Startup Stories: The thrill of the fight

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The leap into startupland and entrepreneurship isn’t easy for even the most prepared–if there is such a thing as being “most prepared.”  We could talk all day about the risks, probable changes in income and lifestyle, potential stress factors, and the possibility of failure. Actually, odds are against the entrepreneur. But we already know that, right? It doesn’t stop us from taking the plunge. We’re afraid, but we still pursue the dream, however we each define it.

For many, this time of year reinvigorates the hope and excitement of taking the plunge into building that idea they’ve had for some time. Then the pragmatic, more reasonable side reminds them of all the reasons they should remain where they are and not bother stirring up the more productive, life-giving, and freeing places in their soul.

R.I.P Bright Idea…once again.

Deep down inside we all believe this to be a tragedy, but this year it’s time to do something about it. This is your year to launch. This is your time to finally deliver your value to the world in a new form. Here’s to the pre-founder. Here’s to your new day.

I wish it were as easy as me writing this blog, even though this hasn’t been an easy process for me. I wish that a little digital pep talk was all you needed to finally jump, but sadly it still falls short of what you may need to actually press the publish button and go.

My entrepreneurial journey began 11 years ago. I first started a city search and news portal with some friends from college. Fail. I started a one-pixel ad site. Bust. I bought premium domains. Meh. I was a newlywed, ambitious, over-confident, zealous, hungry, but completely invincible. Or, so I thought. Then, my AT&T bill came in, and the Sallie Mae one, the bi-annual insurance payment, and then we needed to eat; all unfortunate obligations that had a way of reminding me that my pursuit to build a thriving tech business wasn’t going to come without a cost.

Then, I finally found the idea I thought would change the world, a college savings crowd-funding site. No, again. That one hurt the most. Then, two years later Mindbox enters the scene, a startup for startups. It was the most accidental of all, but also the one that made the most sense at the time because it was the most authentic thing I could do to learn in this rapid-paced industry of tech, while also serving founders who found that thing worth fighting for. Thank you, Bon Jovi (Robin Hood reference).

The best idea wasn’t what drew me to into this fight. At first it was just the fight itself that intrigued me. Building stuff, creating value, hustling–all of it. I quickly realized the fight alone wouldn’t sustain me over the long haul, but I had to jump before I could see what was ahead.    

Don’t just take my word for it though. We talked to Northern California founder and winner of Insurance Disrupted 2015, Garrett Viggers, about his experience launching, building lean, and taking the plunge.


Meet Garrett Viggers, Co-founder of LimeLight Health.

A few months ago I met Garrett Viggers on a phone call. We asked him to step in last minute to inspire our Startup Weekend crowd in Redding, California. He said yes, which was super clutch since he is looked to as one of the darling tech-founders in Northern California. But he didn’t stop there. He wanted to cover the hit song, Eye of the Tiger, but with a folsky, slow, and in an easy-to-understand the lyrics sort of way. I invite you to read those lyrics if you’re an entrepreneur, co-founder, or work at a startup.

Questions for Garrett:

  1. Tell the brief story of your transition from pre-founder to founder. What would you say to others considering a similar move in 2016?

  2. What is LimeLight Health and how did you build minimally and lean while you validated your market?

  3. What’s your favorite line in the Eye of the Tiger song?

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