Home > Uncategorized > My epic @GEWUSA for 2010: started @EntrepreneurHoF, @RescheduleMe, and pitched @AwesomeTouch
My epic @GEWUSA for 2010: started @EntrepreneurHoF, @RescheduleMe, and pitched @AwesomeTouch
Some people look forward to March Madness. Others love the Christmas and New Years season, or summer vacation. I wait all year for Global Entrepreneurship Week.
I first learned about GEW last year. I built a site to try to contain everything that was going on in Lexington’s entrepreneur scene, but it was barely enough to whet my appetite. So, we at Awesome Inc set our sights higher for 2010, and I’m proud of our team for dominating! Truly, anything can be accomplished with the right group of passionate people.
How did we dominate this GEW?
- Launched the Kentucky Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. What began as a list last November turned into an event, and that event finally happened last Wednesday. We contacted all the biggest names in entrepreneurship in Kentucky, and invited them to sit in the same room. It was incredible how well most of these guys know each other, and how much they stood on each others’ shoulders to get to where they are today.
- Lexington Venture Club. This meeting was the epitome of what entrepreneurship means to me: be fast, and always be closing. AwesomeTouch was the final LVC presentation of the day, and the crowd was getting a little antsy, so Brian decided that we had 10 minutes to complete our 15 minute presentation. He just kept clicking, but it worked. Our energetic pitch landed us several follow-up meetings and great support from the community. More importantly, we scored a demo for the host hotel (a target customer of ours, which just happened to be the lunch venue). That demo resulted in an appointment for another demo for a decision-maker higher up in the organization, which is an exciting opportunity for us.
- Startup Weekend Lexington 2010. Perhaps the most important event we host all year for cultural purposes, SW brought together a smaller group than usual, but it was solid! We had several strong teams, a respectable group of developers and designers, and two teams (Capeve and Reschedule.Me) that are worthy of the Global Startup Battle competition.
How did GEW dominate me?
This is important because entrepreneurship is anything but a plateau. Once something hits a comfortable plateau, it is officially a mature business. Before that, it’s a rollercoaster, and it is through the downs, the failures, that we really learn how to achieve the upsides.
- Financial gut check. Our latest credit card bill for ATouch was due on Monday. We’ve been having a few cash-flow issues, as would any startup on its first few customers. But Monday, it hit me that I would have to dip into my brokerage account reserves and put a bit more money into my company. This was a tough realization, especially when Mint.com tells me that my time-to-live is now under 3 months. How long do we have before we start making money? Less than 3 months.
- Non-universal benevolence. So, I’ve been working on this community bike shop as a side project. During this week, I received a serious wake-up call: not everyone in the bike community in town is in support of the new shop. Owners of Local Bike Shops can’t help but see it as competition as long as we sell used bikes and parts. Our primary goal was to serve disadvantaged people in town who rely on bikes for transportation. However, the hands-on yet financially capable members of the cycling community (myself included) saw a great opportunity to use the same tools and space to work on our own bikes. That’s where we went into the gray area between pure community service, to a community resource. I learned a lot from the 5-minute appointment that turned into a 45-minute passionate conversation. As tough as it was to hear that this community service project, which we have struggled to open for months, was not a benign addition to the community, it was important that I understand the economic effects of its addition in its current state, and the willingness of our potential competitors to become likely supporters with small changes in our mission and activities. It was like diving head first into negotiation 101, and I’m better off for it.
- Funding. If everything else wasn’t enough, our documentation to receive grant funding from KSTC was due on Friday. Fortunately, we had started on this early and had set in motion the service providers who could generate our proof of insurance and an assertion that we are indeed a Kentucky-based company. While we are quite glad to have received $30k with only few strings attached, it certainly did not come without an apt stack of paperwork. Some of it was expensive, and time consuming, but it was worth the struggle.
Times like these remind me of the importance of experiencing entrepreneurship. There’s no way I could have gathered the lessons that I learned in one week of action simply through reading a textbook or listening to some non-entrepreneur professor shove talk about business plans in my general direction. First hand experience is the only way to enable someone like me to think on his feet, and that is what is missing from today’s educational system. I’m looking forward to being an example of why we should make a dent in that.