Innovation is a monthly column in Madison Magazine covering startups, entrepreneurism, and innovative ideas coming out of Dane County, Wisconsin.
Other Recent Articles
From Backpacks to Face Masks
Local entrepreneur finds opportunity and hope despite the pandemic
Madison Magazine monthly Innovation column, December 2020
At the end of February, Forbes Media ran a success story on Madison entrepreneur Mike Zhang. He’d taken a risk in 2018 and left his job as vice president of ecommerce, digital marketing and innovations at Lands’ End to launch his own business, Fenrici Brand, on Amazon Marketplace. Fenrici generated $1 million in sales in its first year — a feat, according to Forbes, achieved by fewer than 1% of Amazon sellers — and was projected to double sales in 2020. But mere weeks after that interview was published, COVID-19 slammed the U.S. What did Fenrici Brands primarily sell? Backpacks, thermoses and lunchboxes to school kids.
“I essentially abandoned my own business, I admit,” Zhang laughs now, as his sales predictably tanked. So he did what entrepreneurs do: He adjusted on the fly.
—Maggie Ginsberg is an associate editor at Madison Magazine and a long-time award-winning freelance writer. Innovation is her monthly column for Madison Magazine focused on startups, entrepreneurism and innovative ideas coming out of Dane County, Wisconsin.