November 30, 1999 in ATDC News

IEI Entrepreneurial Forum

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Michael Coles, former Chairman and CEO of Caribou Coffee, gave an inspirational speech titled "Taking on Goliath" at the IEI Entrepreneurial Forum ealier this month.  Michael shared the story of his career and the lessons he learned on how to succeed in building a business.  Michael stressed the importance of determination in each of his successes.  He said being told something couldn’t be done motivated him to prove it could be done.

However, the key take away for me was the importance he placed on a customer centric organization.  Michael attributed much of the success of Caribou Coffee to the value proposition they strove to deliver to every customer, every day.  The customer was in fact at the center of their organization – the basis for every company decision.  He believes the success of every company, not just consumer companies, is dependent upon a clearly defined value proposition and a company organized to deliver it.

Michael’s comments lead me to reflect upon technology start-ups and wonder if they view their customer value proposition as just a message for investor or the basis for their sales pitch.  Entrepreneurs, do you consider delivering your customer value proposition key to the success of your company?




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