Philly Startup Leaders held its annual Founder Factory, a conference for startup founders and entrepreneurs, last week, but the two-day event’s energy has stuck with us.
This year’s programing included A Seat At The Table, the org’s annual solutions-focused dinner, followed by a day of panels, Q&As with founders, mentor sessions and casual chats at La Peg in Old City. The programming convened leaders in their industries, folks raising money and newcomers to the startup scene to share lessons and network.
On National Entrepreneurs Day (yep, it’s a thing), here’s a handful of things we heard last week that have stuck in the back of our minds:
“We can’t push Philly’s tech and innovation on a national stage but forget the rest of the city.”
PSL Director Kiera Smalls said this to the dinner crowd at the A Seat At The Table on Wednesday night. It was part of the larger conversation going on throughout the evening about how to build an inclusive culture in the city’s startup scene.
Smalls went on to say that all the good work being done in diversity, equity, and inclusion isn’t worth anything if leaders don’t use that momentum to uplift and propel other industries, communities and neighborhoods.
“We can’t solve those issues by tomorrow, but we can combat them in our homes, workplaces and personal lives,” she said.
“When you’re immersed in the city, you’re naturally embedded in the city.”
Guru CEO Rick Nucci said this during his one-on-one with Mogulette founder and Wilco Electronics EVP Brigitte Daniel. The pair were having a larger conversation around inclusive hiring and building company culture, and Nucci attributed much of Guru’s success to having built it in Center City, compared to his previous venture, Boomi, grown in the suburbs.
In the early years of Guru, the proximity to other tech companies and spaces like Nerd Street and Indy Hall pushed the company further and helped the team get embedded in the tech community, Nucci said.
“Do not fall for symbols of success.”
“Too many of us are crushing it on social, but can’t cover payroll,” Reynolds said.
Success comes in many forms, and more ventures fail than succeed, he said. The community aught to start sharing the realities of entrepreneurship instead of only the successes.
“We tell entrepreneurs they’re fearless risk takers, but when it comes to exposing ourselves and our struggles, we are cowards,” Reynolds said.
“The definition of an entrepreneur is someone who assumes risk.”
Skai Blue Media founder and CEO Rakia Reynolds talked with Smalls about the evolution of her career and lessons she’s learned over the decade of running her business.
Smalls asked the founder about “the art of lack,” a phrase she used once in a podcast.
Essentially, Reynolds said, it’s about how not having boundless resources or budget can often back you into a corner where the only choice is to be creative.
“My back is against the wall and I have to figure it out, there’s no one to figure it out but me,” she said.-30-