Many books on startups and business talk about how there are right and wrong reasons for starting a business. So, we asked a handful of successful founders about their reasons and the thought-process behind starting their business.

Mente Bezuneh | Cinematographer, Director & Editor

I have always loved storytelling, and I have always done so through photography and videography. I wanted to reach as many people as possible with my work and tell their stories. I realized – what’s better than giving this hobby of mine a name and identity, and that was the birth of Mentopia Productions. Read more>>

Brian Millage | Nonprofit Professional & Style Consultant

The thought behind starting The Millage was to aid individuals in helping choose their attire for special events/occasions, photoshoots, and life’s special moments. Before The Millage, I was simply helping family members figure out what to wear to weddings, funerals, birthday dinners, and graduations. As time progressed, friends began asking me to assist them in finding outfits for dates, galas, and photoshoots. In due time, my friends, #shoutout to Think Tank Tuesdays, politely pushed me to starting a business that would allow me to continue aiding people in dressing for their special events, and simply make a profit. Helping folks choose which outfits to wear, evolved into helping people revamp their closets, convert their wardrobe, and ultimately, feel more comfortable with choosing their daily outfits. Read more>>

Christopher St. Leger | Painter

Yes, art-making is my business. But my need to make paint came without a business concept while in my twenties. I needed to paint like some people need coffee or alcohol or worse. Years of this transpired before I looked down and realized that I had a bloodline of creation that was able to sustain something like a business. I reflect on my years of painting and marvel at how the business of selling paintings has changed. When I started taking paintings to the public I had to find walls in cafes or restaurants, which lead to art galleries, and eventually art institutions. But I feel that social media has returned me to a direct one-on-one encounter with collectors. The only art gallery I work with is located in the small town of Lockhart, where I also happen to live with my family. In nearly every way, this combined formula is exactly what I dreamed about when I set out as a youngster. Read more>>

Larissa Wilaon | Gluten Free (Allergen Friendly) Baker

It was actually a labor of love for my daughter Hannah. When she was five she told me she wanted to start a bakery for people her with food allergies. She’s now 12 and a big help around the bakery. Read more>>

Jay Clark | Videographer & Cinematographer

My thought process was pretty simple, I didn’t want to work for someone else. After hopping from job to job and not really knowing what path I would take, once I had the opportunity to work for myself and love what I do, it was a no brainer. Read more>>

Amara Walker | CEO & Sales Agent

I was laid off and decided I have 3 girls and my husband has lost 50%off his pay, life still goes on and I have to show my daughters how to do it with Grace, even when it’s grimy and hard. Read more>>

Colleen Fischer | Partner & Producer

Genius House Media was born from a combination of demand in an online marketplace, and a passion for video production. I had always worked in the field of marketing and communications and as this became an increasingly digital landscape, the need for quality AND quantity in video grew. Now, in addition to TV commercials, marketers needed consistent top notch digital videos for online ads, social media and a growing number of platforms. At the time my partner, Adam, was managing a video production team that churned out tons of educational content and promotional videos. His education and background was in filmmaking and he was also noticing the evolving industry. Read more>>

Tanner Mitchell | Owner

The business really started on Instagram. I was always posting plant photos, projects, and little tips that helped me be successful. The more I posted, the more people would ask if I had plants for sale. I built a little website and would host weekly Facebook Live sales. These two outlets had us swamped in the shipping department and with porch pick up at our home for the locals. Orders would pile up because you have to ship all plants on Monday so that they arrive before the weekend. The last thing you want is a live plant sitting in a warehouse with no heating or cooling over the weekend! We knew we had grown out of our home when we had all the hallways, living room, dining room, and kitchen lined with boxes of plants ready to be shipped out. Read more>>

Kevin Craft | Brand Designer

To be honest, for the longest time, I didn’t even see it as an option for me. Being a full time art director for so long, I had picked up the occasional freelance project here and there, something to do for extra money on the weekends, but never enough to make a living off of. What I did know was I wasn’t being challenged enough, or creatively fulfilled doing what I was doing. I had two options, find a new agency or do what scared me the most, and go off on my own. I was actually at a friend’s wedding when I decided to finally take the plunge. A lot of people I knew from my art school days were also there (it was my college room mate’s ceremony). Read more>>

Jaime Resendiz | Real Estate Marketing Consultant

I started my consulting company to help real estate agents with their business. The reason I started the business was because 1) the failure rate in real estate is extremely high (over 85%) 2) the marketers that ‘help’ agents charge them thousands and thousands of dollars without providing much in return. Read more>>

Theresa Schlossberg | Artist & Owner

When I first started out, I followed the path recommended by my professors and the industry at the time. Over time, it became clear, that was not the path that would lead me to my end goal. I didn’t care about being remembered in the annals of Art History or becoming the next big name in Fine Art. So after a lot of thought and deliberation, I decided to take a path less travelled. My goal, was to elevate the concept of Geek Art by making semi-abstract and abstract fandom themed art. A fan called it Elevated Geek, and it stuck with me. There is a market for geek theme art that isn’t over typical. I am passionate about what I create, and by making art that I would be proud to hang in my home, I know that others would be too. Read more>>

Reed Navarro | Resin & Alcohol Ink Artist

I started my art journey in the pursuit of “myself”. I needed a creative outlet where I could escape from my own mind for a short period of time while still being at home taking care of two toddlers. Over the last 12 months it grew quickly from being just a hobby into a business. I never thought it would become a business! Once I saw the reaction and demand for things I was making I knew that I had found something far greater than a hobby. I had unlocked a way for me to still be a working mom while at home. There have been times as a new small business order where the demands are overwhelming as a one woman show. But I always find a way to get it all done and bringing joy and happiness into peoples homes and offices with my art is so fulfilling. Read more>>

Cliff & Jan Hand | Home Decor Manufacturers

When we started Recherche Furnishings, Inc. 10 years ago in Rowlett, TX, we wanted to meld our unique backgrounds, have the freedom from our corporate jobs, and create a product that was “green”. As a husband and wife team, we bring different backgrounds to the table and wanted to be able to use both our creative abilities and operational experiences. Most of all we wanted to be able to keep old wood out of the landfills by utilizing reclaimed wood. Read more>>

Dr. Randy Bell II | Pharmacist, Realtor & Entrepreneur

I was working as a Retail Pharmacist with CVS Pharmacy after graduating from Florida A&M University (Doctorate of Pharmacy Degree) from 2010-2016. I always knew I wanted to go into business for myself so I researched the real estate business and came to the conclusion that I would earn a living helping people with their housing situation. The beauty of the business is that you can make money on the buy side and the sell side. As long as you put yourself out there and are knowledgeable to clients, you can easily create opportunities. Read more>>

Chelsea Craft | Fiber Artist

I can’t really say I had a thought process of any kind. I’ve allowed everything to develop organically. I problem solve as I go along. Building a new business has required me to put on many different hats and learn new trades as I go along. The product is a small percentage of what goes into building a business. As the business grows I am learning and evolving and learning what clients like, need, or expect from me. Read more>>

Kendrick Shaw | Destination Wedding Photographer

When I started my photography business, I was already neck deep into the wedding industry. I began as a floral assistant and project manager for a new floral design company. I enjoyed the wedding industry so much, I knew I found a career in it. Watching teams come together and create a magical day was just so beautiful to be apart of. Watching our couples have the best time in the settings that we created for them gave me the best feeling. When I decided to leave the floral side of the business, I knew for sure I wanted to pursue photography full time. It was my passion, my calling. When I purchased my first camera in 2013, I was hooked and knew I loved the artistry behind photographing and wanted to create a career out of it full time. I had a great support system at the time and my family and friends encouraged me every step of the way. Read more>>

Ayo Aigbe | CEO & Founder

“There has to be a better way.” That was the thought that came to mind whenever I saw my favorite sweater ruined. As I took off the sweater from the hanger, I noticed that it had shoulder bumps on each end. I was flustered, searching Google for options on how to remove the shoulder bumps. I tried everything—from putting hot water on each end and drying it to ironing out the shoulder. None of it worked. Still flustered, I was curious to see if anyone had gone through the same thing. I began asking more of my friends and people on campus if they had similar issues through a verbal survey and I found a common narrative: the traditional hanger design sucked. Read more>>

Kristin Clark | Student Success Coach

When I get asked the question: Why did you decide to start a business helping students find their best career interests, my answer comes easily. I just couldn’t get out of bed and go to work one more day in a job I hated. I was in a high corporate position making very good money, recognized for being really good at my job and I hated it. But I didn’t know why or what to do. I didn’t know how to find what would be satisfying or make me happy. I only knew I was miserable. Then I found CliftonStrengths. Light bulbs went off. I saw why I was so miserable, and it saved me from a job I hated and a life that was getting harder and harder to live. I finally found a way to identify and give words to my strengths and talents and it opened up a whole new world. Read more>>