Recap: Len Green’s Ultimate Entrepreneurial Challenge
Beloved by the Babson community and an invaluable resource for countless companies, Blank Center entrepreneur in residence Leonard (Len) Green has impacted thousands of lives as a professor of entrepreneurial strategy. On a sunny Friday morning last week, he hosted a three-hour business case competition at Babson. Before the session, ten standout students were selected to be team leaders, referred to as CEOs. I was chosen to be one of them! After hearing each participant give a 20-second rocket pitch on their strengths, each CEO drafted teams of 3-4 students. Each team was given 20 minutes to solve various business challenges and then had to present their decision to the entire group within 20 seconds.
Although the teams were engaged by each task, Len was the real star of the show. While this session was not a lecture, he took the time to share advice useful to any entrepreneur. To begin with, Len said that success comes from thinking differently and making decisions quickly because “you can’t cram for a test in the real world.” Instead, you must be prepared to think on your feet and stand behind your decisions. Len then posed questions to the group, including “What are the characteristics of a successful entrepreneur?” and “How do you increase the value of a product?” The attendees gave answers such as that entrepreneurs need to think outside the box because if you try to solve a problem using a logical formula, your “logical answer” will not be any better than somebody else’s “logical answer.” They also asserted that proving the benefits of or creating an emotional attachment to the product is the best way to increase its value to the customer. With these ideas in mind, we were given the cases.
In the first case, the teams were told to increase the value of a plain white mug that costs $1.99. Everyone had a different approach- including one team that shattered it on the ground and advertised it as a “stress-relief tool.” This presentation certainly demonstrated outside-the-box thinking!
The next case was about boosting the sales and employee engagement at a prescription discount company. As it turned out, the founder and CEO of the real company on which this case was based, Chris Jacobs ‘10, was in the audience! After each team pitched its suggestion, he came to the front and spoke with the group about his business, Honest Discounts. Chris founded Honest Discounts two days after graduating from Babson and now works with retail pharmacy chains around the country! He emphasized the importance of building a strong team. As he said, “The employees that grow your business from 0 to $1 million aren’t necessarily the same ones that will take the business from $1 million to $10 million. Make sure you have the right people to make it happen.” He recommends bringing on employees from other companies within the same industry and incentivizing the switch by upping their salary. Using this strategy allowed Chris to assemble a powerful team that helped customers save over $750,000 last year alone!
This engaging, informative session with Len and Chris was certainly worth waking up early for! We are so grateful that they took the time to speak with curious students and teach them how to make well-thought-out business decisions.