Big life lessons

The first time Alexandra and Scott Eidens launched their startup on Kickstarter, it failed.

In fact, they ended the campaign from the hospital the day after Alexandra, MBA ’08, gave birth to their son, Mikey, in 2016. Instead of giving up, though, they retooled their pitch, finalized their first product and relaunched the campaign, raising nearly $45,000—triple their goal.

“It was exhilarating and a little daunting,” says Scott, MBA ’09. “We both looked at each other like, ‘Well, we’ve got work to do.’ To say things happened fast from there would be an understatement.”

Soon, they opened an online storefront and orders streamed in for their Big Life Journal, which empowers kids with confidence and a growth mindset, through bright illustrations, stories and space for drawing and reflection.

“With a growth mindset, you exhibit creativity, patience and perseverance when you encounter obstacles,” Scott says. “Recognizing and fostering these skills in young kids helps them become self-confident and resilient adults.”

Alexandra adds: “But a growth mindset isn’t something you achieve and have for life—it takes practice. One aspect of growth mindset I love so much is not being afraid to fail, or rather embracing failure as a means to learn and grow.”

The couple first met as MBA students in the UB School of Management. Alexandra won a date with Scott at a charity auction hosted by the Graduate Management Association, and the rest is history.

From there, both took corporate jobs, but found themselves considering entrepreneurship after several years. As a national account manager at North American Breweries, Scott had the freedom to troubleshoot issues and be creative in his approach to sales. Meanwhile, at IBM’s Watson Group, Alexandra spent her days assessing proposals from startups for collaboration opportunities.

Today, Big Life Journal offers journals for different ages, along with other resources, printables, a podcast and web TV series.

“I got bit by the ‘entrepreneur bug,’” she says. “Meeting with CEOs and startup leaders, I witnessed their passion to solve problems and improve the world. We wanted to have a greater impact, and it became pretty clear that we’d be more fulfilled in trying to venture out on our own.”

During their evenings off, the couple would kick around business ideas, while also preparing to welcome their first child. After searching in vain for children’s books or materials on growth mindset skills, they saw their opportunity—and created the first Big Life Journal to help their son and kids everywhere believe in themselves.

“Entrepreneurs often say they wanted to scratch their own itch when creating a product or service to solve a problem—this was our itch,” Scott says. “We wanted to put these concepts together in a format that kids could use, understand and hopefully be inspired by.”

Today, Alexandra and Scott serve as CEO and COO, respectively, alongside a remote team of employees. Their company, also called Big Life Journal, has grown to include a podcast, web TV series, and a range of journals and resources—with ideas for new offerings often coming from their online community of more than a million parents and educators.

Managing their own business also means more time together for the growing Eidens family, which now includes James, Mikey’s little brother, born last August.

“For entrepreneurs, the idea of striving for work-life balance is misleading,” Scott says. “It implies you have to partition your life into two equal halves so the scale balances. But if you enjoy what you’re doing—in our case, because you know you’re improving the lives of children—then the scale is irrelevant.”

Written by Matthew Biddle