14. December 2012–
Kids subscription service Wummelkiste, a “what's in the box” website with a DIY edge, recently hit the US after launching in Germany in May this year. We spoke to founder Philippa Pauen about business life in the kid's lane, crossing the Atlantic, and how little people aren't that into finger-paint. Across it all: her five lessons learned as a young, promising entrepreneur. So, if you're also looking at sailing the entrepreneur ship, take note and read on...
#1 Master multi-tasking
There's no doubt that task-juggling has become a must-have skill for any business. But in entrepreneurship, it's a whole new ballgame. Thrown into being a “jack of all trades”, establishing a plan of attack for all those unexpected tasks is vital. “We're getting streams paralleled and doing all sorts of different things at once. After leading the project for the past year, we have a new CFO so we're not on our own. But at those first big stages of the project, you learn to multi-task fast, and you need to effectively set your priorities straight,” says Pauen.
#2 Don't stay local, go global
Gone are the days when would-be entrepreneurs with ideas of mass appeal only stick to their home turf. It's not so much a question of “can I scale?” but more a question of “how can I scale effectively?” Wummelkiste is still in its early days since launching this year, but expanding into other markets quickly to keep up with competitors is becoming a vital part of the startup game: "It was always our plan... We already have a team member in the US to take care of internationalising to really start in January. Our biggest competitors (BabbaCo and Kiwi Crate) are stationed on the west coast, we'll be on the east, so I'm excited to see how it'll play-out.” In doing so, Pauen argues that it's just as important to not lose sight of existing markets. “It's important for us to keep increasing customer awareness in not only new markets, but current ones,” says Pauen.
#3 Think outside the box
Get those creative juices flowing, and don't be scared to do things differently (if it's a good calculated risk, of course). “Although we are a 'box-business' we have to think outside the box with every single product each month. We always come up with new ideas, new materials, new games – so as a matter of fact, we have to be creative to fulfill our mission to offer fun, creativity and education to kids and parents,” says Pauen.
#4 Not every kid likes finger-paint
Yes, as businesses, target market groups are arranged into boxes (pardon the pun). And research, testing and re-testing shouldn't be underestimated when stereotyping: “For us it is not important to see what potential products parts there are on the (wholesale) market that might be part of our end product, but to have direct feedback. Testing with Mums and kids, and testing in action is most important for us. And of course, we also have the fun factor in mind,” says Pauen. And some of her findings so far? “Not every kid likes finger-paint! Some of them are actually really scared of putting their hands into it.."
#5 Don't love it? Don't bother
An oldie but a goodie. We've all experience lightbulb moments and grand visions of world-changing ideas, but creating a plan-of-action to bring it to life undoubtably requires passion and persistence.
“I've always wanted to do something in the kids space,” says Pauen. "Starting a business sounds great (and you always have something to talk about) but in the end it is really hard work. If you don't have the passion, you shouldn't bother starting a company since you will have to invest so much time and energy into it.”
For related posts, check out:
The sweet poison of the internet: why following your passion is bad for business
“Deviate, iterate and try something else.” Why one disruptive Berlin founder thinks there’s no such word as failure
The five golden rules to stop your startup from getting shafted