Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

SVP Alumni Panel 2.0

Chris Jacobs and Jeff D'Agostino at Summer Venture Program

Chris Jacobs and Jeff D’Agostino at Summer Venture Program

Everyone could use a little advice from someone who was once in their shoes. Chris Jacobs and Jeff D’Agostino, two Summer Venture Program (SVP) alumni, spent time with the teams a few weeks ago and shared what they learned while in and since completing the Program.

Chris participated in SVP in 2010 with his business Honest Discounts, a free prescription discount card that helps those without insurance save up to 75% on medicine. He started Honest Discounts in 2008 to help Americans afford their increasingly expensive medications. The company is on track to help customers save hundreds of millions of dollars this year alone.

Jeff, who has 19 years of experience in the medical device industry, went through the Program in 2011. His company, 206 Ortho, helps customers recover from bone fractures faster and for less money with non-permanent implants. The implants are absorbed by the body after a sufficient amount of time, eliminating the need for an expensive implant removal surgery.

Both Chris and Jeff are grateful for their experiences in SVP because they learned the importance of explaining their value propositions quickly and concisely. After the program ended and they were ready to grow their teams, both men experienced difficulty making good hiring decisions. They recommended hiring skilled employees who truly add value to your company. On a similar note, Jeff added that you should be familiar with the laws in the state where you are running the company. Knowing your level of liability is important.

Another piece of advice that Jeff shared was to get a minimum viable product out as soon as possible in order to establish yourself in the market. Once you begin selling, you can shift your focus to building the brand. Chris recommended starting your first venture in an industry with low barriers to entry in order to establish yourself as an entrepreneur. Make it your mission to become well known so that when you want to start a new venture in a more competitive industry, investors and customers will recognize your name and trust you more.

It is great to see that the Program has made a continued impact on past participants! We hope that their advice and experience can help you with your own venture.