Student Entrepreneurs, Learn from my mistakes – Part 2
By Jaen Carrodine - VCET Associate
Rebrand your failures to pivots
If there’s one thing all entrepreneurs are taught or figure out for themselves, it’s that failure is unavoidable. Every entrepreneur will experience some degree of failure in their career; I like to look at my experience with MAG as getting one under my belt early. After my crowdfunding campaign failed I had three options: 1) try to push through and make it happen, 2) reevaluate and pivot, or 3) give up altogether. When I was evaluating these options I finally realized that building the company that I imagined would have been nearly impossible for two main reasons: First, developing and manufacturing hardware products is incredibly capital intensive. Second, as a student, I had major time constraints. I realized that I would not be able to get my degree and start a snowboard binding company simultaneously. Hence, I opted for the reevaluate and pivot option.
I concluded that building a software product would be less capital intensive and easier to iterate and test, so I spent the next 6 months teaching myself the basics of web development. That 6 months gave me time to reevaluate the needs of the snowboard industry and formulate my next idea: a website that would recommend snowboards based on your experience level and preferences, and help you find the right board at the right price. After launching the first version of the website (https://www.nosebuttr.com/) I immediately reached out to the snowboarding community for feedback. The response to the website thus far has been remarkably positive, and the feedback I have received has helped me to learn from my mistakes with MAG, and ensure that each feature I build will solve problems my target customers are experiencing. I also began to build my team, recruiting a friend who compliments my skills, and is equally passionate about snowboarding.
I have started to implement a rapid release strategy for NoseButtr.com’s development. This means that I push updates to the site as soon as they are ready so I can constantly receive feedback and avoid wasting time building features that people don’t want. This allows me to not only validate the website as a whole, but each feature I build individually. I love to get feedback on the site whenever I can so feel free to check it out and send me an email if you have any suggestions. I also implemented a plug-in that allows users to leave feedback and report bugs directly from the website.
I have big plans for nosebuttr.com and a “features to add” list that continues to grow way faster than I can keep up with. Here are some of the features I have in the works: 7-10 additional snowboard brands, activation of the ski match quiz, a price tracker that alerts you when your favorite snowboard or pair of skis goes on sale, and integration of the snowboard size calculator to the snowboard match algorithm. I also look forward to exploring the possibility of implementing machine learning to improve the accuracy of the ski and snowboard recommendations.
I have not given up on MAG Bindings, I still believe the product would be incredibly valuable to snowboard groms and beginners of all ages. I was recently granted a utility patent on the binding design and plan on pursuing a partnership with an established binding manufacturer to help make the bindings a reality. Recently, I have stopped considering my experience with MAG bindings a failure. Diving into a project where I was way over my head was the best way for me to learn valuable entrepreneurial skills and lessons about myself I will never forget. My one piece of advice for student entrepreneurs: don’t be afraid of failure, you don’t have anything to lose and you have everything to learn.