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Entrepreneur's Startups Summer 2017

Entrepreneur's Startups is for anyone dreaming of launching a business. Entrepreneur's Startups is the must-have resource for hands-on insights and information on how to get your business off the ground and running in no time. Published three times a year, with each issue you'll discover countless business ideas, see how others got their start and how you can too

United States
Entrepreneur Media Inc.
3 Issues

in this issue

3 min
glacial to gangbusters

When S’well founder Sarah Kauss finally made the leap from making manual invoices in Excel to using QuickBooks, in 2010, she called in an accounting pro to get her set up. He looked at her statements—and the scant $2,000 she had left in savings—as well as the rent on her New York City apartment, where she was working and storing the 3,000 high-end water bottles she hoped to sell. “You know,” he said, after a long pause, “you could get a real job.” She didn’t. Instead, she spent two long years as S’well’s sole employee, bootstrapping her line of sleek, stainless steel water bottles with $30,000 in savings after a successful, hard-charging career in commercial real estate development. It paid off: The company’s overall sales hit $50 million in 2015—a fivefold…

3 min
peloton masters the sprint

PELOTON’S FIRST cycling studio wasn’t exactly an architectural masterpiece. “We created this 10-by-10 busted, back-office studio with some black curtains and cut a hole in one for the camera lens. We put eight really cheap bikes in the audience and a nicer bike on a pedestal, propped up on some bricks,” recalls cofounder and CEO John Foley. “This is where we recruited our instructors.” He seems, at least in part, horrified at the memory. “I can’t believe they left their jobs for us.” That was in 2012, when the bootstrapped startup was attempting to lure top-notch cycling instructors away from their current jobs at the SoulCycles and Flywheels of the world. At Peloton, they would record classes in a yet-to-be-built studio in New York City; classes would then be streamed live…

1 min
the value of “no”

RAISING FUNDS is hard. But for Gunnar Lovelace (below) and Nick Green (right), co-CEOs of organic food e-retailer Thrive Market, it seemed impossible. In 2014, the pair spent four months on the road, being turned down by all of the more than 50 VCs they met. “The venture community provides a great ecosystem, but it also lives in a bubble,” Lovelace says. “The folks making decisions are predominantly men, not the female consumer that’s driving the market we’re in.” The pair started contacting influencers instead—healthy-food bloggers, celebrities—who could help spread the word about their affordable organic food. To their surprise, many of the bloggers wanted to invest. Thrive realized it had a new opportunity here: If influencers put down cash, they’d become heavy advocates as well. “We built a really interesting…

1 min
going it alone, for good reason

AFTER MORE THAN 35 years working in IT, Lenora Payne is used to being the odd woman out in a male-driven industry. “Years ago, I remember being the only woman at events,” she says. “And to be a woman and black? I didn’t see that in the industry until I started running my own company.” As a founder and the CEO of Kansas City’s Technology Group Solutions—one of the fastest-growing women-led companies in the country—Payne is eager to see more women in the field, but she admits that’s easier said than done. “I’d love to find a woman technician, but they’re not around,” she says. “Years ago, when I was working for a previous employer, there was a woman named Kathy, the first woman I knew who fixed computers. The guys…

3 min
it’s never too late (or early)

Madison Robinson (now 19) Founder, FishFlops AGE AT LAUNCH: 12 years old BONA FIDES: Has sold more than 400,000 pairs of her whimsical kids’ shoes I first showed my dad sketches of flip-flops with sea characters on the soles when I was 8, and we finally went into production when I was 12. My dad handled the finances, but I stocked the warehouse, packed shipments, sketched designs. I could miss only three days of high school each semester, so I saved those for the big things, like a trade show or a TV interview or a pitch meeting. I’m now majoring in business at Texas A&M. I want to push into the tween and adult markets.” Jeff Platt (now 31) CEO, Sky Zone AGE AT LAUNCH: 21 years old BONA FIDES: 170 trampoline parks in five countries, with…

3 min
why a vc says yes

Shane Battier retired from basketball in 2014 with two championship rings, and is now a philanthropist and an investor working with seven tech companies. Like many part-time investors, he’s driven primarily by ideas that excite him. “Outside of obviously trying to make some money,” he says, “what’s the point if you can’t enjoy the journey and the people you’re with?” Here’s how three entrepreneurs got Battier to sign on. Rhone THE APPROACH: GIVE BEFORE TAKING In 2015, Battier and other local celebrities signed up for the South Beach Triathlon to raise money for charity. When Rhone cofounder Nate Checketts learned of this, he immediately offered to sponsor Battier’s foundation and outfit him for the race. Rhone makes athleisure wear for men, and Checketts thought Battier, who has a reputation as a nice and…