Whether they were struggling with discrimination, a death, or rejection, these 12 founders were determined to stick it out until the very end. Here are their stories.
1. Nicholas Horbaczewski, Drone Racing League Horbaczewski really hyped his company’s first event, pitching it to investors as the “Grand Prix of Drone Racing” to investors. He soon learned a painful lesson about the value of under promising and over delivering.
2. Joel Myers, Accuweather It took Myers 10 years and 25,000 pitches to get 100 clients. He had to convince them he could help cut company costs, like warning a car dealership to move vehicles inside ahead of a hailstorm.
3. Vaseal Montgomery, Favor TechConsulting Blatant discrimination while serving in the military didn’t discourage Montgomery from taking charge of her career. When Pac-Man came out, she asked to take a programming course to learn how it worked.
4. Justin Guilbert and Douglas Riboud, Harmless Harvest These founders didn’t just set out to start a coconut water brand, they wanted to create one that proved the viability of “constructive capitalism,” a business model that would benefit customers, producers, and the planet.
5. Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh Less than a year after growth picked up at the test prep company, Hansoo Lee, Parikh’s co-founder, passed away from lung cancer. His death encouraged Parikh to push beyond his limits and secure Lee’s legacy.
6. Chris Edwards and Dana Edwards Manatos, Edward Marc Brands While working at high-powered government jobs, the siblings dreamed about what they could do with the family’s 102-year-old chocolate business. They now have a store in the Pentagon.
7. Barbara Corcoran The real estate entrepreneur says her most powerful trait is being able to handle rejection. For Corcoran, that’s what building her business was all about: “Getting over what sets you back, and getting over it as fast as you could.”
8. Jake Shoff, The Phoenix Recovery & Counseling Centers After Shoff’s close friend and business committed suicide, he was determined to find a better way to help people suffering from drug addictions. As it turned out, many insurance companies agreed with him.
9. Scott Wolfe, Melba’s Old School Po Boys This restaurant and laundromat combo isn’t just a business, it’s a neighborhood gathering spot. Wolfe sells local art and strives to pay his 40 employees fairly, and says claims Melba’s to be the highest-paying employer in the area.
10. Robert Herjavec The entrepreneur and Shark Tank judge says the No. 1 reason for not starting a business is the fear of not having what it takes. His advice to overcome it? Work on building enough self-respect to push back on doubters.
11. Nicole Bernard Dawes, Late July When Dawes lost her father to pancreatic cancer, she also lost her co-founder. Faced with massive debt, she took a gamble on a product her father always avoided. Today, it’s an $85 million company.
12. Tristan Walker, Walker and Company Walker revived a century-old shaving method that aims to fix the irritation 80 percent of African American men suffer from. Through extensive research, he discovered a huge opportunity. Last year, he raised a $24 million Series B round.