Speaking at Longmont Startup Week – That Which Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

Speaking at Longmont Startup Week – That Which Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

Event Description

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.”


Jeffrey Donenfeld

avatar for Jeff Donenfeld

Investment Manager, Boomtown Accelerator
Jeffrey Donenfeld is a business innovation and relationship manager, technology strategist, and media consultant.  | | He’s also worked globally as a photojournalist, public speaker, and blogger, and Antarctic expedition technician.


Sergio R. Angeles

avatar for Sergio R. Angeles

Co-Founder & President, Longmont Observer
Sergio is currently a co-founder and the president of Longmont Observer, a local non-profit news and media entity in Longmont, CO. Prior to working on startups, Sergio was a IT Consultant working for Fortune 500 companies such as Bank of America and Marriott. He left the east coa… Read More ?

Kate Cygan

avatar for Kate Cygan

Founder, Read Dog
A book nerd and coffee lover, Kate’s background is in literature and product creation. She loves the startup world and designing beautiful experiences.

Chris Drayer

avatar for Chris Drayer

Chris Drayer is CoFounder of Revaluate, the data company that leverages predictive analytics to determine who’s most likely to move.  Revaluate has been recognized by Stephan Swanepoel as a 2017 Top 20 Trendsetter and is a 2017 Inman Innovator award finalist. Previously, Chris launched RealSatisfied in the US and helped grow… Read More ?

avatar for Terry OlkinTerry Olkin

Co-Founder & CEO, Left Hand Robotics
An MIT graduate in Computer Science and Engineering, Terry has worked at both large Fortune 100 technology companies and small startups, including three he co-founded. He has over 25 years of experience that spans software engineering, conceiving new products, building business p… Read More ?

Michael Wray

avatar for Michael WrayFounder, Read Dog Books
Recurring revenue isn’t just for software. Every retailer can benefit from predictable monthly sales. And Michael believes that when you find a coffee roaster you love, you should be able to buy a subscription box from them.
Investment Manager Jeffrey Donenfeld moderates the startup panel at Longmont Startup Week 2017

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.