26 Most Fascinating Entrepreneurs: Victoria Parham

From: Inc. Magazine, April 2005 | By: null



Victoria Parham Virtual Support Services

for serving as a mentor to military spouses

Victoria Parham knows firsthand how tough it is to be a soldier's wife. Her husband, Andre, served in the Army until last year. When he was deployed to South Korea in 1995, Parham was forced to move in with her mother and to sell her small resume-writing business. When she later started another company, Virtual Support Services, she designed it to be portable. If Andre received another distant commission, she would go with him. So would VSS, which provides administrative support to businesses through a network of independent contractors.

The test came in 2000, when Andre was assigned to Anchorage, Alaska. On the cross-country drive, Victoria ran VSS from the back seat of the family SUV, juggling a cell phone, laptop, and portable printer. Over 22 days, 5 hours, and 30 minutes of travel, VSS never faltered. Today VSS's revenue is in the six figures.

Once Parham, now 36, settled in Alaska, she began volunteering as a mentor at the Service Corps of Retired Executives. She parlayed that into a gig with the Navy, teaching military spouses, by Web seminar, how to design businesses that can move with them from base to base. She has taught 400 people so far. For the armed services, says Ed Roscoe, a program manager for the Navy, "our return on investment is keeping highly qualified soldiers on active duty by stabilizing families." And that's just what Parham is doing.

Patrick J. Sauer

26 Most Fascinating Entrepreneurs

  1. Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart Omnimedia
    because she took one for the team
  2. Richard Branson, Virgin Group
    because he's game for anything. In fact, everything.
  3. Michael Dell, Dell Computer
    for being brilliantly straightforward
  4. Jim Sinegal, Costco
    because who knew a big-box chain could have a generous soul?
  5. Diane von Furstenberg, Diane von Furstenberg Studio
    for staging an elegant comeback
  6. Julie Azuma, Different Roads to Learning
    for offering hope and help to the parents of autistic children
  7. Fritz Maytag, Anchor Brewing
    for setting limits
  8. Ray Kurzweil, Kurzweil Technologies and other companies
    because he is Edison's rightful heir
  9. Craig Newmark, Craigslist
    for putting the free in free markets
  10. Jack Mitchell, Mitchells/Richards
    because his family business makes an art of customer service
  11. Frank Robinson, Robinson Helicopter
    for whipping an entire industry into shape
  12. Mark Melton, Melton Franchise Systems
    for giving immigrants their shot at the American Dream
  13. Michelle Cardinal & Tim O'Leary, Cmedia and Respond2
    for rewriting the rules for husband-and-wife teams
  14. Mike Lazaridis, Research in Motion
    because someone had to stand up for all those frustrated engineers
  15. Trip Hawkins, Electronics Arts and Digital Chocolate
    for still scrapping
  16. Warren Brown, Cake Love and Love Cafe
    because only in America will someone quit a secure job as a lawyer to start a bakery
  17. Muriel Siebert, Muriel Siebert & Co.
    for being a notable first with a worthy second act
  18. Chuck Porter, Crispin, Porter + Bogusky
    for verging on reckless
  19. Katrina Markoff, Vosges Haut
    for setting a completely unreasonable goal for her business
  20. Barry Steinberg & Craig Sumerel, Direct Tire and Auto Service
    for showing the power of the peer group
  21. Victoria Parham, Virtual Support Services
    for serving as a mentor to military spouses
  22. Tom LaTour, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants
    for staying at fleabag hotels so that we don't have to
  23. Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams, Mitchell Gold
    for creating a true comfort zone
  24. Izzy & Coco Tihanyi, Surf Diva
    for kicking sand in the face of conventional wisdom
  25. Tony Lee, Ring Masters
    for saving 16 jobs, including his own
  26. Rueben Martinez, Libreria Martinez Books and Art Galleries
    for simultaneously building a business and nurturing Latino culture

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