Andy Powell launched a successful little business when he was 14. And for much of his life he worried he’d never be able to top it. As an adult he wanted to launch a real business. But life got busy. He and his wife were expecting a baby. At such a time, could he quit his day job for a dream?

Yup. Powell, now 30 and living in Fayetteville, founded two new businesses. His wife runs one: i85media, which includes BimmerShops and other online directories of European auto repair shops. He heads the other: Midtown-based CallRail, which helps thousands of businesses track which advertising drives customer calls. Combined the companies generated more than $4 million in sales last year.

“Growing up I knew I wanted to run a business. My dad worked for IBM in different sales roles. My dad also ran a franchise business. They cleaned commercial restrooms. That was not a glamorous business, but it was a good business. When he started he had no customers.

In high school I started a website with a friend. It was called It showcases ridiculous laws in the United States and around the world, past and present. We spent a lot of time digging through municipal codes (online). You could put ads on websites and make money. I didn’t have a learners permit yet, and we were making like $3,000 a month. It still runs to this day. Just ridiculous.”

The site snagged the attention of a producer on the Montel Williams show, who put Powell and his partner on the air. Then came a call from book publisher, Simon & Schuster, which signed them to a book deal ($6,000 advance for each of the boys). That led to other TV gigs, including the Today show. His share of the earnings has totaled about $500,000 over 16 years.

“The fear that came out of all this success was that that was going to be the pinnacle of my career. That from there it was going to be downhill and unremarkable. I felt a lot of pressure from that.

I graduated college in December (of 2005) and over the Christmas break I decided to take on a project to brush up on software development (for a job he was about to start). So I developed on that break. I had an older BMW at the time. A 1988 M5. That vintage of the M5 is famously temperamental. It needs love and money constantly. Nobody had gone out and built this directory of independent BMW specialists. So I decided to build that.”

Read the full article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution here.