5 Entrepreneur Stories for Small Business Week

  • May 18th, 2011
  • Dan Bischoff

Note: These profiles are part of paying respect to all the entrepreneurs out there during National Small Business Week. Each story was submitted to us by the business owner

The Comedian Entrepreneur

My name is Dan Nainan , I was a senior engineer with Intel Corporation. My job was to travel the world with Chairman Andy Grove, doing technical demonstrations on stage at events, and I was incredibly nervous about speaking on stage. I took a comedy class to get over the fear, and the comedy kind of took off.

Since then, I have performed at the Democratic National Convention, at a TED Conference, at three presidential inaugural events, for Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and many similar luminaries. I just recently performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Also, I appeared in an Apple commercial last year. I perform all over the States as well as in many foreign countries. My life is like that of George Clooney in “Up in the Air,” just without the sex …

Since leaving Intel, I have more than doubled my income.

The Secret Entrepreneur

5 Entrepreneur Stories for Small Business Week

Sarah Griffin

My name is Sarah Griffin, I’m a 26-year-old small town girl from middle of nowhere Iowa. I’m a scientist by day and a website moderator, Web designer, publicist, advertising agent, and author by night.

About a year ago I started a website, www.SecretsINeverTold.com. The concept was to simply give people a place to anonymously submit their secrets. Within days, secrets started pouring in. Secrets ranged from confessions of sexual misconduct, criminal activity, and devious revenge to embarrassing moments and personal thoughts.

Due to the success of the site, I have recently published a book, “Secrets I Never Told: The Book.” The book is a compilation of the funniest, craziest, and saddest secrets I’ve never gotten. Secrets I Never Told: The Book unveils what a person really does when nobody is looking and what we really think but are afraid to say out loud.

Here are a couple of the craziest secrets:

Female from North Carolina

“My husband was so excited when we found out I was pregnant. HE can’t wait
to have kids. A week later I got an abortion and told my husband I
miscarried. I hate kids and I don’t want them to mess up my body I worked
so hard to preserve.”

Female From Missouri
“Four years ago I had sex with my then fiance’s now husband’s dad. I got
pregnant. My husband has no idea that “his daughter” might actually be his
“half-sister”.”

Female From Michigan
“My husband told me that if I ever weighed more than 130 pounds he
wouldn’t be attracted to me anymore and he would have to leave me.
I’m 6 months pregnant and I haven’t gained a single pound. I’ve actually
lost 3. I know it’s probably not good for the baby, but I can’t lose my
husband.”

The Lawyer Entrepreneur

5 Entrepreneur Stories for Small Business Week

Daniel Gershburg

My name is Daniel Gershburg. I’m a 29-year-old attorney in NYC with three offices. I think of myself more as an entrepreneur than a lawyer.

I literally quit my job out of law school and worked out of, what you can generously call, a printer closet. I’d literally take any case that came my way. Through it I financed advertising on credit cards (in colleges as I figured students need a lawyer if they’re caught with drugs) and I worked my way up.

I made dozens of crazy mistakes on the way (some absurd). So, now I have my own practice, I teach other lawyers through a variety of websites, and I guest speak at law schools and do a bunch of not-for-profit work.

The Footwear Entrepreneurs

FUNK-TIONAL FOOTWEAR was born out the desire to combine fashion with function and comfort. Unwilling to sacrifice the feminine touch and skyscraper confidence their high heels provided, NYU roommates and now business partners Katie Shea and Susie Levitt knew there had to be a better way to undertake their daily city routine.

After too many encounters with shoeless socialites and barefooted fashionistas, these entrepreneurial sole-sisters had their aha moment and came up with a concept and design that allowed women to carry back-up ballet flats comfortably, compactly, and conveniently. Juggling classroom term papers and corporate term sheets throughout their senior year of college, the persistent duo enlisted the opinions of friends, the help of NYU professors, and the time of many NYC professionals and mentors.

Nine months later, CITYSLIPS was born with many fashionable, funk-tional and affordable designs. During the brief time that FUNK-tional Footwear was formally launched in June 2009, Katie and her partner have reached $1,000,000 in sales with their products now being sold in more than 2,000 retail locations worldwide. This includes Neiman Marcus, Dillards, Ricky’s, Bed Bath font-family:Arial’>

Recently, Katie and Susie were referred to by Arnold Schwarzenegger in his remarks at Alifest as a follow up to Katie and Susie participating in Alibaba’s Newpreneur of the Year contest where they placed in the top 5 of 1,000 applicants.

The College Serial Entrepreneur

5 Entrepreneur Stories for Small Business Week

Sean Bandawat, founder of several companies

Sean Bandawat is the president of Jacob Bromwell. His revival of the cookware company started during college when he developed a business plan that earned the “Top Undergraduate Business Plan” award from the USC Marshall School of Business. Jacob Bromwell, Inc., was originally established in 1819 and is the country’s 34th oldest continuously owned and operated company.

He is also the founder of RateMyFraternity.com, a venture-backed start-up that allows Internet users to find, rate, and write reviews about different fraternity chapters nationwide. He also co-founded College Zoom, an award-winning college counseling service that specializes in helping high school and community college students apply to America’s best universities.

Biggest Obstacle Sean Overcame
Our largest obstacle to date was figuring out how to reposition Jacob Bromwell in the marketplace. They interviewed dozens of marketing agencies before hiring one that truly understood the value proposition behind the products the company was selling.

The challenge of rebranding the company made Sean and Eric realize marketing is all about perceived value: convincing others that there is value in something they didn’t know existed. Use of language and imagery is one way to do this. Spending money on branding and marketing is more important for some brands than for other brands. For Jacob Bromwell, they realized that it was more than important – it was critical.

Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
First, don’t made predictions about how long it would take to build a single SKU of inventory without fully understanding all of the intricacies involved in making the product. They not only lost money on a large deal but also put the reputation and image of our company at risk, which they are constantly working so hard to build. It goes back to the old saying: Trust takes years to build and only moments to destroy.

Second, be very careful about signing a contract with your suppliers without fully understanding the terms of the agreement. It is often heavily one-sided in their favor, and if things go rough along the way, you’ll end up having no leverage on them.

About the Author

  • Dan Bischoff

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