Author Archive for Zach

Jamie Byron and Gabe Blanchet: Grove Labs




In 2013, during their time at MIT, students Jamie Byron and Gabe Blanchet brainstormed the idea of people supporting themselves by growing food at home, in a personal “grove.” They designed a gardening system and connected it to an app, allowing users to personalize the environment of their grove to their needs and plants. The app only controls a few things, lighting schedule, what nutrients go into the water and the specific type of plants that are grown. The two designed an aquaponic system, basically a farm on top of a fish tank, where the fish provide specific types of nutrients for the soil and the food. Their current product is small a small scale operation, meant only for an individual or a family. But the technology has the potential for for a much larger scale and has piqued the interest of small US growers and even Middle Eastern green houses. In 2014 Grove Labs received 2 million in funding and has created a successful product. It’s amazing to see how an idea grew from two college students in a dorm room into a successful business and also something that’s good for the environment.

Hart Main: Man-Cans

Not many companies start off due to siblings teasing each other, but in the case of Man-Cans: manly scented candles, those were its humble beginnings. Hart Main was 14 in 2010 when his sister was selling girly smelling candles for a fundraiser for school, and he realized the world had a lacking of manly candles. After an investment of $300 from himself and his parents, he started work on making the scents and the candles. Currently, Man-Cans are being sold in over 150 stores, after being partnered with Beaver Creek Candle Co..

A second part to Hart’s business is charity. His candles are sold in soup cans and in the beginning, he and his family would eat the soup, but once orders started to pile up, he began donating soup to homeless shelters and then collecting cans after the meal was served. Now, he donates 75 cents from each candle sold to soup kitchens in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Michigan.



Garrett Gee: Tech into Travel



You probably know him as the father from The Bucket List Family, a very popular Instagram and social media family who travels the world and records it. However, the backstory of The Bucket List Family, and specifically Garrett, is a very entrepreneurial story.

He enrolled at BYU in 2011, it was there that he was starting to explore some of the different apps that smartphones had to offer. Also during that time, QR or UPC barcodes were on the rise and people were using a certain app to scan those codes. However, Garrett found that the app was “quite ugly and I didn’t like it.” And so, partnering with two of his classmates, they started work on designing a scanning app that would be better and faster. This was also right before the iPad 2 was released, and Garrett knew that the app market would be ripe. It was downloaded more than once per second when it was released. In the first two years of this app being on the market “Scan Inc.” made more than $8 million from investor funding, but no money specifically from the app. They upgraded the app in those two years and then re-released it at a $2 price tag. They made $60,000 a month and the app was No.1 in its category in the world. In December of 2014, they sold Scan Inc. to Snapchat for $54 million.

Garrett split all the money with his partners and after investing and putting aside money for the future he decided to take his family on a world tour, and they have become known as “The Bucket List Family.”
Garrett saw the problem of a poorly designed but much needed app and saw the opportunity of the iPad 2 coming out and capitalized. With hard work and vision he became very successful.



Saul Castanon: LifeProofing your phone


In 2009, Saul Castanon founded LifeProof, two years after the release of the original iPhone. The problem was clear, there was no protection for dropped phones, and Apple was making bank on repairs and replacements. Saul saw that everyone dealt with the issue of being careless and having their phone accidentally slip from their hand or from the surface it was resting on. So, he decided to ensure phone safety by developing a case that would protect the phone from everyday impacts and other damages. In the space of 18 months and after investing $1 million, his product debuted at the 2011 Launch Conference where it won the award for best product and best presentation. The commercial featured the iPhone 4 being dropped on the ground, covered in dirt and mustard and ketchup and then rinsed off in a fish tank and being completely unharmed. In 2013 Otterbox acquired LifeProof.

A new technology had been introduced into the market, the smart phone, and Saul Castanon recognized the opportunity to capitalize on the iPhone. This is another example of entrepreneurship, when new innovation and technology arise, one must be able to recognize and see the possibilities that come with the new markets and Saul Castanon did just that.


Beau Kittredge: A hand in everything

Beau Kittredge is my personal role model. He plays professional Ultimate Frisbee for the Dallas Roughnecks, but is also his own boss in all his business ventures, and his work as an entrepreneur is very inspiring. Beau says that it is his desire to create and be creative is his driving factor.

He started his own company in 2010 called Beau’s Books. He both wrote and illustrated three children’s books, known for being wildly imaginative but also with a large teaching element. His books are true children’s books but readers, especially parents, have found that they can relate to the stories and the lessons taught by Beau’s stories.

His next entrepreneurship adventure is his current project, which is developing his own video game, called Boredom Bugs. Beau wanted to make a new type of puzzle game by combining the strategy of a tower defense game and the skill of a mini game. In 2015, he assembled a team and started a Kickstarter to help fund the development of Boredom Bugs. Although the Kickstarter was unsuccessful he continues work on it and has committed himself fully to the game.

Currently, aside from frisbee and video game development Beau is involved in E.R.I.C, which stands for Early Recognition Is Critical, a organization that teaches healthy living and recognition of cancer symptoms. E.R.I.C has partnered with Beau to provide Ultimate Frisbee clinics, places where kids who have never heard about Ultimate can learn the game as well as learning how to be healthy and live a good life.

I wear Beau Kittredge’s number in respect for his creativity, his desire to never give up on his dreams and his ultimate dream of teaching health and the game of Ultimate Frisbee.



Gladiator Lacrosse: Rachel Zietz

In 2013, at the age of only 13 years old, Rachel Zietz, a varsity high school lacrosse player, discovered the market for quality, durable lacrosse equipment for a less expensive price. After talking to investors she was given $2,700 to start her company. Her line of products is limited to rebounders and practice goals, in other words, she does not sell any personal equipment (pads, sticks, helmets, gloves, etc.). However, she has been very successful.

Her first year she sold $200,000 worth of equipment, and two years later Gladiator Lacrosse had over $1 million in revenue. She has been honored by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 for being a finalist for their Entrepreneur Award.

Rachel Zietz saw a problem: over-expensive, poor quality practice lacrosse equipment, and she fixed it, redesigning the netting and frames, to ensure durability. Her idea was simple and played into her area of expertise and passion, and fixed something which was an annoyance to many people, which fits perfectly with the entrepreneurship way.
She was young when she started her company, showing that age has no ceiling, (something that her parents who are also entrepreneurs in Florida, have been sure to impress upon her).

Personally, this is a very encouraging story for myself, just showing how youth is not a hindrance to anything, and that combining entrepreneurship and personal passions can have amazing outcomes.