Read what habits co-founder of WeDeliver adapted while on her startup path. You can also hear her speak at our Chicago City Meetup this Thursday.
By Daniela Bolzmann (Co-founder & CMO, WeDeliver)
In the last year and half, I’ve experienced a handful of life-changing events that most people never experience in their lifetime.
After I moved across the country, I participated in Startup Weekend and met my co-founders. Soon after, I quit my job to start a company with them. Shortly after, we won $100,000 at TechWeek, pitched at Google Demo Day, raised almost a million dollars in funding and most recently got into TechStars.
Some people would say it’s luck, but as I reflect on each of these successes, I recognize two personal habits both my co-founders and I have exhibited. These two contributing factors or habits that we practice daily ended up changing the course of our lives in an instant.
1. Put Yourself Out There
Putting yourself out there is the first step. Whether it’s sharing your thoughts and ideas with someone (or twenty someones) or actually being somewhere that requires you to step outside your comfort zone. Once I started putting myself out there, the things I wanted started coming to me. I began sharing my ideas with as many people as possible and attending events not just passively, but actively engaging in a genuine way.
An example of this is when I moved to Chicago. I didn’t know anyone and had been thinking of starting my own crowdfunding startup. At the same time, Startup Weekend seemed like an interesting way to test out my idea and force myself to step outside my comfort zone.
I stepped outside my comfort zone and attended this event, even though I didn’t know anyone. I attended, pitched and formed a team but then quickly realized that the synergy was not there. I later teamed up with another company called WeDeliver, pitched by Jimmy Odom. We won that weekend and that started the beginning of this year-and-a-half long incredible journey.
The funny thing is that our other co-founder Kirk had met Jimmy at a previous Startup Weekend by doing the exact same thing. The three of us had put ourselves in uncomfortable vulnerable positions and came out with a winning team dynamic that many people struggle to find. We didn’t wait for opportunities to come to us, we actively pursued an interest that we hoped could get us closer to an end goal.
2. Ask for What You Want
This is especially tough. But if you don’t ask you will not receive. While that phrase is common, we still don’t take action enough. Whether it’s asking for a raise, asking for funding or asking for feedback or help, it’s important to get comfortable with asking. There is an art to asking, so with that will come rejection and that is the part that scares most people. The good news is — like with most things — asking (and getting rejected) gets easier with practice.
The second thing I did when I moved to Chicago was join women’s groups like Women 2.0 and Ms.Tech. I reached out to Ms.Tech and asked them if I could host an event to practice my pitch. Admittedly it was a selfish request. They didn’t actually have a pitch event, but thought it was a great idea and that if I wanted it maybe other women would find it useful too.
We put together a pitch night at the SocialKaty offices and it was from that event that we got one of our first early investors in WeDeliver: A high profile CTO from one of the nation’s top startups.
What habits have helped your success as a startup leader?
Catch Daniela Bolzmann at the Chicago City Meetup on June 5 where she will be speaking. Grab your tickets now.