Finding success secrets in an entrepreneurship education
When he returned to North Central that fall, Jones saw the perfect opportunity to grow his business in Chawla’s class.
“This course completely changed my life and taught me the customer validation process,” Jones said. “Professor Chawla required each student to talk to strangers in our respective industries … Consistent feedback quickly shaped my project and helped (me) focus on building a high-quality product and memorable brand.”
Jones searched for established brands in outdoor equipment and did interviews with staff at chain stores that sell them. He knew he needed a name for his company that customers could relate to. He wanted it simple and strong, but meaningful, too.
“The outdoors has always meant a lot to my family and some of our (favorite) memories are in the Great North Woods, so that has been a great source of inspiration,“ Jones said. “I named the venture SLAB Outdoors. SLAB stands for the fillet of a fish, but also signifies a durable surface. This double meaning stood out to people and seemed to fit the initial product concept.”
Chawla has been Jones’ primary advisor as he has worked on SLAB. In addition to taking Chawla’s class, Jones met with him weekly to talk about the new company and how to keep it moving forward. The two of them are working together even now.
“Professor Chawla has been an incredible mentor throughout my time at North Central College,” said Jones. “He was supportive during tough times, assisted with manufacturing obstacles, recommended connections, and helped me greatly improve my efficiency as an individual. In addition, Professor Chawla and I have completed two case studies with an organization to be named in January when the pieces are published.”
The hard work Jones put in has paid off in both immediate results and hope for the future.
"As (far as) sales, we've had an exciting few months and ship orders pretty consistently," he said. "We are currently reaching out to independent outdoor shops and online retailers. As of now, we have reached agreements with gear.com and chimneytrail.com."