Sparking Conversations, Tracking Results

Passionate Distraction in the Creative Economy

How do you know you were meant to take an idea and share it with the world in profound and vulnerable ways? For starters, you sleep on it. For months and months if necessary. If you continue to be passionately distracted by it, congratulations, the universe has forever bound you to that idea. You must forge ahead.

This and many other entrepreneurisms flowed freely at MPR’s Conversations on the Creative Economy (#EconMPR) at The Schulze School on February 21, hosted by MPR’s Chris Farrell. In the course of conversation, women entrepreneurs Juhi Gupta Gulati of Frego Food Storage Containers, Jasmine Russell of Monicat Data and Susan Wuollett of Protege Biomedical, shared how their ideas found them. They talked about the process of how they shaped their ideas and in turn, how their ideas have shaped them. They also relayed stories of advocating for their ideas, nuturing them, becoming fierce advocates and continuing to show up daily and make the tireless effort required of entrepreneurs.

It’s significant to note the different industry types their goods and services span from household goods to technology solutions to medical supplies. Certainly none of the women were handed a road map for the creative economy and when it came to funding, business models, talent attraction, employee sourcing and distribution models, they had access to some amazing mentors and resources, but they truly paved their own way.

You’ll get to hear the full conversation broadcast on the air in a few days. As an alternate way to process what these women shared, here’s a breakdown of their insights based on entrepreneurial stages and gleaned from their conversation.

The Early Entrepreneur

Juhi talked of her Minnesota Nice experience of finding referral after referral to finally land on the right engineer to design her product. She also meticulously vetted the factory in China she ultimately chose to craft her high quality container combo of borosilicate glass and a ribbed silicone sleeve and warp and crack-proof lid. It took months to get her four colors consistently spot-on.

Lessons to share: Get your product/service in the hands of consumers early. Let them touch it, experience it and give you honest feedback. Balance that with feedback with product/service focus and tons of market research so you don’t follow every whim your enthusiastic fans suggest.

Susan revealed the more personal side of her and co-founder/husband’s connection to their business. They were happily working in careers and roles they found rewarding. They simply wanted to explore the medical-breakthrough idea they had a hunch they had landed upon, then essentially turn it over and get back to their day jobs. After identifying experts in the medical field to fill in the missing gaps of their business plan and product, their idea kept coming back to them, heart and soul. At that time they realized they needed to own their idea and shepherd it through to its full, living-saving capacity.

Lessons to share: Be open to shifting gears. Ask for help when you need it and listen when the universe tells you that you have to go for it!

The Experimental Entrepreneur

After Jasmine vetted her technology solutions for the creative economy concept within artist communities, she began to see that the power of her approach could benefit many regardless of industry type. What’s more is that in visits to local schools like MCAD (Minneapolis College of Art and Design), she began to see student’s eyes light up with the thought of the on-the-job skill sets she spoke of like fully engaging the analytical and creative mind.

Lessons to share: Fellow business owners and entrepreneurs: don’t be afraid to encourage and develop roles within your organizations that seek individuals with analytical and creative skill sets. These roles can attract students, millennials and creatives and hold their attention more long-term.

The Established Entrepreneur

When asked to take a stock of their entrepreneurial success, they all reflected on the daily engagement and passion developing a new idea demands. They all have larger visions, but make a daily decision to stay in the game, be present and do the next task at hand to move their product/service forward.

They emphasized the importance of networking, relying on mentors, trusted advisors and for Susan (2011 M.B. A.), whose idea took flight via a University of St. Thomas Fowler Business Concept Challenge, she noted the wealth of resources available through the school to move her idea forward. She also touched on her creative distribution and where they find their highly valued and engaged workforce (listen for it on the audio).

Lessons to share: Make time and devote energy to self-care and the daily demands of your idea/ business. It’s a creative economy so always be thinking differently, not just in your product/service, but in every aspect from HR to partnerships and unusual, but effective and integrated solutions.

All three women are clearly problem-solvers. There is so much to learn from their inspiration and entrepreneurial journeys: Juhi, inspired to make an eco-friendly, safe food storage container for her sons; Susan, driven to see her product save the lives of pets and humans; and Jasmine determined to attribute real returns for technology solutions for her clients and the communities they serve.

Does entrepreneurism run in these ladies’ blood? Juhi commented that it is sort of that. The connection to the idea and the life you want to give it in the world — it’s big. It’s connected to your legacy, your passions… it’s about how strong you are, how productive you are and the type of citizen you want to be. All nodded in agreement when looking back to their original idea and recalling that distracted feeling at their day job, an urgency to find time to pour into their idea and a restlessness about them. That’s when they knew they needed to pursue that passionate distraction and embrace whatever may lie ahead.

— We can’t wait to see what your future holds, ladies! Thank you being passionately distracted!

*These observations are not affiliated with MPRNews and are merely one event-goers summary of the content presented at the event.

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