Conferences are deadly.
Enter: Build Grow Scale, this May in Orlando.
So basically all the things I do for a living, but better. Just watch the endless testimonials.
But beyond learning, I look forward to meeting other entrepreneurs.
The startup scene in NYC is all right, but it isn’t everything. In fact, startups aren’t everything.
Small businesses of all types, from brick/mortar to lawyers to car washes, can benefit from a digital marketing edge. Too often in tech we get consumed with active users and downtime and sprints that it can be easy to lose sight of what’s most important — providing something people want and creating jobs by selling it.
Build Grow Scale should be an awesome way to get out of the “we’re crushing it” scene and into the realm of small business peers, helping each other grow.
Will I see you there?
But it didn’t all happen in a month.
Believe it or not I spent 1.5 years recruiting a killer team, learning Rails, and buying enough Chinese takeout to feed an African village.
As for our first month? We’re pretty happy with the #’s.
But besides traction / product / user problems, what I’ve learned:
I didn’t get a lot of sleep before ArtSpot, but I get even less now. It’s not that I’m always “working” but that I literally can’t sleep. When investors ask “what keeps you up at night?” they’re speaking directly to my soul.
No matter how close I was to a company before ArtSpot, I never understood what it meant to have ‘founder’s burden’ until now. There is simply no one else on the planet who cares more about your project than you do (in the early days, anyway) and that takes an incredible toll on your health if not monitored.
My girlfriend is half the reason I’m still alive. The other half is iced coffee. Having a strong support system, romantic or platonic, is a must-have when you start a startup. Even though I’ve spent years on and off as a full-time entrepreneur (mostly freelancing, one small company) I was never as passionate about a vision as I am with ArtSpot.
Spending time with this group keeps me accountable with personal health and forces me to maintain a somewhat consistent routine. This is especially helpful for when you don’t have a “boss” telling you what to do all day.
I always thought I was a marketing guy; I was wrong. I’m now a sales machine, and last week I got my first batch of business cards since 2010.
Great managers a) surround themselves with people smarter than them and then b) get out of the way. It wasn’t difficult to achieve this rule of thumb and I’m learning how to manage ‘up’ to folks who are more talented than me in X,Y,Z arenas.
As we grow ArtSpot I hope I can continue getting out of the way while also being an enabler for progress.
One of the first sentiments I embraced before going full-time on ArtSpot was the 98% chance that we’ll fail. Whether failure is a mix of bad luck, market timing, or just plain incompetence, I’m prepared to fail fast, learn from my mistakes, and move on.
There are unlimited jobs, unlimited sources of income. But after a few years in the ‘real world’ I no longer find it interesting to sacrifice my own dreams just to chase someone else’s.
So while technology, founder-ship, and quitting great jobs isn’t the right move for everyone, I’m grateful that I’ve been surrounded by people and opportunities that make it the right move for me.
For better or worse, ArtSpot will be the highlight of my 25th year and I can’t wait to share the rest of our story as it unfolds.
Onwards and upwards,
When you start a startup, it looks like this:
The idea is oblong and awkward. Then you have a small victory, and it stands upright:
With each successive rotation the edges get smoother. It starts to take shape:
When a startup turns into a wheel, we consider it in “high growth stage.”
But what turns a high growth startup into a rocketship?
Something counter-intuitive; the startup tucks in the wheels.
…then it takes off.
Introducing my new passion, ArtSpot.
This weekend I wrote a parody to “Closing Time” by Semisonic, inspired by my experiences with Google Chrome.
Check it out:
In Donald Glover’s stand-up special Weirdo he says:
“No matter how “famous” I get, people always ask me to audition. This is strange to me because I can’t imagine walking on set one day and forgetting how to act.”
Before hearing this I assumed A-Listers “just show up” and everyone else has to prove their worth. Thanks to a bit of research, it turns out I was wrong. Sometimes A-Listers screen test, sometimes C-players hook a gig after lunch with the producer.
Shortly after watching Donald’s routine, an interesting marketing opportunity called my bat line. The next step was to submit a formal application.
But rather than core questions like “how would you make X better” or “what’s your approach,” the application insisted I send mind-numbing (and unrelated) research to an intern. I declined.
From this experience I realized auditioning has little to do with skill and everything to do with skill perception. Your work should speak for itself, and great managers can synthesize past performance into future potential. Hint: bad managers can’t.
In 2015 I’m going to do a better job of a) helping managers see my value, but also b) swallowing the occasional pride pill with a song and dance routine.
I hope you do too.