It’s Personal: When Your Story Becomes Your Business

Independence. Freedom. The persistent nagging of a great idea that refused to be ignored. The desire to make a difference. These are just some of the reasons entrepreneurs have breathed life into their own businesses. The motivation behind pursuing either full-time self-employed pursuits or a side-gig are as varied as the people who pursue them. Some have a desire to be their own bosses and they search for the right outlet that allows them to blaze the trail of entrepreneurship. Others find their own needs aren’t being met and their quest to develop the product or service they wish existed evolves into a new business. The stories of the latter are worth reading.

The Allergy Ninja

Helping talented professionals navigate their way to a life they love is just one part of who I am and what I do. I’m also the mother of two wonderful children who happen to have a number of severe anaphylactic food allergies. Learning to navigate a world where your allergens can appear in the least expected places – your lip balm, your art supplies, your favorite skin care products – can require ninja-like deftness. For example, a few years ago my son had a split lip that was not healing. We had tried all kinds of well-known brand lip balms to no avail. My daughter was also struggling with dry skin and dry lips. When we dug a little deeper to understand the ingredients used in these products, we discovered the very tools we were using to help sooth these conditions were causing the problem. They contained almond oil, dairy, and wheat – all allergens for our family. I decided the only way to make this work was if I made my own lip balm so that we would know what was in it. I did some research on safe oils and waxes that might work and made my very first chocolate, honey, peppermint, lavender soothing lip balm. What began as a project to meet a personal need has since grown into a business. I’ve recently launched The Allergy Ninja, a brand of carefully curated products and services.


Avni Patel Thompson is not a childcare expert. She is, however, a parent with two young daughters and the CEO / Co-Founder of Poppy, a service that connects vetted caregivers to families that need childcare. When Avni spoke at the 2017 Female Founders Conference she said, “I was so tired of feeling panicked and anxious every time I wasn’t 1,000% sure of who was taking care of my girls. And I couldn’t believe that so many of us are dealing with this every single week. And then I couldn’t believe that all the people, all the amazing people that are taking care of our kids, they need more recognition and opportunities. So, I decided to build it with Poppy.” Now, Poppy connects parents and sitters in the Seattle area so that others don’t have to feel that same anxiety that once plagued Avni.


This young start-up company is developing a suite of products designed to improve the outcomes of children born with rare congenital heart defects. CEO and Founder Doug Bernstein is part of the PECALabs trio of young entrepreneurs working to develop a new kind of pediatric heart value. He also has something in common with the infants his company hopes to help: Doug was born with a congenital defect that gave him a 2% chance of survival. Armed with a biomedical engineering degree and loads of determination, he’s guiding his company to save and improve the lives of babies born with the same heart defect he was born with.

Ryot Films

Bryn Mooser is a storyteller and video is his vehicle. As a journalist and filmmaker, Bryn was frustrated at the inability to adequately convey the story of humanitarian crises he was covering. He, and co-founder David Darg, built Ryot using virtual reality technology as a means to tell a more immersive story. One of their first projects was a film about the Nepal earthquake. The team used a VR headset to show the film to people on the street near that year’s Tribeca Film Festival. The vehicle achieved Bryn’s goal. Being within the story through immersive film connected his audience with the reality of this natural disaster in a way traditional filmmaking did not. His company’s success caught the attention of bigger players in the market; Ryot was sold to AOL in 2016. What’s your story? Where have you drawn inspiration for your business? What personal need or experience will spark your own entrepreneurial venture? Join the conversation on LinkedIn.