This past month, we were honored to be selected as an eCommerce selection site for the World Affairs Program in Louisville, Kentucky. And if you know me, you know that not only do I love visitors at our warehouse and fulfillment center, but I love making new friends even more! Plus, who wouldn’t love international entrepreneurs?!
The first group to come through our office was a group of 8 Russian eCommerce entrepreneurs, 2 facilitators and one translator. Knowing that the English terms “wicked, wicking, water vapor transmission, breathability, hypoallergenic” might be a bit more challenging for a translator, I took the liberty of developing a presentation that was both in Russian and German. And yes, I included LOTS of graphics!
It was such a success! The group was engaging, curious, and extremely interested in international collaboration. As we toured through our “bedrooms” we had plenty of time for laying on the beds, feeling the fabric, breaking down our Wicked-Cool mattressinto its core components, and lots of Q&A.
My key takeaway from this first group of visitors was that entrepreneurs are the same breed across time, space, cultures, and continents. Even though we may not speak the same language in a literal sense, we really do speak the same languageof entrepreneurship. No matter what soil your feet are standing on, entrepreneurship is hard work — whether that’s international entrepreneurship or entrepreneurship in the states!
Oh, and I was especially impressed that this group of (all male) entrepreneurs took the time to ask me what it was like being a female in, not only a male dominant role, but a female in manufacturing. My response might not surprise you, but I thanked them for the question and responded like this, “I’ve never thought of it. I guess that doesn’t make me much of a Feminist, but I’ve never thought that I couldn’t do something because I’m a female. If I want it, I go and do it – end of story.” They all laughed once the translation was complete but they I received a slurry of head nods and high fives. That was a pretty amazing moment.
Now Meet Juan Carlos. He was selected out of Venezuela to participate in a 4-week American business emersion course. His comes from a long line of international entrepreneurs: his parents being in the textiles sourcing business and he and his siblings in the mattress business (camaskaren.com)themselves.
From the moment I walked into the coffee shop to meet he and his host, Josh a local craftsman specializing in custom woodworking and design (link to www.opengrain.com), I could tell we were all going to hit it off. I sat down, and we didn’t stop to take a breath between conversations for at least 30 minutes. Juan’s charisma was contagious and his passion for learning about American business was invigorating.
After our caffeine had kicked in, I invited the pair back to our office and warehouse for a quick tour. It was so much fun to look at the different materials and discuss ways to innovate. We both believe that the world is begging for better, more innovated sleep products that meet all sleeper needs, so it was only fitting that our conversations were (physically) centered around our Wicked-Cool mattress.
After another successful visit with these passionate international entrepreneurs, I was again reminded that we are all cut from the same cloth: customer centric, idea-a-minute thinkers, and an “anything’s possible” attitude.
Thank you to Laura Duncan and Kentucky World Affairs Program for including us in this unique opportunity, but moreover, thank you for opening my entrepreneurship lens to include international collaboration and …