Karena Albers, 51
Then: Founder of Integrated Marketing International, a boutique marketing firm acquired by Fox Entertainment
Now: Co-founder of Kontentreal, a production company that matches creative projects about environmental issues with corporate underwriters
After finding success signing big-name sponsors-and big-name participants like Prince Charles-for a series of international polo matches, Karena Albers launched her own "experiential marketing" firm, Integrated Marketing International, which was later acquired by Fox Entertainment. Uninterested in "the big, huge corporate route," Albers took a few years off to do consulting, travel, and spend time with her kids, she says, "until that got terribly boring." She took a job launching a new business unit for ad agency DDB but ended up getting fired for insubordination after management changed hands. She decided to launch a new business where she could use her skills to tell stories about issues she cared about instead of pushing hamburgers and deodorant. Today, two-year-old Kontentreal-which has produced films for PBS and the Sundance Channel-is already profitable, and Albers hints that another new venture may not be too far off.
Her advice for would-be entrepreneurs: Don't pursue an idea based on how much money you think it will make for you. Instead, pursue the ideas you're passionate about. "When you get so passionate that you can't not do it," you'll know you've hit on something.