Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

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Seizing Opportunity

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 6:34 am

I had read in a lot of entrepreneurship articles on Inc.com and Entrepreneur.com about how startup owners came into business. They either created opportunity or opportunity found them. The next important step after this occurring is acting on it and making this opportunity a reality. My opportunity came to me as a result of two weeks of hard thinking about what people were in need of and how I could deliver it to them. This is basically step number one in trying to be an entrepreneur. You want to solve a problem that people face. I had been thinking very hard about this and couldn’t come up with something that I knew with my background I could bring to life. I was not in search of a million dollar app idea with which I knew I couldn’t act on. It’s great to come up with very ridiculous ideas but the issue is do you possess the capabilities like writing code or understanding exactly what is needed. When trying to create opportunity, one must ask themselves, is this something I’m capable of or do I have people in my network that can help me bring this idea to life.

I kept trying to come up with ideas and then it finally hit me, many entrepreneurs saw opportunity from things around them in a smaller scale. Vans shoes was created because skateboarders needed something that looked cool and light on their feet in order to master their board. I realized opportunity when I found out sorority members at other universities do not practice the same tradition as the sororities here on the Wake Forest campus. Each year, new members and old on the Wake campus buy a pair of color matching sneakers. I realized this could be done nationally through mass producing so that is why I decided to outsource the manufacturing of the sneaker. I have decided not to go too much into my business model because I’m still working on it. Also, I would like to be first to market with this so I’ll end it here. Remember, opportunity either finds you or you create it. SEIZE IT!!!

 

Breakthroughs

Friday, June 21, 2013 9:33 pm

This week has brought great news to Gracious & Co. as several breakthroughs have occurred. I have been able to get in contact with several manufacturers who are willing to work with me to customize some shoes. This process will require me to submit some designs for prototypes to the manufacturer. They will then make a last (foot mold) for which the shoe will be designed around to make sure it meets the feet requirements of every consumer. Once that is done, we’ll work on getting multiple prototypes in different sorority colors made. It is such breathe of fresh air to finally be in contact with manufacturers who can make this dream a reality. Outsourcing this part of my business is going to be very helpful when large quantities of shoes are ordered. Another part that will be outsourced is the wholesaling and distribution as this will allow Gracious & Co. to solely concentrate on selling and the marketing of the brand.

Another breakthrough that happened this week is I have brought a professional logo designer on board. The great news is the professional help is being offered as a bro-bono. The studio design company that I’m working with has over ten years of graphic design experience and have worked on campaigns like the Michael Jackson ‘This is It’ tour designing the poster. I have gotten a logo designed for Gracious & Co. that I really like and I’m working on getting it copyrighted. Being first to market is going to be very important but taking my time and making sure everything is presentable legitimizes my company when business starts.

I had written last week about sharing the next steps on how Gracious & Co. would come to life and here it is. So we currently have a company brand logo that is in the copyrighting and trademarking process. The next step is getting the designs to the manufacture and hopefully getting the prototypes made. While the prototypes are being made, I have decided to incorporate Gracious & Co. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania because that is where I plan on living once I graduate in December. This coincidence of incorporating in Philadelphia will end up benefiting a gracious brand since Philly is the city of brotherly love. The final step will be getting some capital raised. I currently have some leads with the traditional way of raising capital as in angel investors and venture capital firms but I plan on going about this in a very creative and nontraditional way. Come back next week for how Gracious & Co. came about and why I decided to pursue this venture.

 

Hitting the ground running!

Thursday, June 13, 2013 9:37 pm

I started working on my company, Gracious & Co., this week on how to bring my idea of providing sneakers for sorority members to life. My first task so far has been trying to secure a manufacturer who will make my shoes and help alleviate any future problems with meeting demand once it increases exponentially. As an entrepreneur, I know my core competency with Gracious & Co. will be the marketing and selling of my business but not the manufacturing side. One major reason most new companies fail is because they are not able to meet demand when there is growth. They are either stretched too thin or eventually take up a large investment to integrate backwards by doing the manufacturing themselves instead of using that capital for marketing and selling. This usually results in some cash flow problems.
I have gotten some very good leads in securing a manufacture who meets the International Organization for Standardization for quality management systems. I know I don’t want any future problems from any manufacture that might be using child labor or have terrible working conditions because Gracious & Co. is a social venture. It has been very tough getting contacts in the garment district in New York City to find out where I can have my sneakers made. One of my contacts right now is in Indonesia and is in talks with professionals who work for companies like Under-Armour, Nike, and Old Navy who contract with factories overseas. We’re working on having one of those factories make my product for me. I would to make some prototypes and have the manufacturing secured before seeking funding. I have also been in talks with sneaker start-up ventures that have used crowd funding sites as a means to raise capital. These entrepreneurs will be helpful in knowing how to enter a very mature market without having large start-up capital.
The most challenging part of being an entrepreneur is having such a great idea but it being very difficult and costly to bring it to life. I also have some trade-shows in the next couple of weeks I’ll be attending to get more information about the sneaker manufacturing industry. Next week, I’ll talk about the steps that are planned in order to bring Gracious & Co. to life on a national level.

Authors
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