Between teaching Entrepreneurial Marketing at UW, and being on the Board of the Northwest Entrepreneur Network, I get a number of amazing opportunities to sit down and talk with people who are making things happen. Not just coming up with ideas, but actually executing on those dreams.
Last Friday at NWEN’s ntrepreneur University, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel with three of my favorites; Mariah Gentry of JoeyBra, Andrew Dumont of Moz and StrideApp and Kelly Smith of Curious Office. We talked about when is the right time for someone to jump into the entrepreneurial waters.
If you haven’t met Mariah before, if you run into her at an event I encourage you to grab as much of her time as you can. She is easily one of the most impressive people under 30 that I’ve ever come across. And she’s only something like 22 or 23. She started her first business at 14, owned at house by 20, and launched JoeyBra as a junior at the UW. When you talk to her, you just get a sense that she can distill any complex problem to its core, and come up with an obvious solution.
I met Andrew a few years ago when some people at my company told me they had a friend we should hire. In a ironic twist, our Office Manager at the time wouldn’t forward his resume because he didn’t have a college degree (he later went back and got it). I met with him anyway and realized we would never be able to hire him because he was way too impressive to take what we would be able to offer him. He now works from 7:00 – 5:00 at Moz, then runs his side business StrideApp.com, which he disclosed has paying customers numbering in the hundreds. But on top of that, he also spent a weekend building a Udemy course, which now has close to 500 paying customers at $100 a shot. That’s pretty impressive. The secret behind of Andrew’s success is pretty clear – a tireless work ethic and a commitment, almost obsession, to building stuff.
And then of course there was Kelly. Investor, founder, idea guy, executor, he does a little bit of it all. I loved his advice on harnessing the power of entrepreneurship. He said the key is, “Question everything. Whenever something sucks, figure out if there’s a better way to build it. Just solve the problem and figure out how many people have the same problem.”
There’s a difference between ideas and ideas with execution. People like this are inspiring because they don’t let any excuse get in their way. They see a project they want to attack, and then relentlessly pursue it. There’s no wishing on a star or dreamland scenarios with these guys, they are all about dedication and execution. It’s great that we have people like this in the city, people who can remind us that the hardest part of entrepreneurship is the commitment to doing the work.