Many of us have heard that small business is the backbone of our economy. Mega-corporations like Walmart and Apple started off as small businesses. Some people are dissuaded to start one. They turn to statistics that say “most new businesses will fail within three years” to justify their reason for not starting one.
Starting a business is simple. It begins with an idea, some paperwork, and a storefront and/or website. However, creating a successful company is not as easy, but it can be easier when the business model is based on a simple idea. Here are five successful businesses that started with a simple idea.
Lori Cheek, the founder and CEO of Cheekd.com, started as an architect. After working 15 years in the industry, Lori abandoned the career to immerse herself in the tech world.
She was forced to get extremely creative about funding the business since she was living on her savings.
To offset her expenses, Lori managed to make $75,000 by selling designer clothes on eBay, walking dogs, doing focus groups, secret shopping, and selling her stuff on Craigslist.
She no longer wanted to build structures but rather build relationships. So, Cheekd was born. It is a dating app that makes missed connections obsolete. The app connects people in real time rather than virtual time, which allows people to begin meeting in person before continuing online.
Her biggest break came when she got accepted to be a contestant on ABC’s Shark Tank. While her idea was shot down by all five Sharks, she left them with a message. “Trust that you will all see me again,” she said. Within 48 hours after the episode, about 50 investors wanted to invest in her business.
The New York Times has called Cheekd, “the next generation of online dating.” She has been featured in The Huffington Post, Inc Magazine, and TEDx. Cheek’d has customers in 47 states and 28 countries.
Josh Goldstein is the co-founder of Underdog, a small technology startup that started with a simple idea.
He created a simple form that took a minute for candidates to complete. He and his team of four take that information through a process of analyzing, tagging, and grading candidates. Once that process is completed, they feature the best candidates to a network of startups who in turn pay them a subscription fee.
Josh started the business in April 2014 and was determined to make his business the curated marketplace for talent. He worked for startups in the past, which gave him the experience in dealing with the stress, inefficiencies, and lack of capital.
From the start of his business until now, he remains a bootstrapper. He and his team run the business at The Founder Collective in New York City.
Underdog is doing well over $500,000 a year and works with over 120 NYC startups.
Even with Underdog’s amazing success, Josh admits that he and his team are overwhelmed with work. In the beginning, it was much worse since they were utilizing a manual process rather than their current streamline system.
If there is one thing that Josh and the Underdog crew care about the most, it is their customer service. “We love to hear from candidates that found new jobs through our platform. And it is nice to be charging such a small fee to our customers. You can be a customer on Underdog for four years and make one hire, and it is still cheaper than using most recruiters,” Josh said.
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