Each year, Inc. Magazine ranks the fastest-growing private companies in America. The most recent crop of entrepreneurial highflyers reported revenue from $2 million to over $4.5 billion and astonishing 3-year growth up to 100,000 percent. Aimclear considers four consecutive Inc. 500/5000 citations as among our company’s greatest accomplishments and attends the annual Inc.500/5000 awards conference for learning, leisure, and connecting with business leaders.
Inc. Magazine also offers a small business conference, GrowCo, designed to boldly empower companies aspiring to prodigal growth.
I had the privilege of speaking to standing-room-only GrowCo crowds twice on the topic of bootstrapping social media revenue. The Inc. audience hungrily consumed tactical, nearly guerrilla social marketing information shared. After the first day’s session, attendees lined up for over an hour to spend a few minutes asking questions, and we still didn’t get to everyone.
The second day, I was more prepared after speaking and offered attendees a link to schedule 20-minute sessions, one-on-one in person, to pick my brain at no charge for ideas as to how they might market their businesses. Sixteen entrepreneurs scheduled time.
I sat cross-legged by the pool with my computer, a mojito and had the pleasure of perusing more case studies in 8 hours than I’d typically explore in 90 days.
While Aimclear works with some of the most innovative brands on earth, the consistent strategic genius, tactical willingness and impenetrable heart of these hardy entrepreneurial souls blew me away. It was like “Shark Tank” for marketers, which we hereby dub speed marketing.
This article highlights six fascinating entrepreneurs and their companies, met for speed marketing at GrowCo 2016. Their stories and companies were seriously inspiring, so much as to stoke my entrepreneurial fire. I realized that within the dreams, stories, ideas and products tendered by these remarkable individuals, live this year’s American Dream.
Entrepreneurial Spirit & Stark Reality
The rate at which Americans launch startups is truly epic. According to Kauffman’s Startup Activity Index, businesspeople taking the leap increased about 10 percent, from 280 out of 100,000 adults starting businesses in 2014 to 310 out of 100,000 adults in 2015. However, new business survival rates are bleak, as reported by the US Department Of Labor.
In his critically acclaimed 1998 book “Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way,” Sir Richard Branson wrote, “How slim the line is between genius and insanity and between determination and stubbornness.”
The drive of entrepreneurs profiled in this article validates Branson’s observations in their headstrong fanaticism and creativity. While each speed marketing participant thanked me profusely, it is I who thanks them for the honor of contributing marketing ideas to their fabulous businesses. Here’s wishing these entrepreneurs the best of luck and continued success. We’re thrilled to share a bit of their stories with you.
Entrepreneur: Kim Whitman
Title: Executive Producer
Location: Jackson, Wyoming
Product Category: Health & Fitness Media
Revenue: Not Inc. 5000 (yet!)
Employees: 1, plus many contractors
Kim is a firebrand in every good sense of the word. With an MS from Cornell University in Civil and Environmental Engineering and an undergrad degree in Biological and Environmental Engineering, she’s got backgrounds and brains to match the dynamic personality.
YogaToday is an online yoga studio that connects users’ love of yoga, anytime and in any space that inspires them. The stated goal is to “Awaken your inner radiance – one breath, one moment, one practice at a time.”
Kim’s business backs up pretty pictures and holistic marketing gloss with gorgeous, immaculately produced videos. YogaToday’s videos have scored over 40 million views to date in over 180 countries around the world.
YogaToday has been welcoming yogis from around the world to their online yoga studio since 2006. Set amidst the spectacular backdrop of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on-site cinematic classes transport practitioners from their home, office or hotel room to magnificent and inspiring locations.
“The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.” – Eric Ries, “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses”
Entrepreneur: Ashley Matejka
Title: Wellness Advocate
Location: Orlando, Florida
Product Category: Active Lifestyle Accessories + Wellness Courses & Retreats
Employees: Hiring first 2 employees summer 2016
Ashley is warm and humble, overflowing with subtle emotion and effusive vision. Her company, Wellevance, is a social venture connecting people, community and products. The project seeks to inspire others to live their best life and create positive change in the world.
Wellevance perceives human expression in eight dimensions, with lovely wraps, signifying emotional, environmental, financial, Intellectual, occupational, physical, social and spiritual human processes. Wellevance organizes retreats surrounding those themes. 20% of net profits from the items sold in the gift shop go to grassroots philanthropic organizations related to the 8 dimensions of wellness.
Ashley’s vision is that people who have happy and fulfilling lives will reach out to help others in their community. She has a simple yet powerful social change theory: people helping other people make the world a good place.
For practically her entire life she struggled to focus on progress rather than perfection. She worked all hours of the night and would beat herself up over a missed workout. She realized it was time to make a change when her behaviors began affecting relationships.
With an open mind and an open heart, Ashley turned to deep self-reflection and critical engagement. She started reading a broad range of personal development books and taking various wellness courses. By implementing small changes, her quality of life began to improve.
Wellevance is a full-on expression of Ashley’s passion to share tips and tools she learned. She advocates more than just exercise and nutrition; she believes in self-compassion and self-empowerment, embracing change and accepting challenges, a lifetime of learning and experiencing new ideas.
“My mentality is that of a samurai. I would rather commit seppuku than fail.” ― Elon Musk, “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future”
Entrepreneur: Farvardin Fathi
Location: Henderson, Nevada
Product Category: Fashion accessories (Utility)
FafaConcepts Social Media: Instagram
New York entrepreneur Farvardin Fathi (aka Fafa) designs stylish solutions that make daily life effortless. Speaking to her is like embarking on an international fashion excursion without leaving the comfort of conversation.
Fafa studied fashion design at ESMOD International in Paris, the world’s first fashion school, where she apprenticed with leading French designers. She further pursued her interest in design with courses in product, material and interior design at Parsons in New York City.
Fafa first conceived her invention, The HookUp, when her sister’s Hermès Birkin handbag was stolen at a busy city café. In collaboration with Stanford engineers, she created the elegant product to protect handbags from theft and damage.
Dedicated to her vision, Fafa has launched three versions of The HookUp, which are used by the nation’s most affluent and successful women. Her passion for designing products that emphasize elegance and ingenuity continue to be the driving force in her career today.
Fafa sermonizes, “Embrace your bag, Hook it Up with the heart and teardrop charms which turn with a quick twist into a simple but elegant hook to save your life’s treasures in restaurants, restrooms, office, theaters, lecture halls, car, etc.” Her products are available in many colors to embellish handbags and outfits.
“The only way to support a revolution is to make your own.”― Sophia Amoruso, “#GIRLBOSS”
Entrepreneur: Andrea Goeglein
Title: Success Catalyst
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Product Category: Executive Coaching
Revenue: “Enough to be happy, strive for more”
Employees: 1, plus 1 part-time virtual assistant
I spent a rousing 20 minutes with Andrea; hopefully some of her professional buoyancy rubbed off. She melds big-time reality show business guru presence with upscale hippy appeal and cognitive therapist all at once.
Andrea’s coaching practice is part applied positive psychologist, part entrepreneur, and all about success—your success. She works to understand both the pressures clients face and dreams that inspire. By merging experience as a business owner with training in Positive Psychology, she strives to provide effective, efficient and challenging leadership development experiences to enhance clients’ business and careers. Her work combines an emphasis on objective assessment with an approach powered by spirit, guided by values and driven by goals.
She views success as organic and ever evolving, a key part of a person’s nature that must be nurtured. In other words, success is more than achieving financial wealth and business results. It’s also about loving who you are, loving what you create and loving how you contribute.
Andrea is also author and curator of the Don’t Die™ book collection, a series of short, inspirational books designed to guide readers into transforming their story(ies) into a story of success.
“The best entrepreneurs know this: every great business is built around a secret that’s hidden from the outside. A great company is a conspiracy to change the world; when you share your secret, the recipient becomes a fellow conspirator.” ― Peter Thiel, “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future”
Entrepreneur: Michael Thompson
Company: Jim Smith Jr. International
Title: Director of Business Development
Location: Mount Laurel, New Jersey
Product Category: Consulting, Author, Training (Personal & Professional Development), Keynote Presentations
Michael is pragmatic, professional, personable and extremely focused. He’s one of the only speed marketing participants who works for a third-party company. That said, 5 minutes with Michael and it’s easy to place him in the entrepreneurial category for the nature of his persistence, drive and heartfelt nature.
Michael is a business development specialist focused on helping companies leverages the strength of their people. Specifically, he works to identify gaps in communication and leadership skills that prevent companies from maximizing their potential.
Michael is on the Jim Smith Jr. International team, a program that helps people experience ‘Limitless Living’ by not building barriers to obtaining success. JSJI also encourages people to realize their personal power and understand that they are most responsible for their outcome and success.
The desired outcome is realized through a variety of keynote speaking engagements and customized training programs. The mission is to provide the most transformational and empowering tools and experiences to challenge people to live and perform out loud! Areas of expertise include facilitation, training, presentation skills, inside-out leadership, diversity and inclusion.
“Plenty of hard-working people don’t [succeed]–but it will guarantee that you won’t ever torture yourself with thoughts of ‘Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve.’” ― Gary Vaynerchuk, “#AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness”
Entrepreneur: Michael Feder
Title: Founder & CEO
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Michael’s obviously an entrepreneur ready to change the game. With extensive startup experience, he’s skilled at strategy, business formulation, brand building, business development, sales, operations and other tools of the startup trade.
Michael is the author of six books, including “Olive Parrot Shares Her Birthday,” “Joy of Liberace: Retro Recipes From America’s Kitschiest Kitchen,” the bestselling “Liberace: Your Personal Fashion Consultant” (now in its second printing), “Elvis: Your Personal Fashion Consultant,” “Star Wars: Punch Out and Play” and “Marilyn Monroe: Your Personal Fashion Consultant.” He’s also a founding board member of Nevada Parrot Rescue.
Michael’s B2B SaaS company, PrayerSpark, aims to innovate addiction recovery and hospice space with clinical apps addressing PTSD, occupational therapy, corporate wellness/stress reduction and other areas.
PrayerSpark brings interfaith and non-religious spiritual support, stress reduction, and private communication silos to these areas. This is a clinical white label app, with unique features set in the branding and control of rehab centers.
It was a pleasure to immerse for a day and get to know GrowCo entrepreneurs. I loved the steady, strategic guile, enthusiasm and impermeable spirit of these resilient businesspeople. Aimclear looks forward to future opportunities to offer speed marketing sessions at conferences.