What they did: Tired of stressful careers in New York, Rob Israel, 49, and his wife, Renee, 43, decided to chuck it all and start a business. They moved to Boulder and opened a mall kiosk selling all-natural, fresh popcorn. Drawing on Renee's advertising background at Digitas, they launched Doc Popcorn and built a following with flavors like Sinfully Cinnamon. "We'd seen what happened with Auntie Anne's Pretzels, turning a commoditized product into something special," says Rob. Expanding to malls and places like Denver's Pepsi Center, they became franchisers in 2010. They generated $4 million in revenue in 2011 and expect to have 100 units and $12 million in sales in 2012. On average, says Rob, they're awarding a new franchise a week.
Note: Garrett Popcorn Shops is a Chicago chain
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