Growing up in Attleboro, Mass., Jack Flynn ’20 always had an appetite for creativity.
“I’m a musician and an artist. I love creating things that didn’t exist in the world before, and that’s something that always interested me about business,” he said. “I decided I could make the biggest, quickest impact on the world through business.”
That interest ultimately led him to Babson College, where his entrepreneurship concentration and experiences like Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME) inspired him to take the unexpected path of pursuing his venture, Pure World, full time.
“I didn’t anticipate being in my senior year and not looking for jobs,” he said. “But my philosophy is that the easiest way to live a happy life is to do what I want to do. And I want to be in the forefront of creating something new.”
Pure World, which started as a backpack business and grew into an adventure brand, started early in Flynn’s time at Babson as an FME business. As he prepares to take on the venture full time, Flynn gave us insight into his—and his company’s—Babson journey.
Where did the idea for Pure World come from?
“My FME team started with a completely different product and idea. Long story short, we had trouble with our original supplier. We had to start from scratch.
“During a late-night brainstorming session, our CEO, who was from Nepal, shared that she met a man in Kathmandu selling hemp backpacks. The gears immediately started turning in my head; I could see a bigger vision. I knew it could be bigger than just backpacks.
“We were able to import 100 bags for the FME expo. Just in time, too; our CEO had to go to New York City to retrieve them from customs, and we got them to campus the morning of the expo. Once there, they sold like hot cakes. I sold 40 bags at the expo alone. We broke even on the first day of sales. It was an immediate success.”
How has the company grown since launching in FME?
“To bring it beyond backpacks, I created a branding campaign called ‘Where Will Your Bag Take You?’ The idea: They aren’t just backpacks. They are a catalyst for adventure. We asked people to take pictures and videos on hikes, or walking the beach, or at sunset, with the backpack. It spread quickly, especially in my hometown, where a young person creating a business was something new.
“Since then, we’ve created an adventure map, a platform for our customers to show all of the places they’ve been with their bags. Users can drop a pin, write a blog, and upload a photo of what they did with their bags. Someday, we will expand the platform to help all travelers plan better trips by connecting them with local and other experienced travelers. It has been incredible to watch the business transform throughout the years.”
How has your Babson education helped you feel comfortable with pivoting?
“My FME professor, Yasu Yamakawa, is incredible. He has been with the company since the beginning and has seen it through thick and thin. During FME, he taught me two of the most important lessons I’ve learned at Babson: that failure is good, and that action trumps everything. Those principles were reinforced every single class, and they stuck. That’s why I keep taking immediate action, and if I fail, I know I’ll learn from it and iterate.”
What other Babson resources have helped you build your venture?
“I work a lot with the Butler Launch Pad and frequently go to their How To Tuesday events, which are great for learning the nuts and bolts of starting a company. I also spent a lot of time at the Weissman Foundry. Beyond the machines at the Foundry, there is huge value in the community of creatives who gather in that space. Not just from Babson, but from Wellesley and Olin colleges, too.”
What advice do you have for future Babson students?
“It’s possible to create something. You come to Babson to learn the mindset and use the resources. And the biggest resource for me has been my fellow students—exchanging ideas, getting feedback. So when you get here, you might not have the idea immediately, and that’s OK. Your four years at Babson are a brainstorming process. That’s exactly what Pure World has been for me.”
Posted in Entrepreneurs of All Kinds