The Break Up

“Sometimes you must forget what you feel and remember what you deserve.”

They say that breaking up is hard to do, and at times, that’s an understatement. I’m going through one of the hardest breakups of my life, and this breakup is with my company.

Ending your relationship with another human being is just like ending your time at a company. Many businesses take on personalities, as entities themselves, and you can end up spending years loving what you do and what it stands for, falling in love with the business. For an organization that I’ve spent years growing (and growing with), nurturing, agonizing over and promoting, strengthening and protecting, although I’m not a founder, a part of me views it as my baby. I’ve grown fond of the company, everything it represents, and it’s potential.

Yet due to a myriad of reasons, it’s time for me to leave and move onto the next chapter in my career. I’ve come to the realization that I cannot control everything, nor can I fix everything, and in my current situation certain things are negatively affecting the organization that I care so deeply about. Months and years of repetition have made me realize that change is not in the near future, and I need to focus my efforts on opportunities where I can actively make the most impact. I recently heard an entrepreneur speak and he made a startling comparison that a dying organization is like cancer, and putting a band aid on cancer will not cure it.

So it’s time to break up. As hard as this may be, it has to be done. I’m not quitting, but simply refocusing my efforts into a new channel that will make a difference. Onto a new opportunity and a new adventure.

“Everything happens for a reason.
That reason causes change.
Sometimes the change hurts.
Sometimes the change is hard.
But in the end it’s all for the best.”



Be an MVP….

Be an MVP.

I was fortunate to attend #MCON14 the last few days in Chicago. This conference explores the social impact that is being shaped by Millenials. So many inspiring, enlightening and smart people came together to share their thoughts and experiences.

This quote in particular was said by Martin Edlund (@MNM_Martin), a founding member and CEO of Malaria No More. When asked about how he got to where he is today, he said it wasn’t so much a career path as a career hack. Martin’s advice for how to have a successful career came down to this – “Be an MVP.” He didn’t mean be the most valuable player, but he meant it in the Lean Startup sense of the word – be the minimum viable product. In the Lean Startup way of thinking, an MVP has only the essential core features that are needed for something to go to market. Martin explained that you can’t prepare yourself for future career opportunities that you may not know exist or that currently don’t exist, as life constantly changes. Instead, you should learn as much as you can about what you are currently doing so that you can be successful where you are now, and when you get to the next job or next stage in life when it presents itself, become the MVP for that.

I personally am someone who is constantly planning for and thinking about the future, but I was very impacted by Martin’s sentiment. In reality, there is only so much that you can prepare for and being the MVP of your life simply means living in the moment and being the best you can be now. 

Great Things Come in OneBowl

Interview with Young Entrepreneur Justin Herd

If you’re anything like me, when you’re hungry, you just want to eat, not turn it into an extended process. Justin Herd had the same wish to avoid all the inconveniences that go with dishes, and being a college student, space and time were his biggest constraints. He realized that others must encounter the same issues, and instead of just daydreaming about a better world, he turned it into a reality with OneBowl, a simplified all-in-one way to cook, strain, eat, and store your food.

Justin Herd, OneBowl Founder

Justin is an inventor, entrepreneur, college student at GVSU and a CEO member. From an idea to solve his problem to now launching a Kickstarter campaign to bring the OneBowl straight to your kitchen, read the interview to learn Justin’s story and entrepreneurial influences in the interview below.

General Information
Founder Name: Justin Herd
Company: OneBowl
Description: Cook, strain, eat, and store food all in OneBowl
Year Founded: 2013
Twitter Handle: @theonebowl
Kickstarter Launch: June 17, 2014 at


Katie Sowa: How did you come up with the idea for OneBowl?
Justin Herd: Like many other college students, I ate a lot of noodles. More specifically, I ate a lot of Ramen Noodles, Mac and Cheese, and Spaghetti. Whenever I made noodles, I had to get creative when I strained them because I did not have space in my dorm room for extra dishes like a strainer. So, one day while I was using a fork to strain boiling hot water out of my noodles, I thought to myself, “There has got to be a better way.” That was when I had my “Eureka” moment and started drawing out my original OneBowl sketches.

Katie: At what point did you realize that the OneBowl was more than just a good idea, but that it could be a successful business?
Justin: The moment when I realized the OneBowl could be a successful business was after my first idea pitch competition. My university, Grand Valley State University, was hosting an idea pitch competition where contestants had 90 seconds to pitch their idea to a panel of judges. I was fortunate enough to take second place at this competition. After the awards were announced, I was approached by several different people that wanted to help me with marketing, manufacturing, distribution, etc. This is when I realized that I had all the pieces to my puzzle of a successful business and all I had to do at this point was put them together.

Katie: How did you go from student to inventor? What are your top 3 pieces of advice for aspiring student ‘treps with a new innovative product idea?
Justin: It’s difficult for any student to balance his/her education, hobbies, personal life, and entrepreneurial ventures. However, it is not impossible. In order to do so without losing your sanity, I recommend these 3 pieces of advice:

  1. Look to your hobbies – When inventing a new product, it will pay off immensely if you can create a new product that pertains to a hobby you have. If you spend day and night developing a product that relates to a hobby you have, the chances are that you will know a lot about it, be more passionate about it, and have more fun when you are working on it.
  2. Network – Never miss a chance to network. The reality is that every entrepreneur needs help from others to reach their goals. I’ve found that when I put myself out there at any given networking event, I run into someone who has the answers to my burning questions.
  3. Draw the line – Keep your personal life and business life separate. If you are anything like me, your idea for a new product is always on the top of your mind. I’ve found that if I talk about nothing else when I am with my friends and family, I can start to sound like a broken record player. My advice is to use the time spent with friends and family as a chance to take a break from your relentless brain child.

Katie: Congratulations on your upcoming Kickstarter campaign! What has been most important to the pre-launch of this campaign?
Justin: The most important pieces to the pre-launch of the OneBowl on Kickstarter have been the video and promotion. It is recommended that a video is included on a page when launching a Kickstarter. Don’t underestimate how much work goes into making a video! I also recommend working with people who are skilled in video production. Try a film student at your school to get excellent quality for a more affordable price. The other important piece is promotion. It’s important to make sure people will know about the Kickstarter campaign you worked so hard for once it goes live. Using social media and relevant blog sites can help tremendously with promotion.

Katie: What made you decide on launching a Kickstarter campaign? Any advice to others who are considering crowdfunding?
Justin: I chose Kickstarter because I love the community they have built around their website. It’s clear that the people who use Kickstarter to help fund others with new products are truly interested in seeing them succeed. I also like the “all or nothing” funding principal. If the predetermined funding goal for a project is not met, all pledges are cancelled. In my case, this is to ensure that everyone who pledges to get a OneBowl will actually get one. Kickstarter is not the only crowdfunding platform. However, I recommend it since it is the most well-known and may just attract the most people to your project.

Katie: Last year you made it to the top 12 in the 2013 National Elevator Pitch Competition. How did being involved with the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) and attending the National Conference affect your entrepreneurial journey?
Justin: CEO has been a huge part of my success so far with the OneBowl. I joined the CEO club at my university to get help with my idea when it was still a napkin sketch. The content of the meetings, setting goals, and having access to mentorship from experienced leaders are the reasons why I am where I am today with the OneBowl. I also highly recommend attending the National Conference. Aside from participating in the National Elevator Pitch Competition, I was able to learn a ton of relevant information from the breakout sessions. I went into the conference with a list of questions and had them all answered by the end of the conference. Many of these questions were about crowdfunding!

Katie: What is your biggest obstacle that you’ve unexpectedly faced so far?
Justin: The biggest obstacle that I have faced so far is the inevitable tooling costs of mass producing a plastic product. It can be surprisingly expensive to bring a plastic product to the masses. In order to overcome this obstacle, I have done some research and found that there are several great resources for funding (like Kickstarter!).

Katie: What do you contribute as being most valuable to your success?
Justin: I contribute my success to the phenomenal advisors and mentors that I have been so fortunate to meet since starting my OneBowl venture. It is so important to find people who have done what you are trying to do already so that they can help you avoid the mistakes they made.

Katie: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Justin: My goal is to be a serial entrepreneur. First, I would love to see the OneBowl make life easier for college students all over the world. In the future, I hope to pursue other ideas I have for innovative products.

Go to OneBowl on Kickstarter now to buy the one bowl does everything to take your abilities as a chef to a whole new level.