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Horn Entrepreneurship

Horticulture Meets Entrepreneurship: Lauren Roberts' OBEnaturelle

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At the University of Delaware, students with interests in entrepreneurship are celebrated and encouraged to pursue their dreams. Each year UD hosts Hen Hatch as an opportunity for these budding entrepreneurs within the university to pitch their business ideas, gain valuable feedback, and compete for funding and resources to help turn their concepts into reality.  This past fall, Horn Entrepreneurship hosted Hen Hatch 2023, where we were able to hear from many amazing students who were pitching their startup ideas. While all of the pitches were well executed and persuasive to the crowd, one student and her promising startup stood out to the judges.  Lauren Roberts, pitching her startup OBEnaturelle, ultimately ended up coming in first place in Hen Hatch 2023. I sat down with Lauren to discuss how she started her business, as well as her experience at Hen Hatch.

 Lauren is a sophomore Entrepreneurship student at UD who runs her business OBEnaturelle while taking classes full-time and staying involved in multiple clubs. With OBEnaturelle, in which OBE stands for Our Beautiful Environment, she uses her passion and skill for horticulture to create and sell terrarium building kits as well as plant/plant care workshops. The idea for the name is something she says “is a grander idea and not just a random name”, which shows her love for plants as well as sustainability and her passion for creating and sustaining a beautiful environment. Her love for entrepreneurship started as a child when Lauren would frequently run small businesses in school.  She started with paper nail kits in middle school and then eventually moved on to selling bamboo toothbrushes and metal straws.  Though these businesses early on ended up failing because she did not know how to run a business yet, they created an entrepreneurial spark in her.  While taking a step back from the small businesses, Lauren was eventually introduced to plants and how to grow and take care of them.  As her collection grew too big, she started selling parts of her plants and planting kits on Etsy before launching her website.  Building off her success with product sales, Lauren has expanded on her original plan of just selling the plants and terrariums and transitioned into more terrarium-building workshops and event planning.  

In addition to finding the right business model, Lauren and OBEnaturelle have navigated the intricate world of marketing. Lauren discovered that while Instagram didn't quite suit her business, platforms like Pinterest and TikTok proved to be far more effective.  Reflecting on this journey, she felt that marketing posed a significant challenge. It often felt like throwing money at the wall and hoping something sticks, or relying on organic growth and crossing your fingers. Fortunately, TikTok proved to be a game-changer. Lauren also highlighted how these platforms have facilitated the growth of a vibrant community of plant enthusiasts. However, she expressed a desire for deeper engagement with her audience, aiming to have meaningful conversations about OBEnaturelle's identity as a company and the array of services it offers.

 As her company continued to grow, Lauren was still in high school and trying to decide the next steps for herself and OBEnaturelle.  Ultimately, she decided to attend the University of Delaware and was introduced to all of the helpful entrepreneurship resources and clubs on campus. Lauren mentioned how she started joining many of the entrepreneurship clubs and immersing herself in the community as soon as she got to campus, “Once I came here, I was a Delaware Innovation Fellow.  Then I went to VentureOn, the Venture Development Center, and eventually Hen Hatch.” She says that her main takeaway from Hen Hatch was that she got to learn better skills for pitching and also create a direct goal for her company and learn how to speak about it. Lauren talks about how many mentors, advisors, and investors helped walk her through the process and gave her feedback. Continuing in the future, Lauren talks of how she would love to expand on OBEnaturelle, but that this business has also been a project for her to learn what works and what doesn’t when running a business.  She would like to create more businesses in the future and ultimately sell them for profit or own a majority.

Although, throughout the journey of creating OBEnaturelle Lauren has had to overcome many obstacles, she still encourages budding entrepreneurs to at least try. Lauren says, “Just start it. Just try. Ultimately, they do say, Oh, your first business is going to fail. You know, I never believed that. But then I did it.”  She says to not get discouraged by failure and to keep trying to share your ideas. ​​Lauren's aspirations reflect a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a clear vision for her future.  Her commitment to using her current venture as a learning platform shows her dedication to personal and professional growth. By actively applying the knowledge gained from her entrepreneurship and business classes to her own business endeavors, Lauren is not only enhancing her skills but also maximizing the potential for success with OBEnaturelle.  Lauren's story with OBEnaturelle exemplifies the journey of a driven and ambitious entrepreneur who is willing to learn from her past mistakes. With her determination and the valuable lessons learned along the way, she is well-positioned to achieve her goals and make a significant impact in the business world.

About Horn Entrepreneurship

At the University of Delaware, Horn Entrepreneurship stands as the driving force for fostering entrepreneurship, education, and progress. Currently ranked among the best entrepreneurship programs in the US, Horn Entrepreneurship has been established and is actively championed by accomplished entrepreneurs. This support empowers aspiring innovators as they embark on the journey of exploring new ideas for a brighter and more impactful world.

Topics: entrepreneurship, innovation, Hen Hatch