9 Entrepreneurs Share Their “A-ha!” Moments


A-Ha Moment: What If We Made It Possible To Drink Local?
Laurisa Milici, Founder of Radiant Pig
A craft beer company


We were at Spitzer’s Corner on the Lower East Side having an awesome meal of small plates along with some delicious craft beers. While there was a good selection of beers available, we realized there were very few local New York options on tap. For a couple of beer lovers, (one being a homebrewer) we asked ourselves, ‘Why not us? Why couldn’t we be that local option?’

We left that night thinking how lucky we were to be in NYC and how we much we wanted to be part of this world. That’s why PIG stands for ‘people in gastropubs’ — because we want to make inspired brews that invoke that same sense of excitement and gratitude for other craft beer enthusiasts.


A-Ha Moment: What If Making Friends Were a Science?
Josh Jacobson, CEO of It’s Platonic
A service for meeting and making friends


I’d had the business idea for ItsPlatonic, which is the world’s No. 1 site exclusively dedicated to making new friends, for over a year before I decided to dedicate myself to it full-time. There was a significant ‘a-ha’ moment that helped me make the leap, and that was largely responsible for my cofounder joining and our investors putting in money: Friendship revolves around activities.

By helping users plan their time together on our site, there’s always a context, such as playing tennis or trying a new coffee shop, that both people are interested in and helps fuel the conversation. This ‘a-ha’ moment has been largely responsible for our success so far; our users love that they can meet people for specific activities and that ItsPlatonic meetings are never awkward, while our investors love that we’re a 100 percent unique offering in the friendship market.


A-Ha Moment: What If I Simplified My Ambitions?
Jack Sutter, Founder of TGT Wallets
Compact leather wallets


My big moment of realization came ironically from one of my biggest disappointments. I spent a couple years working on this web app idea — a really complicated and expensive visualization tool that was like a mind/space video game of your life. It was very cool, but so ambitious, and when I finally ran out of money and had to let it go, I felt like everything was impossible.

Then I had this very simple idea for a new kind of wallet to make pants fit better. It was the complete opposite of my web tool: it was tangible, I was able to make it myself, and I felt everyone in the world would understand it and want to own it. I made my first one and sold it the same day, and that simple exchange — taking a physical product and watching it turn into cash that I could take to the corner to buy a sandwich changed my life. I think it was my ‘a-ha moment.’


A-Ha Moment: What If I Applied My Job To My Personal LIfe?
James Ambler, Founder and Creative Director of Paparazzi Proposals
Proposal photography service


At the time that I proposed to my now-wife, I was working as a paparazzi photographer. In the days that followed the proposal, several friends who know the industry I worked in asked if I’d had it photographed. I’d never thought until then about photographing proposals because I didn’t think you could preserve the intimacy and raw emotion that makes them so special.

However, at that time it suddenly occurred to me that I could do just that by turning my paparazzi skills to proposals instead of celebrities. I now have a thriving business where we help clients to plan their perfect proposal and then we capture it all in a way that allows the moment to unfold naturally and for the client to be able to surprise their partner with the pictures afterwards.


A-Ha Moment: What If I Let Go of Everything I Worked Towards?
Tyler Walton, Co-Founder of Yogurtree
Alternative yogurt shop


One of the best feelings I have ever experienced was the moment I came up with my first business. I was going into my senior year at Lehigh University as a finance major and realized Wall Street was not what I wanted to do. After being a top student my whole life, I was deflated and lost. I didn’t want what I had worked my whole life for.

Fortunately, on a family trip to Florida in the summer of 2011 I had my first self-serve frozen yogurt experience. When we returned my mom mentioned that if we didn’t start a frozen yogurt store in our area someone else would. I’ll never forget the first night I researched the industry online and started creating the concept for Yogurtree. For the first time in eight months … I had a purpose.


A-Ha Moment: What If There Were A Better Way To Shop Online?
Alex Adelman, CEO and Co-Founder of Cosmic Cart
A universal “shopping cart” that makes shopping online easier


I was Christmas shopping online, buying gifts for my family and friends, and ended up checking out on eight different websites. In addition to it being a huge hassle (#firstworldproblems), going from site to site to find the right product at the right price, it also ended up compromising my credit card information. It was an all-around terrible experience. I decided that there was a better way to shop online.


A-Ha Moment: What If I Didn’t Have To Work For Someone Else?
Danielle Mehta
CEO and Creative Director


For me, the a-ha moments always seem to happen at the last second: when you think the doors are closing, when options dwindle, and hope is all but lost. Something happens where your perspective is forced to shift, and a piece of the puzzle you’ve been (unconsciously) ignoring comes into play.

The No. 1 a-ha moment for me was accepting the fact that I would never be happy working for someone else. For years I felt awful because I had jumped from job to job, industry to industry, not ever truly feeling like I’d found my path.

Sounds corny, but I finally realized that I was meant to learn something from those fateful jobs. It wasn’t that I was supposed to be unhappy, it was that if I wanted happiness, I needed to go out and make it for myself. And thus, my entrepreneurial side was born.


A-Ha Moment: What If We Realized We Could Do It Better — And Faster?
Phil Dumontet, Founder & CEO of Dashed
Food delivery service


My a-ha moment occurred during a conversation with my brother over dinner shortly after I graduated from Boston College. A large delivery service had recently gone out of business, creating a tremendous opportunity in the market. Restaurants were looking for the sales, drivers wanted to work, and customers craved the convenience of delivery.

I knew we could do it better. The excitement of the challenge motivated me. The largest complaint against the defunct delivery company was slow delivery times, so I oriented my entire company around speed, calling it DASHED and making the deliveries on my Trek mountain bike. When I started, I did all our deliveries in an average of 45 minutes, an average that remains to this day, five years later.


A-Ha Moment: What If Parties Were Eco-Friendly?
Emily Doubilet, Co-Founder of Susty Party
Sustainable partyware company


I’ve always had a passion for nature and entertaining. I’m an environmentalist who also loves a good party. I grew up marching to the beat of my own drum, and I always wanted to be a leader, create something and make a positive impact on the world. I started putting together performance art, interactive parties and entertainment that celebrated nature. I wanted sustainability to be a celebration.

However, as I performed these shows and threw these parties, I noticed how much waste was created. It was extremely difficult to find party tableware that was good for both the planet and people by being fairly, sustainably and responsibly made. In order to avoid plastic party cups, all of the eco-friendly compostable options were either plain brown or white. I couldn’t find stylish, colorful, high-quality party tableware that was environmentally and socially responsible. I knew I needed to create my own collection and simultaneously create jobs for communities in need. After meeting Jessica Holsey (president and co-founder) at a party, we put our heads together, and Susty Party was born!

Together, we are committed to working with non-profit factories who employ the blind and visually impaired, and bringing fun into the world so that party hosts can both, as is our motto, ‘respect Earth & party on!’


About benvitalis

math grad - Interest: Number theory
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