Starting a business is a dream that many people have, but accomplishing that goal rarely comes without some difficult obstacles and setbacks. As part of Business News Daily's mission to inspire current and future entrepreneurs, we track down unique startups and interview the owners about how they beat the odds and found success. Here are 10 amazing companies we featured on the site in 2014.
College students have long swapped notes and study guides to help each other pass a big test or final exam. When he was still an undergraduate at Kent State University, Michael Matousek founded a Web-based company that brought note sharing into the 21st century — with an entrepreneurial twist. Flashnotes members can buy and sell study materials, bringing college students the "two things they need most: more money and better grades." Read more here.
Frequent air travelers who drive themselves to the airport know how expensive and frustrating it can be to use the long-term parking lots. Instead of letting travelers' cars sit idle, FlightCar helps them rent out their vehicles to other travelers coming to their home airport. This members-only service currently operates at SFO, BOS and LAX, but the company plans to expand to other national airports in the near future. Read more here.
Headbands of Hope
Many adolescent girls already struggle with their confidence, but young cancer patients who lose their hair to chemotherapy are hit especially hard. Young entrepreneur Jessica Ekstrom wanted to start a business that helped these girls gain back some of their self-esteem while they deal with a life-threatening illness. For every headband Headbands of Hope sells, one is given to a girl with cancer, and $1 is donated to a childhood cancer research foundation. Read more here.
After his wife dropped and broke her iPhone several times, Charles Hibble decided to just learn how to fix it, rather than going through the trouble of replacing it each time. Little did he know that his knack for repairing iPhones would help him launch a successful franchise. Word spread to the Hibbles' friends and family members, and before he knew it, iDropped had grown from a small Scranton retail store to a multilocation chain with plans for national expansion. Read more here.
Third-party peer-to-peer marketplaces have helped countless consumers connect with each other to buy and sell goods and services at below-market prices. The founders of igobono wanted to provide a place for everyone, including lower-income individuals, to participate in the sharing economy. This social marketplace allows users to buy, sell and donate items using a virtual currency called "bonos" instead of money, which gives them immediate spending power. Read more here.
Big data analytics have been a huge help for companies that want to make better business decisions, but some startups have made a name for themselves by putting data at the core of their business models. Petbrosia is one such startup, which uses information about the lifestyle, age and breed of a customer's pet to create a custom healthy diet. Read more here.
In an age when many kids are glued to iPads and electronic devices, Lego bricks are a breath of fresh air for parents who want to encourage creative and educational play. However, the popular play sets require quite a bit of money and storage space. Thanks to Pley, Lego sets are now available for rental to its more than 15,000 subscribers. Read more here.
Everyone's talking about 3D printing nowadays, but how many everyday consumers are regularly making or purchasing 3D-printed items? Pinshape, an online marketplace that calls itself the "iTunes of 3D printing," lets designers share and sell high-quality, custom 3D models to the public. Read more here.
Wearable technology has come a long way in recent years. But before Google Glass and fitness trackers, there were Snow2 ski goggles. The then-MBA students behind Recon Instruments started their company in early 2008, which became the first provider of consumer heads-up display (HUD) technology. Their goggles and, more recently, sunglasses, use a smart-glass display to provide the wearer with real-time contextual information like speed and direction. Read more here.
Big New York City retail stores like Macy's, Burberry and Michael Kors are known for their extravagant, holiday-themed window displays this time of year. If you've ever wondered who designs these beautiful winter scenes, there's a good chance Urban Holiday LLC is responsible. In addition to the above-named brands, the two-year-old company's impressive client list includes other well-known companies like Nine West and Old Navy. Read more here.