One of the keys to successful entrepreneurship is figuring out how to build a better mousetrap. It’s not so much about inventing something new or different but just doing it in a new or different or better way. The impetus for this kind of ingenuity and creativity is finding a novel way to exploit a known market, but how do you (a) do that exactly and (b) convince people who already have an established purchasing preference that they ought to dump their old habit and switch to your product?
Meet Erin White Landry and Ben Nguyen.
Erin White Landry is a microbiologist and owner of Thomas Therapeutics, a Baton Rouge based brand of all-natural, skincare products designed to help those with sensitive skin conditions. Erin founded the company in 2016, after years of frustration dealing with eczema, a condition both she and her sister suffer from. Through trial and error, she has learned to use herbs, teas, essential oils and other plant-derived ingredients to make gentle soaps, body butters, moisturizers, toners, cleansers and bath salts. But Erin isn’t just an entrepreneur. Thomas Therapeutics is a black-owned small business and over the past year, Erin has created a growing online community for Black women to talk about wellness, trauma, financial literacy and mental health.
Ben Nguyen is owner of Louisiana Revival Apparel, a Baton Rouge-based startup that specializes in print on demand services. The company’s model is a little different from your typical screen printing company. In this better mousetrap model, customers with existing online stores can integrate directly with its system, allowing La Revival Apparel to print and ship directly to their customers without ever having to carry any inventory themselves. LRA does all the work while its customers focus on marketing and advertising their products. Ben founded the company when he was just 18 years old when he was a senior in high school. Today, he is a 21-year-old junior at LSU majoring in ISDS and though his company headquarters is located in LSU’s Innovation Park, he has built the business entirely by himself.
And there you go, or in this case “geaux” – two examples of Baton Rouge entrepreneurs building a better mousetrap, and by all accounts succeeding.
Photos by Jill Lafleur. Here’s more lunchtime conversation with imaginative Baton Rouge entrepreneurs working in the healthcare space.