The Student Launch Pad and the Minor in Entrepreneurship hosted the first of a series of Fireside Chats at Stephens Hall on Friday, Sept. 2, featuring guest speaker Funlayo Alabi, co-founder and CEO of Shea Radiance.
The event was designed to provide entrepreneurs with tips and advice by an experienced person who has been through this process already.
“It’s worth millions to have people that want to help you succeed,” Alabi said. “It’s worth its weight in gold because they open doors for you.”
Many of the students in the audience had various startup businesses and ideas that ranged from baseball services, screenwriting and graphic design, to a recycling idea where people can break glass bottles for stress relief.
Throughout her speech, Alabi gave them advice on how to start their companies and even used their personal ideas as examples for ways to succeed.
Alabi started her company in 2008 with her husband. She wanted to use natural ingredients that could be found in Nigeria, where she used to live, to create a skin care product.
In 2012, she had a contract with Target stores, but within a year, she had to pull out because she did not have the funding for a large store, according to Alabi.
To securely get back into Target, she said it would require between $250-500,000.
After this, they went down in product quantity, but “came up smarter”, she said. They had previously run over 60 products.
“The whole purpose of having a business is to solve a problem,” explained Alabi.
At Shea Radiance, she said she has solved a problem of dry skin by formulating and manufacturing natural products using shea butter. She has also tried to address issues of poverty by hiring women in Africa to gather the ingredients.
“Any business you have, you really have to make sure that people are going to buy it or you really don’t have a business,” said Alabi. “You can have good ideas in your head, and write notes and books, but until you go out there and get your first yes or no, you don’t have a business.”
According to Alabi, the first step for an entrepreneur is to find out what makes their product unique. For Shea Radiance, she found that no other brands were making pure or refined shea. No other products were directly sourced, and none of them had a texture that was easy to apply to the skin.
“Study your competition and then figure out what can I do that is different, what flavor can I bring,” she advised. “You have a flavor, you have a voice, you have a vibe.”
Alabi currently has four types of products available: shea butter, body wash, hair products, and body moisturizers and can be found online at www.shearadiance.com.
The Fireside Chats will continue in the same location through Oct. 21 and are open to the public.