Blog

Good Things Take Time, Pivots and Humility


LL Shop

LL LogoToday we are happy to welcome SpringBoard graduate Rachel Mecklenborg, founder of Legacy Letters, to the blog to talk about the trials and tribulations of launching your first business. 

I first “pitched” my idea of an online marketplace for sorority alumnae to resell their sorority t-shirts to current members of their sorority at a networking event last winter.  I assumed a room full of men would zone out after hearing the word “sorority,” but they loved the concept!  I declared my idea legitimate enough to be named and combined Greek tradition with alliteration to create “Legacy Letters.” I was basically ready to launch now, right?  I’d just raise a bunch of capital for my website and voilà‎!—I’d be able to quit my job and move to Costa Rica.

A wise, successful entrepreneur suggested I test the concept before investing too much time or money.  Heeding his advice, I pivoted from my original idea and invited the alumnae and current members of my sorority chapter to be a part of a test market on Facebook.  They were sold on the idea and provided valuable feedback and support.  I launched Legacy Letter’s Facebook page in January 2013.  Several alumnae posted t-shirts and Legacy Letters had a few sales, but the posting and payment process were extremely clunky.  Long story short, Facebook is the obvious choice for social networking but fails as an online marketplace.  I was nowhere near the sandy beaches of Costa Rica.

LL Home

In March 2013, I began the SpringBoard program.   It was evident I needed a website to adequately test my idea, so once again, I pivoted.  A web developer friend developed a website without all the fancy features for a low cost.  My sorority, Sigma Kappa, would be the test market.

At the Springboard “Pitch Night” I wowed the crowd with my profit model.  With $600,000 in annual sales, Legacy Letters would profit over $1 million.  People in the audience came up to congratulate me on such an awesome idea.  After that night with an inflated ego, I reached out to the “big wigs” in Sigma Kappa and explained my earth shattering idea.  They were not nearly as impressed as I thought they should be AND told me there would be an 8.5% licensing royalty fee attached to each sale.  This really shook up my seamless profit model.  Enter humility.

While nursing my bruised ego, I attended an Entrepreneur Bootcamp hosted by Queen City Angels this summer.  A successful venture capitalist asked me an honest question, “Would sorority alumnae really be enticed to sell their t-shirts on your website for such a small profit?”  In my thoughts I answered, “Excuse me Mr. Gazillionaire, but I think I know sorority women a BIT better than you.” 

After I got over my bad self, I gave this question some serious thought.   I sent a survey to my sorority contacts and the results showed that alumnae would be motivated to donate their t-shirts if a significant portion of each sale went to something they care about.   For the umpteenth time, I pivoted.  Now, sorority alumnae will donate their t-shirts to Legacy Letters, current sorority members will purchase the t-shirts of their liking, and 50% of each sale will be donated to that respective sorority’s Foundation.  Sorority alumnae can give back to their sorority simply by cleaning out their closet.

After several months and a big dose of reality, I’ll be humbly launching Legacy Letters in a few weeks.  I don’t know what to expect, but I better be ready to pivot.

 

A BIG THANKS TO OUR
ONGOING FUNDERS