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Businesses of New York: Inspiring Stories from the Big Apple’s Entrepreneurs

Some say New York is the greatest city in the world, and whether or not you agree, there is no denying the electricity the city produces. NYC always has been and always will be a hub for innovation, creatives…people who are looking to tackle big ideas and make big things happen.

As a business owner, there is no one better to learn from than your peers. So, we wanted to introduce you to some of our favorite New York-based entrepreneurs. Businesses who have taken unique ideas, taken chances, and taken off.

Meet Artists & Fleas

Artists & Fleas is a market that allows artists, designers and collectors–anyone with vision and desire–to set up and sell their unique, crafted wares. They host the vendors and create the spectacle, driving an audience to attend their carefully curated and promoted events. Having grown to 3 locations, they try to host offerings that are interesting, a little edgy, but still accessible.

Co-founded by husband and wife pair Amy Abrams and Ronen Glimer, Artists & Fleas hosted their first show on a snowy Sunday in late December, in a warehouse space that had no heat, and yet people still came. It was at that moment they realized the business could have legs. And sure enough, it did. “We did that first show [in the snowy, uninsulated warehouse] in late 2003. So we’ve been at it for a little more than a decade now,” says Abrams.

Along the way, the biggest challenge the couple faced was hiring to match their growth. “Like any company that is growing, it is always about finding the right people for the team,” adds Glimer.

What keeps the two going is realizing how effectively they’re fueling the creative community, while also enjoying the lifestyle produced by the business. “For the past ten years, we’ve been the platform for hundreds of individuals to quit their day jobs and create a business to do what they love. We’re able to travel and raise our daughters, having a lifestyle that works for us. We’re glad that our taste and point of view resonated. And we’re proud to have earned an influencer role amongst artists and craftsmen,” Abrams says.

Learning from their own success, Gilmer says that he would tell other entrepreneurs to “trust their instincts, and they need not be afraid of the competition.”

Abrams adds, “In our own story, and in the lives of many small business owners we’ve worked with over the years, the ones who took the plunge to work on what they loved have rarely been disappointed.” Passion gives you the fuel you need to overcome the obstacles you will inevitably face as an entrepreneur. So, if you are going to start a business, remember the lesson we learned from Amy Abrams and Ronen Gilmer: make sure it’s something you love.

For more information on Artists & Fleas, please visit

Meet Royal Palms Shuffleboard

Royal Palms Shuffleboard is Brooklyn’s first shuffleboard club right in the heart of Gowanus. They bring together shuffleboard, a tropical-themed bar, and a roster of the city’s best food trucks (that are driven right into their one-of-a-kind indoor loading dock). As co-owner Jonathan Schnapp says, “Fun is our mission statement.”

Schnapp and his partner started working on the project in January 2012, but just recently launched in February 2014. Given the unique value proposition, the path to success wasn’t necessarily a simple journey.

“This was an incredibly risky project. We poured our life savings in just to lock up the premises, before we even started raising the money to build the shuffleboard club. I spent hours, days, weeks, months pitching people, and at one point, I nearly got to the end of my rope. We were bleeding about 20k a month in rent, construction costs were accumulating, and we hadn’t reached the halfway point of the raise,” says Schnapp.

But, out of nowhere, things started clicking. “One day I met an acquaintance from Europe who was in town for the weekend… I didn’t really see it as a business meeting or a pitch- just something social to take my mind off work. We wound up talking about the project and despite never having heard of shuffleboard before, never having visited Brooklyn and living halfway across the world, he wound up purchasing a 50k share. Then his mother got a share, his brother got a share and his stepfather got a share… It was the 1-2-3-4 punch that put us over the top and let us coast down the back side of the capital-raise hill. It was almost frustrating at first, because I had put all this time and effort into trying to get in a room with the right people and this just felt like blind luck.”

But, knowing what Schnapp knows now, he realizes it wasn’t luck. “The truth is that by the time I talked to this guy I had answered every question. Our deck and pro-forma and operating agreement were polished and glowing. Even the slightest turn of phrase rolled off my tongue without thinking about it. I learned what parts of my project resonated with people and instinctually pivoted to those points like a plant towards the sun. So the lesson is: show up. Work incredibly hard. Stutter. Fail. Try again. Fail again. It’s the time and the practice and the pitches that don’t work that lead (excruciatingly slowly) to the ones that do.

The hardest part of it all? “I think the biggest challenge lies in connecting with EVERYONE. Finding a way to inspire the independently wealthy potential investor to join in and write a check but also relate to the concrete worker and make him want to pour the levelest courts he possibly can. They’re really different people with different perspectives and goals and needs… it’s the most challenging and invigorating thing I’ve ever done.”

His time spent getting this project off the ground has ended up being a reward for Schnapp. “I’m really proud of the amount I’ve learned and grown over the last two years by defying odds and slaying a project that seemed too large and daunting and difficult.”

For more information of Royal Palms Shuffleboard, please visit


Inspiring words from inspiring entrepreneurs. Remember, do what you love and don’t be afraid to fail. Learning from failure is what will lead to success.

Do you have any favorite businesses in New York?

Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood

Editor-in-Chief at Fundera
Meredith is Editor-in-Chief at Fundera. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.
Meredith Wood