Amtrak's Acela Express, with service between Washington, DC, and New York. A Lamborghini Diablo. Misspent youth.
Some things go fast. And some things grow fast. Weeds. Amy's Kitchen. Or the caterpillar, the world's fastest-growing animal; some types can eat their full body weight in a day. Wait, wait. Back up. Amy's Kitchen?
Are you craving vegetable pot pie? Or a can of soup with organically grown ingredients? Perhaps some nonprocessed pasta sauce? Amy's Kitchen will deliver. Figuratively speaking. This is not Domino's; rather, it's a brand of frozen food product you can find in plenty of grocery stores nationwide.
Named after their baby daughter, it's the brainchild of Rachel and Andy Berliner, who set out to start a small business-"I thought it might bring us $3 million a year," says Andy-and somehow proved you can stay true to yourself and become filthy rich in the process. Last year, their company made $90 million in retail sales; this year, it should exceed $100 million. They have 650 employees, and their products can be found across the United States and around the globe.
There are no rules to starting a business, of course. But if you want your business to grow quickly, here are some helpful suggestions, courtesy of Rachel and Andy Berliner.
It was 1987. Rachel, then 33, and Andy, then 40, were expecting their first child. They wanted some stability for their daughter and independence for themselves. So they decided to start their own business. But what kind? Like many novice entrepreneurs, they had desire, but no idea.
The idea came when Rachel started worrying about how she was going to be able to cook nutritious meals for herself and her equally health-conscious and vegetarian husband once their twosome turned into a threesome. There seemed to be no satisfying microwavable convenience-food items aimed at vegetarians. And so an idea was born.
So was a baby. Amy arrived several months before they incorporated in 1988, and Rachel and Andy finally decided what to make. "One of our ideas was a pot pie, because we had-well, at least I had-grown up on Swanson's and Banquet pot pies, and a vegetarian could no longer experience that," says Andy. "And I thought, there have to be other vegetarians who feel that way. I mean, it's comfort food. It's a memory from childhood. So that was our first product, an organic vegetable pot pie."
The company name, too, came from brainstorming. "We thought of Natural This and Natural That," says Andy, "but they all sounded like every other health-food product. Finally, Rachel's mom said, 'What about Amy's Kitchen?'"
Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.