We get to interview dozens of entrepreneurs every month. Some of them run big companies and others are folks we have never heard of, with ideas that totally blow our minds. Let’s call them niche entrepreneurs, or better yet, just entrepreneurs in niches we had no idea existed.
Airbnb for finding a roommate? Giant medical inflatables for education? Wedding speechwriting services? We certainly had no idea these businesses existed until their founders told us about them during their IdeaMensch interview. Read on for more information about the founders, their companies, and how they bring their ideas to life.
Ajay Yadav, Founder and CEO of Roomi
What is Roomi? Why did you create it?
“It is a peer-to-peer marketplace that simplifies the roommate experience. The idea for Roomi came to me after living in NYC for a few years. My friends and I all had difficulty finding flexible renting options and I knew there had to be a better way to find a room to rent. Facebook wasn’t built to search for apartments or room rentals and listings on Craigslist weren’t verified. This inspired me to find a better solution.”
How do you bring ideas like Roomi to life?
“Start it as a part-time project after work or on the weekend… As soon as you have an idea you should start building a really basic version of your big vision. Learn how to build it and hack something together to start testing it.”
Josh Womack, Co-Founder and Head Writer of Laugh Staff
What is Laugh Staff? Why did you create it?
“I started doing stand-up back in 2007 when a former supervisor told me I was a lackluster intern but had a good sense of humor. Laugh Staff emerged from a conversation I had with a fellow stand-up named Cameron Amigo. Many of our friends were getting married at the time and the speeches were less than memorable. Cameron got to pinch-hit for a best man in the summer of 2012 and the next day he called me with this question: ‘What if these nervous best men and maid of honor could good get great content from real, working comedians?'”
How do you bring ideas like Laugh Staff to life?
“Bringing ideas to life is core to our business. People hire us because they either hate writing, don’t know where to start, or want to save time and stress. It’s our job to bring that content to life by searching for the nugget of funny in every story…We’re speechwriters, but we’re also thought organizers.”
Sarah Davis, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Fashionphile
What is Fashionphile? Why did you create it?
“Fashionphile is the largest online platform for buying and selling ultra-luxury handbags and accessories in the country. At its core, Fashionphile is a technology company. [We] have developed sophisticated computer-based learning systems and algorithms to help aid in the pricing, identification, and authentication of pre-owned luxury accessories. I started selling my own stuff on eBay and couldn’t believe how much some of my own used things were selling for. I realized very quickly that luxury labels held their value more than anything else… and handbags were selling for very close to retail!”
How do you bring ideas like Fashionphile to life?
“I usually bounce these ideas off of other smart people that I trust in our team. If they’re good ones, then I find the right people to partner with to make those things happen. When I started, it was me doing all of this. Fashionphile is too big for that now, and so it’s of vital importance that we have the right people on the bus to take us where we need to go.”
Diego Orlandini, Designer of Aimful Coloring Books
What is Aimful Coloring Books? Why did you create it?
“Aimful Coloring Books designs coloring books featuring meticulously curated artwork by established artists from around the world, primarily focusing on street art. We were born out of a sincere desire to contribute to the education of thousands of children around the world…by providing free educational textbooks. We match every coloring book you purchase with a free children’s textbook through The Live Aimfully Foundation.”
How do you bring ideas like Aimful Coloring Books to life?
“I draw them first. Then, I execute them as fast as I can, and if they have failed, I asked for advice to my circle of trust and then, I try again.”
Tressa Sanders, Founder and Senior English Trainer at Stack English, Inc.
What is Stack English, Inc.? Why did you create it?
“Stack English, Inc. offers one-on-one online Technical and Business English lessons to IT professionals learning English as a foreign language. [We] help other IT professionals improve their English so they can take advantage of more career and business opportunities. I was teaching English for another company and I was very disappointed with the quality of the lesson materials…I was equally disappointed in the way the teachers were treated and the amount of pay being offered. Stack English was born out of the desire to be more helpful to English learners and the need for better employment for skilled English teachers.”
How do you bring ideas like Stack English, Inc. to life?
“Ideas come to me and I act on them. For example, if I get an idea for a new business, I will start searching for more information about it and try to decide if there is a good market for it. If I feel like there would be, I build non-stop until the first production-ready version is ready to deploy. I deploy it and then focus on the marketing.”
Angela Marcus, Founder of GetYourPet.com
What is GetYourPet.com? Why did you create it?
“I created GetYourPet.com to empower both pet guardians and adopters and allow pets to go from one good home to another…The aha! moment came when I witnessed an interaction between a person who had come to surrender their pet and a person who had come to the shelter to adopt. Turns out, the adopter was looking for a dog just like the one that was being surrendered. Transitioning into a new home is already hard enough; why couldn’t we make it easier? If Uber and Airbnb could successfully create a two-sided marketplace, I could pair the complementary needs of people who needed to find new homes for their pets and people who wanted to adopt pets.”
How do you bring ideas like GetYourPet.com to life?
“It is not something I do alone; I am fortunate to be a part of an amazing team of people that work together to breathe life into the ideas I/we come up with. We meet weekly to discuss ideas that are new or innovative, then we prioritize them.”
Mirko Manfredi, Creator of Extra Tiny Homes
What is Extra Tiny Homes? Why did you create it?
“I am very passionate about minimalism and wanted to provide their community with viable opportunities to live such a lifestyle. Extra Tiny Homes provides homeowners with the opportunity to purchase “kits” that allow for the quick and easy building of a tiny home, also known as an auxiliary dwelling unit (ADU). I came across a development company that was taking the concept of prefabricated housing but in the form of campgrounds…[they took] old shipping containers, and used them as the structure for the campsites. The idea of giving people the tools that they need to build a structure came from seeing these prefabricated campsites. By eliminating as much labor as possible we can diminish costs for building a home which was is our end goal.”
How do you bring ideas like Extra Tiny Homes to life?
“All of my ideas that I have ever had have been written down in my journal. No matter what it is, long-term goals, a to-do list, or a plan, it is written down. I go back when I am looking for inspiration and find that I am often my own inspiration, just me from the past.”
Lauren Hill, Founder of Medical Inflatables, Inc.
What is Medical Inflatables, Inc.? Why did you create it?
“I was working as an event coordinator for a local hospital and we hosted many health fairs around town. At these health fairs, I would explain to people about heart health, what heart disease looks like, and the destruction it causes (as the number 1 killer of Americans). Not having many visual aids at my disposal, it was difficult to capture people’s imagination and really hit home the destructive impact of heart disease. One day I thought to myself, what if I could show heart disease larger than life? What if I could walk through a heart? I did an on-line search for “walk-through heart” and one museum exhibit in Philadelphia popped up. I called the museum inquiring if the exhibit could travel to Houston, it could not. That’s he moment the idea hit: the walk-through heart had to be portable, and therefore, inflatable!”
How do you bring ideas like Medical Inflatables, Inc. to life?
“For new product ideas, I usually engage a doctor or specialist in the field. After they help identify what will make the exhibit scientifically accurate, I then use a medical illustrator to sketch out the initial concept. Next steps include consulting with my manufacturer and getting a 3D rendering. All parties weigh-in until we settle on the final exhibit model.”
Hannah Lavon, Founder and Creator of Pals Socks
What is Pals Socks? Why did you create it?
“Pals are mismatched socks for kids. They are colorful, funky socks of characters that don’t match, because they inspire kids to be friends with someone different. My first wearable product I designed were mismatching mittens that came as predator and prey, so your hands could “battle it out in the funnest way ever.” I did that for a few years, and it was fun, but realized it was super seasonal. You really have 2 months. So, mittens pivoted into socks, which can be sold when it’s not 30 degrees and under. However, I rebranded it from being battling characters to being Pals. I felt it was more important to inspire kids to be friends with someone different instead of fighting.”
How do you bring ideas like Pals Socks to life?
“I have a few different sketchbooks all my ideas live in. I create all my designs in Adobe illustrator and send my factories the art files. I have a few samples of different kinds of socks in my office, so I can tell them the materials I want the socks to be. After a few weeks. I receive samples in the mail, I give them feedback, then I get another round of samples with edits, that’s pretty much it. Then it comes over on a boat and into my warehouse!”
Alexandra Isseneger, Founder of Linkilaw
What is Linkilaw? Why did you create it?
“Linkilaw is the legal platform for startups. While working in a corporate law firm, I spotted a gap in the legal sector and inefficiencies in the fees charged by large firms for services provided to startups. On the one hand, lawyers work in a manner that is not efficient, wasting a lot of time, and therefore money. These factors make for an industry that lacks transparency and is therefore disconnected to its clients’ needs. On the other hand, friends and acquaintances starting businesses and encountering legal issues came to me looking for answers. From their feedback, I understood that there was a clear gap in the legal industry for a client-focused service that is cost transparent, speedy and still can provide quality, commercially astute advice.”
How do you bring ideas like Linkilaw to life?
“I love to ideate with people who are as creative as I am or those who are able to be a good sounding board. I thrive on human energy and have developed some of my best ideas in unconventional places – late night bars with friends, at the beach, in airplanes with strangers, or even once in a cinema (I wasn’t very popular that day!)”
Dr. Sue Samuelsson, Creator of i-Vet
What is i-Vet? Why did you create it?
“i-Vet is an innovative new veterinary experience that is designed to provide access to real veterinary care for people that live in remote areas or pet owners isolated by disability. I felt frustrated that there were so many pet owners that lived in towns or communities that were needing veterinary care but could not access it. These people would call me and try to describe what they thought their problem was but I found people often could not see all of the issues needing to be addressed. I then started video calling and found that if I had treated their pet based on what they described over the phone I would have got it completely wrong! Hence, i-Vet was born.”
How do you bring ideas like i-Vet to life?
“I love being creative with ideas – particularly with tools to make my job easier. However, I always need to run them past someone as at times I get carried away.. Ideas are only as good as the team you have to help you implement them. I make sure I align myself with the right people.”
Are you a niche entrepreneur. Or really, any kind of entrepreneur? Why not think about doing an interview with us.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.