The recession hit hard for former real estate developer David Campbell. Instead of waiting for the market to rebound, he launched Charlotte, North Carolina-based Boxman Studios with $800 and a bright idea.
One morning in 2008, I was crying into my Cheerios. The market had collapsed, and I didn't know what I was going to do next. I have three children, and my wife wasn't working outside the home. I could either try to wait out the recession and eke by, or I could reinvent myself.
That's when I happened across an article about shipping containers being turned into houses. My brain went crazy for a few months as I tried to figure out how I could create structures out of these containers and what they could be used for.
My former contractor gave me an old shipping container to experiment with and lent me one of his employees to help. We figured out how to cut out the sides and transform it. Then, I bought a new container for about $800 and created our first working prototype. My idea was to create something to take on the 20- by 25-foot tents used by brands for hospitality suites and marketing events.
Since then, we've designed and built all sorts of custom environments. For Chipotle, we created a traveling exhibit space. For IMG, we put together nine containers to create a three-story hospitality suite, complete with five bars and a spiral staircase. You can break it down or set it up in less than 30 hours.
Once every 90 days, I take a two-day retreat by myself to work on product innovations and plan our business operations. But I've learned that I can't do everything myself. I need people who can do things I can't. It takes a team to innovate and execute.
As told to Inc. contributing writer Robin D. Schatz.