients when possible. If we wouldn’t feed it to ourselves, we wouldn’t feed it to our dogs. We provide high quality, good tasting biscuits that dogs bark about!
Thanks to Melissa Bruno, Bruno's Barkin' Biscuits, LLC
#10 – I Hated Something
I started my business because I hated celery sticks. I was on my first diet at 13 when my mother brought me to my first Weight Watchers meeting, which was later followed by over 2 decades of crazy diets and silly gimmicks. Conventional diets were teaching us to simply eat healthy food, like celery sticks, in order to lose weight, instead of guiding how to eat all foods, including the ones that tempt us the most, with balance and
mindfulness. It took me 27 more years to realize losing weight was not so simple and when I stopped dieting and traded in celery for chocolate and pizza and birthday cake, I lost 65 lbs. That's when I founded I Hate Celery Sticks, a weight loss Coaching Company that advocates weight loss and lasting maintenance without giving up our favorite foods. Now I share with others how to have their cake and eat it too.
Thanks to Brigitte Weil, I Hate Celery Sticks!
#11 – More Freedom & Full Control
I started a real estate business because I needed more freedom and to be in a career where I had full control of my schedule, my growth, and my income. I didn't want anyone to limit my thinking or my growth. I started a career in real estate in 2008 (when the market was crashing). Everyone thought I was crazy. But I knew it was the right decision for me and it has proven to be time and time again. Less than 10 years later, I have the #33 real estate team in the country (Source:Real Trends), I have real estate teams in 10 states and employ almost 200 Realtors and staff members at my real estate companies. I was driven by my desire for freedom and that's what I got; along with an amazing opportunity to help transform my employees' and my client's lives through homeownership and real estate.
Thanks to Adam Hergenrother, Hergenrother Enterprises!
#12 – It was Just Time
I am the founder/coach of Never Settle Coaching, LLC a coaching business. I began my business in 2014 because, well, it was just time. I have been coaching on the side for over 8 years at this point. My expertise in this area was natural: in a career readiness course in college I ended up being called upon by the teacher to help facilitate one of the classes since he declared my fellow students tended to ask questions of me anyway. Something similar happened during a salary negotiation seminar years later. At the same time it seemed that whenever I would have a conversation with a friend, family member, colleague, manager, executive–you name it!–about my career or a quick coffee or lunch, we would end up talking about their career path or life. That I was coaching everyone began somewhat of a running joke. After a big personal change (a move to a state where I knew virtually no one) I decided it was time to take another big jump and start a business to make my coaching work official so to speak. I've been coaching clients in their careers and lives ever since! I still work full-time as an in-house marketing consultant for a Fortune 75 company as I continue to refine my style and approach and grow my client base.
Thanks to Jane Scudder, Never Settle Coaching!
#13 – The Industry was Antiquated
The wedding industry is notoriously one of the least technologically advanced retail sectors. For example, it still heavily relies on print advertising (bridal magazines) and brides were limited to only shopping in brick and mortar stores to find their wedding attire. I created Happily Ever Borrowed so that brides could shop as they shop for their regular clothing; online. We rent bridal accessories to brides for their wedding day as we feel there is no need to pay thousands of dollars for an item you can literally only wear for 15 minutes of your life!
Thanks to Brittany Haas, Happily Ever Borrowed!
#14 – Seized the Opportunity
I gave a lot of thought to how I wanted to craft my own agency. I looked around the industry and realized that no agency was offering the senior-level, hands-on, personalized attention in the health care and beauty space that I knew I could provide. Nor was there one that was owned, run, and staffed entirely by women. I seized this opportunity to try an experiment in both client service and employee retention, by focusing on senior level staff first, and combining that with a flexible and healthy working environment that is not a mainstay in the public relations world.
Thanks to Megan Driscoll, evolveMKD!
#15 – To Personalize the Process
When I began my career in executive search and then later working in temporary staffing, I was able to build strong relationships with clients to gain a deeper understanding of their working style and culture. This helped tremendously in finding talent that was the best fit for them, and making sure our candidates were happy at the organizations where they were placed. It occurred to me that this personalized approach to staffing was really missing from the industry. And, when I was just 26 years old, I was given an opportunity to change all that. Three colleagues and I decided to start our own staffing and recruiting business: KNF&T Staffing Resources. I realized this was my chance to bring that personalized approach to the job search process. That was in 1983. Today, our style of really listening to the needs of clients and candidates has helped to make us an award winning business where I am proud to call myself the CEO.
Thanks to Beth Tucker, KNF&T Staffing Resources!
#16 – Doing a Better Job
Our business has started little bit over a month ago, but we have already had more success that we have expected. The main reason, why I wanted to start a business is me knowing, that I can do a better job. I have encountered numerous companies with bad customer service, or bad financial management, or unprofessional stuff, you name it. I have always told myself: I think I could do better. So my business is a way to prove it to myself, that I in fact can do it better. I need to confess, it wasn't as easy as it looks to bystander, but we manage. And what is important we have a lot of fun in process.
Thanks to Ostap Bosak, Royal Fur!
#17 – To Use the Other Side of My Brain
For nearly 15 years I had analytical, numbers-driven jobs in finance and banking, working for some of the world's largest banks. I enjoyed the roles and was steadily climbing the corporate ladder. But then I hit the proverbial wall. I love talking to clients about how (and why) they built their businesses, pursue opportunity, and solve problems. Then I'd get back to the office and shuffle numbers across paper. I was mostly just doing. Not thinking, not feeling challenged, not growing. So I cut the corporate cord and co-founded Finespun Clothing. It is a huge risk, but I was looking to build on my dream, not just support another's. I desired to use the non-analytical side of my brain to create, inspire, lead, and find a new type of success. It's still early, but I'm on my way…
Thanks to Matthew Multerer, Finespun Clothing!
#18 – Started as an Experiment
I started Dean’s Beans as an experiment twenty three years ago because I saw that farmers who grew our favorite morning drink were not getting paid enough to make a living, resulting in poverty, lack of opportunity for their children and environmental impacts like deforestation. I wondered what it would be like if the companies that purchased the coffee paid fair wages for the product and engaged in the developmental issues of importance in those communities. Could a company do that and still be profitable. I was the first social entrepreneur in the coffee world. Our model combined fair pricing and advocacy and direct development projects in each of the communities we bought from that would be managed by the communities themselves, thereby creating managerial capacity among the farmers and self-respect. We have received many international awards for our world and are generally recognized as the innovators who brought international development to the coffee industry. Importantly, we have been an influence on a new generation of coffee companies who understand that the success of the farmers is their success as well.
Thanks to Dean Cycon, Dean's Beans Organic Coffee Co.!
#19 – To Create a Culture Aligned with My Values & Mission
When I began practicing law I was hired by a firm where billable hours and collected fees were the only considerations for advancement. Growing frustrated with this firm mentality, I opened my own firm to create a culture in keeping with my values and mission: Clients come first. Business growth was exponential as clients appreciated the client-centered approach. Soon, I had more work than I could handle, and had to hire another attorney and staff member. Three years after that, I was fortunate enough to find a firm, Land Carroll & Blair, with a same client-oriented mentality and partnered with them. I believe starting my own firm was the best decision I have made, not only from my clients and my family, but also because it put me in a position to find and partner with like-minded attorneys.
Thanks to Nancy D. Greene, Land Carroll & Blair PC!
#20 – To Blend A Beautiful Business Model
I started my business with my fiancé because of our combined skills and experiences. When we blended together we were able to create a beautiful business model that has proven to be a success for us and our clients. At Inspirer we combine ideation and inspiration to create innovation to help individuals and businesses with their ideas. Whether it is a brand new idea or a wicked problem we need to solve, we are always focused on elegant solutions to make the world a better place. I am the designer and creative mind behind the business (the heart). My fiancé is one of the best ideation consultants in the world (the brain), he was a top rated mentor at Founder Institute and has built and sold numerous successful businesses. When we tackle an idea together we are at our best, we are fulfilling our purpose. It’s been a crazy journey building the business of your dreams with the person you love!
Thanks to Nina Noelle Holmes, Inspirer!
#21 – Started as a Hobby
My business honestly started out as a hobby. I would love logging in to Second Life to sell marketing and advertising to businesses trying to make it in a virtual setting. I did this for a few years while I recovered from multiple cases of pneumonia, my dad passing away, and so many other terrible events that 25 year olds shouldn't have to deal with all at once. At the time I was bringing in maybe an extra $80/week, but I taught preschool, and lived paycheck to paycheck, so everything helped. Fast forward a couple years and I've moved, found out my Mom was facing foreclosure, and had to get creative with trying to make ends meet. I started doing anything and everything possible for a couple extra dollars including designing custom Twitter backgrounds, powerpoint presentations, mentoring others on social media technology…until one day someone wanted to pay me to handle their company's social media accounts. That's the day I knew that this is what I was meant to do. I wasn't born into it, I wasn't raised thinking about it….heck, I don't think I heard the term entrepreneur until I was in my 20's, but I couldn't be happier with my unexpected career path.
Thanks to Kim Randall, KiMedia Strategies!
#22 – To Help People
After working years in corporate and attending many events, I noticed that people were missing a critical aspect of business: communication and connection. Business is more than numbers, however that is what we tend to focus on the most. My goal is to help people see the more human side of business so they build relationships that help sustain their business for the long haul.
Thanks to Ashley René Casey, Be Bold and Speak!
#23 – To Spend Time with My Baby Girl
Over ten years ago, I began my social media and blogging business in an effort to provide for my family and simultaneously gain flexibility in my work schedule. As a new mom to a six-month-old baby girl, I wanted nothing more than to be able to spend more time with her. However, our family could not do away with my income, so I needed to find a way to do both: spend more time with her and earn income. With a business of my own and the flexibility it affords, I've been able to provide for my family in more ways than one.
Thanks to Melanie Edwards, Modern Mami!
#24 – We Saw a Need
Being stuck on the side of the road and waiting endlessly for help is not an experience anyone wants, and as a team, we have all had that happen to us or our loved ones. We started Urgent.ly because we saw a need for a better roadside assistance experience by giving consumers the ability to track their service provider and get a flat-rate price on their service with no membership fees.
Thanks to Chris Spanos, Urgent.ly!
#25 – Opportunity to Disrupt
The over-the-counter acne treatment market in the US is huge. We don't have an exact market size, but it is estimated to be $3 Billion + annually. Our market research has shown that 1 in 3 people are not completely satisfied with their current acne treatment brand. There are always new customers entering the market and we believe we have a superior product. We saw the opportunity to disrupt the acne treatment market with a better product offering. We use a patented, proprietary ingredient Floralux which is naturally derived from chlorophyll (the green stuff in plants). Floralux is what makes our Restore Gel green. The three-step regimen is designed to address the issues of acne-prone skin during treatment including redness, dryness, and irritation.
Thanks to Matt Edstrom, BioClarity!
#26 – After a Tragic Loss
I started this firm with my husband after experiencing the tragic loss of a child 5 years ago. I was 6 months pregnant when I was diagnosed with a life threatening condition. During my journey of finding purpose in the tragedy- I began speaking and sharing my story. My aha moment came when a women attending my very first speaking session was diagnosed with the same condition within an hour of leaving. She attributes their lives being saved as a result of hearing my story of loss and hope. This couldn't have happened if I was not purpose-drive . At the PA we teach leaders the principles of purpose-driven leadership so that they can create the absolute best value for those they are called to serve.
Thanks to Kim Smith, The Positivity Academy, LLC!
#27 – Adopted Frisco
I've started my business because after adopting my puppy, Frisco, I realized that a more efficient pet adoption process could help rescues and shelters to save even more lives across the country. So I decided to do it myself and build a platform that streamlines and makes pet adoption easier for Shelters/Rescues and Families. We decided to do it with a sustainable business model, not depending on donations or grants, in a way that we can grow and be even more impactful over the years.
Thanks to Artur Sousa, Adopt Pets!
#28 – Flexibility for a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Having been laid off from her corporate job with a new four-month old, I needed to find work, fast! So, I did the logical thing: headed to a local paint and sip studio, had a few glasses of wine and took a painting class. At the end of the class, I had two things: a pretty decent painting and the inspiration for a new business, Wine & Design. My main inspiration to begin my business was to build a career that provided the flexibility needed to maintain a healthy work-life balance and a fun, family-focused atmosphere that left plenty of room to be a successful entrepreneur and mom. In a matter of 5 years, my first studio has led to 76+ studios across the nation proving success while providing opportunities for prospective entrepreneurs as well as local artists. Who wouldn't want to paint and sip for a living, right?
Thanks to Harriet Mills, Wine & Design!
#29 – Everyone Hates Advertising
It seems that almost everyone hates advertising. Or more correctly, everyone hates advertising that interrupts, annoys, gets in the way of what they're trying to enjoy, and is not relevant. I started Disrupted Logic Interactive and our ctalyst® ad network because I knew advertising could be much better as an enriched and interactive experience. Imagine if ads were enjoyable, fun, interactive and a welcomed part of what you're experiencing. Imagine if every ad you experienced was for something you were actually interested in. I was tired of playing my favorite apps or games and getting bombarded with annoying pop-ups, banners, interstitials, and sign-up offers for a bunch of junk I didn't want. I invented ctalyst and started my company so that we could make ads a fun and enjoyable part of the app or game. Imagine you're playing your favorite game. In the corner you see a vending machine for an energy drink. You approach it, exchange some gameplay points, and just like that … the game slows down, you get a massive health and energy boost and you level up! And when you check your rewards menu later, you find a real-world discount coupon for your favorite energy drink. I put a development team together, received a grant from the Canadian government, and worked with the University of Victoria to develop an innovative ad network Artificial Intelligence system, and now we're in business changing the landscape of advertising forever. I started my business because I thought advertising could be better, and now it is.
Thanks to Tom Raycove, Disrupted Logic Interactive Inc.!
#30 – Pinnacle of My Life's Work
After creating many successful start-ups- from internet fashion companies to home market businesses- I spent several years researching a category that intrigued me from a health-standpoint. I wanted to create something that she considered the pinnacle of my life's work- something that would help people. What interested me was the hydrogen-rich industry. Already a half-a-billion dollar industry in Asia, it's still fairly new to the U.S. market. I introduced the very first hydrogen-rich water, but with a twist. Because hydrogen is the lightest molecule, I noticed other packaging could not contain the extra hydrogen. I consulted with several experts and created a unique packaging that keeps the molecular hydrogen intact. There are hundreds of studies verifying molecular hydrogen has many benefits, from being an anti-inflammatory to improving athletic/fitness performance and recovery.
Thanks to Gail Levy, HFactor!
#31 – Follow My Passion
I started my clothing business because I wanted to follow my passion and contribute my apparel designs to the world. I knew the apparel industry had a high failure rate but my sense of purpose overshadowed the risks. My passion for my work has been extremely helpful in overcoming obstacles and challenges that come with running a business. Noting is more fulfilling in life than expressing my creativity through my work and than seeing my customers wearing adoring what I made. I am very fortune to have found success in the apparel industry and I count my blessings everyday.
Thanks to Lisa Chu, Black N Bianco!
#32 – A Need to Help Children
In 2008, Lara founded Kidcreate Studio out of a need to provide children with more art education-something that Lara discovered was lacking in the public education sector after realizing her son was receiving less than one hour of art at school per week. The art studio is designed just for kids and combines quality art education with a fun kid-friendly environment created to teach, inspire and build self-esteem.
Thanks to Lara Olson, Kidcreate Studio!
#33 – Realized the World of Business
I began my career as a salesman and started realizing that the world of business was to make as much profit as possible regardless of if the customers needed the product/service. Therefore once I was introduced to an idea where restaurant can sell their unsold meals instead of throwing it out which can reduce food waste, combat climate change, and end world hunger, I was sold. On top of introducing me the idea, he said if I believed in this idea then I can start it on my own. This is when I realized that I can use my business/sales experience that can and therefore I quit my job on the spot and started BuffetGO.
Thanks to Emil Lolby, BuffetGO!
#34 – Brush with Death
When I created Jelt Belt, I was recovering from a sudden brush with death and knew that there was no better time than the present to bring my idea to life. I started my company to not only offer a new and innovative belt to the accessories industry, but to use my company as a platform to give back as well. Based on my own experiences, I recognized a need for a belt that was low profile enough to wear under tops and tees comfortably, but also was strong enough to stand up to daily wear and tasks big and small. And being from Montana, I also wanted a belt that could transition to all of my active lifestyle endeavors. I knew that I wanted to create a product that filled an apparent need, but also gave back as much as possible. This elastic stretch belt is made from recycled waters bottles and contains no metal. Also, for every belt sold, $1 goes to programs supporting combat-wounded veterans.
Thanks to Jen Perry, Jelt Belt!
#35 – Heal & Bring Our Family Closer
The roots of our company, Ella Bing were started out of necessity, to heal and to bring our family closer together. And while life has a way of kicking you down while you're up and picking you up while you're down. None of us though that on Sept 1, 2010, our lives would be changed forever. We lost my brother Matthew to suicide, while he was living in NYC. From that life altering event, Ella Bing was born as a family owned and operated business in 2012. Taking the ideas of Matthew who loved having our very talented mother make him his bow ties. He could have bought his bow ties from anywhere, but he loved the fact that he knew they were special and made with love. With our past experiences and our passion for creating quality products, that Matthew would have loved and worn himself we are pleased to serve the
Tampa Bay community and make a difference in people's lives. And are passionate about raising awareness about suicide prevention and awareness.
Thanks to Brent Kraus, Ella Bing!
#36 – Start Living Again
I started my company so that I could start living again. I embarked on my journey in October 2010 while still working a full time job. At the time, I was a doing sales and marketing for a media company. I traveled ALL the time, which led to burnout and a lot of homesickness (I had 3 dogs at the time, and I missed them dearly when I was on the road). Oh, and I wasn't really making any money with my job, so traveling wasn't all that fun since I couldn't really go out and do much because I was living on such a tight budget. I was literally working 50-60 hours a week, and barely getting by financially. I knew I was good at what I did, so I decided that if I could do what I was doing at the time for a few different companies instead of just one, I could earn a decent living for myself and cut down on all the traveling. I started my company with an investment of $10 to buy my domain name, $10 for web hosting, $80 for a WordPress template – and nothing else, other than time. I wrote my web copy myself, did my web design myself and officially launched in October 2010. I would work my full time day job, and then do client work at night and on weekends. That hard work quickly paid off, however, and 4 months later, I was able to quit my full time job. I hit over six figures in my first year in business – and the company revenue has increased annually ever since. Less than a year after launching, I had a small team of people in place. Presently, I have 19 people who are regularly working with me. I started my business because I was burned out and tired of seeing other people succeed, while I worked my tail off. But I continue to do what I do because I like helping small businesses succeed. Quite frankly, I'm not sure there's a more fulfilling feeling that getting paid to do something you love, and knowing that at the end of the day, the work that you do makes a real difference.
Thanks to Tabitha Jean Naylor, Successful Startup 101!
#37 – Looking for My Next Challenge
In 2011, I was looking for my next challenge. I had just left Flarion Technologies, a company I had founded and later sold. My engineering career-as a researcher at Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs, before I started Flarion-had been in communications and information theory, so I'd expected to stay involved in those technologies. But I found myself instead thinking more and more about cameras. I had taken photographs with film cameras as a child in India, but I never had any particularly good equipment. I was intrigued when digital photography started taking off, but I didn't buy my first digital camera until 1999, when my daughter was born. I took a lot of pictures with that Kodak camera, then moved on to various Sony digital cameras. Eventually, when DSLRs came out, I went all out, purchasing a couple of DSLR cameras, a bunch of Canon lenses, and all sorts of other equipment-three camera bags' worth. And I took lots of pictures with this gear. Ten-plus years later, I got an iPhone and also started taking pictures with it, not because the quality was really there but because of the convenience: I had to plan ahead if I wanted to take pictures with one of my good cameras, which I did less and less. As I talked with other avid photographers, I discovered I wasn't the only one who had expensive camera gear gathering dust. It's not that any of us were happy with the quality of the pictures we were taking with our phones-indeed, we were all frustrated by it. But at the end of the day, convenience always won out. So when I was looking around for a new professional challenge, I realized I could attack a problem I was dealing with myself. But I didn't start immediately; I didn't know optics well, and I assumed that if there was to be a technical solution it would come from somebody who did. So I sat at home for a year to teach myself about optics and ended up founding Light with my cofounder in 2013.
Thanks to Dr. Rajiv Laroia, Light!
#38 – Learned Everything About It
I found a subject area that enticed me — and learned everything I could about it! When I met my co-founder and partner, we inspired each other to take a chance and start our own business. We're both foodies and very health-conscious so when we discovered this huge gap in the market for nutritional products that are premium quality, sustainable and enjoyable we got excited. I saw my chance to create and — combined with the frustration I experienced with my day job in finance — I ran toward it with arms open. Once I had that epiphany it was like a snowball effect and I would spend most of my free-time doing online courses and reading up on industry articles. As silly as it sounds, ‘knowing' that I had that knowledge was probably more encouraging than the knowledge itself. It gave me the boost in confidence that I needed to stand firmly behind my decisions and be okay with the possibility of failing. So I left my job in Australia, finished my degree and came to the states to co-found Ora Organic and haven't looked back.
Thanks to Erica Bryers, Ora Organic!
#39 – Change the Purpose of the Workplace
We started Talent Plus, because we believed that we could change the purpose of the workplace. We have always had a passion for focusing on what people do well and matching them with a job that offers the right fit for their talents, their team and the culture of their organization. Doing this changes the culture of an organization to one where people are celebrated for what they do well. Now in our 27th year, we see our clients building these types of organizations and the outcomes go right to their bottom line – what's good for people is good for the businesses they work in – and these organizations are better able to take care of their end users and improve their customer/guest/patient experiences.
Thanks to Kimberly Rath, Talent+!
#40 – I Always Knew
I always knew that I wanted my own business and run my own company. Even when growing up, the entrepreneurial spirit was always within me. Then, it was a matter of finding the right business at the right time. I founded Infinite when I saw a sincere need for customer centric technology solutions that put the clients' needs first. I knew that I could build a better service for them than what was being provided – the crux of any good entrepreneurial endeavor.
Thanks to Sanjay Govil, Infinite Computer Solutions!
#41 – My Inner Hippie
Having been a creative person my entire life (and a little ADD), I have struggled – in the pragmatic work place, juggling three kiddos and the need to feed my passions – writing, marketing and entrepreneurship. A few years ago, I went through a divorce and started a journey to finding myself again. That journey led to yoga, meditation and listening to my inner hippie. She is relentless, my inner hippie. Yoga and spirituality saved my sanity during all the nightmarish times in my life and now I want to give that gift to other women struggling. Besides, there isn't enough meditation in this world. I created Zen Squared to bring lush skin care, meditation and mindfulness to a woman's daily routine – through her beauty regimen. (I also selfishly want to get rid of the notion that meditation is just for hippies)! Zen Squared is a line of products including cream, lip gloss, face powder, meditation spray and a meditation/mantra card for each product.
Thanks to Julie Breaux, Zen Squared!
#42 – Change Agent
The goal of public relations is to create change. I believes if you can affect change in a community or an industry, the passion required to do that is the same. And it's simple. By valuing partnerships (regardless of size) and keeping your promises, you will understand the purpose of what your work means to others. By having an ownership mentality and taking pride in your work, you will understand the purpose of what your work means to yourself. These four core values of OCG has led me to be selective of my client partners and my team. Furthermore, if more people in this industry truly embraced those values, public perception of many industries would be different than they are now, and help many businesses flourish.
Thanks to Tonya Veasey, Open Channels Group (OCG)!
#43 – Make a Difference in People's Lives
I started my business to make a difference in people's lives. I train and certify Holistic Coaches and help them develop their professional coaching careers. I also started my business to create a flexible schedule for myself and to work solely for myself. I am a humanitarian at hear and my work has taken me to Central America to train there as well, providing income opportunities to people who otherwise would not have that opportunity.
Thanks to Dez Stephens, Radiant Health Institute
#44 – To Help Other Business Owners Grow
The beauty of working in PR is that you get to learn how other companies and industries operate. In order communicate the brand of a commodities trader, luxury hotel or local restaurant, you have to understand how the sausage is made. (In some cases literally…) In addition to learning a client’s craft, you also learn how they make their money. Before my business partner, Lina Khalil, and I started Fetch Public Relations, we noticed a disconnect in the expected result of PR and the actual deliverable. We wanted to create a company that not only delivered great publicity and content marketing but also connected the dots between our efforts and results that had tangible benefits for their business. We work with many different types of small businesses now, helping each to create their own program based on their individual wants and needs. We just celebrated our seven-year anniversary, and we don't plan on stopping!
Thanks to Erryn Cobb of Fetch Public Relations!
#45 – A Rebellion Against Facebook Happy Birthdays
My husband, Santiago Prieto, and I started Punkpost as a rebellion against Facebook happy birthdays and thank-you texts. How awesome would it be to get 50 birthday cards in the mail instead of 50 Facebook posts? Much, much cooler. People are more fun than digital communication allows them to be, and that's where Punkpost comes in. Punkpost handwrites and mails cards for you. It makes sending handwritten
cards fun, effortless, and empowering. It brings back the little something that gets lost in translation in a tweet or a congrats email. Plus, it's way more fun to send a handwritten message with cool art, confetti and photos. Punkpost is powered by talented hand writers, which we call scriptists. Real humans. No robots. Your message is in the hands of talented people throughout the US who practice good penmanship and enjoy taking time to write your words. We're a young community with high hopes. We are fed by teenage angst to understand the role of tech and non-tech in our world. It really started in Boston. Santiago used to be a designer at IDEO and was nervous about a big meeting he had in Boston. I sent a good luck card to his hotel before his presentation. When he got it he was thought, This is so cool. I'm going to write Lex back. But when he tried to reply back, he realized that the process of sending a handwritten card is not that simple. He didn't know where to find a nice card, he didn't know where to get a stamp and he wasn't even sure he had a pen with him. It was a huge realization. Cards deliver this happiness that is hard to replicate in any other form of communication. A handwritten card is still the gold standard and a Facebook message can’t compete. Even Stephen Colbert said after the election that there are some things all americans still agree on “It’s nice to get a card in the mail once in awhile”. Punkpost is at the start of reinventing this experience. We truly believe that the only valuable thing in the future will be things made by hand. With the pace of development in artificial intelligence and automation, people will be valuable when they use their mind and hands to make art.
Thanks to Alexis Monson, Punkpost!
#46 – I Wish I Had It
I created this series of New Mom Comics because it’s what I wished I had during the first year after my son was born – it's like a friend to tell you how it really is, with humor and love, and not fear, worry, or expectation of perfection! My husband and I always try to look for the humor in each day, even in tough parenting moments, as it helps us laugh and remember them so fondly. – Alison Wong, NewMomComics.com
Thanks to Alison Wong, New Mom Comics: The First Year!
#47 – Determination/Stubbornness?
When I was a teenager, I worked at a car dealership. My job was to wash cars, run errands, and keep the shop relatively clean. It was good pay for a good job with good bosses and flexible hours. By all accounts, it was a pretty great career for a teenager. But that doesn’t mean I liked it. I hated being trapped doing something I didn’t care about. While the clock took its sweet old time plodding toward quitting time, I daydreamed about all the other things I’d rather be doing. Probably not so unusual for a typical teenage job. But what really impacted me was that, for the most part, this same attitude was shared by the majority of the mechanics who worked there. They were good, but they were also mopey, cynical, and unengaged. I couldn’t wrap my head around it: this was their chosen career, the occupation they had decided to spend the majority of their waking hours doing. Where was the joy? Where was the love? Where was the energy? I resolved that I would NOT spend the bulk of my days in a job I didn’t like. Not for the money. Not for the benefits package. Not for anything. It was that determination (stubbornness?) that inspired me to start my business and carried me through the hard early days.
Thanks to Jason Kotecki, Escape Adulthood!
#48 – Desperate for an Alternative
With more than 14 years in the traditional auto leasing business, I saw that my customers were increasingly desperate for an alternative to the dreadful dealership car shopping experience. Beyond the investment of both time and effort, one simply cannot avoid the dishonest and obnoxious manner with which the conventional sales person ambitiously pursues a sale. I saw an opportunity to create a customer-focused, digital platform for leasing cars, which is where the idea for eAutoLease was born. eAutoLease doesn’t require a geographical location, it lies conveniently embedded in the hard drive of a powerful server accessible anywhere, anytime, every day, of every month, at the customers’ convenience. And because we cut out the middle man, working directly with more than 40 dealer/manufacturer partners, we’re able to offer highly-personalized lease deals and the lowest rates on the market.
Thanks to Zoriy Birenboym, eAutoLease.com!
#49 – Daycare is More Expensive & Potter is More Fun
After having my two beautiful daughters I knew I could not go back to my old position in the mortgage industry. I could not afford to. I could not afford the stress, long hours, and certainly not the daycare. At this point I had many many years under my belt of making handmade pottery. It had been something I began doing when I was around 18 and always had in my life. Pottery was my passion and happy place. For many years I resisted selling my work. I felt once I did it would take some of the joy out of it for me. Being a mother certainly has it's joys but it also can leave you a bit empty if you are not filling your own jar. That is when I decided to start Off Your Rocker Pottery. Why the name? Because anyone was decides to start their own company when they have a 1 and 3 year old to look after all day must be off their rocker! But I did it anyway and so glad I did. It forces me to make time for what I love, because what I love is now also my job. It is fulfilling and I believe truly makes me a better mom because a happy mom makes happy kids! Making pottery is an amazing creative outlet for me. The surprise was how much I enjoy the marketing aspect as well, it is a second creative outlet for me and something I enjoy as much as working in clay.
Thanks to Lindsay Klix, Off Your Rocker Pottery!
#50 – Helping the Community
Immigrating to America from Korea in 1972 with my family, I graduated from UCLA and started my career as a door-to-door insurance salesman. I spent a lot of time in the car during lunch, eating badly at fast food restaurants. Soon after – I began developing sores and lesions across his body with bad nausea and flu-like symptoms. More so, numerous medical professionals were unable to give a diagnosis. I soon realized that I needed to take a step back to focus on my health, and started eating right and exercising regularly – and within 2 weeks was fully cured. Because of my experience, I knew I wanted to revolutionize the quick-serve industry by helping the community make better, more informed lifestyle & eating choices – my inspiration for The Flame Broiler! Founded in 1995, the menu consists of bowl options with a base of white or brown rice, or freshly blanched vegetables, the choice of either Angus beef, all-natural chicken or flame broiled tofu, and topped with vegetables and chopped green onions. The Flame Broiler uses no fryers, dairy or added MSG.
Thanks to Young Lee, The Flame Broiler!
#51 – My Oldest Son
My oldest son, Coby Joshua, was born with Down syndrome in 1999. Coby's disability presented the need for me to create an environment for him that would facilitate his development and provide the extra stimulation he needed for optimal growth. Coby was also born with hypotonia (low muscle tone) and was adversely affected by carriers that placed his legs in excessive abduction (spread too far apart). I wanted to hold Coby closely and show him the world in a developmentally appropriately way, but I was not satisfied with the carriers on the market. That's when I began modifying existing slings and wraps to provide positions where babies can see the world while being held in a developmentally appropriate posture. A few years later, a close friend of mine, Isaac Wernick, just had a son. Eitan Lev, was born in 2003 with a rare and serious heart defect known as TAPVR. He underwent a successful open-heart surgery at Miami Children's Hospital when he was four weeks old. After his surgery, Eitan was fragile and sensitive to pain. They looked for the best baby carrier for carrying Eitan close, but also did not find one there were satisfied with. They borrowed my modified carrier, and after a few months of use, both of us began to make further improvements to its quality, design, safety, structure, and style. Thus, the Baby K'tan Baby Carrier was born!
Thanks to Michal Chesal, Baby K'tan!
#52 – Make a Difference
I started my business, Vegan.io, to make a difference. In 2012 I had a VC backed company with 100+ employees that was struggling. The stress of always being one month away from failure and constantly having to beg for money from investors while giving away equity made me chronically sick. After selling my shares I started trying various diets to see if they would improve my health. One of those diets was vegan. As I learned more about a it, the damage factory farming does to the environment, the way that animals are treated as commodities and the fact that 90% of deforestation is for farming, I knew I needed to do something. That’s when I decided to build vegan.io so that others can easily make the transition.
Thanks to Matt Beedle, Vegan.io!