25 Indie Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2015

Up-and-coming business builders to watch as they grow their ideas into profitable, scalable heart and hustle based businesses.

These aren’t people who’ve already “made it.” It’s still the early days, some are still pre-revenue. Root them on, pay attention and see what you can learn from their work.

Warfare Plugins

Dustin Stout 9,725 9,280 542 ENGINEER
“...the ability to dictate my own schedule, my own rules, and my own measures of success...”

Elevator Pitch: We created a WordPress plugin that helps website owners get their content shared the way they want it to be shared. Beautiful, responsive, lightning-fast, customizable social sharing buttons with the ability to optimize how your content gets shared by users who click your share buttons.

What is your motivation for building a business? The freedom to create things that I care about and the ability to dictate my own schedule, my own rules, and my own measures of success is what drove me to be an entrepreneur.

How has Fizzle helped you? It has meant that I am not in this thing alone. While I have partners in my business it’s always great to hear stories of other people in other businesses experiencing the same ups, downs, highs and lows that I am.

The Minimalist Vegan

Michael Ofei 0 24,720 1,354 MEDIAPRENEUR
“...as we worked with more clients, we realized that we wanted to pursue something more meaningful.”

Elevator Pitch: The Minimalist Vegan is a lifestyle website that helps people find their balance between eating well and living mindfully. Our mission is to inspire and connect millions around our message.

What is your motivation for building a business? My partner Masha and I have always been interested in self-employment. Initially we wanted liberty and control over how we make a living. This led us to pursue freelancing opportunities in photography and consulting respectively. However as we worked with more clients, we realized that we wanted to pursue something more meaningful. We wanted to build something that was much bigger than ourselves, that we could pursue for decades to come. We also wanted to do something together as we found it challenging to fully support each other when we had different projects going on. So we decided to go all in on a passion project together which we fully intend to turn into a legitimate business model.

How has Fizzle helped you? Being a Fizzler has given me a sense of pride in what I do. It has also simplified my content porn addiction as I know I can find pretty much everything I need between The Sparkline, The Fizzle Show, the course library and the forums. I also know that Fizzle attracts a certain type of entrepreneur, which is the kind of entrepreneurs I like. Just the fact that I get to participate in this survey makes me proud that I have a chance represent the Fizzle community.

Just A Girl & Her Blog

Abby Lawson 79,046 1,789,209 26,094 TEACHER
“As husband and wife we're partners in life and for us part of that is running a business together.”

Elevator Pitch: We write about organization, home decor, going paperless, and growing an online audience.

What is your motivation for building a business? Running our own business allows us to live life on our own terms and not on someone else's agenda. We're willing to work hard in order to not live by someone else's goals and pre-determined income limits. As husband and wife we're partners in life and for us part of that is running a business together. We became entrepreneurs for the freedom it gives our family and the ability to pour ourselves into something we care about, in a way that best suites our passions, interests, and abilities.

How has Fizzle helped you? It's impossible to quantify the value of spending time learning from other like-minded entrepreneurs in a welcoming community with leaders I respect. The sound business strategies, technical advice, and big-picture thinking I've learned in Fizzle has shaved years off my entrepreneurial learning curve. We've been able to stick with our business and persevere through challenging times thanks to the incredible community. We found our perfect mastermind group through Fizzle and they help us stay motivated and focused on our most important business goals.

Virsonality

Brandon Bosse 0 1,433 46 ENGINEER
“I’d rather take a chance on my own success by creating a business where I can work on my own time...”

Elevator Pitch Virsonality is a company that makes mobile apps that allow the user to have a conversation with a virtual-personality through their smartphone. Mobile tech is an exploding industry as more and more people carry a smartphone everywhere they go. This creates new opportunities for connecting people in unique ways, like creating a virtual entity in the cloud that acts as an intermediary to facilitate communication between members of the group. Each app released will be designed for people in a unique niche, where you can ask a question to the group and get an immediate response.

What is your motivation for building a business? Most people are comfortable living a “normal”, safe life and working for someone else at a 9-5 job. For me that’s boring and unfulfilling. I’d rather take a chance on my own success by creating a business where I can work on my own time, on my own projects, and my own dreams all the while earning money to support myself and my family. To me, that seems like an opportunity in life not to be missed.

How has Fizzle helped you? It’s reminded me not to give up on my dreams and to just go for it!

Art to Self

Stephanie Halligan 1,250 7,127 1,141 MEDIAPRENEUR
“It’s not just to help me create a happy life; it’s to help others create one too.”

Elevator Pitch Art to Self is a daily art affirmation newsletter, sending subscribers some positivity, a little perspective and a motivational cartoon to help start their day. Steph Halligan, the motivational cartoonist behind Art to Self, shares her journey, struggles and successes through her daily inspirational comics and notes, reminding readers that they aren’t alone through her personal stories and doodles.

What is your motivation for building a business? There’s the reason I became an entrepreneur and a reason I stuck it out as an entrepreneur. I started consulting on my own so I could have more freedom and flexibility in my life. I wanted to be an authority figure and I wanted to live a life that felt energizing and creative. But after a year of working for myself, I still felt like something was missing. I was missing a spark - a creative project that I had always craved. And I was beating myself up as an entrepreneur, wondering how I could possibly feel sad and unfulfilled when I was the one that created this life. And that’s when Art to Self was born. Art to Self are the notes that I write to myself to help me keep going and believe that I’m enough. They’re my reminders to take it easy on myself and enjoy the process. It’s also the vehicle (and the commitment mechanism) to keep me doing the thing that I love to do every single day: drawing cartoons and sharing them with the world. I figured if I need these notes and cartoons, others need them too. And so far, that’s proven true. A thousand times over. My motivation to stick to it are my amazing readers and how they support me - with their incredibly kind words, with their generous donations, and with their enthusiasm for what I’ve created. And now I’ve found a new reason to run a business: it’s not just to help me create a happy life; it’s to help others create one, too.

How has Fizzle helped you? Fizzle is like a compass, telling me where I am with my business and helping to point me in the right direction. The articles, courses and podcast helped me identify my business archetype and business stage. And just seeing so many engaged people in the community helped me feel like I wasn’t going at it alone.

Sciconic

Shelley Sandiford 2,000 2,352 20 FREELANCER
“I've always dreamed of combining science and art.”

Elevator Pitch I’m a scientist-turned-animator and now run my own science animation website. At Sciconic, the goal is to use graphics and animation to help science-related businesses, organizations and academics explain science to targeted audiences. I believe that, within that maze of data and jargon, some of the most important stories yet to be told have their roots in science. I’ve made it my mission to help others tell some of those stories.

What is your motivation for building a business? I’ve always dreamed of combining science and art. Being an advocate for science literacy (among children and adults) is hugely important to me. I believe (maybe naively) that my skill set will put me in touch with audiences that are currently difficult to reach, and give scientists the voice they deserve.

How has Fizzle helped you? More than anything, being exposed to people who’ve been where I’m trying to go has been helpful. It’s never occurred to me that I might be able to build a million dollar business. Frankly that’s not my motivation. But, being able to support myself doing what I love is. I’ve dug into the courses and founder’s stories for ideas, but mostly for the assurance that others have walked this path. Maybe they’ve failed, but they tried. Being part of a community like Fizzle has exposed me to so many others who are trying. That’s hugely motivating for me.

Mallie Rydzik

Mallie Rydzik 23,000 11,200 578 COACH
“I was following the path I was raised to believe would lead to success...”

Elevator Pitch I help people create better life-work balance through creative entrepreneurship. I host The Off-Road Millennial podcast to highlight people who are living unconventional lives; I consult businesses and business owners on automation and productivity at Systems Scientist; and I coach, write, and speak on personal branding, the future of work, and life-work balance at my personal site. Each brand contributes to the overall goal of developing a fulfilling life with as much time spent on the things and people you love as possible.

What is your motivation for building a business? In 2011, I was a PhD student who was unexpectedly diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, chronic depression, and binge eating disorder. I spent a year in therapy while still pushing my way through the rigors of academia. That year of deep self work and reflection led me to reconsider how I view both life and work, as well as how the two are integrated. I had never stopped to ask myself what I really wanted out of life; I was following the path I was raised to believe would lead to success.

I quit my PhD then tried out a cubicle-y corporate job while starting my first side gig–a freelance writing and editing business. In the summer of 2013, I left my corporate job, took on a “bridge job” tutoring, and continued to grow my business, experimenting with e-commerce, dropshipping, life coaching, and a handful of other business archetypes.

Now, two years later, I have finally been able to leave my bridge job to focus on full-time entrepreneurship. I’ve done it all without completely giving in to my obsessive working nature as I’ve done in the past, and I can show my clients that I’m truly walking my “work-life balance” talk. The journey has been long and riddled with more failure than success, but the successes have made all the failures worth it.

How has Fizzle helped you? Being part of Fizzle means being part of a community of people who are all dedicated to improving their lives through entrepreneurship. I’ve been part of other internet communities of entrepreneurs, but Fizzle seems to attract “my people,” those of us who know there’s more than one way to skin an alligator when it comes to online business.

Outdoor Blueprint

Brian Eagen 600 19,300 206 TEACHER
“The path I was on at the time was an interest; the outdoors is a PASSION.”

Elevator Pitch Outdoor Blueprint is a visual and interactive database providing aspiring outdoors-people with the tools they needs to safely and comfortably enjoy human powered outdoor recreation. Currently there are three main sections. A jargon-free walk-through of the most common types of outdoor equipment to help determine what’s right for you. A weekly dose of skills and trip planning tools for your next outdoor adventure. And a comprehensive online guidebook for Joshua Tree National Park (with more parks on their way).

What is your motivation for building a business? I was lucky to grow up in a family that spent a ton of time exploring the outdoors. As I grew up, I nurtured that love through backpacking, rock climbing, kayaking, and mountaineering. The path I was on at the time (architecture) was an interest; the outdoors is a PASSION. I also learned that the most satisfaction I got while enjoying the outdoors was teaching. I chose to become an entrepreneur to share that love with beginners, in an approachable and engaging way. The outdoor recreation space is a hugely saturated market, but with jargon-laden terminology and vocal experts who sometimes talk down to newcomers. At the same time, the average outdoor educator or guide makes less than $20,000 a year (while working 24 hour days, nearly year-round). So I want to build a business that supports my field work, while also maintaining an open door for beginners.

How has Fizzle helped you? I have been following Corbett ever since the Jurassic era, ThinkTraffic, pre-Fizzle days. Once Fizzle was launched, and the corresponding podcast, I was immediately hooked. Being a part of Fizzle is an opportunity to find motivation and inspiration in a community of like-minded individuals who are taking the EXACT same steps as I am. I spend well over half my year backpacking in some remote wilderness (away from the internet). But when I return, I always know there is a supportive community waiting, along with a dose of humor.

Simplified.Life

Lilli Weisz 39,879 1,000 493 COACH
“...clients were unaware of the capabilities of the digital technologies available to help them.”

Elevator Pitch I help overwhelmed professionals, just like you, use technology to become more efficient and productive. I talk in simple non-jargon terms so you can declutter your inbox, streamline your to-do list, organize your passwords or go paperless - in the quickest way possible.

What is your motivation for building a business? My main motivation for starting a business was the ability to work for myself and control my days. I was never too successful at a desk job; always wandering off to work on my own side projects (for some reason, my bosses weren’t so happy with me!). After being offered a job at Google in September 2008, and then having the offer rescinded a week later when the market crashed, I decided to try and make a go of it. I had just turned 30 and after years struggling to stay organized in my 20s, I was finally learning how to stay on top of it all. I thought, “Let me see if other people will pay me to help get them organized.” And, astonishingly, they did!

Within a couple years of helping clients to organize their homes, I realized that they had a deeper need to organize their lives. I also noticed that my (mostly older) clients were unaware of the capabilities of the digital technologies available to help them. The relief and joy evident on my clients’ faces, after I’d help them declutter their email inbox or toss a few boxes of paper files, motivated me to transition my business, Simplified, into a digital organization and productivity counseling firm. After 5+ years of working one-on-one with clients in their homes and offices, I’m eager to bring my message to a wider audience online and help people everywhere simplify their digital lives. [I only just realized that my siblings, mother, father and four grandparents also all work/worked for themselves. I think it runs in the family!]

How has Fizzle helped you? It means that I am not alone.

PDN 9

Will Gibbons 7 2,939 201 TEACHER
“I had to learn how to pay the bills freelancing through trial and error.”

Elevator Pitch PDn9.com helps industrial designers do meaningful work by teaching them how to find and work with the freelance clients they want.

What is your motivation for building a business? I had to learn how to pay the bills freelancing through trial and error. I want to help others avoid some of the pains I experienced while helping them enjoy the rewards that come with a freelancing career.

How has Fizzle helped you? Being a Fizzle member means that I’m part of a supportive network of ambitious and smart individuals who consistently take action to get closer to what they want.

Mess Hall Cocktail Co

Marianne Sundquist 26,268 3,612 124 MAKER
“My 80 hour weeks away from home needed to change in a big way”

Elevator Pitch Mess Hall Cocktail Cherries are especially crafted for the high quality of cocktails that are being stirred, shaken and poured across the globe.

Our cherries provide the home and professional bartender more acidity, more complexity, and more textural integrity in the cherry itself, for a better end cocktail.

We preserve our cherries by hand, with demerara sugar, a splash of bourbon, and the smallest notes of black peppercorn, star anise, cassia cinnamon bark and rose petals-just enough to put the spotlight on the beautiful balaton cherry, along with the cocktail it graces.

We have over 35 shops stocking our cherries on their shelves and a growing list of bars using our cherries behind the bar. We are officially launching our 32 oz. jar for the professional bar in July 2015 at Tales of the Cocktail.

What is your motivation for building a business? When I hit the ten year mark of working for other people, it was eye opening to say the least. I didn’t have control of my time (the most valuable of all resources). I wanted to start a family and knew in order to do this in a way that worked for me, my 80 hour weeks away from home needed to change in a big way.

How has Fizzle helped you? As an entrepreneur, I often feel like I am walking through a forest trying to find my way to clarity, to customers, constantly pivoting and making small changes in my route. And it is often quite lonely! So one day I was walking along in my usual way and I stumbled upon a wooden chest. I almost passed by, cause I have seen a few of these before and found nothing much inside besides some old stinky cheese (not the good kind). But I was tired and feeling kind of down, so I kicked it a few times and the top popped open. This was no ordinary wooden chest in the forest, but instead a treasure chest, filled with gold and gems! This is how I think of Fizzle. Chase, Corbett, Barrett and Steph are the gold and Fizzler’s are the gems. My business and mindset is constantly growing and evolving because of Fizzle.

Claire Pelletreau

Claire Pelletreau 54,104 33,188 2,718 TEACHER
“I became a “real” entrepreneur when I was fired from my cushy remote job”

Elevator Pitch I help small business owners invest in Facebook ads the smart way. Entrepreneurs are working their asses off to create addictive podcasts, impactful ebooks, epic blog posts, even a listicle or two! But what’s the point if their hard work only ever gets seen by the people who come across them via Google? The Organic Reach Massacre of 2013 has rendered Facebook a pay-to-play marketing zone, and I’m working to make sure you don’t simply hand over hundreds of dollars to Zuckerberg with nothing to show for it.

What is your motivation for building a business? I became a “real” entrepreneur in 2014 when I was fired from my cushy remote job doing marketing for an online business. But it was EXACTLY what I wanted deep down: the flexibility to work my own hours, the responsibility of calling all the shots (including the bad ones), and the recognition for my work on a broader scale.

Now my main motivation is to help people navigate the tricky seas of paid advertising. A lot of time that means whistleblowing on the misinformation out there that’ll have you believe Facebook ads can help you turn pennies into piles of money.

How has Fizzle helped you? Being a Fizzle member has meant two things for me: 1. a safe place to share even my most colossal failure, and 2. inspiration/motivation from other people who are running the exact same marathon as I am. I bet a lot of Fizzlers can identify with the fact that I wish I spent more time in the forums to give as much as I’ve received (like that one time when my webinar truly bombed and the Fizzlers picked me up and dusted me off like even my closest confidants couldn’t). But even when I’m in there, just perusing the questions and looking for the areas I can help with, I’m blown away by the quality of the community. There are so many ideas, votes of confidence, clarifying questions and “been there” stories being shared that I invariably leave inspired and motivated to keep working on this tough stuff of building a business.

Listen Money Matters

Andrew Fiebert 30,997 85,000 2,956 MEDIAPRENEUR
“... this is not your father's boring finance show.”

Elevator Pitch: Honest and uncensored - this is not your father’s boring finance show. We bring much needed ACTIONABLE advice to a generation that hates being lectured about personal finance from the out-of-touch one percent. We’re relatable, funny and brash. Our down-to-earth discussions about money are entertaining whether you’re a financial whiz or just starting out. With over 250 hours of podcast episodes and 450 articles, we teach you how to control your spending, afford what you need and comfortably invest the rest.

What is your motivation for building a business? I knew I needed to build Listen Money Matters after watching my closest friends and family make absolutely terrible decisions with their money. I was always a personal finance nerd and the rants were building up so intensely I needed an outlet. I’ve always tried (and failed) to start businesses but what really got me motivated was finding Smart Passive Income. Pat made me realize that instead of trying to build a billion dollar tool, I could just slowly share my knowledge and if it was high quality, people would find it and appreciate it.

How has Fizzle helped you? I found Think Traffic through the SPI Podcast and became hooked - Fizzle was not only a natural progression but an admiral evolution. I had to join. Fizzle taught me how to focus my ideas, build my email list and Founder stories like Brett Kelly’s inspired me to create my first product, Mastering Mint. Perhaps most importantly I found an incredible collaborator via the forums who’s ideas helped shape the core of what Listen Money Matters is today.

Fizzle to me was the tools I needed to make my “side project” an actual business and a support structure to take it beyond what I was capable of myself. I haven’t been very active in the community but I’ve found incredible inspiration from my lurking.

Greg Faxon

Greg Faxon 37,776 17,097 897 COACH
“...the fear of NOT starting a business that made him proud was greater than the fear of starting.”

Elevator Pitch: I’m a business coach for entrepreneurs. People usually come to me because they want to get paid to do work they love. I help them start and grow impactful businesses so they can unleash their full potential into the world. My clients inspire me.

What is your motivation for building a business? In the first month of my first job out of college (market research and consulting), I found myself moving a number from one Excel spreadsheet to another. In that moment, I realized that I was going to have to wait ten years to make a real impact. And it probably wouldn’t have been the impact that I wanted to make. Then I thought of my friend Zack McLeod, who lost his short term memory and speech after suffering a brain injury during a high school football game. He had so much potential. In that moment, the fear of NOT starting a business that made him proud was greater than the fear of starting. So I started.

How has Fizzle helped you? I get to be around brave people building badass businesses. And I get to use alliteration.

Celebrate Autism

Jenny Anderson 2,500 4,500 543 TEACHER
“My motivation for building this business is my older brother, Brent, who is on the autism spectrum.”

Elevator Pitch: Celebrate Autism provides innovative entrepreneurial education to young adults with developmental disabilities. Our Supported Entrepreneur curriculum teaches practical business skills through the lens of entrepreneurship. Using the process of strengths-based learning, individuals are encouraged to think about how to best use their passions and interests to create a career. Our programs are available online, in classrooms, and within transition programs via strategic partnerships. The goal of our organization is to spark brighter futures for young adults with developmental disabilities by providing opportunities for growth and success.

What is your motivation for building a business? My motivation for building this business is my older brother, Brent, who is on the autism spectrum. I have watched him experience immense struggle while trying to find his place in our society as an adult. It has been painful for me to witness, knowing that I am inherently presented with so many options, because I was born without a disability, while my brother is not. I believe that the only way this will change is by opening people’s eyes to the strengths and value that those with disabilities can contribute. When people talk about autism today, in the news or media, they only refer to the disorder, what causes it and what could cure it. I believe we need to shift our focus. Instead of talking about the disorder, we need to understand the people. I believe it is my purpose to spearhead this shift. I am determined to make this world an easier place for those with disabilities to thrive. This is why I am an entrepreneur.

How has Fizzle helped you? Taking courses on Fizzle was one of the first things that made me feel like I could succeed as an entrepreneur. Finding an organization willing to support a newbie in the entrepreneur world gave me confidence and know-how that allowed me to build my business.

Clean Pits Co.

Kelsey Hunt 3,500 1,683 49 MAKER
“... I wanted us all to start thinking about what products we put on our bodies.”

Elevator Pitch: Clean Pits Company creates natural deodorants that are effective with just the essentials. This hand-churned cream harnesses the power of essential oil and natural ingredients to control odor and absorb sweat without harmful aluminum and parabens. Our formulas do more than just neutralize odor - they eliminate razor burn and pit stains, moisturize your skin and are safe for all fabrics. You can be confident in your sweat and your health with Clean Pits.

What is your motivation for building a business? I’ve always been a maker and have had the desire to own my own business. I made natural deodorant and brought it as a party favor to a trip with some girlfriends. One of my friends had just finished chemo and I wanted us all to start thinking about what products we put on our bodies, especially our armpits. I called my deodorant Clean Pits to get a response from my friends and start a dialogue. It sparked a lot of laughs, conversation and an overwhelming amount of interest as word spread. Then orders began to follow and Clean Pits was born. I’m so grateful to finally get to follow my dreams - making a product that I am passionate and proud of.

How has Fizzle helped you? I was drawn to Fizzle as a way to gain clarity. I am overwhelmed with details building this business and often don’t know where to start or what to do next. I’ve found a lot of sights that focus on certain aspects of entrepreneurship but was looking for something more comprehensive. Fizzle is the whole package from A to Z. I’ve only been a member for a few weeks but have already seen traction in my actions and business.

Be. Strong. Peaceful

Aimee Prasek 635 9,340 258 THOUGHT LEADER
“A few weeks shy of my 18th birthday, dad committed suicide.”

Elevator Pitch: Be.Strong.Peaceful. (BSP) is an online sidekick for everyday superheroes who feel burned out, overwhelmed, disconnected, and thirsty for more strength and peace in body, mind, and energy. We focus on simple, effective, and empowering mindfulness-based tools that bypass the confusing health landscape and actually fit into daily life. Our flagship program, Sherman Project, is one of only two online, mindfulness-based wellbeing programs to be evaluated through a randomized controlled trial in the US. Our scientifically-sound approach is enriched by our community of everyday superheroes who create a supportive and vibrant ecosystem that promotes lasting and meaningful health changes.

What is your motivation for building a business? This is my life’s work. It was ignited by my own wellbeing journey and is the resource that could have saved my dad’s life. Here’s the short story:

My dad founded tech startups in the 1990s. His efforts were rewarded with fancy cars, boats, a million dollar lake home, vacations- you know, the American dream.

Unfortunately, his startups were rife with stress; roller coasters of manic highs followed by deep, dark lows. The startup world calls those depressive times the “trough of sorrows.” I’m sure some fellow Fizzlers have felt the bottom of that trough. It sucks.

A few weeks shy of my 18th birthday, dad committed suicide.

The debt collection letters arrived after dad’s death, no longer impeded by his lies or shame. And our American dream? It vanished.

It became clear to me that health and happiness were very different than what the world was telling me.

I struggled during this time with grief, depression, and a whole ocean of self-destructive thoughts and behaviors. I stayed driven, however, by a sliver of hope that I could experience healing. This hope was partially due to support I received at an online forum.

I dove deeper into my healing by reading every holistic health book I could get my hands on, studying under healers and scholars from all around the globe, and experimenting on myself with hundreds of techniques and tinctures.

Slowly, my wellbeing started to improve. It was that first break in the darkness- the sensation of an ounce of strength and a second of a peace- when I knew what my life’s work would be:

Create the most accessible, effective and empowering online ecosystem to help individuals move out of chronic stress and embrace their most strong and peaceful nature.

The most logical path seemed to be through academia, so I dove in. It wasn’t long before I realized the best way to share this work wasn’t as a researcher or professor.

It was as a damn entrepreneur.

Amidst a lot of fears ignited by my dad’s entrepreneurial struggles, I gathered up my superhero courage and ironically ventured down the same path.

Now two months shy of completing my PhD and about three months after launching BSPs first paid program, I can both excitedly and terrifyingly screech, “I’m an entrepreneur?”

After the entrepreneurial-imposter-anxiety subsides, I remind myself that the title doesn’t matter. I know the work to be done, the passion is in my DNA, and I’m on a mission.

How has Fizzle helped you? I discovered the Fizzle Show about four months ago. I immediately proceeded to garden & fizzle, cook & fizzle, and exercise & fizzle. I caught up on all the shows (like a nourishing Netflix binge), launched my first paid program, then joined the community several weeks ago. Becoming a member of this community has offered the same sense of belonging I felt when I listened to that first Fizzle episode. You know when you enter a room or community of people and that deep, calming sensation washes over you? Your whole being affirms, “Yeah, I belong here.” I had tried lots of podcasts, events, courses and the like. Nothing really resonated. I always felt like a super-awkward fish outta water. But this? This fizzle just feels good. And bonus: the resources helped me get that first dollar!

ForegroundWeb

Alex Vita 36,000 27,300 825 FREELANCER
“... my entire spare time was spent exploring the passion I had for photography.”

Elevator Pitch: ForegroundWeb is a one-man results-oriented web services provider for photographers, offering web design and development, SEO and web consulting for experienced photographers or agencies wanting to build or improve their online presence. I also write in-depth articles on the site’s blog and send out a weekly newsletter for photographers, all about photography websites.

What is your motivation for building a business? After a degree in computer science, a fruitful but boring programmer “office career” was in store for me, and I worked as a software developer for a short while. But I was always searching for a better lifestyle, and my entire spare time was spent exploring the passion I had for photography. That meant buying professional camera gear, setting up a photo studio, shooting weddings, and slowly improving my artistic skills over time.

It also meant sleep deprivation. My regular office job was bringing me down, so I made the leap and quit my job, becoming a photography freelancer.

The website I had built for myself (as a photographer) got the attention of others online, and they soon hired me to build their own site. And that’s how it all started for me. Some of it was accidental, I guess, but letting go of job security and leaping into the unknown world of freelancing were the calculated risks I needed to take to change my life.

In business, I’m now driven by three main principles:

1. I hate online “quick tips & tricks” douchebaggery. 2. Always start with WHY (and understanding the reasons behind everything, instead of implementing changes blindly). 3. Help needs to be more personal. So less “productized services” (website-in-a-day packages, fixed-price website reviews) and more human interactions with as much consulting as needed to help the photographer out.

How has Fizzle helped you? In one word, Fizzle has given me CLARITY. I was already an experienced freelancer when I discovered Fizzle, so some of the course topics weren’t new to me. But I then saw them applied to many different business models and learned more from all the Fizzle articles, founder stories, podcast episodes etc. Fizzle has helped me understand more aspects of my business and get clarity on the paths I’ll take in the future. And last but not least, Chase’s comedy shows disguised as courses or podcast chats, great stuff.

Mind Fit Move

Toku McCree 36,840 22,391 1,469 COACH
“I didn’t really get what my life was about until I moved into a Zen monastery for over 2 years.”

Elevator Pitch: There are alot of things on the internet made for people who are just beginning, for people who want to start their first company, their first blog, or build their first app. But my coaching and my blog aren’t for the beginners it’s for those that serve and lead those who are just beginning. My business is for the founders, the creators, and the visionaries that have found success and have come to see that success is not enough. My purpose it to help those of you that inspire thousands or tens of thousands, become the person that inspires millions, not just because you’ve achieved unbelievable success, but because you’re an unbelievable person. I vow do this by helping you develop the self awareness, character, and soft skills you need to be a better person as well as a better leader.

What is your motivation for building a business? My life has been a wild journey of self discovery. By the time I was 28 years old I’d worked over 28 different jobs, I’d worked for a headlining rock band, I’d hiked over 100 miles in national parks, and I eat partied loves my way through India. But despite all of my experiences I didn’t really get what my life was about until I moved into a Zen monastery for over 2 years.

There I realized that to be happy I had to be of deep and fundamental service to others. It wasn’t enough to simply create something cool or make some money. I realized I needed to do work that changed people’s lives. Ever since I left the monastery, I’ve been working hard to figure out what that is.

My business has gone through alot of changes since it started. It started with a clear niche of mindful fitness and worked hard until I realized I wanted to do something slightly different. I continued to explore moving, through traditional life coaching, and finally coming to the center of my spiral when I discovered my passion for executive coaching for non-traditional executives. But through every stage of my business my goal has been to powerfully serve others and find a way to make enough money so I could make service my full time career. I’m not the fastest learner, but I am a fast failure and I’ve continued to embody this mission in everything I’ve do.

My motivation in building my business is to help wake people up to what their lives are all about. I wake up every day with my clients problem in mind and a the clear vision of helping inspiring leaders gain the kind of self knowledge that so many of us neglect or avoid. I don’t think the measure of my work will ever be in a spreadsheet or a bank statement. The measure of what I do will be found in the wisdom I help my clients connect to and the way their lives and their relationships change as a result. My business isn’t just about making a better product, it’s about making better people out of everyone it touches, including myself.

How has Fizzle helped you? I joined Fizzle because it was a passion of a friend of mine and I love to support the things my friends love. But since joining the community, I’ve found an amazing community of those who are also on the path to living a more authentic and meaningful life through their businesses. I’ve also found a community I love to serve. Whenever I’m feeling down about my business I just go on the forums and see who I can help. Because when I lose myself in service, I’m reminded that my own fears and ego have no place in the value of what I’m doing.

What does it mean to you to earn recognition as one of the Up-and-Coming Indepedendent Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2015? I’d love to be one of the Up and Coming entrepreneurs to watch in 2015 specifically because it’s taken me so long to figure out what exactly I want to do. I want to encourage other Fizzlers who are on the path to keep trying, keep experimenting, and keep finding ways to make it work. I’ve never let my lack of clarity or my sheer ignorance stop me from going out and getting things done. I’ve been making money since day 1 of my business but it’s taken me 2+ years to get clear about what it means for me to be an entrepreneur, who I’m really called to serve, and the problems I’m most passionate about solving.

I want to encourage others who don’t have clarity right off the bat to preserver. I want to show others that there is a light at the end of the tunnel even if it takes you 3 years to figure out which direction the light is coming from.

Ok! Kimonos

Brendan Hufford 42,344 107,592 6,534 MAKER
“My motivation [...] is rooted deeply in not wanting to be an absentee father.”

Elevator Pitch: Ok! Kimonos - The only Kids-First Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Company. Finding an affordable BJJ gi that fits is hard. We make it easy.

What is your motivation for building a business? I think being an entrepreneur is ingrained deep in my DNA, especially when I look back at my childhood and early adolescence. So I don’t think I really have a choice in that if I want to be happy in life :) My motivation in pursuing a side business and looking to take it full time is rooted deeply in not wanting to be an absentee father. I want to walk my son to school every morning and, as with every other Fizzler, support my family doing work I’m proud of.

How has Fizzle helped you? It’s caused me to re-think what I’m doing in my business. My main business has been and continues to be my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu company, but on New Years Day of 2015, I launched the Entrepreneurs and Coffee podcast where I have coffee chats with other entrepreneurs but also teach what I’ve learned. I’ve found, through building that audience, that what I’m most passionate about is teaching other dads that they can build a side business, just like I have, and by putting in the hard work now, have the family life (time, money, freedom) they’ve always wanted. Because of this new focus, my revenue for Ok! Kimonos has been nearly cut in half but I’ve been able to maintain that with little work and through building systems. And I’m okay with that because the work I’m doing is so much more than just making a functional product. Fizzle has taught me that that’s okay and I’m building this thing for the long haul. As I’ve told Steph, I think it’s disgusting that other people charge $1500 a month for coaching and deliver 1/100th of the value of what I get from Fizzle (and I know, because I’ve paid $1500 a month for a coach and it was a total sham). Thanks to the courses, podcast, meetups, and my interaction with other Fizzlers, I can strongly say that Fizzle is the best monthly investment I make in my business, and more importantly, in myself.

ADHD Kids Rock

Jeff Rasmussen 12,000 33,834 410 THOUGHT LEADER
“My mission is to help change that feeling of ‘being all alone in the world’ for kids with ADHD”

Elevator Pitch: My mission is to help change that feeling of “being all alone in the world” for kids with ADHD.

I’ve created a website, blog, Facebook Page and resources for kids with ADHD. I have big plans for helping kids with ADHD. I’ve got a lot of support for the work I’ve done. I’d love your help and support to do more for kids with ADHD.

What is your motivation for building a business? Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve struggled with teachers, other kids, and community leaders who don’t understand me and just get angry with me.

When I was finally diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 12, it was a relief. But I still felt very alone, and there were no real resources for kids with ADHD on the web.

How has Fizzle helped you? A bunch of times someone has mentioned they heard about my web site from Fizzle, (are you guys talking about me?) … when I didn’t know anything about blogs before my website I learned a lot from your videos on how to do things. I think it worked!

9 Open Doors

Kate Ostrem 10,524 39 86 COACH
“I have always accidentally fallen into jobs my entire life, never actively choosing what I want to do.”

Elevator Pitch: I own 9 Open Doors, an Enneagram Coaching and Consulting Business. Imagine combining the wisdom of your closest friend, a personality tool like Myers-Briggs and your own deepest insights; that’s the Enneagram! I help you identify which of the nine different Enneagram types you are and how this knowledge helps you understand the motivation behind your behavior. This awareness helps you break habits that don’t serve you well and better understand the people in your life.

What is your motivation for building a business? When I was first introduced to the Enneagram in 2008, it was incredibly eye-opening. I felt I was seeing myself clearly for the first time. The woman who taught me was an inspiration for my pursuit of this work: I wanted to impact people the way she impacted me. Even though the Twin Cities is a hub of Enneagram professionals, very few people are actually familiar with it so I saw an opportunity to fill this void. I also believe that the way it has been traditionally taught has appealed to people who are intentionally on a spiritual journey. I teach the Enneagram in a practical, down-to-earth way, with the hope of reaching an audience that hasn’t been previously interested in this work. Creating this business myself has been so rewarding because I have always accidentally fallen into jobs my entire life, never actively choosing what I want to do. Now it’s all up to me.

How has Fizzle helped you? I have barely scratched the surface of what Fizzle has to offer and I’m always feeling like I should be doing more. So I appreciate the fact that when Steph recently emailed to say, “Haven’t heard from you in a while - everything ok?” I can honestly tell her that enjoying the Minnesota summer is preventing me from working on 9 Open Doors and she doesn’t make me feel guilty! One of my favorite Fizzle activities are the podcasts - I love listening to them when I go on a walk, almost every evening. I do get frustrated that I haven’t accomplished more and am not ready to quit my 3 days a week job, but Fizzle continues to provide inspiration and understanding for the various phases that I find myself in as an entrepreneur.

JGFIT TV

John Garey 0 0 269 TEACHER
“Please excuse me, I’m 20 minutes late for my mind-numbing desk job.”

Elevator Pitch: JGFIT TV is an online resource for Fitness and Pilates Programming. The FIT in JGFIT stands for Fun. Inspiring. Training. Our mission is to make fitness fun. Fun to teach and fun to do. We aim to inspire you to keep learning, always program with a purpose, and to have fun while training clients or working out.

What is your motivation for building a business? Our motivation for building this business is to fill a need we saw in the fitness industry. Fitness conferences and workshops can be expensive and inconvenient for many fitness professionals - not to mention, boring. Other online resources we have come across have remedied both the expense and inconvenience factors, but have fallen short on entertainment value and being engaging. We wanted to change that. John has starred in more than 50 videos for other companies and has been a fitness expert for many international publications. He has also presented workshops at conferences world-wide for over 20 years. After doing a world tour (10 countries) in 2013, John wanted a way to connect to the people he has met (and those he didn’t get a chance to meet) to continue to provide them with programming and education in a fun, inspiring and affordable fashion.

How has Fizzle helped you? If you would have told me a year ago that today I would be an integral part in launching a successful online business that I cared about, I would have laughed in your face and then politely followed with, “please excuse me, I’m 20 minutes late for my mind-numbing desk job.” Back then, I had no business being in business, very little technology knowledge and was no where near ready to help John launch the website of his dreams. And now- well, not much has changed, but we launched this month anyway! Fizzle has been an invaluable resource along this journey. The insight and skill development provided by the Fizzle courses and podcasts have proven to be worth their weight in gold. Speaking of… thanks to Fizzle and a healthy dose of self-efficacy, John and I have finally made our first dollar with what is poised to be a successful endeavor. Thank you so much Fizzle!

Makenzie Chilton

Makenzie Chilton 18,000 1,933 305 COACH
“People deserve to start their day with excitement, to fill it with tasks and work that have meaning.”

Elevator Pitch: People deserve to start their day with excitement, to fill it with tasks and work that have meaning. We should all fall asleep knowing that we’ve left a piece of our hearts on this earth, that we’ve made an impact with our work. I help people love their Mondays and find careers worth working.

What is your motivation for building a business? I was in an un-motivating job being under utilized and under stimulated. I realized then that there is a grey area in the market for this career specific type of help. I took action and created my own methodology of career discovery and development using my psychology background and business experience. I thrive helping people find careers that don’t feel like work and that create a greater societal impact. Seeing people quit the jobs they hate, grow something new and really get into rhythm with what they are meant to be doing is so motivational.

How has Fizzle helped you? It was such an instrumental part in growing my online business, there are so many amazing resources that were so helpful when I felt lost and overwhelmed. As my business grows I’m able to check in and look for the specific tools I need to create and expand.

Learning to See

Paul Foxton 7,632 120,501 3,935 TEACHER
“... the support I need to keep going and the knowledge I need to develop and grow.”

Elevator Pitch: I help aspiring artists overcome self doubt and unlock their potential with a regular drawing habit and inspirational practice exercises.

What is your motivation for building a business? Independence.

How has Fizzle helped you? Being a member of Fizzle keeps me connected to my dream. It makes it seem possible, even when things are hardest. It gives me the support I need to keep going and the knowledge I need to develop and grow.