In honor of National Entrepreneur’s Day in the United States — and in recognition of the ambition which drives millions of entrepreneurs around the world — we’ve compiled a list of some of the most successful entrepreneurs who founded their businesses on simple solutions. In so doing, they also started empires with distinctive business propositions and instantly recognizable intellectual property.
Success is never a guarantee for the entrepreneurial, but when the hard work and passion do pay off, it can also generate legions of imposters who want to unfairly take advantage of the budding brand. As Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter, said, “Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will make you look like an overnight success.” That’s why it’s important to make sure that if you’re an entrepreneur with the golden idea that might go stratospheric, you fully protect your rights and your ideas from day one. Maybe then you’ll end up as successful as these entrepreneurs who built brands worth protecting from counterfeiting and IP infringement.
Five Successful Startups with Straightforward Solutions
- Sara Blakely – Spanx
The problem: feeling uncomfortable in tight clothing
The solution: body-hugging shapewear
The fashion industry is notoriously difficult to break into, but by considering a practical need for women across the world, Sara Blakely managed to crash through its walls. While working as a saleswoman in Florida, Blakely was met with the recurring problem of wearing tights in uncomfortable temperatures. After years of development and a bit of guerilla marketing, Blakely created Spanx, the now ubiquitous shapewear brand. By satiating the needs of women who wanted to feel comfortable and look great in their clothing, she also managed to create an empire for herself as Blakely is now worth a reported $1 billion. As with all nascent fashion brands, imitations followed success and made the enforcement of intellectual property necessary.
- Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia – Airbnb
The problem: couldn’t afford to pay rent
The solution: rent out space in your home
Short on cash and unable to pay rent, college friends Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia decided to rent out an air mattress in their San Francisco loft to make some extra income. In the oversaturated and overpriced Bay Area hospitality market, customers weren’t hard to come by, and soon the two friends realized they had a profitable startup idea on their hands. After joining a startup incubator, Chesky and Gebbia received the initial funding they needed to take their idea to the next level and developed a platform where people around the world could rent out space to travelers in need. Now active in over 191 countries, Airbnb was most recently valued at $31 billion. With a strong online presence, this is the kind of venture that requires protection from copycat websites and traffic hijacking online diversions.
- Andrew Mason – Groupon
The problem: getting a group discount as a solo buyer
The solution: gather online groups to meet group qualifying criteria
While Mason’s original problem wasn’t receiving a group discount, it did inspire the idea that eventually became Groupon. Frustrated with a telephone contract, Mason wondered if he would have more influence on the telephone provider if he could rally a group who experienced similar hurdles. Groupon is now one of the most popular sites worldwide for digital coupons, amassing a global revenue of $2.6 billion in 2018 and giving Mason a net worth of $230 million. As their intellectual property helps them to cement a reputation as a company people trust with their spending, it’s crucial that they have sought to protect it online from malactors who would use it unofficially to promote their own ideas.
- Angie Hicks – Angie’s List
The problem: finding a reliable service provider
The solution: creating a shared database of reviews and providers
Choosing the right service provider can be a gamble, especially without trusted reviews. When it comes to executing big services like home renovations or installing new electrical devices, gambling on an anonymous provider isn’t worth the risk. While searching for a reliable construction contractor, Angie Hicks had the brilliant idea of compiling all of the service providers in her city into a database, collecting reviews from clients, and uploading all of this information into an online directory. Founded in 1995, Angie’s List has since grown to be used by over six million households and lists over 55,000 service providers across the United States.
- Michael Dubin – Dollar Shave Club
The problem: regularly buying expensive new razors
The solution: get affordable new razors delivered monthly to your home
The idea for Dollar Shave Club struck while Dubin was speaking to his father’s friend at a Christmas party in 2010. The friend asked if Dubin could help him sell 250,000 razors, and rather than shying away from the proposition, Dubin dove right into brainstorming ways of doing so. Not long after, Dollar Shave Club was born. The e-commerce subscription service would deliver razors to its members on a monthly basis for just $1 each, cutting out the middlemen and the hassle, and reducing the price tag in the process. In July 2016, Unilever bought the then five-year-old startup for $1 billion. As a company who deal with regularly counterfeited FMCG goods, they too have a responsibility to ensure that fakes are rooted out and the trust of their consumers is maintained.
Are you an entrepreneur in the midst of building your brand? Make sure you take the necessary precautions to protect your business from online IP infringements. If you’d like to know more about how Pointer can help you defend your brand online, please email us at email@example.com