by Trish Fontanilla, Community Manager at Vsnap
Recently, Tech Cocktail started a new speaker series, SESSIONS, that brings experienced entrepreneurs into an intimate setting where people can hear their stories and learn about building a business. Last Monday, I was able to attend their first event in Boston that focused on the theme of turning startup ideas into action. TC had 2 amazing speakers for the event, Jeff Janer of Springpad and Jessica Kim of BabbaCo.
Janer has started 5 companies, 3 of which have been acquired. His talk focused on…
- Surrounding yourself with 8s and 9s. In his newest company, Springpad, I believe he said 7 of the 17 employees he’s working with came from his previous companies. He’s a strong believer of networking like crazy to find really great candidates and avoiding headhunters when possible.
- Begin at the end. Know where you want your company to end up. Is it an acquisition or will you become the dominant force in your industry?
- Have contempt for obstacles. Always a good tip for entrepreneurs, be passionate and don’t allow things to get in your way.
- Sales cures all. Focus on sales as soon as you can and don’t be afraid to actually sell your product/service early on when starting up your company.
- Find product market fit. Also, figure out if your product is a nice to have or a have to have.
What’s Janer’s secret sauce? His answer, “Timing and luck.” Of course, hard work is essential if you want to make the most of those two.
Kim spoke about how her entrepreneurial career started off while she was in college. She felt like a local pizza shop’s outsourced banana bread wasn’t up to par, so she offered to make her own loaves for them to sell. The encounter spawned her first company, Jessica’s Wonders, that started off selling baked goods to local shops and later landed Stop and Shop as a client. Her startup advice revolved around what she referred to as the 4 Ps of entrepreneurship:
- Passion. Kim started BabbaCo when she became a mother and wasn’t seeing products in the market to meet her baby’s needs.
- People. She’s also a big believer in creating a rock star team, right down to the service providers. Early on, Kim shared her vision with her mailman and when they weren’t ready to ship during the regular pick up time, he’d come back later!
- Perseverance. She found out that her mother had cancer right before she had an interview on national television. Puffy face and all, Kim stood in front of the cameras and did the interview. (BTW, her mother is fine now.)
- Purpose. Her baby’s needs turned into a mission of helping other parents and making their lives easier and more fun with BabbaCo products.
Both speakers had such a great presence but different ways of storytelling and it was an amazing event all around. Thank you to Boston community manager, Melissa Pocek (whose photos I used in this post) and the Tech Cocktail team and volunteers for putting together such an informative event. Also, congrats to Eli Sapir of Apptopia who won TC’s Hottest Startup in Boston poll and got to pitch at SESSIONS.
The next SESSIONS event in Boston is June 27th. RSVP here
. Looks like they have events coming up all over the country too, so check out their event schedule