From paying attention to unhappy employees to trusting your intuition, here are 15 answers to the question, “Can you share the story of how you started your business?”
- Solving the Unhappy Employee Problem
- Launching on Kickstarter and Listening to User Feedback
- Following My Passion
- Fulfilling a Growing Need
- Pivoting During the Pandemic Restaurant Shutdowns
- Improving Accessibility and Eco-conscious Driving
- Deciding to Help Other Women
- Leaning into Luck
- Relieving a Suffering Family
- Bringing Joy via Delicious, Wholesome Snacks
- Providing Supportive, Restful Sleep for Everyone
- Combining a Love of Tech and Sales
- Putting a Bug in My Ear
- Flowing with the Natural Progression
- Trusting My Instincts
Solving the Unhappy Employee Problem
Motivosity’s founder was a board member at a company where they did everything they could to take care of their employees. They had great benefits, snacks at the office, parties, unlimited PTO, etc. Still, employees felt like they had become a cog in a machine and like what they were doing didn’t matter.
Disappointed, Scott solved the problem with technology, and that’s how Motivosity was born. Motivosity is a platform that focuses on the employee experience and helps people be happier at work through recognition and connection.
Logan Mallory, Vice President of Marketing, Motivosity
Launching on Kickstarter and Listening to User Feedback
I started my business by raising funds through the Kickstarter platform. I surpassed my original goal of $15K by raising $180K in just a few short months, relying on customer feedback and the feedback of my backers to innovate and redesign my prototype to be perfect.
I had the idea for the “All Day Every Day” pants back in college when I couldn’t find sweatpants that were comfortable to wear but also didn’t feel embarrassing to wear around the city. A few years later, with the help and input of over a thousand supporters, I brought my idea to life using crowdfunding and keeping my supporters intimately connected to the production process.
Zach Goldstein, CEO and Founder, Public Rec
Following My Passion
I always had a passion for music and entertaining people. Growing up, I would often play music for my friends at parties and special events.
As I got older, I worked as a DJ at local clubs and bars and quickly realized that I had a talent for it. After a few years of working as a DJ, I took my passion to the next level and started my own DJ and event-hosting business.
I wanted to provide high-quality music and entertainment services to people who were looking to make their special occasions unforgettable. Networking and reaching out to potential clients were the first things I did. I also invested in high-quality equipment and music software to ensure that my services were top-notch.
Over time, my business grew, and I became known for my dynamic and energetic performances. I also offered event hosting services, helping my clients plan and execute their events from start to finish.
Will Gill, Event Entertainer, DJ Will Gill
Fulfilling a Growing Need
We chose our business because we saw a major market gap in route planning. While Google Maps was great for optimizing routes and minimizing trip times with fewer than 10 stops, we wanted to build a fast and easy, scalable solution for delivery drivers that make dozens or even hundreds of stops daily.
With digital shopping and delivery services becoming increasingly popular, we wanted to fill that need to help keep those services viable and as eco-friendly as possible.
Jack Underwood, CEO and Co-Founder, Circuit
Pivoting During the Pandemic Restaurant Shutdowns
As a longtime mixologist, recipe developer, and pub owner, I had a lot of time on my hands in 2020. While I had been blogging casually for some time, I pivoted to full-time online work during the shutdown of the restaurant industry.
The blog started as an opportunity for mixologists to share their favorite recipes with peers and amateurs alike in a curated online space, and all for free. It was a great outlet for creativity and an opportunity to leverage expertise in our industry, as well as create content that led to other writing opportunities in culinary journalism.
Eventually, this gained so much traction that it became my full-time business, meaning I can be creative, develop new recipes, and share new finds with our audience.
Paul Kushner, CEO, My Bartender
Improving Accessibility and Eco-conscious Driving
We founded our business because we were sick of the stress, confusing costs, and long-term commitment of owning or leasing a car. Brands like Uber have worked to make ridesharing more transparent and accessible, and we wanted to do the same but with more flexible options and a subscription model like Netflix.
As a pretty young team, we’re eco-conscious and wanted to provide climate-neutral car subscriptions that people can feel better about using. We’ve worked to combine our shared social values with the freedom of having a vehicle to serve like-minded consumers.
Maximilian Wühr, CGO and Co-Founder, FINN
Deciding to Help Other Women
I was put on a synthetic hormone treatment that led to the need for a hysterectomy at age 51, which immediately put me into menopause. This led to an array of symptoms, ranging from night sweats to brain fog and irritability.
As a response to these symptoms, I worked with my children, Bobby and Brianna, to develop MENO to give women access to a hormone-free solution that helps combat the common side effects of menopause, which often hit hard and fast.
Today, FLO Vitamins makes gummy supplements with great taste and real health and beauty results so that women can feel empowered to do more with confidence.
Mary Kay Bitton, Head of Product Innovation, FLO Vitamins
Leaning into Luck
I was fortunate enough to have family members who owned rental properties that I could manage, which gave me some early experience in the industry. I could also attend some local real estate classes, which taught me a lot about marketing and managing properties.
My first big break came when I lucked out on a great deal on a duplex near my home. With the help of my family, I could purchase it and begin renting it out. Over the years, I have been able to purchase more and more properties, learning each time and making improvements where necessary.
I now own several rental properties and a handful of other businesses related to real estate. It’s been an amazing journey so far that has taught me a lot about business, marketing, property management, and many other areas. I’m constantly learning and growing as an entrepreneur, which is why I love the real estate business!
Matt Teifke, CEO, Teifke Real Estate
Relieving a Suffering Family
I founded Carda Health because of my family’s experience suffering from chronic heart disease. They could not access crucial, needed care, which inspired me to found a company that would bring evidence-based therapies to the home.
As a result, our company is deeply committed to improving the health outcomes for millions of Americans and ensuring our healthcare system is more accessible to all patients. Our mission is to become the place for patients to recover from heart disease.
Harry DiFrancesco, CEO, Carda Health
Bringing Joy via Delicious, Wholesome Snacks
We built Boop Bakery around the things that bring families joy. We believe that food is at the heart of every family celebration and wanted to create something to help cultivate that joy.
The idea was born in our founder’s kitchen as he decided that coming together over a fresh batch of cookies was a joy he wanted to duplicate, without the guilt attached to eating a less-than-nutritious snack. The mission to create wholesome, craveable cookies devoid of guilt was born!
Kenneth Lin, CEO, BOOP Bakery
Providing Supportive, Restful Sleep for Everyone
I was inspired to start my own mattress and bedding brand after having three neck surgeries that left me unable to sleep properly.
After trying several products on the market that did not work out for my personal sleep needs, I wanted to create a product that would help people get the restful sleep they need without sacrificing comfort.
I used my experience as an inventor and the knowledge I gained from studying the science of sleep to develop a unique line of mattresses and bedding that provides superior support, comfort, and our signature cooling temperature regulation. My products provide a restful night’s sleep while also helping customers avoid typical pain points.
Marc Werner, CEO and Founder, GhostBed
Combining a Love of Tech and Sales
Right from childhood, I had a passion for solving problems, building things, and constantly learning. My background is a unique blend of the public and private sectors (but I liked neither of them), with my mom working for the government and my dad in the corporate world.
Growing up, technology and sales fascinated me, and it led me down a path of entrepreneurship. In October 2016, I took the leap and started my career in digital marketing, using my expertise to help clients succeed. But I quickly realized that the market was flooded with digital marketing consultants and agencies who lacked the knowledge to provide real ROI for their clients.
This is where I saw an opportunity to make a difference. I wanted to bring in a unique perspective, combining my expertise in technology and sales with a deep understanding of the science behind digital marketing. With this, my clients have seen actual results and a positive impact on their businesses and brands!
Kartik Ahuja, Founder, Kartik Ahuja
Putting a Bug in My Ear
I was working at a Series A startup, PopSugar, and we had just gotten our $10M in funding from Sequoia. It was 2008; we were launching our GTM plan in the middle of the recession, and we didn’t have money to hire experienced recruiters.
I sat next to Brian Sugar, the CEO, and he would hear me recruiting absolute all-stars for our then-unknown company and he would say to me, “This is your true calling. When you are done with media, you need to start a recruiting firm.” And he was absolutely right! I took the leap to launch my executive recruiting firm, Shine Talent, five years ago and have never looked back.
Kristine Shine, Founder and CEO, Shine Talent
Flowing with Natural Progression
I started out simply building an online social media network for fun. I did this for years until I had a reasonable following, but more importantly, a network filled with successful people. Then, after a while, I thought, “OK, I have all these people in my network. How do I serve them?”
One thing that stood out was that these people wanted to have exposure in the way of articles or interviews about them or their company. From this, I started a site called Most Mogul, which interviewed people and shared their stories on my site and social media accounts. This was a good learning curve, which helped me to find my feet and also build more connections.
Ultimately, I gave up on the site, as I couldn’t see a way to monetize it. I then partnered in a business magazine, which did the same as before, but more professionally. This made good money, but because of a director relationship, I left the company. I now run a news/media/interview company, GallantCEO.com, which is going extremely well.
Russ Turner, Director, GallantCEO
Trusting My Instincts
My background was in university management and marketing. I had zero entrepreneurial experience. The only thing I knew about adventure travel was that “I liked it” and it “sounded like fun.” That’s why I started my business, as crazy as it sounds—especially since I have a business degree. I did no market analysis, and no cash projections and didn’t have a business plan. But I was willing to learn and put the time in.
For two years, I made very little money, and then gradually, as I learned more, I earned more. Flash forward 13 years later; I’m still in business, am fully location independent and start most mornings hiking or skiing before I start working. My business values have grown slightly to “freedom and fun.” I only take on new projects if it meets those criteria. And because it’s fun, that’s been an enormous factor in why my business has worked out.
Laurel Robbins, Founder, Monkeys and Mountains