Building a powerhouse beauty brand
Jamie O'Banion, a former Miss Teen Texas, developed a passion for chemistry at the age of 12, out of which she created a $100m cosmetics company.
It would be easy to dismiss Jamie O'Banion (pictured) as "just another pretty face", says Rebecca Sherman in PaperCity. But the former Miss Teen Texas is more "Fortune 500 than Baywatch". Her passion for chemistry emerged at the age of 12 when her physician father, Dr Terry James, bought a local research laboratory that developed products for medical specialists, such as plastic surgeons and dermatologists. After graduating in marketing, O'Banion joined her father at his company, creating ingredients for beauty products. In 2011, she set up her own company, Beauty Bioscience, to launch a recently patented product, RetinoSyn-45 serum, live on the Home Shopping Channel. The 3,000 units sold out within 24 hours and the "turbo wrinkle reducer" remains her company's bestseller.
"I understood clearly that you can have the greatest product in the world, but if no one knows about it, so what, who cares?" says O'Banion, writing in Time earlier this year. To build a powerhouse brand you need "carefully curated distribution" as well as an incredible product. Fed-up with "watching prestigious brands misuse our ingredients by only offering a sprinkling of the necessary dose", she launched Beauty Bioscience to "give clients what they're paying for and help them understand the ingredients". After years of rapid sales growth, the business is set to hit more than $100m in sales in 2018.
How I gained traction on the road to profits
Turning his back on a career in finance, car fanatic James Hind (pictured) launched a website that collated car reviews and made money by selling advertising, says the BBC's Will Smale. Revenues "trickled in", but after a few years, Hind realised it would be "more useful to customers, and far more lucrative", if he created a price-comparison website for new cars. If a few car dealers were happy to try out the new version of the business, launched in 2012, investors "most certainly were not". It took 18 months of "cold emailing" for Carwow (formerly Carbuzz) to secure its first investment. Last year, however, the business turned over £15m, while total investment has reached £45m. Hind isn't bothered about having lost his majority stake. "You can either take no investment and never grow, or secure it and really gain traction."
Nutrition with a bang
Grenade is the kind of brand that seems to "appear out of nowhere", says Katherine Denham in City AM. "Blink and suddenly the products are a staple stock." Founded by married couple Alan and Juliet Barratt (pictured), the company started out as a sports supplement brand in 2010, but as Alan, who has worked in sports nutrition for 28 years, explains, once Grenade supplements had hit the top of the best-seller lists, there was nowhere to go.
By branching out, the couple realised they could reach a far wider group of health-conscious consumers, who wanted snacks containing more protein and less sugar. "You need two things to make business huge," says Alan. "Demand and availability and if you've only got one, it doesn't work." Their plan is clearly working, with 80% of the growth from the UK healthy snacking sector coming from Grenade last year. Last year, the brand was valued at £72m, with products now sold in 80 countries. The couple dream that their bars will become as common as Cadbury's chocolate. "The only way that Grenade is going to go away is if consumers stop investing in their health," says Alan. "And that's just not goingto happen."
Muay Thai martial arts and sweet vegan pies
Watt Sriboonruang moved to New York to work as a photographer in 2005, and whenever she missed her native Thailand she turned to her hobbies food and martial arts, says Tanya Klich in Forbes. Despite her love of Muay Thai, a form of kickboxing, she found it tough to keep weight off for competitions. In 2012, she tried a vegan diet and was more energised. But she missed desserts, so started experimenting, sharing slices of her vegan pies with fellow fighters. In this "ultra-niche market", word spread. With the help of husband Chris Kwiatkowski, Rawsome Treats was born, but she needed to reach a wider audience of foodies. In 2013, Sriboonruang launched a website delivering pies across New York. Earlier this year the business opened its first shop. It has been a local hit, and is expected to take up to $250,000 this year.