This is the building I built, I started my business from an outdoor peddlars cart.

Businesses Can Take Many Turns On Its Path

This picture is the 9 million dollar Teddy Bear Factory building, that I built.  I started my business from an outdoor paddlers cart.

Business Pathways is a dream come true for me. I love business and I love to help people and their business become successful. I have advised hundreds of entrepreneurs and served on many of their boards.

It is almost sad that many of us have started our businesses with an idea and not a lot of experience or knowledge on basic business things like financials or how to put together a good sales funnel. When I started the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, I struggled greatly for the first 5 years. It was a December day, a while back, when the board was considering going bankrupt, when one board member said, “the only time when we make any money is on Valentine’s day”. 

You see I thought my company was in the toy business selling wholesale stuffed toys to retail stores like Macy’s. I could not get my sales to go higher than $400,000. I was losing about $100,000 a year. In Burlington, Vermont during February, I would advertise bear grams on the radio and would sell some $25,000 worth of bears in a few days.  (A bear gram is a beautiful bear with a handwritten message of love, packed in a cool box with 2 delicious chocolate truffles). I would sell this for around $50, 3 times what my wholesale price was.

Guess what I learned from my board member? I leaned to get out of the toy business and into the gift business. The gift business is hundreds of times bigger then the toy business.

What I learned next was to set up a sales funnel using radio, TV, print, billboards, Nascar, Internet and PR to become 3 times on INC’s magazine list of 500 fastest growing companies, 88th, 55th and 50th and being named the best company in the USA by Dunn and Bradstreet, Coopers and Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) and The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB is the largest small business association in the U.S).

Let me help you and your company, I want to see you succeed.  Let’s meet and have a cup of coffee and talk business.


John Sortino

A little about John...

John is the founder and former CEO of The Vermont Teddy Bear Company (VTBC). Within 15 years, John turned a peddler’s cart business - making teddy bears - into a $100 million stock public offering. During John's tenure, VTBC was named one of America’s fastest growing companies three years in a row by Inc. Magazine, “Best Customer Service in New England” by NECSR, and the “Best Company in America” by Dunn and Bradstreet, Coopers and Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) and The National Foundation of Independent Business People. Also under his pioneering leadership, VTBC received the Yankee Award for “Best Public Relations.”  John was also named to the top 100 marking people in Advertising Age.