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  • Writer's pictureShelly Nicholas

"Anyone have an extra hair tie?" Our History: Part II

Shelly, dressed as Jonathan the Husky, scaring a little girl during The Husky Innovation Challenge Kickoff

Here I am, dressed as Jonathan the Husky at UCONN in Storrs, CT, terrifying a child. How did I get here?!

(you and the child may both be wondering this)

Before we get there, think for a moment about a coach, teacher, or mentor who had a positive impact on your life. Maybe it's someone who helped you up when you were down or taught you something that changed your perspective on the world.

...are you smiling? Yup - you're thinking of the right person.

Fall 2007 - I'm enrolled in MGMT5634: Opportunity Generation, Assessment, and Promotion as an MBA student at the University of Connecticut. The professor was Dr. Richard Dino (AKA Dino), and having this class and working with Dino changed the trajectory of my path in work and in life. It was during this class that I first began to develop a love for entrepreneurship and the seeds for Pretty Knotty were planted.

Dino encouraged students to look for opportunities in the face of adversity by focusing on solutions. Poorly designed products and low customer satisfaction give entrepreneurs a chance to innovate and disrupt the status quo. This is when I realized I didn't have to wait for someone else to make a better product for me.

Mind shift - I could make a better product for me... and all of the other long-haired athletes who deserve higher quality, performance based hair ties.

Exploring the opportunity to create a better hair tie in Dino's class was empowering; working as his Graduate Assistance through the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation the following semester was exhausting and rewarding. Working closely with my counterpart, Lisa Sheelan, showed me how badly I would need a teammate, a compadre, a Serena to my Venus.

The nine years of working on this business has been more like walking through a maze than on a straight line. Some days I've turned exciting corners, some days I've hit dead ends, and other days I've dressed as Jonathan the Husky. The day that Jacob and I decided to work together was certainly an exciting turning point.

The search for a business partner will pick up in Part III of the "Anyone have an extra hair tie?" series. Thanks for reading!

Hair Up, Game On, Shelly

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