What: Design studio
Who: Gavin Levy of Creative Instinct
When: Started in 1998
Startup costs: Less than $2,000
Gavin Levy's company, Creative Instinct, is based in a building that used to house a taxi company. He says the unique location helps drive traffic to his five-person design studio, and it's one of the reasons he chose to move there when he needed more office space.
In 1998, Levy left his job to start his own design company. He found it easy to keep startup costs low since he was able to bring the computer equipment from his previous job with him and work out of his bedroom. "My only startup costs were incorporating the company," he says. Maintaining a relationship with his former employer gave Levy more than enough work to start with, and within a year, he hired his first employee. By 2000, he moved the company out of his bedroom and into an office space.
Levy, 35, says that hiring young workers who command lower salaries has kept his business profitable, and he has his clients deal directly with his designers instead of account executives. All this has helped Creative Instinct maintain a high caliber of customer service, while earning 2006 sales of more than $500,000.