"Know your target market: who is your customer and what will make them buy your lemonade over someone else's."
In the lead up to Labor Day, we have put together a Q&A series we're calling "Q&Aid" with some of the top entrepreneurs and city/business leaders to get our volunteers' creative juices flowing.
For the latest installment of our series, we sit down with Elizabeth Frame Ellison, president and CEO of the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation.
Editor's Note: Parts of this interview have been edited and condensed for clarity.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am the President and CEO of the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to decrease barriers associated with Tulsans achieving their goals through programming and grantmaking. Since 2009, I have been one of the driving forces of Tulsa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. My personal passion for this area led to LTFF’s partnership in founding 36 Degrees North, Tulsa Startup Series Powered by LTFF, Cultivate 918, and The Tulsa State of Entrepreneurship Report. In 2016 Ellison and the LTFF team founded Kitchen 66, Tulsa’s first-ever kick-start kitchen for food entrepreneurs. Since it opened, Kitchen 66 has served over 100 food entrepreneurs and 50% were female businesses. In November, 2018, I expanded this vision by opening Mother Road market, Tulsa's first food hall. In its first six months of operation, Mother Road Market merchants surpassed $4 million in revenue. Since I joined the LTFF staff in 2009, I've helped grow the organization from a staff of one to a staff of 50 people. I am married to Chris and have two boys, Taylor (8) and Wyatt (5) who LOVE flexing their entrepreneurial muscles (and their biceps) with lemonade stands and bake sales.
When did you know you wanted to do what you do now?
I always knew I wanted a job where I got to help people. I started off in government as a Legislative Assistant for Congressman Boren. However, I'm not the best at patience and the bureaucratic nature of government was frustrating to me! I like working directly with programs like Kitchen 66 that help people go from idea to market QUICKLY and pivot if they discover a part of their model that doesn't work.
Who is your biggest role model or mentor and why?
My biggest role model and mentor is my mom, Kathy Taylor! After having two kids of my own, I have even more respect for her boundless energy and compassion. She had a full time job with a packed travel schedule and still managed to pack me lunch and make homemade dinners! Now she's my biggest cheerleader and brainstorm buddy and the best grandma any kid could ask for!
What did you wish you knew when you were a kid that you know now?
It's OK to fail! I've learned so much more from failures than I ever have from succeeding.
What drives you to keep going when things get difficult?
The entrepreneurs who we work with every day! Their passion and unwavering commitment to their vision is infectious and addictive.