gw bites across the internet

Today GW Bites was featured on Springwise. It was then picked up by TrendHunter.comBusiness Insider, and a whole bunch of folks on Twitter (here and here and here). Check out the links! So so so excited about all this 🙂

gw bites- gw business plan competition!

Great news: GW Bites made it to the next round of the GW Business Plan Competition! Over 100 plans were submitted and 32 teams were chosen to move on to the next round.

How can you help us win and expand GW Bites? Email gwbites@gmail.com with any feedback you have. Have experience in writing a business plan? We’d love your help!

the (rapid-fire) evolution of gw bites

As I mentioned, I launched the website for my new micro-enterprise, GW Bites recently.

To give you some background: I’ve been cooking and baking an inordinate amount since I moved in to my apartment this semester. Having my own kitchen space has been enormously helpful, and I’ve been inspired by unique fall recipes.

Timeline:

  • Friday, October 15: Went to Target to pick up baking supplies. Lamented how much money I spent. Realized I should make money off baking. The name GW Bites and idea of home-cooked meals popped into my head immediately. Filled moleskin notebook with countless pages of ideas.
  • Saturday, October 16: Launched GW Bites website. Made a friend put it as her Facebook status. Got 50 website hits.
  • Sunday, October 17 to Thursday, October 21: Asked more friends to make it their Facebook status. Built up suspense by not telling people what GW Bites was. Got 100 hits per day on the website.
  • Friday, October 22: Officially announced business. Watched (while freaking out!) as I got about 60 website hits every 5 minutes. Refreshed stats page countless times. Received 1000 website hits. Link went viral.
  • Saturday, October 23 and Sunday, October 24: Got about 350-400 hits per day on the site.

My takeaways: Viral marketing works! Suspense is key. People love anything related to food.

And most importantly: If you have a simple and easily implemented business idea, DO IT. Work fast. Yes, some companies need to spend a lot more time on due diligence, risk management, market research, etc. But if your business venture is similar to GW Bites- requires minimal start-up costs, requires few starting clients, can be easily marketed, go for it. As many entrepreneurs have told me, you only know if it will work if you do it.

My idea and the implementation of my idea took LITERALLY (and I don’t mean literally in a non-literal way!) a week. And I couldn’t asked for a better start 🙂

4 Days of TAD

Whew, amazing how quickly the days got away! It’s been few days since I’ve done my TAD, so I thought I’d just combine the highlights of the last few days. SO much wonderful things have been happening.

  • Our #SocEntChat at work went well
  • Met the family I’ll be working for next week- adorable 3-month-old girl
  • Had a mid-week dinner with a friend- which never happens anymore because our schedules conflict
  • Got a high grade on an exam I thought I didn’t do well on
  • Met an inspiring speaker at a Compass event
  • Submitted the first part of my application for a fellowship in India
  • Went out for the first time in a few weeks and had a BLAST- met new interesting people & talked about real things (not just superficial bar conversations)
  • Met some fun neighbors
  • Met a guy who does international development consulting; he offered to help me in any way he can
  • Applied for a blogging scholarship- here’s hoping!

And the BEST part of the past few days: I finally announced GW Bites (home-cooked meals for students, as well as “Meals in a Jar”). As of right now, I’ve had 882 hits on the website today alone- I am thrilled and shocked by the level of interest. In addition, I had an exciting meeting with a friend, who offered to host a launch party for me at her apartment. AND three people contacted me about becoming part of the GW Bites cooking/baking team. I was a giddy mess all day because I’m SOO excited about the potential for GW Bites.

And I have a fun day-date planned with one of my best friends who I never see anymore. Yay!

The grass is greener…or is it?

I realized recently that I have “grass is greener” syndrome…bad! It’s not at all that I don’t appreciate my life. I absolutely do, but it’s still easy to think other people’s lives are cooler. Also, I tend to plan a lot for the future and look back on the past a lot as well. In fact, some of my favorite pastimes are reminiscing and planning my life to come. I don’t think it’s an inherently bad thing to do, but I want to make more of an effort to live in the present- especially since I’m a senior. These are the glory days!

As I was thinking about all of the stuff above, I got to thinking about all of the cool things that have happened in the past year.

-Wrote a business plan
-Met Thomas Friedman
-Saw Bill Drayton at an event (update: sat in a meeting with Bill)
-Got invited to the White House Office of Social Innovation
-Met David Bornstein
-Co-founded a student organization
-Became the CBC Student Coordinator
-So so so many other wonderful things

Some of these are silly but nevertheless exciting. In the grand scheme of things, meeting cool authors, for example, isn’t life-changing, but it sure is fun to think about! Most importantly, these cool opportunities have occurred because of other very relevant and significant things- like creating a student organization. Without taking the first step to do that, I never would have met Bill Drayton or David Bornstein.

Life lesson #1: Daring moves are heavily rewarded
Life lesson #2: My grass is pretty green, so I should appreciate that every day.

Contrived Entrepreneurship

Contrived: deliberately created rather than arising naturally or spontaneously
Entrepreneur: a person who organizes and manages any enterprise

I got to thinking recently about what I call “contrived entrepreneurship.” In some- if not most- entrepreneurship, an individual sees a problem or gap in the market and determines a way to solve or fill it. But increasingly, there are classes & competitions & institutes & fellowships that provide people an outlet for creating a business or social venture- even if they don’t know what problem they’re seeking to solve.

Is contrived entrepreneurship just another means to an advantageous end? Does the way you approach a problem matter, if what you’re producing benefits the community?

On one side, I’ve seen a team of students at a social venture competition create an ill-conceived venture plan that was completely out of touch with the needs of their beneficiaries. In fact, they mentioned in their elevator pitch that they were searching for an idea- any idea- and this is what they came up with (they were promptly admonished by the judges, who stated that a person should never admit that during a pitch).

On the other hand, I took a Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership class, where I was required  to produce a business plan by the end of the semester. Constantly contemplating possible ventures  sparked an idea in my head, which I don’t think would have happened had I not been enrolled in the class at the time.

They say “Necessity breeds innovation.” If so, which is necessity? Is necessity filling a needed gap in the market? Or is necessity my need for a good grade in the class? And does it really matter?

Social enterprise & plain old socializing.

On the social enterprise front: I grabbed coffee this week with a fellow social enterprise enthusiast who’s working on several projects in the Raleigh-Durham area. It was exciting to talk shop after being on a mini-hiatus since the beginning of the summer.

It was great to hear about all of the organizations/projects/ventures that revolve around social enterprise & social innovation going on in the area. To name a few: Bull City Forward, The Redwoods Group, and Good Work. I’m particularly looking forward to Good Work’s Community Gatherings!

Another cool organization that I may consider applying to for after graduation: d.light international. It’s a for-profit social enterprise that seeks to “Enable households without reliable electricity to attain the same quality of life as those with electricity.” They do this by replacing kerosene lanterns with a special kind of light, called a D.light Nova.

On the strictly social front- my sister runs a volunteer group for young adults in the Raleigh area. She organizes monthly service projects with organizations in the Triangle, and individuals can sign up by project. She’s working on a website, but information is available on Facebook- Mix, Meet, and Make a Change. This past Saturday, we did a clean up project at Jordan Lake- picking up trash from a site by the dam. It looked like a landfill, but we made some serious progress- we found hundreds of tennis balls, unopened beer cans from 1962, heroine needles, and even “Pimp Oil” (Seriously! Apparently it provides a lovely scent for your vehicle haha). One person pointed out that just getting people out to see the environmental degradation is an important awareness-building step.

After volunteering, we rewarded ourselves- with a cookout, s’mores, camping, and my personal favorite- tubing! It was undoubtedly extreme tubing, and I have the bumps, bruises (including on my chin!), and sore muscles to prove it. It was definitely one of the best weekends of the summer, and solidified the fact that my first investment as an adult will be a boat! Life is so much better on the water!

“I’m walkin’ on sunshine”

Today has been a fantastic day! So far I’ve been paid to: eat popsicles, get tan, and sit in the sunshine. Perks of a babysitting job!

I also got an apartment- my first choice! Hopefully I’ll be signing a lease within the next few days.

Anddd only 4 days until my sister is in DC and 5 days till I’m in our townhouse in NC!

Plans for the week: Edit business plan, celebrate Cinco de Mayo, hang out at a Patio Party with La Familia (the name of our Puerto Rico spring break trip), pack, and “volunteer” at the Washington Diplomat’s annual Embassy Golf Tournament (which entails checking people in, hanging out with ambassadors and diplomats, wearing incredibly preppy golf attire, and driving around in a golf cart).

Market Survey- I’d appreciate your input!

I have designed a market survey in order to assess people’s interest in my business idea. If you are a woman who is above 18 years old, I would really appreciate your input! The survey is available here: Survey Monkey survey.

Thank you so much in advance! I will share the results when I have received enough responses.

Update: I am getting FANTASTIC feedback on my business venture. Please fill out the survey if you haven’t, even if you don’t support the idea 🙂

Designing a business

As I mentioned before, I wrote a venture plan in my Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership class, and I am so psyched about it. Without revealing too much proprietary info (I feel so cool saying that haha!), I’ll say that my idea involves career portfolios, professional development, and fun.

As Stephen Douglass of YoungImpact says, “All roads lead to launch,” so I suppose I have to launch my business now!

I had a revelation today that blogging about my experience with starting a business might make me more likely to actually launch it. I would hate to write about it nonstop and then suddenly drop it. So, making the process public might make me more accountable and improve my chances of success. Here’s hoping!

P.S. Interested in business/women’s development/entrepreneurship/professional development/career portfolios/etc?! Contact me! I would love your insight/feedback/help! cristinamroman@gmail.com. THANK YOU!