Author Archive for Abigail Schiela


Derek Pacque found the inspiration for his business, CoatChex, when he lost his coat when he was out one night because there was no coat check.  His business originally started as a simple, collapsible coat checking business that operated inside local bars, but he quickly became frustrated with the traditional model of giving customers a ticket when they check their coat, meant to be exchanged at the end of the night for their coat back.  Customers constantly lost their tickets and coats were easily confused.  So, Derek innovated a new coat checking system.  Instead of using tickets, CoatChex uses its own app, pictures, and QR codes, which not only makes the coat checking process much simpler, but has the potential to create even more revenue for the business because the venues that CoatChex works in desire information about their customers that CoatChex can get through their app and provide to the venues.

CoatChex actually worked at the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis and did over $100,000 in sales, incredible!

Derek appeared on the TV show Shark Tank, asking for $200,000 for a 10% share of CoatChex.  Mark Cuban offered him $200,000 for 33% equity, but Derek turned him down, unwilling to give up that much of his business.  He is now seeking $1 million from angel investors to use his technology in other services and develop brand partnerships.

Derek Pacque is an exemplary entrepreneur, not because he simply found a solution to a problem, but because he developed that solution even further when it had problems of its own.  He went beyond the simple solution and innovated to find a better one.

For more information, I encourage you to visit their website,, (which, might I say, is very well designed).


A Real Estate Investor Who Isn’t Old Enough to Drive

Willow Tufano is a now fifteen year old girl who lives in Florida, but she was only fourteen years old when she bought her first house with the help of her mother, and began renting it out for $700 a month.  The two now own an additional house which they also rent out.  They bought the first for $12,000 and the second for $17,500, incredibly low prices in the housing market.  Willow’s plan is to buy her mother’s half of the houses when she turns eighteen and is legally allowed to own a house, she also hopes to own ten of these homes by that point.

Willow’s mother worked in real estate even before Willow asked for help to buy a house, and Willow helped gut and renovate houses for her mother, as she does still, now, for the houses that the two buy together and rent out.  Willow has put so much time into these houses and this business that she has left her full time school for the gifted to be homeschooled through Florida’s Virtual School.

I am personally inspired by Willow because I know adults who are in a similar business, with buying and renting out houses, who are much later in life than she is.  I didn’t think it was possible for a girl her age to be handling such big projects and to be putting so much energy into something that is generally something that adults who are older than her do.  She’s also inspirational because she is able to balance school and her business, and she was able to recognize that she wouldn’t be able to do that while still enrolled in traditional schooling, and made the decision to switch to homeschooling.  Willow renovating a home


Leanna’s Hair Care Products turned Politician

Leanna Archer was nine years old when friends, neighbors, and community members started asking what she used in her hair and she started bottling up her grandmother’s homemade hair pomade and giving it out to people.  Quickly, she realized that this could be turned into a profitable business and by the time she was eleven or twelve years old she had a strong customer base.  The recipe for this pomade came from her great-grandmother and uses only natural ingredients from Haiti, where Leanna’s family is from.  Leanna is now eighteen years old, her business brings in more than $100,000 in revenue each year, her father is one of her main employees (yes, when it comes to business, he works for her), and she’s even started a foundation to help people living in poverty in Haiti.  She has customers from eighty different countries, quite possibly because her all-natural hair care products entered the market at the same time that people grew more conscious about what kind of ingredients were used in their beauty products.

What’s incredibly inspiring about Leanna’s business is that she has stuck with it for so long, nine years now.  Children don’t often stay with something that they start at a young age, and it’s incredible to see that she’s been able to continue this business through to legal adulthood.  She is the same age as me, and her success shows that it is possible to achieve something big at a younger age than people expect.  Leanna is headed to college, but isn’t going for business, she’s going for political science with hopes to run for office someday, showing people that it’s possible to wear many different hats in the world.

In an interview for NPR Leanna advises all young people to stick with an idea, regardless of whether or not it’s what you’re meant to do, because it could end up leading you to what you’re supposed to do, as her hair care business led her to Haiti, which in turn inspired her to get involved in politics.


Closing the Generation Gap

Millennials often get a bad rap for constantly changing jobs and for not being loyal to a single company in their entire lives, but that isn’t the goal of many people in this generation.  Crystal Kadakia is one of these Millennials who didn’t want to fit that mold.  She wanted to work for twenty five or more years for a single company, and though that didn’t exactly happen for her, there are many other Millennials like her.  Crystal left her job at a Fortune 100 company as a project engineer and then a training manager in order to start her own company which would help other companies embrace the differences between generations.

Crystal founded and runs a consulting company for other businesses in the People and Organization category, specifically about Generation Collaboration and Workplace Design.  She recognized that there was more to generations working together than the typical generation charts and stereotypes that people put others into.  Crystal tested many concepts to find the one that she now works and consults on through her business, which shows how being an entrepreneur takes effort, research, and time.

Crystal shares her story and what she’s learned from her experience in this article from The Huffington Post in more detail.

Here is a list of lessons that Crystal shares with her readers:

  • Title doesn’t matter
  • Figure out how to view all your skills as transferable
  • The future is cross-disciplinary
  • Learn what you can from those who have gone before you

These lessons are inspirational to me because, as is Crystal’s goal, they can be applied to any field that I choose to go into.

GoldieBlox: Construction Girls

Dana Sterling, age thirty one, is the founder of GoldieBlox, a toy company marketed towards girls.  GoldieBlox toys aren’t the everyday dress-up doll toys, though, they’re construction toys geared towards introducing young girls to the world of engineering.  Each toy comes with a picture book that tells a story about “Goldie,” and how she builds something, such as a carnival game or parade float, to solve a problem.  Dana’s goal is to show girls that they are capable of building and creating to help people and find solutions to problems.

Dana and her company are inspiring because even though she was told by other toy companies that her products wouldn’t sell and that girls don’t buy construction toys, she pressed on, eventually raising $285,000 on Kickstarter.  She saw that there was an absence of toys in the market that would teach young girls about engineering and problem-solving and filled that gap.  Dana’s company illustrates what it means to innovate, as she found a solution that was attractive to girls, the coloring and the story about Goldie, that also taught made them more aware of engineering at a younger age.

Dana is driven by her mission to inspire girls to become engineers, but that doesn’t hold her back from growing her business.  GoldieBlox received feedback that boys love the toys, too, so the company will be releasing three new products in the fall that will be in gender neutral colors and include male characters in the books.  She is not so focused on her mission that she is afraid to pivot her idea to incorporate a wider market of consumers.

Even before GoldieBlox came into existence, Dana used her entrepreneurial drive to raise $30,000 for economic and educational development in rural India, where she had gone on a mission trip.  Dana earned a degree in engineering at Stanford, but ended up as an entrepreneur in the realm of girls toys.