5 Start-Up Success Stories


Starting a business and becoming an entrepreneur is a rewarding experience, but there are some start-ups that land on best-of lists for their innovation. Here are five success stories born from the ideas of people oozing the entrepreneurial dream trait.

Edible Arrangements

Edible Arrangement Holiday Table
Image via Flickr by Edible Arrangements 

In 1999, Tariqu Farid founded Edible Arrangements at a cost of $100,000. In six months, the company boasted $80,000 in sales revenues. With a home office in Wallingford, Connecticut, Edible Arrangements now employs nearly 100 people and has achieved annual revenues of over $19 million.

Since its inception, Edible Arrangements offers franchising opportunities. One reason this start-up business is a success story is perhaps due to consumers looking for healthy alternatives to sending chocolates or cookies. In addition, many corporations are now using this company for corporate and seasonal gifts.

Project Décor

In 2011, three entrepreneurs started what is now known as Project Décor. Thanks to Andy Appelbaum, Cliff Sirlin and Aaron Wallace, Project Décor invites web users to “drag and drop products from 50 international design brands onto an inspiration board”. Users can search and purchase all of the designer products right from the website.

Additionally, inspiration boards can be shared via social media sites like Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Associated start-up costs included connecting with over 50 designers and continually adding items to their website — there are currently +10,000 items. Project Décor most likely implemented some sort of capacity planning software to help keep behind the scenes software performance issues at a minimum. Project Décor boasts two offices, one in New York and the other in Connecticut.


We’ve all heard of eBay, but there are many more e-commerce sales platforms, including Volusion. Founded in 1999 by Kevin Sproles and headquartered in Austin, Texas, today Volusion has 40,000+ e-commerce stores and 450+ employees.

Annual merchant sales are reported as high as $11 billion worldwide for this e-commerce selling platform. Beyond offering affordable e-commerce stores, Volusion also offers free stores to deserving non-profits. Drop shippers and online sellers are flocking to Volusion as an alternative to pricier online store platforms.

Sweet Leaf Tea

Sweet tea is a staple in Southern states and was the premise behind the Austin-based company Sweet Leaf Tea. With initial start-up costs of around $7,000, founders Clayton Christopher and David Smith were able to open their business in 1998.

Sweet Leaf Tea was inspired by a favored recipe from founder Christopher’s Grandmother, Mimi. Today, this tea company has almost 50 employees and $12 million in sales revenue annually.  The biggest expense for this successful start-up is passing out free samples at retail stores and events.


Pawn stores have regained popularity due to television shows like A&E’s Pawn Stars. CEO Todd Hills says Pawngo “Has loaned millions of dollars across 48 states in the U.S.” and “Pawngo is a licensed pawnbroker and complies fully with state-mandated pawnbroker statutes”.

The Denver-based Pawngo is an “online” pawn shop started in 2011 and backed by venture capitalist firms such as Lightbank and Daylight Partners. With over $2 million in loans to date, this successful start-up’s ideation most likely came from the downturn in the economy—but it seems to be working. Those needing the short-term loan or quick cash can pawn items online using the item as collateral with no credit check. Loans offered are between $500 and $1 million.

Every year, there are many entrepreneurs with a new, great idea. These five top successful start-ups, however, have found their market niche.


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