July 31 | Insider's View of LaunchLab 101
Paula & Keith Dozier – The Barking Deck
2018 Summer LaunchLab 101 Participants
Paula and Keith Dozier are a husband and wife team living in Graham, NC. Keith, a graduate of Greensboro College, has 20 years of experience in finance and accounting, working with small, family-owned companies to large corporations. This is Paula’s second foray into business, with her first experience being shortly after graduating from Salem College. She was the founder and co-owner of a concierge service, You Time Solutions, from 2007 to 2016. After selling her share in the company, Paula went to work at Biscuitville in product innovation and project management, leading the company’s most integral projects. After their beloved dog, Spartacus, passed earlier this year, the couple became inspired to create a place that made dog owners’ lives easier and contributed to a better dog-friendly community here in the Triad.
“From start to finish, we highly recommend this program for experienced and inexperienced alike. If you have a new idea, it really challenges you to think it through and give it legs in a structured format.”
We are very much looking forward to the progression of Launch Lab 101. Even though it’s only the first week, we can tell that it will be a great experience. The variety of business categories, entrepreneur personalities, level of experience, appetite for growth, etc. that is present in the group means we get to look at everything presented through a diverse lens. There are good questions from almost every participant that leads to learning something new, re-learning something forgotten, or seeing an improvement on an old way of thinking.
Paula: I am very independent and action-oriented. I’m not afraid to dig in on something and figure it out. I also have just about a decade of business ownership experience. But, I have to say, going through a structured, expert-led program allowed me to step into the process in ways I didn’t anticipate. I was able to get the most out of the discussion and have some great breakthrough moments with my husband/partner. Looking forward to next week!
We found this week not only challenging, but fun. We’ve been spending a ton of time talking to customers and hearing why they’re interested in an indoor-dog park and bar. Plus, we’re finding out what excites them most about The Barking Deck. We already felt like we had a wealth of information, but going through the exercises allowed us to pull out some very specific gems. We know these insights will allow us to better communicate the value of our solution to our customers.
Keith: I loved the exercises that were part of this week’s class. Being in finance, I’ve not participated in work like this before, unlike Paula. But, even though we’d done some of these clarifying conversations around who our customers are before, we got so much out of this session. I know it’s because we went deeper with Jenn’s help and guidance. I genuinely think this class and the work we were able to do will impact our marketing strategy and help us be more successful at connecting with our customers.
Marketing! Websites! SEO! Social Media! Blogs! This was a fully packed class with a ton of take-aways for folks at all levels in our group. We found the tools included in the presentation very helpful, as well as the exercise of identifying which social media channels make the most sense for our business. We walked away inspired to begin posting on our newly minted social media accounts.
Paula: Much of this was a refresher for me as we used social media and email marketing in You Time Solutions to reach new clients, book appointments with existing clients, and strengthen client relationships. Still, it was good to be caught up by a subject matter expert on what’s changed in the last few years that I’ve been out of the entrepreneurial world. I was challenged on my fear of posting anything before we’d opened our doors. The presenter hammered home the importance of growing a following even before you actually start selling. So, now I am determined to grow our social media and email connections pre-open so we have a strong community from the start.
We’ve never really spent much time looking into intellectual property or patents beyond what we’ve seen on Shark Tank (which is, of course, not real life). This could have been a topic that was boring and cumbersome, but it was instead quite helpful on how to create and protect strong trademarks and intellectual property. We also learned about various business structures and which structures make sense for the different entrepreneurs and teams in the room. As we have friends who’ve expressed an interest in becoming investors, we were particularly concerned about this topic. Not only were we given a great basic framework for this, but we were able to connect with the Elon Law Clinic to help us finalize our partnership agreement and trademarking.
Keith: I have been interested in patents and intellectual property since learning about story of the Readerest; the owner purchased a patent for a previously invented, but completely dormant product for just $5000 and turned it into millions in sales. Hearing about the process of filing for and defending a patent was very interesting to me even though we don’t have any IP for The Barking Deck. But, it was extremely helpful to learn about trademarking and how making your logo “strong” can make it more defensible. Plus, we were able to connect with the Elon Law Clinic, a relationship we know will be productive for us.
Week 5: We were so sad this was our last week already! This week focused on taxes and payroll- information that is very important to get right. We thought it was great how each class built on the previous- and this class was a nice follow up to the discussions on legal structure from last week. This process has been helpful as a refresher and has introduced us to new information.
Paula: We also appreciated that the Launch Lab team took the time to ask our feedback- what do we like? What do we think could be better?
July 11 | Why IdeaLaunch is THE Place to Share Your Business Idea
Go from an idea in your head to a real possibility with this unique pitch program.
What is IdeaLaunch?
Ok, so you know the logistics: Idea-stage companies give a 4-minute pitch followed by 4-minutes of audience Q&A.
But what makes this event special? What makes it THE ideal opportunity for an entrepreneur to begin telling the world about their business idea? We’ve interviewed several previous participants and boiled it down to 5 main reasons they recommend IdeaLaunch so highly:
- A safe place to pitch an idea
- A chance to brainstorm
- A proven format to organize your thoughts
- Immediate feedback from a diverse audience
- The confidence to make the jump
What does safe mean? We don’t just throw you on stage to a sea of hungry sharks. The idea doesn’t have to be perfectly fleshed out yet. The audience is kind, supportive, experienced, engaged, and motivated by seeing new businesses start. We work with you hand-in-hand ensuring you are prepared to share your idea in its earliest stages. After the event is a networking session where relationships begin to be built. Many people in the audience have been where you are, just starting out, and can empathize and share valuable experience.
What does organized mean? We use a standard presentation format to help entrepreneurs think through the major aspects of a business, shedding light on areas they hadn’t previously considered. The process helps identify where more thought and research may be beneficial, and demands that the full story to be told. This is done through one-on-one meetings with Launch Greensboro staff and a template that ensures the important aspects are communicated. An audience with no prior context of an idea needs to see the whole vision. Often, that means getting entrepreneurs out of their heads where the thoughts are racing, and re-visit the problem and why the solution matters. Two hours discussing the idea and crafting how to tell the story, often reveals multiple a-ha moments that not only serve the pitch, but the business itself.
What does audience feedback mean? The audience is poised to provide key insights that will help you move forward. If there is a question you are wrestling with, or need some thoughts on where to turn next to get going, the audience is excited to help. This is not customer discovery or idea validation, but it is an efficient way to get in front an audience who is honest, able to see pitfalls, and make connections moving you forward. The questions and discussion you have with the audience can be pivotal in your next move. Without genuine feedback from people outside your close circle, you could be going down a wrong path. Fresh eyes and third-party feedback can be the greatest gift to an emerging entrepreneur.
What does brainstorm mean? IdeaLaunch encourages a collaborative environment, allowing others think about your identified problem and solution from different angles, experiences, and expectations. With a diverse audience made up of business owners, Chamber members, local college and university students, marketing experts, lawyers, and investors, you will have unique feedback to consider.
What does jump mean? Our experienced staff coaches you as you build the powerpoint presentation and script, and engages you in improved public speaking skills. For many, IdeaLaunch is the first time to step into the spotlight and share an idea. Although a 4-minute speech may seem scary, it is a essential to get comfortable talking with people about your business. You must take the chance, jump off the cliff and showcase your idea in order to move forward. We work hard to make sure you are ready and able to get the most out of the experience. If you don’t start somewhere, you’ll never start. We make it easy, so you can jump into this new venture and make it a reality.
Go from an idea in your head to a real possibility with IdeaLaunch!