Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

‘Tis the Season for Sharing, Listening & Maybe Even Pivoting!

The Holidays — A Ripe Opportunity

Amid the flurry of holiday activity now upon us, don’t forget to put on your entrepreneurial eyes and ears to listen and observe family, friends, and fellow shoppers.  Often overlooked, these folks are terrific for sourcing and testing ideas.  Consumer feedback, even at its most informal, is a smart and easy way to vet a business idea.  Trade shows, craft fairs, shopping malls, and holiday gatherings are all opportunities for show and tell.  Share your idea, show off your gadget, taste test your recipe, then sit back and listen. 

Forbes Entrepreneurs:  Reflecting on Success Stories

Passing some time in a waiting room last week, I stocked up on some magazines at the hospital gift shop, including the December 2nd issue of Forbes Magazine.  The lead article, Entrepreneurs Can Save the World, profiled a group of some of the world’s wealthiest, most philanthropic, and most famous indiviforbesduals, as well as their tactics for addressing one of today’s most pressing global issues — poverty.  While this article, featuring interviews with Bill Gates and Bono, was riveting (a must read!), it was a two page article towards the back of the magazine, called Space Age Baby Gear, 4 Moms, which stuck with me all weekend and reminded me of the opportunity this season presents for entrepreneurs.

The article starts with two entrepreneurs, Robert Daley and Henry Thorne, reflecting upon showcasing their prototype of a temperature-regulating shower spout, aimed at 25 to 45-year-old gadget crazed men like themselves, at a Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show in 2005.  After the tenth or twelfth woman walked by with a baby stroller and commented that the spout would be a wonderful product for babies if it could be used for bathtubs rather than showers, they realized they were missing something big.  Not to react to this feedback would be deadly.  With great speed they pivoted, and took their product in a new direction.  4moms with products aimed at infants and toddlers was born; this year’s revenues are expected to reach $30million.  Lesson learned:  Share, Listen, Pivot.

Holiday Action Plan

Bring your thoughts, drawings, ideas, gadgets, and recipes to the Thanksgiving table.  Print coupons for services as stocking stuffers.  Wrap that gadget and hand it out as a party favor or host/hostess gift at holiday gatherings. Sit around the fire and toss ideas back and forth with your high school buddies.  Register for Babson’s Accelerator Holiday Market Celebration to sell and promote your consumer products.  Share, listen, and possibly pivot!  Happy Holidays, Entrepreneurs!