‘Empathy Can Unlock Immense Opportunity’
By Aliyah Morphis '17
Aliyah Morphis ’17 explains how Bronco Venture Accelerator helped her and Hannah LeBlanc ’19 found Tress, a haircare company that offers personalized products and consultation for all hair types.
Like most sentiments associated with emotion, empathy is often seen as a weakness in the work world. However, when applied in a professional space, empathy can unlock immense opportunity.
Initially, Hannah and I founded Tress Hair Co., a platform that provides users with personalized hair care resources, with the intent to solve our personal hair dilemmas. When establishing product-market fit, we surveyed 500+ women and quickly realized we were not the only women battling to tame our manes.
Each woman shared the problems they face with their unique hair type. Their hair types varied in curl pattern, porosity, density, and length. Despite the stark differences in hair type, the root of each challenge was the same–women were wasting too much time, money, and energy in search of the right hair care resources. Once we understood the universal root of each haircare challenge, Tress was no longer about solving a one-off problem for two curly-aired women. Hannah and I shifted our focus to building a dynamic solution that efficiently equips users with personalized hair care resources. Now, Tress empowers all users to feel confident throughout their hair care journey. Acting on the empathy we have for our users has allowed our business to create impact, at scale.
Although Tress was created with consumers in mind, the same principle can be applied to the B2B space. For example, when salespeople display empathy, they are perceived as trusted consultants, rather than pushy salespeople. As Business Leader Jeffrey Gitomer notes, “A consultant is a resource. Customers would much rather take advice from a consultant than listen to a salesperson try to sell them something.” Today, the growth engines of Silicon Valley’s most disruptive tech companies are built on consultative tactics like active listening, inquisitive questioning, and solution mapping, rather than traditional, one-size fits all pitches.
From ideating a business concept, to closing a multimillion-dollar deal, empathy is a powerful tool that can be used to connect people in various facets of life. As we live our lives day to day, it's easy to remain head down, and solve for the challenges we face as individuals. But, if we, as a society lead with empathy – throughout a SaaS sale, in the Starbucks line, when passing a tent city, or voting, we can unravel the chaos and reconstruct the fabric of our nation through equitable and scalable problem-solving.
Learn more about the Bronco Venture Accelerator Program at the Ciocca Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship