At the beginning of 2015, the Fizzle team set a loosely defined goal: tell more customer stories.
We’re all inspired when we hear stories of entrepreneurs who have accomplished what we hope to accomplish someday. And the more we hear from our customers and readers (you), the more we realize you’re just the same. While you benefit from our training, you also love hearing origin stories from other founders.
The thing we realized is missing in the world of entrepreneurial stories is the story of the entrepreneur just getting started. The entrepreneur who has made it past a few hurdles but is still fighting tooth and nail to get to her survival number (the amount of business revenue that would allow her to get by without a job if she had to). The entrepreneur who has more questions than answers, but looks like he might just make it.
In other words, we never hear the story before it’s a huge success. Hearing from Andreea Ayers or Steve Chou after they’ve built multiple successful projects or sold a company…. well, it’s like betting on a rigged game.
After seeing the gap in storytelling, remembering our goal, and realizing our customers are the best base of entrepreneurial stories we know of, we had to jump in. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce the first class of what we hope will become a yearly highlight of 25 Up-and-Coming Independent Entrepreneurs to Watch.
Introducing the 25 Up-and-Coming Independent Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2015
This year’s class spans nearly every business archetype. They range in revenue from $0 to $79,000 and sell everything from natural deodorant to Facebook advertising consulting.
What ties each of these entrepreneurs together is the dream of building an independent living from a business he or she believes in. And we couldn’t be more excited to root them on.
If you’re eager to get right to it, you can check out this year’s class of entrepreneurs to watch right here. Otherwise, read on to find out how we selected them and what they have in common.
We had a few criteria for this year’s class of entrepreneurs to watch. The criteria included:
- They are Current or Past Fizzlers
- They have launched a business with a web component
- They haven’t yet reached their freedom number (They didn’t earn more than $50,000 in revenue from their business between May 2014 – May 2015)*
These criteria were fairly basic. We wanted to highlight stories from our customers who have launched businesses, but haven’t yet built their thing to the point that they could comfortably work full time on it.
*One business did earn $79,000 from May ’14-’15, but it’s a husband and wife team who are both full time. We made an exception since they are earning less than $50,000 per partner.
We asked our applicants for a bunch of data about their businesses without asking for so much that it was annoying (we might have pushed it :). We found the questions allowed us to get a good picture of each business and confidently pick the winners for this year.
Here’s what you’ll learn about each business:
- Business name
- Entrepreneur’s name
- May 2014 – May 2015 revenue
- May 2014 – May 2015 website traffic
- Email subscribers as of May 31, 2015
- Business archetype
- The elevator pitch for the business
- The entrepreneur’s motivation for building a business
- How Fizzle has helped each entrepreneur build her thing
This gives you a good mix of data and story, emotion and facts. While it doesn’t tell the whole story, it does give you a starting point and a reason to learn more about the stories you find most interesting.
As we looked through the winners, we noticed a few trends we thought would be interesting to share (and we’d love to hear any trends you notice in the comments).
- Design plays a huge role in first impressions. As we looked through the many entries to this year’s contest, we found that the majority of the winners had one thing in common: a good sense of design. While design won’t make your business successful on its own, it does play a huge role in how people think about your business before they ever find out what you sell.
- Story makes a business more interesting. This year’s winners have more than a product or service to push. They lead with a story about why they do what they do. They give us something to latch onto other than a dollar figure. Yes, we have to know the benefits to make a decision to buy, but we can be just as won over by the way a story connects with our heart.
- A business with engaged customers is a business on the right track. Not every business in this year’s class has customers, but every business on the list has either engaged customers or audience members. We found that pre-revenue businesses had shown signs of audience engagement on their content despite lacking a product or service for sale. Similarly, businesses with revenue had highly engaged customers, even if they were sometimes small customer bases.
- Audience size and revenue are not always correlated. So often online, you’ll hear advice that you have to build your audience first (including from us). But the simple fact of the matter that a large audience does not always equal a ton of revenue; inversely, good revenue does not always require a huge audience. To be sure, some of our up-and-comers had both revenue and large audiences, but that was by no means the standard.
Congratulations to this year’s Up-and-Coming Indie Entrepreneurs to Watch of 2015
Every business starts from humble beginnings. This year’s class of entrepreneurs to watch is full of inspiring stories of getting a business off the ground.
There’s the freelancing couple who decides they’ve had enough with the hectic hours and go all in together to help people live healthier lives. And the new mom who was tired of her 80 hour work weeks and left her job behind to build a cocktail cherry company. Or the woman who decided it was her job to help people with autism, like her brother, learn entrepreneurial skills.
Yes, they started from humble beginnings, and they’ve by no means “made it.” But what they have done is taken the first (few) courageous steps into the world of entrepreneurship. And they’ll never have to say “I wish I had tried that idea I had.”
Check ’em out for yourself. And then come back here and let us know which ones inspire you to get started on your idea or take the next step to grow your business.
These are the 25 Up-and-Coming Independent Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2015. There are no guarantees, but if we had to place bets, we’d bet on this crew.
Cheers to you, Class of 2015!
— Fizzle (@Fizzle) July 21, 2015
— Marianne // DYOB (@marianney) July 21, 2015