The aha! moment to start your own venture can result from a moment of generosity as much as a negative experience. The need to help a colleague, to create a safer product choices and to eliminate bias in the hiring process are reasons why three of the entrepreneurs profiled in this second in a series on "how to get started" chose to switch professional gears and pursue their own venture.
Stephanie Lampkin, Blendoor
How She Got Started: Stephanie Lampkin was a new graduate from business school (MIT Sloan) when she had her "aha" moment: it came right after interviewing at a big tech company. After the interview, Stephanie was told she was not technical enough for an Analytical Lead position, despite having a Stanford Engineering degree, 5 years experience in tech role at Microsoft as well as years of experience in tech positions at various other companies--not to mention her MBA. Six months later when the big tech company published rather embarrassing diversity numbers claiming "it was a pipeline problem" Stephanie locked her "not-technical-enough" self in her mother's basement for 2 months to build the MVP for Blendoor, a recruiting app that circumvents unconscious bias in hiring.
One Resource That Helped Her Get Started: Lynda.com.
Dr. Hass Saad, MD, Detroit Medical Informatics (DMI)
How He Got Started: In 2013, Dr. Saad launched a peer-to-peer Health IT advisory group to aid hospitals and physicians in the adoption of electronic health record (EHR) platforms. The "aha" moment for him came early on in his medical training (he was completing a Cardiovascular research fellowship): Dr. Saad was training at an EHR flagship hospital where he gained an extensive understanding of Health IT platforms and their potential role in the future of medicine. He also noticed that while he was personally inviting of technology in playing a role in the care of his patients and seamlessly navigating through the healthcare system, many of his senior colleagues and mentors were not. One day, a nurse approached Dr. Saad's attending physician to inform him that he had entered an electronic order for a commonly used pain medication and unknowingly prescribed the wrong dose. Rather than see his mentor embarrassed, Dr. Saad began to demonstrate how to use the technology in the language of medicine versus the jargon of technology. Suddenly his mentor got it, and it dawned on Dr. Saad that his colleagues needed explanation on the use of an EHR in a language they understood. With this realization that there needed to be more support from individuals who were driven by medicine, not technology, Dr. Saad brought together a team of passionate physicians who aligned with his mission: physicians taking charge of technological change rather than resisting or being burdened by change.
One Resource That Helped Him Get Started: The nurse who pointed out the pain medication entry error.
Patrycja Slawuta, SelfHackathon
How She Got Started: Patrycja is the founder of SelfHackathon, a company she launched in 2014 to build tools to help high performing individuals hack, rewire and upgrade the brain for increased confidence, connection and creativity. SelfHackathon started when she was in grad school (prior launching her venture, Patrycja was an academic, pursuing her PhD in experimental social psychology). Patrycja used to host "salons" in her New York City apartment where guests would talk about science, research and how it applied to "everyday situations". At the time her research was focused on moral emotions (such as shame and guilt). When her salons got so popular that people were spilling out of the apartment, Patrycja recognized there was a market for this kind of service: evidence-based mindhacking. The very first event was called Shameless Summer and she led it from her apartment in Hell's Kitchen.
One Resource That Helped Her Get Started: Ship It: The Little Pamphlet For People Who Can by Seth Godin.
Kristy Lewis, Quinn Snacks
How She Got Started: Kristy Lewis is on a quest to clean up microwave popcorn. It's a problem she obsessed over for 8 years and tested for 2 years. The getting started part took a few seconds: she simply made the call to a paper supplier to learn more about sourcing clean, compostable paper for the microwave popcorn bag. From there, she jumped in and hasn't looked back. Microwave popcorn is a billion dollar snack category with little innovation in the packaging. Quinn Snack's pure pop bag is stripped of chemicals and as a consumer, entrepreneur and mom, Kristy wanted to create a better and safer choice.
One Resource That Helped Her Get Started: Google.
Edie Douglas Owen, Paperclipmag.com
How She Got Started: Edie Douglas Owen left her role as creative director for a large beauty retailer in 2014 to start Paperclip, a site about style at work. On Paperclip, Edie profiles professionals about how they incorporate personal style into their careers (via personal appearance, workspace design, work tools) as she believes these little details or personal touches trickle into workplace reputations and productivity habits. Leaving a comfortable corporate gig to pursue her own venture wasn't an easy decision, but the pull of wanting to help more people understand how personal style translates at work was greater than staying with the security of paycheck. Her first steps were to profile 17 individuals in their workspaces and create "memos" discussing products and ideas which enhance life at work.
One Resource That Helped Her Get Started: Lynda.com (Edie watched tutorials on Adobe Muse to design, develop and build Paperclipmag.com).