By Brandy Alexander-Wimberly (Founder & CMO, Buyvite)
I am currently in startup mode on Buyvite, a business that received funding and support from Rocket Ventures. Buyvite is expected to launch in the coming months and is a product based in the social commerce space. Joining forces with Rocket Ventures, a local seed fund and incubator has been invaluable in taking my concept to the next level.
This is one of the most important things an early stage founder can do — Align yourself with a group dedicated to helping startups. This will not only help position your concept for funding, but most can also assist with team building.
There are groups throughout the country that are already connected and interested in helping women get started. Of course, it helps to be based in a major city, but don’t let location hold you back. Investors are all over the country, and sometimes pursuing more geographically distributed groups presents more opportunity and not as much competition. I would also recommend to anyone interested in pursuing a technology based startup to work in the industry first. Potential investors are usually just as interested in your background and education as your concept. It has been my process to build up my resume and experience by working my way up in the business on a full time basis and launching smaller projects like a Facebook and iPhone app on the side. If nothing else, the experience builds confidence that you are serious about pursuing a technology startup and that you have the knowledge and experience to pull together the right elements to make it happen. Here are a few simple ideas to think about that have served me well:
- Do one thing per day to move your concept forward, even if it’s just an exhausted tweet at the end of the day.
- No matter where in the world you are, find a group or incubator that can help you get started.
- Know how to network both on and offline.
- Go into every new venture not solely focused on success or failure, but with the intention of learning from the experience.
- Don’t be afraid to look for an idea beyond the typical “female startup.”
My Life Before I Became An Entrepreneur
I established my career in web design and Internet marketing by way of traditional media. In the late 1990s, I lived and worked in pre-bubble San Francisco. I had opportunities through friends to work for startups like Netcom, but at the time, I was fresh from film school and was working at The North Face store while trying to work on a documentary that would “change the world.” The film never materialized, but the experience of research, networking and seeking out funding was invaluable to me later in my career. Just as the bubble was inflating, I moved to Chicago. Graduate school, marriage, two kids and a short career in broadcasting later, I found myself reevaluating some of the decisions I had made in my early 20’s. I was working in television and my boss at the time said, “you know, all of this is going away, it’s all going to the Internet.” It was 2005 and at that moment I decided to follow a path that had already presented itself to me earlier. It was time to use my traditional media experience to transition to “new media.” It was a simple concept. Use my professional foundation in writing, research, creative production and marketing and apply them to web design, email marketing, pay per click advertising, analytics, and etc. I have always been interested in business concepts and never been afraid of undertaking a creative challenge or risk. In fact, throughout the years I’ve developed a few small side ventures, and more than a few business plans and most of my ideas came simply from having a need and not finding the perfect way to fulfill that need. In 2002, I started a website called College Sitters purely based on the fact that I had a hard time finding a good babysitter after relocating to the Midwest. Looking for a new way of doing something that exists offline and translating that to an interactive function or experience is also something that I’ve always been interested in. My first job in the business was for a small web design shop, this experience led to bigger and better things. I then started working for a larger firm with national level clients, ecommerce properties and an inspiring boss whose mantras of “execution trumps cleverness” and “you have to fail to succeed” may sound trite but seem to have been proven true by many.
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Brandy Alexander-Wimberly is Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Buyvite, a company set to launch in December focused on the social commerce space. Join the Buyvite invite list here. Follow her startup on Twitter at @buyvite.