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4 Lessons from Millennial Entrepreneurs

Here’s what we’ve learned from Millennials who sell to Millennials…

We often cover up-and-coming businesses that are founded by Millennials themselves, and the major trends they are tapping into and creating to successfully sell to the peers. We also speak to young entrepreneurs to better understand what it is like to be part of the generation they are marketing to, and what they know about capturing the elusive young consumer. Here are some lessons we’ve learned from Millennial entrepreneurs growing their businesses and solving the problems their peers face: 


When we talked to Lottie Terzi, Millennial founder of small cold brew coffee brand Black Diamond Coffee, she described her brand’s use of social media as “constant.” Terzi credits social media as the impetus for her brand’s growth, explaining, “Right now we do all our social media in house, we do Instagram, Twitter, Facebook…just got into this new app called Wine N’ Dine. We are doing Snapchat, that’s really 24/7. Constant social media Its how we built our business originally, it’s how customers found out about us that didn’t walk into our stores. It is today how customers are finding out about us…It is because of social media that we’ve been able to expand.”

Makenzie Barth, a co-founder for food website Spoon University, says “social media has been the best way to reach out” to their college demographic: “We have a really engaged Instagram audience, we put a ton on Facebook, and we just launched a partnership with Food Network’s Snapchat Discover page where we do a Spoon takeover every Saturday. It’s been a great way to reach hundreds and thousands of people on that channel that we wouldn’t have reached otherwise.”


Ambika Singh is the Millennial CEO of Armoire—a new fashion subscription service taking an anti-fast fashion approach to clothing—and she says happy customers spreading the word is the best marketing they could ask for: “Frankly we’ve been super lucky, because we have not spent any money on marketing. We’ve just been really lucky to have happy customers. That’s the best kind of marketing angle, if that works for your business. We’ve done the hard work to make sure that our customers are happy, and they’ve done our marketing for us…Really our customer acquisition channel has been directly through our network and through our customers. Obviously we are going to stand up there and say ‘we’re the best and this will solve all your life problems’ etc., but when your customers are telling others, that it is just that much more believable.” 

Barth also told us, “Word of mouth has been huge, it’s been really crucial to starting new chapters on campus…consistently the people that come to us have a friend in a chapter from another school or saw something on Facebook their friend posted.”


Being a Millennial herself, Singh says, is a huge advantage: It’s obviously incredible to grow up as technology-literate as we did, I think you would be hard pressed to find a business that started today that doesn’t have a huge technology component. You might look Armoire up and think, ‘They’re not a technology company they’re renting clothes,’ but everything we do is based on the tech that we built…I think as a Millennial entrepreneur you don’t even imagine a business that doesn’t have a technology component no matter how important the brick and mortar division is.” She also says respect of diversity is key within the Millennial working environment: “For us here it really means diversity of thought, and that may come because people come from different backgrounds, etc. The ability to push back and argue to get to the best decision is core to our generation, and it’s super helpful as an entrepreneur because your team and your ideas are going to be so much better…Having the stomach to take risks and do things in a new way—if you’re committed to doing things the same way over and over, I’m not sure you are going to attract the fluidity and creativity of the Millennial.”


Many Millennial entrepreneurs are starting companies that will solve the problems they’re experiencing personally. Singh says she started Armoire because of “a bunch of problems that I’ve personally faced and my cofounders have faced,” and Barth was inspired to start Spoon University because, “We lived off-campus and had to learn how to feed ourselves for the first time—there was no resource or community around that struggle, nothing spoke to what I was going through.”

Another very young entrepreneur, Ben Pasternak, created his first wildly popular app at 15-years-old and developed his latest app Flogg by observing his friends: “I had friends using Facebook groups to buy and sell in these really tight communities…The reason they were buying and selling in these groups, was because it was a trustworthy community…They just trusted each other within the group. I kept seeing tons of these groups, and Facebook wasn’t doing anything to look after these people, and they were kind of ignoring these groups. So I set out to create a much better experience to buy and sell within these tight communities.” 

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