The Serial Entrepreneur
Michele Romanow, 32, San Francisco, Calif.
"I'm no stranger to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work. At 12, I was mowing lawns and changing tires to earn my allowance, which my dad taught me to save and manage like real earnings. I went on to study engineering, but soon learned I wanted to build businesses, not bridges," says Romanow.
After graduation, she and two former classmates used the $120,000 they won through business competitions to launch their first venture, a sustainable sturgeon aquaculture facility that delivered caviar to hotels and restaurants. That business went under when the recession hit, but Romanow was hardly daunted. After a stint at Sears Canada, she and the same two partners launched Buytopia, a daily deal platform that became one of the fastest growing companies in Canada, acquiring 10 competitors and signing up more than 7 million subscribers.
In 2014, she left to work at Groupon after it bought her Buytopia spinoff, a coupon app called SnapSaves, and also joined the cast of "Dragons’ Den," a Canadian version of "Shark Tank." Last year, Romanow left Groupon to become co-founder of her fifth business venture, Clearbanc, a financial services platform targeting freelancers and self-employed contractors. "I’ve always believed that you don’t need to have every certification and years of education to build a business," she says. "It’s all about taking risks and pushing forward."
Her advice for others: "Invest in yourself. I started building businesses early when I didn’t have the responsibilities of a mortgage or children and I could spend every minute making something work. Starting early and investing in myself were the best decisions I made."
June 9, 2017
<< Page 3 of 3