Talk surrounding entrepreneurship and economic growth has become a popular topic in Upstate New York, which was magnified during the Brazzlebox Small Business Summit featuring serial entrepreneur Daymond John from ABC’s Shark Tank.
Held at the OnCenter in downtown Syracuse, over 1100 were in attendance, ranging from high school students to an experienced panel of local entrepreneurs who provided excellent advice on how startup founders and small business owners can follow their passions and succeed.
It all starts with community. Upstate’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is central to the future, and how we encourage growth in our region’s new venture economy is a key component. Social networks like Brazzlebox, a premier networking site that encourages entrepreneurs to share resources, support and information, has become a prime platform for cultivating growth and fostering partnerships throughout Upstate New York’s startup community.
Brazzlebox founder Glen Zinszer shared his road to entrepreneurship during the SMB Summit, reliving a moment from his childhood when the crowd at a baseball game thought a fumbled play led to the team’s loss, until Zinszer opened his mit to reveal the caught ball. He said he drew inspiration from memories like this to create an online resource for small business owners to share their stories and support each other through community. “The play is never really over,” said Zinszer. “If you believe in your product or service, exhaust every effort and make it work.”
Here are a few more stories from the expert entrepreneurs who participated in yesterday’s panel, moderated by Sarah Roche, cofounder of social television platform Platypus TV and Digital Communications Coordinator for CenterState CEO.
“I hate payroll. I hate filing cabinets. The best thing is to pick something that you enjoy doing, delegate the things you don’t want to do. Even if it means hiring someone, put it in your business plan.” – Dan Rickman, U.S. Small Business Administration
“I lean on my faith and know I’m destined for my success. I am the youngest of six kids from a single parent household, and yet that’s where I learned some of my most valuable lessons about confidence, resilience. Now having a team that believes in me – someone to handle marketing, sales, manufacturing, finance – allows me to look ahead into the future and keep going.” – DeBorah Little, Lil’MorStix
“I didn’t start my business until I was 40 because I didn’t have the confidence, and I feel if I were to have started earlier I could have impacted more people. If you’re stuck in a job, not moving up the corporate ladder and you have an entrepreneurial spirit, I encourage you to act on it, because that fire won’t go away.” Mark Dengler, Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc.
“You need to be the driver of your own idea. Not everyone is going to be on your bandwagon, so most importantly, push forward and understand the real determinant of your success comes from you.” Evin Robinson, New York On Tech (NYOT)
“I started my business when I was 19, and I think I started too early. I never looked at someone as a mentor, or had a leader I followed. I was naive and foolish and a bad leader when I started, and it took me a long time to recognize how bad I was. I blamed outside factors like the economy, or cherry picked reasons to not achieve success. The reality was my own limitations prevented me from getting to a 50 person company. Almost 11 years went by before I sought out a coach to be better. I sat with him every week for a year and integrated him into our company. He was one of the reasons why I think we were able to achieve a certain level of success over the last five years.” Mac Cummings, Terakeet.
Being an entrepreneur can be isolating given the long days, early morning and few who understand your passion to drive forward in creating something beyond yourself. Connecting with a community of like-minded people and resources are the best ways to achieving success. If you have an idea for a new venture, need mentorship or if you’re looking for funding to scale your business, reach out to Upstate Venture Connect for more ways to grow faster by surrounding yourself with the right startup ecosystem connections.