September 3, 2011
Chicago’s tech conference landscape continues to grow, and SocialDevCamp Chicago continues to deliver year after year. Despite presentations from well-known sponsors and keynotes from best-selling authors and technology visionaries, the session that delivered the biggest punch at this year’s conference was the one on failure. The “lessons learned” and the stories of mistakes made by entrepreneur Joshua Karp stopped people from checking their smart phones and laptop screens.
Karp covered the mistakes he made throughout the years, from a naïve twenty-something who ran an extension cord from his computer to the outlet outside his apartment so he could continue working despite having his electricity shut off. He has seen six-figure funding disappear along with the person he had hired to steward it. He has seen his idea collapse in the whirlwind of press when his team lost sight of monetization. Despite all of that, he continues to move forward.
Joshua’s lessons from his failures include some obvious statements, but that clarity often gets lost:
1. Don’t cut corners – do your due diligence on the people you are working with and who are working on your behalf no matter what pressure you are under.
2. Build strong relationships – when all the money is gone and an idea remains, it is your credibility and the relationships built along the way that will sustain you.
3. Verify the important stuff – even if you hear it and see it, verify the important information, whether it is your funding pipeline or the resume of your new partner.
4. Keep your eye on the ball – when things get the most hectic, that is the time when you must focus on the initiatives that will keep you moving forward.
5. Commonsense – an obvious lesson, but usually in retrospect it is when commonsense is ignored that we falter the most.
With an audience full of attendees hungry to learn and excited to launch their own startup, Karp showed us that even when we fail, we should never give up on our dreams.
By the way, his latest business venture, Kumbuya, is currently going through the funding process.
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