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Mike Kaplan of the Glass Bubble Project

Meet Mike Kaplan, founder of the Glass Bubble Project, a glass blowing studio in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland.
What is the Glass Bubble Project?
We are first an art studio for ourselves to make art for ourselves and for sale to others. We then began making custom light fixtures like chandeliers, sconces, vases and more. In our attempt to make a living we began to teach glass blowing in the year 2000. So now we are busy beavers teaching classes all day long to private individuals and to groups including young people like cub scouts and also corporate team building.
How did you come to be an entrepreneur?
I love junk and recycling is very important to me so, I asked my friend Chris to help me start a glass blowing and welding shop. We use 95 percent all recycled materials to this day. 
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?
How hard it is to make money.
What resources/organizations here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
We never used any outside resources. If you know of any please let me know; we would like to expand our building space.
Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company?
We are strictly self -supported. We are self-taught glass blowers so, no one in their right mind would have helped two guys start a glass blowing shop with no knowledge of how to do it!
Where did you find your first employee?
He is a college friend who took our class.
What advice would you give to someone starting a company here?
Pick a good location and be friendly.
Can you share a funny or amazing entrepreneurial experience with our readers?
Maybe I shouldn’t tell this one as it could be seen as prejudice, but I laugh so hard at this. We sold 12 lights to the Ritz-Carlton dining room in Dearborn, Michigan. We were about to replace their brass chandelier in another transaction but the economy collapsed and we never finished that part of the sale. Either way, I thought six wall sconces and six table lamps in the Motor City was great. 
Several months go by and as usual I get calls from foreign voices asking me to do something with my telephone computer lists (you know, the telemarketer crap). Well, I get this foreign voice and he wants the "owner Mike Kaplan" (me). So I’m a bit grumpy and I say leave me alone and hang up on the guy. This is where it gets funny. He calls back and I can barely understand him, but he says, Don’t hang up! I am so-and-so, and I just bought the Ritz-Carlton and I need more lights.
What inspires you?
People who struggle and succeed.
What companies or founders do you admire and why?
I am a big fan of Benjamin Franklin.
What’s next for you and your company?
I would like to expand by either building a second or third floor or moving to a bigger building. 

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