Every entrepreneur possesses the capabilities to spot the right opportunities and turn them into multi-million dollar businesses. But what does it really take to turn a small idea into a high-growth business?
"The entrepreneurs that are out there in the world that are really successful - they're not memorizing or repeating an equation; they're creating the new equations, they're building the new models. It's an impossible thing to do with perfection." - Amy Wilkinson
Amy Wilkinson has been a White House Fellow for nearly four years doing international trade and economics before she decided to embark on a 5-year research-filled journey of creating a fool-proof handbook to be a creator. Her journey resulted in 10,000 pages of transcripts from interviewing 200 top creators, including Elon Musk of Tesla, SpaceX, and PayPal. She asked a series of questions and then came up with a pattern recognition to figure out what skills they have in common. Finding and tracking down the founders to interview was the hardest thing Wilkinson had ever done - harder than being a banker in M&A, which she was.
What she learned through her research was that anyone can create and scale an idea. She came up with 6 codes that every single creator that she interviewed already possessed.
"You don't have to be in a certain city at a certain moment in time. You don't have to have that many dollars. You don't have to have a certain degree. These ideas can pop up almost anywhere and across different kinds of pursuits."
Now a professor at the Stanford Graduate School Business, Wilkinson, a graduate herself, passed up many unique and rare opportunities in order to write this book. "At the outset, I believed it would matter, and therefore I pursued it. That's a very common thing for entrepreneurs - regardless of what their pursuit is - you have to believe that it will matter."
"One of the really important things that entrepreneurs know and that most people are figuring out now is: there is no right answer in a globally linked and technologically-accelerated world. It's almost impossible to anticipate where an idea is going to go."
LISTEN to get more exclusive insights from Amy Wilkinson on how to be a creator and to discover more details on the 6 essential skills she talks about in her book, The Creator's Code.
“That leap was the hardest and most important to turn it into something real.”
Forbes once referred to her company as Craigslist meets Uber for furniture, but Jenny Morrill, co-founder of Move Loot has created something much greater than that. The only thing that Move Loot has in common with Craigslist is that you can buy quality furniture “that has been loved and used before.” And that’s where it ends. The difference starts at knowing that whatever you buy from Move Loot will definitely be quality furniture - not something from Ikea that was assembled by the boyfriend of someone on her fourth glass of rosé.
Morrill and her three co-founders saw the gap that they needed to fill. They wanted to buy quality furniture from a curated list and at a reasonable price. They “finally decided that [they saw] the opportunity here, the market was huge, this is a big problem with so many people, [and they] need to take the plunge and make this our full-time endeavor."
While all four founders come from different backgrounds, they “came from these very complementary skillsets that helped this infant" - a skillset that helped their team get accepted to Y Combinator. "As a first time founder, we did not really think about a lot of negatives and a lot of the roadblocks, challenges, or obstacles we would have to face from having such a physical business because the idea just resonated so strongly with me and I really believed in what we were doing that I believed there was a solution to any problem we faced."
Morrill and her team have gone through multiple rounds of financing, focusing on “finding investors who had experiences in marketplaces." Morrill knew how important it is to know "who to prioritize when looking for investors because investors specialize - they have knowledge bases in different verticals, and a huge value that we brought in from our investors is their network."
LISTEN to learn how Jenny Morrill and Move Loot are going to "change the way people buy and view their products and things that they surround themselves with."
"People want to help, and they want to feel valued, and if you can make them feel valued, they will help you."
Natalie Susi is a teacher by heart, a writer by trade, and an entrepreneur by choice. She went from being a high school teacher in San Diego to being the entrepreneur behind of Bare Organic Mixers. She had been making a low-calorie mixer for cocktails that she brought to her friends’ parties, when she realized there was a real demand for them and little to no supply. Once she realized that there was an open market for her product, she knew she had to be one of the first to bring it to the masses. "I knew that I needed to come up with a great story that people appreciated about the business, I knew that I needed to make good connections that were genuine and authentic." There were certain interpersonal skills that she had already, but as far as building a business plan or a marketing plan Susi knew "none of that stuff." She learned everything she now knows from her three mentors, and from the same way that she did in school for teaching: “I just read a lot, and I listened a lot." For example, she "recognized many years ago that reality TV is a really good way to promote a brand," which is how she ended up on Bravo's Millionaire Matchmaker.
LISTEN to find out the 3 game changers that Natalie Susi credits with initially making her successful and the catalysts that led her to become EVEN MORE successful!
Kier was having a casual back-and-forth with her then-boyfriend-now-husband about what frustrated them as consumers, respectively, and her emphatic response was tampons.“You’re thinking to yourself, ‘I’m on top of most of my sh*t, but this always catches me by surprise’ and why? It’s the one predictable thing that I know is going to happen to me every month.” Nobody was talking about tampons two years ago, which is when Kier came up with the idea for 100% cotton tampons with complete ingredient transparency emerged. She was going to business school at Columbia when she came up with the idea for Lola, and from there, took “this weird detour in a passion that [she] didn’t even know she had.” As it is, there’s so little transparency in the general feminine care industry, so Kier chose 100% cotton as the material because cotton is a natural fiber that is easy to understand. Having casually mentioned the idea of a subscription-based tampon company at school, she was basically laughed out of class. So for her, taking tampons to a more transparent level was enough of a change, retaining what is already a familiar part of a woman’s life: the ubiquitous tampon.
“Starting, building, and growing a company, managing people” is not something Kier could do alone. “Honestly, having a co-founder is like having a spouse,” which is why Kier recommends “dating” your co-founders before marrying them. In other words, she suggests having a trial period like she did with her co-founder. The two spent a few non-committal months during their market research phase to learn about each other’s working styles and figure out whether they’d be compatible business partners. Once they realized they could trust each other, both emotionally and professionally, they got started.
Kier and her co-founder, Alexandra Friedman, raised over $1M in funding, which was more of a surprise to them than expected. Listen to find out how they were able to raise so much money so quickly and how they became the increasing success they are today.