One word: AWESOME!
Yesterday I attended the 1st Birmingham Startup Summit at Workplay (owned by my good friends Clark and Tommy Williams), which Isotope11 sponsored. Firstly, I want to thank all the speakers for taking their valuable time to share their experiences and advice with everyone:
- Blaine Anderson Co-founder, PointClear Solutions
- Tracy Comas Co-founder, Hygia Health Services
- Josh Dennis Co-founder, Centrix & MSI
- Jeff Gale Founder, TicketBiscuit
- G.T. LaBorde Co-founder, MedMined
- Larry Lilley Co-founder, CTS
- Jason McCay Co-founder, MongoHQ
- Mario Moore Founder, GradesFirst
- Tom Patterson Founder, Daxko, TXEN, SEAKO
- Will Pearson Co-founder, Mental Floss
- Ben Wyrosdick Co-founder, MongoHQ
Although, to be perfectly honest, I will say that I didn't necessarily hear any new ground breaking ideas or concepts, it certainly validated, expounded on and enunciated what I have already experienced and learned myself. It did re-invigorate me, and I am now firmly re-dedicating myself to our already successful business.
A brief summary of the advice and topics covered
Choosing the correct founding partners is critical and was stressed by each of the speakers. I completely agree and consider myself extremely fortunate to have found by sheer providence my partner Josh Adams. To be honest and in my opinion, our different view points on matters and our shared core values are what makes us a successful partnership. Jason McCay from MongoHQ described it as a marriage without the sex part.
Tom Patterson, founder of Daxko, described entrepreneurship as an itch that must be scratched. In fact, he explained that the pain of not attempting to scratch it may be as painful as trying and failing. It also is an "active sport", in other words action must be taken, period. Planning, talking, researching, waiting are all important but the best way to begin is simply to do so. It was contended that action, whether it turns out to be right or wrong, is generally better than doing nothing.
Founders must have resources to weather the storm. If you don't have the resources which include financial, friends and family network, etc you will not succeed or at least it will be much more difficult.
Jeff Gale spoke about the importance of clearly defining you product or service and keeping it within the narrowest scope possible. He used the example of starting with a log and define it down to a pencil. Then define the pencil. I see the value in this as it allows you to more easily identify the resources and skill sets required to bring your startup to market.
Letting people go. Jason McCay explained that once a person has been identified as not producing or adding significant value to the company, let them go sooner rather than later. Generally re-tasking, talking to, moving them around to new position etc. simply won't work and it's just wasting resources with the same end result.
G.T. LaBorde, co-founder of MedMined spoke about having a very clear goal and/or exit strategy. Clearly defining what success looks like allows you to know when you're there. Generally, you should plan to exit within a growth period as investors are looking for future value and return on the investment.
This is by no means everything that was covered by the speakers of the summit, however it was what I took away.
Isotope11 was mentioned quite often and especially our incubate!(bang) startup competition.
Again, this event was simply awesome and we look forward to participating in future startup related events.
Laird Foret has over 24 years of experience in the IT industry and is responsible for the day-to-day operations and administration of isotope|eleven, inc. Prior to founding isotope|eleven in 2005, he started and ran many various companies and considers himself a serial entrepreneur. He graduated from Millsaps College in Computer Science and has a minor in accounting.