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3 Ways This Startup for Kids Got Off the Ground and Set Up for Success
Learn how the founder of a children's learning brand leaned on the reputation and resources of national business services provider, Office Depot, to unleash her business potential.
Sponsored by Office Depot, Inc.
Elinor Huang is on a mission to inspire kids' lifelong love of self and knew she could not do it alone. After a career in healthcare, Elinor observed firsthand the growing diagnosable mental health problems in young kids. "More kids are having difficulties in tackling uncertainties as they journey through life," Elinor says.
"Many times, play and learning are seen as separate, arch-rivals forever separated and locked in a battle for a child's well-being," she adds. "Our children are growing up in a world where performance is king. Over-stimulus is starting at a younger age, oftentimes with overwhelming performance-based expectations."
As a mother of two, Elinor decided to do something about it and looked to her local community for support. She founded MEandMine, a STEAM-powered, story-based hands-on adventure that integrates human body and social/emotional development into everyday fun for kids.
Starting a company is quite an adventure and an overwhelming task in itself, and equally as daunting, is finding the right balance of ideas, investment, infrastructure and support services to get started. To navigate the ins and outs and ups and downs associated with launching a business, Elinor decided to base MEandMine from the Office Depot® coworking facility in Los Gatos, Calif. Office Depot offers coworking spaces as part of its wide-array of business services in select markets around the U.S. where entrepreneurs can take advantage of all types of vital solutions to help pursue their passion and grow their businesses including printing and copying, shipping, tech support and repair and more.
Here, Elinor shares three ways Office Depot assisted in getting her startup off the ground and set up for success.
1. Leaning on a proven support system.
Within the Office Depot coworking space, Elinor says she found everything she needed to start her business. "This inclusive and flexible coworking space has everything from private offices to conference rooms, making for the perfect environment to network and also meet with potential investors and customers," she says. "It's a beautiful, professional space."
One of the most valuable resources has been working with the store's coworking manager Jammie Cabanlit, Elinor says. As questions arise, about virtually anything, Jammie has or finds the solutions, Elinor notes. She serves simultaneously as business advisor, office manager and tech support.
"I want everyone working in our space to look at me as their partner in everything they do," Jammie explains. "I love spending time with our members and helping them to select the right solutions for their business – I succeed when I see them succeed."
2. Saving money on common office services.
It goes without saying that a lot goes into launching a business. When you're starting out, things like printing business cards and promotional materials might not be the first thing on an entrepreneur's to-do list. But they are indeed necessary – reinforcing the recognition and foundation for a new brand.
For MEandMine, Elinor created an Office Depot business account to immediately start saving money on things like printing. Office Depot print and copy services include document printing, posters, large format printing and business cards, just to name a few. It also allows business owners to imprint their logo and marketing messages on promotional products such as water bottles, pens, and calendars.
Elinor says this saved her business a significant amount of money – especially while printing the booklets that accompany each of the MEandMine adventures.
3. Tapping into the power of the coworking community.
No great product is launched without research and development. The same goes for MEandMine. Elinor routinely hosts "co-create labs" – small gatherings of families who play with the product, helping Elinor and her team test and create new learning adventures.
Finding the children and their parents to test MEandMine was simple. Elinor invited the families from the other small businesses that operate within the Office Depot coworking space. This became an invaluable and ongoing resource.
"Our clients do more than just use our space and services; they are valued members of our thriving community," Jammie says. "We have helped many of our clients connect and network with other coworking spaces and local community members, so they can find the right resources and partners while getting maximum attention for their business or venture."
MEandMine has realized the positive results. "One event that we co-hosted with Office Depot attracted over 100 participants, which was great exposure for our business model and gave us a ton of key learnings," Elinor says.
As she prepares for the company's largest launch and debut at the 2020 Toy Fair, Elinor says she's grateful for all the help she obtained by taking advantage of the Office Depot coworking space. "Eight months ago, we were looking for a community-based coworking space that would be supportive of a young startup company with a team of three," she says. "Now based in the Office Depot coworking space, Jammie and her team have provided us with countless products, services and resources to help us grow, innovate and bring our vision to life."
Click here to learn more about how Office Depot's Business Services can help your startup grow.