Startup Success Stories: 4 pieces of advice from Tech in Motion - Technical.ly Philly

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Mar. 26, 2013 10:30 am

Startup Success Stories: 4 pieces of advice from Tech in Motion

The Startup Success event series coming from Tech in Motion Philadelphia, a year-old Meetup group from IT recruiting firms Workbridge and Jobspring, featured real takeaways from young local firms that have had success.

Attendees of the inaugural Startup Success series March 21 from the Tech in Motion meetup, organized by IT recruiting firms Workbridge Associates and JobSpring.

If you want more startup successes, you should show off the startup successes you already have.

That’s what’s behind the Startup Success event series coming from Tech in Motion Philadelphia, a year-old Meetup group from IT recruiting firms Workbridge and Jobspring. The first was held last Thursday at Workbridge’s Center City Two Liberty Place headquarters.

Melissa Koenig, a marketing specialist at Workbridge and co-organizer of the event, said the series aims to bring the community together to learn from and become inspired by those who have experienced success, noting “gaining knowledge is never a bad thing.

“There’s a lot to be learned from stories like this,” Koenig said. “I think that that is really important for the future of the tech world.”

At the inaugural meeting Thursday night in the offices of Two Liberty Place, four panelists of varying experience took the stage to dish out the do’s and don’ts of startups and how they managed their own ventures.

SUMO: FIND THE RIGHT PARTNER TO START

The night began with Bart Mroz of SUMO Heavy Industries, who gave a relatively short presentation laying out his four tips to success.

Mroz’s first tip was to choose the right partner, which he related to a marriage, noting that he eventually moved in with his business partner during the early building stages.

Similar to finding the proper partner, Mroz’s second recommendation was to put the right team together by implementing good processes and efficiency through a controlled number of members. He found six to be the magic number, thus far.

“There’s a lot of stuff that goes through everyday and you go ‘Well, I got to take care of everything,’ but just do it,” Mroz said. “Just do what you need to get done to get through the day, or let you people do it.”

The remaining two steps are to focus and learn to juggle, Mroz said in order to concentrate on what you do best. He noted that a previous company he had worked for split simply because it couldn’t simultaneously maintain various aspects. His example was his own company, which focuses strictly on e-commerce.

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CHAIKIN: HIRE PEOPLE WITH DIFFERENT SKILLS THAN YOURS

A second speaker, C.H. Low, the CTO of Chaikin Analytics, spoke of his 30-year career as an entrepreneur and gave valuable insight into the quick-paced startup market.

His first piece of advice: “Go and work with the smartest people you can find,” Low said, which he mentioned also goes for hiring. “That’s what I did.

“Every day you work with them, you’re going to learn something,” he said.

Secondly, Low advised that the worst thing you can do as a startup leader is vetoing the ideas of your peers and sticking only to your own.

Low encouraged the crowd of 100 people that you cannot succeed without making a lot of mistakes.

“Your IQ is not always as important as your EQ [emotional intelligence],” Low said.

Low’s final advice was that when you have problems, solve them fast. He gave an example of how when managing his project teams, he aims to resolve any issues within 24 hours and if he can’t, he has a backup plan within the following 24 hours to keep things running smoothly.

AWEBER: WHAT ARE YOUR CORE VALUES?

The third guest of the night was Tom Kulzer from AWeber, an email marketing software company he started at 21 in his two-bedroom apartment in York, Pa., while taking a semester off from college. Fourteen years later, his company is responsible for serving 120,000 customers.

Kulzer’s started his presentation with the hiring of prospects, which he advised to do sooner than you think. He said team growth helps resolve evolving problems.

Once the team is in place, Kulzer said to establish core values, which commonly surround a basic model in the technology industry: Learn. Educate. Innovate.

As for the product, Kulzer said providing value is key, noting to “sell something people want to pay for.”

Related to the product is the service, which Kulzer said he believes many companies overlook. By teaching customers how to use a service, it gives them confidence and minimizes frustration, which leads to satisfied, return customers, he said.

Lastly, Kulzer greatly emphasized to the audience to be different.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called crazy,” Kulzer said regarding ideas he’s had. “If people call you crazy, you’re onto something.”

Given Kulzer said he cherishes the vitality of teamwork at his company, he decided to be different by providing his staff with daily meals, along with fully covered health insurance.

VIEW FROM MY SEAT: FIND A PROBLEM YOU WANT TO SOLVE

The last presenter was Frank Panko, who shared his experiences with his newly founded project, A View From My Seat, which began in 2010 after he realized when selecting Phillies tickets that he could only see a simple seating chart, opposed to his idea—a photo of the full, real view you’d experience in that seat. (The startup is a new Project Liberty company)

He and his wife, also his business partner, have taken things on together.

“We’ve both been right, and we’ve both been wrong.” Panko said, an example that was echoed by the panelists throughout the night, which is that no single person can do everything as teamwork is often the best work.

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