This week's blog was inspired by a business start-up story shared by Miki Agrawal, co-owner of Slice, a NYC pizza restaurant and founder of WILD, during a 2012 panel produced by the Women's Collaborative, a networking group for entrepreneurs. All the panelists told humorous, informative stories. I chose to highlight Ms. Agrawal's experience, however, because it exemplifies the power of researching dreams and leveraging social networks to achieve them. Below is a summary of her start-up story viewed through my lens, the D.R.E.A.M. goal attainment method.
Ms. Agrawal is a former banker, retired semi-pro soccer player and film production professional who had no prior experience in the food industry before founding Slice. Upon learning that she was lactose intolerant and could no longer eat traditional pizza, a favorite food, she decided to open a restaurant in New York City that serves easily digestible pizza containing organic ingredients friendly to those with food sensitivities (e.g., lactose intolerance, gluten allergies).
Research and Evaluation
Instead of finding excuses to dismiss her dream (e.g., too much competition, lack of funding), she conducted research, reading books and interviewing experts until she had the information she needed to help her refine her vision.
She hosted a brainstorming session in which she asked for input on her idea from attendees, all members of her diverse social network, which included marketers, lawyers, bankers and food industry experts. By the end of the multi-hour session, she had the basic elements of the business plan she would use to raise money.
Raising money using the traditional one-to-one meeting method was nerve-wracking for Ms. Agrawal and wasn't producing the results she needed despite a few months of trying. After evaluating her experience, she predicted she would be able raise money more efficiently by hosting fundraising dinner parties featuring pizza cooked by a chef in her social network. During the parties, responsibility for presenting and promoting the business concept was shared with other members of the Slice team.
The parties were successful, in part, because they gave potential investors the opportunity to mingle with other prosperous, smart and talented people, allowing invitees to grow their own social networks while supporting Ms. Agrawal and her business partners.
After a few parties, she raised enough money to open Slice in the fall of 2005, about a year after she first dreamed of opening a restaurant.
Ms. Agrawal turned her dreams into realities by leveraging her diverse social network. Could you do the same? Think about your social network. Who's in it? Who do you need to add? What are your network members' dreams? How can you help them achieve their goals? Are your network members able to help you? More importantly, have you asked them for help?
Here's wishing you a pleasant and productive week.
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(Photo: Courtesy of Miki Agrawal via Twitter)