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What Makes a Great Start-Up


Why do some new businesses succeed, while others fail? It's a puzzle for the ages, and one that we decided to explore (again) in this month's cover story. In a series of articles, we take a look at four promising business plans. Then we arranged for the entrepreneurs who came up with them to present their ideas to a seasoned mentor, for what we are calling "The Ultimate Start-Up Reality Check." The companies are:

'˘ BabyCakes NYC, a wildly popular organic and vegan bakery run by Erin McKenna. She is now taking the concept to Hollywood. She talked over her expansion plans with Tom Colicchio, the founder of the Craft Group of restaurants and the head judge on Bravo TV's Top Chef. Read more...

'˘ ScanDigital, a business near L.A. that will scan old photos and create an online album of them. The company also backs up your precious snapshots on its servers, so you won't lose them. Founders Anderson Schoenrock and Michael Mothner ran their ideas past a skeptical Christos Cotsakos, the former CEO and chairman of E*Trade. Read more...

'˘ LiaMolly, an apparel design company based in New Orleans. Founder Seema Sudan, who helped establish Anthropologie's in-house sweater division, has decided to go out on her own, with a collection of knits. The company is experimenting with green manufacturing techniques and sells its sweaters in boutiques, and at Anthropologie and Bloomingdale's. Sudan pitched her business to maternity wear pioneer Liz Lange. Read more...

'˘ Finally, a Brooklyn-based website called will help artists, athletes, musicians and even entrepreneurs raise small sums of money from individuals. Posters are encouraged to upload audio and video of themselves and their work. The idea is that people will browse the listings for fun, and then feel compelled to donate a few bucks to a project that catches their eye. Founder Perry Chen showed his plan to Ted Leonsis, the entrepreneur who has served as vice chairman of AOL. Read more...

So which company do you think has the best chance of succeeding? Vote and post your thoughts below....

Last updated: Jul 25, 2008

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