A University of Louisville alumnus who turned her entrepreneurial MBA class project – and her love for her dog – into a multi-million-dollar corporation returned to the College of Business to talk about her experience.
Jennifer Williams, founder and CEO of Cuddle Clones, was part of a panel discussion March 30 on investors and entrepreneurs that also included investor Christina Bechhold of Empire Angels. The discussion, moderated by Suzanne Bergmeister, entrepreneur-in-residence and assistant director of the Forcht Center for Entrepreneurship, was the final event in the 2017 Spring Speakers Series for the John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise.
Cuddle Clones makes stuffed animals and other products from photos of customers’ pets. Williams said she had the idea one day when she was resting her head on her Great Dane, and brought it to fruition when she was going through the entrepreneurial MBA program a few years later.
When it comes to seeking investors, Williams said, “You never know who is going to give you money,” encouraging students to be persistent.
Williams told students gathered in the PNC Horn Auditorium that her company has skyrocketed from $135,000 in revenue in 2013 to $2.3 million in 2016.
Bechhold told students that the most important part of building a business is having the right team, and investors look for strong teams with members that fill in each other’s gaps when evaluating an opportunity.
She said entrepreneurs need to be ready to accept rejection graciously and to always remember that honesty is the best policy.
“There will be people who say ‘yes,’” she said.
The event marked the end of the second year of programming for the Schnatter Center.