ONTARIO, Canada (MainStreet) -- The success of DNA 11, a 6-year-old e-commerce site dedicated to selling personalized DNA-inspired art, goes a long way toward showing that by following some tried and true business tips you really can make a business out of anything.
DNA 11 is not your average online art store. The company creates personalized prints based on a person's DNA profile. DNA 11 has produced pieces for Google (Stock Quote: GOOG) executives, NFL stars and the co-founder of Cirque de Soleil, among others.
Before starting the company, co-founder Adrian Salamunovic worked for a Web consulting firm, while partner Nazim Ahmed worked for a biotech company selling digital biological imaging machines -- the same equipment that creates the DNA profiles for the art.
The partners, then in their late 20s, came up with the idea based on trends they saw in the marketplace -- a growing demand for personalized items -- and Ahmed's background in genetics. With a few thousand dollars, the partners looked to create a part-time business that would take online orders, send out a DNA cheek-swab kit with instructions and, four to six weeks after the DNA kit gets returned, deliver a unique work of art.
"We started DNA 11 not to turn it into a multimillion-dollar company -- we never dreamed we would have 30 full-time employees doing this," Salamunovic says. "We thought to ourselves ... wouldn't it be great if we could sell five to 10 portraits
But after some media attention, DNA 11 achieved $1 million in sales in its first year of business. Salamunovic wouldn't reveal the company's latest sales numbers, but said the company was now nearing $10 million.