The conversation didn't stop for a moment at this year’s Founder Factory last week, running on its eighth year. Hosted by Philly Startup Leaders, it’s a conference for startup leaders, government groups and mentors to come together and discuss business, technology and entrepreneurship in Philadelphia.
It was easy to overhear a startup leader share the fresh history of his or her company, an aspiring entrepreneur describe the challenges faced or a seasoned CEO speak about ideas for the future. Some even pulled up their latest apps or websites proudly, showing off a new look or seeking advice on color schemes. It was appropriate for an event like this to be situated in the heart of Philadelphia, a city where the tech scene has really been showing its worth.
During presentations from keynote speakers like the COO of Etsy and Regional Director of Lyft, topics were discussed frankly such as the vulnerabilities of startups, the emotional strain of overcoming the hurdles in front of success, and the importance of surrounding yourself with people who will keep your business safe.
Attendees included startup members from all different business types, from medicine to linguistic services. It was a crowd of leaders new to the game. When asked by David Tisch, Managing Partner of BoxGroup, who in the audience was the founder of a startup, nearly 60% of the 500 attendees raised their hands. When asked who in the audience was a first-time CEO, nearly 50% had their hands up.
“In our business, anybody who has money is automatically valuable because startups needs money. You are desperate for money and approval, but be cautious about who you let into your company. It’s dangerous to let anybody else impact the mission you are on,” said Tisch, sharing a few hard truths about the industry. “The roller coasters of startups are hard. Sometimes you can barely motivate your team, because you feel like you're at the bottom. So you better figure out how to hold it together and keep going.”
For these startups in their early stages, the information shared at Founder Factory will likely be carried with them through their entrepreneurial journey. Our own CEO and President of CardConnect, Jeff Shanahan, also participated on a speaker panel to share the acquisition history of the company and his experiences as a leader, which turned into pieces of advice for other CEOs and startup leaders in the audience.