National Entrepreneurs’ Day: Celebrating 12 Creative Minds in Business

Did you know there are around 30 million companies in the United States alone?  That means millions of innovative ideas, millions of hours spent perfecting a product, and millions of consumers’ lives made easier…all thanks to the drive and passion of entrepreneurs.

Today is National Entrepreneurs’ Day, a day dedicated to saluting the brilliant business owners who took a simple idea and turned it into something extraordinary.  To celebrate, we’re sharing the inspiring stories of 12 entrepreneurs — from students, mothers, athletes, and everything in between — all of whom are challenging conventional ideas and shaping the future of our business world.

 

The History of National Entrepreneurs’ Day

National Entrepreneurs’ Day began in 2010 by founding fathers David Hauser & Slamak Taghaddos of Grasshopper and Amir Tehrani of The Legacy Foundation.  Landing on the third Tuesday in November, the unofficial national holiday was created as “a way of showing gratitude and respect to the people who achieved success, sometimes against all odds, and were able to help a lot of people by creating jobs for them in the process.”

In 2012 President Barack Obama declared November Entrepreneurship Month, making the push towards recognizing National Entrepreneurs’ Day as an official holiday even stronger.  To this day, the National Entrepreneurs’ Day movement has been supported by 47 Congressional representatives and countless leaders and innovators in the business world.

 

Why Celebrate National Entrepreneurs’ Day?

National Entrepreneurs’ Day was created to celebrate the incredible strides being made by entrepreneurs, inspire budding entrepreneurs to chase their passion, and reflect on our own journeys as entrepreneurs.

As for my own entrepreneurial journey, I started Creative Click Media in 2011 with little more than a laptop to my name and a vision in mind.  I left behind the financial stability of a job in insurance because I lacked a passion for it, and started building free websites for friends just to gain some experience.  I networked constantly, and made important connections with business leaders who believed in me enough to refer my business to their colleagues.  Five years later, my one-man business housed in a small apartment is now a team of 17 working from an office with a lakefront view.

The great thing about entrepreneur journeys is that no two are identical.  Today, we celebrate those who took risks, embraced their creativity, and turned their passion into a business.

 


national entrepreneurs' daySusan Leone, founder of Fruit Bliss

Tell us about your business.
Fruit Bliss has debunked the notion that dried fruit has to be tough, leathery and void of flavour. Our whole organic sun-dried fruit goes through a gentle steam bath, to infuse each fruit with water, creating deliciously juicy fruit!

How did your business get started?
Fruit Bliss began in 2011 in Brooklyn, NY after finding a void of clean, healthy and sustaining snacks in the grocery aisle. While taking trips with my husband to visit his family in Turkey, I came upon rehydrated fruit, a different kind of “un-dried” fruit snack that is popular in Europe. I knew that this unique take on dried fruit would be embraced in the US.

What obstacles did you face while starting your business?
My prior professional experience was not in food, so there was a huge learning curve understanding the how the food industry works.

Did you have a mentor? If so, how did they help you succeed?
I have met many food entrepreneurs along the way, that have often been open and helpful with exchanging information on what they have learned growing a business in this industry.

Do you have a favorite business book or entrepreneur biography?
Mission in a Bottle, the Story of Honest Tea. It is a book about passion, sticking with a plan and following your dream. Love the comic book format!

What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?
Try to talk to as many people in the industry as possible- entrepreneurs that are established with their companies, and those that have recently started out. I have found this to be a very open and sharing industry.

 


national entrepreneurs' dayEmily LaRusch, CEO of Back Office Betties

Tell us about your business.
Back Office Betties virtual receptionists are the voice of small businesses across the US and Canada. We screen calls, schedule appointments and take messages for a fraction of the price of an in-house receptionist.

How did your business get started?
I researched the technology needed to get started, put together a business plan and hired my first employees.

What obstacles did you face while starting your business?
I didn’t fully understand all of my requirements for the technology which added expense and created delays to our launch time.

Did you have a mentor? If so, how did they help you succeed?
I didn’t get a mentor until nearly three years in business. I joined Entrepreneur’s Organization Accelerator this July and is has changed my life. I now have a firm grasp on what financial numbers are important, what KPI’s I should be looking at daily and how I should spend my time. The tools and collaborative coaching I’ve received have been amazing.

Do you have a favorite business book or entrepreneur biography?
I love Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness. Most people look at Zappos as a retail giant and the rare success story but don’t see the tears, tribulations and terror that preceded the triumph.

What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs just starting out?
If you had to spend a week unplugged from your business and could only receive 5 stats from your business in order to determine how the company is operating, what would they be? Track these KPI’s consistently. Next, there will be tears, there may be blood and you can count on pivoting at some point. You will need to be mentally tough yet remain flexible to change things that aren’t working. If you want to own a business but like to play it safe, look into a franchise or established business rather than starting from scratch.

 


national entrepreneurs' dayMichael Noker, owner of The Noker and Anthrapologist

Tell us about your business.
I’m Michael Noker and I own the Anthrapologist design brand, which is still definitely in the start-up stage. I’m one of those quirky millennial entrepreneurs who makes a living by making people laugh on the internet. I create comedic content – both articles and videos – to drive people to my online store, which houses my weird creations.

How did your business get started?
I grabbed a camera and started a YouTube channel! Then I got wine drunk and started dreaming up weird t-shirt designs, article ideas, and concepts for videos and started creating. I did it for about a year as a side gig, and then took the plunge into full-time entrepreneurship by moving to a city with almost no jobs. I had no choice but to sell like crazy.

What obstacles did you face while starting your business?
Cash flow is a struggle for all of us, but my worst obstacle was actually motivation. For some reason, I had this image of entrepreneurship being all about relaxing on a beach in Cabo while your bank account balance skyrockets. For the first couple months of my journey, it hadn’t quite hit me that I was going to have to work 100-hour weeks for the next few years to earn even a modest wage. I got over that hurdle when I was desperately scouring Craigslist for odd jobs to try and put together rent.

Did you have a mentor? If so, how did they help you succeed?
The closest thing I have to a mentor is a fellow creator, Patrick Cleary. He’s one of the people who will consistently critique my work with honest (and occasionally brutal) feedback and call me out when I get lazy. He’s been invaluable as a friend and a colleague.

Do you have a favorite business book or entrepreneur biography?
My favorite book about entrepreneurship has to be Survival is Not Enough by Seth Godin. That said, I consistently find myself referring back to a few of Anna Akana’s career-and focus-oriented videos. I actively follow her not only because I appreciate her content and humor, but also because I find her work ethic inspiring and hope some of it will rub off on me. As an example, she once said that what you do for money and what you pursue as your career don’t have to be the same thing. I appreciate that every time I have a slow sales month and find myself driving for Uber or something.

What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?
Try to cross two things off of your to-do list every single day: being a salesperson and being a human. I think a lot of us forget that we’re supposed to be selling something. We get wrapped up in talking to people, expanding our networks, or getting published on whatever platform. We keep the big picture in perspective. But then we forget to actually sell something.

Alternately, I’ve seen a lot of my peers forget to be a person. I have several close friends who are working to make it as entertainers, freelancers, and business people, and I watch them lose sight of the people who really matter in their lives. Suddenly, everybody’s a number. If you’re not buying something from me, you’re not worth my time. Friends get fan-zoned, so to speak. Don’t do that. Don’t ever do that.

 


national entrepreneurs' dayPhilip Thomas, CEO of Staffjoy

Tell us about your business.
Staffjoy helps businesses share work schedules in less time with their hourly employees.

How did your business get started?
I studied the sophisticated scheduling tools of major corporations operations research classes in college. But, when I went to do my homework in coffee shops, I realized that they were still running on a clipboard on the wall. Workers didn’t get schedules on time, managers hated making them, and it was a major pain point. We set out to fix that.

What obstacles did you face while starting your business?
When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When we started Staffjoy, we tried applying math algorithms similar to those used by the Fortune 500 to small businesses. The problem was real, but the solution wasn’t. We stepped back, talked more with our users, and are releasing a new version of the software that addresses the core issue – communication.

Did you have a mentor? If so, how did they help you succeed?
My Co-Founder (Andrew Hess) and I both worked at OpenDNS under the leadership of David Ulevitch. He’s the type of leader people love working for. While there, he took us under his wing and taught us a lot about business. He’s now an investor in Staffjoy, and when I need help I call him.

Do you have a favorite business book or entrepreneur biography?
Just Enough Research by Erika Hall. I saw her speak at Creative Morning in San Francisco, then bought her book. It goes in depth on how to run user studies, and how to analyze the results. Learning how to talk to users, and making it a priority, has been transformative for our business.

What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs just starting out?
Solve a problem, don’t build a product.

 


national entrepreneurs' dayLori Cheek, founder of Cheekd

Tell us about your business.
Cheekd reimagines online dating with a new app that makes missed connections obsolete. The app is designed as a solution to these missed connections for smartphone-addicted singles, who might spend so much time looking down at their screens, the love of their life could walk right past them. Cheekd prompts people to pay attention to what’s happening in the real world.

How did your business get started?
In February of 2008, I was out to dinner with an architectural colleague. He’d spotted an attractive woman at a nearby table and scribbled, “want to have dinner?” on the back of his business card and slipped it to her as we were leaving the restaurant. He left with a date. I left with an idea. After over two years of brainstorming how to remove the “business” out of the business card, I launched Cheekd– a deck of ice-breaking dating cards with a unique code that lead the recipient to the privacy protected online dating profile of the mysterious stranger who slipped them the card where the two could start communicating online. It was like online dating but backwards.

We’ve since pivoted Cheekd into a hyper-speed mobile dating app that gives users the ability to never miss a real-life potential “love connection” thanks to a cross-platform low energy Bluetooth technology, which sends users an immediate notification when someone (within their criteria) comes within a 30-foot radius of them. It’s real-time and works on a subway or a plane without any cellular connection.

What obstacles did you face while starting your business?
As a trained architect, I really had no idea what it took to build a business, but I’ve taken a crash course by building one. I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve failed building my business over the past few years. I’ve learned to welcome the mistakes and even joke that I’ve learned so much from them that I’m going to keep making more of them on purpose. I’ve taken a crash course in building a business and failing has probably been the greatest lesson of all.

Did you have a mentor? If so, how did they help you succeed?
I, unfortunately, never had a mentor.

Do you have a favorite business book or entrepreneur biography?
As an avid guerrilla and creative startup marketer/tech startup founder, my favorite business book is The Purple Cow by Seth Godin. It’s all about standing out from the masses and transforming your business by being remarkable. One of my favorite quotes out of this book: “You must design a product that is remarkable enough to attract the early adopters – but is flexible enough and attractive enough that those adopters will have an easy time spreading the idea.”

What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?
My strongest advice for others considering taking the leap is if you truly believe in your idea, give up excuses and doubt, surround yourself by a trusted and talented team, bulldoze forward and DON’T. LOOK. BACK.

 


national entrepreneurs' dayRomy Taormina, co-founder of Psi Bands

Tell us about your business.
My name is Romy Taormina and I am the mom inventor of Psi Bands, a stylish medical device for nausea relief.

How did your business get started?
I suffered from debilitating morning sickness during my pregnancies and was sick for more than a year of my life. The only thing I found to provide nausea relief was acupressure wrist bands. However, I was dissatisfied with existing products on the market that were drab/ugly, didn’t stay static on the Nei-Kuan acupressure point, the point proven in double blind randomized clinical studies to relieve nausea, and not waterproof (they’d got waterlogged when I was showering, thus uncomfortable and soggy). So, I set out to create a product that would be both fashionable and functional for those who suffer from nausea. Psi Bands were born.

The product is a medical device, cleared by the FDA, not only for the relief of nausea due to
morning sickness/pregnancy (up to 80% of the pregnant women suffer from nausea), but also motion/travel sickness (90% of the population suffers from motion sickness), anesthesia and chemotherapy. Psi Bands are now sold at more than 10K locations, including CVS, Target, Babies “R” Us, REI, Amazon, and internationally. They are an Oprah Magazine “O” Pick, called a “strokes of genius” by Entrepreneur Magazine, and my product or myself have appeared on Shark Tank, Good Morning America, and the Jeff Probst Talk Show as a “million dollar mom invented product”, and the Travel Goods Association awarded Psi Bands it’s “most buzzworthy” product.

What obstacles did you face while starting your business?
I didn’t know where to start. I had no idea how to take a product concept and bring it to market. Rather than stopping in my tracks, I took baby steps to make it happen. And, it is better that I didn’t know what I was getting into, otherwise I would have probably stopped. Instead, I asked a TON of questions, did market analysis, and began networking.

Specific obstacles were my lack of knowledge in product development/design and medicine, both of which were necessary in the long term. I teamed up with people who would empower and lift me up and allow me to focus on my highest and best use – which was marketing and sales. Our first account was a 400 store chain. We quickly built a foundation from which to grow.

Did you have a mentor? If so, how did they help you succeed?
I didn’t have a mentor, but I asked a lot of questions of very talented people and got a lot of great advice. And, I partnered with people who would fill the gaps in areas that I was not an expert. Asking strategic questions, being fluid, having “grit”, being an active listener, and nurturing relationships was – and is – key to our success, and I believe are keys to anyone’s success.

Do you have a favorite business book or entrepreneur biography?
I love Malcolm Gladwell’s books, and Quiet by Susan Cain. I believe one should appreciate and honor introverts – in both their business and personal lives. If you understand them, you can make better hiring and partnering decisions. I have many characteristics of an introvert. I can get up on a stage and speak in front of a few hundred people, but I find networking events where I have to “small talk” uncomfortable. Being quiet does not mean shy. Being quiet can be every effective.

What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?
Appreciate the roller coaster of a journey that you’ll be embarking on. It will be filled with many ups and downs. Celebrate your wins. Most importantly, have a purpose in your business that truly resonates with you. You will need this purpose to get you through the many challenges you will face on this ride.

For me and the Psi Bands team, it’s knowing that we are providing a product that provides nausea relief, a debilitating medical condition, and knowing that we are making a measurable and positive difference in our customers’ lives is gratifying and humbling. We receive such heart-felt testimonials and they make our day.

 


national entrepreneurs' daySammy Cohen, co-founder of Neon Bandits

Tell us about your business.
Neon Bandits is an athleisure sock for people that refuse to blend in. Combining what we liked about a performance sock, with designs intended to turn heads, we have created an all-in-one sock for active consumers.

How did your business get started?
The concept of Neon Bandits was founded after identifying a void in the marketplace for an all-in-one sock for active individuals. Once we determined how we could solve the problem we took to the marketplace to understand what was out there, what was working well, and what areas we could improve upon and set out to do just that.

What obstacles did you face while starting your business?
One of the hardest aspects of starting our business was finding a factory partner. This process took us much longer than anticipated but ultimately this longer timeline allowed us to develop our concept and really build and refine our brand.

Did you have a mentor? If so, how did they help you succeed?
We had a lot of support in concepting and launching Neon Bandits. Family and friends were constant sounding boards and outlets for networking and introductions. Networking is something every entrepreneur and business owner should take very seriously.

Do you have a favorite business book or entrepreneur biography?
Shoe Dog, [Nike founder] Phil Knight’s memoir, is outstanding. I read it at a time when I needed reassurance that the we were approaching things in a manner that was right for us, even if it wasn’t common in the Boston start-up community. Reading about how Knight started and scaled Nike was refreshing.
What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?
Maintain a work/life balance. It’s true that entrepreneurs are the only people who work 80-hour weeks to avoid working 40-hour weeks, but entrepreneurs are also human. Maintain a workout regime, read books, get a drink! Burnout is real and it’s important to maintain hobbies and activities outside of work.

 


national entrepreneurs' dayKaren Millsap, founder & CEO of The Grief Consultant

Tell us about your business.
My company is The Grief Consultant – we offer leadership development workshops about how to impart practical empathy in the workplace so grieving employees feel supported and psychologically safe.

How did your business get started?
I became a widow at 29, and when I returned to the workplace there was a major disconnect between work and life. I also experienced a domino effect of other losses, and it was then that my eyes were opened to the reality that grief doesn’t just occur with a death. Grief occurs with any life altering change or loss.

What obstacles did you face while starting your business?
I have never received funding nor do I have a team surrounding me, so have been many trial and error scenarios. I knew I was pioneering into a new space, talking about grief at work, so not only did I lack financial and personnel support, but I was also navigating through uncharted waters. All of this has made the journey even MORE rewarding! I researched and landed resources through unique means, I discover untapped talent within myself, and I’ve excelled by staying true to this niche topic.

Did you have a mentor? If so, how did they help you succeed?
I went through 3 mentors before finding my match. This is a process many entrepreneurs don’t realize is part of the journey. It’s kind of like dating, and you can’t put out in the first meetings! I learned my lesson before it cost me a heavy price. My mentor has helped me align my goals to strategic plans, he has made very valuable introductions to resources I would not have had access to, and he has helped me remain accountable to the process (which can be challenging when you don’t have a team).

Do you have a favorite business book or entrepreneur biography?
There are SO many books that have made a huge impact on my entrepreneurial journey. A few are: Think and Grow Rich, Power Questions, Mindset, The E-Myth and The Ultimate Blueprint for an Insanely Successful Business.

What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?
I would tell them there is NO such thing as an overnight success, but don’t wait for the perfect timing, or perfect scenario, or perfect anything to get started. The only way you are able to get closer to the end goal is consistent effort. So, start telling your story, pitch to everyone, take feedback, revise, keep fine tuning… you will gain so much by getting out there and hearing from the target market than you would from sitting behind your desk or computer trying to craft what YOU think is the perfect ______ (fill in the blank).

 


national entrepreneurs' dayKostis Mamassis, founder & CEO of Megaventory

Tell us about your business.
Megaventory is a super light and simple web-based ERP application used by small and medium sized organizations and businesses to manage inventory, manufacturing, and their sales and purchase orders. It is specially tailored for companies with multiple locations.

How did your business get started?
It all started when I wanted to address a problem of my previous company. I was running an e-shop that was about to expand to an additional location, but there weren’t any affordable systems for inventory and order management across multiple locations. So, I decided to create my own.

What obstacles did you face while starting your business?
The whole project was located on the Greek island Chios, away from other developers who could share their ideas and expertise. At the same time the whole idea of SaaS wasn’t very developed, so there wasn’t much information available to address any arising or just to get the work done.  Nevertheless, I kept on going and turned to hiring freelancers online for the services necessary to run the business and manage the startup remotely. Both of these methods were a great help.

Did you have a mentor? If so, how did they help you succeed?
I didn’t have a mentor but there were people that had been a great help. A fellow freelancer coder that helped in the early stages of Megaventory taught me a great deal of what I know. As for business advice, there were only some conversations with whatever experts I could find who helped with specific issues on a case-by-case basis – nothing consistent and long-term in the sense of an advisor, though.

Do you have a favorite business book or entrepreneur biography?
Not exactly a business book, but it can benefit any entrepreneur: Moby Dick by Melville. It teaches how a leader should be concentrated on his target but also, and most importantly, not to try and hunt something larger than what they can land.

What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?
Choose your starting team wisely. It is highly important to have great communication with the people you work with. I ended up leaving my first business because I was fed up with the daily operations and my team. That didn’t set me back, though; I immediately started a new business with a product I loved, where I was doing things I enjoyed. So, if you want to avoid the long way around, choose your team with great care.

 


national entrepreneurs' dayMatt Hyder, founder of Recoup Fitness

Tell us about your business.
Recoup Fitness designs innovative recovery products used by professional athletes without a professional price tag.

How did your business get started?
I began Recoup out of own self need. I was playing basketball and caught a knee in the leg, or a Stinger. I tried the typical recovery methods of icing and foam rolling. It wasn’t the relief I was looking for and decided to create the Stinger. I called a manufacturer in China and received an iron ball sample. From here I drilled a hole in the ball, filled it with cooling gel. Drove an hour and a half both ways to the only welder in Colorado that could seal it. Then I went to Home Depot, found a sprinkler head cap and used that as the handle. I brought my prototype to two top trainers in Colorado. They loved the concept, not the $8 prototype. I knew I had something and grew the business into a product used by numerous NFL teams, players, and Olympians.

What obstacles did you face while starting your business?
There were so many obstacles, but one that stands out was fundraising. Most of the investors we met were only investing into tech companies, or bring up how my skin wasn’t in the game. I took out additional student loans to put my skin in the game. I was 23 years old, no assets, in student loan debt already and moved back home with my parents. When investors found out that I gave up everything (which wasn’t that much) to make the business work, raising became easier.

Did you have a mentor? If so, how did they help you succeed?
Mentors are a critical aspect of entrepreneurship. Find them and learn from them. The most valuable assets my mentors provided was being there. As a young entrepreneur, none of my friends understood what I was going through. It was lonely as I watched friends disappear out of my life. There were nights where I didn’t know if Recoup would still be standing the next day. My mentors had been through these same emotions, and they would tell me this, “it is going to be okay.” When you hear those words from someone you look up to they, mean so much more. That one little phrase has changed my life.

Do you have a favorite business book or entrepreneur biography?
Currently, my favorite book is #AskGaryVee. It puts business and life in perspective. My favorite entrepreneur biography is Eric Thomas that will never change. I started listening to Eric right before his video went viral. I reached out to him and told him I was doing his speech for a class. He replied back, wishing me luck. That is why I was excited when he and Gary did an ask Ask Gary Vee show with Eric Thomas. Gary always talks about taking the time to reach out the people, A 2 minute conversation turned that person into a lifetime customer. I am proof this is real when Eric replied back to me about my speech.

What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?
Find YOUR why, NOT someone else’s. Your why helps find motivation to work 18-20 hour days, keep grinding when you want to stop, allows you to see the light at the end of the tunnel when no one else does. My why is driven by No’s and people telling me I can’t do it. I barely graduated high school with a 1.9 GPA. My high school counselor told me I wouldn’t amount to anything, that I shouldn’t apply to any universities because I will never be accepted. I did make into a University, University of Colorado at Boulder. I still have those words written down, so I never forget my why. Find it and hold on to it.

 


national entrepreneurs' dayShaun Jay, Motivational Speaker and Millennial Magician

Tell us about your business.
I take the boring out of banquets! This is done by combining public speaking with sleight-of-hand magic and sharing with corporate audiences an entertaining and inspiring story of my journey as a millennial entrepreneur.

How did your business get started?
I started when I was 12 years old. Initially, it was with magic as a performance art. I was a shy and introverted child and used magic to help me get out of my comfort zone. My mom saw that I had a gift that needed to be nurtured. She was a freelancer in New York City and she identified with my aspirations. She encouraged me to perform at local art fairs and the flea market. This led to enough people seeing me and being interested in booking me for private parties and corporate events, which then led to me combining all of these skills and packaging it into what I have to offer now.

What obstacles did you face while starting your business?
Keeping a positive attitude was extremely important when starting my business. My stepfather was very discouraging and provided zero support. Luckily, I had the positive support of my mother at such a young age and was able to push through it.

Another obstacle was growing up with a single mother without much money. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it taught me how to be self-sufficient.
Just three years ago, I had one of the worst obstacles in my business and life: bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. Fortunately, I was able to overcome that as well and fully recover with alternative therapy.

Did you have a mentor? If so, how did they help you succeed?
My mentor, Tobias Beckwith, manages two of the most successful performers in the world and has handled millions of dollars worth of engagements. He taught me all about the business side of magic. He always told me that the reason why it’s called show business is because there’s the show, and then the important business and marketing aspect as well. He has always been just a phone call away and I am extremely grateful for all of his help and support over the years!

Do you have a favorite business book or entrepreneur biography?
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson was an amazing depiction of Steve both personally and professionally. Entrepreneurs can learn a lot about how to grow and scale a business and also how NOT to act as well! In my opinion, his biggest weakness was his temper.

What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?
Before approaching any entrepreneurial venture, it really has to be something that you truly deeply love. All of the big-time successful entrepreneurs are doing something that they are passionate about. It’s about putting passion first, which then fuels the desire to learn, which then equips the mind with the tools and skills needed (that’s how I learned web design and graphic design).  Once you are at that point, the only missing piece to the puzzle is taking action. If those things can be combined in that sequence and it feels right and excites the person down to the very core, then the path is right for them.

 


national entrepreneurs' dayJae Kim, founder of Chi’Lantro

Tell us about your business.
Chi’Lantro is an award-winning restaurant, mobile food truck and full-service catering company with a passion for creating diverse, Korean BBQ-inspired cuisine. The name “Chi’Lantro” is a combination of the words “kimchi” and “cilantro.” We’re known for our signature dish, The Original Kimchi Fries™– hot french fries with homemade caramelized kimchi, Korean BBQ, topped with fresh cilantro and onion, sesame seeds and drizzled with Magic Sauce. Based in Austin, Texas, we currently have four brick and mortars, a full-service catering department and a homemade kimchi facility. Steadily growing over the past few years, we’re on track to reach $6 million in sales this year and are eager to expand throughout Texas and beyond.

How did your business get started?
My mother instilled an entrepreneurial spirit within me at a very young age and it was then that my aspirations to run and own my own business started. I don’t have a culinary background, but have always loved the food industry and being a part of it. In 2010, I took everything out of my savings and maxed out my credit cards to start Chi’Lantro with just one food truck and one employee. On the first day, we only made $7, but we continued to push and I’m incredibly proud of where we are today.

What obstacles did you face while starting your business?

Lack of experience and having no money were the biggest challenges. I maxed out my credit card multiple times. I worked 18-20 hour days and got burnt out times. A few people took advantage of my lack of experience, but I learned to navigate through that by letting go of my pride.

Did you have a mentor? If so, how did they help you succeed?
Yes, mentors are so valuable in my life. I am a member of Entrepreneurs Organization, a group formed of local entrepreneurs making more than one million dollars a year who share their entrepreneurial journey. Being a part of this group has really helped me develop as a leader.

Michael Shane, who’s a self-made billionaire, is a terrific mentor / advisor. He’s seen everything that I’m currently going through. I listen to his experiences and come up with best decisions I can make.

Do you have a favorite business book or entrepreneur biography?
7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Convey
Good to Great by Jim Collins
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?
Don’t give up because persistence pays off. Always be willing to learn and make progress.

 


Celebrating National Entrepreneurs’ Day

National Entrepreneurs’ Day is meant to remind us all that the businesses and products we take for granted would not have ever been made a reality without the passion, creativity, and drive of the entrepreneurs behind them.

Thank the entrepreneurs in your life, be it a boss, friend, family member, or business leader you look up to.  Share an entrepreneur success story with a budding entrepreneur needing that extra kick of inspiration to get their vision off the ground.  Show your support for this cause by voting for National Entrepreneurs’ Day to be recognized by Congress as an official holiday (entrepreneursday.org).

Be sure to share your own entrepreneur stories, motivational anecdotes, or favorite business books in the comments — you never know which up-and-coming entrepreneur you might inspire!

 

Feeling inspired by these entrepreneurial journeys?  Check out part two of our National Entrepreneurs’ Day round up for 10 more extraordinary business leaders.

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Keyword-cruncher, customer-collector and web designer extraordinaire. Adam is the Founder of Creative Click Media. If he's not in front of the computer marketing your business, he's playing with his son, Miles. Tweet him at @AdamBinder_

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