With a fantastic lineup of speakers including Next Step CEO Blair Brandt, CEO Umang Dua of Handy, Co-Founder Luke Sherwin of Casper, and Gabby Etrong Cohen, the SVP of PR & Brand Strategy at Soul Cycle, The Millenial Economy Panel at Wharton on 18th February 2016 had some great lessons for potential entrepreneurs. Here, the most interesting things we picked up from the panel:
“If you can’t answer the why don’t do it.” – Gabby
It is very important for businesses to stay true to their core values. There are many enticing options out there, but if they are not in line with the unique path that you have chosen for your company, then steer away from them.
“Build a brand that people will really really love” – Umang
Customer experience needs to be central to the services that you are providing. It is the one sure-shot thing that will differentiate your business from others. Your value proposition should incorporate the experience that you want to provide to your customers. Especially, millennial customers care about how you value them. As an entrepreneur, you need to be plugged into what your customer wants.
“Millennials are researched smart thoughtful customers” – Luke
In direct-to-customer models, it very important to understand who your customer is. Millennial customers can be very demanding. They conduct extensive research, have multiple products to choose from and care not just about what they are buying, but also what the brand stands for. Catering to such a sophisticated customer involves not just creating great value for them but also communicating the value distinctly and effectively.
“You are always going to be hit with copy cats, legal issues…” – Blair
It is very important for entrepreneurs to be vigilant about what problems could hit them. There are multiple ways in which you can mess up your business, and it’s important for you to know what they are and how you can mitigate those risks. But above and beyond, the awareness that multiple problems will hit you but you need to carry on, is what differentiates successful entrepreneurs from those who give up.
Choosing the right location for targeting your customers
“A booking in NYC/Chicago is worth more than two bookings in Tampa.” – Umang
“We partnered with Target for rider acquisition in test markets” – Gabby
Density and critical mass can be everything when you are trying to grow your business. Identifying your customers and finding locations that can make it most profitable to serve your targeted customers can be one of the biggest decisions you make for your business. Also finding the right partners, that provide you access to markets that you want to test your services in, is an equally important decision.
Being Bootstrapped vs. Capital Investment
“Being bootstrapped makes you very lean because there is no fallback” – Blair
“Want the pie to be big. We are okay taking a small piece of the big pie.” – Umang
Over-liquidity can be dangerous but capital lets you surpass other players. It is important to make your business decisions based on what’s best for your business. Liquidity brings the ability to consider options that seemed out of reach but the lack of it ensures that you run lean operations for sustainability and growth without giving up on your shares!