Last week I had a great time moderating the “That Which Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” panel for Longmont Startup Week 2017.
Being an entrepreneur is challenging in many regards and one of challenges is managing the ups and downs that come from starting and running a business. While the media loves to focus the successes of startups – winning rounds of funding, acquiring smaller startups and achieving unicorn status, the less glorious tales of entrepreneurs’ struggles to overcome challenges, the pain and scars of failure, rejection and loss of confidence tend to be glossed over or completely ignored. Great character is forged in the fire of adversity and many entrepreneurs and startups have risen to meet these challenges and achieve success. This panel of entrepreneurs will share some of the challenges and market flounders they faced as startups and how handled them.
Longmont Startup Week
“LSW17 will bring together entrepreneurs, wanna-preneurs, intrapreneurs, creatives, techies, inventors, business owners, and investors of all ages to connect and inspire. Over the course of five days, multiple networking events, panels, fireside chats, and guest speakers will be hosted at unique venues throughout Longmont, showcasing Longmont’s entrepreneurs in advanced technology, I.T., bioscience, creative arts, culinary, and more.”
Sergio R. Angeles
My Talk Notes
Chris Drayer, Co- Founder, Reevaluate
- Rate and rank real estate – but couldn’t monetize
- What do you do after raising money on one product – how do you pivot?
- Now ranking potential buyers already in contacts database
- Do you think people will think that data is too creepy?
- How did you decide to pivot?
- How do you decide whether to pivot or shut down and restart?
- How do people use the term pivot? Is the meaning changing?
- Key Takeaway: Don’t shut yourself out to what could be in front of you. Talk to customers. Have feedback look always open – continue to advance.
- Can you physically fail?
Michael Wray & Kate Cygan, Cofounders, Read Dog Books
- Pivoting to work with brick and mortar to enhance customer experience
- How did you see the need to pivot? Did you wait until the last second?
- “Always feel like we were running out of money”
- At some point acquisition = churn – that’s bad
- talked to boulder bookstore out of general industry research
- Key Takeaway – Focus on what you’re good at, not on what you’re failing at. Ask people around you what you’re good at too. Also, go out and talk to people.
- Key Takeaway – It doesn’t get easier! Be mindful, don’t equate yourself with your company.
Terry Olkin, Co-Founder & CEO, Left Hand Robotics
- Snow Clearing robots
- Wrote book about lessons learned from failed startups
- Since you wrote your book, have type and style of failures changed? Are failures more tolerated nowadays?
- first startup – building software tech – 2 years in the tech stack went out of vogue – DCE/CORBA – decided to pivot when they got to 50 people. – bad idea to pivot with so many people. Would have been better to shut down and then restart with pivot idea.
- 2nd company – network security
- Takeaways – need to know your market, keep evaluating and doing market research.
- How can you be honest with risk factors? What are the things that could tank the company? Product liability insurance.
- Key Takeaway – Make sure you’re solving a real problem. Understand the pain, and be passionate about it.
Sergio R. Angeles, CoFounder & President of the Longmont Observer
- Nonprofit news entity that focuses on longmont news – started in march.
- Wanted to help solve dying local news problem we have now – did non profit
- Started by aggregating RSS feeds. May 1st started writing own content.
- NPR Model
- Biggest threat to local news? Larger for profit company buying? What happened with Twin Peaks daily?
- Could net neutrality kill you guys?
- Key Learning – Entrepreneurial Depression.
- Key Learning – Get out away from computer and talk to real people.