Start-Ups 2010: How to Launch Your Dream Company
BY Inc. staff
These start-up entrepreneurs are learning to profit from their passion. Here’s how you can, too.
Dream Mobile New Yorkers line up for a scoop of Van Leeuwen's gourmet ice cream, served here by co-founder Laura O'Neill.
Ever fantasize about making money by doing stuff that's so fun, you might even do it for free? Stop dreaming and start doing. These entrepreneurs built businesses around what they love to do, and now their day jobs include skiing, eating ice cream, and hanging out with friends.
The recipe was simple and pure. The first ingredient: three summers spent driving a Good Humor truck in college. "I realized that a truck is less risky than a storefront and costs less to start," says Ben Van Leeuwen, who traveled the world on what he made while passing out King Cones and Strawberry Shortcake bars. Here's how he launched an ice cream business that is now nearing $1 million in annual sales. Read More
Greg Stallkamp was always a fitness freak. An avid triathlete, he trained at least five times a week and was always sharing advice on workout routines with friends. So he decided to turn his passion into a business, when he founded Holos Fitness, a social networking site that offers tips on yoga, weightlifting, and more. Read More
When Tony Bacigalupo's boss announced his company was going virtual, Bacigalupo was thrilled to ditch the office. "I'd always dreaded the idea of dragging myself to a 9-to-5 job," he says. "This seemed like the perfect way out." A few years later, however, the freelancer found himself feeling lonely during the day—and an idea for a new business was born. Read More
Marie Moody knew her dog wasn't well, but it was still a shock to hear the vet say that Chewy, the mutt she had recently adopted, wouldn't live long unless she started giving him some extraordinary care. Most important, she needed to pay meticulous attention to the dog's diet. Unable to find good organic and antibiotic-free meat for dogs, she decided to create her own products. Read More
In 2001, Leslie Singer was a creative director at a successful branding and marketing agency and had a teaching post at New York City's School of Visual Arts. But she had been trained as a graphic designer and always dreamed of developing a fashion brand based on her own designs. The deeper she got into the business, however, the more Singer struggled to keep up with demand. Read More
It took an English literature major and mother of three named Lynette Mattke to prove that the iPhone is an ideal medium for reading old-fashioned children's books. Today, her innovative publishing company, PicPocket Books is responsible for between 50 and 100 App Store downloads a day. Read More
The first few rips didn't bother Dan Abrams. In fact, the flaws in his backcountry skiwear could feel downright rewarding: the sound of a crotch seam tearing while taking that final step atop an 11,000-foot peak; the worn out Cordura knees that proved how hard he was lunging back down the mountain. Eventually, however, he decided he wanted gear that was as tough as he was. Read More
In 2007, Seth Mendelsohn quit his job as an IT consultant. "I figured I love cooking, so why not just make a career out of it?" he says. The product he decided to bring to market was decidely unfussy: Barbecue sauce. But, as Mendelsohn learned, a food start-up is not for the faint of heart. Read More
Ashley Goldberg loved to draw from an early age, and like many such children, dreamed she would grow up to be an artist. By the age of 15, however, a realization had set in: Sure, she could have fun with her doodling, but hardly anyone -- especially in St. Louis, where Goldberg was growing up -- actually makes a living that way. Read More
In this economy, you can pretty much forget about financing. And it's probably just as well, says marketing guru Seth Godin, author of The Bootstrapper's Bible. People often ask him for advice on raising venture capital for their start-ups, and "nine times out of 10, I advise them they shouldn't," he says. Instead, take these seven steps to self-funded stardom. Read More