business & marketing

Here’s How These 34 Entrepreneurs Came Up With Their Business Idea

Clare
May 16th, 2019
5 MINUTE READ

Every business has an origin story, whether it’s the humble beginnings of an office garage or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity from an angel investor. No two backstories are the same, but what they all share is the same core: the kernel of an idea. That lightbulb moment is one of the most alluring aspects of starting a business, so we asked a few entrepreneurs to share their beginnings, that spark of inspiration, that moment that started it all. Here are the stories of how 34 entrepreneurs came up with their business idea.

“We came up with the idea for Yoreevo after realizing most real estate brokerage are as far from a tech company as possible. We realized that if we offered a compelling value proposition, we could dramatically lower our customer acquisition cost and come out way ahead. Our business model reinforces itself and our CAC should only go down while lead quality goes up. SEO has been and a soon to be released new interactive website will be huge helps and we will only further distance ourselves from the traditional models going forward.” James McGrath, Founder, Yoreevo

“In 2013, I left a job at an Apple Store to start my own web design business. I wrote one blog post and put it on the website I created for myself, just to show local business people that I could build a blog for them. 6 months later, that article (the only one I had ever written) went viral and 5 million people read it in a week. I kept writing and I was living on Maui 3 months later. Today I lead a team of 12 people, and over 1.5 million people visit PayetteForward.com and UpPhone.com every month.” David Payette, Founder & CEO, Payette Forward

“I was doing a yoga workout on YouTube and suddenly thought to myself: wouldn’t it be great if I could receive real time feedback from my YouTube instructor, and not just watch those pre-recorded videos time and time again? That was the moment when the idea to create a platform that connects instructors and trainees for live, online, one-on-one fitness and yoga classes, first came to my mind.” Yael Oppenheim, Founder, FitMyTime

“Our team was actually working on another product when we came across a serious problem: storing and sharing our brand assets. We found ourselves asking, “What’s our latest logo?” In a startup world, this cuts down on productivity by wasting time trying to find your latest logo, fonts, brand colours, and more. Since we work in a shared space, we asked others for their feedback, and they had the same issues. We received such an overwhelming response that we knew we just had to make this happen. I’m happy to say that we now have a free tool that completely organizes your assets for easy sharing!” Hugo Woodhead, Founder, Pilcro

“Before establishing my own startup, I worked as Solutions Architect at Amazon. Coming from a technical background with passion in creating software with existing teams, it was a challenge not only deliver the software but also how to hire the right people and build an effective team. I had to teach myself a lot about the HR. My goal was to make life and work of our HR manager easier and automate the HR and recruiting routine. So PeopleForce, HR management solution for tech, was created as a result of the challenges we faced and lessons learned in HR.” Andrew Cetinic, CEO and Founder, PeopleForce

“The major idea came from simply looking at a menu at a baseball game and seeing Bacon on a Stick was at Citi Field. How would fans be able to know about “Where Can I Get Bacon on a Stick?”  We set out to make conversational search possible anywhere and found the only path was to attack the data side first. Unless brands have answers like this indexed, the experience that we wanted to achieve would not be possible.” Don White, CEO, Satisfi Labs

“I met the team at Satisfi Labs working on an automated engagement platform. They showed us a Customer Service tool for in venue and we immediately saw the opportunity to adapt this platform to recreate the experience of purchasing tickets at the Box Office digitally.” Micah Hollingworth, CEO, BROADWai

“The beginnings of Airobotics dates back several years to when I went into the local electronics shop to get a juicer but got distracted by the drones on display. I actually left the store with a drone instead of the juicer. My hobby turned into a business idea and I decided to come up with a more industrial-grade solution for business purposes.” Ran Krauss, CEO, Airobotics

“While acting as CTO at Gett, I was reviewing the daily rides report and noted a slight declination in the total number of rides from Russia. After two days of looking into it, I discovered that it was a result of one of the Russian phone providers not sending SMS messages. This wasn’t an isolated incident, I found that typically it took 12-24 hours to identify accidents like this, and another 24 hours to resolve them. From there, I co-founded Anodot, a product that would do it all for us – collect, visualize, track all metrics, on a large scale.” David Drai, CEO and Co-Founder, Anodot

“Cybersecurity is a national security and existential issue, yet most public and private organizations still struggle to create good programs.  I am a lawyer, engineer, and business person and realized that without addressing all three of those components an organization will never have a comprehensive, defensible cybersecurity program.  I also realized that, given the prevalent view that cybersecurity is a cost (it isn’t, it’s a differentiator), most organizations aren’t going to pay lawyer rates to get the help they need. So, I started a consulting company that helps organizations create a risk-based, defensible approach to cybersecurity.” James Goepel, CEO and General Counsel, Fathom Cyber

“I came up with the idea for Moovler in a Costco. I was looking at a queen mattress and had no idea how I would get it home if I bought it. I thought it be great if I could just use an app to get someone with a pickup truck to come help. When moving out of my apartment a few months later, I took the idea off the backburner. I got several quotes from moving companies, all of which were outrageously high for how small the move would be. I thought, “That’s it, I’m starting this thing”. Tim Hordo, Founder, Moovler App

“Phoenix, LLC was founded in Madison, Wisconsin in 2005. Since then, it has designed and manufactured the world’s strongest commercial neutron generators. Phoenix’s commitment to commercializing nuclear technologies for practical applications has inspired our long-term goal of producing clean, fusion energy. Our achievements have enabled Phoenix to market our neutron generation technologies across a variety of applications within medicine, defense, and energy sectors. At Phoenix, we are committed to fortifying an improved future by using nuclear science. It is our mission to transform nuclear technology to better our world.”  Dr. Ross Radel, CEO, Phoenix, LLC

“I came up with my tech startup because I saw how bias the job search and hiring process was, and I wanted to fix it. Employees are tired of applying to hundreds of jobs online without hearing back, and employers are just as tired of receiving thousands of irrelevant resumes for one job posting. This issue causes employers to rely heavily on referrals, which leaves people without networks or connections in a bad position. The mission statement of my company, Beeya, is to take the bias out of job searching. Finding a job should be based on merit alone, not gender, race, sexual preference, or socio-economic background.” Ladan Davia, CEO, Beeya

“Right out of college, I began really attempting to use Outlook for all of my email needs, and I quickly began to see areas where improvements could be made. There was a huge opportunity to offer consumers a product that was innovative – something that would better express the technology that people from this generation need and even expect to help them save both time and money. Mailbird was the result of this inspiration.” Andrea Loubier, CEO, Mailbird

“When my now husband & business partner bought his first home he couldn’t find a good app to help him determine how much personal property insurance he would need for his belongings including his guitar collection. Hewas a Windows developer and since he just bought his first Mac, decided to build his own app, Home Inventory, which since has become an industry standard and is an Apple Mac App Store Editors’ Choice. We’ve since brought 18 unique apps to market that began with a need in our own family. We consider each it’s own startup.” Diane Hamilton, Cofounder and Managing Partner, Kevin Hamilton Cofounder & CTO, Binary Formations

“Charlie O’Connell was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 17. A two-time All-American athlete and Olympic trial qualifier, he was frustrated by the lack of resources available on diabetes and exercise. Charlie took it upon himself to understand the variables that impact blood sugar and exercise. Determined to help others, he developed his own approach to managing the impact of exercise on blood sugar before, during, and after exercise. In 2013, he founded Fitscript after thousands of hours of in-person training. Fitscript created GlucoseZone, an interactive program that provides exercise guidance based on real-time blood sugar levels.” Charles O’Connell, CEO and Founder, Fitscript

“As an IT Professional myself I have seen countless new I.T. Professionals sit idle for days, even weeks, as they wait to get setup in their new organization. Usually treated disrespectfully (especially if an I.T. Contractor), these I.T. Professionals are initially unable to perform the job they were hired to do. So, after a while of seeing and experiencing this first-hand, I just could not stand it anymore. I had enough of the wasted time and lack of planning and decided to do something about it. That is why I started LiL-Tec.” Scott Rexroad, Founder, LiL-Tec

“My daughter’s simple question started it all. Having sold my Delphi social media business to Rupert Murdoch’s News America Corp. in 1993, I wondered how Delphi’s “accountable anonymity” could be recreated in the age of the Web. When my daughter Sara asked, “Isn’t PKI supposed to solve that problem?” I answered “Yes, PKI was supposed to provide accountability everywhere, here are reasons why it doesn’t.” Reconsidering my answer, I saw the problem wasn’t PKI but the way PKI had been deployed. So I wrote “Quiet Enjoyment,” a book about PKI Done Right; then started building the definitive PKI Done Right platform.” Wes Kussmaul, Founder and CEO, The Authenticity Institute

“My name is Johnny Crowder and I came up with the idea for a tech startup after struggling to find resources that would help me with my mental health issues. The spark behind Cope Notes was ignited by the positive messages that I would write for myself everyday. Soon after I launched the texting service with the plan that subscribers would receive psychology facts, advice, encouragement, and other forms of positive content that condition the brain to develop healthier habits.” Johnny Crowder CEO/Founder, Cope Notes

“When we were on the process to buy our first home about 8 years ago. I noticed how the Real Estate agent was doing everything manually like, noting information, sending texts manually etc and I thought with my experience in marketing and building SaaS platform, I could build something massive that no other real estate agency has ever created.” Satish Gaire, Founder, WooAgents

“Noble Child was created out of the need for a comprehensive data system to manage the child welfare network at a private human services organization. Developed by leaders in the child welfare system and Salesforce IT experts, Noble Child solves the specific technology issues facing the child welfare system. Noble Child leverages technology that’s interconnected and user-friendly, while providing the highest level of functionality.” Matthew Wollack, President and CEO, Noble Child

“After being diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder that caused me to lose my ability to speak, I was forced to leave behind my financial career and find another way to provide for my family. I learned to code, and I noticed a growing trend of dissatisfaction in the web development industry — Clients did not possess the coding knowledge to make website changes themselves, and they were bothered by the costs and lengthy process of getting in touch with their developers for these changes. I wanted to create a solution for this market gap, so I developed and launched Quicksilk, an easy-to-use SaaS content management system (CMS) so that people could simply make alterations to their website without having to consult with their developers.” Garry Brownrigg, CEO and Founder, Quicksilk

“Customers are demanding businesses use mobile responsive personalized video communications to build trust before buying. Most video services targeted large companies and required custom video creation. This was out of the scope and budget for our clients. We invested in building an affordable solution. Vaetas Connect, our patented call-to-action video communication system, allows users to record personalized videos to connect with prospects by email, text messages and direct social messaging. The videos can also be shared via social media. The videos play full-screen for maximum engagement, and viewers can take action to respond back right from the videos.” Vito Michael Santoro, Co-Founder, Vaetas

“Quentin Tarantino’s anger over a leaked script sparked Story Data IO, the ESaaS [entertainment software as a service]. It was stunning to us that the [entertainment] industry is still sending screenplays over open email. We created a way to securely share scripts digitally, while allowing control over how long recipients can have access. After scouring script hosting sites, I discovered that the majority of them have no security features in place to stop the very thing that upset Tarantino. I coded myself and incorporated blockchain technology to help the legal process known as “Chain of Title.” Chris Parker, CEO, Story Data

“Our Founder & CEO Mae Karwowski and I, having just started as CTO, had a Back to the Future flash of inspiration – our vision for the flux capacitor. We had realized that influencers were vital for brands and that we needed to crack the code on a way to efficiently scale influencer marketing. We were doing just that in phases until one night when we jumped on a call that was supposed to last 30 minutes.. Four hours later, we hung up after mapping out our entire tech platform that has been at the core of everything we do for the last five years. And we’ve been evolving like that ever since: a quantum leap followed by intense focus on each step forward.” Maxime Domain, CTO, Obviously

“The idea stemmed from owning a custom software firm for 15 years and realizing the custom software process is broken. OptimumHQ was founded on the idea of building custom applications without having to start from scratch. The whole custom software process – while the outcome is amazing – is flawed. It takes too long and costs too much. With the concept of datasets and workflows, OptimumHQ puts the power in the business person’s hands to develop their own solutions or work with a Business Analyst/Solutions Architect to develop custom solutions at 10% of the cost and 10x the speed of custom development.” Simon Chatfield, CEO, OptimumHQ

“Like a good husband, instead of just listening and consoling my wife when she presented me with a frustration from work, I set out to solve her problem. And so, boon was born! It is a platform that connects licensed healthcare professionals to temporary work opportunities to earn fair pay and most importantly provide great patient care. We securely and intelligently match dental, veterinary and medical professionals to jobs where their expertise is most needed in an on-demand fashion. It’s like Uber meets eHarmony meets healthcare staffing.” Ryan Vet, Founder, Boon

“I hated having to login and pay for 4-5 different platforms to manage my social media, reputation management, listings, and SMS marketing for my business. It was really expensive and hard to keep track of everything which made my own business suffer. I wanted to create a solution for business owners to manage everything under one umbrella at a much more reasonable price. So I created Ignite360 to simplify tasks and put it all under one roof – all while providing the tools needed to generate more business for owners.” Sean Kolina, CMO and Co-Founder, Ignite360

“We discovered ours from joining a startup accelerator programme! I’ve been in SEO for almost a decade, and all the other co-founders on the programme kept asking me to help them with their SEO. I soon realised that there was no SEO solution for startups who need SEO but can’t afford agency support. So we built Hike. But it would never have happened if we hadn’t been surrounded by this industry (startups) every day and finding out what their needs were.” Andrew Allen, Co-founder, Hike

“In February of 2008, I was out to dinner with an architectural colleague. He’d spotted an attractive woman at a nearby table andscribbled, “Want to have dinner?” on the back of his business card and slippedit to her as we were leaving the restaurant. He left with a date. I left with an idea. After over two years of brainstorming how to remove the “business” out of the business card, I launched Cheekd—which is a hyper-speed Bluetooth mobile dating app that gives users the ability to never miss a real-life/ real-time potential “love connection.” Lori Cheek, Founder and CEO, Cheekd

“As the Director of Product for The Knot, I built products that connected couples to venues and vendors, but soon realized there was not an accessible, affordable, and effective tool that helped couples connect with each other. In early 2016, I started dreaming big about a “marriage health company.” What would it look like to create a health company that used technology to help people build and maintain their marriage health, just like Fitbit used technology to help people build and maintain their physical health? And so I built Lasting, now the nation’s no. 1 couples counseling app.” Steven Dziedzic, Founder and CEO, Lasting

“It is such a given in society that everyone can use the latest and greatest technology. Unfortunately, people with a variety of disabilities often have difficulty using items like computers, smartphones and tablets to their full potential.  The lack of access to communication and technology by people with disabilities was my inspiration. My company Accessibility Partners helps to make sure that information technology is accessible for people with all disabilities. Our focus is working with federal agencies, Wounded Warriors, and IT manufacturers (in both the public and private sector) to level the technology playing field for people of all abilities.” Dana Marlowe, Principal Partner. Accessibility Partners

“In 2016, my former partner and cousin was a mobile app consultant. He was in the park and he had two mothers come up to him and ask him how they could find an ice cream truck. We realized there was a need for this as well as a need for an app for the bigger market of food trucks. We took the concept, made a business plan, and are building everything into our app that food vendors and consumers need to make life easier.” Robert Kadinski, CEO, Truckelicious

“I came up with my startup idea while sitting on the toilet. I was browsing through IG, trying to kill some time while catching up on the latest when I realized that luxury brand like Coco Channel, Prada or Louis Vuitton did not exist for Plus Size Women.” Bryan Heredia, Founder and CEO, MyGoGoStore

If you’re also a proud owner of a startup and want to work on your expansion (like the companies above), it’s time to hire a UX company to help you get your start. From one former startup to another, take the plunge and get in contact with us.

Clare Bittourna
AUTHOR

Clare

Clare Bittourna is on Codal's digital marketing team. Responsible for designing marketing materials and proposals, Clare also tackles various aspects of marketing campaigns at Codal. When she's not at work you can find her playing with her pup, finding new restaurants to enjoy in Chicago, or traveling.

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