Keep Sending the Signal

By Mike Quigley, Co-founder of SpinCar (Syracuse, NY)

One year ago, UVC published the first volume of the Upstate Founders Playbook, a compilation of stories and lessons learned from thirteen amazing entrepreneurs. Just a year later, we are all living in a world none of us could have foreseen. So we went back to these founders and asked what they are doing to manage in this times and the advice they have for other entrepreneurs. In these short missives, you will see how these founders are managing to stay focused, yet flexible, while recognizing that extraordinary challenges often bring extraordinary opportunities with them.–Jennifer Sertl


“Make it short, concise, and impactful,” the new founder is often advised on their elevator pitch, “explain it to them like they were a five-year old.” So much of the conventional communications advice given to new founders is about the strength of the signal that they send. In these very unconventional times, I think it’s worth reminding new founders that in times of crisis, frequency of signal becomes equally important.


At SpinCar, here are some tactics we’ve found that work particularly well to increase frequency of signal.


Team: Even if your team is only a handful of people, you’ve probably noticed a weekly standup meeting just doesn’t seem to command the mindshare it once did. Internal newsletters, guest speakers on Zoom, and employee-led skill shares are tactics we’ve deployed to keep the team engaged, and up to speed on what’s going on in the business.


Customers: The idea of offering a webinar when you might have a double, or even single, digit customer count might seem like a waste of time, but do it anyways. It makes your brand look bigger than it is (hide the attendee number count on Zoom, if you’re concerned about turnout), and start building out your content library. You, and your customers, will have this material forever as a reference point.


Corporate Stakeholders /Board members/ Investors: The quarterly board meeting simply won’t cut it if you’re an early stage founder managing through current events. In fact, I always suggest seed or pre-seed, new founders do monthly board meetings: this is how you can get the most out of your board. These days consider a weekly update email directed to corporate stakeholders including a few key performance indicators. Take transparency to 11, and circulate the same email internally to your team. 


If you’re a new founder and you’re already employing these tactics, don’t quit! Inherent in the advice of emphasizing frequency of signal over strength, is the fact that you’ve got to keep pressing Send. The frequent smoke signal transmits much more data than the singular flare, no matter how strong and bright.

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