Brazen Philly Launch Party!
Two weeks ago Brazen officially kicked off our programming in Philadelphia with a party. Nearly 100 people came out to meet other women entrepreneurs, network, and learn more about Brazen and how we help women grow their businesses.
“The Brazen Philly launch event was—and will likely remain—a highlight of 2018 for me,” said Liz Funk, co-founder of And We Evolve and a founders committee member of Brazen Philly. “It was the largest gathering I’ve attended of women entrepreneurs and people who support women’s success in business. Needless to say, it was a fun crowd that almost instantly felt like a community. I was impressed that Brazen drew all of these interesting, passionate people together for its *inaugural* event. I’m excited to talk with these women more intimately at workshops and in a peer advisory group.”
“We had such a great group of people out for our launch party. I met women running restaurants and bike shops, starting companies from technology consulting to recruiting, and disrupting spaces like second hand clothing and investing. The common thread is that everyone had big ambitions for their company, which is just so exciting,” said Bonnie Bogle, director of Brazen Philly.
There was also a strong showing from supporters of startups – including investors and serial entrepreneurs who want to work more with women founders and help amplify their work. This shows how supportive and enthusiastic the Philadelphia startup community is in growing and supporting its female founders.
After a brief welcome from Bonnie and Brazen CEO and founder, Jennifer Ehlen, we gave guests a taste of Brazen’s programming and what we offer. We ran a live demo of a growth group – our peer advisory groups that bring together women entrepreneurs to work through business challenges and support each other. Jenn showed off how Brazen’s app makes running meeting easy, and the group worked through several real business challenges. Guests could also schedule speed Power Hour sessions with our legal expert (Liz Roggio) and marketing expert (Matt Nicosia).
A big thank you to our hosts Perpay, for letting us use their beautiful space, to Philadelphia’s Founders Committee who helped plan and execute the party, and to our volunteers who made the event seamless.
Want to get involved in Brazen Philly? We’re forming growth groups now – our application deadline is May 31 to get started with a group this summer, and we have monthly roundtables on topics like hiring, telling your company’s narrative, and using social media to build your user base. Check out our events calendar, and join today.
Market Research on a Budget
We’ve previously debunked all of the reasons you are telling yourself that you don’t have the time or money to embark on market research. Consider a few budget-friendly market research methods that you CAN and SHOULD use to define and validate your target market.
These are primary research tactics to validate that you are pursuing the appropriate market, and with a product or service that effectively addresses the pain point that you are trying to solve. These suggestions are not methodologies to define the size of your total or addressable market.
Even if it feels like everyone is telling you to go from idea to launch in 24 hours, consider completing these strategies prior to your public launch (even public beta). It’s OK to take some time as long as you are making the best of it. Doing research will help you in the long run. So instead of a startup weekend, you might have a startup month or two. It’s ok. The entrepreneurial ecosystem Gods won’t judge you. Well, not too much anyway.
1) Electronic surveys – With numerous free-to-inexpensive online survey tools available, you could foreseeably generate some cheap initial market research in a matter of minutes. Check out SurveyMonkey, Pollfish, and even Twitter Surveys are excellent tools for gathering qualitative feedback in volume on your product, as well as valuable quantitative data on actual propensity to use it and whether they will pay. Our opinion is that the best surveys are no more than 10 questions long and take less than 5 minutes to fill out. As you attempt to identify your best customer market, you could send the same survey out to three targeted industry groups and require participants to self-identify. The comparison data between the groups and which ones need your offerings the most and/or are willing to pay the highest price for your product or service will be extremely interesting to you and potential investors.
2) Focus groups – Because of the amount of time and resources required to successfully host a focus group, you are not going to obtain large quantities of data here. However, if facilitated correctly, and with the right constituents, the organic, verbal feedback you receive could be invaluable. Think about a focus group this way: even small information sessions can serve as informal focus groups and provide valuable insights. Discussions at an event, exit surveys, and follow-up questions can all give you the same information that a formal focus group might provide.
3) Industry conferences / personal interviews – It’s time to speak to as many industry professionals as you can to determine if there is true demand for your product outside of your personal connections in the space. So how do you find these professionals, aside from purchasing an expensive list? Pack your bags and head to some trade shows. Better yet, head to a few trade shows in a few different industries. No travel budget you say? You may find that there are some local professional chapters with monthly meetings that you could attend.
This is a great primary market research technique – it is essentially the equivalent of a survey + focus group in one. Load a tablet with a demo of your product, prepare a 30-second elevator speech, and memorize four questions you want to ask each person you meet. Bring college interns with you and walk up and down the aisles pitching to attendees and asking questions. Then document their answers, one by one. If you are lucky, you could speak to more than 100 professionals in one day. That’s real market research to bring back to your product team, your sales team, your future customers and your investors.
Hopefully these few ideas help you to brainstorm even more ways to gather market research on a bootstrap budget. A couple of additional tips to remember as you embark on this worthwhile endeavor
The quality of your results will only be as good as the quality of the tool used to gather it. If you ask the wrong questions, you could steer your company in the wrong direction based on the results.
Be selective in who you invite to participate in your market research. Your initial customers may be friends, family, and close connections. They are only piloting your product because they love you. Not because their company actually needs your product. If you want valid market find professionals outside of your network to participate.
Next steps? Put a plan together to embark on a few strategies to gather market research over the next 3-4 weeks. Resist the urge to steer your company toward the next shiny ball. Ask the hard questions. And then listen to the answers. You may find that your product is beyond perfection and your initial hunch at a target market was spot on. Or you might not. No matter what you find, you will feel more confident taking next steps to grow your business.
Meet Brazen Member
Meet Brazen Member: Casey Gardonio-Foat York
Welcome to “Meet Brazen Member” an exclusive Brazen series featuring our Brazen Growth Group Members. We are excited to share a little bit of their professional and personal stories with you!
Casey Gardonio-Foat received her Ph.D. in Art History from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts in 2012. Shortly afterwards, she launched her first company, Casey York Design, creating patterns, fabrics, and workshops for the quilting industry and expanding into artisanal, hand-painted quilts and home accessories. Her newest venture, Wink & Rise, draws on the latest research about sleep’s importance for health, productivity, and happiness in creating a new retail concept focused on premium sleep accessories.
Wink & Rise celebrates the Art of Sleep, encouraging consumers to both appreciate sleep as a cornerstone of a healthy and productive lifestyle and also to enjoy it as the luxury it is. We do this by offering a thoughtfully curated selection of today’s very best sleep-related products and by aggregating the latest research and writing on the benefits of restful sleep and how to achieve it. Just as the concierge at a fine hotel helps guests to access the best a city has to offer, we seek to help our customers find and enjoy their best sleep, so they can make the most of their waking hours.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
We love to pamper ourselves with delicious food, spa-level grooming, and boutique exercise, but we haven’t yet learned how to truly enjoy sleep, even though it is a fundamental cornerstone of living well.
What do you love most about being the boss?
Bringing an idea (and it’s attendant visual expressions) to fruition.
Which of your personal attributes do you think equips you the most to be an entrepreneur and why?
Creativity. According to the StrengthsFinder assessment, my primary strength is “Ideation” (or, as I sometimes self-deprecatingly refer to it, “Daydreaming”). I’m energized by developing and pursuing new ideas.
What is your favorite app/software that helps you with productivity?
I’m a new convert to QuickBooks, although I also rely on Adobe Illustrator heavily.
What is the hardest part about being a female entrepreneur and how do you overcome it?
What is your favorite piece of business advice?
Everyone can have a great idea; successful entrepreneurship is about persevering in making those ideas reality.
What is your preferred accounting software?
What is your favorite business / startup book?
Trading Up (Michael Silverstein and Neil Fiske)
What service does your company outsource?
What is your favorite business / startup podcast?
The E-Commerce Masterplan podcast
What is the most important piece of technology your company uses?
My computer: I use it for keeping track of ideas and to-dos, product research, scheduling, communication, sales, bookkeeping, design, and pretty much everything else.
What is your favorite book?
Consider the Lobster, David Foster Wallace
One skill you’d like to learn this year?
I’d like to finally become skillful at bookkeeping.
What business woman or woman-led business do you admire and why?
Tory Burch: Not only did she develop a successful lifestyle brand from scratch, her foundation is dedicated to helping other women entrepreneurs succeed and grow.
What is your favorite non-work related hobby?
Who from history would you most like to meet and why?
Luisa Roldan, the first professionally successful female sculptor (in 17th century Spain!) and a subject of my dissertation.
How do you relax after a long day? Is there a small luxury you treat yourself to?
Talking with my kids about their days. And perhaps the occasional glass of champagne or scotch.
If you had an extra hour every day, how would you use it?
Reading: there’s so much great information at our fingertips these days, and I’d love to have an extra hour to indulge in absorbing more of it.
How did you hear about Brazen and why did you decide to sign up as a member?
I joined Brazen when it was still Prosper Women Entrepreneurs, as a member of a Growth Group, in order to network, learn from other women business owners, and gain a sense of accountability that would help me follow through on ideas.
How has being a Brazen Member impacted or changed your business?
I’ve built a network of amazing, supportive local women business owners, and gained access to fantastic professional resources.
How has your business grown since you joined Brazen?
With my first venture, Casey York Design, I grew from a quilt pattern designer to the producer of a line of couture home accessories. I’m also launching a new venture, Wink & Rise–dedicated to premium and prestige sleep-inspiring products–this spring!
Have you become more bold since becoming a Brazen Member?
What is the #1 benefit you feel you receive as a Brazen member?
Access to professional consultants in areas in which I have no previous experience (such as IT, legal services, etc.), and the opportunity to meet and get to know other local women entrepreneurs!