By Madison Hamman
I thought it might be a good thing to gather my thoughts from the MobileX conference I spoke at a few weeks ago in Lexington, KY. MobileX is a gathering of mobile startups, investors, idea guys, coders, etc., to talk about lessons learned, how-tos, and what’s next in the mobile space. The event was started in Lexington by Awesome Inc., an incubator/co-work space.
The MobileX conference was fairly successful for all involved. For the hosts, they enjoyed a large crowd, a decent local media flow, and even a few Lexington “big wigs” stopped in. As for the attendees, well they enjoyed some great breakout sessions from Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip.me, Nihal Mehta, CEO of localresponse.com, and Sam Soffees, engineer at Scribd.com. Any person with an ounce of drive in them I’m sure was inspired and fired up to get out of the conference to build something.
Now for the value to me personally – I’ve realized that any time I’m invited to lead a breakout session or speak to other entrepreneurs it forces me to step back and recalibrate my thoughts and attitudes. This helps me make sure I still believe in what we are doing and how we are doing it.
My take away from this engagement was the re-confirmation that being refreshingly transparent about what is and isn’t in your business is key. In the startup world you see some of the best bizdev people you’re ever going to see. Sometimes too good. All too often you see a great speaker with magical points on how to lead people to success. The problem is often time these guys are really exaggerating what really exists in their business. I won’t call them lies exactly so much as exaggerations that lead to disappointment. So is this wrong? I’m not so sure. It is a fine line bizdev people walk.
My solution? I try to be as transparent as possible. For example, during this talk I made it clear that we are not out of the woods yet. Just because you take some form of funding, get media attention, or hire people, doesn’t mean your company is a success. This is another point I like to share with would-be startup guys: what is the end game? In fact, I often ask this of people we hire at Mavizon. If the end game is to raise 10 million in capital then retire as soon as you can – you probably need a wake up call. In “Rework” they call it a commitment strategy. I think it is more of a reality plan. I love to dream as much as the next guy, but if you think retiring on a yacht is the goal you’re nutty. What would these people do on a yacht for the last 70 years of their life?
I like business. It is like a drug. If one business fails, or succeeds, I’m sure everyone at Mavizon will be looking for whats next – and that’s a very cool thing.
As I shared these thoughts at the mobile conference, I wasn’t sure how they would be received from a group of people with dollar signs in their eyes talking to VCs. I was pleasantly surprised when a number of people approached me and wanted to talk. I hope they gained some value from the ideas shared, but the fact is there is no rule book. If anybody had the right answers, we’d have a lot more successful startups. That is about where I ended with the talk, and I’ll do the same with this post – Treat your business like an art. Art doesn’t have rules and neither does startup culture. Even so, everyone seems to know good art when they see it.