Lessons Learned This Semester

Lessons Learned This Semester
A quick overview of my growth and understanding of just a few things entrepreneurial and businessy

First, let me reflect on what my perception of entrepreneurship and business were five months ago. It’s strange to think that they could have possibly changed in such a short amount of time. My views of entrepreneurship before this semester were as followed:

  • An entrepreneur was something I had to wait to become because I didn’t have an idea yet.
  • The business that I will eventually start would have a TOM’s shoes business model.
  • Raising Capital is a long, formal, and technical process
  • Customers are important

Kyra’s Shoes
Although the idea isn’t completely ruled out, I have pretty much decided that building a company identical to TOMS shoes but in a different industry isn’t necessarily how I want to save the world. I’m almost more interested in starting a company with no one social good officially tied to all marketing and business. I would like my company to give because it’s the right thing to do, not because we exploit the emotions of others. I still would like it built into our mission, but I’d almost like it if my niche is what first came to mind in my customer’s heads. However, if a bunch of students in a Social Entrepreneurship class did a Corporate Social Responsibility analysis of my company, they would discover that we operate the best we can in order to not only avoid, but combat exploitation of others. I would like them to discover that we care about our impact on the environment throughout our supply, production, and distribution chains. I want to compete in the business world on customer service, quality, and overall awesomeness of my product and service, while at the same time being aware of all negative externalities of my company, and encouraging more positive externalities.

Kyra the Entrepreneur in 2024
I’ve always known that there were a lot of students at Iowa that were starting their own businesses. I knew I had the skills to be one of them, I believed I had everything going for me except I didn’t have an award winning idea. So I was a wannabe entrepreneur, and I was determined to groom myself for the day that I would come up with something and make millions! It dawned on me this semester that I already am an entrepreneur, and that it didn’t have to be my “idea” to play a critical role in adding value and taking it to the next level. I am doing that right now, with the local startup Ellison.

2024Getting That Startup Dough
A combination of taking my Entrepreneurial Finance course and being in the Venture School has really helped me understand the processes and options for raising capital, which was a really a foreign concept to me prior to this semester. I had my silly assumptions, I won’t waste time explaining them all, but I did think that raising money for a business was more of an application process, and the character or network behind the team had no significance throughout the process. Now I’m more in tune with the minds of venture capitalists, business model competition winning material, pitches, angel investors, and bank loan terms and conditions. I’m definitely on the right track now.

My Inspiration
Where I derive my inspiration from has also expanded. I have never felt a connection between my entrepreneurial spirit and that of the military in any way shape or form. I realize now, that there is a lot I can learn from the SEALs that easily transfer over into other areas of my life, including the entrepreneurial sections. Thanks mostly to the activities in my Social Entrepreneurship class, I’ve really grown to think about lessons I can learn from all walks of life, and the art of connecting it to my entrepreneurial pursuit of success.

navy sealsBaby Jesus, Bill, & Tony
What do Jesus, Bill Strickland, and Tony Hsieh have in common? Probably a lot of things, but for the purpose of this essay I’m referring to the way they changed the world around them for the better despite the fact that that very same world was calling them all crazy for even thinking about it.  Brilliant innovation doesn’t come about by following all the rules and sticking to the status quo, in order to have that type of impact you may have to go ahead and do what your intuition is telling you even if it doesn’t sit right with those around you.

zapposWhich came first, The Hen or the Egg?
This semester I’ve had my eyes opened to just how much more valuable it is to value and understand your customer, than it is just have a good idea. I know this may come off as common sense, but I always thought of entrepreneurship in a chronological order beginning with an idea and then ending with a customer. Now I see how beginning with the customer their wants, needs, and pain points is a much better route.

Thanks To These My Experience @UIowa
University of Iowa’s Venture School, Social Entrepreneurship Class with Joseph Sulentic, Entrepreneurial Finance class with Scott Hauser, and my new team Ellison startup company, JPEC,  & Hawkeye Innovation Summit

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