This is the time of year when we look back and take an assessment of the past 12 months and think about the lessons that we learned along the way, and how we are going to apply them to the upcoming year to make it better. We also start setting goals for the upcoming year, both personal and for our business. Going through these exercises helps us focus on what needs to be done to grow personally and professionally as well as what steps we should take to grow our business.
The upcoming year is very exciting for us because – for the first time in a while – we are going into it with a laser sharp focus, having decided where we will be as well as where our business is going to re-launch. (The re-launch as well as the new product lines we are developing are very exciting as well). We also have adopted the attitude of “every moment matters,” so often asking ourselves what we are going to do with the 365 days of 2017.
We like to look at people and companies that inspire us and study how they do what they do as well as look at their journey. As we quickly approach 2017, I wanted to offer some inspiration in the form of four local (New England) companies which are doing their thing and are enjoying success because of it.
I will start with a Londonderry-based group of teens, known as the Inventioneers, who invented an intelligent steering wheel cover called SMART Wheel. The SMART Wheel proactively alerts the driver of common distracted driving behaviors, tracks them and delivers trip data to a Smartphone via Bluetooth. According to the SMART wheel website, over 400,000 people are injured in car accidents involving a distracted driver each year and teen drivers are four times as likely to get in a car accident as adults. The inventors of SMART Wheel hope to change that. SMART Wheel is called “technology with a mission,” with the mission being “to make the roads safe by helping to prevent distracted driving.”
Next up is ShapeUp, the Providence, Rhode Island-based wellness company that promotes health and wellbeing. ShapeUp was founded back in 2006 to help companies encourage employee wellness. The company was acquired as part of a three-way merger earlier this year by Virgin Pulse, the Framingham, Massachusetts-based wellness company that is part of the London-based Virgin Group. ShapeUp, which started with two co-founders, is now part of the largest well-being company in the world.
Cousins Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac grew-up outside of Portland, Maine, enjoying summertime picnics of great food, including locally caught lobster. The days of summer picnics and lobsters eventually ended as they both moved away, Tselikis to Boston and Lomac to Los Angeles. After reconnecting in L.A., the two surveyed the rapidly growing food truck scene and realized that it was missing those awesome Maine lobsters. So they pooled their money together and in 2012 launched a food truck that served the bounty of their state, and Cousins Maine Lobster was born. Now in its 5th year, Cousins has 13 franchised food trucks all over the country and a restaurant in West Hollywood so that people from coast to coast can experience a true Maine lobster.
Finally, there is the Boston-based “dessert in a jar” company, Wicked Good Cupcakes, which started back in 2010 when mother and daughter Tracey Noonan and Danielle Vilagie took cake-decorating classes as a way to spend quality time together. Making cupcakes quickly turned into a passion and led to the opening of their first store in late 2011. Their cupcakes were very popular with orders coming in from across the country and the duo wanted to find a way to ship them so that they would be fresh and intact when reaching the customer. They found a way – by putting the cupcakes in a jar! They would fill the jars with fresh layers of cake, frosting, and filling. The process made the cupcakes easy to ship and allowed them stay fresh for up to 10 days without refrigeration. In addition to cupcakes the company also sells cakes in a jar, pies in jars, brownies in jars, and cookie jars. They also have gluten-free cupcakes in a jar.
As we approach 2017 let us remember that these companies started as ideas and grew by providing solutions to problems. Let us also always remember to not let the naysayers derail our dreams. I believe that nothing is impossible and that anyone can achieve success in any industry with passion and hard work, whether it be in our careers or as small business owners and entrepreneurs.
So now I ask, What will you do with your 365 days?
Happy New Year and here’s to a rockin’ 2017!
Raymond, New Hampshire native and former Manchester resident Brian Chicoine is co-founder of UrbanRebel 1636™, a Rhode Island-based art and design way of life start-up. A 1990 graduate of West High School, Brian attended college in the city before moving to Rhode Island to complete his undergraduate degree. Brian’s original plan was to “learn and leave” but fell in love with both his now wife, Jackie, and the state so decided to stay beyond graduation.
After they were married, Brian and Jackie lived in New Hampshire for about five and a half years, during which time their two boys were born. Brian and Jackie then returned to Rhode Island with their two boys and eventually started UrbanRebel 1636™. Brian and Jackie have recently realigned the company’s strategy and are developing an exciting new product line that will be introduced in time for the 2017 re-launch.
Brian has merged his passion for entrepreneurship and innovation with his love of new and bold ideas to bring the reader a fresh perspective on the people and products helping drive the economy. Brian and Jackie live in Providence with their two boys and their cat.