The transition from startup to million dollar business is extremely rare. Those that have made the leap have taken a common problem or pet peeve and approached it in a new way. While the vast majority of people will complain about inconvenience or lack of service, the smartest entrepreneurs do something about it. Most of all, they have impeccable timing.
The subscription meal service solves several problems at once and has risen to the top as the premiere business in its field. Founded by venture investor, Matt Salzberg, catering business owner, Matthew Wadiak, and tech whiz, Ilia Papas, the company serves more than 2 million meals each month nationwide. Customers get fresh ingredients and original recipes delivered straight to their door.
Blue Apron eliminates the eternal question of “What’s to eat?” There’s no tiring shopping in a crowded super market after work, no recipes to look up, and all the necessary ingredients are included for complete convenience. Meals are nutritious and range from Mediterranean meals to one-pan dinners.
The digital banking company markets itself as a resource for the “unbanked.” It specializes in providing quick loans to clients based on an individual’s online data rather than a traditional credit rating. The lender utilizes its own data analyzation software and has more than 2 million customers.
Founded in Feb. 2013 by George Bousis and Bradley Wasz, Raise solves the problem of what to do with all those pesky gift cards. The startup was a spinoff of the savings website they were working on in 2011. The founders pivoted to the $400 million gift card industry. With 20 percent of gift card dollars left unspent each year, the time was ripe for the concept.
Raise has expanded and now employs over 160 people, has more than 1 million customers, and achieved $100 million in revenues within just 14 months of its founding. Raise takes 15 percent from the seller of each transaction and received a $62 million investment in Jan. 2018.
Millions of individuals are underwater with their educational costs, without the ability to pay or claim them in a bankruptcy. SoFi addresses that by providing student loan refinancing and personal loans. Founders Mike Cagney, Daniel Macklin, James Finnigan and Ian Brady are on track to generate $40 million in revenue by the end of 2018 and anticipate hiring 150 additional employees.
T-shirts are a universally accepted necessity for wardrobes around the world. Teespring was founded by Brown University grads, Walker Williams and Evan Stites-Clayton, as a charitable endeavor to support a local bar that was facing closure.
Launched in 2011, they sold 6 million T-shirts in 2017 and added hoodies to their repertoire in 2018. Teespring also opened a new production facility in Kentucky capable of producing 100,000 units each day. The company’s revenues could easily top $200,000 million by the end of 2018, according to Forbes.
An Entrepreneur’s Dream
Every entrepreneur dreams of runaway success, but few startups achieve it. The Top 5 Startups all made the lives of clients easier, more convenient or financially better by approaching a common problem in a new and innovative way. Even more importantly, the timing was right. Consumers and the market at large were ready for what they had to offer.