Interview with Janie Cooke and Caroline Nix, Co-Founders of Oventure
In 2012, the Big O Key Ring was created, and along with it, a company. Moms by day, business women by night, Janie and Caroline were once new to the world of entrepreneurship. Driven by an unwavering belief in their product, and in their mission to give women everywhere an extra hand, the duo has successfully grown Oventure to be the instantly recognizable brand they had always dreamed of. Today, the Oventure Co-Founders share their experience and give helpful advice on how to get jumpstart your own entrepreneurial venture.
What was the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey like?
The first thing we did was research our target audience and competitive landscape to determine our unique niche in the marketplace. Next we thought big picture: Who is our company beyond this one product? What is the culture? What is our brand? How will customers relate to us? Where do we see ourselves in 5-10 year? Once we finalized our long-term strategy, we shifted to getting our product manufactured with a laser focus on our intended customer.
Financially speaking, how did you initially get the company off the ground?
We made the decision to start small, so that we could self-fund our venture. We started with one item instead of a line of products. We had a sales and marketing plan designed to enable us to either recoup our initial investment and break even on the venture or prove the concept as viable and worth using our profits to reinvest and grow the business. Fortunately, response to our first product, the Big O Key Ring, was beyond our expectations and we have continued to grow exponentially using our profits to fund our growth. While we have not had any financial investors, we have certainly sought the advice and guidance of professionals in many different fields who have shaped our business with their wisdom and experience.
What were your early success tactics? How did you spread the word?
We spread the word person by person. Friends and relatives in different cities were kind enough to host home shows for us where we brought product and sold directly to customers. We also packed up the car with product and hit the road armed with a map of stores we would love to be in. We’d pull off the highway, place our product in a bowl and walk in and ask if they would carry our line. That was quite an experience! We laugh now that people understand what the product is when they see it. When we launched our business, people had never seen a big round key ring. It seems hard to imagine now, but we were constantly demonstrating how you could pop it over your wrist or above your elbow to have your hands free. Even then, we had lots of people think it was a dog collar!
What are the most important investments you can make in your company?
The most important investment from any entrepreneur is time and sweat equity. Be ready to roll up your sleeves on day one. While we were able to delegate and outsource certain elements of the business down the road, we did every job ourselves from top to bottom to get the business launched and growing. It’s not always glamorous!
What is your go-to business motto?
"Think Big, Act Small." We think that applies to everything we do. We’re guided by our big ideas, big plans, and the big picture, but it’s the small things day in and day out that build relationships, results and contribute to long term progress. We always say if we weren’t thinking big, we would have never landed on the name of our first product.
Do you have any questions for Janie and Caroline about their entrepreneurial journey? Drop them in the comments below!