Cherry Hill, New Jersey
50% YoY growth
What do you do if your glasses don’t fit? If you’re Florence Shin and Athina Wang, you create your own. Struggling to find the perfect frames for their low nose bridges and high cheekbones, these high school friends founded Covry in 2015 to make better glasses for diverse face shapes. Covry began with a crowdfunding campaign for three sunglass styles and has since launched nearly 50 frames through their online storefront, wholesalers, and retail partners. Their home try-on program increases customer satisfaction, and their signature Elevated Fit® eliminates sliding glasses and dreaded cheek marks. “We take fit and comfort very seriously,” Florence says. “Anytime that we see our customers try our frames on for the first time, it's this beautiful moment of, ‘Oh my gosh, this is how they're actually supposed to fit.’” With their customers at the center of their business, Covry turned to Google Analytics early to best understand them.
Acquisition and keyword data has been particularly useful, helping Covry decide where to invest time and resources. “We kept noticing that people would search Covry reviews, so we started adding customer reviews to our website and have seen a lot of traction,” Florence says. Google Workspace has helped the team keep collaboration flowing, even as they worked remotely. Despite production delays caused by COVID-19, Covry has continued to see 50 percent year-over-year growth. Next up, Covry is planning a series of pop-ups in popular stores, using Google Analytics to map out the strongest areas of opportunity. “We want to be the go-to place for all things eyewear,” says Florence. “To see somebody try on our frames and feel confident and really feel seen is what makes this whole journey so special.”
New Brunswick, New Jersey
+800K YouTube subscribers
Sometimes a chance encounter changes a person’s life. After graduating high school in 1992, New Jersey native Stephen Marinaro was looking for love—and a job. He was hired to sweep floors and wash hair at a salon where a woman he liked worked. The romance never blossomed, but Stephen’s passion for hair styling did. He went to cosmetology school, and in 2000, he launched an online salon directory while building his practice. Then, another event changed his trajectory: “My mother, who had adopted me, passed away,” Stephen says. “She inspired me to create something special and unique in her memory, based on my expertise.” In 2010, he launched a YouTube channel, TheSalonGuy, and business skyrocketed. His hair-styling chops, combined with his easy-going charm, have drawn an international following of over 800,000 subscribers. He also sells his own hair care line on his website.
When COVID-19 forced hair salons to reduce capacity for social distancing purposes, Stephen was prepared to weather the storm. “YouTube has been the number-one driving force in helping me grow my business,” he says. Stephen uses YouTube Analytics to learn which videos are most popular with viewers. Among the tousled, pandemic-weary masses, do-it-yourself hair styling videos have hit home. “People don’t want to sit in a salon for hours,” Stephen says. “They want to learn how to trim their own bangs and ends and color their own hair.” Haircuts in the styles of celebrities are also popular topics. By tying his hair care line into his YouTube content, Stephen has seen a 69-percent year-over-year increase in product sales, and overall business is up 30 percent. He now offers a media consulting service and participates in Rutgers University’s internship program—hiring one or two interns during the school year to help with creating content, shipping products, and managing finances. He shares his advice to other entrepreneurs who may be struggling due to coronavirus: “Now is the ultimate time to rethink your career path. Take charge of your destiny and never give up.”
Jersey City, New Jersey
Partake Foods has been experiencing 300% annual revenue growth
Denise Woodard was always interested in being an entrepreneur, but it wasn’t something she explored until she became a mother. It started when she discovered her young daughter, Vivienne, was allergic to several foods. “It was really frustrating to find packaged foods that she could eat safely and conveniently and actually enjoy,” said Denise. When she began looking into gluten-free and vegan options as healthy substitutes, Denise found that they were full of questionable starches and sugars she didn’t want to feed her baby. “I felt like the allergy-friendly brands that existed in the market weren’t things that people without food allergies would ever choose to eat willingly or share proudly,” she said. Compelled to do it on her own, Denise figured out a recipe for delicious, healthy, allergy-friendly cookies. Her daughter and friends loved them so much, she decided to share them with everyone, launching Partake Foods in 2017. The name Partake, said Denise, is “an invitation for people with or without dietary restrictions to enjoy and partake in our products.”
Denise used a crowdfunding platform to raise money for the company’s initial round of funding. She also sold cookies online and even out of her car. As business started to grow, Woodard knew she needed to increase her presence online. In September 2018 she started using Google Merchant Center to upload product data that would make it easier for people to find her products online. Denise also uses Google to help guide her marketing efforts. “Google has been a big driver of traffic to our website” said Denise. “I use it to determine what content people are searching for so we know what to write about.” Currently, about 75% of the company’s ad budget goes toward digital.
Partake Foods has sold more than 50,000 boxes of cookies, leading to an impressive 303% year-over-year revenue growth. Denise hopes to achieve national distribution within the next five years and is hard at work developing new products to expand her lineup. “The goal is to have meal and snack solutions for the whole day,” she said. While being an entrepreneur and a mother is challenging, Denise credits Google for helping her reach the right audiences and grow her business. She hopes to pass her entrepreneurial spirit down to her daughter, who is getting a firsthand glimpse into what it takes to build a business and make a difference in people’s lives. “Giving my daughter the opportunity to see that you can make a change is really gratifying,” concluded Denise.
Jersey City, New Jersey
After working at a digital marketing agency for three years, Freddy Carrera decided to take the leap and start his own firm in 2013. “I had picked up a lot of experience in design, web development, and marketing,” he explains. “I figured it was a great time and opportunity to start the business.” Novofex’s first “office” was Freddy’s apartment in Paterson, New Jersey. “It started off as a one-man operation, just calling on small businesses,” he recalls. When Novofex began expanding outside the state, Freddy brought on a former colleague, Allister Liberato, to help with the startup. Within six months, the duo had outgrown Freddy’s apartment and moved to a proper office in Jersey City.
Novofex turned to G Suite tools, such as Gmail, Calendar, Docs, and Drive, to manage their growing workload. “As a startup, I don’t see any other business tools out there that are as useful and as user-friendly as Google tools,” Freddy says. “I would definitely recommend other entrepreneurs to jump on Google tools. For everything digital, I find it to be the cornerstone.” The company also earmarks virtually their entire marketing budget to digital because of its flexibility and reach. “What would have been a $10,000 billboard spend, you can split in many different and more impactful ways on a digital budget,” Freddy says. They use AdWords, Google’s advertising program, to reach potential new customers, and Google Analytics to measure and optimize their ad campaigns. The digital focus has paid off: Novofex grew nearly 50 percent in their first year and has grown steadily since then, now serving over 400 customers a year.
Novofex is using their success to make a positive impact on their local community, particularly by forging a hiring pipeline with nearby colleges and universities. “We’ve been able to foster really good relationships with the local universities, recruit talent from there, and create opportunities in Jersey City,” Freddy says. Given the nature of their work, Novofex is also helping to grow the businesses that use their digital-marketing services. “We are proud to serve Hudson County,” Freddy shares. “Small businesses are the backbone of North New Jersey, so being able to help them get discovered in a highly populated area, grow, and hire more people is rewarding. It isn’t just Freddy in his apartment anymore. It’s more than that.”
Olive Oil Lovers
Passaic, New Jersey
Olive Oil Lovers has been experiencing 90% annual growth
A world traveler with a taste for Mediterranean quality, Joanne Lacina was living in Greece when she discovered that the olive oil locals enjoyed there was very different from what was sold on supermarket shelves back home. “I saw that there was a huge quality deficit in the U.S. and thought to myself, ‘Why can’t we all be enjoying this amazing olive oil that the Greeks have been eating for decades?’” she recalls. Partnering with producers around the world, Joanne founded Olive Oil Lovers in 2012 to offer Americans a fresher, high-quality alternative at a competitive price. “This is what the American people want,” Joanne says. “So that’s what we’ll give them. And we’ll deliver it right to their doors.”
From the start, Olive Oil Lovers has used the web and Google tools to set itself apart. “We’re not just a store. We’re a platform where anyone from anywhere can expand their olive oil knowledge and palate,” Joanne explains. “This is something we couldn’t have done as a brick-and-mortar.” Today, the company reaches thousands of customers and drives international business with their web presence. AdWords, Google's advertising program, currently accounts for 70 percent of their new customer acquisitions and “is very critical to our growth,” says Director of Marketing George Floropoulos. Google Analytics provides insights on their web traffic and marketing campaigns. Google Trends helps them see what is in high demand in the olive oil market. And G Suite tools Gmail, Docs, and Drive make international collaboration quick and easy. “If Google didn't exist, we wouldn't exist,” adds George.
Since their founding, Olive Oil Lovers has doubled their number of partnerships. They now work with over 40 producers in the U.S. and abroad to provide olive oil as well as other fresh items, such as vinegar, jam, and honey. Their 90 percent growth year-over-year has allowed them to hire more full-time employees and expand to a team of eight. And thanks to their success, Olive Oil Lovers is able to educate their consumers while providing an economic boost to small-scale growers. “It's the beauty of having the entire country as your customer base,” says Joanne. With growing demand and powerful e-commerce tools, the future looks golden for this New Jersey business.
Arrow Limousine Worldwide
Red Bank, New Jersey
In 1960, Michelle McConville's father, Roger Somers, bought a taxicab and started his own business while still in high school. Then in 1976 he bought his first limousine and renamed the company Arrow Limousine. The business took off. Today Roger’s son, Eddie Somers, is the president of this family-owned ground transportation service. They operate a fleet of 100 vehicles used to make 65,000 trips a year, transporting everyone from business and leisure travelers to wedding and prom goers. By the late 1990s they had developed their first website. Michelle, now their Director of Marketing, attributes their continued growth to their online presence and Google tools.
They use AdWords, Google's advertising program, to be found by people searching for transportation in their geographic area. "We're getting more calls from our website than ever before. Seventy percent of our new customers come from the Internet. And 97% of those are coming through Google," Michelle says. Their website is mobile-friendly, which is critical because 63% of their site traffic now comes from mobile devices. Their Google My Business listing shows contact information, photos, and customer reviews. “Google reviews are huge for us,” she adds. Google Analytics drives their online marketing strategy. “We couldn’t make data-driven decisions without Analytics,” says Michelle. They've also started using YouTube to tell their story and continue building their brand.
The company has come a long way from its humble beginnings. They employ about 120 drivers and 20 office staff and have created an environment where everyone is treated like family. “Emily Damiano-Peck, our Director of Operations, has been here for 30 years. That’s important to us; we’re all part of the Arrow family.” It’s also important to them to be a good neighbor in their Red Bank community. For example, during annual community food and toy drives, Arrow Limousine can always be counted on for donations and to help with deliveries. With a strong community behind them and the right tools in place, it’s clear that Arrow Limousine is on the road to success for generations to come.