Entrepreneurs Around the World Have Started and Grown their Business

Entrepreneur: Hart Main
Business: ManCans Candle Company
Location: Marysville, Ohio

At just 13-years old, Hart Main founded ManCans a company that makes manly-scented candles in recycled soup cans. ManCans is now over four years old is continuing to grow under Hart's guidance and inspiration.

How he came up with his business idea: Main's 12-year-old sister was selling candles for a school fundraiser, and he teased her about the girly scents, telling her it would be cool if there were "men-scented" candles: "I thought, grass, bacon, sawdust, leather," he says.

What inspired him: "It started out as a joke," Main says. "My sister really didn't think I would do anything." But to prove he was serious, Main put $100 of his own money into the endeavor, and his parents put in about $200--with one stipulation: If he wasn't able to pay them back with money earned from the candle business, Main would have to reimburse them from his paper route earnings. Main admits he was also motivated because he wanted a road bike for triathlons (which he purchased within a month of selling ManCans).

What's that smell? Current offerings of ManCans include Sawdust, Coffee, Fresh Cut Grass, Campfire, Bacon, Grandpa's Pipe, New Mitt, New York Style Pizza and Dirt. New scents are created mostly by request, Main says--and there have been some odd ones, like cow manure (when asked if he's going to oblige, Main replies, "Um, no."), and steak or meat scents.

Customers: Typically adults, and split pretty evenly between men and women. Most wholesale orders come from mom-and-pop stores. "All different kinds," Main says. "One's a shoe store, one's an auto garage."

Marketing: "I started out in Marysville by walking into stores and just saying, "I made these candles, can you carry them in your store for consignment?' Main says. "A lot of them did." Main heard no plenty of times, but still got his product into a few local stores, as well as 60 others across the country. Most sales, he says, are made on Man-Cans.com.

Giving back: Main and his family buy full soup cans from the grocery store and take them to soup kitchens to be served. About two weeks later, they get back the empty cans to use for the candles.


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