As a Distressed Analyst at Knighthead Capital Management, Jarvis Buckman focuses on investment opportunities in distressed situations. Prior to this position Jarvis worked on various game-changing projects, including the creation of an index tranche trading business at Credit Agricole and the direction of Credit Suisse's bankruptcy claim business. He attended Columbia University. Learn more about Jarvis Buckman.
In entrepreneurship, conformity and convention often take a backseat to innovation and the masterminds behind that innovation. There are a few recently emerged startups in particular that exemplify this notion, and even when faced with skeptical aversion, they pursued their passion—only to see it pay off big-time. Their resilience drove them to take a unique idea and build a brand behind it, and the marketplace awarded them handsomely for the effort. Below are a few such stories that can serve as an inspiration to us all:
A unique name and a more unique product, Chocolate Pizza Company originated with Ryan Novak in his hometown chocolate shop in Marcellus, New York. As a high-schooler, Ryan got to know the ins and outs of the business as he washed dishes, mopped floors, and took out the trash. While he put in his time, he kept his ear to the ground, learning from the store’s owner Bonnie Hanyak.
In college at Syracuse for entrepreneurship, Ryan saw massive potential for the local shop. Its product, gourmet chocolate blended with homemade toffee that is then poured into pizza pans and topped off with nuts, candy, or white chocolate, was perfect to capitalize upon. At just 21, Ryan purchased the company from Bonnie and turned it into a national brand.
He saw deficiencies with the shipping company. They often lost shipments, damaged packages, and angered customers. So he switched to UPS as part of his expansion efforts, and was able to grow Chocolate Pizza by 365%. He also added a website, opened up three more physical locations, and even landed such distinguished accounts like Hallmark.
What did Ryan have to say about his resounding success? He remarks “I had a ton of people tell me to think about doing something else. But I believed in myself and I believed in this product. When you put everything you have into it, that can really pay off.”
The idea came to light when Eyal Levy and his pregnant wife, Noa, were looking for something comfortable and supportive that would let her sleep on her stomach. They found nothing. So they created it. During a transatlantic trip they stumbled across a stretchy fabric that they realized would serve as the perfect material.
Yogibo Max was born. It’s a 6-ft long bean bag that can be used as a chair, recliner, bed, or couch. It may not sound like much, but they began exhibiting it as various outdoor fairs and craft shows, and once people took a seat, they realized just how great Yogibo Max really was. The beanbag was not just another beanbag chair, and the incredibly comfortable furniture garnered the recognition it deserved.
Yogibo’s first store opened in 2010, and now there 18 retail spaces stretching across the Northeast. Revenue is now five times what it was only three years ago. When Eyal Levy was asked for his number one piece of advice, he replied “Entrepreneurship is a marathon that you run at a sprint pace. There are a lot of difficulties, but you just have to persist and keep moving forward.”
Squeaky cabinet doors across the world fueled the rise of one of today’s largest online cabinet hardware distributors. When a company is distributing 20,000 parts in 28 countries, they must be doing something right.
The brainchild of Patton Abbe, CabinetParts.com was created in 1997 to fill a niche for do-it-yourself homeowners and small contractors. Ever since, it has literally doubled in growth every year and has expanded to include kitchen and bath hardware like drawer slides, pulls, and even handles to lazy Susans and organizers.
Even despite their enormous growth, Patton remains humble: “Understand your own limitations. Surround yourself with people who have the skills you don’t, and let them help you be successful.”
Success always lies ahead. The key is just to keep moving, keep failing, and keep getting back up.