Creating Social Value Blog / Social Innovation

Big D Tapping into the Entrepreneurial Spirit

A week ago we launched eProv Studio as part of Babson’s Social Innovation Lab. Our first engagement was with a room of enthusiastic, creative, highly engaged and curious 50+ year olds at a pre-conference session for The Institute for the Ages’ Seventh Annual Conference on Positive Aging in Sarasota, Florida.

At eProv Studio we believe that entrepreneuring trumps aging. In an increasingly unpredictable world, eProv Studio puts the skills and mindset of entrepreneuring into the hands of people to help them ignite and build ideas into viable business opportunities so they can create their future of prosperity instead of retire from it.

We do this through eProv Studio’s Experience Hubs which combine the power of Babson’s methodology of Entreprenurial Thought & Action® with the art of improvisation. Customized to meet local needs and priorities, these sessions harness the individual and collective experience of older adults, boosting prosperity for all ages.

After a successful launch on Saturday the four eProv Studio players, Elizabeth Isele, Emily Weiner, Karen Proctor and myself went to do a bit of shopping in Sarasota. I currently use one crutch to assist me in walking after surgery but had no intent of letting that stop me from exploring. As I hobbled into a beach-themed novelty shop, my colleague thought that my crutch could use a bit of spiffing up.  She spotted a small pink stuffed flamingo and said with a smile, “this will be great hanging from your crutch”.

As if out of nowhere, the store manager generously offered, “I think I have some twine in the back we can use!” Then ensued quite the adventure as we tried to figure out how to attach our new mascot. I was more than happy to tie a noose around the fragile little bird’s neck and dangle it from the handle.  For the store manager that was unacceptable. She looked at the crutch and began playing around with how to tie the flamingo onto the crutch in a fun and humane way so that the flamingo would swing elegantly as I hobbled along. (I am a terrible crutch walker). The end product was truly stunning, secure and attractive rather than pathetic which I assure you it would have been had I done it my way.

When I went to pay and leave, I thanked the store manager profusely as she had made all of us happy by using her resourcefulness and creativity to add value.  We were thrilled with her natural entrepreneurial instinct but she didn’t agree. As we complemented her, she shied away, explaining that she had always wanted to be an entrepreneur but didn’t know a lot about business and she did not have the money or know how to begin.  This of course gave me the opening to engage her around what I had observed in her behavior and more importantly how she thought and acted to address a customer challenge. I said, “you already have what it takes to think and act as an entrepreneur.  Now all you need to do is practice more often when you get an urge or desire to start something new. I described how she used who she was, what she knew and the resources she had at hand to create new value for the customer and one of her products.

This was a perfect ending to a launch that began with a New York Times article on Saturday morning, a successful first engagement launching in Sarasota, and a real life example of a woman who absolutely thinks and acts like an entrepreneur even though she doesn’t realize it, yet.

“Big D“ is the name that the eProv Studio team picked for my pink fluffy crutch companion, in honor of the store manager who made it possible and whose name began with the letter D.

So, whether the 50+ year olds out there act on a fun idea like decorating a crutch or building a business, eProv Studio wants to work with them to Launch, Lift, Learn and Leverage their entrepreneurial thinking.   Rather than retiring from life we want them to create their lives.  eProv Studio is about incubating people to practice entrepreneuring. We believe ideas and businesses will surely follow. Big D is a reminder for us at eProv Studio of what Muhammad Yunus says, “We are all entrepreneurs, but too few of us get to practice it.”