Entrepreneur in Residence Barbara Bigford Speaks to ICE CaPS

http://www.thecalifornian.com/story/life/2014/06/18/bigford-solid-success-record/10677753/It was truly a pleasure to be able to hear the story of real life entrepreneur, Barbara Bigford, at her ICE CaPS session, “Getting Your Ideas Out There” on January, 20th and learn how she went from being a frustrated beach goer to inventor of the wildly successful Beach Pockets. When I first walked into the Idea Accelerator, on the bottom floor of Falvey Memorial Library, I had no idea that the person I was shaking hands with was the founder of a multimillion dollar company.

It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to attend the event; As a mentor for ICE CaPS, I just wanted to have the chance to touch base with the students on the progress of their projects. I got there early, to see if there was anything that needed to be set up and right away a woman came over and shook my hand, introducing herself simply as Barbara. As I learned from her presentation, Barbara has a natural charisma and friendliness about her that served her well as the sole salesperson and marketer of her Beach Pockets product. The story of her success is truly serendipitous— believe it or not, her idea stemmed from being annoyed about her umbrella flying away at the beach!

Did you ever see that mother’s day commercial about how moms have the “World’s toughest Job”, and never get a day off? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWcJZ210AaM

Well, this couldn’t have rang more true for Barbara when it was a family day at the beach. As amusing as a Sunday newspaper comic, Barbara was waiting all year to relax on the beach and read a good book. But instead of being able to enjoy her long-awaited day in the sun, Barbara was stuck, sitting in a beach chair,both arms out, holding her umbrellas down to keep them from flying away. Her arms were tired from being perpetual anchors, and even worse, the pages of her book flapped hopelessly in the wind. She looked out at the water, and the miles and miles of sand, and the idea hit her— “Why can’t I use the sand to hold down my umbrella?” From design to patent and price points to trade shows, Barbara took us back through her amazing journey as the founder of Beach Pockets ©.   She advertised on QVC, manufactured in China, sold in many stores (including earning the highly coveted position as a Walmart approved vendor) and was chosen to have her product given away in the “swag bag” at the Golden Globes.

As a student, this was such an interesting and cool experience to be able to hear the story of success first hand.  Barbara is such an inspiring individual, and really ignites the fire inside you to become an entrepreneur!  A few key takeaways from Barbara’s presentation:

  • Fix everyday problems! Just like Beach Pockets ©, if you are having a problem with something, chances are, so is someone else.  Part of why Barbara knew her umbrellas would be successful was after her first prototype—she had only one set of pockets, which she made for herself—everyone who saw her on the beach was asking “Where did you get those?”
  • Have your “Elevator Pitch” ready! You might only get 5 minutes.  In fact, Barbara was able to get meetings with almost anyone she wanted, because she would say, “Please, I just need 5 minutes. You can time it”.  Sure enough, she started her watch and always finished in 5 minutes or less.
  • Now, I know if I do have an idea, I know who I’m going to talk to about it for advice! (FYI, Barbara has Office Hours as the Entrepreneur in Residence in the Idea Accelerator EVERY THURSDAY from 1-4pm)

For more on Barbara, check out this article!