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Startup SpotlightPeer mentorship is crucial to the entrepreneurial journey. That’s why we ask CEOs and co-founders to share their wisdom every week in our Startup Spotlight feature, which profiles an emerging startup.

We asked the leaders of Pacific Northwest startups the one piece of advice they’d like to give to other entrepreneurs just starting out.

Continue reading for their tips and click on any name to see their full Startup Spotlight feature. Want more tips and advice from entrepreneurs? Early-bird tickets on sale now for GeekWire Startup Day on Feb. 12 at Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue.  

Dopl CEO Dennis Duckworth.
Dopl CEO Dennis Duckworth.

“Get started and keep moving forward. There will always be a barrage of valid reasons for not launching and for delaying decisions while trying to figure out the ‘perfect solution.’ Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good enough. Drive forward and let your customers tell you where you should redirect.” — Dopl CEO Dennis Duckworth

“Three things we all learn from experience: Change happens. It will take twice as long as your best estimate. You will need more money than you think.” — CareCap CEO Nevil Hermer

“Be resilient, be patient, and drive down to what problem you really want to solve and focus on that. And don’t forget to have fun.” — EDRepublic CEO Shahzad Umar

“Do your research, make a model, make a plan, and make sure your plan includes decision points where you consciously plan to evolve or pull the plug based on what you’ve learned.” — Joule CEO Ian Maddox

Ian Maddox on stage at the TechCrunch Meetup + Pitch Off.
Ian Maddox on stage at the TechCrunch Meetup + Pitch Off.
steffeney
LeaveLogic CEO Anna Steffeney

“Even if you have personally experienced the pain point you are solving, ensure you get objective people on your side to help frame the problem from all angles. We are forever thankful we took the time to conduct over 40-plus deep customer discovery interviews, ultimately driving us to pivot from a B2C to a B2B solution.” — LeaveLogic CEO Anna Steffeney

“Build strong relationships with a few really innovative customers who can help guide your business forward. These customers help impact your product road map in a positive way and help you define your goals and customer service as a company. Focus on these loyal customers versus trying to accommodate all customers large and small.” — Flowroute CEO Bayan Towfiq

“Know who your customers are and listen to their pain points. Once you understand the pain point, you have to dig deep to understand how it manifests in order to find the right solution, which is often not obvious. Not everyone will be able to bluntly tell you what their problem is — you need to talk to enough people so that you can triangulate and figure out what the real problems are.” — AtCipher CEO Jack Poon

“Don’t go at it alone! You will hit a rough patch and a co-founder or two will turn that frown upside down.” — SeekPanda CEO Matt Conger

The SeekPanda Team.
The SeekPanda Team.
chen-allen
DataBlade CEO Allen Chen.

“Don’t fall into the pit of just trying to come up with startup ‘ideas.’ So often, they are actually just solutions that’ll require you to work backwards to find a problem to match. Start by identifying a problem, then explore what the possible solutions might be. You’ll find that these will be your strongest startup ideas.”DataBlade CEO Allen Chen

“Make the first leap, that’s the only thing stopping you.” — ZIIBRA CEO Omri Mor

“You’ll hear thousands of pieces of conflicting advice. The best advice is the hardest to come by — it’s from people who have faced truly similar situations to your own. Seek them out and hear their stories.” — Brand.ai co-founder Ehud Halberstam

“Know who your customers are and listen to their pain points. Once you understand the pain point, you have to dig deep to understand how it manifests in order to find the right solution, which is often not obvious. Not everyone will be able to bluntly tell you what their problem is — you need to talk to enough people so that you can triangulate and figure out what the real problems are.” — AtCipher CEO Jack Poon

Giftbit CEO Leif Baradoy.
Giftbit CEO Leif Baradoy.

“You are wrong. A lot. Most advisors and well-meaning people you talk to are only data-points for you, not sources of truth. There are no easy answers, short-cuts, or silver bullets. If you’re starting out and you’re taking money from an investor, mentally commit to doing the business for at least five years. The best source of information for you is to talk to prospective users and customers. Get revenue. Work with believers. Exercise and eat right.” — Giftbit co-founder Leif Baradoy

Mentio CEO Monique_Morden.
Mentio CEO Monique_Morden.

“It’s really hard. Imagine the hardest thing you have ever done and multiply that by one million. And even then, it will still be harder. Beyond it being hard, the best advice is to learn fast. Open your mind, listen to your advisors, listen to your detractors, listen to your customers. Digest that information to learn fast and act fast. And then do it faster.”Mentio CEO Monique_Morden

“Test your product early and often with real people.” — Fish Bowl VR co-founder Josh DeSeno

“Start sooner and test what you think you know. Also, be ready for the roller-coaster — startups are hard, very hard, so you have to be tenacious to win.” — CandyJar CEO Rob Fletcher

“Make sure you’re passionate about what you’re building. There will be plenty of times you second guess yourself, and what will keep you going is deeply caring about your product.” — Matcherino CEO, Grant Farwell.

“Listen extra hard to the advice you don’t want to hear. As your company becomes bigger, more people will have ideas about what you should and shouldn’t do. It’s more fun to listen to the people who are supportive, but honest contrarian advice is hard to find and should be valued.” — Lightboard CEO Brad Bouse

Lightboard Co-founders Brad Bouse and Dave Foley.
Lightboard Co-founders Brad Bouse and Dave Foley.

“Resilience is everything. You’re simultaneously training and competing in sprints and marathons. But how you spend your time-off will contribute to your success as much as those long hours. Sleep, nutrition, stress-management, teamwork and physical activity will contribute to your effectiveness. But don’t take my word for it. That’s what the science taught me.” — Provata Health CEO Alex Goldberg

“You can execute at any scale. You don’t have to have a big team, budget, or office to create good work. If you learn how to execute, and you execute a lot, you’ll move forward.” — Rhino Camera Gear CEO Kyle Hart

Rhino Camera Gear CEO Kyle Hart
Rhino Camera Gear CEO Kyle Hart.

“Learn about yourself first, reach into your internal compass. Ask yourself ‘why?’ constantly. Question why you make the decisions you make, and question why others behave in a certain way. It can help you identify red flags in advance and avoid problems in the future. People are going to tell you what to do constantly, and push you to make something ‘cool.’ Don’t get enamored by titles, money, and trends. Listen to yourself (and others), but do what makes sense.” — Evalise CEO Rashmi Joshi

Evalise CEO Rashmi Josh
Evalise CEO Rashmi Joshi.

“Use your resources. Whether it’s finding a mentor or simply doing research online, you can find people and information that will propel you forward so much quicker than trying to figure it all out yourself. People have tried the same things you have a million times before, in one regard or another. Use the mistakes they made and didn’t make to your advantage.” — Vincero Collective Co-founder Aaron Hallerman

“Get out and talk to everyone and anyone that will give you the time of day. Build a feedback loop into every direction you take with a project — measure, adjust, rinse, repeat.” — Algorithmia CEO Diego Oppenheimer

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