Jen Groover and Benjamin’s Desk – ICE CaPpers active in the Philadelphia entrepreneurship scene

What do you get when you cross a serial entrepreneur with a fitness enthusiast/mom/author/professional business enabler? You get Jen Groover! What do you get when you cross a thriving entrepreneurship community with a hip co-working space in Philadelphia? You get Benjamin’s Desk!

On Nov. 6th, a group of ICE CaPpers and I drove into Philadelphia to attend a StartupGrind event that was being held at Benjamin’s Desk, a co-working office that was founded by Villanova alum Mike Maher. Co-working offices provide startups and small business owners with a location to conduct business operations, and these offices often include perks like free coffee and snacks and conference rooms with high-tech sound systems. They are basically a home base for startups and entrepreneurs. Offices like these are popping up all over big cities, and entrepreneurial communities are growing alongside them. This seemed like a great opportunity to break into the Philadelphia entrepreneurial scene and to see a co-working space that some of us may find ourselves using in the next few years. Not to mention the fact that we got to hear from Jen Groover, a serial entrepreneur who is a New York Times bestselling author, the owner of her own lifestyle brand, and is one of five people to have her own PBS special.

Jen told us her story of starting her own fitness business in college, then transitioning onto many other entrepreneurial paths before she developed her own brand called Empower. Her story is one about the evolution of an entrepreneur—–entrepreneurs are never on a straight trajectory through their career, and that is what makes such a life exciting. Jen bounced from the fitness industry, to consumer products, to business consulting, to writing, to jewelry, and as of just recently, to the tech industry. However, this journey is also filled with uncertainty, fear, and vulnerability. Early in her career, Jen realized that she had volumes of idea journals but she lacked the courage to act upon the very ideas she spent hours developing on her own. Her fear of failure was preventing her from moving forward, and she realized that her fear of regret needed to be greater than her fear of failure.

As a college student, it was easy to relate to Jen’s fears. We spend four (or more) hectic years of our life obsessing over failure and how to avoid it. But our phobia of failure has a very limiting effect on our potential for success. As members of the ICE CaPS program, this has direct significance to our pursuit of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship——our ambitions of being a source of creative disruption will require that we place ourselves in a position of possible failure without a safety net. We will be challenging status quos and putting ourselves behind ideas that have never succeeded before. And odds are that we will be in this frightening situation multiple times. It is easy to feel intimidated when faced with these prospects, even though some of us desire deep-down to live the life of an entrepreneur.

I expressed these concerns with Jen after the event, and she said these fears are understandable, but largely unfounded. As college students, we are in the best possible position to be entrepreneurs—–we have numerous university resources at our disposal (including our professors and university alumni), we have fewer commitments, and investors are eager to invest in college students with viable ideas. In addition, we are located next to a hotbed of innovation in Philadelphia, and we have access to places like Benjamin’s Desk. Speaking of Benjamin’s Desk, Mike Maher, also mentioned that any Villanova student is invited to attend future StartupGrind events at Benjamin’s Desk free of charge.

So the doors are open, Villanova entrepreneurs! Let your fear of regret be greater than your fear of failure.