By Lina Roque
Boston is full of promising startups working hard to redefine business as we know it. From tech, to food, to fashion, startups from different industries have one thing in common: exposing their new business and concepts to audiences and consumers alike. Whether it’s designing an interactive product for consumers or creating unique concepts to be patented and purchased by companies, the winners out there are determined and relentless in pushing through setbacks and capitalizing on small gains.
1. City Wine Tours got its start when Daniel Andrew, Christian Iannucci, and Rick Goldberg noticed that many of their friends were very interested in exploring “Boston's growing restaurant scene” and seeking to learn more about wine but noticed a huge problem keeping a lot of people from doing so.
“We noticed that most of the wine tastings and seminars were pretentious. We wanted to make wine tasting approachable and fun.” Boston was the perfect setting for this venture because not only was the target market perfect but also, “lots of young professionals who are interested in exploring their city and enjoying new restaurants,” said Andrew.
Andrew and Iannucci began pitching the idea to Boston concierges in the winter of 2011 and found that, “they were not only receptive to the idea but wanted to know how they could take a tour for themselves.” They started with Harvard Square and the North End and due to high demand added Back Bay and South End.
The walking tours showcase specific neighborhoods and premium wine destinations, such as upscale restaurants, luxury hotels and gourmet wine shops. At each destination, tour guests enjoy a private wine tasting coupled with a food pairing.
Andrew, the company’s CEO, credits City Wine Tours’ success to their philosophy. “It’s simple, everything we do relates back to our mission: to make learning about wine as fun as drinking it. As long as we stay true to that, the sky’s the limit,” he said.
2. Alana Brooks, the personality behind The Good Girl Gone Blog style blog and co-founder of Blog Better Boston, labels herself as “Freelance Social Media and Blogger Relations Specialist” but Brooks’ real label is “entrepreneur.”
“I've worked in all sorts of settings- corporate, agency, startup, but none of them were exactly the right fit,” she said. “I always felt like I had so many ideas that I couldn't implement due to bureaucracy or simply being too young. I sort of stumbled into freelancing when I left an agency position, and it's sort of blossomed from there: planning sold-out blogger events like Blog Better Boston and working as a part-time social media specialist.”
For Brooks, Boston is a great place to be an entrepreneur because “my business involves the local blogging community, which is fantastic. Though we may not be New York or LA, there are a ton of great bloggers here, and brands, both large and small, are starting to see the value in that. As a social media professional and blogger, I love connecting both communities!”
Brooks gives credit to her mentors for helping her grow: “I've been lucky enough to work with some very amazing people in the past, mainly strong women who I look up to as role models. It was from these mentors that I learned to push the limits and trust my ideas, even if the people I'm working with are older and have been in the working world for much longer. I've learned to find the balance between getting results and standing out creatively.”
3. Nancy’s Gone Green, an eco-friendly vintage boutique, is comprised of fabulous mother-daughter founders Nancy and Mary Savoca. They sell “sustainable designs by local indie labels and fair-trade artisans from around the globe.”
Mary, the daughter half of the duo, said she “loved the positive energy that came from recycling old clothes and finding them new homes. When we decided to launch a retail shopping website, we knew we didn't want to become yet another shop that profited from materialism and excess. We decided to carry a thoughtfully curated collection of products that are ethically and sustainably produced, so that our customers can really feel great about shopping with us.”
Although the main business is online with customers around the globe, Mary and Nancy love being in Boston. They try to spend as much time as possible connecting to the local community by participating in events like the Greenway and Sowa Open Markets, “find us there every weekend through October!” Mary explained that, “Bostonians are so receptive to our mission and our ethics, and they love making purchases that have a positive rather than negative impact on the planet.”
Mary detailed how they differentiate among competitors like eBay, Etsy, and Market Publique. “The biggest problems most people have with eco-friendly fashion is that it’s too dull and ‘earthy,’ and that it’s too expensive. We're working hard every day to discover and support eco designers who defy these labels. We want to make the eco-fashion movement accessible to everyone - this is how we can truly create change.”
2thinkknow's Innovation Cities Index named Boston the number one most innovative city in the world, ahead of San Francisco, Paris, and New York City. It’s not surprising, given the amount of talent that Boston harbors. Although these start ups and entrepreneurs come from different backgrounds and dominate different industries, they all share a few things in common: domineering persistence, undeniable creativity, and a love for connecting with communities in and around Boston.
About Lina -- My life could be described as a cross between Eliza Thornberry's (hello '90s!) and 'Mean Girls,' having been home-schooled in the Amazon in my junior high years, then moving to Small Town, USA, and attending real high school. I attended and graduated business school with a hippie-meets-corporate-girl mentality and a passion for doing good and keeping it real. Now, I'm a hands-on media girl, tech-savvy, and have a desire to communicate news and trends from a multicultural perspective.
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