25 Entrepreneurs, Including 2 Sharks, Share What They're Thankful For
No entrepreneur gets far on his or her own. Mentors, colleagues, advisors, investors, family, friends and even pets support determined business owners as they pursue their dreams.
Twenty-five entrepreneurs from across the country shared with us what they are thankful for this holiday season. We also want to hear from you: what are you grateful for?
Lori Greiner, owner of For Your Ease Only, Inc. and a judge on Shark Tank
"I’m thankful that there are so many people in this world that have good, kind hearts and that care deeply about other people. Their generosity not only on Thanksgiving, but throughout the year makes this world a better place!"
Daymond John, founder and CEO of FUBU and a judge on Shark Tank
"I am grateful that Shark Tank won the Emmy and continues to empower people while changing their lives. I am proud that my book was able to further the ability for people to feel empowered by their dreams, and became a New York Times bestseller. I am grateful to have been able to travel with President Obama on his groundbreaking trip to Cuba and seeing firsthand the impact that it had on people. But most of all, I am grateful for my new baby girl Minka and all that comes with being her father."
Tim Chen, co-founder and CEO of Nerdwallet
"I am grateful to be a part of a team that is truly making an impact on people's lives when it comes to one of the most important decisions: personal finance. This work gives me purpose every day. I'm also thankful for the people I spend every day working with -- they continue to challenge the way I view the world in delightful and accretive ways and have empowered me to think differently in certain situations, while inspiring me to constantly learn and evolve."
Alexis Maybank, founder and CEO of Project September
"I am thankful for a wonderful 2016 that brought me two new babies! I welcomed my third child to the world with support of loving family members, and I welcomed my third (figurative) 'baby' to the world (my newest fashion startup, Project September) with the support of a wonderful team and investors."
Jennie Ripps, co-founder and CEO of Owl's Brew
"I am very thankful that the problems I face as an entrepreneur are challenging, interesting and have solutions. There are so many problems in the world that cannot be solved simply through thinking and action. I am also thankful for my wonderful family and for my terrific co-founder."
Tony Conrad, partner at True Ventures and co-founder of About.me
"Beyond the Cubs, I’m really excited about how young founders/entrepreneurs are empowered to take meaningful risk in a way we’ve never experienced in the technology sector. They're informed and they have access to cloud-based tools, knowledge, co-working spaces -- just an amazing amount of resources and knowledge that make it possible to create products that capture our imagination."
Oliver Kharraz, CEO and founder of Zocdoc
“Our mission at Zocdoc is to give power to the patient -- a goal we’ve worked hard to achieve since 2007. This holiday season, I’m grateful that so many others in the industry, from health systems and hospitals to other like-minded tech companies, are also working hard to improve the patient experience. It’s high time we bring healthcare into the modern era and deliver the seamless experience that consumers expect and deserve."
Kyle Hill, co-founder and CEO of HomeHero
"This year I'm thankful for all the great progress our company has made in 2016, such as securing our first hospital partnership with Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. But I'm even more thankful for my grandmother who unfortunately passed away earlier this year. Without her lifetime of wisdom and guidance, I wouldn't be the person I am today and HomeHero would likely not exist."
Aaron Hirschhorn, founder and CEO of DogVacay“During the holidays, I'm grateful for a loving and patient family that puts up with my crazy hours and for the ability to work from home every now and then, so I can squeeze in a little extra quality time with them. I'm thankful for the coffee that keeps me going through our busiest, but most rewarding, time of year, and I'm incredibly grateful for our team and host community, who put in the long hours right beside me and make it possible for us to care for tens of thousands of dogs during the holiday season.”
Mona Bijoor, founder and CEO of Joor
“I am extremely grateful for my team. This has been a tough year politically, economically and emotionally, but they've shown that they are fighters, resilient and mission-driven. They are even more connected to the pain points we are solving than a year ago.”
Howard Lerman, co-founder and CEO of Yext"Optimism. The founder of a company with 3,000+ people once gave me this advice: "Hire people who consider themselves lucky." I thought about this a lot, and realized that people who think they are lucky are optimistic, and optimism is a prerequisite to success in tough circumstances. While that doesn't help in a game of random chance, optimism surely helps in circumstances when you can control the outcome, like when you're building something hard. Thinking you are "lucky" leads to optimism, which leads to confidence and positive thinking - critical components, along with grit and determination, which actually influence the odds in your favor."
Amy Jain and Daniella Yacobovsky, co-founders of BaubleBar
Jain: "I am so grateful for Facetime! Ever since having my daughter Chloe, we love using Facetime to stay connected to her grandparents, whether it’s a good morning wake-up or an opportunity to read her a book before bedtime."
Yacobovsky: "I am so fortunate that I have a boyfriend who is committed to making sure we stick to eating well so we feel 100 percent. He cooks dinner for us pretty much every night, and I am so grateful that he takes the time and effort to do that! Absent his commitment, I am certain I would default to something convenient as opposed to something healthy."
Ilir Sela, founder of Slice
“Grateful for all the wonderful relationships I have in my life, which includes friends, family, colleagues and restaurant partners whom I've had the honor of working with to create a platform for pizza lovers across the country. And I'm grateful for everything I've learned so far, especially this year. Never stop learning!”
Dwight deVera, founder and managing director, The Forerunner Group
"One of the things I’m truly thankful for is my team and the faith that they’ve had in me and in my vision. I am incredibly lucky and humbled by my team, even leaving well-paying careers to really kind of come on this adventure, to really kind of take a whirl in the startup space.
"You know, I am not in my 20s. So I have 20 years of industry experience or what have you, and it’s very different, here in Philadelphia, when the local newspaper calls us one of the stellar startups in healthcare. The other founder-entrepreneurs that I was standing up onstage next to are like, less than 30. I’m like, OK, this is a little different, but whatever! So absolutely, I want to give thanks to all of the folks who helped me build this thing, because without them, it just wouldn’t have come together."
Nader Hamda, founder and CEO of Ozobot“I am grateful to have a healthy family and the love and support of my wife and my two beautiful daughters. I am also grateful to have had the opportunity to start, grow and lead three unique companies in completely different industries which afforded me the opportunity to interact with many extraordinary people. Finally, I am grateful to have gained the trust and support of so many talented professionals who believe in me and the greater purpose of the journey we share together.”
Matt Zeiler, founder and CEO of Clarifai
"I'm grateful to have received the amazing educational experiences I've had. They've all been necessary and beneficial for me to pursue a career in the technology field. The longer I do it the more I realize that not everyone has the same opportunities I've had, which is why I'm also grateful to be able to help everyone I meet get excited about tech so they realize that they can do it too."
Adam Foroughi, co-founder and CEO of AppLovin“It's been a milestone year for AppLovin, and the holidays are a great time to take a break and reflect on all of the amazing people in my life who made it happen. I'm incredibly grateful for my wife and kids, who have supported me all through my ups and downs this year, for my parents, who have pointed me in the right direction since day one, and our whole AppLovin team. Each and every one of them -- current employees, past employees and investors -- played a role in helping us achieve more than I ever thought was imaginable this year.”
Jonathan Frankel, founder and CEO of Nucleus“I'm grateful that I get to wake up every day and work on something I feel passionately about together with colleagues that I like and respect. At Nucleus we're building a device that helps families communicate, and to hear from customers that we are literally improving their lives is an amazing feeling, and to experience that together with a team of talented, wonderful, friendly colleagues makes the whole crazy entrepreneurial ride worth it. I wouldn't trade it for the world.”
Alex Douzet, co-founder and CEO of Ollie
“Beside being grateful for my team, my co-founders, what I am most grateful for is that with Ollie we truly enhance the health and the life of dogs. As a result, we improve family life across America (and soon around the world). We change the world by extending love. By extending the life of dogs, we extend the unconditional love you receive from your dog. These are the three most important elements in people's life: personal health, family and love, career and money. We at Ollie are lucky that we get to make a significant contribution with number two. And that is the main reason I get out of bed every morning."
Jacqueline Yuen, co-founder and SVP of marketing of Joy
"I'm thankful for my kid's cough and colds because it reminds me that we are lucky to be healthy and that sleepless nights aren't that bad. I'm thankful for the mistakes I make because it reminds me how much I love to learn and grow. I'm thankful for family and friends who share their sadness, challenges and joys with me because it reminds me to prioritize our relationships above all else."
Mike Wittmeyer, co-founder and CEO, JM Bullion
"My parents really helped me get my first start. They loaned me $750 when I was 15 or 16 to start my first website. And that was not a small amount of money back then, but it was definitely one of my proudest moments when, a year later, I got to finally pay that back. Although they tease me that now they wish they had taken some equity instead of a loan. But they worked extremely hard to make sure that my sister and I had every opportunity, so I’m just forever grateful."
Josh Udashkin, founder and CEO of Raden
“I am thankful I have a job that allows me to be creative. Too many people are stuck in large corporate bureaucracies that give them a limiting job description hindering innovation. Our team combines the best minds in branding, fashion, engineering, technology and product. While those areas may at times seem vastly different, each member of the team is expected to think in ways other team members with totally different expertise would. I am thankful that everyone at Raden is creative and entrepreneurial enough to share that vision I have for the company."
Steve Goodman, founder and CEO of Restless Bandit
“I am grateful that we live in a country of entrepreneurs and that whoever is president, and whichever party controls congress, the general underpinnings of our economy is small business and entrepreneurs. There is no better place in the world, in terms of advantageous laws, regulations, and opportunity, to start a company than in the United States. And it doesn't matter if you're a Democrat, a Republican or somewhere in between, our laws and culture are set up to motivate people to take the risk of starting a business. That can't be said of most countries in the world, and it's one of the main reasons why American ingenuity and creativity will continue to lead. And for that I am grateful in what seems like uncertain times.”
Limor Fried, founder of Adafruit
"I'm thankful it's possible to be a good business and a good cause. I'm thankful for the opportunity each day to help someone, to see them thrive and for them to help others. I'm grateful that every single day we can be excellent to one another."