A former furniture designer for Pottery Barn, Edgar Blazona, 35, is owner and CEO of a children's-furniture firm called ElevateHome. Blazona depends on two factories - one in Thailand and one in India - for all of ElevateHome's wares. He closely monitors production at both locations. And he does all that without leaving his home office, a modular dwelling that he built in his backyard in Berkeley.
Blazona's firm is a prime example of a new breed of small business: startup multinationals. They're pipsqueak firms with single-digit headcounts, and their managers establish close relationships with - and keep watchful eyes on - foreign vendors without ever leaving their offices.
The approach can work remarkably well. Blazona expects his company to turn a profit by the end of this year, after only 18 months in operation. ElevateHome's first line of kids' furniture and bedding will be launched this fall under the name True Modern (truemodern.com). Blazona projects $750,000 in revenues in 2006, not a lot of money for a typical multinational, but enough for ElevateHome - with its three employees, home office, and low overhead - to operate in the black. "When you're as lean as we are," Blazona says, "turning a profit should be relatively easy." -Justin Martin
Video: See how Edgar Blazona and ElevateHome compete with larger companies