Entrepreneur, investor, and Techstars board member Wendy Lea remembers the beginnings of Techstars, her first encounters with #GiveFirst—and the way mentors have modified her life.
Wendy Lea is a longtime entrepreneur and investor, in addition to a board member and mentor at Techstars. With David and Brad, she digs into a few of her first mentoring experiences and displays on a time when a mentor modified her life.
Wendy was early in her profession and had simply been provided a promotion that will trigger numerous change in her life, and he or she was hesitating. Her mentor advised her: the danger of claiming no may be very excessive. “Should you say no, you’re taking part in small. You could have numerous potential, and you should go discover that potential.”
She did, and he or she traces her success again to that encouragement and good recommendation.
Hear for extra in regards to the dangers of claiming no… and saying sure.
Bonus: Hearken to Wendy, David, and Brad reminisce in regards to the first Techstars class.
Subscribe to the Give First podcast now.
Firms and assets talked about on this podcast:
EventVue – closed
First Spherical Capital
Get Satisfaction – acquired by Sprinklr
OnTarget – acquired by Siebel Programs
Siebel Programs – acquired by Oracle
Small Fry, by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
An edited transcript of the dialog follows:
David: We’re actually excited to have Wendy Lea right here as a visitor right this moment on the podcast. Wendy is a board member at Techstars, and he or she not too long ago moved again right here to Boulder after spending 4 years in Cincinnati because the CEO of Cintrifuse. Welcome, Wendy.
Wendy: Thanks a bunch. That was a enjoyable gig by the way in which, Cintrifuse. I’ll finish on that.
David: Spend a couple of minutes giving us your origin story.
Wendy: A bit bit about my background may assist these of you listening grok my experiences and the place they arrive from. My large success got here with an organization referred to as OnTarget, and it got here after numerous skilled coaching in giant corporations. With OnTarget, three or 4 of us labored like canines to make that work all over the world. We owned it 100%, and we bought it for $150 million to Siebel Programs in 1999.
After that, I labored for Siebel, which was improbable. I liked that as a result of I discovered loads, after which I took that have and began doing new issues with it, for instance, actually working with venture-backed startups. That was very totally different: the danger, the reward, and the type of mentoring that startups required. It was this that introduced me to Boulder. In Boulder, I labored with corporations like Lead Works—previously Duo—and likewise Numerics.
Then I went to California. I made a bunch of angel investments and I did a giant tour of responsibility at Get Satisfaction. Get Satisfaction was a giant love, my greatest love in all of my work life. It didn’t prove as deliberate, but it surely was fairly exceptional. I’m again right here in Boulder now, and proud to serve on the Techstars advisory board.
Brad: Wendy, would you speak a bit of bit about how you bought launched to Techstars and what your involvement with Techstars has been?
Wendy: On the very starting it was an ask from you to plug into the group. From there you launched me to David, and David advised me about his large thought about bringing entrepreneurs and mentors collectively. That’s the primary time I heard about Techstars, and that was the primary cohort. I’ve hung round with numerous mentors, and I grew to become plugged in by means of the group that Techstars created right here in Boulder.
David: Again then, that was actually the primary tremendous seen instance of Give First in Boulder. There have been so many mentors who had been attempting to assist that top quality of 10 corporations—which turned out to be an excellent class—and get this entire mentorship-driven accelerator factor going.
Inform us about your greatest lesson as a mentor.
Wendy: My greatest lesson as a mentor was with an organization referred to as EventVue. The founders, Rob Johnson and Josh Frasier, had an concept that was fully straightforward to know. It wasn’t complicated and loopy. I actually acquired it and I appreciated what they had been doing.
They had been very, very early of their life cycle as entrepreneurs they usually had been impressionable. If a mentor advised them one thing would work out, they actually believed it. It was a wrestle as a result of I didn’t wish to dispute different recommendation they had been getting, however I suspected that the state of affairs wasn’t going to work out. That was tough, since you wish to be upbeat. I believed in what they had been constructing, they usually had been working like canines. After all, it didn’t work out.
Now once I see them, they at all times say, “Oh, I’m so embarrassed once I look again and suppose that I used to be so cocky.” And I say, “You recognize, it occurs.”
David: So that you had been attempting to handle that dynamic.
Wendy: I used to be attempting to handle their expectations. This was earlier than all of the cool modules that now we have now in mentoring, it was simply us bushwacking by means of, doing what we might to present again. It was tough. I did what I used to be taught as a younger girl: ask numerous questions, and see in the event that they’ll tune into that actuality or not.
Brad: Wendy, you’ve been concerned in heaps and many corporations, each as a founder or entrepreneur, and also you’ve been introduced in by a bunch of startups to assist by serving on their boards. You’ve additionally been a startup investor. While you replicate on all of these experiences, what’s probably the most enjoyable you’ve had with an organization?
Wendy: Constructing out the management groups.
Brad: Are you able to speak us by means of an instance?
Wendy: On the enterprise backed facet, it was superior constructing out the group at Get Satisfaction. It was additionally onerous.
Brad: What had been a number of the superior issues?
Wendy: We had been actually attempting to determine the match between the abilities and data that had been being represented, and the wants we had on the group. We employed somebody, and it turned out we introduced within the fully flawed individual.
He didn’t know the best way to get his arms actually soiled: sit with the engineers and speak with them instantly about what they noticed within the code. The code wanted to be refactored. It was going to be an costly proposition. All of us type of knew that, however the man was saying all the suitable issues. He affiliated extra with the product managers, and never with the engineers, and it precipitated issues.
That was a major turning level for me, as a result of I don’t have that background. I needed to hear and study and ask the founders. It was thrilling and scary and dear once you did it flawed. I made a giant mistake there and it actually price the corporate numerous money and time.
David: But it was superior.
Wendy: It was superior.
David: Sounds such as you discovered loads there.
I’m curious in case you have an instance out of your profession, Wendy, the place any individual gave you some recommendation early in your profession that basically modified loads for you?
Wendy: I’ve acquired one instance from early in my profession and one from later.
I had a chance as a younger girl, in my mid-twenties. I acquired a promotion that required me to maneuver from Jackson, Mississippi to New Orleans. It seemed very dangerous to me. Personally, I’ve gone by means of numerous change, so I can cope with private threat, however I like my skilled life to be steady. I used to be apprehensive about transferring and never understanding anybody in New Orleans. My husband couldn’t transfer with me.
My mentor, who was considered one of my bosses on the firm, mentioned to me, “The chance of claiming sure is basically very low. The chance of claiming no may be very excessive.”
I didn’t get it. My mind was going loopy. He advised me, “Should you say no, you’re taking part in small. You could have numerous potential, and you should go discover that potential. So that you don’t know anybody. You’ll meet folks.” I’d by no means considered that: the danger of sure versus the danger of no.
I advised my husband I used to be transferring to New Orleans. After all he didn’t come. Sure, there was a divorce. Life continues. However that remark about taking part in small actually made me suppose, and taking his recommendation modified my life.
The opposite recommendation, from later in my life, was from Rob Hayes, who’s a really pricey good friend at First Spherical Capital. He was an investor in Get Satisfaction when considered one of our first time period sheets was pulled. The corporate had no cash. We had zero. We had been funding it ourselves, we weren’t doing properly, and the time period sheet acquired pulled. I didn’t know to be upset about that. I had not had sufficient expertise to freak out when this occurred.
Rob understood what it meant, and we met at a espresso store. He requested me what we had been going to do, and I advised him that we’d maintain on the lookout for cash and I’d make investments and we’d maintain going.
I liked this firm, and he was identical to, “Wow.” Then he mentioned: “I help you.” For Rob, if I believed there have been situations that we might construct round, he was going to help me.
Brad: In 60 seconds or much less. What does Give First imply to you?
Wendy: Give with out expectation of return.
David: That’s far lower than 60 seconds. I’m going to start out utilizing that.
The opposite factor I’d love to listen to about is an instance in your life the place you’ve seen the facility of Give First in motion.
Wendy: There are many these! Right here’s one. I used to be working with some universities in Cincinnati, and we had been doing a training workshop, educating folks the best way to do good teaching or good modeling, displaying behaviors by doing them. We had been working someday within the engineering college, in a coding class. Certainly one of my college students went over to a younger girl and sat down together with her. He mentioned to her, “I can inform you’re scuffling with this. What can I do to assist?”
Nobody advised him to do that, and I didn’t instruct them to run across the room and assist one another out. That was good remark and good modeling. I’m actually happy with that. It was very pure, so she didn’t really feel awkward.
The extra we mannequin this habits—giving with out retaining rating, and without having fast reciprocity—that can change the scope and slope of the work we do. Should you mannequin it immediately and set expectations immediately, then folks lean in. They find out how.
Brad: That’s nice. The final part right here is one thing that we lifted from our good friend Harry Stebbings, a quickfire spherical. We’re going to ask you a handful of brief questions and we’d love very, very quick solutions to every considered one of them.
David: Let’s do it. Wendy, what’s your favourite e-book you’ve learn within the final 12 months?
Wendy: Small Fry, by Steve Job’s daughter Lisa.
David: Do you may have a favourite charity you help?
Wendy: I help the SPCA as a result of I’m a giant canine lover.
David: Inform us a few startup you met not too long ago that you simply suppose folks ought to try.
Wendy: I’m very enthusiastic about Pipeline Fairness, which occurs to be a Techstars firm, led by Katica Roy.
David: What’s a metropolis that you simply suppose folks have to go to earlier than they die?
Wendy: I’d say Oxford, Mississippi.
David: You probably did it. You’re by means of it. Thanks for becoming a member of us, Wendy. It’s been a blast having you.
Wendy: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.