By Jesse Wolfe, Founder & CEO, O'Dang Hummus and Entrepreneur, Blackstone LaunchPad at University of Central Florida
Most people would think a man and some chickpeas wouldn't add up to much but O'Dang, would they be mistaken. It started as healthy eating at home, but the moment Jesse's hummus slipped out to the people, the response was an overwhelming wave of "this is ridiculously good." With an appearance on Shark Tank, distribution in major Southeast retailers, a team of 40 people and projected revenues of $8M this year and graduation looming this May, Jesse is living proof that starting a business in college can turn into a viable career option. Check out some of Jesse's recent public remarks here.
It's happened to you. It's happened to the ones you love the most: your friends, parents, grandparents, and even your ancestors. It's a moment in time, a thought, a group of words strung together to form one of the most life changing, powerful, impactful questions; "Why doesn't somebody make this (insert product here) better?"
I was a broke college kid who had that "moment" in my life too. Instead of waiting for someone to come along and fix it, I took a chance to fix it myself. I started O'Dang Hummus in a one bedroom apartment while putting myself through college at the University of Central Florida. Recovering from having all four wisdom teeth removed I consumed hummus by the gallon as a healthier alternative to milkshakes. I quickly got bored of the standard flavors of hummus and finally had my own "moment." Standing frustrated in the grocery store I thought, "How can all of these hummus companies thrive making the exact same flavors of hummus?" I was a swollen, cranky, hungry guy who just wanted to eat buffalo wings. Since I couldn't even chew the buffalo chicken dip the store made, I made my own DANG buffalo wing hummus.
That day was three years ago. Today, buffalo wing hummus is one of O'Dang Hummus' top flavors. That "moment" was the day my life changed. With support from Blackstone LaunchPad at University of Central Florida, and a college experience punctuated by three business plan competitions, 10 farmers markets, 600+ grocery stores, projected revenues of $8M and one appearance on ABC's Shark Tank, life is pretty good.
How many times do you hear people say things like, "Wow! What a simple idea", "Duh, why didn't I think of that?" or "Dude that was my idea," which is my personal favorite? The night I aired on Shark Tank, I must have read 15 comments saying "that was my idea." There are 7.125 billion people on this earth. The chances are that 'top secret idea' you are hiding on a napkin in your sock drawer has already been thought of by 15 other people. So, let me share some advice: Execute.
Being an entrepreneur doesn't necessarily mean you need to be the one to create the next Facebook or Uber. Our country is built on small businesses. These entrepreneurs create incredible lives for themselves and employ many people in pursuit of their dreams. These are the people that mow your yard, wash your car, clean your clothes, paint your nails, cut your hair, deliver your pizza, and so on. Think about it, how many small businesses do you use in one single day? I know some of you are thinking, those are lifestyle businesses and I want to build an empire or change the world. You can, but start small. You have to learn how to crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run.
Here is the secret...start with one small step. Start with something that makes you really dang happy. Do what you love and are crazy stupid passionate about. Some of the biggest companies in the world were built in someone's garage and funded by passion and persistence. John wanted his own pizza shop, Burt wanted to sell honey, Stacy loved good food, and Mark just wanted to make friends. Thanks to their insane passion and ability to see a gap in the industry and the need for a better product, we now have Papa John's Pizza, Burt's Bees, Stacy's Pita Chips, and Facebook. I dare you to ask them about day one, the day they first started, if the original dream was ever this big?
What does this all mean for you?
If you're still upset about that product or service that has failed you, FIX IT.
Think you can run that business better with your ideas and creativity? DO IT.
Let me reiterate the one word that matters most in this article and in entrepreneurship: execute. Stop waiting for someone else to take action or you will miss out. Get motivated and execute that idea yourself. Oh, and when you hear someone explain how you took their idea, you can refer them back to this article.