Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Matthew Schrader, Owner, and Inventor of Poth-O-Carry, LLC., located in Burke, VA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We design and 3D print aquarium plant holders for a wide variety of emergent plants, or plants that can have roots in the water with leaves out of the water. Extra plants will remove waste from a fish tank and keep fish healthier and happier. Our customers come from all over the world, looking for an easy way to bring some extra greenery to their tank and keep it securely fastened.

Tell us about yourself

I started Poth-O-Carry™ in 2020 when I tried to add a pothos plant to my fish tank, realizing there was no off-the-shelf solution to do so. I whipped up a prototype and was so satisfied with it that I shared a photo on social media. The response was nothing short of epic, and I felt I had no choice but to start selling them to people who were just as hungry for a solution to this problem as I was. Cut forward a few years, and Poth-O-Carry™ has shown significant and steady growth and is quickly becoming a household name in the niche community of fishkeeping. My motivations are to see the joy in a customer, knowing I helped make their world that much better.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I recently spoke to a customer eager to get their order. It's always good to hear that someone wants to get a hold of your product sooner rather than later, but this time it was because, for health reasons, he wasn't sure how long he had left and was really excited to try out my Poth-O-Carry™ for his fish. What other accomplishment could there be to top that? Bringing joy to someone who is quickly running out of ways to find it. It's THE reason for life, is it not? And so I continue and try to bring just a little more joy to everyone I can.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

The hardest part of owning a small business is the blending of work and life. It can be easy to get lost down on the factory floor or in the design studio coming up with new pieces. Dealing with the annoyance of copycats in the industry is a challenge for me.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

"Start your own business," they say... "make your own hours," they say. Right. Success can be a double-edged sword.

  1. Sometimes the easy way is the best way. Sometimes it's very much not. Find cost savings where you can; every bit helps. Hire your kids! Tax write-off.
  2. Be prepared to make hard decisions regarding the expansion of your business. Getting your first employee is probably harder than the 10th, and overhead creeps up fast. Find what's sustainable and grow at a rate where you can stay in the black.
  3. Remember why you do this every day. Why are you here? You're here to make the world better, to provide for yourself and your family, and most importantly, to BE with your family and friends. Keep your work-life balance in check. It's all for naught if you worked your life away having missed out on living.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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