Do lots of customer discovery and continue to get feedback. Negative feedback is how you learn.
Corrie is a mom, educator and entrepreneur. She has a degree in elementary education and worked in the school system for several years before catching the entrepreneurial bug. She was involved in the early stages of another local start-up, Sunscreenr, that appeared on Shark Tank. She recently finished the Launch accelerator program at UNC which helped make Wonder Crate a reality.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
There was a lot of negativity in the news and I was feeling despair about the direction that our country/world was headed. The thing that inspired me was seeing all the people come together to help other people. Like Mr. Rogers once said, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping”. I wanted to inspire the next generation by introducing them to the amazing people, both big and small, that were making the world a better place, spark their curiosity and connect them with their own possibilities.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I work from home so I like to wake up early and get stuff done before the rest of the house is awake. I will take a break around 9:00 and go for a run. I always come back from my run feeling focused and ready to tackle any problems. I use social media for building my brand and marketing but it is easy to get side tracked on social media so I need to be conscious of how I am spending my time on social media.
How do you bring ideas to life?
By reading about amazing people that have changed the world. When I read about someone that inspires me, I get excited to create a box and share their stories with others.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am fascinated with subscription boxes. There are subscription boxes for everything these days from food, books, clothing to makeup. I love the idea that they just arrive at your door each month. Even as an adult, it is exciting to get a package in the mail. I want to give that joy to every kid that receives a box.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am a list person. At the end of each day, I create a list of things that I want to accomplish the next day (of course it never it gets finished). I love physically writing it down on a piece of paper and crossing it off when I am done with it.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To not be so concerned with what other people think about you. I am by nature a people-pleaser and want everyone to like me. It wasn’t until I hit 40 that I realized 2 things:
1. People are so caught up in themselves that they are not really paying as much attention as you think.
2. It is ok if not everyone likes you.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
It is impossible to separate your work life from your home life. Starting Wonder Crate was like having a third child. I am always thinking about ways to help it grow. It doesn’t just shut off because I am at home.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Getting feedback from customers. We try to get feedback on every box and are constantly making changes/improvements. I originally thought customer discovery was only done in the beginning but now realize it is a continuous loop of getting feedback, making improvements, getting feedback, etc. Even though it is hard to hear, negative feedback is the most useful feedback. As Bill Gates says “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
As a start-up, there is very little money for marketing so you need to be creative. I think one of the things that has helped us the most is reaching out to the amazing community of moms on social media. We send free boxes to several moms each month and ask them to share with their family, friends and followers. This has been a great way to spread the word on a limited budget. I don’t know how people did it before social media. Ad space is very expensive.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Even if you start a business with a good friend, make sure you have an agreement in writing and spell everything out. You need to discuss all the possibilities. Unfortunately, I did not do this and when we parted ways recently it was difficult to have these conversations, especially since we wanted to keep the friendship intact.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
An easy way to distribute all the food that gets wasted to all the people that need food. I recently volunteered to run concessions at a college stadium and was shocked by the amount of perfectly good left-over food that gets thrown out.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I spent $100 on a month of spin classes because it was too cold to run outside. I consider this both a personal and professional purchase since I feel so much better and am so much more productive after I exercise.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Canva is an amazing tool for creating marketing materials. I am not a graphic designer and would definitely need to hire one if it wasn’t for Canva. I create all of the inserts for our box in Canva as well as a lot of our social media content.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. His method of putting a product out there, getting feedback and adapting/adjusting as necessary really spoke to me. It also showed you ways to minimize wasting time and money (two things I don’t have enough of). And if you aren’t a reader, there are a ton of great podcasts out there. One of my favorites is How I Built This on NPR. Whenever something goes wrong I think this will be good material for my “How I Built This” interview someday.
What is your favorite quote?
“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference that you want to make.” Jane Goodall. Anyone can make a difference and I think it is our responsibility to leave the world a little bit better than we found it. At Wonder Crate we want to help raise a generation of well-rounded contributors of social good. We also donate a portion of each box to a child that is making a difference.
- Don’t worry so much about what other people think about you.
- Do lots of customer discovery and continue to get feedback. Negative feedback is how you learn.
- Make sure you have a solid partnership agreement in place with any business partners, especially if they are friends or family.
- Read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries to help save time and money.
- Decide what kind of difference that you want to make in the world or what problem that you want to solve and go do it!
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.