Market disruptors: Local entrepreneurs look to change the game

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By: Charlene Cristobal | WCTV Eyewitness News
November 15, 2017

MGN Online

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- When you think about companies like Uber, Amazon or Netflix, each has something in common- they all changed the way people think about how we take care of business. Amazon changed the way we shop; Uber changed the way we get a ride; Netflix changed the way we watch movies and shows.

But these companies aren't just refining markets. They're evolving business as we know it.

It's even inspiring local entrepreneurs to become market disruptors.

If you would've told Adrianne and Aaron Kautz a few years ago that they'd be reinventing the pillow market, they probably wouldn't have believed you.

"I'm an interior designer, he's a graphics designer, we did not go to business school. We're not business people," Adrianne Kautz explains.

But today, that's exactly what they're doing, with their company, One Fresh Pillow. It all just started as a solution to a problem.

"Aaron's a licensed massage therapist and he had a lot of clients who had specific neck and back pain," Adrianne says.

Aaron adds, "They would describe why they were having these issues, and what the issues were. And after that it was like, I really think we can make a better pillow. I think there's a better pillow out there."

But it's not just the pillow. They're also starting a subscription service.

Adrianne says, "People can buy the pillow, set it up to be renewed on whatever basis they want. And they don't have to worry about it again."

In that moment, they changed the pillow market.

As it turns out, that's how a lot of market disruptors are born.

"It was a new way of solving issues... in ways that haven't been thought of before," says Douglass Tatum, of Florida State University's Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship. "I think that it's important because it's innovation at its core. And that's what this economy thrives on right now."

Tatum is the first to admit that inventing change isn't easy.

"The most common issue faced by businesses today is shortened product cycles. Meaning the innovation is happening at such a rate that you're always faced with somebody creating a competitive edge, and in effect, disrupting the status quo," Tatum says.

And those are skills are not taught in a classroom.

"You've got to go out and find a problem, and create a unique solution to it," Tatum explains. You have to add value to the marketplace, to attract the vote of somebody financially to create a business."

Adrianne and Aaron agree.

"Be responsible about it, do a lot of research," Adrianne says. "We've done a lot of market research. But, absolutely go for it. At least make the moves."

Those moves are certainly changing this couple's life, and disrupting the "sleep cycle" as we know it.

Another market disruptor will soon be making waves in Tallahassee, at First Commerce Credit Union's 5th Annual Power Forward Speaker Series. Airbnb's Chip Conley has been named this year's event speaker.

Conley founded Joie de Vivre Hospitality at age 26 - taking an inner city motel and turning it into the 2nd largest boutique hotel brand in the world. He served as CEO of the company for 24 years before accepting an invitation from the founders of Airbnb to help transform the home sharing start-up company into what is today as Head of Global Hospitality & Strategy. Conley transitioned to a part-time role as Strategic Advisor for Hospitality and Leadership in January 2017.

The Power Forward Speaker Series will be held at 3:30 p.m.on Wednesday, Jan. 31 at FSU's Ruby Diamond Concert Hall. A limited number of tickets are available at Tickets also will be sold at the FSU Fine Arts Ticket Office in the lobby of the Fine Arts Building at 540 W. Call Street.

For more information, visit

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