145 Simple Million-Dollar Ecommerce Stores

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Ever wondered what e-commerce products are generating millions of dollars?

It's usually the simplest products that are the most successful.

With great branding and marketing, these founders were able to turn simple ideas into million (or multi-million) dollar businesses.

Here are 145 million dollar e-commerce stores, as well as the stories on how they got started:

1. Diagnostic tools ($42M/year)

Tyler Robertson started Diesel Laptops over 5 years ago - they are now doing $3,500,000/month.

  • Product: diagnostic tools
  • Location: Irmo, South Carolina, USA
  • Revenue: $3,500,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 150

At first, my company was simply just bundling various products to create an easier, more simple way for customers to buy what they needed. To connect to a commercial truck to perform diagnostics, you need three things -- Diagnostic software, laptop, and a adapter that interfaces between the truck and the laptop. As you can imagine, most of our customer base (diesel technicians and repair shop owners) aren’t the most technical savvy group. They didn’t understand what was needed to make everything work, and they would have to purchase from multiple vendors to put together what they needed.

My solution was taking different vendors products, bundling them into one kit, and making sure it was “ready to go” out of the box when the customer received it. As simple as that sounds, no one else was doing, and no one else does this today. If you buy a kit from another vendor, you are doing all of your own installation, licensing, configuring, and testing. While a lot of people are tech savvy, our customer base typically is not, and this is another advantage we have when selling diagnostic kits.

However, what I quickly found out was that customers needed two more things -- Technical support and repair information. We were selling a great tool, and it would give diagnostic codes and live data, but end users were still confused on how to repair the truck.

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Tyler Robertson, on starting Diesel Laptops ($3,500,000/month) full story ➜

2. Growing equipment for plants. ($37.2M/year)

Nate Lipton started Growers House about 9 years ago - they are now doing $3,100,000/month.

  • Product: growing equipment for plants.
  • Location: Tucson, Arizona, USA
  • Revenue: $3,100,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 50

The decision to move to Tucson, AZ was driven by the large distributors we desired to purchase from rather than our first choice for a location. Ideally, we would have chosen Las Vegas or Phoenix as a shipping hub, but the large distributors in my industry with all of the most requested products had territories for their dealers. Las Vegas and Phoenix were completely saturated with competing stores. After searching for any open space to locate, Tucson, AZ came up on the radar.

It may add context for you to understand that I’ve had a difficult time with patience all my life. Everything should have been done yesterday, and always ‘strike while the iron is hot’, yada yada yada… Once Tucson, AZ was greenlit by the distributors, I packed everything I could in my car and left everything else in San Francisco. Mind you I have never been to Tucson, but I was now driving to this city to make it my residence and start a business. Needless to say, things happened very quickly.

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Nate Lipton, on starting Growers House ($3,100,000/month) full story ➜

3. Current-model exported vehicles ($27.6M/year)

Nathan Huskins started Marshal Group LLC about 13 years ago - they are now doing $2,300,000/month.

  • Product: Current-Model Exported Vehicles
  • Location: Illinois, USA
  • Revenue: $2,300,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 5

Many consumers may think an overseas car transaction is simple, just an easy money exchange. But it’s not simple. The process involves land logistics, sea logistics, FedEx and U.S. Customs, as well as wire fees and transportation fees. In fact, an average deal probably has ten to twelve financial transactions.

Therefore, in order to start my business, I had to gain a lot of product knowledge and industry knowledge. I spent a great deal of time researching and learning as much as I possibly could.

I've never stopped researching and learning. During my 12 years as an entrepreneur in the vehicle exporting industry, I have had to continually stay current on multiple topics, including vehicle trends, government regulations and changing currency rates.

how-i-started-a-2-3m-month-business-exporting-vehicles-abroad

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Nathan Huskins, on starting Marshal Group LLC ($2,300,000/month) full story ➜

4. Immersive experiences. ($60M/year)

Ryan Hogan started Hunt A Killer over 4 years ago - they are now doing $5,000,000/month.

  • Product: immersive experiences.
  • Location: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  • Revenue: $5,000,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 62

Our first Hunt A Killer episode was very much trial and error. We had only two writers (including our Cofounder, Derrick Smith) and a graphic designer. And we were completing the development of episodes a week before they shipped – lead time for sourcing items was extremely limited.

We created partnerships with local printers to ensure we could achieve the authenticity of the documents. For instance, our early Hunt A Killer seasons were based on a Hanibbal Lecter-style character who wrote to our Members from a medical institution. Since he was using a typewriter, we sourced and mass-produced using an antique letterpress so the letters would be slightly indented, as if each letter were individually typed.

Our item selection was at the mercy of traditional sourcing on sites like Amazon. To convey some of the settings in the story, we would send paper pill cups – and it got to the point where we were ordering 10,000 in bulk each month. There was even a time where alligator teeth were a part of the story, and they were actually sourced domestically!

how-we-created-a-2mm-month-subscription-based-mystery-games-business

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Ryan Hogan, on starting Hunt A Killer ($5,000,000/month) full story ➜

5. Silicone rings ($24M/year)

KC Holiday started QALO over 7 years ago - they are now doing $2,000,000/month.

  • Product: Silicone rings
  • Location: Santa Ana, California, USA
  • Revenue: $2,000,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 45

Most people see our product and the first thing they think is how simple it is. Five years ago, I would agree with them. Yes, the concept is simple, and the thought of manufacturing silicone rings seems easy enough, but we have transformed the jewelry industry.

We’ve done that through an innovative focus on product evolution and sophistication in manufacturing. We approach manufacturers that have never created what we have conceived. That’s powerful.

Initial design and prototyping

how-kc-holiday-built-qalo-a-100mm-silicone-ring-business

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KC Holiday, on starting QALO ($2,000,000/month) full story ➜

6. Dental products ($24M/year)

Josh Elizetxe started Snow over 3 years ago - they are now doing $2,000,000/month.

  • Product: dental products
  • Location: Scottsdale, Arizona, USA
  • Revenue: $2,000,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 16

Anything we have sold we have worked with experts to create and develop. Everything we sell has been created by us. It was important for us to make a product that makes sense for our customers. We offer 6 months of teeth whitening serum in each box and the serum is applied directly to the teeth so you’re not wasting gel. We created a packaging and an unboxing experience for our customers to add value to our brand and to our customers’ experience.

We wanted to make packaging that the customer would keep. This March we came out with our Wireless system and again just like our Wired system we went out to design and improve the product in every aspect. We wanted to merge tech with oral care and that's what we set out to do. Through the process of creating our products, we hold 5 world patents on our products.

Creating something from scratch working with dental experts, 10 years of experience selling products online.

how-i-started-a-2m-month-premium-oral-care-products-business

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Josh Elizetxe, on starting Snow ($2,000,000/month) full story ➜

7. Personalized photo products. ($18M/year)

Jainam Shah started CanvasChamp over 8 years ago - they are now doing $1,500,000/month.

  • Product: Personalized photo products.
  • Location: Georgia
  • Revenue: $1,500,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 180

I want CanvasChamp to sell all types of items that are the true essence of personalization. Hence I needed to figure out two things: make the most high-quality products at the lowest prices and a very friendly, responsive website to guide people to their satisfaction with my products.

Production

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Jainam Shah, on starting CanvasChamp ($1,500,000/month) full story ➜

8. Lifestyle store for dog owners ($14.4M/year)

Justin Palmer started iHeartDogs over 7 years ago - they are now doing $1,200,000/month.

  • Product: Lifestyle Store For Dog Owners
  • Location: Anaheim, California, USA
  • Revenue: $1,200,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 50

The first product we ever manufactured was almost an accident. On a whim, my partner Marshall and his wife designed a beaded bracelet with a couple of charms. We placed an order, and sooner than we expected we had 500 of them sitting in our office.

In our Facebook communities, we had noticed how many people posted memorials of their pets who had recently passed. We decided we’d make this bracelet a memorial for those who had recently lost a pet. Each of the 22 beads on the bracelet represented a meal we donated to a shelter pet in honor of their beloved pup.

how-we-started-a-1-2m-month-lifestyle-store-for-dog-owners

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Justin Palmer, on starting iHeartDogs ($1,200,000/month) full story ➜

9. Drinkware ($144M/year)

Dylan Jacob started BrüMate about 4 years ago - they are now doing $12,000,000/month.

  • Product: Drinkware
  • Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
  • Revenue: $12,000,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 20

Before investing in molds I wanted to be sure that there was an actual market for this product.

The initial design process started with a rough drawing that I brought to a local engineer for modeling. After the 3D model was done, I sent those files to a 3D printing lab called Xometry in Maryland for creation and then used that to pitch to local breweries that used 16oz cans. After convincing one of the largest breweries in Indiana to carry the Hopsulator, I spent around $3,000 on creating 100 rough prototypes that we launched into their store for customer feedback.

After being in their store for around 45 days and running some targeted ads on Facebook to our audiences to begin gathering pre-orders / emails, I was confident there was a market for the product but I knew it still had a lot of room for improvement. It ended up taking 13 more prototypes and almost a full year to finally get the final product molded, produced, and into my hands.

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Dylan Jacob, on starting BrüMate ($12,000,000/month) full story ➜

10. Car audio products ($12M/year)

Johnathan Price started Down4SoundShop.Com almost 5 years ago - they are now doing $1,000,000/month.

  • Product: Car Audio Products
  • Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
  • Revenue: $1,000,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 5

The very first “product” I came out with other than Down4sound t-shirts was Certified Basshead “bassbudz”. The reason for this was no matter what earbuds I got my hands on at the time, there never seemed to be enough bass. So I knew there had to be more people like this in the world thinking the same thing.

I flew to Las Vegas to attend the CES show (consumer electronics show). I had heard there would be manufacturers of products like these there so I could possibly meet with them and come up with something. After locating some companies and sitting down with them and listening to dozens of samples of headphones they had on display, none of them excited me on what I was looking for. I told them I would need more bass while maintaining clarity. So the sales rep told me it would have to be something custom tooled/designed to be exactly what I needed.

We agreed that they would return to China and tool a prototype just for me and they would send it to me for testing. A few weeks later I received it in the mail. It sounded HORRIBLE. I thought to myself, it took them that long to come up with something this bad? This is going to be a long journey. I emailed them on what needed to be changed, and did this back and forth for the next 2-3 months until I received the perfect pair!

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Johnathan Price, on starting Down4SoundShop.Com ($1,000,000/month) full story ➜

11. Smart camera ($12M/year)

Yun Zhang started Wyze Cam over 3 years ago - they are now doing $1,000,000/month.

  • Product: Smart camera
  • Location: Kirkland, Washington, USA
  • Revenue: $1,000,000/ month
  • Founders: 4
  • Employees: 30

We have strong relationships with suppliers in China, allowing us to produce great products at competitive prices. We formed this network by completing an intensive search around the world, traveling to meet factory owners and networking. We were able to identify manufacturers that shared the same beliefs and mission as our own: Products should have good design, high quality and affordable pricing.

We started with a smart home camera because visual connection is a deeply rooted human need. Once we knew which product we wanted to launch, we worked with our ODM partner to license the hardware for Wyze Cam. This turned out to be a great first product, because on the hardware side we were quite satisfied with what the partner already had to offer.

We then put our focus on the software and hired a great engineering team to create the firmware and the Wyze App. Ease-of-use and the user experience were of utmost importance to us during this process and we think we accomplished that task as our customer feedback has been extremely positive.

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Yun Zhang, on starting Wyze Cam ($1,000,000/month) full story ➜

12. Natural dog treats. ($12M/year)

Kyle Goguen started Pawstruck almost 7 years ago - they are now doing $1,000,000/month.

  • Product: Natural dog treats.
  • Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Revenue: $1,000,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 17

The majority of our products are made from natural animal body parts--things like cow ears, pig ears, hooves, etc. For that reason, our manufacturing and design process looks very different than most product-based businesses. Our very first products were our 100% natural bully sticks for dogs. Bully Sticks are made from a beef muscle. We scoured North America for the very best bulls ordering samples from as many suppliers as possible.

We initially worked with middlemen that were willing to provide us product at a lower quantity since we weren’t ready for full container loads. As the business grew, we eventually found that South American had the highest quality free-range, and grass-fed beef available and started importing directly and the rest is history! We started by selling directly through our website and then quickly expanded to other channels like Amazon. Here's an example of our Amazon bully sticks.

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Kyle Goguen, on starting Pawstruck ($1,000,000/month) full story ➜

13. Organic and wild skincare ($12M/year)

Kevin Gianni started Annmarie over 11 years ago - they are now doing $1,000,000/month.

  • Product: organic and wild skincare
  • Location: Berkeley, California, USA
  • Revenue: $1,000,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 26

At first, it was easy because Bunnie had already had a line that was in spas, so we took some of her ideas and used some of the products she already had. As we evolved, we started to sweep those products and come up with our own. I guess in a way we’re lucky because she had some of those products in her spas.

We took what Bunnie had a base for Annmarie Skin Care and reformulated, adding in some different active ingredients and designed our own packaging.

how-we-went-from-youtubers-to-1m-month-skin-care-business

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Kevin Gianni , on starting Annmarie ($1,000,000/month) full story ➜

14. T-shirt quilts. ($9.6M/year)

Ross Lohr started Project Repat over 8 years ago - they are now doing $800,000/month.

  • Product: T-shirt quilts.
  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  • Revenue: $800,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 2

We really learned the most in designing our custom t-shirt quilts through the feedback of what our customers were asking for. When we started out, we really knew nothing about the textile industry, or quilting, or turning t-shirts into quilts.

We originally were offering a t-shirt scarf made out of t-shirts. But after hearing so many times about how customers wanted a quilt, we decided to try making a quilt for them. It took 10 hours and would have costed more than $250!

We decided that there must be a better way to make this product at a more affordable price. So we designed a quilt with t-shirts on both sides and nothing in between, just like our t-shirt scarf but with more rows and columns. It worked pretty well! Nobody had ever made a t-shirt quilt that way before.

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Ross Lohr, on starting Project Repat ($800,000/month) full story ➜

15. Hydration & nutrition supplements ($12M/year)

Patrick Sullivan Jr. started Jigsaw Health over 15 years ago - they are now doing $1,000,000/month.

  • Product: Hydration & Nutrition Supplements
  • Location: Scottsdale, Arizona, USA
  • Revenue: $1,000,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 24

We launched JigsawHealth.com on April 19, 2005 as an online health resource for others like my Dad who had been struggling with complex, chronic health challenges. It was an exciting day!

However, we also made a near fatal flaw: My Dad had invented several dozen new formulas, and we were carrying “white label” versions of other health products that Dad wanted to offer as well. At launch, we had 66 different types of products (aka. “SKUs”) and ZERO customers. And we had to pay for all of the product inventory up front.

how-this-father-son-combo-built-a-9m-year-dietary-supplement

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Patrick Sullivan Jr., on starting Jigsaw Health ($1,000,000/month) full story ➜

16. Hair extensions & products ($7.8M/year)

Mikey Moran started Private Label Extensions almost 8 years ago - they are now doing $650,000/month.

  • Product: Hair Extensions & Products
  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  • Revenue: $650,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 20

It is a very strenuous process when it comes to finding the best manufacturer overseas. A lot of people getting into the hair industry have this problem, and we did the hard work. We went through a lot of bad products to find the right manufacturer that would best suit our needs with great quality products.

The real key to success is being consistent. This goes for every aspect of your business and personal growth.

I now work very closely with manufacturers and spend time at their facilities overseas. This helps build our relationship and makes it easier for us to create new products faster.

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Mikey Moran , on starting Private Label Extensions ($650,000/month) full story ➜

17. Back shaver. ($7.8M/year)

Matt Dryfhout started BAKblade almost 8 years ago - they are now doing $650,000/month.

  • Product: Back shaver.
  • Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
  • Revenue: $650,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 10

From the beginning, we knew that Angelina was going to have a large influence over the brand.

She has always understood brands and why certain brands stand out over others. She explained to me earlier on that you can have a superior brand that sells an average product. Since we both knew we had a superior product we knew that a superior brand would only help our company that much more.

One thing in particular was our website design. Early on the website was much too busy and cluttered. As you can see now our website is much cleaner and crisp.

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Matt Dryfhout, on starting BAKblade ($650,000/month) full story ➜

18. Low cost solar energy ($7.2M/year)

David Gomez started Clean Energy Solutions almost 7 years ago - they are now doing $600,000/month.

  • Product: Low Cost Solar Energy
  • Location: California, USA
  • Revenue: $600,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 20

At the time I still had some money saved up from my mortgage days but decided to do everything on a shoestring budget. I rented a desk in my friend’s office and rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

The first thing I had to do was to learn the basics of how the solar industry works. There weren’t any books at the time because the industry was just too new, so I just cold-called random people I found on the internet and started putting the pieces together.

Here’s what I learned:

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David Gomez, on starting Clean Energy Solutions ($600,000/month) full story ➜

19. Stair climbing folding cart. ($7M/year)

Michael Reznik started Upcart over 5 years ago - they are now doing $583,000/month.

  • Product: Stair climbing folding cart.
  • Location: Columbus, Ohio, USA
  • Revenue: $583,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 4

Our first challenge was taking Leonid’s Frankenstein-cart prototype and turning it into a real finished product.

Design

We hired a good local design firm that conducted some market research and worked with us on several design iterations. While their designs were beautiful, we had concerns about their practicality and feasibility of manufacturing those designs at a reasonable cost.

how-two-unlikely-partners-invented-the-upcart-and-went-viral-on-qvc

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Michael Reznik, on starting Upcart ($583,000/month) full story ➜

20. Underwear ($6M/year)

Fran Dunaway started TomboyX about 6 years ago - they are now doing $500,000/month.

  • Product: underwear
  • Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
  • Revenue: $500,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 15

Initially, we set out to make the softest, longest lasting waistband out there. We were determined to create one that you don’t even notice because it’s so comfortable, doesn’t leave a mark and doesn’t cut off your circulation.

So we sent off for samples to various suppliers and had a table full of waistbands to choose from. There was one that was close but we had to work with them to give it that little extra special sauce.

Once we had the perfect waistband formula, we focused on finding quality fabrics for the underwear and then working on a design that had seams in all the right places, legs that don’t ride up and partners who have sustainable practices.

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Fran Dunaway, on starting TomboyX ($500,000/month) full story ➜

21. Hype sneakers and streetwear ($6M/year)

Andrew and Phillip Pevzner started LacedUp over 4 years ago - they are now doing $500,000/month.

  • Product: Hype Sneakers and Streetwear
  • Location: Albany, New York, USA
  • Revenue: $500,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 25

Our “launch” was not so much a launch as a transition out of old business.

Flowboard was doing great, but we saw the writing on the wall. We saw that hoverboards were a fad and didn’t have longevity as a product. At the same time, we saw the potential and growth of collectible sneakers and Laced Up. Those few pairs of Jordan’s that our younger brother put in the store were getting more attention than the hoverboards! Phil started buying more pairs and testing out buy-sell-trade in the shop. It was quickly growing and sneakers quickly became more of our core business than the hoverboards. We decided to take a chance and begin our transition to be called Laced Up. The mall, however, told us that they had an exclusivity contract with Foot Locker, and would not let us change our name and focus on shoes. So, in June of 2016, we left Colonie mall and moved to the better mall in the area, Crossgates, to open Laced Up with shoes as our primary focus.

I came back from college and we began construction on our new store. At 4,000 square feet, it was 4 times larger than our old store, and we had nowhere near the product to fill it. The store looked so sparse and empty, we can’t believe people took us seriously. But that first day in early June 2016, we opened our doors, and I got my first taste of the real potential of sneakers. Within the first hour, someone came in and I sold him a pair of Supreme Air Jordan 5 “Camo” for $450. I was completely floored that someone was willing to spend that kind of money on sneakers, and was immediately sold on the concept. There was really a demand for this kind of store, and we could meet that demand. I was totally sold, and we haven’t looked back.

how-two-brothers-started-a-500k-month-chain-of-high-end-sneakers

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Andrew and Phillip Pevzner, on starting LacedUp ($500,000/month) full story ➜

22. Custom jewelry. ($6M/year)

Julien Plouffe started Moonglow Jewelry over 8 years ago - they are now doing $500,000/month.

  • Product: Custom jewelry.
  • Location: Miami, Florida, USA
  • Revenue: $500,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 11

Manufacturing is a process. We contracted with some amazing designers and through a lot of trial and error we came up with a process that has become polished and seamless.

I hired a conversion rate expert who told us our site flow was really bad, we identified that people needed to click way too many buttons in order to checkout, every button you add, the more people drop out and you lose potential customers along the way.

I truly believe we produce some of the nicest jewelry pieces around. But more often than not, it’s trial and error and most designs are not on time, there is so much back and forth, get ready to never give up and learn from mistakes. I write them down to make sure I don’t do them again

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Julien Plouffe, on starting Moonglow Jewelry ($500,000/month) full story ➜

23. Premium golf clubs. ($6M/year)

Tyler Sullivan started BombTech Golf about 9 years ago - they are now doing $500,000/month.

  • Product: Premium golf clubs.
  • Location: Williston, Vermont, USA
  • Revenue: $500,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 3

My first branded product I ever made (The GRENADE) was designed with a group of engineering students at the University of Vermont via the Capstone project. Each year, groups of engineering students get to work on real life projects with local businesses. I applied to have my golf driver project chosen and luckily I was!

The process to design a golf driver with 4 senior students was anything but smooth...But, the group of students that chose my project were die hard golfers and were insanely dedicated to doing anything it would take to get the design perfect. The best thing I did during this process was be involved. Every design idea, tweak, concept - I asked WHY...How? And tried to break through their design logic. As soon as we had even our most crude mock up, I sent that info to my manufacturer. I worked with them to help answer the questions I didn’t know with material options, manufacturing tolerances and all the missing pieces that the engineering students needed to know. The back and forth from student to me to manufacturer was EXTENSIVE.

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Tyler Sullivan, on starting BombTech Golf ($500,000/month) full story ➜

24. Dissolvable protein scoops. ($6M/year)

Joe Johnson started VADE Nutrition over 4 years ago - they are now doing $500,000/month.

  • Product: Dissolvable protein scoops.
  • Location: East Lansing, Michigan, USA
  • Revenue: $500,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 7

When we started this business we had to search for partners and manufacturers. I reached out to over 100 manufacturers before finding one we wanted to work with. Once we found our manufacturers the problems started. Our first manufacturer cut off communication with us as soon as we were getting ready to launch.

We found another manufacturer and invested all of our money into this powder for our new launch. Unfortunately, this manufacturer was going out of business and they lied to us about the powder. They sent us protein powder with no flavoring whatsoever.

We took a step back and started the search again. During this time we were perfecting our product formula. The search was a very long trial and error but we did find the right one that could perfect the flavor and packaging we were looking for. My advice is to know what you’re looking for and what you want and don’t settle until you find that. You don’t need to settle because someone will be able to make it happen! I learned that you can never trust anyone too much, protect your brand and company.

how-i-started-a-protein-powder-business-and-landed-shark-tank

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Joe Johnson, on starting VADE Nutrition ($500,000/month) full story ➜

25. Sports nutrition supplements ($24M/year)

Nick Bare started Bare Performance Nutrition almost 9 years ago - they are now doing $2,000,000/month.

  • Product: sports nutrition supplements
  • Location: Austin, Texas, USA
  • Revenue: $2,000,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 16

I found my first contact manufacturer online through some deep google researching. Over the years we have worked with a few different manufacturers until we found the perfect ones. Today, we work with two contract manufacturers (one is in Texas and the other is in California).

In the beginning, when we were just getting started and moving very little volume, there was never a relationship established between myself and the manufacturers. We were a small fish in a large pond. Today we talk with our manufacturers on a daily basis, and usually multiple times a day.

I personally formulated our first two products that entered the market. I worked with the contract manufacturer lab team and R&D department to bring it to life, but the majority of the input came from my research. Even though I was studying Nutrition in college, we never covered sports performance and especially dietary supplement research, so I would spend hours in the evening researching ingredients and their effectiveness. I initially put together a formula, sent it over to the manufacturer to price and received the quote - over $30 per bottle! At the price point, I would have to sell this pre-workout for it would be shunned in the market! Over the next couple of weeks, I went back and forth with the manufacturer to create the best product possible at the most reasonable price too. We removed some ingredients and added others, changing the dosage of some and ended up getting our price point to exactly where it needed to be. It ended up taking about 12 weeks to approve a formula, finalize the flavoring profile and put everything into production (which was another 12 weeks).

how-an-active-duty-soldier-built-6m-year-bare-performance-nutrition

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Nick Bare, on starting Bare Performance Nutrition ($2,000,000/month) full story ➜

26. Valuation tools for stuff ($6M/year)

Will Seippel started WorthPoint Corporation over 13 years ago - they are now doing $500,000/month.

  • Product: Valuation Tools For Stuff
  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  • Revenue: $500,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 8

For the first few months, we sat and just talked about “what are we designing?” There was a lot of discussion before technical and other details were designed and finally written. We started out using Drupal for the framework, later connecting to Grails. There was not a dark site while we initially worked on WorthPoint.com, and on May 18, 2007, we were live and open to users.

In those early days, we were not a paid subscription site; instead, we relied on ads. We quickly envisioned our key offerings and focused on building the price guide first. The team built the price guide around auction results. We acquired GoAntiques.com, which provided access to eBay data and to Grails programmers, which we needed.

Looking back, in some ways, given the collective tech knowledge of our team, it is clear that we anticipated aspects of cloud computing and massive data storage that shaped our process. As we added tens of millions of additional online auction results to our database, our price guide grew exponentially.

how-i-built-a-6m-year-antiques-art-database

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Will Seippel, on starting WorthPoint Corporation ($500,000/month) full story ➜

27. Addictively comfortable footwear ($18M/year)

Steven Sashen started Xero Shoes about 11 years ago - they are now doing $1,500,000/month.

  • Product: Addictively Comfortable Footwear
  • Location: Broomfield, Colorado, USA
  • Revenue: $1,500,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 44

At first, we were selling DIY sandal making kits. We took big sheets of rubber and cut them into smaller sheets, and took long lengths of polypropylene cord from Home Depot and cut them into shorter lengths, and bundled that together with instructions on how to make your own sandals.

We spent a couple days every week running around to every Home Depot in northern Colorado to find the cord we used for laces, and we bought every sheet of our Vibram Cherry rubber that we could find in the U.S. At one point, we owned every sheet of that material that Vibram had in the world!

One thing that I spent years NOT doing, that I now kick myself about, is adding an "exit intent pop-up" to our site, which lets people enter a sweepstakes to win a Xero Shoes gift certificate.

xero-shoes-growing-a-shoe-brand-to-460k-month

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Steven Sashen, on starting Xero Shoes ($1,500,000/month) full story ➜

28. Towels ($5.4M/year)

Andy Jefferies started Dock and Bay about 5 years ago - they are now doing $450,000/month.

  • Product: Towels
  • Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Revenue: $450,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 12

We didn’t have any experience with any of this stuff - design, manufacturing, accounting...

The process was very much randomly pulled together. We had our designs made abroad through a company called UpWork, a freelancing tool where businesses and independent professionals connect and collaborate remotely. Then it was a lot of going back and forth sending feedback on the samples we received. It wasn’t a slick process at all since we honestly didn’t have any experience so it was very much trial and error before getting a product Ben and I agreed was right.

We actually made out that we were a bigger company than we were to the manufacturers so they took us more seriously. They say fake it ‘til you make it, right? We wanted to make sure each part of the product was exactly how we wanted it and we were sent rope samples for the bags, stitching samples, material samples… I remember we actually spent a week staring at our screens agonizing over towel colours and then once we were satisfied, the sample was sent to us and the colour was completely different in person. It was all a massive learning curve.

how-two-founders-started-a-5m-year-business-selling-beach-towels

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Andy Jefferies, on starting Dock and Bay ($450,000/month) full story ➜

29. Party eyewear and flow props. ($4.8M/year)

Dan Watkins started GloFX almost 9 years ago - they are now doing $400,000/month.

  • Product: Party eyewear and flow props.
  • Location: Tallahassee, Florida, USA
  • Revenue: $400,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 25

Creating a product is not a walk in the park. One of our most substantial and earliest launches was the Lux Series, and for around two years we were pinching pennies to get enough money to start the production process. The Lux Series was specifically a Glove and Orbit launch. An Orbit is a spinning disk on a string with LED lights. When spun, the LEDs create mesmerizing patterns and trails. Gloving is a popular hobby in which people use the lights on the end of their gloves to create glowing patterns as they move their fingertips. Both very different, but the flowing aspect remains the same between the two forms.

And then when we thought we had enough money (over six-figures worth of investments) we still went $20k over budget and spent over a year editing and tweaking the prototypes to create the perfect products.

how-i-started-a-4-8m-product-business-in-the-edm-scene

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Dan Watkins, on starting GloFX ($400,000/month) full story ➜

30. Motorcycle exhausts and accessories. ($7.2M/year)

Justin Pflanz started TAB Performance almost 17 years ago - they are now doing $600,000/month.

  • Product: motorcycle exhausts and accessories.
  • Location: Lincoln, Nebraska, USA
  • Revenue: $600,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 9

In the early days, and even largely today when we’re designing a new product one of the first challenges is to get our hands on the Original Equipment (OE) part that we’d like to replace.

It’s great to experiment and try different things, as that’s how you learn what works best, but you’re probably working with a limited budget so focus on what is giving you the best ROI, rather than worrying about trying to market everywhere.

This allows us to take key measurements that we need to ensure that our parts will fit properly. It also gives us a chance to see the things we like and dislike about the OE part. From there we go to work making styling and functional changes we think our customers will like best. After making some rough prototypes we have to find a bike to test the product on.

how-two-brothers-started-a-4-8m-year-motorcycle-parts-manufacturer

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Justin Pflanz, on starting TAB Performance ($600,000/month) full story ➜

31. Wine ($4.8M/year)

Agent Red started The Wine Spies almost 14 years ago - they are now doing $400,000/month.

  • Product: Wine
  • Location: Santa Rosa, Guatemala
  • Revenue: $400,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 6

Our first website wasn’t the prettiest thing, but it was elegant and functional. We made the choice to build 100% of the software that ran our company, day-to-day.

Our platform has grown and improved but it still handles everything from logistics and fulfillment, customer service and our online selling. We even built our own compliance system that allows us to navigate the strict regulatory framework set for alcohol sellers in America. Today, the platform continues to evolve, and we’re rolling out new improvements and features on a regular basis.

We built the first version of our platform for less than $25,000 and it was paid for in less than 6 months from the time that we launched The Wine Spies.

how-i-started-a-400k-month-selling-wine-online

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Agent Red, on starting The Wine Spies ($400,000/month) full story ➜

32. Seeds & growing supplies ($4.8M/year)

Parker Garlitz started True Leaf Market over 46 years ago - they are now doing $400,000/month.

  • Product: Seeds & Growing Supplies
  • Location: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
  • Revenue: $400,000/ month
  • Founders: 4
  • Employees: 55

In the early days of our product launch, the process was a pretty shotgun. Our original wheatgrass kit was designed by Kaitlin, along with the step by step instructions. I did the (very sub-par) original photography. As it was an online / mail-order product, we did not have retail packaging and shipped the kit contents in a regular brown cardboard box.

Today, product development is much more streamlined with a dozen people working on aspects of it from sourcing and prototyping, to copywriting to photography, to packaging design, etc. Most of our products are very straight forward to new seed varieties. For example, if we want to onboard White Habanero Hot Pepper seeds, which are currently in the onboarding queue, those types of seed products go into a fairly well-developed onboarding process. We source seeds from reputable growers, send the seed for testing, sometimes do trials depending on circumstances and do photography and create size variations, etc… Simple seed products can be on-boarded fairly quickly, and we average 50 to 100 new SKUs per month in product development.

how-we-started-a-400k-month-business-selling-seeds-and-growing-supplies

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Parker Garlitz, on starting True Leaf Market ($400,000/month) full story ➜

33. Sterling silver jewelry ($4.8M/year)

Diane Lawrence & Dawn Pochek started Inspiranza Designs almost 15 years ago - they are now doing $400,000/month.

  • Product: Sterling Silver Jewelry
  • Location: Colombia
  • Revenue: $400,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 8

Today we are instrumental in the design of many of our pieces but when we began, we just started to work with wholesale companies to build our brand. We soon found that this just simply would not work. Actually, it was a disaster! Our first catalogs cost $20 per catalog to produce and we found that after we photographed the catalogs and produced them….the wholesale companies would discontinue the products! This made for a stressful start.

We would spend hours upon hours trying to find an alternative for the product that was discontinued trying to find a replacement piece that looked almost exactly like the one we had photographed and presented in our catalog!

how-our-silver-jewelry-company-went-from-200k-in-debt-to-5mm-year-sales

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Diane Lawrence & Dawn Pochek, on starting Inspiranza Designs ($400,000/month) full story ➜

34. Skincare for sensitive skin. ($4.8M/year)

Michael Koh started Tree To Tub over 4 years ago - they are now doing $400,000/month.

  • Product: Skincare for sensitive skin.
  • Location: San Francisco, California, USA
  • Revenue: $400,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 3

By the time I stole my college best friend Brian from the corporate world, I had already ran out of savings from traveling. I invested my last $10,000, he put in a little more, and we were ready to go!

Know the what, why, who, where, how about your customers. You need to toss away whatever assumptions you have about your products and customers.

Since we both had no experience in skincare manufacturing, we naively thought we could just extract the Soapberries, put the juice in a bottle, and WALLAH, that’d be our product. After 2 weeks of boiling Soapberries in our tiny kitchen, we learned that this was certainly not the way to go if we wanted to build a real business. We had to talk to someone who knows how this industry works!

how-we-started-a-4-8m-e-commerce-skincare-company

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Michael Koh, on starting Tree To Tub ($400,000/month) full story ➜

35. Smart locks. ($4.8M/year)

Anthony Chow started Igloohome over 3 years ago - they are now doing $400,000/month.

  • Product: Smart locks.
  • Location: Singapore, Singapore
  • Revenue: $400,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 35

From the beginning, we had one problem to solve - which was to enable Airbnb hosts to manage their guests in a better way.

We designed the locks with over 50 beta Airbnb hosts, iterating with them as we went.

designing-smart-locks-for-airbnbs-and-growing-to-5m-year

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Anthony Chow, on starting Igloohome ($400,000/month) full story ➜

36. Origami folding kayaks ($4.8M/year)

Anton Willis started Oru Kayak about 8 years ago - they are now doing $400,000/month.

  • Product: Origami Folding Kayaks
  • Location: Emeryville, Ontario, Canada
  • Revenue: $400,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 10

I started with folding pieces of printer paper, then cardboard, then 4x8 sheets of corrugated plastic from a sign shop. The first prototype sank in less than a minute- it turns out that a sheet that size doesn’t make a kayak big enough to float me. But I kept going, and the next prototype actually worked.

At first, it was just a fun hobby. But as I went out to test prototypes on weekends, people started to ask if and when they could buy one. Eventually, I decided to take the plunge. I got a high-paying contract day job for 6 months and saved all the money I made. This lasted me another 6 months of intensive prototyping and work on the business side of things; at that point, I also started to work with my business partner, Ardy. We launched a Kickstarter campaign in late 2012, with almost nothing in my bank account. Luckily, it raised almost half a million dollars, enough to launch a real company on a shoestring.

how-we-started-a-400k-month-origami-folding-kayaks-business

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Anton Willis, on starting Oru Kayak ($400,000/month) full story ➜

37. Apparel & accessories ($7.2M/year)

Christina DuVarney started Beautiful Disaster over 12 years ago - they are now doing $600,000/month.

  • Product: Apparel & Accessories
  • Location: California, USA
  • Revenue: $600,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 10

The start of every piece of Beautiful Disaster Clothing comes from the needs and wants of the customer. We listen to what they have gone through, what they feel and what they love to wear. We incorporate badass designs with meaningful quotes and phrases for a one-of-a-kind look.

Our designer and co-owner Jamie Vine creates our ideas into works of art, and as a team, we decide which type of garments will go best with each design. We custom produce almost every single garment and do our very best to offer a wide variety of sizes. We have expanded our clothing line to fit all shapes and sizes, with sizes 2 - 24 available in almost every item. We do our very best to reduce errors in production and printing, as we personally check each and every piece of clothing and fold and package all of our items with care.

how-i-started-a-400k-month-women-s-clothing-line

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Christina DuVarney, on starting Beautiful Disaster ($600,000/month) full story ➜

38. E-commerce fulfillment ($4.8M/year)

Joe Spisak started ShipDaddy over 1 year ago - they are now doing $400,000/month.

  • Product: e-commerce fulfillment
  • Location: Pennsylvania, USA
  • Revenue: $400,000/ month
  • Founders: 5
  • Employees: 11

Starting a business is difficult! I knew that for us to be successful we had to establish strong core values from the beginning. We decided to rally our company around the heart and soul of our team, a United States Marine Corps veteran, the ShipDaddy logo himself, Brady Farrell. Brady is a man who embodies the incredible character, determination, and loyalty. His grit and sacrifice are the foundation of our company. This is the man who was packing boxes in an oversized garage with no heat in the middle of winter, teeth chattering, frozen wind clogging up the thermal printer. Brady makes ShipDaddy what it is, and because we believe in his character so much, we made him our logo.

In this sense, since world-class service is our product, the design of our “product” was establishing faith in our brand, trust in our services, and loyalty in our business partners. Our business partners entrust us with the most critical element of their operation, getting the product into the hands of customers, and that is a responsibility we all take seriously. With Brady’s face as the ShipDaddy logo, customers feel secure knowing they can always get him on the phone. Their product is in great hands, Daddy’s hands!

The design of the logo itself had to reflect the values we hoped to portray. We use our favorite design team in Ukraine, Tubik Studios. We have worked with them on many projects, and they can seriously do it all! We sent them a description of the business much like the one included in this piece, knowing they could transform the legendary figure of Brady into the ShipDaddy forevermore. They chose to go with powerful primary colors, strong American Flag red, white, and blue, an obvious hint at the service we provide. They knocked it out of the park on their first try!

how-we-launched-a-4-8m-fulfillment-service-starting-in-our-garage

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Joe Spisak, on starting ShipDaddy ($400,000/month) full story ➜

39. Heating and cooling equipment ($4.5M/year)

Mike Luongo started Total Home Supply almost 11 years ago - they are now doing $375,000/month.

  • Product: Heating and cooling equipment
  • Location: Ohio, USA
  • Revenue: $375,000/ month
  • Founders: 5
  • Employees: 5

Our first product was our website and our people. We knew that we needed to create a great online experience for our customers. We used a combination of commercially available software and some custom development to make our unique shopping experience that helped make complicated products easier to buy.

Staying focused was the most important lesson I learned. We wasted time and money trying to be in too many categories in the beginning.

When we started Total Home Supply, we decided to have everyone work from home to keep the costs down. We invested in a phone system that would allow everyone to work no matter where they were. We used online tools to share information and keep us updated.

how-5-founders-left-their-jobs-to-start-a-4-5m-heating-cooling-business

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Mike Luongo, on starting Total Home Supply ($375,000/month) full story ➜

40. Footwear ($4.2M/year)

Matt Griffin started Combat Flip Flops almost 8 years ago - they are now doing $350,000/month.

  • Product: Footwear
  • Location: Issaquah, Washington, USA
  • Revenue: $350,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 1

The process took three years from idea to launch. It was a team effort from a large number of people to make it work. Specifically Donald Lee, Fellow Ranger and CMO and Andy Sewrey, Brother and President, as well as friends, family, and mentors.

The idea first happened in 2009 and my fellow Ranger, Donald Lee, registered our website name. We sat on it over a year until my sister-in-law married Andy Sewrey.

Andy learned about the mission, started working on designs, and helped us bring the idea into a digital rendering form. From there we started floating images and messaging on Facebook. Followers gave us feedback and input until we had a design good enough to prototype.

growing-an-e-commerce-company-with-a-positive-mission-to-350-000-mo

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Matt Griffin, on starting Combat Flip Flops ($350,000/month) full story ➜

41. Fire safety. ($3.65M/year)

Peter Thorpe started FireAvert over 8 years ago - they are now doing $304,000/month.

  • Product: Fire safety.
  • Location: Utah, USA
  • Revenue: $304,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 7

When I decided to start FireAvert I partnered with some engineers to help with the design and prototypes. The engineer that I ended up partnering with I met at my church. When I first decided that I wanted to start this business I remembered that a member at my church was an engineer/entrepreneur so I talked with him. He loved the idea and decided to come on board.

We brainstormed different ways that the device could work and settled on using the smoke alarm as a signal. We have a current model that plugs in behind the stove and syncs to the sound of the smoke detector, but have plans to alter this slightly so we can get into some different markets.

The most important thing a new entrepreneur can do is to not think they have all the answers. You need to prototype quickly and get in front of customers as soon as you can. The customer will tell you what they need. You shouldn’t assume that you have all the answers.

how-this-firefighter-invented-a-3-6m-product-that-prevents-kitchen-fires

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Peter Thorpe, on starting FireAvert ($304,000/month) full story ➜

42. Photo booths ($3.6M/year)

Brandon Wong started Photobooth Supply Co. over 7 years ago - they are now doing $300,000/month.

  • Product: Photo Booths
  • Location: California, USA
  • Revenue: $300,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 10

I’d argue that no one would buy anything unless it solves a problem. So our job as entrepreneurs is to identify which one we wish to tackle, survey, and then execute.

I’d recommend downloading Sketchup for a hardware product or Sketch for a software product. Use those tools that to make your first round of iterations. It doesn't have to be pretty, but it can communicate more effectively than a napkin sketch or even verbally.

As you can imagine, the process gets much easier when you are encountering the problem yourself. Our photography business was not scalable and unfortunately hit a revenue cap that was hard to break through. Creating additional services was the only way to move past this. Of course, this is where the photobooth came in.

embracing-the-experience-economy-with-a-300k-mo-photo-booth-startup

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Brandon Wong, on starting Photobooth Supply Co. ($300,000/month) full story ➜

43. Carry on travel backpacks ($3.6M/year)

Fred Perrotta started Tortuga over 10 years ago - they are now doing $300,000/month.

  • Product: Carry On Travel Backpacks
  • Location: Remote, Oregon, USA
  • Revenue: $300,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 9

We were clueless about design and manufacturing.

The design stage went quickly. We hired a designer on eLance and went from idea to tech pack (the blueprint for a physical product) in a few months. Sampling and manufacturing turned out to be a real problem.

We started our search for a factory in China, where most bags were made at the time. Without any connections in Asia, we were stumbling in the dark emailing random factories and working off of unreliable referrals. Finally, after months of trying to get a sample made, we got an email with a picture of our first ever physical sample.

how-we-started-a-300k-month-business-selling-carry-on-travel-backpacks

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Fred Perrotta, on starting Tortuga ($300,000/month) full story ➜

44. Office furniture ($3.6M/year)

Greg Hayes started Branch Furniture about 2 years ago - they are now doing $300,000/month.

  • Product: office furniture
  • Location: New York, New York, USA
  • Revenue: $300,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 7

Getting the first prototypes of our furniture manufactured was an intense process. We initially planned to manufacture everything in the United States, but this proved difficult for two reasons. First, the US furniture manufacturing industry has been decimated over the past thirty years, so there were very few factories for us to work with. Second, the cost to produce a run as small as our first one in the US was prohibitively expensive.

With that in mind, I started scouring the globe for the best factories, looking in Canada, Mexico, Poland, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, and India. Ultimately, China proved to be our best bet: it had by far the best supply chain, and its pricing was highly competitive, despite newly-enacted tariffs. I also found out that many of our high-end competitors were producing their furniture there, which made me feel a lot better about offshoring.

In October of 2018, I flew to China, hired a translator, and started visiting factories. Despite many disappointing meetings and plenty of dead ends, I was able to find two factories that agreed to take a risk and produce some prototypes and a small test run for us. Even better, both factories appeared to be producing very high-quality furniture.

how-i-started-a-300k-month-premium-office-furniture-business

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Greg Hayes, on starting Branch Furniture ($300,000/month) full story ➜

45. Handcrafted beds. ($3.6M/year)

Mike Schaefer started Soaring Heart Natural Beds almost 39 years ago - they are now doing $300,000/month.

  • Product: Handcrafted beds.
  • Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
  • Revenue: $300,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 15

Building a great mattress not only takes great raw materials - it takes great patience.  Our sewing teams hand-craft our organic cotton mattress encasements to assure consistent firmness and breathability.  Our bed builders then assemble our mattresses with specific layering of organic wool, cotton and latex requested by our customers.  Finally, our packaging and delivery crews work hard to assure everything leaving our certified organic manufacturing facility arrives freshly wrapped at your door.  

/ Visiting our latex supplier in India - we work directly with our raw materials suppliers.

running-a-furniture-company-for-30-years-and-moving-online

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Mike Schaefer, on starting Soaring Heart Natural Beds ($300,000/month) full story ➜

46. Natural dry eye products ($3.6M/year)

Drs. Travis and Jenna Zigler started Eye Love over 5 years ago - they are now doing $300,000/month.

  • Product: Natural Dry Eye Products
  • Location: Remote
  • Revenue: $300,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 5

Eye Love actually started out as a polarized sunglasses company, and we still sell some of those products today. We chose sunglasses because we sold them to 50 percent of patients, and we knew the product well. We found a supplier for this product through a mutual friend in eCommerce, and it was quite a ride choosing the right style, having them all shipped to our home, and having to assemble everything. We didn’t realize we could ask the manufacturer to help! Overall, this was a learning experience, but we only spent $400 to get Eye Love off the ground, and we’ve learned a ton since then.

About a year later, our Heyedrate brand was born as we realized so many patients were in need of effective yet affordable dry eye products. Our main product, Heyedrate Lid, and Lash Cleanser came about because of a patient suggestion. She was tired of paying $300 per month for her eyelid cleanser, and she asked if we could manufacture one.

Not knowing whether or not we could, but intrigued to find out, Travis told her we’d do our best. We found a manufacturer that day by placing only a few phone calls, and we found out that we could manufacture the product for pennies compared to what patients were having to pay.

how-we-make-300k-month-after-mastering-amazon-to-sell-our-natural-dry-eye-products

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Drs. Travis and Jenna Zigler, on starting Eye Love ($300,000/month) full story ➜

47. 3d printers, laser cutters, and other digital fabrication supplies ($3.6M/year)

Jeremy Simon started 3D Universe, LLC about 7 years ago - they are now doing $300,000/month.

  • Product: 3D printers, laser cutters, and other digital fabrication supplies
  • Location: Algonquin
  • Revenue: $300,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 3

Some of the products 3D Universe sells are purchased from other manufacturers. For example, Ultimaker manufactures their 3D printers in Memphis, TN, and we simply resell them. However, there are some custom products that we manufacture.

After working with the e-NABLE volunteer community for several months, it became clear that one of the challenges preventing more people from making the e-NABLE prosthetic devices is that a variety of assembly materials are needed for each device produced. These materials include things like screws, cords, velcro, foam padding, etc.

Avoid products where the manufacturer has lots of resellers drop-shipping their products. It’s hard to compete when nearly anyone can sell a product without having to keep it in inventory.

starting-a-3d-printer-store-online-and-growing-to-300k-month

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Jeremy Simon, on starting 3D Universe, LLC ($300,000/month) full story ➜

48. Protein snacks ($3.6M/year)

Krikor Angacian started Protes Protein Snacks over 7 years ago - they are now doing $300,000/month.

  • Product: protein snacks
  • Location: New York, USA
  • Revenue: $300,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 6

My business partner was my best friend from college and like me was disillusioned with his corporate finance job. I pitched the idea for a protein chip to him and we decided to move forward with the concept.

We would go to the local grocery store and look for anything with high protein in a powder. We used anything from whey protein to soy even to vita wheat gluten… Every single night we’d cook for at least 2 hours to try and come up with an edible protein chip. There were countless nights of awful iterations with “chips” that didn’t crunch, were soggy, or terribly dry… pretty much you name a terrible “chip” and we made it. Thankfully after about 6 months of trials, we had a half-decent MVP. From there we put together a business plan, bootstrapped the business, quit our jobs and set out to create a protein snacking empire.

We ended up working in a commercial kitchen in Brooklyn literally hand pressing chips and hand sealing bags. We took the late-night shift of 6 PM - 12 AM because it was the cheapest. We make chips by night, and sell chips in New York City by day. It was arduous but we were building something and it was exciting.

how-i-started-a-protein-snacks-company

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Krikor Angacian, on starting Protes Protein Snacks ($300,000/month) full story ➜

49. Herbal supplements. ($3.6M/year)

Logan Christopher started Lost Empire Herbs over 8 years ago - they are now doing $300,000/month.

  • Product: Herbal supplements.
  • Location: Watsonville, California, USA
  • Revenue: $300,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 15

Cloud had been ordering pine pollen wholesale from another company, and then he was re-selling it to his friends. So when we looked to go direct, buying from a supplier we went onto Alibaba.

We were able to buy this pre-packaged, slapped a label on it and voila! we had our first product. I don’t recall the exact details but it was probably less than 200 units for less than $1000 including shipping.

how-i-started-a-seven-figure-supplements-business

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Logan Christopher, on starting Lost Empire Herbs ($300,000/month) full story ➜

50. Wearable that reduces stress ($3.6M/year)

Vicki Mayo started The TouchPoint Solution almost 5 years ago - they are now doing $300,000/month.

  • Product: Wearable That Reduces Stress
  • Location: Scottsdale, Arizona, USA
  • Revenue: $300,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 5

Through all my companies I’ve learned that your most precious commodity is time. When given the decision to make a decision, the better choice is to make a decision even if it turns out to be the wrong one, it is better than making no decision at all.

When I decided to make a company and launch a product, I just jumped in feet first. I started by looking at my network. I called up everyone I knew that had any experience in manufacturing. I asked them to meet me for lunch or coffee or even a phone chat. From there, I began asking them how to manufacture. Everything from what’s the first step in manufacturing, did they have any resources or contacts that I could utilize for my company. I wrote down every note and every step and would review it daily.

From this initial exercise, I was able to locate and find my first engineer, my injection molding company, and my first manufacturer. It took nine months from the time I began developing to actually launching TouchPoints. Very similar to creating a baby, which TouchPoints very much is. I credit that quick timeline to my ability to make quick decisions and trust my instinct. I also adhere to the “Lean Startup” process memorialized in the book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.

how-i-developed-a-300k-month-wearable-that-reduces-stress

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Vicki Mayo, on starting The TouchPoint Solution ($300,000/month) full story ➜

51. Seafood delivery ($3.6M/year)

Cameron Manesh started Cameron's Seafood over 3 years ago - they are now doing $300,000/month.

  • Product: Seafood delivery
  • Location: Rockville, Maryland, USA
  • Revenue: $300,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 10

We buy our product from our retail stores, who catch the crabs every morning. Mother nature creates our product in the Chesapeake Bay.

We were lucky to leverage upon an existing 33 year old family-owned seafood business. We have 16 crabbers and a fleet of third parties as the stores go through about 75,000 bushels of crabs per year, which is probably more than all of our combined Maryland competitors. We have access to over 100 SKUs from our store but we received valuable feedback from an indirect competitor to keep our site clean and non-confusing.

Manufacturing

cameron-s-seafood-175k-per-month-selling-maryland-crabs

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Cameron Manesh, on starting Cameron's Seafood ($300,000/month) full story ➜

52. Jewelry ($3.44M/year)

Tara Mikolay started Desires by Mikolay over 16 years ago - they are now doing $287,000/month.

  • Product: Jewelry
  • Location: Chappaqua, New York, USA
  • Revenue: $287,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 7

Being a husband and wife design team I feel like we are constantly designing together! We get inspired by almost anything! Last year’s trip to NYC, Scott fell in love with the bold lines of the Chrysler building and created a modern line of jewelry to represent the Art Deco movement.

I recently was visiting the Buddhist monastery that I live close to and got all sorts of inspiration for Devout. We take the everyday and make it into wearable art.

starting-and-growing-a-jewelry-store-as-a-married-couple

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Tara Mikolay, on starting Desires by Mikolay ($287,000/month) full story ➜

53. Luxury watches ($3.84M/year)

John Pietrasz started Delray Watch Supply over 3 years ago - they are now doing $320,000/month.

  • Product: Luxury Watches
  • Location: Miami, Florida, USA
  • Revenue: $320,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 4

With DelrayWatch.com., we were very fortunate to have all of the necessary skills needed to go live, and perform well for our customers since day 1.

My business partner Federico had been in the watch industry for over 10 years including being a popular YouTuber. I had been in the tech business industry for 10 years. We were both avid watch collectors and savants. This was the perfect equation for success, even though we were quite unsure of it when we started. Ah, that is the psyche of an entrepreneur, right?

The idea was that each of us, as partners would oversee the type of roles that we had experience in. Federico would cover sales, media, marketing, and watchmaking. I would cover technology, business, accounting, and scaling. While our team has grown a bit since launch 20 months ago, we are both still aimed in our corner of the ring. This has proven to be extremely effective for us.

how-we-started-a-3-3m-watch-business-selling-on-youtube

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John Pietrasz, on starting Delray Watch Supply ($320,000/month) full story ➜

54. Cbd cigarette ($3.3M/year)

Evan Marshall started Plain Jane over 2 years ago - they are now doing $275,000/month.

  • Product: CBD Cigarette
  • Location: Chatsworth, Ontario, Canada
  • Revenue: $275,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 16

There are a bunch of different philosophies about creating products so this is just my take.

I believe a product has to have some essential attribute that makes it different from existing products. It can be price or a unique feature but something has to be different about it. I believe marketing and brand is a lagging indicator of your products. Simply selling something already out there with a different label doesn’t really appeal to me. Most of the work of selling a product is done by the product so differentiation can be crucial for growth.

Our first goal in prototyping our product was to figure out if our identifying attribute, a low smell and ultra smooth weed was an interesting concept to anyone.

how-two-college-roommates-started-an-online-cbd-business

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Evan Marshall, on starting Plain Jane ($275,000/month) full story ➜

55. Craft spirits membership. ($3.24M/year)

Mack McConnell started Taster’s Club about 8 years ago - they are now doing $270,000/month.

  • Product: Craft spirits membership.
  • Location: New York, USA
  • Revenue: $270,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 3

Because alcohol is so heavily regulated, we had no choice but to work with third party, licensed warehouse/shippers to work within certain states, which conveniently answered some key questions upfront (dropship or hold inventory?).

We began with select shippers only in select states. We were able to find them simply by figuring out who the leading e-commerce sites were working with.

Launching fast and lean was important because it allowed us to be the first to market (now there’s over 50 alcohol-related subscription services), let us define the category and gave important early lessons.

how-i-grew-my-online-booze-business-to-270k-month

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Mack McConnell, on starting Taster’s Club ($270,000/month) full story ➜

56. Alcoholic party punch ($6M/year)

Justin Fenchel started BeatBox Beverages about 3 years ago - they are now doing $500,000/month.

  • Product: alcoholic party punch
  • Location: Austin, Texas, USA
  • Revenue: $500,000/ month
  • Founders: 5
  • Employees: 18

Once we realized people loved the idea, we then had to figure out how we were going to make it.

The alcohol industry has just an insane amount of laws, and every state is different. So the first thing we did is get an understanding of the lay of the land speaking to an alcohol beverage law firm.

They quickly told us that our idea of making a vodka cocktail in a 5L box was illegal, as you can’t put hard alcohol in anything over 1.75 liters. But fortunately they helped us find a flavor company who specialized in a unique wine that drank much more like a spirit and we could recreate our top tested the flavor, a raspberry lemonade crystal light, and vodka.

how-we-launched-and-grew-a-party-punch-beverage-to-3m-year

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Justin Fenchel, on starting BeatBox Beverages ($500,000/month) full story ➜

57. Perfumes and colognes. ($3M/year)

Gary A. started Fragrancebuy Canada about 7 years ago - they are now doing $250,000/month.

  • Product: Perfumes and colognes.
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Revenue: $250,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 2

Fragrance wholesale was the crux of our business and we had developed an extensive network of supply chain partners over 18 years.

The most important lesson we learned throughout the process is that the most difficult part is the starting phase but it doesn’t need to be perfect.

But with a deteriorating global economy, wholesale clients were paying late and we needed to adapt to a rapidly changing economy. Using the online Shopify platform, we were able to expand our client base and reach Canadians across the country, and offer the same wholesale pricing we had been before but without the stress of late payments.

launching-and-growing-canada-s-largest-online-fragrance-retailer

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Gary A., on starting Fragrancebuy Canada ($250,000/month) full story ➜

58. Weighted blanket ($3M/year)

Robin started Luna Wellness almost 3 years ago - they are now doing $250,000/month.

  • Product: Weighted Blanket
  • Location: New York, New York, USA
  • Revenue: $250,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 2

At the moment, the only available blankets were poorly stitched, had issues with breathability (would wake up in sweats), used noisy heat plastic beads and came at a steep price of $200-$300. So I sought out to create a higher quality weighted blanket at an affordable price so it would be possible for everyone to access its benefits.

Make sure you create a product that customers NEED and has SUSTAINABLE, HEALTHY margins so you can compete with your competitors. If you can’t meet these two criteria, then find another product, there’s tons out there.

I first reached out to a family friend who had connections in the textile manufacturing industry and fortunately they were able to connect us to someone who could create weighted blankets. Since this was a relatively (and still is) new industry, there was no set blueprint on how to create a weighted blanket.

how-we-grew-our-weighted-blanket-product-to-250k-month

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Robin, on starting Luna Wellness ($250,000/month) full story ➜

59. Wood sunglasses. ($3M/year)

Cory Stout started Woodies over 8 years ago - they are now doing $250,000/month.

  • Product: Wood sunglasses.
  • Location: Venice, Alberta, Canada
  • Revenue: $250,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1

I just went to China and found three suppliers on Alibaba. I toured each factory and chose the one I felt the best about.

Price wasn’t the most important consideration. It really came down to a comfort level with the supplier. The rep that I would work with closely spoke great English, they presented themselves well, they showed me their equipment and let me tour the factory while they were in production.

PRO TIP: If you visit a Chinese factory, ask politely to the use the bathroom. They will have to oblige, and if you find a really messy, disgusting bathroom, then it’s definitely a red flag.

woodies-sunglasses-3-5-million-per-year-with-one-employee

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Cory Stout, on starting Woodies ($250,000/month) full story ➜

60. Custom matboards. ($3M/year)

Mehdi Kajbaf started Matboard & More almost 9 years ago - they are now doing $250,000/month.

  • Product: Custom matboards.
  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  • Revenue: $250,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 10

I view ourselves as having two product segments, one is the website and the many customization features we offer. The other is the physical products we manufacture and sell. This distinction provides me perspective because we compete on having the best quality products and the best user experience on the website.

Custom Matting in Multiple Colors

The physical product expertise comes from my partner in charge of production. He is able to source the matboards, frames and accessories that we sell. He also bought the mat cutters, frame joiners and other machines we utilize to create our products. There isn’t a lot novel about the products we sell, these are matboards and frames available in many retail stores or websites. My partners expertise here meant we hit the ground running.

finding-financial-freedom-through-starting-a-matboard-business

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Mehdi Kajbaf, on starting Matboard & More ($250,000/month) full story ➜

61. Bicycles ($3M/year)

Jonathan Shriftman started Sole Bicycles over 11 years ago - they are now doing $250,000/month.

  • Product: Bicycles
  • Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Revenue: $250,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 14

Initially, we found our manufacturer through Alibaba.com. We had worked with local bicycle shops and bike experts to design the perfect frame dimensions, specs, and components.

It was a struggle to make the perfect product for a number of reasons and it took a full year to get a bike we felt comfortable bringing to market. Issues like welding, faulty components, etc. We probably went through four or five different prototype samples until we had the perfect one.

Over 60% of our traffic is attributable to word-of-mouth marketing. We know this because when people purchase, we have an attribution pop-up to ask how they heard about the brand. Nothing better than referrals from friends, family, and colleagues.

how-we-ve-generated-10m-in-sales-with-our-online-bicycle-business

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Jonathan Shriftman, on starting Sole Bicycles ($250,000/month) full story ➜

62. Stainless steel bottles. ($3M/year)

Chris Gronkowski started Ice Shaker about 4 years ago - they are now doing $250,000/month.

  • Product: Stainless steel bottles.
  • Location: Southlake, Texas, USA
  • Revenue: $250,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 3

Manufacturing the product was not easy.

This was a brand new product that had never been made before. We had to get multiple prototypes before deciding on which bottle we wanted to go with.

The problem with making shaker bottles is that if they aren’t made correctly, then they will leak, which is exactly what you don’t want a shaker bottle to do. This was our number one concern when making the first prototype and if there was any sign of leakage we had to find a new seal or different way to make the lid.

how-chris-gronkowski-left-the-nfl-and-became-an-entrepreneur

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Chris Gronkowski, on starting Ice Shaker ($250,000/month) full story ➜

63. Ebikes ($3M/year)

Stephan Aarstol started Tower Electric Bikes over 10 years ago - they are now doing $250,000/month.

  • Product: eBikes
  • Location: San Diego, California, USA
  • Revenue: $250,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 4

Product design is critical. Not just the aesthetic look of something (which is also critical), but the functional choices you make in product design. You've really got to take a blank slate approach and get to the heart of what the product you are designing will be used for. This is an area that I've found I kind of excel in. I'm a fair contrarian thinker so I don't just accept the status quo and go along with what everyone else is doing. I challenge everything. If everyone is doing something one way, my assumption is that it's probably the wrong way to do it. Herd mentality and groupthink take things in the wrong direction a lot of times. Maybe most of the time.

When we launched in paddleboards back in 2010, part of the reason I started was when I went shopping for my first paddleboard I learned that these things cost like $1200-$1600 for what was basically a big surfboard. And you could buy a cheap surfboard for $300. It didn’t make sense. Ninety-five percent of these paddleboards and the ~80 or so brands at the time that were making them were using a traditional retail sales model with brands, distributors, wholesalers, salespeople, and retail stores. As a result, SUP boards were selling for 4-5 times what they cost to produce. Additionally, the majority of brands seemed to perceive paddle boarding as a different kind of surfing. Lastly, there was this oddity called inflatable paddleboards in the market that had been around for years, but they were horribly designed and only represented about 1% of the market.

Keep your burn rate low. Worry less about the competition putting you out of business and worry more about yourself putting you out of business.

how-i-partnered-with-mark-cuban-to-start-a-250k-month-company-selling-ebikes

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Stephan Aarstol , on starting Tower Electric Bikes ($250,000/month) full story ➜

64. Hemp cbd oil. ($2.64M/year)

Gunhee Park started Populum about 4 years ago - they are now doing $220,000/month.

  • Product: Hemp CBD oil.
  • Location: Tempe, Arizona, USA
  • Revenue: $220,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 7

There are a few ways to break this down:

  1. Product dev.
  2. Coming up with the name.
  3. Designing the brand & product.

how-i-started-and-grew-my-cbd-oil-company-to-3m-arr

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Gunhee Park, on starting Populum ($220,000/month) full story ➜

65. Hangover supplement ($2.4M/year)

Eddie Huai started Flyby over 3 years ago - they are now doing $200,000/month.

  • Product: Hangover supplement
  • Location: New York, New York, USA
  • Revenue: $200,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1

Starting Flyby right out of college, I had little exposure to manufacturing, supply chain, and operations in the supplement industry, let alone running my own business. So there was definitely a little bit of a learning curve.

I started off doing due diligence on the regulatory landscape for supplements (via the FDA’s website) and came across what the FDA calls current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) regulations. This requires that manufacturers evaluate their products through testing identity, purity, strength, and composition so consumers know exactly what they’re inside.

flyby-selling-1m-of-hangover-pills-in-10-months

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Eddie Huai, on starting Flyby ($200,000/month) full story ➜

66. 3d printers for toys ($2.4M/year)

Ben Baltes started Toybox about 3 years ago - they are now doing $200,000/month.

  • Product: 3d printers for toys
  • Location: Oakland, California, USA
  • Revenue: $200,000/ month
  • Founders: 4
  • Employees: 3

Before we even had a product we tested the market pretty extensively. Not many people know this, but Toybox started from a string of projects that we had. We had witnessed people waste a lot of time building out previous products that sounded cool but had no market so we got in the habit of testing concepts with the market before we built them.

With Toybox, we created a website advertising a product that didn’t exist. It was complete with a checkout which opened a notification that said the printer wasn’t available for purchase. We did initial tests and we saw that people were coming to our website and clicking the button to purchase at pretty high rates. On top of that, a few publications somehow found us and we're writing about us. We even got our first cease and desist within 2 weeks. We figured this attention was a good sign and that we could make a splash.

At that point, I quit my job and we put all of our money into making prototypes, by the time we had one that we thought was ready. We did our big launch on the website. We were expecting to sell 50-100 given that our email list was about 400 people strong. We ended up selling two, one was outside the country and we couldn't ship to him, and the other was in New York. After about a year of hard work, we had one sale to show for it, it was humiliating and I felt absolutely crushed- I let myself down and the entire team.

on-creating-a-3d-printer-and-creativity-platform-for-kids

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Ben Baltes, on starting Toybox ($200,000/month) full story ➜

67. Professional makeup courses ($2.4M/year)

Anastasia Andreani started Vizio Makeup Academy almost 10 years ago - they are now doing $200,000/month.

  • Product: Professional Makeup Courses
  • Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Revenue: $200,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 10

We invested an enormous amount of time and energy in developing this concept. We didn’t have a big budget to work with, so with very little capital, a lot of hard work and persistence, we did it ourselves. We didn’t hire any employees to help us in the beginning; it was just the two of us working nonstop, all hours of the night and every weekend, tirelessly. I find myself reminiscing of the past sometimes, and I can remember having only $100 in the bank, doubting and wondering if this was really a good idea to pursue. I can honestly say there was a voice inside me literally yelling at me with the answer YES, keep moving forward. We believed in ourselves and in each other so much that we knew in our hearts we were on the right path; we knew this was going to work and grow.

So, we started building it all from the ground up. All the makeup lessons and information taught within our courses are lessons that I and our elite makeup instructors have invested our time and hearts into. I have personally taken great pride in being able to offer my trade secrets and knowledge with others. I consider myself beyond lucky that my love of makeup and skincare, after many long years of hard work, has turned into a successful business for so many others to learn and grow from.

It was not easy at the beginning since we did not have thousands of dollars to invest. We learned everything we could about this business and how it works. Once the academy was built, we decided we wanted to create and design our own cosmetic line. We did not want to give students generic makeup products; we wanted to give them something we had created. The first 2 years were spent testing and trying new products until they worked. There was no giving up on anything we did; we kept fine-tuning and making it work.

how-i-started-a-200k-month-online-makeup-academy

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Anastasia Andreani, on starting Vizio Makeup Academy ($200,000/month) full story ➜

68. Womens clothing ($2.4M/year)

Kristi Soomer started Encircled about 8 years ago - they are now doing $200,000/month.

  • Product: Womens Clothing
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Revenue: $200,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 10

The product development process has changed dramatically since I first started Encircled.

I have no fashion background - I have a finance degree and an MBA, so at the beginning, I had no knowledge of how to make a garment. So, I took an illustration course, a sewing class, bought a few books, and visited a few fabric shows to educate myself on what goes into the fashion design process.

Early in my career, I worked for a home security provider, and I remember the CEO once saying that it costs 10-20x less to retain a customer than to get a new one. That has always stuck with me.

embracing-a-minimalist-wardrobe-and-building-a-business-around-it

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Kristi Soomer, on starting Encircled ($200,000/month) full story ➜

69. Knife sharpening ($2.4M/year)

Mikael Soderlindh started Knife Aid over 1 year ago - they are now doing $200,000/month.

  • Product: knife sharpening
  • Location: Malibu, California, USA
  • Revenue: $200,000/ month
  • Founders: 5
  • Employees: 20

Our mission was to develop a sustainable business that does not contribute to more consumption, but instead maintains and restores the value of what we already own, while at the same time bringing joy to the preparation of what we like the most – food and life in the outdoors.

We have an appreciation for the craft of knife sharpening and know convenience is paramount in a day and age when everything is available to us at the click of a button. That is why we have taken the old trade of knife sharpening and modernized it to make it easy and accessible to anyone in the US via our online platform.

Whether you’re a professional chef, self-taught home cook, or just learning your way around the kitchen, you’ll quickly find that quality knife sharpening will add joy to your cooking.

how-we-started-a-200k-month-mail-knife-sharpening-service

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Mikael Soderlindh, on starting Knife Aid ($200,000/month) full story ➜

70. Reusable collapsible straws. ($0/year)

Emma Rose Cohen started Final Co. over 2 years ago - they are now doing $0/month.

  • Product: Reusable collapsible straws.
  • Location: Santa Fe, Argentina
  • Revenue: $0/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 4

We came up with the idea in October 2017 and found someone in Los Angeles who could mock up the CAD design for the case.

Then, we used standardized metal tubing and found a lathing shop in LA to create the tentpole like structure of the straw. We were stumped on what to do for the tubing.

When we launched the Kickstarter campaign, we had a goal of $12,500. In the first 48 hours, we raised over $200,000. By the end of the month we had raised $1.89 million. Our excitement quickly turned to dread—we had 5 months to design, manufacture and deliver 100,000 straws.

how-i-created-a-collapsible-metal-straw-and-raised-1-89m-on-kickstarter

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Emma Rose Cohen, on starting Final Co. ($0/month) full story ➜

71. Eucalyptus lyocell bedding. ($2.4M/year)

Colin McIntosh started Sheets & Giggles over 2 years ago - they are now doing $200,000/month.

  • Product: Eucalyptus Lyocell bedding.
  • Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
  • Revenue: $200,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 6

Because I didn’t have any textile experience, I had to hire outside consultants to help me design, develop, and test our products.

I gave them my high-level criteria (lyocell for sustainability, has to be super soft, has to be premium, must be durable, must be made by a socially conscious manufacturer, etc.), and they created my tech packs and other designs for me.

We sourced our manufacturer at market week in NYC in March 2018, and we left with a handshake agreement with an Indian company who hit all our criteria more so than anyone else. I had a blast visiting them to inspect production in June (fun fact: India is hot in June). We had massive fabric rejections due to poor quality in our first production runs, which lowered our overall sales potential for the year and set our ship date back, but we had to make sure our product was perfect.

starting-a-bed-sheet-business-making-600k-in-first-8-months

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Colin McIntosh, on starting Sheets & Giggles ($200,000/month) full story ➜

72. Barbecue tools & accessories ($4M/year)

Michael “Medium Rare” O’Donnell started Cave Tools over 7 years ago - they are now doing $333,333/month.

  • Product: Barbecue Tools & Accessories
  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  • Revenue: $333,333/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1

When I first started out, my first product was as generic as they come. I literally found a supplier on Alibaba, wired a couple of thousand dollars to China, and crossed my fingers. Back then the market on Amazon was not as sophisticated so I was able to get away with this and still sell ok. There was definitely an element of good timing on my side because nowadays it would be very difficult to start this way.

When I first started out, my first product was as generic as they come. I literally found a supplier on Alibaba, wired a couple of thousand dollars to China, and crossed my fingers.

how-we-built-a-2m-year-business-selling-barbecue-tools

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Michael “Medium Rare” O’Donnell, on starting Cave Tools ($333,333/month) full story ➜

73. Mental-health focused supplements ($2.4M/year)

Benjamin Hebert started Natural Stacks about 7 years ago - they are now doing $200,000/month.

  • Product: Mental-Health Focused Supplements
  • Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
  • Revenue: $200,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 10

I have the best business partner, Roy. We operate almost like a restaurant where I’m front of the house and he’s back of the house. So he handled the manufacturing side for the initial product launch. We scoured the world to source the best possible ingredients.

In order to live by our mission of transparency, we decided to list all of our ingredients on our website.

This was unheard of for any supplement company because anyone could copy you. It’s kind of like a lamer version of Elon Musk opening up all of the Tesla patents. But we know it's for the greater good, so we’re all for it.

starting-a-mental-health-focused-supplements-company-and-growing-to-200-000-month

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Benjamin Hebert, on starting Natural Stacks ($200,000/month) full story ➜

74. Shirts that start conversations. ($2.4M/year)

TJ Mapes started RIPT Apparel over 11 years ago - they are now doing $200,000/month.

  • Product: Shirts that start conversations.
  • Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
  • Revenue: $200,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 0

The next piece of this puzzle was to find a screen printer who could print all the millions of t-shirts we were about to sell (hehe). We actually lucked out because Matt’s Dad was an investor in a small screen printing company back in our hometown.

This was a huge break for us because we didn’t have to search for a printer and we ended up getting a great deal on printing. PLUS they were going to fulfill all our orders for us too.

Things didn’t stay peachy for long though as the daily nature of the business proved difficult to keep up with and also this small printer wasn’t used to printing highly artistic designs with lots of colors and detailed halftones.

how-three-friends-launched-2-4m-t-shirt-startup-ript-apparel

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TJ Mapes, on starting RIPT Apparel ($200,000/month) full story ➜

75. Four-way volleyball nets ($2.28M/year)

Chris Meade started CROSSNET over 3 years ago - they are now doing $190,000/month.

  • Product: Four-Way Volleyball Nets
  • Location: Miami, Florida, USA
  • Revenue: $190,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 1

After rigging up our four-way volleyball prototype in the backyard we knew we had some work to do if we wanted to make our dream a reality. Nothing could be overlooked as we had to worry about everything from tension, stability, the net being tight enough, safety, the product being easy to set up, portability, and also coming up with an entire set of gameplay rules as we were fusing volleyball and four-square rules together.

Fortunately for us, we had an engineer on our side, and Mike handled all of the blueprint work and manufacturing conversations. After trying effortlessly to find a USA supplier to no luck, we vetted dozens of overseas manufactures from AliExpress and finally decided on one that excelled in sporting goods manufacturing. We then sent along with our blueprint, negotiated a small order for 100 units (around $5000), and waited patiently. Hindsight is always 20/20 but I wish we spent more time negotiating that first initial PO because you’ll always be working down from that initial number when your PO size scales.

You may feel like you’re at the mercy of the manufacturer, but in reality, there are dozens if not hundreds of other manufacturers that want your business. Negotiate early and often.

how-we-invented-a-2-5m-year-four-way-volleyball-net

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Chris Meade, on starting CROSSNET ($190,000/month) full story ➜

76. Healthy meals delivered. ($2.16M/year)

Mary Drennen started Nourish Foods Co. about 6 years ago - they are now doing $180,000/month.

  • Product: Healthy meals delivered.
  • Location: Birmingham, Alabama, USA
  • Revenue: $180,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 20

We spent a great deal of time and effort on our recipe development phase. Not only do the meals need to be delicious and nutritionally sound, but we also have to consider that the meals will be reheated in the microwave or oven (sometimes a few days from when it was made in our kitchen).

So we do a LOT of recipe testing and flavor/quality checks. Every component in every meal is made from scratch in our commercial kitchen, including mayonnaise and bone broths, etc.

We don’t outsource any part of the production process, so we can ensure our quality is the best on the market.

how-two-friends-bootstrapped-a-meal-delivery-startup-to-2m-year

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Mary Drennen, on starting Nourish Foods Co. ($180,000/month) full story ➜

77. Wiper blades with a purpose and windshield clarity products. ($2.24M/year)

Billy westbrook started Scrubblade Inc. almost 14 years ago - they are now doing $187,000/month.

  • Product: Wiper blades with a purpose and windshield clarity products.
  • Location: Temecula, California, USA
  • Revenue: $187,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 6

When trying to get a prototype made I found an invention company on TV and decided to give that a swing.

I borrowed $7k to have this company find a manufacturer, design a brochure and look into the patent process. Big waste of time and money. That was my first lesson learned and definitely not the last. During my detailing business I met a gentleman that was currently getting products made overseas. After months of washing his cars, I asked what he was doing with all these products in his garage. ( I thought he was an eBay seller.) He mentioned to me that if I had any ideas for products (that are good) he could get his broker to find a factory to work with me. I automatically told him about Scrubblade.

Our first packaging was just a competitor packaging wrapped in our artwork. Hey... you do what you gotta do.

how-i-invented-a-better-windshield-wiper-and-a-2m-year-business

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Billy westbrook, on starting Scrubblade Inc. ($187,000/month) full story ➜

78. Bento boxes. ($2M/year)

Thomas Bertrand started Bento&co about 12 years ago - they are now doing $167,000/month.

  • Product: Bento boxes.
  • Location: Kyoto, Japan
  • Revenue: $167,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 14

Thanks to the blog and my wife, I connected with a couple friends that helped me create and launch bentoandco.com. One was a graphic designer, and one was a developer. They helped me set up the original website using a customized Shopify theme. This back was when Shopify was in their Beta program. It was free to use, but they took a commission of your sales!

As far as getting the inventory, I went to a shop in Kyoto and wrote down on a piece of paper the name of two manufacturers. My wife and I contacted them, got their catalog, and ordered the products directly (paid cash at delivery). We got by without a fax machine for the entire year... this was a big achievement in Japan!

starting-an-e-commerce-store-in-japan-and-growing-to-167-000-month

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Thomas Bertrand, on starting Bento&co ($167,000/month) full story ➜

79. Portable pressurized showers ($1.8M/year)

Chris Crawford started RinseKit almost 6 years ago - they are now doing $150,000/month.

  • Product: Portable Pressurized Showers
  • Location: Vista, California, USA
  • Revenue: $150,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 3

The manufacturing process took a lot of time and a lot of attention. I had initial concepts from models I had made, but going into mass production required redesigns, constant testing, and a lot of back and forth with our manufacturers. Our product relies on a tool that is created out of something called a CAD file. The CAD file is essentially a 3D digital design model for an object. It took months for us to build the CAD file and design a product that functioned well and looked good.

Once we had approved design, I actually flew out to China where our product is manufactured. While I was there, I got to see the product being made, test it, and make changes in real-time. There are so many things that come up during the production process, it’s nice to be there in person to troubleshoot problems and brainstorm changes. I actually got to be there for the creation and refinement of the product- and that was big for us!

Once a small amount of the product was made, we began to test it to try to stretch the limits of what it could do and test for possible failures or defects. It takes a while to do a quality test on a new product, but it’s so worth it.

how-i-designed-a-150k-month-portable-pressurized-shower-and-went-on-shark-tank

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Chris Crawford, on starting RinseKit ($150,000/month) full story ➜

80. Vintage watches. ($1.8M/year)

Christian Zeron started Theo & Harris almost 6 years ago - they are now doing $150,000/month.

  • Product: Vintage watches.
  • Location: New Jersey, USA
  • Revenue: $150,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 3

Sourcing quality vintage watches is a full-time job. You're constantly on the phone with owners and wholesalers from all over the world, hunting for treasure and trying not to get robbed.

On a good day, with the perfect storm of prerequisite knowledge, attention and clientele, you can make $10,000 in 18 minutes.

We’ve put real stress on knowing our audience, too. Collecting information on our community, while previously a non-priority, is paramount if we’re going to operate on a higher level. We want to know exactly what they're looking for, so we can provide it.

how-i-started-a-1-8m-year-vintage-watch-company

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Christian Zeron, on starting Theo & Harris ($150,000/month) full story ➜

81. Bandage & bodycon dresses ($1.8M/year)

Sasithon Bella started The Kewl Shop over 8 years ago - they are now doing $150,000/month.

  • Product: Bandage & Bodycon Dresses
  • Location: Michigan, USA
  • Revenue: $150,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 6

We’re in the dress market, it’s fiercely competitive and dominated by huge brands with budgets much more significant than ours. We needed to walk before we could run.

The solution was a two week trip to China, the City of Guangzhou, bandage dress making capital of the world. The city is dotted with dress factories and markets and with the right contacts a wealth of opportunity.

We left Guangzhou with agreements to take the excess stock off three or four factories, but only when we made a sale. These agreements worked for both parties, the factories now had the possibility of dress sales that they didn’t have before, and we had access to stock at no upfront cost. Yes, these dress styles might have been a little dated, but we considered them classics.

leveraging-seo-to-grow-an-online-store-to-1-8m-per-year

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Sasithon Bella, on starting The Kewl Shop ($150,000/month) full story ➜

82. Dessert boxes. ($1.8M/year)

Samantha Khater started Dessert Boxes almost 4 years ago - they are now doing $150,000/month.

  • Product: Dessert boxes.
  • Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Revenue: $150,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 20

When it came to creating our website, we knew it had to resemble an online gift giving store, which people were used to. This would make it easier to educate the market on what a Dessert Box was and for what occasions they could purchase one.

So we started by creating Shop by Occasion & Shop by recipient tabs which made it easier for people to navigate our website and make it a quicker process.

growing-a-dessert-box-company-to-150k-month-in-one-year

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Samantha Khater, on starting Dessert Boxes ($150,000/month) full story ➜

83. Sperm analysis and storage ($1.8M/year)

Khaled Kteily started Legacy over 2 years ago - they are now doing $150,000/month.

  • Product: Sperm Analysis And Storage
  • Location: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  • Revenue: $150,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 6

This was actually extremely difficult. I had to reach out to my entire network to get connected to the types of agencies that could with the design, prototyping, testing, and manufacturing that we needed to be done.

Finally, I found an amazing industrial design agency in Europe that was willing to take a bold bet on us and worth it with an unknown start-up to design, prototype, test, and manufacture the product. Here, a warm introduction made all the difference.

Today, having been a founder for over two years and being part of the Y Combinator community, that process would be totally different. This is the kind of question you can ask in the Y Combinator Slack - or to your network of other entrepreneurs - and get an immediate answer to. “Who should we work with for manufacturing?” “Here’s a pre-screened list of 20 agencies across the world.”

how-we-started-a-150k-month-male-fertility-company-that-offers-sperm-analysis-and-storage

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Khaled Kteily, on starting Legacy ($150,000/month) full story ➜

84. Skincare products. ($1.8M/year)

Andy Hnilo started Alitura Naturals over 6 years ago - they are now doing $150,000/month.

  • Product: Skincare products.
  • Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Revenue: $150,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 6

Because of my appearance after the accident, I didn't really want to be seen in public; so I was left with a lot of time to research, create and test.

Jaw wired shut, front teeth missing, I would then start driving around Los Angeles with a little backpack filled with a bamboo bowl, a blend of organic essential oils, a mineral-rich blend of four clays, organic superfoods, a bottle of apple cider vinegar, other nutrient dense ingredients and of course the clay mask. Just seeking feedback. The response was incredible! I knew I had something special when I picked up a friend of mine who had seen me in the hospital just weeks earlier and was completely blown away by my appearance and how quickly it improved.

No website, no price, no company name, I continued to give the product away for about a year or two. What that did was allow me to beta test and get feedback on how to improve the product.

near-fatal-car-crash-to-150k-month-selling-skincare-products

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Andy Hnilo, on starting Alitura Naturals ($150,000/month) full story ➜

85. Reinvention of the wheel. ($4.2M/year)

Zack Fleishman started Shark Wheel about 8 years ago - they are now doing $350,000/month.

  • Product: Reinvention of the wheel.
  • Location: Lake Forest, Illinois, USA
  • Revenue: $350,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 4

Shark Wheel would never have been successful without my father, Gary Fleishman and our mold maker, Pedro Valdez. Gary was the original financier of Shark Wheel. He saw the vision of taking this oddly shaped wheel and turning it into a thriving business. He put all of his resources on the line and invested heavily into the company.

After launching a highly successful Kickstarter campaign (nearly $80,000 on a $10,000 goal), we had to figure out how to turn our idea into reality. David could not make a proper mold and we had to go to the mold-making shop and ask for help. We called numerous people and no one had the ability to make our complicated shape. We went back to the shop and asked who was the best. They said ‘see that wall over there? That is Valdez Tools. Pedro Valdez is the best in the business, but he would never take on your small project. He built the Ironman suit, Batman suit, and has Oscars and Emmy’s.’ We said ‘give us his number’.

how-we-literally-reinvented-the-wheel-and-built-a-1m-company

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Zack Fleishman, on starting Shark Wheel ($350,000/month) full story ➜

86. Time locking container. ($1.8M/year)

David Krippendorf started Kitchen Safe almost 9 years ago - they are now doing $150,000/month.

  • Product: Time locking container.
  • Location: Southlake, Texas, USA
  • Revenue: $150,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 3

I had this great idea, but lacked any experience or knowledge of how to develop a product or bring it to market. The idea sat there as a sketch for years, until one day I realized if I didn’t commit to making it happen, I would look back and regret it.

I reached out to Ryan Tseng, a classmate with a background in design, and over the last 18+ months we worked together to develop the Kitchen Safe.

The secret is that no one knows how to start a company until they start a company. We all learn best by doing. So, if you want to start a company, then start a company!

transforming-one-idea-into-a-150k-month-business

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David Krippendorf, on starting Kitchen Safe ($150,000/month) full story ➜

87. Education 3d printers and 3d printable stem curriculum ($1.8M/year)

Braydon Moreno started Robo 3D almost 4 years ago - they are now doing $150,000/month.

  • Product: Education 3D printers and 3D printable STEM curriculum
  • Location: San Diego, California, USA
  • Revenue: $150,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 30

Our design process has changed quite a bit over the years.

When we were building our first machine, we created over 20 different concepts with a freelance designer and simply chose the one that we all thought was the coolest. We knew the framework had to be different than what was out there because we wanted to stand out in a lineup. We accomplished that with flying colors.

As we came to our second generation of machines, we had already defined our brand and our target demographics and it was more about compiling features and a style that appealed to the specific needs of that user base. We had a lot of feedback throughout the process from prototypical customers and it drove quite a bit of the direction and feature set. Then we added more touches that were crucial into making our 3D printers simple and easy to use, which everyone would appreciate and find pleasant.

raising-13x-their-original-kickstarter-goal-with-a-viral-3d-printer

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Braydon Moreno, on starting Robo 3D ($150,000/month) full story ➜

88. Southern handmade small-batch gifts ($1.8M/year)

Samuel Davidson started Batch Nashville, LLC over 7 years ago - they are now doing $150,000/month.

  • Product: Southern Handmade Small-Batch Gifts
  • Location: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
  • Revenue: $150,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 6

We don’t make any of our own products; we buy goods from hundreds of small business owners and makers across the southern US. But, that means we’re constantly looking out for what’s new and fantastic when it comes to what others are making.

As an entrepreneur, the beginning can be really fun and sexy. Working long hours and doing hard work is a joy because you’re bootstrapping and chasing a big dream. But, even in the early days, that time is money and your sweat equity won’t scale long term.

For our first subscription shipment, we hit the pavement, attending local fairs and festivals and meeting makers who were selling at those events. We quickly found out that the maker community is highly networked and they helped us spread the word as well, giving us a bevy of options when it came to what to put in our first subscription shipments.

how-we-validated-and-launched-a-subscription-box-company

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Samuel Davidson, on starting Batch Nashville, LLC ($150,000/month) full story ➜

89. Art. ($1.8M/year)

Adam Vieira started Station 16 over 7 years ago - they are now doing $150,000/month.

  • Product: Art.
  • Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Revenue: $150,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 6

Station 16, the print shop, had already existed for many years when Carlo and Myself met, however, there was no logo, no website, not even a business card.

All these things took shape in 2013, I designed the logo that we still use today, and we used a new platform for the website that Carlo suggested. This platform was being built by an old friend of his, and it was called Shopify.

Be ready to work 24/7. If you can’t make your business your entire life, it will be that much more difficult.

growing-an-art-gallery-to-150-000-month

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Adam Vieira, on starting Station 16 ($150,000/month) full story ➜

90. Energy savers draft stoppers ($1.62M/year)

Mark Tyrol started Battic Door over 7 years ago - they are now doing $135,000/month.

  • Product: Energy Savers Draft Stoppers
  • Location: Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA
  • Revenue: $135,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 2

The insulated stair cover idea stuck with me and I kept thinking about it.

The issue with my prototype was it was very large and too costly to ship. I needed a rigid box that could be folded flat for shipping. Heavy corrugated board (cardboard) could be used and I took this idea to a local cardboard box company and they designed a rigid box that folded flat for shipping.

I did market research to determine the required dimensions and placed an initial order for 100 pieces. I had to purchase a rotary cutting die that is used to cut the part. This investment was about $5,000. I did not have that in savings, so I had to charge this to a credit card.

how-i-turned-a-diy-project-into-a-million-dollar-business

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Mark Tyrol, on starting Battic Door ($135,000/month) full story ➜

91. Unprocessed cane sugar. ($2.1M/year)

Scott Unkefer started Just Panela LLC over 5 years ago - they are now doing $175,000/month.

  • Product: unprocessed cane sugar.
  • Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA
  • Revenue: $175,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 10

Here’s an interesting part; The Colombians didn’t see Panela as a sweetener. They saw it as… Panela.

It is/ was it’s own food product separate and aside from a straight sweetener or ingredient. In Colombian lore, and some of it is true, it has various beneficial health properties to it. It is a stomach soother for an upset stomach.

It was a ‘couple of gringos trying to ship pallets of powdery substance out of Colombia to the U.S. It couldn’t have looked more suspicious. I was laughed out of meetings with a couple logistics companies in the first year or two. They wouldn’t touch us.

how-we-started-a-1-5m-cane-sugar-biz-landing-our-product-in-whole-foods

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Scott Unkefer, on starting Just Panela LLC ($175,000/month) full story ➜

92. Music production tools. ($1.44M/year)

Adrian Wood started Modern Producers over 5 years ago - they are now doing $120,000/month.

  • Product: Music production tools.
  • Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Revenue: $120,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0

When we first launched the business we noticed a real dearth of websites for music production tools that married choice and affordability with quality. There were a few other players in the market but they either provided masses of mostly cheap, low quality products and overwhelmed consumers, or had a very limited selection of a few very expensive, high quality products that only covered the needs of a very small part of the market.

The decision to launch Modern Producers was more or less an experiment - we wanted to create a website that we would enjoy shopping at and that offered everything we needed as a modern music producer.

Setting up a Shopify store, registering a domain and onboarding a few initial vendors to supply us with products was a straightforward process. Within a week we already had a functioning site that was making a handful of sales from marketing mainly one-on-one to music producers through social media.

85k-per-month-selling-tools-for-music-producers

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Adrian Wood, on starting Modern Producers ($120,000/month) full story ➜

93. Craft beer ($1.44M/year)

Diego Benitez started Progress Brewing about 7 years ago - they are now doing $120,000/month.

  • Product: Craft beer
  • Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Revenue: $120,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 5

Opening the brewery required federal, state, county, and city approvals.

Most government offices we visited would say “A BREWERY? NO YOU CANNOT DO THAT!” We were one of the few first microbreweries in Los Angeles County and we believed government officials thought we wanted to open a huge Budweiser-seized operation. We decided to print, highlight and show them the provisions in the law that allowed a small microbrewery.

We made sure any permit application forms were filled out absolutely perfectly (basically requiring them to do the least work possible), heavily downplaying the size of our brewery. Once we figured this out, it was a breeze. Government officials became very very helpful and we understood that 99% of their time is spent answering the most basic questions, and correcting people’s mistakes on forms - very frustrating.

how-this-entrepreneur-started-a-2m-craft-brewery

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Diego Benitez, on starting Progress Brewing ($120,000/month) full story ➜

94. Activewear. ($1.26M/year)

Julie New started Be Activewear about 6 years ago - they are now doing $105,000/month.

  • Product: Activewear.
  • Location: Newcastle, Australia
  • Revenue: $105,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1

I didn’t have any money to buy products. I decided I would approach business offering to market and sell them and the will fulfill the orders (dropship).

I googled Australian Activewear brands and came up with a list of 100 and I knew I only needed 3 to say yes and I would have a store. I launched the business with 5 brands.

When you’re committed to doing something… “I don’t know that” or “I can’t do that” is not even a thought. You read, ask questions, research until you have the answers.

starting-a-1-5m-year-business-as-a-single-mom

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Julie New, on starting Be Activewear ($105,000/month) full story ➜

95. Liquid activated products ($1.25M/year)

Hagan Walker started Glo® over 5 years ago - they are now doing $104,166/month.

  • Product: liquid activated products
  • Location: Starkville, Mississippi, USA
  • Revenue: $104,166/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 5

I graduated in December 2015 and started as employee number 1 at Glo in January 2016. Our bank account had $30,000 in it from our previous winnings and our first investor. We thought we were set. I found a manufacturer in China and sent over the CAD files. We spent about $10,000 on tooling and various startup costs and received our first shipment a few weeks later. They were awful. My background has nothing to do with CAD - I had no idea what I was doing - and ** I realized I had just blown $10,000 - just like that**. Luckily, I found some help through a mutual friend, David Francis, who fixed our files for manufacturing. We dropped another $10,000 and gave it a second go.

Every single one of our employees knows our revenue goal and each knows how their job affects that number

This shipment was much better, but that $30,000 had dwindled to just $10,000 because of my mistakes. I was living off of a $17,000 yearly salary and things weren’t looking great. We still had to pay for patents, website costs, shipping software, office space, etc. I pleaded with an attorney to write our patent application for $500. We negotiated with a landlord for deferred rent. We “stole” the internet from the neighbors next door. I found a label printer for $25 from eBay. We had no idea how to mass-produce items, so our first packs of Glo Cubes were heat-sealed - by hand - in the office, with a paper label stapled to the top. We made it work - but we knew we had to start selling to stay afloat.

how-we-built-a-1-2mm-year-business-selling-light-up-ice-cubes

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Hagan Walker, on starting Glo® ($104,166/month) full story ➜

96. Aluminum-free deodorant. ($0/year)

Stacia Guzzo started SmartyPits almost 7 years ago - they are now doing $0/month.

  • Product: aluminum-free deodorant.
  • Location: Tehachapi, California, USA
  • Revenue: $0/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 11

A couple of years into making my own skin care, I knew I had finally learned enough to begin making my own deodorant. It was a bit more complicated (what’s called a 3-phase process), but I had enough of a knowledge base by that point to give it a shot.

Just like with the lip balm, the first iterations of the product weren’t the best...and yet, people wanted to buy it anyway! It was clear there was a need.

In fact, deodorant began to quickly be one of our most popular product. We’d take a formula to a farmer’s market or craft show, sell it, get feedback on what we could improve, and take it back to the studio to tweak the formula.

how-stacia-guzzo-pivoted-and-started-a-58k-month-deodorant-product

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Stacia Guzzo, on starting SmartyPits ($0/month) full story ➜

97. Men's grooming products. ($1.2M/year)

Eric Bandholz started Beardbrand almost 9 years ago - they are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Product: Men's grooming products.
  • Location: Austin, Texas, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 17

We launched the Beardbrand e-commerce store a few days before I found out that my wife was pregnant with our first child. That gave me a tight deadline to grow Beardbrand to the point it could support our family or else I’d have to go back to the corporate world.

In those very early days of Beardbrand, there was a bit of luck on our side. First, we were pretty much the only organization that took growing beards seriously (today everyone and their mom talks about beards & beard care). Because of that, it was easy for us to get noticed.

In November of 2012, I was contacted by a reporter from the New York Times who was doing a piece on beards. I told my co-founders about it and suggested that we take advantage of the publicity and try to sell some products on an e-commerce store. It was at that moment that we decided to monetize the brand.

starting-a-beard-branded-store-earning-over-100k-mo

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Eric Bandholz, on starting Beardbrand ($100,000/month) full story ➜

98. Independent premium spirits ($1.2M/year)

Umberto Luchini started Wolf Spirit Distillery over 3 years ago - they are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Product: independent premium spirits
  • Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 5

The first product I set out to create was a vodka, which is the most-consumed spirit in America by a huge margin.

That being the case, the world is full of vodka but the category is all over the place. Vodka has baggage. Cocktail hipsters swear it off as being boring and having no taste. At the other extreme, slick clubsters and the profitability of bottle service push vodka to the extreme of being all flash, no substance. My distiller Ben and I wanted to connect with our consumers in a real and honest way; from our cores, we needed our vodka to be grounded on our will to create something different.

Creating our vodka itself – often called the “juice” or “liquid” in our industry – is our daily beautiful struggle to make something great. There were more misses than hits at the beginning. We started with potato-based vodka since we had access to very affordable potatoes as our co-founder Brian Kirschenmann is one of the biggest potato farmers in the United States. But the quality didn’t satisfy us: we wanted to create a vodka that had enough character to stand alone, either on the rocks or in a classic martini. So, we switched to wheat, which is a softer cereal to work.

how-i-started-a-vodka-brand-doing-100k-month

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Umberto Luchini, on starting Wolf Spirit Distillery ($100,000/month) full story ➜

99. Playing cards ($1.2M/year)

Will Roya started PlayingCardDecks.com over 3 years ago - they are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Product: Playing Cards
  • Location: Texas, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 2

When I first started the business I was only buying the products wholesale from various suppliers. My goal was to have as many different decks that I could.

In order to increase brand awareness, I started to produce my own decks and fund them via Kickstarter.

I was not too picky about the themes and collaborations on my first decks because I just needed to get started. There is a bit of a learning curve and even after backing a bunch of projects, it took me several of my own projects to get the hang of it in terms of rewards, promo, etc.

how-i-started-a-100k-month-business-selling-and-designing-playing-cards-decks

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Will Roya, on starting PlayingCardDecks.com ($100,000/month) full story ➜

100. Premium men's pouch underwear ($1.68M/year)

Robert Patton started SHEATH LLC almost 7 years ago - they are now doing $140,000/month.

  • Product: Premium men's pouch underwear
  • Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
  • Revenue: $140,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 4

Initially, I hand-stitched together some extremely raw prototypes (zero sewing experience) while I was on tour in Iraq. You can see one below.

When I got back from the war, I bought a sewing machine and began playing around with new designs.

how-i-grew-a-men-s-pouch-underwear-line-to-1m-year

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Robert Patton, on starting SHEATH LLC ($140,000/month) full story ➜

101. Cowboy boots. ($1.2M/year)

John James started Country Outfitter almost 13 years ago - they are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Product: Cowboy boots.
  • Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 20

At the time, I described our business as “a marketing plan in search of products to sell.”

We had a cutting edge ecommerce platform that plugged into Google (and eventually Facebook and email marketing) quite well, and we had an SEO and SEM expertise that was light years ahead of many of our eventual competitors.

We were agnostic to industry, and find our target markets, we started with a data driven approach to keyword research.

100m-year-to-shut-down-the-rise-and-fall-of-an-e-commerce-empire

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John James, on starting Country Outfitter ($100,000/month) full story ➜

102. Outdoor equipment ($1.2M/year)

Hamish started Bay Sports over 3 years ago - they are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Product: outdoor equipment
  • Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 1

Kayaks are made via heating up a raw plastic powder in a cast-iron mould. There is a special technique to ensuring the kayaks are heated correctly and the plastic formed perfectly to ensure they are as durable as they should be. A team assemble our kayaks, based off the exact specifications given to them, and pack them well for transport before shipping them to us in Australia.

Finding the right manufacturer was key, as many know there are horror stories from China about what seems to be a legit company, which turns out to be a phoenix and their hard earned savings all but vanish. We started with the brand my business partner had originally bought, knowing the quality first hand, and as time progressed, opened our scope to other suppliers via Alibaba and numerous emails from factories in China emailing us asking to 'try out' their products. Challenges we found is that the Chinese can report whatever they so please, regardless if it is true or not. They can report they produce 20,000 kayaks per year in their state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, with zero proof. Ironically, the manufacturer with the most impressive product brochure ended out having the least impressive manufacturing processes, and no quality control whatsoever, whilst the company with no brochure, had the best quality control. Just goes to show don't believe everything you hear. Do your own due diligence and stick to your gut.

Places like Alibaba are a great starting point to find a reputable supplier, with assurances and insurances provided by Alibaba, though going to China and meeting with your future supplier is smart business. Plus there are lots of very very similar looking products from several different suppliers, so visiting the factories and seeing for yourself what differentiates them apart (quality control, seeing if the factories photos on their Alibaba site match the actual factory you visit etc) will give you a gut feeling who to go with.

growing-a-kayaks-outdoor-gear-company-to-100k-mo

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Hamish, on starting Bay Sports ($100,000/month) full story ➜

103. Iceless cooler for beer ($1.2M/year)

Teddy Giard started Kanga over 3 years ago - they are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Product: Iceless Cooler For Beer
  • Location: Clemson, South Carolina, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 5
  • Employees: 8

My name’s Teddy Giard and I’m a junior Marketing Major at Clemson University. I’ve always had a passion for film and advertising which naturally lead me down the path of digital marketing, storytelling, filmmaking, and branding.

Growing up, I was always taught that if you want something done right the best way to do it is to do it yourself. Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs it was always somewhat second nature to figure out a way when it’s not written out for you.

Growing up, I was always taught that if you want something done right the best way to do it is to do it yourself.

how-we-launched-a-beer-cooler-and-landed-a-deal-with-mark-cuban

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Teddy Giard, on starting Kanga ($100,000/month) full story ➜

104. Fun socks. ($1.2M/year)

Taylor Offer started FEAT Socks about 6 years ago - they are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Product: Fun socks.
  • Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 3

We quickly ran into production issues. We pressed the socks manually in our dorm room up to 4 AM every night, even hiring friends for $10/hour. But it wasn't enough.

We tried to do a production run in China. They sent us some great looking samples so we signed a contract for 5,000 pairs. But then they sent us socks that looked nothing like the samples - they were complete garbage. Then, we found another Chinese manufacturer, and this time we were more careful. We ordered 20,000 pairs. We got the socks, and they looked great, but they did not stretch, at all!

After two bad runs in China, we had no leverage with the factories, and they didn't care about losing our business. We ended up going through a distributor in the US. Although it was more expensive, the quality was guaranteed. It was worth it. We didn't want to deal with these headaches.

starting-a-wildly-successful-sock-brand

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Taylor Offer, on starting FEAT Socks ($100,000/month) full story ➜

105. Jewelry auctions. ($1.2M/year)

Aaron Varsha started Auction King over 5 years ago - they are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Product: Jewelry auctions.
  • Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 6

It was really random. My aunt met a guy named Mike who ran an online marketing firm and offered to link us up for lunch, just to network.

We talked about our work, and he proposed to me the idea of starting up my own auction website. He knew a web developer from India who could build it. I was very skeptical at first and mostly ignored the idea, but as the days went by I kept thinking about it. The idea started to have some legs.

I agreed to meet the developer, so we flew him to Los Angeles all the way from India. After meeting him and going over all of the features we wanted to build, we decided to move forward. We hit the ground running with a 4-month plan to launch Auction King in September 2015. The first two months of the build went smoothly, and we were making excellent progress.

launching-and-growing-a-digital-live-auction-house

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Aaron Varsha, on starting Auction King ($100,000/month) full story ➜

106. Unique instruments. ($1.2M/year)

Adam Klosowiak started KLOS Guitars over 5 years ago - they are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Product: unique instruments.
  • Location: Provo, Utah, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 13

My brother and I were both broke college students when we started KLOS Guitars, and this really forced us to be extremely lean. When you have no money, you really have to get creative with how you get the things you need, be it information or materials.

The qualities that we wanted the first model of the KLOS guitar to have were pretty clear to us from initial market research. We wanted the guitar to be the most affordable carbon fiber guitar on the market so that people like ourselves (college students at the time) could afford it.

The reality is that there will always be mistakes when you’re starting a company, and in hindsight vision will always be 20/20. The best thing to do is to create a minimum viable product as fast as possible, launch it as it is, and start interacting with the market.

how-we-invented-a-carbon-fiber-guitar-and-grew-to-1m-year

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Adam Klosowiak, on starting KLOS Guitars ($100,000/month) full story ➜

107. Everything people want ($1.2M/year)

Nick and Angelica started Romans Tide over 5 years ago - they are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Product: Everything People Want
  • Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 5

OUTSOURCE EVERYTHING LOL ...SERIOUSLY THOUGH.

The classic entrepreneur’s mistake is to try and do everything yourself. When I look back on it I definitely had the funds to outsource more and bootstrap less.

I did do the whole Alibaba sourcing, translating Chinese, back and forth samples, and all that stuff. I remember buying these aromatherapy necklaces from China, 300 at a time. These things would show up in in like 5 days on my doorstep. It was crazy how fast they came. We don't sell that stuff anymore. Now I have some Yoga related products that are made in china and some all natural outdoor products. I don't really zero in on a niche. We do pretty intense research and let the data tell us what to make next.

In the early days we drop shipped a lot of large items like outdoor patio furniture, trampolines, and other outdoor furniture. Even though I was doing it for a while the process and the profits always blew my mind. I remember being at Disney with my son and an order came in with a $300 profit and I was just like...wow...this is awesome. Having a great time with my family, still making money. That's how life should be. I truly believe we all deserve to have something like that in our life.

My experience selling everything is how Romans Tide came to be what it is today. I want to continue selling a wide variety of products but I realized that I need to create brands to target audiences that are passionate about the products we are selling. That is what gave me the idea to make Romans Tide the distributor for my own brands.

Now I pay a company to do my sourcing for me. It's a fee of $300 and then a percentage of the Purchase Order.

I always hear a lot of newbies in the business world say stuff like “everything you need to know is on Youtube for free”.

Ok cool….but I’ve got kids, a wife, multiple businesses, and a home to take care of. I don’t have time for youtube.

Of course, it is perspective and some people may have the time to do it that way but not for long, not once you hit it big...TIME IS MONEY...bootstrap and get the hell outta that habit asap. It will only end up costing you money in the long run.

I am a big believer in outsourcing, hiring coaches, and spending time with mentors.

how-i-started-a-private-label-small-business-generating-six-figures-a-month

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Nick and Angelica, on starting Romans Tide ($100,000/month) full story ➜

108. Corporate & personal gifts ($1.2M/year)

Dmitriy Peregudov started GiftBasketsOverseas.com over 13 years ago - they are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Product: Corporate & Personal Gifts
  • Location: Arlington, Massachusetts, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 60

We’d like to think of ourselves as a “Service” business, so our product isn’t a basket, but a meaning (connection) that this basket facilitates between a gift sender and a recipient.

The biggest problem out there is: how to make gifting easier, quicker and with a lasting impression?

In response, we’ve designed an in-house tool called GiftyLink, which allows last minute senders to send a gift by email or a text message immediately (while the physical gift is en-route). The tool will also offer an opportunity to swap the gift for another, more appropriate gift or donate gift value to a charity.

how-i-started-a-100k-month-corporate-personal-gift-baskets-company

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Dmitriy Peregudov, on starting GiftBasketsOverseas.com ($100,000/month) full story ➜

109. Home replacement parts. ($1.2M/year)

Chad Rubin started Think Crucial almost 13 years ago - they are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Product: Home replacement parts.
  • Location: Fort Lee, New Jersey, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1

Think Crucial started off small as a way to minimize risk. At first, we only sourced and sold a single product and as the brand took off, we kept on adding SKU’s. Today we’ve got thousands of different ones.

The key is to start small and stay scrappy. Don’t put the cart before the horse - source or create a product customers need, package it right, and sell it. As you grow (and only then), add more.

A lot of people think building a successful e-commerce business is all about growing your revenue and growing the team but growth should never come at the price of efficiency. Even if you are running hard in one direction, it doesn’t mean you are running in the right direction.

starting-a-vacuum-business-and-growing-to-100k-month

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Chad Rubin, on starting Think Crucial ($100,000/month) full story ➜

110. Cheap parking reservations. ($1.2M/year)

Patrick Murray started On Air Parking over 4 years ago - they are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Product: Cheap parking reservations.
  • Location: San Francisco, California, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 1

I screwed this up in the beginning. I paid a third party startup, that I legally can’t mention, to build out our tech product.

This failed and took way longer than was initially quoted, like over a year compared to three months. I paid $50k for a build of the product and just got the code back which we didn’t use with a $17k refund when it was all said and done.

So picture this, I’m in SF in my apartment that is costing me $1,500+/ month to rent on my last pennies from Brett’s initial investment. I have no money to pay myself a salary for the next month. I’ve been flying around the country working on a problem to solve, but I have no product. My worst fears of what could happen to me as an entrepreneur and failing are running through my head, and failure is knocking on my door.

how-i-started-a-1-2m-year-business-with-tools-like-typeform-zapier

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Patrick Murray, on starting On Air Parking ($100,000/month) full story ➜

111. Laboratory mice mazes. ($1.2M/year)

Shuhan He started MazeEngineers over 7 years ago - they are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Product: Laboratory mice mazes.
  • Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 15

Unlike other tools for experimentation, our mazes do not come in a standard design. We create customized mazes depending on our clients, their needs, and the results that they are looking for. I work together with a team of fellow doctors, esteemed technicians and designers to create mazes that would help researchers garner the necessary data that they would need for their study.

While mazes have been around for a long time, it wasn't until I further dived into the studies that I found that most designs were created by people who never really used it. Some of the available older mazes were way too small for the animals and had elements like screws and unnecessary spaces that distracts mice from the experiment. That's the reason why we made sure to focus on efficiency and effectivity of everything that we put on our designs. We also test it personally to check if they work properly for our clients. Each maze design is well-thought of, carefully crafted to fit the need of the study, backed by our team’s intensive research and years of experience.

building-mice-mazes-and-growing-to-100k-month

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Shuhan He, on starting MazeEngineers ($100,000/month) full story ➜

112. Luxury weighted blankets ($1.2M/year)

Elizabeth Grojean started Baloo Living over 2 years ago - they are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Product: Luxury Weighted Blankets
  • Location: New York, New York, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 2

Right away, I knew that I could improve on the products being offered in the market. The blankets I saw were either made of synthetic materials or low-quality cotton. Baloo is made using a very soft, premium cotton that feels luxurious as soon as you take it out of the box. It’s heavy but super breathable and cool, so it can be used all year round because good sleep should not be seasonal!

Baloo also uses a lower profile batting because the thinner the blanket, the more finely the glass microbeads inside contour the body, giving a more immediate, grounding feel. We also eliminated plastic from our packaging, and we only use materials certified by the Oeko-Tex Standard 100, which means free of chemicals, clean and safe. Finally, we include a small gift--a link to Tibetan and crystal bowl recordings, which have been shown to help the mind and body relax.

Despite the best product design, our first order hit some snags. The inspection report came back with a failing grade, just one week before the Chinese New Year. Factories close for the entire month, so I had to pause the shipment and wait before I could visit the factory personally to inspect the order. We sorted through each piece and eliminated almost twenty percent of the pieces that were damaged. The experience taught me to know the production process very well, and also gave me peace of mind to know that each blanket we shipped was perfect.

how-i-started-a-100k-month-business-selling-weighted-blankets-from-bali

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Elizabeth Grojean, on starting Baloo Living ($100,000/month) full story ➜

113. Men's grooming products ($1.2M/year)

Doug Geiger started CanYouHandlebar almost 8 years ago - they are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Product: Men's Grooming Products
  • Location: Mount Clemens, Michigan, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 10

Our first product was a moustache wax. My research amounted to buying just about every competitor product I could get my hands on to get an idea of what was possible, doing lots of research and tinkering with all manner of ingredients.

The research process involves a lot of research online on the properties of each ingredient and to determine if there are known allergies we can avoid. We also have discussions with our chemist if we are having a hard time achieving some property we want as well as to look over the final formula.

After we believe we have a winner, we have a lot of people try it and give their feedback. Meanwhile, we are working on labels and UPC barcodes and product photography. It gets easier over time to lainch a product but it never gets easy.

how-i-turned-a-moustache-wax-recipe-into-a-million-dollar-business

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Doug Geiger, on starting CanYouHandlebar ($100,000/month) full story ➜

114. Hands-on cooking classes ($1.2M/year)

Monika Reti started Hipcooks almost 7 years ago - they are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Product: Hands-on Cooking Classes
  • Location: many, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 8

Hands-down, we attract and retain customers by giving a consistent, great quality product each time we teach a class. I call it “pennies in the piggy bank:” one by one, each customer contributes to a solid, dedicated customer base.

  • #1 Google ranking (or at least the top 5 Google ranking) is important, so we keep our Google business pages full of updated content. Our Google and Yelp Reviews are solid.

how-i-started-a-cooking-classes-business-with-7-locations

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Monika Reti, on starting Hipcooks ($100,000/month) full story ➜

115. Elastic apple watch bands ($1.2M/year)

Braxton Manley started Braxley Bands over 3 years ago - they are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Product: Elastic Apple Watch Bands
  • Location: Austin, Texas, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 0

What I think is especially unique about us is that we literally only put about $20 into this and that is the only money that was ever invested to this day.

We bought elastic and Apple Watch adapters online and then hand-stitched them. Later on, my partner Grant happened to have taken a sewing class in high school (Most likely to meet girls) so he actually knew his way around the machine my Nana gave us to use.

We would stitch the bands ourselves until we absolutely did not have another minute to spare. Some nights staying up past 4am with classes and tests the next morning.

how-we-turned-20-into-a-100k-month-company-making-elastic-apple-watch-bands

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Braxton Manley, on starting Braxley Bands ($100,000/month) full story ➜

116. Matcha tea ($1.2M/year)

Andre Fasciola started Matcha.com almost 5 years ago - they are now doing $100,000/month.

  • Product: Matcha Tea
  • Location: Tucson, Arizona, USA
  • Revenue: $100,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 3

Matcha is like a fine wine. Terroir is very important. The best matcha comes from the hillsides of Uji Japan - long known as the world’s best growing region for high-quality matcha. Uji is located between two mountainous areas creating a perfect microclimate and just the right growing conditions for producing great matcha. Hot days, cool nights, and the right volcanic soil make Uji a perfect place for growing the best matcha. For over 1,000 years this region has been famous for producing the best matcha in the world. It took us a year of tasting a variety of different matcha teas for us to finally pick the top 6 matcha which we carry to this day.

Great matcha is harvested by hand once a year. This picking is called the “First Harvest, or “ the first tea of the year.” It usually happens in the first week of May and continues for several weeks. Once the matcha is hand-picked, it is processed (if you want to know more go to our website) according to a time-honored tradition. Producing matcha is a very labor-intensive process. It takes 1 hour to produce 30g of matcha. Which is another reason why great matcha is expensive?

Once we decided on the ceremonial grades we would carry we set out to secure our supply chain and start importing matcha to the US. It was a steep learning curve. Brokers, importation requirements, FDA approval, USDA applications, FBI background checks, etc.. It’s not for the faint of heart.

how-we-started-the-largest-u-s-matcha-green-tea-supplier-and-grew-it-to-100k-month

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Andre Fasciola , on starting Matcha.com ($100,000/month) full story ➜

117. State-inspired apparel ($1.12M/year)

Brian Wysong started Tumbleweed TexStyles about 9 years ago - they are now doing $93,000/month.

  • Product: State-inspired apparel
  • Location: Frisco, Texas, USA
  • Revenue: $93,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 2

Back in 2011, our very first design was created by my business partner and co-owner, Jeb Matulich.

We were actually sitting in his classroom when I saw the sketch of the design in his sketchbook. We went back and forth on how that design would make for a great t-shirt. So when we finally decided to launch our small side hustle of a hobby, we decided to send the design to print.

We really did not know what we were doing, so we found a small t-shirt printer based in Denton, Texas made up of some college students working out of their garage. So we drove out to Denton and met the guys in their home. They showed us various garment types, colors and options and educated us on the process.

how-two-teachers-started-a-t-shirt-business-doing-1-2m-year

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Brian Wysong, on starting Tumbleweed TexStyles ($93,000/month) full story ➜

118. Sustainable moisturizers ($1.1M/year)

Kismet Andrews started LoLo Body Care about 14 years ago - they are now doing $92,000/month.

  • Product: Sustainable Moisturizers
  • Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Revenue: $92,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 4

After studying midwifery in my twenties I knew some of the ingredients in my Grandmother recipe we're not going to work for most skin types. In addition, I have always traveled and was always looking for a product that was travel-friendly, multiuse, and took up little room in my backpack. A solid moisturizer fits the bill.

To make the cut, each ingredient chosen from my Grandmother's recipe had to meet specific criteria: benefits to the skin, did it play well with others, safe for all skin types, how did it feel on the skin, absorption rate, etc. I spent a year's worth of hours studying, mixing, and testing to reach perfection.

Right from the start, it was important to me to support local businesses and to be able to purchase smaller bulk sizes with the ability to scale up. I didn’t have to go far! R&D can get expensive so purchasing locally, more often, and in smaller quantities helped ease the R&D financial “ouch”. I also took this time to get to know the employees and owners of these businesses and asked a ton of questions. I still have a relationship with these businesses because of their continued high-quality standards, customer service, and trust.

how-i-started-a-92k-month-sustainable-moisturizer-brand

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Kismet Andrews, on starting LoLo Body Care ($92,000/month) full story ➜

119. Respiratory masks. ($1.08M/year)

Michael Vahey started Breathe Healthy about 11 years ago - they are now doing $90,000/month.

  • Product: Respiratory masks.
  • Location: Virginia, USA
  • Revenue: $90,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 3

While the basic elements of the mask had been established, there was a lot of improvement needed in the style, fit, and packaging. There were also manufacturing efficiencies to be gained.

Adding more variety

First, I decided that the mask needed a greater variety of styles that would appeal to a broader array of customer types. We had more custom color fabric created and found a company that could produce a wide array of fabric patterns.

starting-a-90k-month-respirator-mask-business

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Michael Vahey, on starting Breathe Healthy ($90,000/month) full story ➜

120. Local coffee ($1.08M/year)

Mike Mwenedata started Rwanda Bean Coffee almost 7 years ago - they are now doing $90,000/month.

  • Product: local coffee
  • Location: South Portland, Maine, USA
  • Revenue: $90,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 20

how-a-rwandan-immigrant-started-a-coffee-roasting-business

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Mike Mwenedata, on starting Rwanda Bean Coffee ($90,000/month) full story ➜

121. Shopping cart software. ($1.02M/year)

Mark Thompson started PayKickstart over 4 years ago - they are now doing $85,000/month.

  • Product: Shopping cart software.
  • Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
  • Revenue: $85,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 15

As you can see below, the system we started with and what it is today is night and day. The first iteration was literally just a way to add our products, set a price and create a checkout link.

It took approximately six months to build the first iteration of our internal shopping cart. Again, just the basics - checkout page functionality and payment gateway integration.

bootstrapping-to-1m-arr-by-building-something-i-needed

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Mark Thompson, on starting PayKickstart ($85,000/month) full story ➜

122. Athletic smelling salts. ($960K/year)

Justin Rapoport started AmmoniaSport LLC almost 4 years ago - they are now doing $80,000/month.

  • Product: Athletic smelling salts.
  • Location: San Diego, California, USA
  • Revenue: $80,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0

My first step was to create an LLC. I went to LegalZoom, said no to all the extra paid options and created it myself. I then went to upwork.com (best website to hire a freelancer) and hired a chemist. I interviewed about 5 people and picked the chemist with the best reviews and seemingly most experience… I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing and I didn’t really know what to ask but I felt comfortable paying through UpWork because if there were any issues, it’s easy to get your money back so I felt the only risk was my time. I was fortunate enough to pick someone who happened to know what I was looking for better than I did.

And you know what? I was happy. I convinced someone in the world to buy my product, it was a good feeling. I think this is a good time to say that my friends thought I was spending everyday playing with myself in my room.

Once we finally got some formulas down, I started calling manufacturers to see who could produce these athletic smelling salts for me. This process SUCKED. For some reason no medical companies wanted to touch smelling salts. They did not have the proper permits and machinery in place to pull off what we wanted to do. It made no sense to me and even less sense to my chemist. We spent literally months blindly calling manufacturers all over the world.

how-i-built-a-1m-business-selling-smelling-salts-on-amazon

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Justin Rapoport, on starting AmmoniaSport LLC ($80,000/month) full story ➜

123. High protein cake mix. gluten free ($960K/year)

Christine Moore started Lil Buff Protein over 4 years ago - they are now doing $80,000/month.

  • Product: High Protein Cake Mix. Gluten Free
  • Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
  • Revenue: $80,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 10

We create our entire product in our warehouse located in Cleveland, Ohio. The recipes are made by experimenting in our kitchen at home. We spend a lot of time testing different recipes to make sure everything tastes delicious while maintaining the nutritional qualities. Since I don’t have a background in culinary or food science, it’s just how you would imagine. Add a little of this, add a little of that, end with a big mess in the kitchen and hopefully something delicious.

As the owner I’m a bit of a control freak, imagine that, so I do all of the design work myself. I had a graphic designer friend teach me the ropes of Adobe Illustrator and help me with the initial branding.

In the beginning we could only afford to hand apply a label to each pouch. One time we made a mistake and the label read “carories” instead of “calories”. Whoops!

how-christine-moore-started-a-healthy-cake-treat-product

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Christine Moore, on starting Lil Buff Protein ($80,000/month) full story ➜

124. Drug-free pain relief devices. ($960K/year)

Amy Baxter MD started Pain Care Labs over 14 years ago - they are now doing $80,000/month.

  • Product: Drug-free pain relief devices.
  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
  • Revenue: $80,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 8

Two years passed, and by then I had made some prototypes. My kids and I took apart cell phones from neighbors to harvest vibrating motors.

We made one prototype using fragile resin SLA (and still using balloon animals for the ice part!) and I did a study in the hospital. Buzzy worked.

Getting our funding through a grant

how-a-doctor-got-on-shark-tank-and-saved-31m-people-from-pain

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Amy Baxter MD, on starting Pain Care Labs ($80,000/month) full story ➜

125. Bodysurfing handboards and accessories ($960K/year)

Angela Watts started Slyde Handboards about 10 years ago - they are now doing $80,000/month.

  • Product: bodysurfing handboards and accessories
  • Location: San Clemente, California, USA
  • Revenue: $80,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 3

I have a degree in Product Design so my strength lies in the creative design side of the business, from the start that has been my focus. I also grew up immersed in surf culture and it was always my dream to own a surf related company. Prototyping was obviously a huge part of this company. By the time I decided to launch it, I had been prototyping for 16 years and knew exactly which shape board we were going create.

We live in a very connected world these days and finding manufacturers in general was not a problem. Finding the right manufacturer was a little more tricky and we have been through 5 or 6 Manufacturers since launch. We found that in many cases the small size of the boards was actually a problem. All the equipment was designed and made for bigger surfboards and our boards are no more than 19 inches. A full length surfboard can reach 12 feet. Also, I had always had the dream to be able to create boards with beautiful graphics, but at the time the cost was very prohibitive. This forced us to look at other manufacturing capabilities. In about year 4 we stumbled on a manufacturer that made snowboards and we figured out a way to mix the manufacturing process of a snowboard with a manufacturing process of a surfboard. It took a bit of tweaking, but the result was a board with the strength and durability of a snowboard and stunning graphics. This is why we offer a lifetime warranty on all our high-end boards.

landing-a-200k-shark-tank-investment-and-growing-to-80k-mo

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Angela Watts, on starting Slyde Handboards ($80,000/month) full story ➜

126. Safe & clean beauty ($912K/year)

Zee Schwab started Sayar Care about 3 years ago - they are now doing $76,000/month.

  • Product: Safe & clean beauty
  • Location: New York, New York, USA
  • Revenue: $76,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 4

To start, it was incredibly important to me that the solutions we created were designed for the problem at hand, and would treat the causes behind what we wanted to solve. This keeps our products cruelty free and derived from science.

Our alpha formula focused on maximally treating underlying causes. I wanted it at highest possible effectiveness, so first iterations were slightly more concentrated and caused some skin irritation. I modified the formula to maintain max effective dose level with no irritation.

Making sure Retain is easy to use was important. We studied the maximum absorption level of skin, and how delivery tapers off over application time. We ended up with what became a slogan: wait a half hour, then shower. ⏰

how-i-battled-my-own-hair-loss-and-created-a-1m-product

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Zee Schwab, on starting Sayar Care ($76,000/month) full story ➜

127. Loose leaf tea. ($900K/year)

Andy Hayes started Plum Deluxe Tea almost 9 years ago - they are now doing $75,000/month.

  • Product: loose leaf tea.
  • Location: Portland, Oregon, USA
  • Revenue: $75,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 7

With my mentor in hand, I began the process of learning about tea - and similar with having a food product, it’s all about having your recipe!

In tea, though there is so much to consider - how it looks, the cost of each ingredient (and their proportion to the overall blend), the aroma, and of course, the taste!

Tea makers have to carry hundreds of different types of ingredients to create complex tea blends, so I was lucky to have this resource when I started.

how-andy-hayes-started-a-7-figure-tea-business-online

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Andy Hayes, on starting Plum Deluxe Tea ($75,000/month) full story ➜

128. Women's shoes. ($900K/year)

Tanya Heath started Tanya Heath almost 11 years ago - they are now doing $75,000/month.

  • Product: Women's shoes.
  • Location: Paris, Ile-de-France, France
  • Revenue: $75,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 6

The product design and manufacturing stage of my company was epic. I started looking for a solution in January 2009. My first hunch was to buy an existing concept and I really did look into this, but unfortunately the existing concept tested badly, with some of my friends comparing the shoes to a dead donkey, bizzare and bad.

So by July of 2009 I started reaching out to factories, engineers, product designers and shoe experts. The shoe experts weren't on board because they thought the concept was both ridiculous and impossible so I had to start without them but they did join the team 1 year later, when I was able to convince them that it was only my credibility and reputation on the line, not theirs.

At the same time it wasn't just ridicule, some entities did take me seriously. For example I was accepted by Agoranov Paris which at that time was France’s leading incubator which gave the concept quite a bit of credibility. I also won ADC which is a leading French fashion design program for handbags and shoes.

how-tanya-heath-invented-stilettos-with-removable-heels

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Tanya Heath, on starting Tanya Heath ($75,000/month) full story ➜

129. Life-changing scents ($4.56M/year)

Danielle Vincent started Outlaw over 7 years ago - they are now doing $380,000/month.

  • Product: Life-changing scents
  • Location: Sparks, NV, USA
  • Revenue: $380,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 13

These days, Russ heads up all the production. We have a set and predictable development process for new products:

  1. Get the concept from our customers (like I said, they’re very smart, and we’re very democratic).
  2. In January, at our annual meeting, we go over the products that have been submitted to see if they fit with our concept (for example, bath salts aren’t going to do well with our ultra-active crowd).
  3. For the 3 - 5 products that pass muster, we make a small test batch and send to a small test group, which we get from our newsletter list.
  4. If those tests are successful, we send them in our next subscription box, which is a bi-monthly box of Outlaw Soaps products exclusive to the subscription box subscribers.
  5. People often post commentary of their new products in our Outlaw Soaps Labs Facebook Group, and we take that commentary to heart.
  6. We start the product design phase after that, where we evaluate the types of packaging that might be appropriate for the product.
  7. We enlist the designer to design the label/box for the product and go through the rounds of design and revision.
  8. Design proofs come back from the company and we give a go/no-go.
  9. After the “go” is given, we hit refresh on the tracking page about 100 times (you know what I’m talkin’ about).
  10. We send the final products to Products On White Photography for press-ready photos.
  11. I write the descriptions and take some “lifestyle” photos of the products in fun and interesting environments.
  12. We post the new white photos to the website and Amazon.
  13. We send the new products to our wholesale sales rep.

leaving-the-cubicle-to-start-a-23k-month-soap-company

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Danielle Vincent, on starting Outlaw ($380,000/month) full story ➜

130. Dog onesie ($840K/year)

Tyson Walters started Shed Defeder about 4 years ago - they are now doing $70,000/month.

  • Product: Dog onesie
  • Location: Irvine, Alberta, Canada
  • Revenue: $70,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1

Developing the perfect prototype was a long and tedious process.

I started with finding the right fabric because I needed something stretchy, comfortable, breathable and durable. I started asking everyone I could and researching fabric suppliers online. I had samples sent to my house and I eventually found an athletic mesh fabric that’s made from recycled plastic water bottles.

It’s lightweight and breathable enough for dogs, but also durable enough to endure the wear and tear an active dog will put it through on a daily basis.

the-shed-defender-70k-per-month-selling-onesies-for-dogs

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Tyson Walters, on starting Shed Defeder ($70,000/month) full story ➜

131. Jewelry ($780K/year)

Chrissie Lam started Love Is Project almost 4 years ago - they are now doing $65,000/month.

  • Product: jewelry
  • Location: San Francisco, California, USA
  • Revenue: $65,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 0

I partner with artisans through local social enterprises and non-profits. Together, we develop, produce, and manage quality control for all of our collections. I’ve lived in or traveled to many of the countries we work with, and it’s been helpful to be familiar with the culture and have contacts on the ground as we start or expand production.

In the beginning, I worked with Abigail, an expert Maasai beader, to develop the first prototype of the LOVE bracelet. The original LOVE bracelet is deeply rooted in Maasai culture and traditions: they're known for their beading, and the color red symbolizes bravery and strength.

As we expanded to Bali, we incorporated new designs and craftsmanship while still paying homage to the original LOVE bracelet. Balinese gold and silver jewelry is stunning, so we evolved the original beaded concept by incorporating circular dots. A nod to beads, they also symbolize rice in Balinese culture. The dots also emulate the Maasai beads in the original design of the Kenya LOVE bracelet. Rice and LOVE are both plentiful and provide sustenance to the communities who make these bracelets.

selling-1-2m-love-bracelets-for-a-good-cause

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Chrissie Lam, on starting Love Is Project ($65,000/month) full story ➜

132. Roof access device ($780K/year)

Zachary Brown started Moki Doorstep over 3 years ago - they are now doing $65,000/month.

  • Product: Roof Access Device
  • Location: Newington, New Hampshire, USA
  • Revenue: $65,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1

I think this is the hardest part of starting a business. Anyone can go out and get funding, have and “idea” or want to start a business. But actually acting on it is a whole different ball game. I was fortunate to have a lot of help in the early stages. If I needed some time I would often post to Facebook something like “NEED HELP! Does anyone know how to convert a 2D file into a 3D cad file?”. And sure enough, people would respond.

National TV exposure has greatly helped our retail presence. Being on a national TV gives validation to your company and retailers like to see that.

For the very question above, it ended up being my neighbor’s son who was in 8th grade who was taking an engineering class in middle school. Fast forward a week later he printed off the very first prototype on the 3D printer for class. Once I had the file in 3D AutoCAD file I once again turned to Facebooking for assistance. Next thing you know I was sitting at Panera Bread with a local machinist and an engineer from Prat and Whitney. We were able to run strength tests with their programs and finetune the doorstep. From there my first aluminum prototype was made.

how-this-65k-month-step-to-improve-car-roof-access-was-one-of-the-largest-shark-tank-on-air-deals

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Zachary Brown, on starting Moki Doorstep ($65,000/month) full story ➜

133. Heritage leather wallets ($720K/year)

Phil Kalas started Ashland Leather over 9 years ago - they are now doing $60,000/month.

  • Product: Heritage Leather Wallets
  • Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
  • Revenue: $60,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 8

A strong brand philosophy

The biggest advice I can give to every small business or startup is to have a strong philosophy.

At Ashland, our philosophy is to make men’s leather goods out of the best material (specifically Horween leather). You will notice that the above sentence has three very narrowly defined variables 1) Masculine market 2) Leather Goods only 3) Horween Leather Only.

growing-a-handcrafted-leather-goods-business-to-600k-year

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Phil Kalas, on starting Ashland Leather ($60,000/month) full story ➜

134. Odor management solution. ($720K/year)

Krista Woods started GloveStix almost 7 years ago - they are now doing $60,000/month.

  • Product: Odor management solution.
  • Location: Ashburn, Virginia, USA
  • Revenue: $60,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1

My husband Chris made the first prototype in our garage out of PVC pipe. It is pretty awesome to look back at that now and think what we did with it! My son Jackson tested the GloveStix after every practice and game, he would take the GloveStix and put them inside his gloves and he just left them there. We tested many different products to absorb moisture and Jackson was essential in the process. He was only 14 at the time, but since he also hated the way his hands would smell after a game, he was all in to help. We tested different plant based essential oils in combination as well since I knew the scent of them had to appeal to boys and it could not be overwhelming. Jackson would have his friends smell the different scents and vote on their favorite. I knew that in order to make this product sell, I had to make sure it was boy approved.

If you compare yourself to others you will always find someone smarter or better at something than you. Never waste your energy comparing yourself to others, use your energy to look inside of you and find YOUR greatness!

the-epic-story-of-how-i-created-glovestix-and-landed-11-tv-shows

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Krista Woods, on starting GloveStix ($60,000/month) full story ➜

135. Men's rompers ($720K/year)

Justin Clark started RomperJack over 3 years ago - they are now doing $60,000/month.

  • Product: Men's rompers
  • Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Revenue: $60,000/ month
  • Founders: 3
  • Employees: 1

When we first saw the romper on Kickstarter, all we had to work with was a picture since no one was actually selling mens rompers at the time.

So we took that picture, threw it into Photoshop, changed the color and gave the romper a more tapered and fitted look. We changed the fit and look of the romper because we were targeting the LGBTQ audience. This specific customers tends to like clothing more fitted. Once we were happy with the look that's when I reached out to different manufacturers on Alibaba.

Before Romperjack, I did have some experience sourcing products on Alibaba. I’ve sourced many samples for other side projects that never really got going but that experience gave me a pretty good upper-hand.

how-i-started-a-60k-month-business-selling-male-rompers

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Justin Clark, on starting RomperJack ($60,000/month) full story ➜

136. Meal preparation ($720K/year)

TJ Clark started Healthy Chew over 4 years ago - they are now doing $60,000/month.

  • Product: Meal Preparation
  • Location: Little Rock, Arkansas, USA
  • Revenue: $60,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 7

When we first started, we had no clue what we were doing. We jumped on Instagram for inspiration. After finding of 6 companies, we hopped on YouTube to see some videos of their products first hand. We noticed that every single company we looked at had their products in a black bowl with a clear lid. So we googled “black meal prep plates” and bought the one from the top result.

As for the recipes, those have all been Peter’s work. He grew up in a kitchen working for his parent's Chinese restaurant. We never really needed to prototype any of our dishes since the overall goal for our meals is to be lower calorie alternatives of the dishes people know and love. We pretty much just sat down and said “enchiladas sound good, let’s put some on the menu. Ooh, also put parmesan chicken on there too”.

how-we-started-a-meal-prep-delivery-business-and-did-1-8m-in-sales

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TJ Clark, on starting Healthy Chew ($60,000/month) full story ➜

137. Poster prints ($720K/year)

Humphrey Yang started Craft Oak over 3 years ago - they are now doing $60,000/month.

  • Product: poster prints
  • Location: San Francisco, California, USA
  • Revenue: $60,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 3

Craft & Oak used to be known as YourOwnMaps. That was the name we originally started with and we chose the name because of its searchability via Google, and also because we originally only had one product - the city maps. We re-branded this past month (July 2018) and we did so because we soon want to offer products that aren’t maps. It was going to be difficult to scale to other products if our domain name still included the name "maps" in it.

To start with, after we were done prototyping and designing the original website, we also had some initial tech made for us by the same developer to process map data into a PDF file format.

I then took these PDF files that we had and went to different printers in the San Francisco Bay Area and asked them to print them for us. We eventually negotiated with two printers that were willing to take on our project and print our orders for us once we got started. I learned a lot about printing, the pricing of prints, the quality of ink, fulfillment, and all the problems that arise in the printing world at this time.

starting-and-growing-a-customized-maps-startup-to-60k-month

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Humphrey Yang, on starting Craft Oak ($60,000/month) full story ➜

138. Enhanced live event experiences ($660K/year)

Tom Worcester started Lunchbox over 2 years ago - they are now doing $55,000/month.

  • Product: Enhanced live event experiences
  • Location: New York, New York, USA
  • Revenue: $55,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 7

I designed and tested prototype after prototype of the Lunchbox using a three-stage method we internally call Test, Iterate, and Kill or Live.

Using the results of our interviews from festival attendees, we took all the proposed ideas and chose the most essential to create a theoretical Lunchbox. Then we tested new features out on different prototypes, going back to the market over and over for to get user feedback on what they liked and were interested in, all before deciding whether we would kill the feature or it would live onto the next prototype. In addition to on the ground testing, we researched macro industry trends to be as nuanced and focused as possible in the design of our product.

The first ‘manufacturers’ were barely that. I found an old Italian guy to help me cut the first samples out of a cheap canvas, with rough outlines of a side fill and inverted zippers. We went through three rounds of prototyping to quickly discover which features were practical (zip-on skins) and which were not (a solar panel nested in the top of the fabric).

inventing-an-anti-theft-bag-for-music-festival-goers

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Tom Worcester, on starting Lunchbox ($55,000/month) full story ➜

139. Pimple popping simulator ($644K/year)

Summer Pierce started Unique Obsessions, LLC almost 3 years ago - they are now doing $53,675/month.

  • Product: Pimple Popping Simulator
  • Location: Florida, USA
  • Revenue: $53,675/ month
  • Founders: 4
  • Employees: 4

Designing

When designing this product, my husband Billy had to think of what would feel the most realistic.

We found that medical grade silicone was definitely best! Although expensive, it was worth the money, because other types of silicone doesn’t have a realistic feel and were too hard.

how-we-turned-a-pimple-popping-toy-into-100k-in-one-week

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Summer Pierce, on starting Unique Obsessions, LLC ($53,675/month) full story ➜

140. Healthy meals delivered ($600K/year)

Andy Sartori started MealPro almost 4 years ago - they are now doing $50,000/month.

  • Product: Healthy meals delivered
  • Location: Sacramento, California, USA
  • Revenue: $50,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 15

Initially, MealPro was strictly a website and we partnered with a local kitchen to make the meals. Our kitchen partner would cook, package and label the meals using our brand name. On the surface it seemed like a good arrangement, however, this turned out to be a “learning experience” to put it mildly.

We were required to place large orders with limited customization. Production had a 10 day lead time and we had no supply chain visibility. This motivated us to develop our own product and packaging:

Iteration 1

how-we-started-a-successful-food-delivery-business

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Andy Sartori, on starting MealPro ($50,000/month) full story ➜

141. Golf simulators ($600K/year)

Igor Vainshtien started 24/7 Golf over 4 years ago - they are now doing $50,000/month.

  • Product: Golf simulators
  • Location: Victoria, Australia
  • Revenue: $50,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 3

I did not design the “each product” that I sell - but I did combine them to make up a combination that was really affordable and easy to install for customers. With my old simulators, it was a huge job to install and it was so expensive!

I combined the best parts from 7 years of sometimes painful and often expensive lessons to form a package - or set of packages - to turn that trend around. To set up my supply side, I just called each company and asked to be a reseller. With SkyTrak I asked to be the exclusive distributor and over months of negotiation … I got what I wanted! What I have learnt is that things must be easy for customers - easy to buy, easy to assemble, easy to manage going forward. Everything I do in my sales process is to try to make it all easy for potential customers.

growing-a-business-selling-golf-simulators-to-50k-month

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Igor Vainshtien, on starting 24/7 Golf ($50,000/month) full story ➜

142. Car seat friendly coats ($600K/year)

Dahlia Rizk started Buckle Me Baby Coats almost 4 years ago - they are now doing $50,000/month.

  • Product: Car Seat Friendly Coats
  • Location: New Hampshire, USA
  • Revenue: $50,000/ month
  • Founders: 1
  • Employees: 1

As a mental health counselor by training and career, I had no manufacturing experience and ran into a lot of hurdles in getting started. Most manufacturers wanted minimums above my opening order and finding a prototype maker who had outerwear experience and I was lucky to find one right in Boston, Roger Hinds, and described my idea to him.

Roger was fantastic! I’ve found that a lot of people in the apparel industry won't make time for a newbie but he was generous with his time and explained the process to me. He also discussed different ideas on how to optimize the usefulness of the coat.

how-a-single-mom-designed-a-50-000-month-car-seat-friendly-kids-coat

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Dahlia Rizk, on starting Buckle Me Baby Coats ($50,000/month) full story ➜

143. Prank greeting cards ($600K/year)

Travis Peterson started Joker Greeting over 5 years ago - they are now doing $50,000/month.

  • Product: Prank greeting cards
  • Location: Irvine, California, USA
  • Revenue: $50,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 0

This was the real challenge is remains to be the biggest hurdle. While some people did mention that “musical greeting cards are dead, don’t do it”, I just ignored that and moved forward. Googling “custom musical greeting cards” leads to zero results. We were able to get some quotes, but they were absurdly expensive.

Eventually, we found a broker. We pay more for the product than we originally wanted, but they are great and help me achieve all the crazy ideas we have. It’s been a great experience so far, and they deliver a super solid QA process. They mostly focus on designing our ideas (the internal engineering), and we create the look and aesthetics, and then make a few iterations. Simple ideas need a lot of work too. Once we had the first iteration of the product, we were able to push the boundaries and add new features. It was fun.

Make a product people want to buy not one you want to sell. If you are pushing too hard to make a sale it’s probably wrong.

launching-a-prank-card-and-growing-to-30k-mo

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Travis Peterson, on starting Joker Greeting ($50,000/month) full story ➜

144. Clothing for travelers. ($600K/year)

Johanna Denize started Clever Travel Companion over 9 years ago - they are now doing $50,000/month.

  • Product: Clothing for travelers.
  • Location: Remote, Oregon, USA
  • Revenue: $50,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 2

The hardest in getting a new product to market in our experience is finding and settling for a manufacturer. There are so many out there and so many shady or just bad quality manufacturers and sourcing partners.

We initially used an American sourcing company. We wanted to start small, with a small batch and most manufacturers have minimum order quantities that they require. In regards to clothing that means that the buyer needs to purchase a certain amount of fabric in order to make the order viable. Initially we did not want to / could not do that. So we found a sourcing company from China with US offices (they don’t exist anymore hence we cannot give a recommendation) that could help us with a smaller order. That meant using existing colors and fabrics of course.

We initially ordered 5 color sets and 500 of each for both women's and men's as a trial. The price was way higher than what we pay today, which is normal. The smaller the order the more you pay.

becoming-digital-nomads-and-growing-to-50k-month-selling-gear-for-travelers

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Johanna Denize, on starting Clever Travel Companion ($50,000/month) full story ➜

145. Hair products for stylists ($600K/year)

Ishan Dutta started Ugly Duckling almost 5 years ago - they are now doing $50,000/month.

  • Product: Hair products for stylists
  • Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Revenue: $50,000/ month
  • Founders: 2
  • Employees: 2

Just to start the whole thing took us close to two years, partly because I was working in a full-time job until the site went live.

I started to look out for manufacturers of hair color as early as 2013. We found a good one who was flexible and willing to produce small batch sizes for us. They were also ready to produce unique formulations just for us, and that was very important to us. We took a full year testing and tweaking formulations until we had a range that was ready to be launched.

While the testing was going on, we were also working on the trademark registration, the product packaging, the website domain name, and website design. My wife came up with the name “Ugly Duckling”, and I liked it! I immediately found a trademark lawyer and registered it.

how-i-started-a-50k-month-professional-haircare-products-business

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Ishan Dutta, on starting Ugly Duckling ($50,000/month) full story ➜

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Starter Story,   Founder of Starter Story