How Two Friends Built a $100 Million Company

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Step One: Differentiate Yourself

While living in San Francisco in the late 1990s, Ryan and Lowry, who grew up together in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, spent hours brainstorming about products that they could reinvent. They decided to reimagine the most prosaic of household items--cleaning supplies. At the time, large corporations like Procter & Gamble and Clorox dominated the market with fairly generic products that contained harsh, toxic chemicals. Method's cleaners would be environmentally friendly and would feature elegant packaging. "Method has to enter a category with a huge disruption," Alastair Dorward, then Method's CEO, told Inc. in 2007. "The story cannot be copied overnight or eroded by existing [companies]. It has to have disruptive packaging, ingredients, and fragrance."