BusinessWeek just started a new feature profiling new entrepreneurial companies, in a slide show motif, called Fresh Entrepreneurs – Profiling Startups Around the U.S. It strikes me as a nice way to get quick views of what other people are doing. Stories like …
- She quit her consulting job at Bain, hired a designer from Chicago’s International Academy of Design & Technology, pulled $50,000 from personal savings, whipped up some samples, and several months later took her Aphira line to high-end pro shops. Glaspie, a graduate of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, generated $50,000 in sales in 2005. She hopes to hit $1 million next year.
- Efimova, who studied dance in St. Petersburg, opened Russian Pointe in early 2006 after selling ballet shoes as a wholesaler, first in Ann Arbor, Mich., and in the Loop since 2005. Official supplier to the Joffrey Ballet, she opened the retail suite to bring, in her words, “the love of dance, and beauty, to this magical city of Chicago.” The store is lavishly decorated: thick cabernet-colored velvet curtains hang in the windows, and a row of old opera-house chairs runs along the middle of the store. A stage with a large mirror and barre make the store a favorite with little princesses who come for their first fitting. Local ballet schools Ruth Page and Boitsov ensure a steady stream of wannabe Giselles coming through the door. Sales rose from $7,065 in her first month as a retailer to $29,286 in October.
- Forget Boston Market or the prepared-foods section of Jewel or Whole Foods. In Oak Park, there’s the Perfect Dinner, a kitchen that prepares “home-style” take-out and delivered meals. The startup is aimed mostly at “El” riders, who can go online to scope out the shop’s menu of eight to 10 daily entrées and order ahead before exiting Oak Station on the Green Line.
The business was founded by Karen Gruber, 48, who formerly handled the Kraft cheese account at ad agency J. Walter Thompson, and Jill Haas, 47, a onetime food scientist at Kraft Foods. The Perfect Dinner broke even with $500,000 in revenue last year—the average check is $41—and is looking at 8% to 10% growth this year, Gruber says. The pair, who started the venture with $250,000 from friends, family, and their own savings, is now trying to drum up $700,000 to open two more sites this fall.
It’s a nice treatment, quick and interesting. Recession or not, people are making it with their startups.