Continued from page 3Goodwin, now 31, didn’t know it at the time, but that experience would later spark the idea for a fast-growing business called AquaMobile, based in Toronto, Canada. With a network of more than 800 certified swim instructors who provide on-demand, private swim lessons for children and adults at their home or condo or a location such as a YMCA pool, AquaMobile now operates in 20 states in the U.S. Launched as a tiny side business in 2003, when Goodwin was only 19, and transformed into its present, scalable form in 2012, the business hit $1 million in revenue in 2015. With a branded learn-to-swim program, it is growing rapidly in the U.S., though it has only two full-time employees other than Goodwin. Goodwin took an indirect route to building her business. After earning a bachelor of commerce degree at University of Toronto, she won a prestigious management consulting job at Bain and Company, where she worked from 2006 to 2010. Over time, Goodwin gradually burned out on the consulting lifestyle. “I wanted to do something entrepreneurial,” says Goodwin. Then she realized it was staring her in the face. “You’ve got this side business growing on its own. That’s what you should do,’” she told herself. Realizing there was a lot she needed to learn to scale the tiny business, Goodwin returned to school, earning an MBA in one year at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “I used that year at Kellogg to rebrand and take my business that I started when I was 19 to `We are going international with this,’” she says. She focused on defining her brand and learning to build it. After graduating in June 2011, she focused on preparing the business for the 2012 season in Toronto, a market she knew well. “I did a ton of testing to see what would work in the American market,” she says. One key investment has been in building a strong tech platform has allowed her to make inroads to communities across the U.S. “We have the ability to serve a town with a population of 5,000,” she says. “I want the tentacles reaching everyone, no matter where they are.” The business has allowed Goodwin a lot more personal freedom than her consulting career did. Her nearly virtual business allowed her to spend 85 days out of the country last year. “As long as I have an internet connection, I can work from anywhere,” she says. “My most recent trip I was in Bhutan, Myanmar and Thailand. I went to Australia and New Zealand earlier in the year. I love water sports and went on a surf trip to the Dominican Republic. To have that flexibility is so valuable to me.” Although Goodwin is focused on scaling up, she has no desire to raise capital. A well-known Canadian venture capitalist advised her to keep doing what she’s doing and take the business to $10-to-$20-million in revenue without giving up any equity. “You see all of these crazy valuations right now,” says Goodwin. “There’s a part of you that goes, ` Am I missing something by not having that massive valuation on paper?’ Deep down, I know that can all disappear very fast. I’ve seen that happen to friends.” For the moment, Goodwin is enjoying the freedom of not having to answer to outside investors on the weekly calls her entrepreneurial friends must join with their venture capitalists. “I have friends who have taken lots of money from VCs,” she says. “Every week, when the numbers are not being met—and it’s inevitable the numbers are not going to be good enough—it becomes a different kind of game. There is less focus is on growing the business and making it succeed and more about How do I position myself to get the next round of funding?” She hasn’t ruled out raising venture capital if the need arises but for now is focused on the next hurdle: Taking the business to $2 million in revenue for 2016. That may mean cementing some potential partnerships with owners of large pool facilities. “There are some big opportunities that are starting to come up,” she says. Photo Credit: Jonathan Bielaski Environmental Portraiture Originally posted on Forbes.