Archive: Profiles in Entrepreneurship

Web Media Startup Raises Small Business Spirits

Meet the new Sir-Mix-a-Lot. He mixes sound and video, along with a good cocktail and sips it back in the form of a small business. Colin Kimball, 31, is co-founder of the one-and-a-half employee Web-media company Small Screen Network and a good example of today's new media entrepreneur. Cocktail lover...

By Sharon McLoone | March 27, 2009; 10:45 AM ET | Comments (2)

How Do I... Make It to a Sesquicentennial?

With most small businesses closing shop within five years, how do some make it to 150? The Potter Violin Company officially started in 1996 when Dalton Potter, the senior repair technician at the Violin House of Weaver, took over the retail and service operations that Herman Weaver founded in 1898...

By Sharon McLoone | March 18, 2009; 11:25 AM ET | Comments (0)

Job Search Startup Aims to be More Than a Sign of the Times

A senior bank loan officer recently told me that lending was on track to improve for small businesses, but things were tight enough that "a plumber looking to open a dance studio" would probably have a hard time bringing home the financing for a new pas de deux. Banks are...

By Sharon McLoone | March 11, 2009; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

Entrepreneur Puts His Own Spin on Gift Cards

What are friends for -- but to give you good ideas for start-ups? Kwame Kuadey was chatting with a pal who groused that he was "stuck" with a bunch of gift cards for stores and restaurants he would never patronize. "Wouldn't it be nice to have a Web site where...

By Sharon McLoone | January 30, 2009; 12:10 PM ET | Comments (1)

How Do I.... Stick With It? (Entrepreneurs Share Their Inspiration)

I often ask entrepreneurs and small business owners why they decided to start their own business and if they have any advice they'd want to share with other like-minded souls. So for the new year, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on others' inspiration and...

By Sharon McLoone | December 24, 2008; 11:25 AM ET | Comments (1)

Eco-Friendly Moms Set Out to Become Queens of Clean

Newborn babies have a naturally sweet smell. However, some of the other smells they make are just plain stinky. And as new-mom Dana Rubinstein discovered while washing bottles in a sleepless stupor one late night, cleaning detergents may not be doing much to help. The next day she acted on...

By Sharon McLoone | December 19, 2008; 11:15 AM ET | Comments (0)

Small Businesses Prepare For the Holidays

Artfully Paper is one of the many small retailers in the D.C. metro area that is looking forward to holiday cheer, but is also pragmatic about the not-so-stellar state of the economy. In this first in a series of video interviews with the owners of small shops in the...

By Sharon McLoone | December 1, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

'It's a Wrap' Is a New Beginning for Serial Entrepreneur

Some might consider owning a boat too big to fit in your garage a good problem to have. Because when you're a taxidermist/marlin fisherman/portable potty millionaire, it just might give you an idea. Mike Enos is a working man's Christo. But unlike Christo, Enos doesn't wrap in the name of...

By Sharon McLoone | November 18, 2008; 12:18 PM ET | Comments (0)

Chevy Chase Start-up Scores $25K from Facebook

Evan Steinberg graduated from the University of Michigan to the School of Hard Knocks, as many entrepreneurs often call their on-the-job training. Luckily Steinberg is all about the education. He grew up in Chevy Chase, Md., and attended Sidwell Friends, a private school in Washington, D.C., where, he said, "like...

By Sharon McLoone | November 12, 2008; 02:34 PM ET | Comments (0)

Menominee Indian Finds Key to Success in Contracting

Every entrepreneur has an inspiration they draw on to make a business journey -- whether that journey is geographical, psychological, or both. Jonathan Wilber is the CEO of Master Key Consulting and his journey brought him from the Menominee Indian Reservation in northeastern Wisconsin to the suburbs of the nation's...

By Sharon McLoone | October 28, 2008; 02:13 PM ET | Comments (2)

Freshman Fund Invests in the Future

Entrepreneur Jeff Frese and the young beneficiaries of his latest startup have something in common -- they all eat a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Frese eats them because he's pinching pennies while trying to get his new business off the ground. The beneficiiaries or his startup enjoy...

By Sharon McLoone | September 22, 2008; 09:10 AM ET | Comments (0)

Baby, You Can Drive My Car (Especially If It's a Hybrid)

In an age where many entrepreneurs are spending hours awake at night trying to find ways to market their firms as "social networking sites" to follow the popularity of companies such as MySpace and Facebook, it's refreshing to hear, "Please, what ever you do, just don't characterize my company as...

By Sharon McLoone | August 26, 2008; 01:20 PM ET | Comments (0)

Using Your Noodle

David Skinner bought some manufacturing equipment a few years ago to automate parts of his pasta-making business. It was used equipment, but quite expensive for a start-up. So when he heard the driver, who had hauled it across country in three tractor trailers, drive onto his Ohio farm and say,...

By Sharon McLoone | August 21, 2008; 01:52 PM ET | Comments (0)

Savvy Auntie - It's Not Your Mother's Web Site

The day Melanie Notkin launched a parenting Web site targeting women with no kids, major corporations responded by contacting her to talk about advertising deals and a well-known venture capitalist came knocking on her door. The onslaught of interest has made her completely redo her one-month-old firm's financials "due to...

By Sharon McLoone | August 18, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Entrepreneur Finds His Niche At Q-Industries

Tim Neill is a guy who's been around the block a few times, but always called D.C. home. Tim Neill heads D.C.-based tech firm Q-Industries. (Photo courtesy of Neill) Neill is the president and CEO of Q-Industries, a Web site and software development firm. During his eight-year tenure with the...

By Sharon McLoone | August 12, 2008; 02:05 PM ET | Comments (0)

Never Give Up on a Good Thing

Panos Panay left Cyprus for Boston armed with a guitar and primed to be the next George Benson. But he realized he had a serious problem in 1991 when he got to Boston's Berklee College of Music: "I just didn't have any innate musical talent." Not wanting to leave the...

By Sharon McLoone | August 7, 2008; 12:24 PM ET | Comments (1)

Bluemercury Blossoms as Other Firms Wither

Beauty boutique Bluemercury founder Marla Malcolm Beck has slowly and steadily built a chain of 28 stores throughout the country by relying on the best advice she ever received - DROOM, or don't run out of money. Washington Post Staff Writer Ylan Q. Mui interviews the entrepreneur in her profile...

By Sharon McLoone | August 4, 2008; 11:39 AM ET | Comments (0)

Dub Me Now Turns Business Cards into Bits and Bytes

It's been a good week for Manoj Ramnani. He's a man with a plan. Actually, he's a man with a lot of plans and that's just one of the reasons why Ramnani has become one of the D.C. area's most successful tech entrepreneurs. Manoj Ramnani, founder of Dub Me Now...

By Sharon McLoone | August 1, 2008; 03:19 PM ET | Comments (15)

Group Purchasing Organization Reaches Out to Small Firms

The saying "united we stand, divided we fall" may be the inspiration of Corporate United, a large business that's reaching out to small firms to join its collective-buying consortium. The Cleveland, Ohio-based business was founded in 1997 with the intent of becoming an office-supplies buying consortium so that businesses could...

By Sharon McLoone | July 22, 2008; 10:29 AM ET | Comments (0)

Local Liquidator Flourishes in a Tight Market

While some firms are simply trying to stay afloat during this national economic slump, D.C.-based Liquidity Services is finding a booming market thanks to online bargain seekers. The company has about 900,000 registered buyers, most of whom are small businesses. Liquidity sells overstocked or returned goods from retailers, including some...

By Sharon McLoone | July 10, 2008; 11:52 AM ET | Comments (2)

Learning to Reap What You Sew

It all started with coffins. A co-worker in the theatrical lighting business asked Megan Duckett if she could sew. Knott's Berry Farm theme park was searching for someone to reupholster coffins for a Halloween-themed ride. Duckett didn't know how to sew, but summoned up some entrepreneurial moxie and took the...

By Sharon McLoone | June 24, 2008; 02:49 PM ET | Comments (0)

Hooray for (Kids) Books

The cover of the New Yorker this month depicts a delivery man handing an Amazon.com package to a young woman standing in her apartment doorway. She looks sheepishly at her next-door neighbor who is unlocking the door to his small bookstore and witnessing the transaction. This illustration may capture the...

By Sharon McLoone | June 19, 2008; 12:42 PM ET | Comments (1)

Entrepreneur Creates Workplace for the Disabled

Debra Ruh's daughter Sara always wanted to be a nurse, but because she read on a kindergarten level when she was in the sixth grade, her parents knew that Sara's dreams may be out of reach. They looked into the possibility of Sara becoming a nurse's aide, but to take...

By Sharon McLoone | June 17, 2008; 03:09 PM ET | Comments (0)

Small Business Owner Puts Technology in the Driver's Seat

Steve Mattie, president of a 13-employee firm that makes custom trailers, has capitalized on the introduction of new technologies to grow his business for nearly 20 years. His company, Transport Designs makes highly specialized trailers and souped-up motor homes from its base in Montoursville, Pa. From the outside, one of...

By Sharon McLoone | June 16, 2008; 08:30 AM ET | Comments (3)

Thinking Outside the Shoebox

Receipts in America are pretty much a universal occurrence -- everyone has them scrunched in their wallets, purses and pants or littered about their house, where they may or may not get filed away. Receipts have become part of pop culture. They're something that characters like George Costanza of "Seinfeld"...

By Sharon McLoone | June 6, 2008; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (2)

The Petunia Kings

Check out the latest installment of Tom Heath's Value Added blog posts on the WashBiz blog. He writes about Gary Magnum, co-owner of Bell Nursery USA in Burtonsville, Md., who has cornered the local petunia market by forging deals with big box stores like Home Depot. Check out the post...

By Sharon McLoone | June 3, 2008; 05:22 PM ET | Comments (0)

If You Rocked the Casbah - Meet Music Zoo

It's a gorgeous spring day and I'm on the phone with Wes Cowie, a start-up co-founder who's speaking to me from the outdoor cafe of his favorite local coffee shop where he does most of his thinking and some of his business. Cowie and business partner Jamie Koppersmith have embarked...

By Sharon McLoone | June 2, 2008; 02:15 PM ET | Comments (0)

Jobstick Shifts Gears to Grow

After a few years of growing slowly but comfortably, Jobstick CEO Avi Marcus realized he needed to revamp his business model if he really wanted his company to surge ahead. It's now on the verge of hooking its first big client. The Bethesda, Md.-based firm offers an online job matching...

By Sharon McLoone | May 28, 2008; 01:28 PM ET | Comments (2)

A Business for the Dogs

Check out Tom Heath's latest post over on the WashBiz blog about the Canine Fitness Center, a small business that's all about man's best friend. Entrepreneurs Maury and Lynn Chaput opened the Canine Fitness Center in Crownsville, Md., after their beloved dog Shadow tore a muscle in his leg and...

By Sharon McLoone | May 7, 2008; 11:35 AM ET | Comments (0)

Women Entrepreneurs Win Yahoo Grants

Three women who founded businesses focused on babies and children won Yahoo grants for growing their firms, the online media giant announced Tuesday. The women entered the Seeds for Success competition and won $20,000 in cash, $5,000 worth of Web site consulting, and Web site hosting from Yahoo. Pediatric speech...

By Sharon McLoone | April 29, 2008; 10:38 AM ET | Comments (0)

SBA Names Virginian National Small Business Person of the Year

The Small Business Administration has named a Virginia entrepreneur as its national small business person of the year. Shawn Boyer founded SnagAJob.com eight years ago and has grown it into a successful Web site for posting and finding hourly and part-time jobs. "Boyer is a perfect example of the creativity...

By Sharon McLoone | April 23, 2008; 01:31 PM ET | Comments (0)

Turning Lemons Into Lemonade: A Casualty of the Housing Crisis Finds a New Calling

We've been hearing a lot lately about how a floundering economy spurs the creation of entrepreneurs, so let's meet one. Scott Gordon Scott Gordon, 27, hung out his virtual shingle after he recently "got the ax" as he put it, from a large real estate firm -- part of the...

By Sharon McLoone | April 17, 2008; 10:47 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Pitch From the Heart: Student Entrepreneurs Compete For Funding

College freshman Kevin Kirk started selling accessories at dozens of local and regional girls' sporting events in 2005 when he was 16 years old. He now stands before a panel of multimillionaire businessmen explaining how he plans to expand his business, A Slice of Paradise, to mall kiosks throughout the...

By Sharon McLoone | April 15, 2008; 12:12 PM ET | Comments (0)

You Can't Buy Happiness, but You Can Rent It for Awhile

Marie Kerwan was a high-ranking sales executive in information technology, successful and well-paid -- but totally dismayed. The Alexandria, Va., resident was "burnt out," by her job, she said, and took time off while trying to figure out what to do next. She had an itch to move into the...

By Sharon McLoone | April 7, 2008; 11:35 AM ET | Comments (0)

Prize Money Helps Tech Firm Expand Its Reach

ZaraCom Technologies, a developer of an artificial intelligence technology, is the winner of a business plan competition for women-owned firms that was sponsored by a Rockville, Md., economic development group. ZaraCom aids wireless carriers in identifying bottlenecks on their networks to better manage traffic flow. Its clients include telecom firms...

By Sharon McLoone | April 2, 2008; 12:15 PM ET | Comments (0)

Chief Cook and Bottle Washer

Two years ago, Heather Stouffer was like many full-time working moms in the metro area -- fighting congested traffic, racing home to see her family, sussing out how to deal with dinner and looking for quick and easy ways to make it all happen faster. Stouffer scoped out area supermarkets...

By Sharon McLoone | March 31, 2008; 12:50 PM ET | Comments (3)

Start-up Searches for Red Carpet Treatment

My brother-in-law is a not-yet-famous actor but makes a decent living and is very well connected among the Hollywood set. This often turns out to be a perk for his extended family, including myself. He goes to many glamorous parties where he leaves with many fabulous stories and gift bags...

By Sharon McLoone | March 19, 2008; 12:40 PM ET | Comments (4)

Zero to $1 Million

iContact CEO Ryan Allis. (Photo courtesy of FSB Associates) Ryan Allis founded iContact in 2002 after meeting his business partner Aaron Houghton at a meeting of the Carolina Entrepreneurship Club. Today, the Durham, N.C.-based firm is a venture capital-backed company with more than 80 employees and $11 million in...

By Sharon McLoone | February 19, 2008; 10:01 AM ET | Comments (5)

The Advent of Charity

Advent President John Roberson (left) and Todd Austin, the company's vice president. (Courtesy of Advent) Good work and good works are equally lauded at marketing firm Advent, where employees share a common bond through various charitable causes. In fact, the company's business plan for 2008 includes the employee-supported idea...

By Sharon McLoone | February 12, 2008; 09:06 AM ET | Comments (5)

It's Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other

James Gray looks a little scruffy today - unshaven, rumpled T-shirt and dark circles under his eyes. That's in stark contrast to his bakery - a tiny, sparkling clean shop with robin's egg-blue walls and a décor he describes as "country chic." Dozen Cupcakes, the 700-square-foot shop in Pittsburgh's Squirrel...

By Sharon McLoone | February 4, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

A Small Firm Finds Big Business on Wall Street

While Wall Street generally conjures up images of power suits, big money and country club soft sells, there are small firms that have managed to carve out niches to serve the nation's powerbrokers by weaving themselves into the fabric of the Wall Street economy. The demand for independent researchers has...

By Sharon McLoone | February 1, 2008; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (1)

Fueling the Future, One Student at a Time

Dan Goodman, executive director of Biodiesel University. (Photo courtesy of Biodiesel University) If the geeks shall inherit the earth, Dan Goodman is someone you'll want on your team. Not just because of his extensive credentials reflecting his science, technology and business acumen, but because he is on a quest...

By Sharon McLoone | January 22, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Labor of Relaxation

There's nothing like coming home after a hard day's work to soak in a soapy, hot bubble bath. Or, if you're Kathy Gambrell, you may find it more relaxing to come home after a long, hectic day and relax by pulling out a mess of pots and pans and cooking...

By Sharon McLoone | January 14, 2008; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (1)

And for His Next Trick.... Organic Beer

Meet Alan Newman. You may know him from his firm, Seventh Generation, which grew into a powerhouse of environmentally friendly cleaning products that are now sold nationally in thousands of stores. Or from his first small business, which rode a wave of consumer interest in mail-order services and blossomed into...

By Sharon McLoone | January 3, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (3)

Local Pie Maker Strives To Keep Business Shipshape

Every mom has unique challenges, especially around the holidays. Avis Renshaw is no different. She's the mom of Mom's Apple Pie, a four-store chain in Virginia. Each year she must cope with shipping shenanigans and overeager customers, especially during the holiday season when her business sees a huge spike in...

By Sharon McLoone | December 24, 2007; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Bits and Bytes of Antiques and Collectibles

Businessman and entrepreneur Will Seippel has made a successful career out of fixing people's problems. That skill led him to create WorthPoint, a Reston, Va., social networking firm that aims to offer a clearinghouse of information on antiques and collectibles for the average consumer. "There are many people who...

By Sharon McLoone | December 17, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Absinthe Made His Heart Grow Fonder

While Washington wonks toil away crafting industry circulars and other quintessential government documents on a daily basis, it's no surprise that most paperwork gets lost in a sea of bureaucracy, pursued only by insiders interested to that particular, often esoteric debate. So it comes as no shock when, on Oct....

By Sharon McLoone | December 10, 2007; 10:20 AM ET | Comments (4)

A Woman of Mystery (Shoppers That Is)

While holiday revelers may like to ring in the good cheer with a hot toddy or two, Washingtonians take note - the region is one of the most expensive in the nation for alcoholic beverages. Intellaprice, a one-person Boston business founded by restaurant industry veteran Leslie Kerr, conducted on-site audits...

By Sharon McLoone | December 4, 2007; 03:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

Agents of Social Change

Does the thought of Larry Bud Melman advertising "Toast on a Stick" on "Late Night with David Letterman" bring a tear to your eye? Did you ever see The Cure on tour? Do you love your flip-flops and often wear them to work? Are you skeptical about entering the workplace...

By Sharon McLoone | November 20, 2007; 01:10 PM ET | Comments (0)

North Star Aims to Shoot the Moon

Star light star bright. I wish I may. I wish I might. Play this game all night. That's what the brains behind North Star Games hope every family member across the nation will say each night before they go to bed. Founder Dominic Crapuchettes and his business partner Satish Pillalamarri...

By Sharon McLoone | October 30, 2007; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (2)

Building a Business One Scoop at a Time

Ice cream, it's not just for breakfast anymore. So says a sign hanging from the counter of Moorenko's, a sunny, brightly colored parlor that makes ultra premium ice cream two tubs at a time. Inside Moorenko's in McLean, Va. (Sharon McLoone) The proprietor and sole full-time employee, Susan Soorenko, will celebrate...

By Sharon McLoone | October 15, 2007; 08:50 AM ET | Comments (1)

Telecom Consultancy Prospers through Customization

When a downtown Washington law firm was required to build offices three stories underground to comply with D.C. height requirements it called upon a very small consultancy to help it with unique telecommunications needs. The father and son team of Richard and Andrew Glasgow was able to figure out a...

By Sharon McLoone | October 10, 2007; 10:41 AM ET | Comments (0)

Helping Clients Put Their Best Foot Forward

There's no doubt about who wears the pants at Maryann Bastnagel's small business -- all 14 pairs of the good black ones that are her signature outfit. Image consultant Maryann Bastnagel. As a professional image and wardrobe consultant, Bastnagel has built up a clientele among some of Washington's movers and...

By Sharon McLoone | October 5, 2007; 10:41 AM ET | Comments (1)

Virginia Couple Has Designs on New Business

(Editor's Note: Due to privacy concerns, information about the location of Three Potato Four's business operations has been modified since the article was first published.) One potato, two potato, three potato four, how can I get this shop off the floor? Eli and Morales at the computer in their "office"...

By Sharon McLoone | October 2, 2007; 11:21 AM ET | Comments (0)

Vintage Networking

Wine lovers aren't hard to find in the nation's capital, where fine vintages (and even the cheap stuff) are served up regularly on the K Street cocktail party circuit and on back decks and living rooms across the capital region. So it's a bit of a surprise that the Traveling...

By Sharon McLoone | September 28, 2007; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Boosting Team Spirit Via Toddler Seats

The Harden family was strolling through Chapel Hill one rainy day, revisiting the place where Boyd Harden earned two academic degrees from the University of North Carolina. He was pushing along a stroller carrying his young daughter, who was protected from the showers by a plastic rain cover. He was...

By Sharon McLoone | September 25, 2007; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Green Energy Firm of Five Hopes to Convert 5,000

Clean Currents, a "clean energy" broker is finalizing a joint marketing partnership with Washington Gas Energy Services to offer 5,000 residents throughout eligible portions of Maryland and the District of Columbia the option of powering their homes via wind and other renewable energy sources. Clean Current's Gary Skulnik in front...

By Sharon McLoone | September 4, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

MusiKids Strikes a Chord with Families

Cacophony enters a household with the arrival of children and sometimes at a fever pitch, but eventually and hopefully a melody is reached, which is how musiKids helps families harmonize. Lisa Flaxman, the firm's president and founder, took her natural talent as a songstress and educator to link parents and...

By Sharon McLoone | August 16, 2007; 11:09 AM ET | Comments (1)

Waiting for a Green Light from Arlington County

EnviroCAB plans to make history, but first it needs to obtain a license to operate from Virginia's Arlington County. The company plans to be the nation's first "carbon negative" taxi service, which means it will reduce its fleet's "carbon footprint" -- the amount of carbon dioxide that it emits over...

By Sharon McLoone | August 9, 2007; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Do You Name a Store? Gingerly.

What's in a name? For a clothing retailer, a lot. Sure, retailing is about location and hard work, but it's also about image. Gretchen Hitchner spent months thinking about the name for her soon-to-open women's boutique, which will be located in Bethesda Row. She had opened a similar spot in...

By Sharon McLoone | August 6, 2007; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (4)

It's Dinner Time, Preheat the Stove and Log On

Some good ideas need to simmer for a while and some need to stew, but Aviva Goldfarb knows how to dish it out. The Chevy Chase, Md., resident took her cooking hobby and turned it into a bustling business. Goldfarb is the author of the Six O'Clock Scramble, a weekly...

By Sharon McLoone | August 1, 2007; 11:35 AM ET | Comments (0)

Project Varsity Shoots for Success

The fans go wild! That's what Trevor Goss is hoping for next month when he plans to launch a new sports networking Web site for the high school athletic community. "There are many athletes, coaches, fans, journalists and college recruiters out there who want to share photos, videos, data and...

By Sharon McLoone | July 30, 2007; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (5)

Defense Contractor Plays 'Finders Keepers'

BriarTek finds people who want to be found. On the BriarTek shop floor. (Courtesy Joe Landa) The small Alexandria, Va.-based company makes the MOBI, an electronic beacon that attaches to a sailor's uniform and activates a radio signal if the sailor falls overboard. Company cofounder Joe Landa says BriarTek has...

By Sharon McLoone | July 23, 2007; 09:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

Green Conferencing Is Smart Business for Va. Firm

The glass-walled offices of Harlan Lee & Associates look out over thick, leafy green trees that partially obscure a colorful playground below. The site is like a cool drink of water that drowns out the gleaming metal and constant hum of traffic in the Northern Virginia edge city of Tysons...

By Sharon McLoone | July 16, 2007; 06:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

An Artsy Approach to Finding the Sweet Spot

Life is much more than a box of chocolates for Eric Nelson, the owner and purveyor of Artfully Chocolate in Alexandria, Va. Inside Artfully Chocolate in Alexandria, Va. He opened his store in the city's Del Ray neighborhood last year, creating a space where he and his domestic partner, orchid...

By Sharon McLoone | July 10, 2007; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (4)

 

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