Much has been made about the economic importance of entrepreneurs. We take a look at some of Pittsburgh's entrepreneurs, and see how they fit into the business landscape.
Nick Drombosky's business idea stemmed from a simple principle: He wanted to make bicycle safety a little less dorky.
When Albert Ciuksza, Todd Barnett and a couple of friends took a beer keg on a camping trip in 2009, they quickly realized the challenge of keeping beer cold and pourable.
Frontiers Travel, which opened its doors in1969 and now has 64 employees, began carving out a niche client base well before the advent of the Internet.
Since her clientele is only part of her niche demographic for about nine months, Ms. Blumenfeld works to retain students after they've given birth. She also is always networking to develop new clients, unlike a a traditional yoga studio that can have clients returning over 10 or 15 years' time.
Connecting with a global audience might not seem like the most obvious priority for a new small company, but two Pittsburgh organizations want entrepreneurs to prepare for the world beyond Allegheny County's borders. “I tell startups that as soon as you put up a website, you’re a global company,” said Reed McManigle, who works in Carnegie Mellon University’s technology transfer office.
April Minech and four other women started the Coalition to Adopt, Rehome and Match Abandoned Animals (CARMAA) because each of them had worked for at least one of the three major animal shelters in the Pittsburgh area, and realized there wasn't a lot of overlap in the services being offered. They worried that the needs of a lot of animals were falling through the cracks.
When she opened Bocktown Beer and Grill in 2006, Chris Dilla almost didn't care if it closed the next day.
"I just wanted this to exist," she said, sitting in a booth in the North Fayette eatery on a recent afternoon. "I just was so happy that it was finally three dimensional."
Mr. Childs, owner and founder of Eyetique, started his business in 1979 as a one-man operation in a tiny store on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill. Today, his eyewear boutique business has grown to include 13 stores in Western Pennsylvania, dozens of employees, a manufacturing center in California and a Squirrel Hill headquarters in the same location as the original store -- just four times larger.
The business plan was simple, if a little unusual. Two philosophy students, Louis Butler and Wren McGalliard, had $300, no formal culinary training and no business experience.To translate into pie vernacular: Their plan to make dough looked a little flaky. But less than a year later, the Pittsburgh Pie Guy has turned a profit, has regular customers and Mr. Butler is now employed full time by the still-mobile business.
Nobody can say that Candy Hepple is afraid to make a big decision quickly and stick to it. After all, she married her husband Gene exactly 29 days after they met in 1989 at Naval Base San Diego. This February, they will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.
For those who know her, then, it's unsurprising that once Mrs. Hepple had decided to open a dog grooming business, she quickly found a prime downtown Belle Vernon location, did some remodeling, ordered necessary equipment and was welcoming her first customers less than two months later.
A former Steeler, Chuck Sanders played from 1986-87 as a running back. After his brief NFL career, Mr. Sanders worked for a while in marketing for a semi-pro basketball team, before he decided to get on the high road to financial success in America -- entrepreneurship.
As an ambitious 19-year-old with one foot planted in classes at West Virginia University and the other in Braddock's streets, Mr. Davis had hoped the music industry would pave a path toward a legitimate business.
The owner of One Woman Farm, Margaret Schlass said the business has tripled in acreage since she started and she is looking to expand even more. But it wasn't easy getting to this point.
His timing was bad, the economy was worse, but somehow Todd Palcic managed to pull off the near impossible during the Great Recession.
Despite conflicting views on the credit availability, the improving economy could help small businesses obtain the capital needed to grow.
When three attorneys left their North Hills real estate firm this year to start their own in Bloomfield, they knew there was no going back.
Donny Beaver's newest business is devoted to cleaning dust in industrial settings. Its main product is a mobile air shower designed to blow silica sand off oil and gas workers' clothes so they don't track it off the field. But like most of his ideas, there are spinouts and hedges along the way.
Mike Sullivan left a six-figure job in Manhattan and purchased a Verona auto body shop for $2.1 million in March and renamed it Flagship Collision.
Julie Peterson's mission is to make people look good, and her first step in doing that is to define her clients by the seasons.
Kelly Collier just wanted an A.
In her final year at Carnegie Mellon University, Ms. Collier, a dual major in material science and biomedical engineering, teamed with a group of peers on a class project to invent a product for the medical world. She got that A -- and a lot more than she bargained for.
Entrepreneurs can spend a big chunk of their business hours putting out wildfires, so they miss seeing the forest for the trees. How can entrepreneurs chart a path to success in 2014?
In much the same way everybody's a critic, everybody is also a potential entrepreneur.
Dreaming of a game-changing, disruptive business concept by night only to have the idea dissipate to a foggy memory by the lunch hour is more common than one might believe.
The Entrepreneurs: Bocktown's Chris Dilla wanted somewhere for her friends to go and enjoy craft beer. So she built two places.
Running a nonprofit organization for pet adoptions didn't mean they could stop worrying about money, the staff of CARMAA discovered.
Connecting with a global audience might not seem like the most obvious priority for a new small company. But it probably should be.
Deena Blumenfeld expanded her prenatal yoga classes to include a range of childbirth and baby-related programs for pregnant women.
Anthony and Art Mascilli Jr. have taken on day-to-day operations at East End Plumbing and Mechanical with help from their parents.
First Published December 23, 2013 12:59 PM