Note: This article is part of a series. Check out the full series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12.

Launching a new business is not easy, never mind bringing to market an entirely new product or service.

In this series of articles, we gathered 100+ successful female entrepreneurs to share their stories and tips on building a business from scratch.

Annette Hines

Founding partner of Special Needs Law Group of Massachusetts

Q; What inspired you to found Special Needs Companies and what were the main challenges you faced?

While she was still an infant, my firstborn daughter, Elizabeth, was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease — a chronic, incurable illness that was degenerative and life-limiting.

Throughout her life, MD inhibited Elizabeth in substantial ways — she was blind, wheelchair-bound, unable to speak, intellectually disabled, and extremely medically fragile. This degenerative disease changed everything about the life I once knew -- my life now revolved around making sure Elizabeth was safe, happy, comfortable, and able to survive -and THRIVE - another day. 

With the help of so many incredible people and organizations in Massachusetts and beyond, Elizabeth was able to live 17 years being wholeheartedly loved before passing away in November of 2013. During that 17-year journey, I experienced first-hand how difficult it can be to find accurate information, tools, and support parents of special needs children require both daily and when making big life decisions.

Legal processes like estate planning, the transition to adulthood, trust administration, determining guardianship and conservatorship, etc. can be confusing and overwhelming for any family, but they can be even more daunting when planning for a special needs family member because there wasn’t just one place to go for all the information that addresses their unique needs and challenges. Plus we are already tired and overwhelmed with all we have to deal with daily.

Essentially, I saw this gap and decided to do something about it. I centered my law practice in the area of special needs, which then led to my husband Mark and I opening the Special Needs Law Group of Massachusetts.

Elizabeth is the inspiration for everything that I do. Connecting with other special needs families and sharing the information I so badly wished I had when I was raising her helps me heal — it’s my way of continuing her legacy.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

Special Needs Companies is the fulfillment of mine and my husband Mark Worthington’s dream to provide special needs families with a complete suite of professional services.

It began with Special Needs Law Group of Massachusetts, which provides estate planning, advocacy, and related legal services to clients of all ages, with a focus on the special needs of individuals and their families. We then began serving as trustees of special needs trusts and providing care management and other fiduciary services. 

Like me, Mark has been practicing in special needs law, elder law, and estate planning for many years now. He is also a part-time Professor of Law in the Graduate Program (LL.M.) in Elder Law and Estate Planning at Western New England University School of Law.

“Annette and I complement each other so well. She not only manages the practice, but excels in the courtroom, in negotiations and working with government agencies, and in truly understanding the depths of the special needs world,” Mark says. “Beyond that, we find that we operate in symbiosis… Together, we accomplish legal results that simply astonish and thrill us, and which neither of us alone would have conceived.”

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

Not everybody can afford legal services and not everybody needs an attorney. Some families that we serve just need appropriate information and a push in the right direction to advocate for themselves. My business model is that I give a LOT of information away for free. It is important to our community and it just works for our brand. I am a coalition and community builder at heart. It’s how I built my brand.

There are several non-attorney revenue streams that we are building now that really focus on stepping into the Circle of Care when people need an assist or some support, and especially when people don’t have that strong circle to support them. That’s where we can fill a role as Trustee, Guardian, Conservator, or Supportive Care Manager, Advocate or Consultant. We are building out informational courses for people to take to add to their knowledge base to “do it yourself” because people want this. And because it is needed. Frankly, I see it as access to justice. Our legal knowledge is reasonable and accessible both from a price point but also because of the medium and language used as well.

Law firms are slow to change but they are changing. Several states have changed or are looking at non-attorney ownership of law firms for the first time. This is ground-breaking! It means that we will finally evolve in the way we deliver legal information to the average person in our society. For the overwhelmed and financially burdened disabled person or family that supports them, this holds amazing possibilities!

Anu Ramani

Founder - Isoline Communications

Anu Ramani

Q: What inspired you to found Isoline Communications and what were the main challenges you faced?

I founded Isoline Communications, a content marketing agency specialising in the tech B2B niche, five years ago.

I was on the fence for a long time, wondering whether I should strike out on my own, or whether I should just keep working for other agencies, which I had done all my life. In the end, two things drove me:

One, I saw opportunity. I had been in public relations for tech B2B companies for almost two decades and in that time, certain trends became apparent. Publications were closing, the pool of reporters was shrinking and the number of companies seeking concrete sales driven results for every marketing dollar was skyrocketing. Technologies were becoming too complex to communicate in a single sound bite. In short – tech B2B companies were looking for alternative ways to reach their audiences. And as far as I could see, there were no specialists tech B2B content marketing agencies. You see, speaking to tech B2B audiences requires a particular type of expertise, an ability to get up to speed very quickly, and understand how those types of audiences really communicate.

And two, I had an insistent entrepreneurial itch that needed to be scratched. In general, I’m just about the most risk-averse entrepreneur you will ever meet – the polar opposite of all those flamboyant, go-getter agency owners out there. But I needed to know – could I make it on my own? How would I fare, creating a business model, securing clients, building a team?

In the end, the conviction won over the doubt. I thought, why not try my hand at this new venture, in an underserviced niche, and see where we get to in a few years.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

Yes, I did. I thought it would give me more flexibility, decisionmaking autonomy and prove less burdensome in the early years.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

We have adapted the conventional agency business model that establishes costs for certain types of projects based on the time they take to implement. We find we can deliver best results with a long-term engagement which covers not just content creation but also distribution and amplification – because we can cover all aspects of a campaign from start to finish.

In terms of growth, it’s our specialisation that serves us well. We have a very niche offering, so we offer a compelling proposition to companies who are actually in tech B2B. There aren’t many other content marketing agencies out there who could match our proposition for telecoms, OTT broadcast or SaaS, to name just three sectors: which is why we punch so much above our weight when it comes to clients.

Susan O'Sullivan

Founder - The Spa Box

Susan O'Sullivan

Q: What inspired you to found The Spa Curator and what were the main challenges you faced? 

The Spa Box was founded during an uncertain time – a new beginning for us in the midst of adversity. For us, it represented hope, inspiration, transformation and faith – in being capable of accomplishing anything (and everything) that you set your mind and heart to.

As revenue grinded to a halt back in March… we had to think of something, or anything quite frankly at this point to give our business the shot at survival it deserved.  

We knew deep down thought that just anything would not do.  It had to be something that was in line with our greater vision.  It had to be something that our community actually wanted. It had to be amazing. 

We ran surveys to identify what our community (what you) really wanted and it was… without a shadow of a doubt, a way to indulge in spa treatments in the comfort of their own home. So we got to work and created prototypes to turn the best spa treatments into step-by-step at-home treatments – spa treatments in a box! 

Our goal was – and still is, to provide our clients with an exceptional spa experience and to make them feel special. With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, finding the time to unwind and de-stress isn’t always the easiest task. We wanted to figure out the best solution that would also bridge the gap between the new norm and providing the ultimate spa experience. 

By giving you the best tools and resources to treat yourself to an at-home spa sesh… The Spa Box came to life. And this includes our blog – your new go-to resource for tips and information related to beauty, self-care, and health and wellness. 

While the spa box absolutely gave us hope in a time of crisis and it was clear of the potential that it had… alas...

Shortly after, we made the extremely difficult decision to close our doors for good. After nearly a decade of serving our community, the harsh reality was… that the new norm presented a string of challenges for our business as well as us as human beings and we wouldn’t be able to overcome them all.  

The greatest challenge? We were no longer able to provide an outstanding all-around spa experience for our clients while delivering our services… and that was what we loved to do. The complete lack of childcare… Another huge factor in why we decided to take this step was the financial stress that came along with having to restructure the business to accommodate the new changes in how we would do things, and re-build our business back up to the point of being able to make good the huge financial set-back that was taken on us during this time. Those are just to name a few of the hurdles that quite frankly, we couldn’t afford to overcome. 

The biggest challenges we faced in that moment was probably the fact that we had no idea how to run or set up an ecommerce store so vastly different from the brick and mortar model we had currently.  I have launched other online businesses in the coaching and online services space before but felt a little clueless when it came to selling product.  The other challenge was that this business would never have come to be if we weren’t required to shut our doors during the pandemic, making revenue grind to a halt… zero.  We didn’t feel ready to build another business from scratch but felt immense pressure to make things happen as fast as possible.  So while that maybe felt like a challenge at first, that pressure and urgency ultimately forced us to conjure up every bit of strength, vision, inspiration and knowledge that we did have to make that rabbit come out of the hat so to speak.  If we had a year to launch this business… that’s probably how long it would have taken, because we needed to start taking orders… (immediately was what we were aiming for) we did what we needed to do to just get it done.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

At the end of 2011 when I first decided that I wanted to open up a spa, I invited my mother to join me on the adventure of opening a spa.  While I make most of the strategic decisions for the business, she has always played a crucial supporting role. She did not start out with any spa experience, she had a bookkeeping and administration background and was looking for a change of pace… she definitely did that!  She is always right there doing whatever she can, however she can to help bring the company vision to life and being someone I could so completely trust through and through having her as a valued partner has been crucial and I wouldn’t change it for the world.  As we have rolled into this new venture, she is still right there ready to roll up her sleeves prepping, packing and fulfilling as the orders come in.  She is amazing!   

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue? 

We went from strictly brick and mortar (a hands on full service day spa) to completely online selling step-by-step professional, luxurious spa treatments, that you can do in the comfort of your own home.  It was one heck of a transition, a whirlwind to say the least, but because I didn’t let myself get stuck in a procrastination / perfectionism sink hole and just did whatever I could to get this product to market and fast we were able to start make traction fast(er) than I even expected. That’s not to say that we didn’t do our due diligence… We asked the questions and did the research which historically I’ve been known to skip (as many do) which is never a good thing, and I asked our existing clientele what they would want or what we could provide to them while not being able to be in the same room with then and hands on.  68% of our clientele said that they wanted spa treatments in a box (the exact ones we would perform in treatment).   What I thought would maybe be 10 boxes sold… quickly turned into 20, 30, 50 and in less than two months we surpassed the 100 mark.  Sometimes it’s of case of being able to have the right offer, at the right time, and presenting it in the right way that can create that click we are chasing as entrepreneurs.  Even though we have been working our tails off for over 8 years… which lead us right here to this moment… it felt like divine timing played a little bit of a role here. 

Our initial revenue came largely  from email marketing to a clientele that had been loyal to us up to 8 years running, repeat purchase and leveraging the power of who else (everyone and anyone else) we knew.  That part  may sound basic (the who we knew part) but it’s easy for people to underestimate the power of the people in their existing circles. I know that we have in the past… but...  Just by asking, we had people come out of the woodworks so happy to support and spread the word.  This was followed by Facebook ads which are not short of challenges and they are still a work in progress but the potential is there and now we are exploring influencer marketing to reach new audiences, seizing opportunities for publicity and exposure to get the word out and branching out into the corporate gifting and hospitality world.  The beauty is potential is endless.  This company would not be heading in the direction that it is (less than 6 months old it is still an itty bitty baby) had I not just got started like I did (without a website, with only a vague idea on how we were going to execute and getting really scrappy and resourceful when those orders started rolling in) and even though we were scared, and didn't feel ready to launch a brand new business from scratch (again).

Echo Huang

Founder & President of Echo Wealth Management

Echo Huang

Q: What inspired you to found your company and what were the main challenges you faced?

After spending over 20 years in private accounting, public accounting, and personal wealth management, I have realized that many successful and busy professionals do not have the confidence and clarity in their personal financial planning, especially when they have equity compensation including restricted stock and stock options.  I thought to myself, what if they can see their entire financial picture in one place including the budget, cash flow details, net worth changes, investments, insurance, stock options, income taxes, and estate plan flow chart? When their financial projections are organized, updated daily, and visible online, they are more likely to make better decisions with the guidance from trusted experts.  I asked myself "What can I do to take the complexity out of wealth management so that they can spend their time doing what they love?" I decided to offer personal financial planning services and personalized investment management services to the individuals and families who recognize that growing and maintaining wealth is a guided and ongoing process.  My expertise is incredibly valuable to the people who wish to be purposeful with their wealth to pursue their passions and dreams.

The main challenges I faced in 2015 include:

A. I didn't know how many clients would come to my new firm after I terminated my employment with my former employer.  Starting a new firm requires cash, and I tapped into my Roth IRA and credit cards for the first six months.  I couldn't hire an employee until I had enough assets under management (AUM) of about $25 million.  I had worked about 60 hours per week for the first six months before hiring my first employee.

B. Building a reputation as a boutique wealth management firm. Without much money for the marketing budget, I started writing blogs for my company website and being more active on social media.  The word-of-mouth referrals from my existing clients and allied professionals are still the most effective ways to obtain new clients.

C.  It took me longer than expected to hire my first employee.  The labor market was tight, especially for financial advisors.  I used LinkedIn ads to find the first associate wealth manager.  Since then, I have added more company benefits, including a 401(k) plan and a health insurance plan to attract and retain talented people.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

Yes. I decided to do this alone by creating a business plan with profit and loss projections for three years. I didn't pay myself until six months later, and my personal budget had to be very tight as well.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

I registered my firm Echo Wealth Management (EWM) in 2015 as an independent Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) with the state of Minnesota.  Starting in January 2020, my firm has registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  As of October 1, 2020, EWM manages over $120 million for 76 clients across the country.

We get paid in two ways:
A. For investment management services, we charge an ongoing quarterly fee, which is a percentage of the value of your account.  We charge a 1% annual fee for the first million, 0.80% for the next $2 million, and 0.60% for the next $7 million.
B.  First Year Planning Fees: We charge a fixed flat fee typically ranging from $2,500 to $6,000 for financial planning services depending on your circumstances' complexity. If we also manage your investments, the financial planning fees will be discounted after the first year of service or could be waived entirely depending on the management fees you paid in the past 12 months.

We have grown our revenue mainly by client referrals in the past five years.  Only two clients came to us because of the searches on the internet.  However, I still believe it is critical to market on the internet because the prospective clients will check on the internet before making a call or visiting our office for a meeting.

CG Chen

CEO - Ample Labs

Q: What inspired you to found Ample Labs and what were the main challenges you faced?

When my friend Simon became homeless. I was deeply involved in his journey getting back into sustainable work and housing. It frustrated me deeply that getting help seemed so difficult. I was building really cool consumer-facing apps in my 9-5 and thought what if I can can take what I am doing in my day-job and apply it to this problem.
In the beginning stages, most people didn’t believe us when we said 94% of people experiencing homelessness owned mobile phones and 77% owned smartphones. Funders getting over this and trusting us enough to fund us was one of the biggest challenges.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

No, my co-founding members were the group of friends that gathered around Simon when he was in a vulnerable spot. We were all working in tech companies and so the co-founding team knew who to build software.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

As a tech non-profit, we have 5 main revenue channels. We are able to earn revenue through individual donations, grants, foundations, corporate sponsorship, and earned-revenue. Our business model is to slowly transition from fundraised revenue to earned revenue. We’re able to make earned-revenue by selling Chalmers and that data we collect from Chalmers to cities and municipalities through a SaaS-model so we can get earned reoccurring revenue annually.

Alexis Haselberger

Founder - Alexis Haselberger Coaching and Consulting

Alexis Haselberger

Q: What inspired you to found Alexis Haselberger Coaching and Consulting and what were the main challenges you faced?

I spent the first 15+ years of my career managing operations and HR at several early-stage start-ups, where there was way more to do than people to do it.  Burnout was rampant.  While working in these high-stress environments (and having a couple of kids along the way), I started developing and implementing strategies for productivity at work, and in my personal life, to ensure that goals were met, balls were not dropped, and that, most importantly, I, and those around me, stayed sane.

After the last start up I worked for went out of business, I realized that the thing I enjoyed most was the time management and productivity stuff.  I love systems and I love helping people offload the mental load and start spending their time in ways that support their goals and values.  I knew I could help other people kill it at work and be present at home; I knew it didn't have to be either/or. And so I decided to start a coaching practice to help people do more of what they want, less of what they don't and reduce stress at the same time.  

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

I did!

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

My business model has 3 pillars: coaching, corporate workshops and online courses.  I started with 1:1 coaching only and have grown my revenue through adding multiple revenue streams as well as content marketing and good old word of mouth and referrals.  Over time, I added a group coaching program to complement my 1:1 coaching, I added corporate workshops and I created 2 onlines courses. My revenue continues to grow year over year, even during the pandemic!

Greta Bajrami

Owner - Golden Group Construction

Greta Bajrami

Q: What inspired you to found Golden Group Construction and what were the main challenges you faced?

The  inspiration to open the doors of Golden Group Roofing started with a thesis paper in a college classroom my senior year. A dream to own a coffee shop that came to life in the form of a roofing company. When a light bulb moment to implement hospitality and technology to enhance the customer experience in the world of roofing. An inspiration to do something different and to be one of the few women, immigrants, millennials to invest and build a career in the trades. I find that people of the trades are often bullied and labeled, and it was my challenge to bring light, inspire and create something different within an industry that in those early days I knew nothing about.

The challenges I faced was the labels and stereotypes of people in the trades. I was not cool or trendy enough to be featured or spoken about. No matter what I did, how much I did, it was never enough. It was never enough for those who saw me simply as a roofer, it was never enough for those that labeled me as someone less than?

I decided I would not stick around to find out why, instead I made it a mission to be the female voice and leader in the roofing world. To involve myself as much as I could to show people that a career in roofing is just as important as a career in IT, or medicine. We are essential workers and a part of the bigger picture each day. Roofing is marketing, science, technology and sales. There are so

Many aspects to roofing, to be in roofing no longer means to simply place and install shingles on a roof.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

I started this venture with my co founder and COO Freddy Campoverde. Today, Freddy is not only my partner in business but also in life. He is the Operations chief and oversees the craftsmanship of each hand and person on our team. Today we are 50/50 owners of Golden Group Roofing.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

The business model of my roofing company is concierge and customization. I did not reinvent roofing, roofing has been installed the same way for hundreds of years, I simply customized it, elevated the experience and enhanced the technology behind it. When you're working with the Golden Group team you're choosing us because of the way we have designed a process to get you to the finish line that aligns with the digital age of our world. You are working with our team because of the way we make you feel and that’s the priority aspect of our brand. Which is essentially the leader, the brand we have built and the bison we all follow.

We have grown our revenue from $100,000 in 2015 to $5million in 2020, by becoming industry leaders and creating a brand that has become the voice for millennial mindset in the trades. Our growth is attributed to those hospitality feels aligning with the bigger picture that roofing is a need, and it protects a home, and a home is a place that protects what matters most.

Ashley Graham

Founder - Your Brandista

Ashley Graham

Q: What inspired you to found Your Brandista and what were the main challenges you faced?

The launch of Your Brandista was inspired by my belief that every person has a story to share. In the competitive landscape of agencies around the world, my mission is to break the disconnect and cut-throat agency dynamic in order to create a more holistic, cohesive, and heart-centered approach to branding, communications, and business development.

My clients are people who are looking for a genuine and relationship-centered approach to their PR strategy & the media they distribute. Rather than feeling like a number thrown to every vertical, I've always been inspired to guide holistic media strategies and help my clients secure the RIGHT placements that are meaningful to empower their stories to stand as an authoritative influence long-term.

Paid media is easy to obtain in any outlet, but the true, authentic, and genuine buzz is diluted in the mix. I'm inspired to be a catalyst in increasing my client's visibility through an exclusive, mindful approach based on the needs of their brand or business.

As for challenges, the main obstacle was discovering the aspects of my process that made me unique in the industry to stand out as an authoritative figure myself. Pioneering the belief of building personal brands, I noticed the impact of cultivating through personality, however, working through the mindset block of "I'm not for everyone, and that's okay" was a longer challenge than I had realized in the launch of my business as a whole.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

I did but I had an abundance of wisdom, support, and guidance from a number of mentors and leaders who aided the start of this venture.

Q:What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

Currently, my business model is curated to work with my ideal clients on three types of platforms and more projected to launch in 2021. Here are my current offerings:

  1. A Done-For-You PR Package: A premium service to help our clients develop a more strategic and long-term media exposure plan by partnering with them every step of the way.
  2. A DIY PR Program: This program is perfect for clients who are searching for a more hands-on approach to their PR campaigns but want clarity and support through the process.
  3. PR Intensives Sessions & Coaching: The intensives sessions and coaching options are perfect for growth-minded brands of all stages who want to strategize with an expert 1:1.

My revenue is determined based on the needs of my clients and what they are looking for when it comes to their publicity and visibility goals. On any given term, I could be working with each client on a monthly basis or for a 6-months to a year contract.

Melinda Nicci

Founder and CEO of Baby2Body

Melinda Nicci

Q: What inspired you to found Baby2Body and what were the main challenges you faced?

I came up with the idea for Baby2Body shortly after I had my first child back in 1994. There was a huge gap within the fitness industry when it came to pre- and postnatal needs, there simply wasn’t any credible information or resources that women could access easily, and what I could find was outdated and not based on science. I was already a qualified personal trainer and had been working with pre and postnatal women and I clearly saw that there was space for a product that coached and advised women not only across fitness but on nutrition and mental wellness too. I remember visiting the doctor when I had my second baby and she advised me to eat white bread and ice cream to ensure I was consuming enough calories while breastfeeding; and I remember thinking this can’t be the right kind of nutritional advice to be giving new mothers. It was a defining moment when I realised that women needed more and better guidance on optimising their health during this critical reproductive time in their lives. I already had a degree in psychology too so providing information across all three areas seemed a natural opportunity.

I had managed to create a successful boutique fitness company - which was the original Baby2Body - offering personal training and small group classes which led to me launching a fitness DVD, writing a book for DK publishers on pregnancy and motherhood, and becoming a leading expert in women’s fitness and wellness. However, I wanted to scale Baby2Body but felt I needed to develop my skills and experience further so alongside training clients I did a Masters degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology. I spent several years as a consultant at Philips in Amsterdam directing consumer healthcare innovation. By then I had the domain expertise and insight into the tech world needed to realize Baby2Body as a scalable, global digital health service for women, which I launched in 2015. We’ve since grown this platform into a complete wellness solution that not only focuses on physical fitness, but also on mental wellbeing and nutritional health. We’re now present in over 125 countries around the world with over 1.5 million users.

The initial biggest challenge was that I needed funding to realise the first stage of the business. I managed to obtain this from an Innovate UK grant that identified what women's biggest concerns are through pregnancy and new motherhood, and evaluated their most prominent unmet needs. I spent several months on market research and putting together my pitch and really just had a powerpoint presentation and my 20 years of experience in women’s health and fitness and took that to an early stage venture fund, and that’s where we got our next batch of funding to help me take my idea from paper to an actual business. Through that we received in house support on early stages of tech development, marketing, and strategy and it led to the launch of the first MVP of Baby2Body, which was an email newsletter. We gained so many insights in those early days, and it has all led to what you see now as a fully fledged product experience in our app.

Now that we're established, our biggest challenge is being able to find the resources and funding to support our growth plans and do the things we know we need to do. At this point we’re at a scaling stage. We know what works, we know how to make money, and we know what else we need to create, it just comes down to having the resources to do it.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

Yes I am, and have always been, the sole founder since the start of Baby2Body, which has come with its own pushback at times, but it’s also something I’m really proud of -- because ultimately this business idea has been with me for most of my life and the Baby2Body experience really is the life I’ve lived and have been coaching women through the reproductive stage for years.

The entrepreneaur life has always been part of me; I’d previously launched a business and sold it by the time I was 25. I was also the daughter of 2 entrepreneurs, both of my parents owned and operated their own businesses in Joburg, South Africa, when I was growing up  – so I guess there was no escaping the inevitable. I really saw how much my parents loved the work they did, and doing work that you love is something so important to me, and the best way I could see to do that was by starting my own business.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

We have a subscription based model; with an entry level 'complementary' offering featuring a limited number of workouts, recipes and wellbeing exercises and a full premium offering which gives access to everything on our app - numerous workouts from cardio to strength to yoga flows, all your daily recipes and regular meditation and breathing exercises - all specific and bespoke to your reproductive stage. The app also provides extensive tracking options for all users which includes cycle monitoring, temperature check ins, water consumption so the user can stay accountable on a daily basis.

In the early days, before the app launched, we relied on word of mouth and growth through our email newsletter; people would forward it on and we’d get new subscribers that way. Now that we’re an app and have a global audience we focus heavily on digital marketing and advertising to get the reach we need to access new customers.

Through digital advertising our best marketing assets utilise user generated content. This is generally content of our mums working out doing the exercises from the app, or making the recipes from our kitchen. Resharing this content through dedicated paid posts works really well and drives the best return.

We also have a successful ambassador programme that mums apply to be part of and use their social media channels to promote Baby2Body to their followers.

Our content team also works hard to drive organic growth through engaging content on our blog, social media, and brand partnerships. We have had some really successful campaigns - one in particular was our ShapeYourPregnancy campaign which encouraged women to ‘do pregnancy their way’. It resonated with our audience and we noticed significant uplift in our traffic and app sign ups.

Hana Jung

Founder and Chief Connector of Re:Boot Experiences

Hana Jung

Q: What inspired you to found Re:boot and what were the main challenges you faced?

I founded Re:Boot Experiences to create a "home" for leaders who didn't fit neatly into one box. I had always felt like a "lone wolf" living outside the expectations of the roles society expects us to play. After decades of building a "good on paper" success, I had a deeper desire to create something to encourage more connection. Now I help conscious leaders connect to themselves, connect to their purpose, and connect to a community to exponentially spread more joy and light with the world. Re:Boot is about intentionally and courageously choosing your own path.

It wasn't always smooth sailing. I definitely faced a few challenges. Just after launching Re:Boot, there was a moment before the first destination summit where I questioned everything. I believed very strongly in the mission, planned everything, but was having such a hard time getting people to come. It was a difficult concept to sell at first: a collaborative co-created leadership experience consisting of self-discovery, creativity, adventure, mindfulness, and philosophy.  In a world where “retreats” were synonymous with yoga or wellness escape, it wasn’t an immediate "yes" for a lot of people because it was a new concept. After so many rejections, I was beginning to think that this idea was crazy. But I reminded myself of why this was help connect at least 1 person to their inner light, and it would be enough. I adjusted my focus to transformation and service rather than what I needed.

The magic began as soon as the newest members of Re:Boot arrived. Connections were made immediately, and before I knew it there are 10 new friendships, 12 new projects, and countless life changes as a result. I knew this was the right path for me, and even if it wasn’t always going to be easy, it would be worth it.

In the end, I had deeper trust that the work would attract the right people.  My role as a leader is to write the “symphony” of the experience, and trust that whoever is supposed to be a part of it shows up to “play” their part using their unique talent and energy. The rest is out of my hands.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

I did start the venture alone, but I really enjoy collaborating with other magical human beings. Depending on the focus of the particular Re:Boot experience, I bring in other experts and creatives. It's always more fun to co-create experiences and allow everyone's gifts to shine through.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

Prior to COVID, the business model was based on destination summits. Margins were healthy, but slim relative to the amount of planning, venue costs, hiring team members, and other travel expenses. During the pandemic, I had an opportunity to pivot my business model while still honoring the core mission of connection. I launched Re:Boot online cohorts, and was able to transform more lives and call in even more abundance than ever before. I do still plan on integrating destination summits when it's safe to do so, but it's been really grounding to expand Re:Boot in a meaningful way.

Elizabeth Borsting

Founder - Dreambox Creations

Q: What inspired you to have found Dreambox Creations and what were the main challenges you faced?

I co-started Dreambox in 1999 when we were attending college at Cal Poly Pomona. My business partner and I were really content working at our other jobs so we never thought we would walk away from stable, corporate environments. I was working at 20th Century Fox and he was working for a global airline. In the very beginning, it was difficult to make ends meet but we continued with it and knew that we would never really have this opportunity again. So when we graduated college, we made a conscious decision to both quit our respective jobs and work full time at Dreambox.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

No, I co-started it with 7 other college friends with lofty goals. It was early on in our venture that my business partner (also, a co-founder) and I bought out the other 5 members.  

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

Because our business was so lean from day one, we were profitable really from our first client.  HOW profitable of course varied with the work we were delivering and growing. The best thing we did to grow the company was about 7 years ago we made a pivot to primarily focus on the restaurant industry. When we initially started, we worked with anyone that wanted to hire us but it took us over a decade to refocus our work and really become leaders in the space where our expertise puts us in a position to drive dramatic results.

Esha Chhabra & Smita Satiani

Founders - Alaya Tea

Esha Chhabra & Smita Satiani

Q: What inspired you to found Alaya Tea and what were the main challenges you faced?

We’re a small, Los Angeles-based tea company that sources organic and biodynamic teas directly from India. Alaya comes from Himalaya, as we had been inspired by the tea farms surrounding this region that are incorporating regenerative farming practices to take on the effects of climate change.

The idea of Alaya originally sparked because both of us, as Indian Americans, grew up in households where drinking chai was daily ritual. When we left our houses, we realized that tea time in the US was becoming a lost art. So we wanted to bring back the concept of a tea break, and introduce our customers to where their tea is coming from -- hence, we have the names of the regions on our packaging.

Simultaneously, we both had worked in the climate change / social impact spaces for the last 10 years. Smita had worked for Ashoka, The White House (under President Obama), and now is at X (Google's offshoot) working on climate projects. Esha had been working as a journalist and writer, covering climate and sustainability issues for the last 10 years, getting her work published in national and international publications. Alaya is a company that's not just about profits, but developing a model for better business -- one that pays respect to the land, the people, and the Earth.

Three years ago, we were having drinks in SF one night, and Esha was sharing her experiences just returning from Darjeeling, India's most beloved tea-growing region. We thought: is there a way to source tea directly from farmers that were creating a more equitable tea industry, and provide a more eco-friendly, fresher tea option to US consumers?

The challenges: while we both have worked in the impact and climate change spaces, neither of us have worked in food + beverage before, so there was a LOT to learn (and a lot we are still learning). Everything from navigating certifications, labeling, finding the most sustainable packaging solutions -- the list goes on. We've spent a lot of time reading, researching, and relying on our personal and professional networks to slowly get us to where we are today.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

No - we are both owners of the company and are entirely self-funded.  

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

1. DIRECT TRADE: We buy directly from the farms/estates. That means there are no middlemen. Tea is an industry with a lot of middlemen. We want our supply chain to support these growers who are putting money back into the farming and communities that matter. Plus, you get fresh tea that's not been sitting in a warehouse for years!

2. 100% PLASTIC-FREE: Our teas are loose-leaf (while tea bags are convenient, many contain microplastics which steep into your cup), and our packaging is fully compostable -- down to the labels, ink, and adhesive. Our shipping packaging is also biodegradable.

It took us 9 months to put together the right packaging solution -- and even then, it's not perfect -- we’re constantly on the look-out for better solutions -- but it's a great immediate solution until the packaging industry comes up with more scalable and affordable solutions.

3. DIRECT TO CONSUMER: We sell direct-to-consumer, as well as wholesale to select grocery stores, CSA boxes, curated marketplaces, flower companies and membership boxes that align with our values. We've grown our revenue by allowing for organic growth, and working like-minded people and companies.

Dr. Elaine Rideout

Founder - WISER Systems, Inc

Q: What inspired you to found WISER Systems and what were the main challenges you faced?

The founding idea for WISER Systems came to me as part of a very normal, real-life routine: Hunting around the house for my glasses. I was sure there had to be a precise way to find them from a phone or a computer, but neither GPS nor any of the other existing technologies I researched could actually solve my problem. Today’s honing systems were not available at that time—my thought was to use my phone to see their location in real time, imposed on my house’s floorplan. So I decided I'd come up with my own solution.

It became obvious pretty quickly that businesses were losing even more time and money searching for lost items than consumers like me were. So that became the basis for WISER Systems—working to address the universal need for precise real-time location of valuable items.

There were really three main hurdles to doing this. The first was building the right technical team, which took a few starts and stops to get right. The next issue was raising the money to build the technology. The last big challenge was more of a public-perception hurdle. On one hand, a lot of people assumed technologies like ours were already here, working seamlessly. On the other hand, big companies that invested in early-stage tracking and location systems were often really wary about location technologies, because the ones they’d tried sounded good but didn’t perform as advertised when tried in a real plant. As a result, it was really important for my team to show our technology working well on-site, even side-by-side against other technologies that companies were considering. That worked because our demos are quick to set up and our results the most reliably accurate.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

I was alone when I started working on the idea that led to WISER, but I knew from very early on that I'd need a brilliant technical team on my side, because my background was in economics and entrepreneurship—not engineering.  

The first two engineers had ideas that simply didn’t pan out. Third time was the charm. This was when I started working with Dr. Seth Hollar and successfully raised money around his novel ideas. He joined me to co-found WISER around our current technology offering, which has been in the marketplace now for several years.

Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

WISER's business model is based on two main revenue streams. First, we produce and sell the physical hardware needed for our real-time location system. Second, we license the software, which brings recurring revenue.  

Since both of these steps depend on acquiring and retaining customers, we've spent a lot of effort exhibiting at tradeshows and conferences, prior to 2020 at least, and growing our online presence so companies can find us on their own. Even with COVID hitting many of our current customers hard, we’ve been able to continue to grow our user base in both numbers and size.  We’re now in production in some very large plants in two countries and we serve several Fortune 100 companies.

Note: This article is part of a series. Check out the full series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12. Stay tuned for more articles!