This interesting topic that opened to the floor had startup maestros reveal their secrets to success and ways they overcame failures. These are valuable insights that should help you move past your own startup obstacles.

Ken Larson, CTO of

  1. Do not promise what you cannot deliver.
  2. Do not overextend your resources and get a reputation for poor performance.
  3. Do not tell the customer what he or she wants to hear. Tell them what they need to know. They will respect you for it.
  4. Network constantly on professional sites such as Linked In. Hit the “Answers” feature and accumulate an “Expert” rating from your peers in your field.
  5. Blog like there is no tomorrow. A blog is quite different from a website. Provide good, solid information free of charge and use blog searches for synergistic businesses to team with. Teaming is an absolute necessity these days.
  6. Be prepared to provide information, samples and valuable service gratis as a marketing tool. Introduce yourself and then immediately engage the client with your presentation tools available to bring your expertise to whatever topic they are interested in. Let them take you where they want to go with their concerns and their needs. Apply your presentation tools and expertise dynamically on the fly in a sincere manner to those concerns and needs and you will be in demand for follow-up business.
  7. Quote and bill what the client can afford and grow with him (in content and resources).
  8. Be dedicated to working yourself out of a job with a specific customer and having your client take over by training him. He will remember you and recommend you to 10 others.
  9. Remember growth is a function of persistence and foresight. Know where your market is headed and get them first then write and speak about your success indirectly by helping others. Demonstrate humility and a satisfaction in helping others succeed. They will find ways to give you credit. There are ways of tooting your horn without making peoples’ lights go out.

Jeff Jochum, Founder of

  1. Pursue Luck. Not the kind that “just happens”; the “luck” that occurs when preparation encounters opportunity.
  2. Specialize, then Focus. It’s truly hard to do one thing extraordinarily, and darn-near impossible to do more than that, simultaneously.
  3. Nurture Doubt. Relentlessly question answers, not just answer questions.
  4. Embrace Failure. And, I mean relish in it – roll around in it – get intimate. Success teaches you nothing.
  5. Work Happy. Build a business on what makes you happy, not just what makes you feel good or look good to others. Have a purpose.

Dave Baggett, Co-founder of ITA Software

At least in software, many startups these days are “built to flip”. They are about picking a space with a relatively easy MVP, grinding it out quickly, and getting acquired. This is a high-volatility strategy in my view.

Scot Chisholm, Co-Founder & CEO of StayClassy

From our experience at StayClassy, operating outside the Bay Area has proven to be advantageous in the long-run for a number of reasons. We actually considered moving our company there in the early days, but we didn’t, and we’re thankful for that now when looking back on things.

Here are three reasons why:

    1. Funding is not accessible right away
    2. Specialize, then Focus. It’s truly hard to do one thing extraordinarily, and darn-near impossible to do more than that, simultaneously.
    3. It can be easier to find and retain talent.
    4. It can be a great thing for your culture.

Frank Rimalovski, Executive Director of the New York University Entrepreneurial Institute

Customers are your most important resource. Not money. Not talent. Focus on customers first and foremost. Get to know them. Walk in their shoes. Delight them.

Startups that deeply know their customers tend to have a lot of them, and get the money and talent. Companies that have a funding problem or talent problem usually is code for a customer problem.