Note: This article is part of a series. Check out the full series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13.

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.

Tyler Butler

Founder & Principal - 11Eleven Consulting

Tyler Butler. Photo credit: Elizabeth Marie.

Q: What inspired you to found 11Eleven and what were the main challenges you faced?

I founded 11Eleven Consulting nearly five years ago. There are many reasons behind the launch of my company. I recognized that there was a shift taking place within businesses. Executives, investors, and employees were recognizing that they had a larger responsibility than that of making money. An awakening that has been going on for some time was blossoming. Companies who had never before considered how to leverage their own resources to help communities began to take a critical look at their operations, their talent, and the ways in which they could be of service to those in need.

My firms’ focus on aiding companies who wish to do well by doing good represents an emerging driver in today’s market. 11Eleven took these considerations into mind and created a streamlined approach to easily launch and confidently grow corporate responsibility efforts for the growing number of company’s seeing the value in responsibly running their businesses. In an ever-changing world, the emergence of company’s looking to be good corporate citizens is more prevalent than ever.

My business is a place where good corporate citizens are our game and we aim to create, launch, and shed light on the positive contribution’s businesses are making in the communities where they operate. We take on the discovery process and assess what each client’s company does, how they do it, who they employ and who they serve as customers and we then create unique offerings that will elevate their profile publicly, engage employees, add to their brand and foster a strong company culture. Positive sentiment is built through these altruistic programs, which improves businesses in a myriad of ways. Through the creation of 11Eleven many more businesses have the knowledge and means to create corporate responsibility programs that matter.

11Eleven Consulting is a strategy and corporate responsibility firm that empowers and inspires Positive People to build Positive brands. Working together with our partners, we produce, develop, promote, and direct significant and purposeful approaches that educate, activate and inspire positive impact driven by positive actions. Our efforts focus on leveraging what each business does best and puts their forte into action to make positive societal and economic change possible. We work in conjunction with companies from all industries and counsel their team to craft CSR strategies, applications and procedures in an effort to create world class signature programs that can be clearly articulated and easily executed in both local and national markets.

We specialize in: corporate social responsibility strategy, cultural assessments, employee engagement, messaging and communications, consumer campaigns, program management, thought leadership, facilitation and coaching, signature programs, diversity, equity and inclusion, strategy and people operations, marketing, board and volunteer engagement and launching foundations.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

Corporate social responsibility is a collaborative process at its core. The programs and opportunities that these efforts create require that people from varied disciplines and backgrounds combine efforts to make great things possible. While I have independently led the campaigns, projects and programs created for my clients I have worked with some amazing people to bring things to fruition.

This is particularly true where design is concerned. I have worked in lock step with the Felice Agency to brand many things for 11Eleven consulting. The Felice Agency is well known for their talents with branding, storytelling, and design. What is more they operate under a similar ethos in that their work creates positivity not just for their clients but also for society as a whole.

I also leveraged the financial acumen of Evans Consulting to ensure my business was set up for success structurally. This group has a legacy of doing world class work. They focus on accounting, financial consulting, staffing services and bookkeeping. Without their assistance 11Eleven would have had a much harder time taking off.

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

We have a variety of ways that we work with clients. We are basically a service-based organization. Our prices are based on the value provided to our clients.  It truly depends on their needs and the complexity of the work itself. For many clients we have an hourly rate for services. We use this most commonly for clients who need help managing their ongoing efforts. We also handle many campaigns and special initiatives. Where these are concerned, we work with the client to fully explore their needs and create a price point that will give them the results they desire while supporting the needs of our growing business.

Karen Desai

Co-founder of LUKH

Founders, LUKH

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

As first generation Indian-Americans, my two co-founders and I feel that our South Asian roots are essential to our identities. However, we know firsthand how frustrating shopping for Indian fashion in the U.S. can be. The clothes you find in stores are outdated and e-commerce brands are exorbitantly priced and rarely represent our dual identities. And personally, last year at my own wedding, I felt that with a diverse mix of family and friends around me, I wanted everyone to look and feel included in my rich heritage.

There are 30 million South Asians that live outside of India that similarly feel these frustrations and desires. That’s why we created LUKH - an online rental service giving everyone an equal opportunity to participate in Indian culture through fashion!

Since launch, the main challenge we faced is frankly the impact of COVID. For safety reasons, there have been a lot of restrictions on gatherings and many weddings have been rescheduled. Thankfully, we have kept in touch with many brides. And in the meantime, we’ve pivoted for the last few months by offering “postponed wedding care packages.” Many bridesmaids and wedding guests are thinking of ways to help and send some love to the bride, so we offered a moment to give gifts and show support.

We’ve also learned that many couples are now planning micro-weddings. We want to provide something that will allow women to be confident, comfortable, and safe when they attend these micro weddings.That’s why we also are now selling glamorous gold sequined and white embroidered LUKH face masks. 100% proceeds from LUKH face mask purchases are donated to United We Mask, in partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, to provide PPE to children in underserved communities.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

I am so grateful that my two friends (now co-founders), Rajul Parekh and Kinney Sheth, and I started this venture together! We met each other when we were kids through Indian dance, and I don't think we would have ever imagined starting a company together as adults. But today, with our different backgrounds, we're able to bring the perfect blend of strategy, creative genius and marketing prowess to grow our business!

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

We offer modern South Asian styles to rent for 4, 6, or 12 days, with prices starting at $75 for a 4 day rental. Each dress is equipped with an adjustable tailoring mechanism so that one dress can span multiple sizes.

Over time, we’ve learned that brides want their friends and family to feel included for their special day. Frequently, the burden is on them to help people find clothes, help people get educated. It’s overwhelming when you have to plan your wedding and then do all these extra tasks. We wanted to make it easier for the bride, and so that’s why we launched the “Bride Ambassador” program. We offer a unique discount code for the bride and her wedding guests; virtual styling consultations or a forum to interact with us so that we can answer any questions about ceremonies, events, how even to style it, how to wear things appropriately; and cultural resources that can help wedding guests understand what to do and when, and how to make sure everything is appropriate.

Bridget Levine

Founder and President of Frenchie

Bridget Levine

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

I have always had a passion for fashion and my dream career was always to be a Fashion Designer. It wasn't until I met my sister's baby French Bulldog that I knew that I absolutely had to design apparel for dogs. At the time there were no harnesses available that fit the small-medium sized breed and there were no options for cool patterns. So, I invented the first ever reversible harness that has two trend setting prints in one and is the best fitting harness on the market. One of the main challenges I faced at the beginning of the business was having the patience to grow my following on Instagram which would become my customer base. It didn't explode overnight and took consistency and a lot of time and effort to get it where it is now. Another challenge I faced was finance. I didn’t have any money to start the business so I had to get a bank loan for $5k and also used my credit cards to survive until the business started to generate income. I did everything myself so that I didn't have to pay any employees. For marketing I relied solely on social media, mainly Instagram, for organic customers and reach.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

I did. At the beginning I did everything myself until I absolutely couldn't do it anymore. That's when I added to my team. Currently we have a small team of about 5 employees.

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

We actually don't have one. I remember when I started the business I wanted to put one together, but then I considered the amount of time I was putting into this document that I wasn’t certain that I would actually use. So, instead of putting my energy into this, I put all my resources into actually "doing" in my business. We have grown our revenue through organic reach on social media and through influential profiles on Instagram. We have a team of our own influencers we call "Friendchies" that promote our brand on their page and have been a huge part in growing our brand. We are also now using Facebook ads to help drive revenue.

Ali Grant

Founder of Be Social

Ali Grant

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

I had experience in traditional editorial outreach and landed a job at a digital agency, which focused on social media marketing. I wanted to pair traditional and digital methods and launch an agency that can do both and have them work together. Be Social is just that. We focus on both traditional and digital. In terms of challenges, my personal challenges were rooted in my lack of business experience! Everything was new to me, from starting my LLC to launching a website, I was certainly learning as I went along, so there were plenty of challenges to overcome in that process. As far as my actual business model, the timing was perfect since it was really at the forefront of influencer marketing.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

Yes, I started Be Social on my own! I would have loved a business partner in the beginning knowing what I know now. It’s difficult to be at the top and navigate every obstacle and big decision on your own.

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

Our revenue is based on monthly retainers, project fees, and a % of the revenue from our influencers we represent. We grow our revenue through increasing the projects we work on and the amount of clients we represent at any given time. We’re constantly seeking out new opportunities for collaboration, as well as diversifying the way we monetize… specifically via special projects like our influencer mailer,

Julie Singh

Co-Founder, TripOutside

Julie Singh

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

The idea for TripOutside came about on one of our vacations. My husband Reet and I both had Corporate careers but traveled a lot in our free time and spent as much time outdoors as we could.  We rented gear like bikes, kayaks and snowboards and booked outdoor adventures to explore, and saw a problem to be solved with online booking.  We wasted too much of our vacation time booking our gear and adventures!  The typical process involved online searches, calling shops about availability, booking over the phone, and waiting for bikes, skis or kayaks to be prepared in-store.

So, we created to allow outdoor enthusiasts to compare prices and book outdoor gear and adventures on one website, saving them time and effort and getting them to their adventure faster.  Our goal is to get more people outside and adventuring!

We left our Corporate careers in 2017 to start TripOutside, and we travel full-time in our motorhome (with our cat Juke!) curating the best outdoor destinations for our customers.  It hasn’t been without its challenges, but it’s so much easier to stick it out when it’s something you are truly passionate about.


As an entrepreneur, it's easy to get bogged down in the details of the business and end up not truly getting to spend time doing what they love anymore.  Most startups don’t have funds to hire people right off the bat, so everything that goes with starting the business falls into the lap of the Founders.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not thinking about the business, strategizing, brainstorming, planning and executing.  We are working most of our waking hours, and I think most entrepreneurs can relate.  The never-ending feeling that there is more work to be done can be hard to deal with, especially when we are in incredible outdoor destinations!  

The good part about starting a business about something we are passionate about is that it also allows us to get out and experience it.  We try to get outside and explore every day - even if it’s just a short hike – and plan a bigger adventure like mountain biking a few times a week.  We make sure we visit with shops and customers everywhere we go and continue to learn from our outfitter partners and our customers.  We are truly passionate about helping people get outdoors, and the conservation of our wild places - so that definitely helps.  We also use nature and the outdoors to help us clear our heads, relieve stress, and get our creative juices flowing!

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

TripOutside is an online marketplace that allows customers to research and book outdoor adventures easily.  We help our outfitter partners to increase their bookings, optimize their business and get exposure to new outdoor audiences.   We take a small percent of each booking we send, which means we don't make money unless we send our outfitter partners bookings, so it's risk-free for them!  We also offer them additional Marketing services like videos, booking widget for their own sites, and enhanced content in our Premium plan.

Ashley Schuh

Founder - Blink Beauty Bar

Ashley Schuh

Q: What inspired you to found Blink Beauty Bar and what were the main challenges you faced?

I founded Blink Beauty Bar back in 2016. I was 29 years old at the time, my birthday was in a few months and I was terrified of turning 30. Mostly because I knew I wasn’t where I wanted to be career-wise. I was a real estate agent. I liked it but I wasn’t passionate about it. I realized the only thing I truly enjoyed about real estate was being able to see the design and architecture in different homes. Growing up, I was very artistic. I can draw well and I am a decent painter. I always wanted to do something artistic that could make money but I had no idea what that was. One day I was on Instagram and I saw a video of a woman being microbladed and I instantly knew that I could be good at it. I told my then husband that I wanted to start my own business doing this new tattoo eyebrow trend and it was a huge fight. He didn’t understand and he didn’t believe in it. I cried and told him I didn’t care what he said.

I was doing it regardless and I knew that it was going to be a success. I started looking up courses and attended one in Las Vegas and one in Miami. I practiced relentlessly for 6 months until I opened up in a friends salon. I started with my own name and went to our local city hall and got a DBA for $50. I knew that if I was going to grow this business, I wanted to grow my own brand as well. When doing my social media posts I would write “Blink Beauty Bar located upstairs inside Good to Glow”. Leading up to it, I made a business Instagram account and posted my before and after pictures on my friends and family who I had practiced on. I spent every night for 2 weeks following thousands of people in NY. My phone started ringing off the hook and within my first week I made $4000.00! The business exploded and I had no idea what I was doing or even how to run a business. I also didn’t have the support of my husband so everything I did, I really had to wing it. I didn’t really have much of a business plan other than numbers I put together in my head. I said to myself if I can charge x amount per brow and I do x amount of treatments per week, minus the overhead then I can make a nice profit. I had no clue how to do bookkeeping, inventory or marketing. It was truly a struggle but I did my research and spoke to the right people. Luckily, I have been successful since the day I opened. As each year passed I learned more and got much more organized.

About a year and a half into opening I started Blink Academy, which is my Microblading training Program. I found a lot of holes in the courses I had taken. There were many things I had to learn on my own that I wasn’t taught. I knew I could do a much better job teaching my own course with the knowledge I had acquired through my process . I also knew how lost I had once felt and really wanted to help women realize their dreams and become independent.

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

The Academy is a major revenue stream and I plan on taking the courses across the US in 2021. I am currently in the process of building my own online store and an online training course as well. I have many girls that I have trained that have become successful in this business. Some attended college and are still paying off student loans for careers they have never pursued. If you are focused and driven, you can make an extremely substantial salary in the Microblading business. All it takes is the initial $2500.00 investment, lots of practice and dedication.

Starting my own business has been such a blessing in my life and I thank god I followed my gut instinct. It's the best decision I ever made!

Jana Danielson

Founder - Lead Pilates

Jana Danielson

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

It was dealing with my own undiagnosed health issues that brought me to Pilates.  I saw Madonna on the cover of Shape magazine in 1999 and the word “Pilates” was splashed across the cover. I was a huge Madonna fan, and was intrigued so I bought that issue….and the rest, as they say, is history!  The daily pain that I was experiencing and the grocery list of medications that I was prescribed to deal with that pain was not the path I wanted to go down for the rest of my life.  I did Pilates, it changed my life. In 16 short weeks, I was off all 10+ medications, was sleeping better, looking amazing, and was finally living the life I wanted; a life free of pain!

The humble beginnings of my Pilates business in my basement in 2008 grew to our first commercial studio space in 2010 and in 2015 I expanded Lead Pilates to also include Lead Integrated Health Therapies.  Our 9,000 square foot state of the art facility is home to 47 amazing instructors, clinicians, and administrative staff.  

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

Yes I sure did.

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

My business model is to find ways to evolve our offerings to ensure that we continue to educate, inspire and move the clients and patients who choose to walk through our doors or join us online to become better versions of themselves.

Six months before Covid hit (I was required to shut down my studio and clinic on March 18) I launched my Online Pilates studio called the Metta District.  So many of my colleagues have told me how insightful that was with the looming global pandemic approaching.  Trust me, when I was writing all the ‘whys’ to investing time and effort into launching this online platform, a pandemic was NOT on that list. But I am grateful I did it. Because of this work, I was able to pivot to online streaming classes from my studio literally in less than 24 hours after we were required to close, a great pivot! I was also able to collaborate with other studios who were not in the position to pivot so quickly and offered them a commission split to market my online classes and programs to their members. It was a win-win!

I also launched my first Pelvic Floor Fitness tool for men and for women. The Gooch Ball for the guys and the Cooch Ball for the ladies was launched on April 22, 2020.  I am growing this brand to become an internationally recognized brand and my goal is to help millions of people all over the world to be inspired by the pelvic floor fitness education I provide and then help them improve their quality of life.

Danielle Desir

Founder of WOC (Women of Color) Podcasters

Danielle Desir

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

According to a 2018 study, women host 22% of podcasts, and women of color host less than that. The exact figure has not been confirmed.

WOC (Women of Color) Podcasters is an inclusive community for women of color podcasters and audio creators to connect, learn, and share resources. This is the first community of its kind dedicated to the growth and representation of women of color in the podcasting industry.

In 2018, Spotify launched the Spotify Sound Up Bootcamp, a contest seeking to train ten aspiring women of color podcasters. On May 1st, the day Spotify was supposed to notify the winners, I took to Twitter looking for updates. Seeing that there were hundreds if not thousands of women tweeting about this opportunity, I created the WOC Podcasters Facebook group so we can keep in touch. What started as a hashtag has grown to become a global community with over 3,700 members from 50+ countries in two years.

WOC Podcasters includes a Facebook group, blog, mentorship programs, a job board, and a membership.  

The biggest challenge we faced getting started was the lack of resources and funding. It took two years to find the right sustainable business model that supports all of the work we do.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

While I created WOC Podcasters alone, I worked closely with a few founding members early on. Their support has contributed to our exponential growth over the last few years.

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

Our business model includes recurring monthly revenue from our membership and the support of our generous patrons on Patreon.

We've grown our revenue primarily through content marketing via our blog, speaking at podcasting conferences, and through word of mouth referrals.

Taly Matiteyahu

CEO - Blink

Taly Matiteyahu

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

I came up with the concept for Blink in 2012, after eating at a blackout restaurant and befriending fellow diners. Protected by the darkness, we were all so open and vulnerable, despite being complete strangers. I realized that there’s so much power to connecting with someone when you aren’t subconsciously making assumptions about who they are based on what they look like… or worrying about what they might be thinking about you based on what you look like.  Since then, I’ve dreamed of bringing the concept into the dating realm… and eight years later, I’m finally doing it!

Getting Blink off the ground as non-technical founders with a limited budget has been a challenge. We’ve had to learn so much - from wireframing to finding a developer, creating social media campaigns to doing press outreach, learning tax law to figuring out board requirements - we’ve had to dabble in everything. It’s a daily challenge, but one that we’ve embraced.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

No, I’m working on Blink with a partner! I think finding the right people to start your venture with is one of the most important things. Starting a company is hard and requires juggling a lot of competing tasks at once, often on short timelines. Finding my co-founder, Whitney Beard, has made building Blink easier and more likely to succeed. It isn’t always sunshine and roses - in fact, we disagree regularly - but I think our disagreements and discussions actually lead us to make better, more thoughtful business decisions

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

As a dating app, we will have two primary sources of income: advertising and premium subscriptions. We have plans to introduce both in the near future, along with expanding the concept into other revenue-potential industries.

Floriane Schmitt

Founder - Flo Home Delight

Floriane Schmitt

Q: What inspired you to found Flo Home Delight and what were the main challenges you faced?

I always wanted to work for myself and have complete creative freedom, which was not possible if I worked in other companies (unless I managed to work my way up, in ten years if lucky…). So I knew I had to create my own path. I am a fashion and textile designer, and I saw that my textile creations could bring something new and original to the market.

The creative part (building a vision, creating collections, developing products etc) was easy because that’s what I studied; I am a designer, and creative ideas never stop coming in.

However the business side was hard for me on many levels :

- Low cash flow prevented me to invest as much as I wanted in different areas : product photography, paying influencers, doing Facebook ads, buying lots of fabric upfront, participating in professional fairs. So I quickly realized that it would slow my growth in a bigger way that I had anticipated. I counted on organic reach from Instagram and Pinterest, but it took a year before potential leads started coming in without me doing anything. Only then I started to see a bit of a faster growth, having more orders, therefore more cashflow, to finance these different activities.

- The time to learn everything I didn’t know I didn’t know ! As much as I loved learning everything I did, it took way more time than expected to learn how to write good content for blog, emails and social media, general marketing practices, etc. So I used to get frustrated that things wouldn’t go as fast as I needed them to be: I was on a money deadline and only had a year’s worth of expenses covered.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way! I feel blessed that I can live from this business and that I don’t have to work for anyone else.

Q: Did you start the venture alone?

I started Flo Home Delight alone, because I need full creative and business control on a project that I care so much about. I wasn’t ready to compromise my vision with someone else’s point of view, and I also built the company for my own freedom: the possibility to work how, when and where I wanted to.

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

I sell handcrafted products from the collection I created and displayed on my website. I'm using social media to find and communicate to my audience, and I'm reaching out to professionals that might be interested (such as interior designers for instance) to get more sales.

As I make everything myself, I produce only after getting orders, to reduce cash flow needs. I also take commission pieces, personalized orders, and do collaborations with other designers or craftsmen.

I grew my revenue by learning and implementing a new step every few months: I started by selling to my own network, then expended my online audience, and then started reaching out to professionals. Each step allowed me to develop one or a several new skills (in person/event selling, email marketing, SEO, numerous marketing techniques, BtoB negotiation, and so much more!

Note: This article is part of a series. Check out the full series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13. Stay tuned for more articles!