Management Consulting: The Perfect Prep for Entrepreneurship
The idea behind The Bouqs, a hip alternative for buying flowers, was sparked by frustration. Founder John Tabis wanted to order flowers online, but found the leading providers to be misleading and cumbersome to interact with.
Curious to know more, he investigated, and he found out that because of intense competition, many companies advertise prices that are too low to be profitable, then pad the final sale with add-ons. Orders are then fulfilled by a local florist, who, claims Tabis, often aims to “give you the closest product to what you ordered, but in the cheapest way possible.” As a result, consumers often are disappointed.
So when Tabis started The Bouqs, he decided to simplify the supply chain—orders ship directly from the farm—as well as the user interface, which puts the flowers “on a pedestal,” he says. The website is clean, fun, and the $40 price tag for all bouquets includes shipping and handling. “We’re trying to build a brand and an emotional experience that will keep people coming back,” says Tabis.
So far, the company is off to a great start. And Tabis credits his success not only to having the right idea—but also to his two years of management consulting experience at Bain & Company.
As a new hire at Bain, he hit the ground running, teaming up with senior managers and partners to help companies with their toughest challenges and transitions—many of the same issues that entrepreneurs confront every day. “You get exposed to every angle of problem you could possibly have to solve,” says Tabis. “That really well-rounded education—practical experience rather than theory—is a perfect starting point for an entrepreneur.”
Mireia Llusia-Lindh, a former manager at Bain who launched luxury handbag company Milli Millu, in London in 2010, agrees. Her years of exposure at Bain to the luxury goods sector helped Llusia-Lindh fill what she perceived to be a big hole in the market: luxury handbags designed with the businesswoman in mind. She describes Milli Millu bags as handcrafted yet practical, chic and clever, luxurious yet attainable. “They’re everything I wanted but could never find,” she says.
And these two founders aren’t alone: Llusia-Lindh also points out that many of her peers at Bain have or will become entrepreneurs—including the founders of Birchbox and Warby Parker. “Bain provided me a network of incredibly talented people that I still treasure today,” she notes. In fact, to make the most of that network, Llusia-Lindh co-founded the UK Entrepreneur Alumni Network in 2011, which now boasts more than 100 Bain alums who share expertise and support, injecting some of the Bain team culture into what can be a dauntingly solo endeavor.
“As a Bain alum, I have access to a lot of amazing people who I’ve relied on for advice or connections for fundraising,” agrees Tabis. “And a lot of Bain folks are buying flowers from us now, because they have a strong sense of loyalty and belonging.”
Of course, there’s no single path to success as an entrepreneur. But with such a steep learning curve, it pays to equip yourself with potent tools. And experience at a management consulting firm provides such a toolkit.
Photo of consultants courtesy of Shutterstock.
Russ Hagey is a senior partner and worldwide chief talent officer of Bain & Company. He oversees the strategic design, development, management and communication of the firm's human capital programs across all 49 offices and 5,500 employees. His work ensures that strategies supporting human capital priorities are aligned with Bain’s business goals and that the firm is recruiting and retaining the best talent from around the world. The firm has received numerous acknowledgements as the best place to work.More from this Author