SVP Alumni Tips
The Wellesley Summer Venture Program recently welcomed back two of its recent alumni to speak to the current cohort. Dylan Husted (CEO of SaveOhno, SVP’15), and Emily Lagasse (Founder of Fedwell Pet Foods, SVP’13), participated in an informal panel and shared advice that we believe entrepreneurs at all stages can benefit from.
When did you decide to outsource?
Emily admitted it can be difficult to give up physical contact with each product you send out. However, once your business reaches scale, the only feasible way to continue growing is to contract manufacturers and distributors. She mentioned that you should do so when you realize that your time is better spent elsewhere. It is also dependent on your business’ growth goals; it is always an option to continue making and sending your products but you may not be able to grow as rapidly. Dylan agreed, recommending not taking this plunge until it is necessary.
How do you know when to pivot?
Emily’s and Dylan’s businesses have both pivoted since inception. They agreed that you have to listen to what the numbers are telling you. Dylan mentioned that it is easy to pivot when running a technology company since changing a website is relatively simple. He recommended testing the market to learn what consumers want and asking for advice from people who own companies in the same industry. It is certainly more difficult to pivot after being in business for a while, especially if you have received funding, so plan to pivot early if the data suggests you do so.
How do you decide between pivoting and giving up?
Many entrepreneurs face this decision at least once throughout their careers. Emily was in this situation due to manufacturer complications, but she knew she wasn’t ready to give up. So she didn’t. In her words, “so many bad things happen all the time, but they help redirect you to better things.” Emily recently signed an agreement with a local manufacturer. Dylan echoed her sentiment, saying that even when it’s tough, if you care enough, you will just keep going.
What is the distinguishing characteristic of people who give up on their businesses?
To Dylan, it is a lack of commitment. Entrepreneurs quit because they don’t always have milestones creating a timeline of success, which he admits is discouraging. He also pointed out that the final product may not be the same idea you have today. Businesses are always evolving, and entrepreneurship mandates a quick response to market demands. Emily agreed, adding that passion is key and that you should try to enjoy each step of the journey.
How do you navigate the advice you receive?
Emily said that it is “easy to shut out information that you assume is not helpful,” but admitted that some feedback is worth taking a deeper look into. People often project lessons from their own successes and failures onto your experiences, giving them a unique perspective. Dylan added that nobody knows your business better than you. You should always trust your instincts but acknowledge that others know their own industries better than you do, which can be extraordinarily helpful to learn more about.
Hear from the 2016 Summer Venture Program Wellesley cohort on Thursday, July 28 at the Summer Venture Showcase!