A lesson in differentiation, with TUMS


I had what I felt to be a stroke of genius yesterday. I was lingering about on Twitter, because that’s what I do here, and found the trending hashtag #rejectedcandyhearts.


For obvious reasons, I can’t share any of those here. Some were funny, some were vulgar, even @DiGiornoPizza got in on the game.

Then, totally by coincidence, Tums was in my Twitter feed. Tums, the chalky antacid that we all know and love. My brain added it up before I could. The answer was in front of me and formulating before I could say the words. It all seemed so clear.

Candy Hearts + Tums = Opportunity, lots of opportunity.

Here’s why this works: Tums is competing in a commoditized market.

commodity define   Google Search

What’s a commodity? Items that flood that market, are easily attainable, and have almost no difference between competitors. Some examples: apples, coffee, toilet paper, tissues, hosiery, and antacids.

Bananas are commodities too. Name a brand of bananas. You probably just thought of Chiquita. Why? What is on every Chiquita Banana? A sticker. An iconic sticker that separates your banana from the rest of the bunch. This sticker differentiates the banana. Without it you wouldn’t know a Chiquita from a Dole, but it doesn’t even matter because it’s just a banana! Antacids are the same.

I can give you a Rolaids tablet or a Tums or a Pepto, and they all have the same function. Sure one is white, one is colorful, and one is pink, but that isn’t going far enough. The opportunity here is for Tums to hop on board the candy heart train and ride it into profitability station.

Picture this: right around the first of February Tums releases a new line of antacids. These antacids are the exact same make-up and have the exact same efficacy of their other antacids, but these are heart-shaped. And not only that, but they have little sayings printed on them. Cute puns about heartburn, tummy aches, and love.

“Love Sick…to my stomach”

“My Heart Burns…for you”

Now you, the consumer, have a whole new reason to buy Tums. Instead of buying the other antacid on the shelf, there is more incentive for you to buy the Valentine’s Day special Tums. These antacids will shine above the competition on the shelf, and they would surely score plenty of earned media. Like I said before:

Candy Hearts + Tums = Opportunity, lots of opportunity.


That’s where our little 400 word blog on differentiation ends. For your reading pleasure I have supplied the stream of thought tweets I sent out yesterday during this Eureka moment (click on it for full view).

Twitter   Jeffdude  I d like to see  TUMStweets …

Hey Tums, this one’s on the house. Next time you want to chat about differentiation, give me a shout. -@Jeffdude

Staff Spotlight: Laura Johnson


I’m here with Laura Johnson, the Director of Entrepreneurship Degree Programs. Laura joined us just last semester in September. So let’s see how she’s doing.



I’m here with Laura Johnson, the Director of Entrepreneurship Degree Programs. Laura joined us just last semester in September. So let’s see how she’s doing.

CEI: Hi Laura, Thanks for taking time to chat with me.

LAURA: Sure! Glad to do it.

CEI: So tell us your path to this directorship.

LAURA: I came to UF for undergrad, and after quite a few degree changes I graduated with a degree in event management.  After an internship in non-prifit event management, I realized that I liked the entrepreneurial aspects of it –the ambiguity, the creativity, the value creation, but that was about it. From there I went to work for the Chamber of Commerce in Gainesville in a sales position, which was great experience.  Everyone should have a sales job at some point.  My next job was at RTI Biologics in event management; I got to attend lots of trade shows and work with some great people.  RTI is a spin-off of UF, by the way.  About 5 years ago I did the MSE program when it was offered on the weekend. I loved it and got so much out it. It completely changed the way my brain works. I said to my husband about the person in my position now, “I would love to do that job!” So when it opened up, I applied, and now here I am! I like that we have the start-up feel in CEI even though we are part of a massive university.

CEI: What are some of differences in the program from when you completed it, to today and to where it’s going?

LAURA: I can’t really judge the traditional program, because I did the professional weekend program. …Now it’s been more tailored to start-up mentality, not just a business degree. So we have courses centered on entrepreneurship, like guerrilla marketing. Our experiential learning element has grown exponentially. The opportunities students have now on campus and in the start-up community is drastically different, there is a great scene for our students to take advantage of. The addition of Dr. Morris to the CEI is taking the center leaps and bounds beyond how awesome it already was into a world-class center.

CEI: What do you look for in students who participate in entrepreneurship programs?

LAURA: When students come into the office, from every different background, they all have a passionate streak in common. While they might not have a business in mind, they know they want something different than a traditional degree program.  We teach an entrepreneurial mindset and help students channel that energy. Anyone can be the right fit, we want people who work well in groups and can bring new ideas to the table. So if a team has a marketing major, a fine arts major, and a finance major, they could put together an incredible plan. It seems like most of the people interested in the program have entrepreneurs as parents or family members. That’s not a requirement but an interesting observation.

CEI: Do you think because of early exposure to the entrepreneurial mindset, it is hard for students to go into corporate?

LAURA: Yeah, I think when students see their parents go to work and they are the bosses or they run a company, you see the path as something different. You can define it yourself; you don’t need to fight your way up a ladder to get to the top.

CEI: Why are you drawn to entrepreneurship?

LAURA: I think I’m drawn to entrepreneurship because I naturally think differently. I like to solve problems and look at things from different angles. I like seeing the final product and figuring out how to work backwards to get there. That’s what entrepreneurship is all about – having a big goal and working towards that. Also, I think I have an authority problem. I have had jobs where I’ve had managers that I think I could do a better job than them and it made me crazy that I didn’t have the experience that corporate culture requires to move ahead.

CEI: So let’s say you were marooned on a deserted island and could only bring three things with you to survive. What would you bring?

LAURA:  A knife, a big one! I want a really big hat. That can also be used to collect water. It’s a really big hat. And some really sturdy twine to make nets. But how do I start a fire?  I rescind my hat answer and choose a Zippo lighter. Because yes it can start a fire, but it’s shiny so I can signal a plane. I’ll just make a hat out of palm fronds.

CEI: That’s a very entrepreneurial answer. You used resource leveraging, bootstrapping clearly, and opportunity assessment. Are these the kinds of things you all teach about in the entrepreneurship programs?

LAURA: Absolutely! So not only could you learn to start a business, but also how to survive on a deserted island! I’m telling you, it teaches you how to think differently.

CEI: That’s great, thanks so much for your time. How can someone contact you to learn about CEI programs?

LAURA: Email me at Laura.Johnson@warrington.ufl.edu to set up a time to tour the CEI and see if any of our programs are right for you. If you’re not in Gainesville we can Skype at UF_CEI.

CEI:  Thanks so much!

LAURA: Thanks, Jeff.

The Myth of “Low Hanging Fruit”


I hear students throw this term around all the time. The term was actually used more when I worked in non-profits revolving around student recruitment. I would offer you a definition, but Urban Dictionary’s is better:

Urban Dictionary  low hanging fruit

“Targets or goals which are easily achievable and which do not require a lot of effort.”

The sentence in context is extremely appropriate. “We’re a small company with few assets, so to succeed in the short term, we need to go after the low-hanging fruit.” Low Hanging Fruit (LHF) is a construct of the lazy. It does not exist. If you seek LHF then your market orientation needs realignment. Your entrepreneurial orientation needs a readjustment if you seek the mythical LHF.

See? It's fake. Like Yoshi.

See? It’s fake. Like Yoshi.

It’s not that LHF don’t exist, but the idea that some customers are more easily attainable than others is flawed. If you don’t believe me then let me get into market segmentation. The more you can zero-in on your customers by behavior, buying motivation, psychographics, and benefits sought, the more clear it how to sell to them will become. Then you will see that with a little homework on buyer behavior, everyone can become LHF. And if everyone is a LHF, then the whole idea of LHF is out the window. And you can be incredibly effective in sales and marketing to boot.

You must be wondering how to see something like this in action. Well, today is your lucky day if you are creating “performance wear for chefs”, because that’s the example we will use. (editorial note: this is my group’s segmentation breakdown for the Big Idea Competition and that’s why it is our featured example). And if you are not in the “performance wear for chefs” industry, then hopefully you can see how this approach is applicable to your company.

So, who is going to buy our apparel? Chefs obviously. So what kinds of chefs are out there? Pastry Chefs? Sushi Chefs? Sandwich Artists? Grill masters? Iron Chefs? Celebrity Chefs? Executive Chefs? Line Cooks?

Iron Chef Cat Cora, please buy my performance wear for chefs. Or at least endorse it. I can't pay but I can tempt with minor equity.

Iron Chef Cat Cora, please buy my performance wear for chefs. Or at least endorse it. I can’t pay but I can tempt with minor equity.

Do you think each of these chefs has the same buying behavior? Does every Executive Chef have the same needs? Do Pastry Chefs and Line Cooks seek the same benefit? Who else has a say in the buying decision? After answering those questions, you will have a nice portrait of a market segment. Let’s start breaking it down.

We have a Business to Business market (B2B) and a Business to Customer market (B2C).  This is parsed by who makes the purchase.  The B2C is a bit more straightforward. Within this market there are two segments: Home Chefs and Competitive Chefs. Yes, they are quite different, so let’s dig into the buying cycle of each.

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 3.06.21 PM

Home Chefs making this purchase might do so in a home goods store, department store, or kitchen gadget boutique. Anyway you slice it, they are pulling it off the shelf. Looking into their psychographics we would know that they probably have quite a few kitchen gadgets, have a disposable income, and enjoy entertaining and hosting guests. The home chefs read articles on cooking and watch cooking shows. They likely will buy these off a recommendation of a friend, celebrity endorsement, or feature in earned media. The purchase decision is most likely a solitary one, not needing to consult with any other individuals because they are the only ones needing approval and because the price point is so low they won’t need to ask a spouse or partner before diving in. They know that by wearing this performance wear they will cook better, stay cooler, and stay safer from burns or other kitchen hazards (these are the properties of our apparel).   Do you think their benefits sought are the same as the competitive chefs? Let’s take a closer look.

The competitive chef is one who tests their skill and recipes over barbecue, cake, chili, and more competitions for prizes. They seek an edge, something to keep them going, something to intimidate their rivals. They self finance this avocation so will likely be the sole decision maker in buying items and supplies. Their buying places may be at warehouses or through wholesalers; which has unique distribution opportunities that home chefs do not have. While they have some similar buying behaviors, they have distinct buying motivations and as such make up a different market segment.

We can do this on the B2B side, but I don’t want to bore you and I think by now you see how this process is replicable. More importantly, you can visualize how getting into the psyche of you customers creates evocative market segments, destroying any myths about Low Hanging Fruit that the “wantrepreneurs” want you to believe exist.




On Consumer Value Surplus


I was reading local entrepreneur Collin Austin’s blog this week wherein he discusses his new position at Gulejo Coffee. Gulejo by the way is founded by our Masters Degree in Entrepreneurship alumni.


Collin is coming on board as the C$O. Read his blog for more explanation, but just know he has a knack for original titles.  Something he did really caught my attention for it’s “out-of-the-boxness” (if I can use that phrase that way). It’s about the consumer value surplus. I would wager, and I’m not a betting man, that Collin didn’t think of the theory regarding consumer value surplus when he and Gulejo created this new strategy. But they nailed it.

Impact_icon_blurConsumer value surplus is the increased value one product has over another as perceived by customer. It is created entirely by the seller by portraying perceived utility greater than the cost of production. #duh Here’s how Gulejo did it.

Gulejo, like most coffee sellers, sold coffee by the pound (16 oz.)and half-pound (8 oz). Collin bumped that up a bit. Now the Gulejo pound is 17 oz. and the half-pound is 9 oz. Price doesn’t change for the customer, that’s value add number 1. Cost to Gulejo should be minuscule, that’s value add 2. In a vacuum that’s all fine and dandy. But this is the real world and competition exists. As a consumer evaluates and compares bags of coffee, Gulejo will stand out. The consumer will perceive greater value for their dollar simply because of the extra ounce. Collin isn’t the first person to use this tactic.


One of the main”American” breweries is now doing something with “tall-boys” bumping up the 24 oz can to 25 oz. However, I would argue this is rather ineffective. Tall-boys are a secondary revenue driver, they aren’t competitive enough for this to matter. It’s not the big money maker that competes for shelf space. That’s the 6-packs, the 12-ounce bottles or cans most commonly purchased. If I came out with a 13 ounce can, now I would be adding value in a competitive segment. That extra ounce wold now sway customers to my brand.

The same will happen with Gulejo coffee because they have added an ounce in the segment that plays by the pound and half pound. It creates a disruption where the incumbents are bound to the tyranny of the served market.

Good luck Collin, we’ll be watching to see what happens.

Veterans Entrepreneurship Program


The Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP) is designed for veterans who are interested in starting a business or who have an existing business. The program consists of three phases that provides practical training in venture creation and growth, and is accompanied by a support structure for participants as they pursue their ventures.

Dr. Michael Morris and the College's entrepreneurship faculty are launching a program to help disabled veterans in business.

Dr. Michael Morris and the College’s entrepreneurship faculty are launching a program to help disabled veterans in business.

“This rigorous, hands-on program is for veterans with a true passion to start something,” explains Professor Michael Morris, VEP founder. “It is about helping to empower those who have paid the price for our freedom to create their own futures, and to create ventures and jobs, hopefully for other vets.”

The program’s three phases are:

Phase I – Concept Development and Self Study (March 24 to April 26): Through online discussions moderated by the College’s entrepreneurship faculty, participants work on developing business concepts. Delegates with existing businesses work on understanding and shaping relevant business issues.

Phase II – Bootcamp (May 3-10): Delegates arrive in Gainesville for an intense eight day workshop on the University of Florida campus with faculty, guest entrepreneurs and business experts. This hands-on learning experience exposes participants to the “nuts and bolts” of business ownership.

Phase III – Mentoring and Venture Development (May 19 to January 2015): Delegates receive mentorship for eight months from entrepreneurs and business experts. Participants can rely on these successful business professionals to help provide solutions to existing problems.

To qualify for the program, veterans must meet three requirements:

1. Separated from active duty service (or currently in the administrative process of separating) with an honorable discharge.

2. Identified as disabled by the Veteran’s Administration or Department of Defense based on a “service connected” disability or “service distinguished” based on exemplary military conduct.

3. Demonstrates an intense interest in entrepreneurship and small business ownership/management.

Instruction, materials, travel expenses, lodging and meals for the Phase II Bootcamp will be provided at no cost to each delegate. The costs of the VEP are underwritten by sponsors and private donors, with operations and program development provided by CEI.

The deadline for applications is Feb. 20. For more information, contact Dr. Michael Morris, VEP Program Director, at vep@warrington.ufl.edu or 352-273-0329 or visithttp://warrington.ufl.edu/centers/cei/vep/.



Repost from https://news.warrington.ufl.edu/2014/02/cei-launches-innovative-program-to-help-business-minded-disabled-veterans/