Million Dollar Inspiration: The Motivation Behind 7 Startups

June 1, 2012
 The following is a guest post from Josh Hayman.
After starting several companies and selling them off, Josh Haynam dedicated himself to helping others become their own bosses. His site Entrepreneur Stories features stories from highly successful entrepreneurs and is designed to bridge the gap between having the desire to start a company and actually owning a business.


Every huge success story starts with one person becoming so passionate about an idea that they build a business around it. Steve Wozniak wanted a computer that he would use, so he built Apple; Bill Gates wanted a computer interface that made sense to him, so he created Microsoft.

Oddly enough these aspirations aren’t usually groundbreaking or overly radical, they simply make life easier or better. The inspiration behind awesome businesses can come in the shower, at the gym, or even while sleeping. To find out what business motivation entails we asked 7 different startup founders how they were inspired to start their companies.

1.  Greatist –

“I was looking for a source in health and wellness information I could trust, that spoke to me in a way that made sense, and it blew my mind that there wasn’t a brand people could rely on, that was truly on their side.

So I became obsessed with building one. With that obsession, I somehow convinced brilliant experts and writers to help build Greatist with me to fill that space.”

 2.   HireArt –

“We had a variety of interview experiences with companies like McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, and General Growth Properties – some were good and some were bad.

We noticed that the best companies placed an emphasis on work samples – we basically got together and decided this was an area we could hone in on and revamp the interview process.”

3. –

“After graduating from Wharton, my business partner, Zach Yungst, and I worked in a variety of corporate roles in the financial world at Morgan Stanley, Oliver Wyman, and TPG.

We noticed that even at these big-name companies, the catered lunches were often unexciting and repetitive. A little over a year ago we both decided that we had found a problem that we knew we could solve and so we started”


4. –

I had fresh home-cooked meals all the time growing up. My mom worked night shifts, but still managed to come home and feed us on her half hour break. Sadly, I didn’t pick up her skills, and relied mostly on takeout and restaurants after college.

In business school, I saw this pattern amongst my peers, and started asking people why they didn’t cook.

The overwhelming response was that there was no time, but the reality was that there was a lack of knowledge and experience as to how to use that time to cook efficiently. The very first step of cooking – figuring out what to cook – is overwhelming and complicated for us; makes it simple.


5.    Snackr –

“My co-founder Brian Brunner and I were at Stanford – I was doing my MBA and Brian was in the CS program. Needless to say we were both really busy.

The only time I could catch up with news was while walking to class. I’m sure It looked ridiculous – me staring at my phone and walking, and I almost got ran over by a bike one day while distracted by the headlines.

I knew there had to be a solution to this problem. I met Brian in a class on start-ups and we were able to use Snackr as the basis for the class and flush out initial problems with the while still in school.”


6.    Coderwall –

“I was looking for strong candidates to join my team at my previous business. We found it was very difficult to quickly understand what a developer’s true experience and talents were.

We were specifically looking for past projects that our applicants had worked on, but it just wasn’t easy to find this information. Hence Coderwall intends to replace traditional resumes and hiring methods for coders in the long-term.

In the short term, we want to help members tell their professional story, discover cool new technologies and trends, and learn more about teams that they may want to work with.”


7.    Pulse Motors –

“I began thinking of the concept for Pulse Motors in late 2009 as a solution to the problem of inconvenient urban transportation.

I wanted to design a type of vehicle that not only made it easier to commute in crowded urban centers, but also could provide a cleaner, greener solution that could make commuting actually enjoyable.”


Whether you want a better source of health information or just can’t stand riding the bus, normal activities in everyday life can inspire some awesome ideas which can in turn create successful businesses. The motivation for these 7 startups don’t have much in common, but one thing that does tie them together is a mutual desire to solve a problem. Look around you, what problems can you solve? Be creative with your solutions and you might just make millions solving them!



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  • Jai Catalano June 1, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Isn’t that the beauty of every start up? Solving a problem. The key is to find a problem (how ironic) and cure it if no one else has. Seems easy. 🙂

    • Marissa June 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      I was just thinking that!

  • Liquid June 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    We need more great ideas like these in the world. Starting a unique catering company sounds like fun.

    • Marissa June 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      We do and we’re getting better at identifying the issues that need fixing.

  • From Shopping to Saving June 4, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Loved this! Every time there is a new start-up I’m always like… why didn’t I think of that?! It’s because we all do, but the people that are motivated are the ones that make things happen. I want to be more of a do-er.

    • Marissa June 5, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      Me too! I love the start-up live. There is so much energy.

  • Call Me WHat You Want Even Cheap June 6, 2012 at 1:26 am

    Very inspiring!

  • Modest Money June 7, 2012 at 12:42 am

    Very cool hearing the inspiration for all these great ideas. It goes to show how pretty much any common problem can turn into a successful business when you recognize a good solution. I’ve had similar kinda of ideas, but the missing ingredient was the motivation and confidence to really run with that idea and make it a reality. That’s sometimes where a good business partner can be extremely important.