Erin Burchfield is the Co-Founder and CEO of Seattle-based Loop, a social polling app that shows results through interactive infographics.
The rapper Pitbull has a line (in his song Feel This Moment) that says “Ask for money and get advice, ask for advice, get money twice.” I chuckle every time I hear that lyric, as it reinforces one of the keys to success for entrepreneurs: keep learning. You should be on this path because you love to learn, you love a challenge, and you have an insatiable curiosity. Good advice is far more valuable than money will ever be, as success depends on a series of decisions, not an infusion of capital. Cash will never make critical decisions for you, only you can decide what to do next. Learning from your mistakes, learning from others, and taking on new challenges is the only way you’ll ever move the ball forward.
We’ve realized that we’re most successful when we experiment with many (many) different approaches, and see what ends up working out for us. One of the best things that Jamie Birdnow (co-founder and “sales guy”) has done is approach some of the larger marketing/PR/social media firms with a “prove to us you’re worth our limited resources” ask. In other words, they’ve let us “sample” their services through a trial run, and if we see that we’re getting a lot more visibility, more hits to our site, more posts on our social networks, then we’ll be willing to negotiate a more formal project.
I worked for almost 7 years at Microsoft in Product Planning, which was really a cross-disciplinary role spanning marketing, customer research, and core product development. Basically, my job was to help define product strategy and inform development decisions based on customer research, business objectives and technical requirements. It provided me with a broad perspective on how to conceive, define, refine, develop and ultimately launch and market a new product, which is exactly what you’re doing as an entrepreneur in the tech space. In all honesty, I loved my job and it was a tough decision to leave, but working on something with my two cofounders that we directly own – and can ultimately do with it whatever we please – is too fun (most of the time!).
When we first developed our working prototype, we hadn’t formally incorporated as a company. We had ...