I can comfortably say that we’re living in a time where there’s a significant number of people that want financial independence through running a business. Having a business is easy, but making it grow and become profitable in the long run is a different story. Many of us know the struggle behind reaching that sweet story to success, but we’re always motivated by origin stories of others that made it. To keep us motivated, we’ve gathered a few origin stories to inspire you.
Origin Stories: Article – SPEND LESS. LIVE MORE.
Founded by a group of software engineers, Aamir Baig, Fraser Hall, brothers Sam and Andy Prochazka, Article quickly grew to become a multi-million dollar furniture business. But, just like their competitors, they started small, with limited funding.
The spark that created Article came about while these four friends were exploring the Arctic Circle in 2014. When Article was founded, the new-to-the-furniture-world quartet focused their business model towards urban Millennials, with elegant, but yet simple designs. As the simplicity and efficiency of business grew, the number of products multiplied, and so did the company’s profits.
In 2016, Article bagged $50 million in revenue. By the end of 2017, that figure doubled and now Article is expecting to reach $200 million this year. They were also awarded the entrepreneur of the year award in 2018.
According to their website, they became the middle man. “No showrooms, no salespersons, no unnecessary layers”
Advice for startups:
“Hire a lot of talented people that drive smart decisions and smart actions across the board, whether its product development, creative development, technology, operations, or marketing. Effectiveness in our business requires constant innovation and improvement and that can only be scaled through talent.”-Aamir Baig, CEO and Managing Director
Origin Stories: Knix – Solving Unsexy Women Problems Tastefully
Being a woman is not easy. Some women have some unpleasant bodily problems that many men are not aware of. The company founder, Joanna Griffiths created a product line to address the specific needs of women.
The life-changing idea behind Knix was born while Joanna was doing her MBA, during which she talked to various women about specific issues affecting them. She realized the serious need for intimate apparel women would enjoy, and started a crowd-funding that saw the launch of Knix. In 2015, Knix managed to cash out 2 million in bra pre-sales.
Innovative materials, quick dry, leak-proof and supreme product comfort, all contribute to Knix’s success. What distinguishes them, is their special way of using bonding bras. What you get is the strength of a wire bra without the discomfort of a wire bra.
Like Article, Joanna is aiming to become the sole middle-person. That way there’s no loss in profit, no hassle, and purely one-on-one with the customer.
Advice to startups:
“make something that people need and want. A lot of times when people start a business, they do it in a bit of a silo. They can have a thesis or what they think the opportunity is, but I can’t stress how important it is to identify who your end customer is, and meet with them and understand their pain points. Then, reverse-engineer a product or service that fundamentally meets their needs. Without that, you’re just trying to sell something that no one wants.”- Joanna Griffiths, CEO
Origin Stories: Shopify – You’ve Got The will. We’ve Got The Way.
Based in Ottawa, Shopify is the go-to name when it comes to e-commerce, although it wasn’t always like that. Here’s the origin story behind how Shopify came to be number one, on the e-commerce cloud.
I said something at the beginning of this article; “I can comfortably say that we’re living in a time where there’s a significant number of people that want financial independence through running a business.” This is the fuel that started Shopify.
Shopify started out selling snowboards. The company’s drive for independence forced them to create a platform where they work directly with customers to help build their brand. Following their example, Tobias Lutke, Daniel Weinland, and Scott Lake considered offering their services to other businesses in 2006.
Today, over 800.000 stores are running through Shopify. $100 billion worth of sales and 4000 people all over North America keeping the machine running.
Advice for startups:
“We encourage everyone to experiment, take risks, and push the envelope.”
Origin Stories: StickerYou – When Your Message Matters, Make It Stick!
Personalization is something we all like. There’s just no better feeling than having something that’s unique and it belongs to you. However, individuality is usually expensive, but with StickerYou it doesn’t have to be, and it’s not.
This origin story started in 2008 when Andrew Witkin was inspired by the colorful sticker art culture of Los Angeles’ Manhattan Beach. Using one machine and a simple web widget to offer customized designs, StickerYou was born. Fast forward to 2018, and StickerYou is an influential e-commerce trendsetter, using innovative die-cut and automation technology to create customized stickers, decals, iron-ons, badges, patches, labels, magnets and more.
StickerYou’s passion and drive towards a robust customer-centric experience is second to none. By reverse engineering eCommerce, they have already added a brick-and-mortar location to enhance further and support their growing customer base.
Like Shopify, StickerYou is an inspiration for Canadian tech companies desiring to push the boundaries beyond what’s possible.
We know some of you are business owners and entrepreneurs. Starting a company is easy, as we mentioned earlier in this article, but to grow and maintain a successful brand takes hard work and diligence. The companies represented on this list, are at the peak of their game, and they continue to climb. What separates these companies, is the constant push for innovation in a competitive global market.