How Franchising Helped This Founder Scale His Business

Former NFL player Tafa Jefferson launched a business to provide care to senior citizens. But he couldn’t do it on his own. July 18, 2019 3 min read This story appears in the July 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » Tafa Jefferson’s mother spent years working in healthcare, and she encouraged him to do the same. But Jefferson had different plans: He joined the NFL in 1996 as a Chicago Bear — then a career-ending injury set him back a year later. So he finally took his mother’s advice, becoming a certified nursing assistant, and in 1997, he launched Nurse Registry, an agency that worked with independent contractors. But years later, when he identified an increasing and overwhelming need for nonmedical care for seniors, he once again changed his plans. In 2006, he shuttered his registry business and started Amada Senior Care with business partner Chad Fotheringham a year later. […]

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What It’s Like to Be Mentored by Gwyneth Paltrow

The actress and CEO chats with her mentee, the cofounder of Maisonette, about finding support as an entrepreneur. July 10, 2019 9 min read This story appears in the July 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » Gwyneth Paltrow has played many public roles — most notably, of course, first as an actress and now as the creator of Goop. Her lifestyle business and content platform launched in 2008 and has grown to a $250 million company by selling Paltrow-endorsed health-and-wellness products that shoppers swear by (even when the medical community cries foul). But here’s a role she’s less well-known for: Behind the scenes, she mentors female entrepreneurs. Sylvana Ward Durrett is one of them. She’s a former Vogue staffer who for years produced the annual Costume Institute benefit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and then went on to cofound the children’s e-commerce site Maisonette in 2017. Today, Maisonette is […]

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She Was Rejected On Shark Tank. Then She Used That To Her Advantage.

Melissa Butler knew her line of brightly colored lipsticks would be a hit. So when the beauty industry ignored her, she kept moving forward. June 5, 2019 4 min read This story appears in the June 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » Two things led Melissa Butler to become an entrepreneur: She hated her Wall Street job; and as a Black woman, she couldn’t find lipstick that complemented her skin tone. “Growing up, I never saw people who looked like me and were considered beautiful,” she says. “As I got older, I started understanding how the beauty industry perpetuates this B.S., linear idea of beauty.” So Butler set out to create a better beauty brand, offering vegan, cruelty-free lipsticks in bold shades like purple and green. She had no idea what she was doing — but naivete served her well, forcing her to take risks when she had no other […]

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Four Tech Founders Share Their Low-Tech Strategies For Success

Owning an innovative technology is just one part of building a successful startup. June 4, 2019 5 min read This story appears in the June 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » In an increasingly connected world, virtually everything we touch, consume, and interact with is rooted in technology. Which is why today’s tech industry is all about big-picture thinking — and slow-and steady problem solving. The following four founders detail how they found vital non-tech solutions that helped them grow their tech-forward businesses.    Image credit: Courtesy of Ginkgo Bioworks Reshma Shetty Cofounder / Ginkgo Bioworks  Take your time before taking investors’ money.   Ginkgo Bioworks builds organisms from scratch — think GMOs that can flavor or sweeten food, or a new microbe that can help a plant produce nitrogen. And while this is normally a painstaking, artisanal craft, the startup has built a technology platform to automate the process and […]

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Forerunner Ventures Founder Kirsten Green On What She Looks for In a Pitch

The investor breaks down what makes her want to invest in a brand, today’s biggest opportunities, and how the tech world is about so much more than technology. June 4, 2019 4 min read This story appears in the June 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » First things first: What’s your definition of a tech startup? I think some people have a hard time understanding why, say, a makeup brand like Glossier (in which Forerunner is an investor) identifies as a tech company. Oh, people are so confused! We get pitched so many businesses based on a beautiful product I’d love to buy, but it doesn’t fit the profile of what we want to invest in because the company’s model is selling in a big retailer. Yes, we invest in brands and product, but we mostly invest in founders that see opportunity for change. Glossier is about the customer. It’s […]

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Want to Build A Franchise Empire? Do It Brand By Brand.

Paul Flick wants to serve a homeowner’s every need — which is why his company Premium Service Brands is always expanding. June 3, 2019 4 min read This story appears in the June 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » When Paul Flick launched his company 360° Painting, in 2006, he didn’t consider himself to be in the housepainting business. He just saw it as the first step into the $450 billion home maintenance and repair industry. Flick wanted to build a trusted, holistic solution that would help people solve any problem they might encounter as homeowners — and to accomplish that, he spent the next 13 years developing a portfolio of home-care brands. Now his original business lives along with three others (providing handyman, garage door, and maid services) under the umbrella of Premium Service Brands, with 187 locations throughout North America and more than $60 million in annual sales. […]

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Why This Oakland Cop Became a Subway Franchisee

Kiesha Haggerty has found the two worlds to be surprisingly complementary. June 3, 2019 4 min read This story appears in the June 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » Kiesha Haggerty has what might seem like two extremely different careers. She’s a 20-year veteran of the Oakland, Calif., police department, and the owner of a Subway franchise. But to her, the careers work in perfect harmony: Both are about connecting with and serving a local community — and police work, she’s discovered, can be a great training ground for stellar customer service. (It’s also what turned her into a regular Subway customer.) Now she’s looking to go even bigger. After opening her first Subway in 2018, she’s working on her second — ­and plans to open it as part of Subway’s rollout of its Fresh Forward concept, a redesigned store that focuses customers’ attention on its fresh ingredients. What’s after that? […]

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By Supporting Its Franchisees, Kona Ice Enables Them To Better Serve Local Communities

The shaved-ice franchise focuses on community engagement to build year-round demand for the warm-weather treat. May 1, 2019 4 min read This story appears in the April 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » When Tony Lamb started Kona Ice in Kentucky in 2007, he had a simple mission: resurrect the ice-cream-truck business by serving tasty, affordable shaved ice out of a modern, playful truck with a self-serve flavor bar. He anticipated some success, but he got a runaway hit. Kona Ice now has more than 1,100 franchise operations throughout three countries, and thanks to some savvy feedback and ideas from franchisees in icier climes, the company’s sales thrive even when snow is falling. Despite the significant growth over the past 12 years, Lamb still runs the business like he did when it first launched: Take care of the franchisees so they can take care of their communities.  Related: How an Incubator […]

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What Franchises Should Look for In a Bank

Industry vets offer up advice on finding the financial and lending partner that works for your business. April 29, 2019 4 min read This story appears in the April 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » 1. Find a Bank You Can Grow With  From James Short, director of food franchise finance, BBVA Compass Our franchise-specific team exists as a vertical system within the bank, which means when people come to us looking for financing, we start off with a Small Business Administration program that will finance single units to individual franchisees. One of the toughest things for a franchisee is growing from one unit to multiple units, whether it’s two or 10. But we can help them do that through our SBA program, and once they reach a certain size, we flip that into a conventional loan, where we have a little better availability to capital. So franchisees can have a […]

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Minted Grew From a Stationery Brand to a Global Design Platform. Here’s How.

By listening to her community and reacting quickly, Mariam Naficy built a business bigger than her wildest visions. April 3, 2019 8 min read This story appears in the April 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » When Mariam Naficy launched Minted in 2008, she wanted to create a niche business, one that would crowdsource stationery designs from independent artists, ask consumers to vote for their favorites, produce and sell the best-performing creations and share a portion of revenue with the original designers. But Naficy underestimated consumers’ interest in what she was building, and she soon found herself at the helm of a massive venture-backed design platform that was growing far beyond her original vision. So she rolled with it — adapting right alongside her company. Now Minted’s team is 400 strong and the company is generating revenue in the “hundreds of millions of dollars.” Naficy spoke with Entrepreneur about how she’s letting […]

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This Female Founder Leans on Her Best Friend for Business Advice — and Even Recruited Her to Join Her Company

Anna-Mieke Anderson, founder of ethical diamond brand MiaDonna, has relied on pal Melanie Ware since the two were 11 years old. March 26, 2019 7 min read For the Women/Entrepreneur series Mentor Moments, female founders sit down to chat with their mentors (and us!) about how and why their relationship developed, and the lasting impact it’s had on those founders’ careers. When Anna-Mieke Anderson was starting MiaDonna, her ethical, lab-grown diamond business and jewelry collection, she was told she was crazy by just about everyone she knew — with one exception: her best friend, Melanie Ware. As Anderson set up her business in Portland, Oregon (as well as an associated nonprofit, the Greener Diamond Foundation, which funds educational, agricultural and relief programs in diamond-mining communities), Ware cheered her on from Sydney, Australia, where she headed up marketing for Commonwealth Bank. MiaDonna’s official launch followed in 2005, and over the past 14 years the company has reported yearly growth of more […]

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When Their Investor Bailed, These Female Founders Launched Their Company Anyway

Riawna Capri and Nikki Lee bootstrapped a single hair salon in Hollywood. When a client requested a braiding style, the stylists decided to ‘own’ the trend. March 12, 2019 6 min read In the Women Entrepreneur series My First Moves, we talk to founders about the pivotal moment when they decided to turn their business idea into a reality — and the first steps they took to make that happen. In 2010, best friends, hairstylists and longtime coworkers Riawna Capri and Nikki Lee decided to go into business together, opening a high-end salon in Los Angeles. The pair had impressive résumés and a growing roster of celebrity clients, though their journey to launching Nine Zero One Salon was no easy feat. Nine years later, however, Capri and Lee have built a booming hair empire that’s grown to include not just a salon, but an educational program called 901 Academy, a content platform, consumer products and a nonprofit […]

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Lilly Singh Conquered YouTube — Now She’s Taking On Hollywood

The content creator looks to the next phase of her decade-long career, armed with 14 million fans and plenty of lessons learned. March 4, 2019 9 min read This story appears in the March 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » Since 2010, Lilly Singh has been lovingly known to fans as Superwoman — a moniker she has more than earned after amassing 14 million YouTube subscribers, producing and starring in a live world tour, and writing a best-selling book, among other projects. The actress and comedian catapulted to YouTube fame with her observational videos that tackle everyday life, and as her own celebrity grew, she started attracting top talent as collaborators: Dwayne Johnson, Priyanka Chopra, and Selena Gomez have all appeared on her channel. Now the 30-year-old is making plans for the next phase of her career and thinking hard about her own needs as a creator. She’s taking a […]

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How Coachella and an Old Postal Truck Helped Launch Ice Cream Brand Coolhaus

The founders of the beloved sweet treat started small and scrappy — and now they’re ready to take over the ice cream aisle. February 26, 2019 6 min read In the Women Entrepreneur series My First Moves, we talk to founders about the pivotal moment when they decided to turn their business idea into a reality — and the first steps they took to make that happen. Natasha Case has long been fascinated by the intersection of food and design. While studying architecture and design, Case was always pulled in the direction of food, and saw it as a medium to talk about design and create additional access around the discipline. But after graduation, a promising job at Disney took up her professional attention, and the meeting point between food and design became little more than a hobby. Then, a shift: A chance meeting with Freya Estreller, who would become her co-founder (and later her wife), […]

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How This College Dropout Created a Fast-Growing But ‘Culture-First’ Hollywood PR Agency

As founder and CEO of Metro PR, Tess Finkle has built a business that serves its clients and employees alike. February 14, 2019 7 min read In the Women Entrepreneur series My First Moves, we talk to founders about that pivotal moment when they decided to turn their business idea into a reality — and the first steps they took to make that happen. When Tess Finkle launched her public relations business in Hollywood at the age of 21, she had no master plan. In fact, she had no plan at all — only a hunch that she could hustle her way to success and deliver results on her own better than she could at a large PR agency, like the one where she’d spent the previous two years. So, hustle she did. And, after branching out on her own, Finkle slowly built a client list, leveraged those relationships to achieve some business successes and along […]

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How One Bag Fits Every Shopping Cart

The founders of Lotus Trolley, a reusable shopping bag system, measured shopping carts across the globe to build a product that would work for all customers. February 8, 2019 2 min read This story appears in the January 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » As eco-minded residents of California, Farzan and Jennifer Dehmoubed were thrilled when the state banned single-use plastic bags in 2016. But soon their home was packed with a new kind of waste: heavy-duty totes that, despite their intended reusability, were often forgotten, susceptible to mold and bacteria, and ultimately destined for the landfill. The couple saw this as an opportunity and created the Lotus Trolley Bag, a compact set of four machine-­washable, mold-resistant grocery bags that hang inside a shopping cart, suspended by rods that help you easily move items from cart to car to home. Then came the big question: What size does it need […]

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How This Founder Built a $90 Million Skincare Business With No Beauty-Industry Experience

To create Rodial, Maria Hatzistefanis threw herself into a crash course on beauty manufacturing. January 29, 2019 5 min read In the Women Entrepreneur series My First Moves, we talk to founders about that pivotal moment when they decided to turn their business idea into a reality — and the first steps they took to make it happen. In 1999, Maria Hatzistefanis didn’t know anything about starting a business — and she definitely didn’t know anything about creating beauty products. What she did know, however, was that she had a very good idea: skincare products that addressed specific consumer concerns, from dark circles to large pores. So she spent more than a year researching and acquainting herself with the space before bootstrapping and launching Rodial. Over the past two decades, the London-based company has grown into a $90 million operation, with products sold across 35 countries. Here are the guidelines she used to get her start. […]

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How Birchbox CEO Katia Beauchamp Evolved Along With Her Brand

A new partnership with Walgreens is the company’s latest play for continued success. January 24, 2019 8 min read This story appears in the January 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » In 2010, Katia Beauchamp changed the face of the beauty business. With cofounder Hayley Barna, she launched Birchbox, sending monthly boxes of beauty samples to customers who paid a small fee to try the industry’s latest products. More than a million subscribers signed up, and Birchbox expanded into men’s products as well as retail, launching multiple pop-up shops and opening stores in New York and Paris. But after six years, the industry changed. The subscription-box model felt more tired than novel, and some Birchbox customers complained about receiving products that didn’t suit their lifestyle. The company struggled to raise expansion capital and endured two rounds of layoffs. Beauchamp reportedly searched for buyers (Walmart was rumored to be one) to […]

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Don’t Know How to Reach Gen Z? Just Ask Beautycon.

CEO Moj Mahdara is helping brands across industries connect with the next generation of consumer. January 16, 2019 12 min read This story appears in the January 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe » “Excuse me, where did you get that?” A very polite teenage girl taps me on the shoulder and points to the large eyeshadow palette I’m holding. “They’re handing them out at the Target booth,” I reply — and before I can ask her about what she is doing here, at one of the most curious events I’ve ever attended, she’s off, literally running through a convention center in search of coveted free makeup samples.  Welcome to Beautycon. For the uninitiated (or perhaps anyone over 35), Beautycon is a two-day festival that celebrates all things beauty and makeup — almost like a trade show turned carnival, where enthusiastic fans come to shop their favorite brands, get their hair […]

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How Getting Laid Off Empowered This Entrepreneur to Start Her Own Award-Winning Marketing Agency

Katie Witkin co-founded AGW Group after working in traditional marketing roles — and identifying opportunities that were being overlooked. January 15, 2019 6 min read In the Women Entrepreneur series My First Moves, we talk to founders about that pivotal moment when they decided to turn their business idea into a reality — and the first steps they took to make it happen. This MFM subject is AGW Group co-founder and COO Katie Witkin. In 2009, Witkin was a new college graduate, full of ideas and enthusiasm for the fast-growing world of social media marketing. She landed some entry-level gigs, but quickly learned that her low spot on the totem pole meant her ideas might be heard, but rarely acknowledged — let alone executed. Witkin also observed her employers ignoring a massive cultural shift: Social media meant brands could no longer talk to consumers exclusively about their product; they had […]

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