Monthly Archives: December 2018

12.27.2018

The Ultimate Guide to Crushing Your Goals in 2019

The new year is just on the horizon, and it's time to start figuring out how you'll make the most of it. Goal setting is vital for founders, their teams and the future of their venture. Goal setting has no special formula or hack; but there are a few things you can do to create goals you will actually accomplish. We've compiled some of the best resources from founders, reputable online sources and the Embarc Collective team to bring you The Ultimate Goal Setting Guide to Crush 2019.

"If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it." — William Arthur Ward

Why Is Goal Setting Important?

At its core, goal setting simply allows us to visualize information. Neuroscientists have referred to this as the "generation effect".

"The generation effect refers to the finding that we typically remember information better when we have taken an active part in producing it, rather than having it provided to us by an external source." - DeWinstanley, Bjork, 2004

Students at Dominican University also found empirical evidence on the effectiveness of three coaching tools: accountability, commitment and writing down one’s goals.

Writing your goals down, whether it's on paper, a notes app on your phone or sticky notes increases your chances of memorizing what you wrote. Any method of generating your goals visually will help you to remember them and stay accountable.

Ways to Visualize

Don't over think goal setting. It isn't a blocker intended to bring you down or a task required to actually make your start. And if approached the wrong way, goal setting can be more of a distraction than an opportunity. As you collect your supplies for goal setting, think about what's worked for you in the past. This isn't time to reinvent the wheel or try a process that you know won't work later down the line. Are you a pen and paper kind of person? Do you prefer to use Trello, OneNote or Evernote? Maybe you're not much of a writer and recording voice memos would work better. Whatever methods work best to help you generate your goals to revisit later - go with that.

Now that your supplies are ready, let's break goal setting DOWN.

10 Ways to Crush Your Goals

Here are a few tips to help you crush your goals in 2019 and beyond.

The most basic rule of goal setting is to set goals you'll actually stick to. However don't go easy on yourself. Your goals should be challenging. You have to push yourself, your team and startup to that next level. If you find yourself setting big goals think of the steps it takes to achieve that particular goal and from there create more manageable goals from those tasks.

Create specific goals that can be measured. As you set your goals, ask yourself if the goal you have in mind can be measured. If so, how? Are you looking for qualitative or quantitative results? If you're having a hard time answering these questions with your goals you've identified thus far, they may need to be reworked or scratched. It's essential to develop goals you can measure. Otherwise, how do you know you're actually crushing them?

Learn to delegate. As mentioned before you want to set goals you can accomplish. Some goals will require more hours than you have and that's where delegating your tasks comes in. Leverage your team or bring on extra help to cross that goal off your list.

Learn to say no. Not everything is a priority and it's okay to say no. Really it is. Reaching your goals requires discipline and mostly, time. Time that you have to spend carefully to make sure you get the best results out of this finite resource you have. Saying no will also allow you to balance the time you spend working, with family or caring for yourself.

Make goal setting a weekly task. Review your goals each week. Review what steps you took to get where you are now, don't forget to celebrate the small wins, and figure out what you have to do next. Your business and life constantly change and your goals will too. It's important to keep your goals flexible and ready to be changed entirely when new things come up.

Make your goals public. Sharing goals with family, friends, coworkers or even online will help you stay accountable. The pressure of "sticking to your word" will come into play here as you'll want to always report back to the public that you are indeed reaching your goals.

Learn something new. Reaching the next goal may require serious elbow grease and a new skill. Learning how to balance your own books, program your own product or design your own brand may be just what you need to get that goal checked off the list.

Join an organization or group. Surrounding yourself with like-minded professionals or peers can have a positive impact on reaching your goals. Share your goals with a community that can help you. The first tip we suggested to help you crush your goals was to delegate. Finding other founders or professionals to help you get tasks done is what's going to put you on top of your goals. Secondly, organizations are great places to share your goals for feedback on wins or failures. [Shameless plug for EC here?]

Drop what's not working and move on. This is hard to do at times, but the most effective when applied early. You might set a dud goal and sometimes that happens. It's important to constantly measure your progress - hence why you need goals you can track. If you identify something isn't working, drop it. Focus your time on the next goal and take the learning experiences to make the next steps better.

Make your wins real to you. This one is important. Celebrate the wins, milestones or benchmarks - no matter how small or big. As you cross things off your list, take time to appreciate your hard work and your team's hard work as well.

Business vs Personal Goals

As a founder, work-life balance becomes more like work-life integration; where your work and lifestyle complement each other, working in tandem to reach goals on both the professional and personal side. As you plan your business goals, you inevitably will define them by your personal goals and the lifestyle you want.

However, when goal setting, there has to be a difference between your business goals and personal goals. You may find that your startup demands more hours than you have available or that your personal life may impact the performance of your business goals. It's important to think of these as two lists and two separate ideas as you start to define the tasks to reach these goals.

Find a balance that works for you when goal setting professionally and personally. Starting with your personal goals first may help you decide how you want to approach the demands of your startup. Once you've completed both lists, look at what's similar. What personal goals will help you achieve your business goals and vice versa? Making these correlations will help you identify when business and personal do mix in your goal plan and when they don't.

Words from the Wise

You've read all the things you can do when setting goals and here are a few things you don't want to do when goal setting.

Wait for the perfect time to start. While many believe the new year is the best time to set goals, you should set goals any time, all the time. There is no perfect moment to start your next venture. Create goals now and work up to it.

Fail to create measurable goals. We've said it earlier but to really drive it home you need data behind your efforts. Not only will it help save money but you can use this to make leaner decisions about what steps to take next.

Not working on your goals everyday. Now we're not saying to work yourself to the bone, but make a small effort each day to work towards your professional and personal goals. Small steps eventually turn into big tasks that accomplish that goal. This is how 10 year overnight successes happen, people!

Not being flexible. Life changes, market demands change, businesses change and as a result goals change too. Keep your goals flexible. If things don't go as planned rework your goals. Goals aren't made in stone and for good reason. They are meant to change.

What Are Others Doing?

Don't we always want to know? We've asked a few Tampa Bay Area founders and members from the Embarc Collective team to share their goal setting tips and advice.

Rachel Carpenter, CEO and Co-Founder of Intrinio
Be cautious - don't set too many goals, and really question whether or not you need them. If you need to waste time writing them all down and categorizing them, buying a pretty schedule or planner to color code them in, are you really just procrastinating? Are you in a job you really enjoy? Try to focus on executing - just get stuff done. If you hadn't hamstrung yourself into a strict plan - do you think you could have done twice as many things?

Bobby Quinn, CEO and Founder of Raven Spatial
Find a mentor you trust. Share this drawn-out plan with them. They’ll likely be impressed that you articulated your plan so well, and will be able to give you a lot of useful feedback for consideration.

Fabio DeSousa, Data Insights Manager of Embarc Collective
I keep a list of broad priorities (e.g. spending time with family, continuing to learn, and staying healthy) and, for the priorities that need it, a list of goals to aim for in the next few months. I've also been recently inspired by Make Time (link in the resources section), a book by ex-Google designers Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, which advocates for setting a single "highlight" for each day, choosing the tactics you'll use to focus on it, and reflecting on what worked and what didn't.

Check in to see what's working (or not) and adapt accordingly. Both you and your priorities will evolve over time, so I feel that how you set and pursue your goals should as well.

Allie Felix, Director of Programming & Partnerships of Embarc Collective
At the start of every year, I complete this simple goal setting process that should take you about 30 minutes to complete. While many of these questions seem obvious, take a moment to reflect. Identify what matters most to you, some of your stale patterns, and how to take actionable progress toward your “reach” goals.

While you must learn to be comfortable putting a stake in the ground for what goals you want to achieve, you have to be flexible and adaptive as you receive new information. Sometimes simply the journey of your goal will lead you to the greatest opportunities, albeit different than you first intended.

Lakshmi Shenoy, CEO of Embarc Collective
As we launch Embarc Collective, there are a million micro-tasks that ladder up to our macro goals. I am completely dependent on techniques that allow me to keep all the moving pieces straight and do my part to push closer to my goals. My most effective technique is using a bullet journal (daily since 2016!) to keep track of the micro-tasks - because failing on the small stuff has consequences as you move towards your larger goals.

Also, I rely on Blinkist to give me 15 minutes summaries of all the books you're supposed to read on goal-setting and productivity but never have time to pick up (it's my productivity hack for learning how to be more productive 🙂 ).

Resources

Below is a list of other great goal setting articles, tools/sources of information, and books to help you set better goals.

Articles

Books

Tools/Sources of Information

  • Skimm'd from The Couch Podcast - a podcast that invites powerful women to share their best practices in business
  • How I Built This with Guy Raz - an inside look into how some of the world's best-known companies came to be
  • A collection of TED Talks (and more) on the topic of goal-setting

Printables To Help You Get Started

We've developed these download-ready printables to help you kick start your goal setting. In your download you will find a:

  • Brainstorm Sheet
  • Yearly Goals Planning Sheet
  • Monthly Goals Planning Sheet
  • Weekly Goals Planning Sheet
  • Goal Review Sheet

If you want to stay green, these forms can also be filled in digitally on your browser or preferred PDF reader. If you fill out your worksheets in your browser be sure to select the Print option and choose Save as PDF for the destination to save your answers. More on how to do that here.

2019 is YOUR YEAR! Crush it!

DOWNLOAD YOUR WORKSHEETS BELOW

 

12.26.2018

Featured Founder: Marcus Howard of ProjectMQ

Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Petersburg who are building and scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. We interviewed Marcus Howard, Co-founder and CEO of ProjectMQ, a social media platform that connects indie game studios with gamers and fans worldwide.

Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Pete who are scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.


What were you doing previously and what inspired you to launch your company?

Before launching ProjectMQ in March of 2013, I worked as an Information Analyst at Georgia Southern University, in the Business and Finance IT Division. We supported several large departments, including the Bursar's Office and Athletics, but we only had 3 people on our team, so I wore many hats. While working there, I did everything from implement a campus-wide electronic procurement system, to pressure washing the scoreboard at the football stadium. It was an excellent opportunity to learn many of the business functions of an organization with 5,000 employees and 20,000+ student customers. Since July of 2013, I've been working full-time, as a full-stack web developer for MenuPad. My identical twin brother Malcolm and I didn't have the network for the typical "friends and family round", so we've spent the last 5 years bootstrapping ProjectMQ with the salaries from our day jobs.

Video games inspired me to launch ProjectMQ, just like they inspired me to pursue a technology degree and career. Malcolm and I got "Super Mario Bros. 3" for Christmas when we were six, and we've been playing video games ever since. During our 9th grade year at Magnet School, we learned that our TI-83+ graphing calculators could play video games. Suddenly, we connected the dots between software development and video games: games are apps, just like Facebook and Uber, except their purpose is entertainment and engagement. We even began programming our own video game on those calculators; it would have been a Zelda clone, but our Calculus teacher deleted the memory from our calculators. Malcolm and I taught everyone else in our class how to install games on their calculators too, and apparently, the kids in the class were spending more time playing games than listening to the teacher. She fixed that problem, by resetting the memory on everyone's calculators while we all were at lunch.

Fast forward about 10 years: Malcolm and I both had our undergrad degrees (Computer Science and Information Technology, respectively). Though we still loved playing video games, we didn't have a way to easily share awesome video games with our friends. We figured that someone else would eventually come up with a way to connect people with games, the way that Facebook connected people with other people. After several months (and eventually, years) passed, we got tired of looking for a solution, and finally decided to try and build one ourselves.

We originally wanted ProjectMQ to be for both big-budget (i.e. AAA) and independent (i.e. indie) video games. However, we pivoted the idea, after a trip to the 2014 Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles. There, we learned that most AAA studios weren't interested in the platform we were building. They already had established audiences for their games, and marketing resources to promote those games. Though, indie studios loved the concept, because they didn't have established audiences or marketing resources. That's when we redefined ProjectMQ: all platforms, all genres, only indie games.

 

What pain point is your company solving? What gets you excited to go to work every day

Every day, great independent (or “indie” for short) video game studios are doomed to fail, because game discovery/visibility is terribly broken on computer, mobile, and video game console marketplaces. Though nearly 70% of video games are made by independent game developers, indie games only make up 2% of the revenue in the $116B global gaming industry. Indie developers/studios struggle to build a social audience and sell their games, even though more and more gamers seek unique interactive experiences. Most indie studios are typically bootstrapped startups, working on their indie games outside of their full-time jobs. Since they have shoestring budgets, they usually don't have marketing budgets, and can't afford the publicity of more popular games like Fortnite and Red Dead Redemption 2. ProjectMQ helps indie devs sell more indie games, and helps gamers more easily find video games they'll love.

We're making a real impact in the gaming industry, and that keeps me motivated to keep working every day. The game discovery problem is so massive and critical, that it's now commonly referred to as the "indiepocalyse". Steam is the largest PC distribution platform for video games in the world (outside of China), and even they weren't able to fix this problem. With a new game launching about every 20 seconds, if a scalable discovery solution doesn’t arrive in the market soon, most of the indie game segment could collapse. Since indie developers make up nearly 70% of the video games on the market, a collapse of that segment could be catastrophic to the industry.

It's definitely a daunting task, to build a successful discovery solution, when many well-funded companies have already failed in the past. Thankfully, our customer feedback - from indie devs and gamers - indicates that we're on the right path with our unique approach. A couple of year ago, one development team wrote to us, saying that ProjectMQ helped their team turn their part-time game development hobby into a full-time career. Recently, I demoed our site to a gamer, and when they saw the trailer for one of the games on our site, their response was "Oh sh*t, that's indie?". The indie devs that we work with, will occasionally describe the rewarding feeling they have, when gamers enjoy the creative concept they've spent years working on. We get that same feeling, when gamers are surprised and delighted by the games they find on our site. Our mission with ProjectMQ is "To connect, support, and grow the global indie game community". Each time we're able to contribute to a successful indie game launch, or introduce a gamer to a new game that they love, we know we're making progress on our mission. You have to learn to celebrate the small wins; in the startup world, small wins can make all the difference.

 

Name the biggest challenge you faced as you’ve launched ProjectMQ. How did you overcome it?

Funding, hands down, has been our biggest challenge. My brother and I are grateful for all of the progress we've made with ProjectMQ, since we began in March 2013. We've been able to complete our MVP (minimum viable product), and build a community of nearly 40,000 indie game friends around the world. However, because we've been unable to secure external funding to focus on ProjectMQ full-time, it's taken us 6 years of part-time work to reach our 2 year goals. Unfortunately, Malcolm and I didn't have the network to do the typical "Friends and Family" round. Instead, we've self-funded ProjectMQ, with the salaries from our full-time jobs. After investing over $100,000 of our own money to build the MVP and validate the product market fit, we turned to accelerators in an attempt to connect with early-stage investors. In the last 3 years, Malcolm and I have travelled to around the country (Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Texas, California), participating in pitch competitions and other startup programs. Despite the fact that we've graduated from four startup accelerators, including two from the prestigious GAN network, we've failed to raise our modest angel round.

To overcome that challenge, we first needed to understand it better. As it turns out, our fundraising obstacles aren't unique. Less than 1% of American venture capital backed startups are black: https://www.cbinsights.com/research/team-blog/venture-capital-diversity-data/. To further complicate our situation, the average investor doesn't understand the value of the video game industry, and less than 1% of the global population understands blockchain. If those are concentric circles, we're looking at a tiny probability of fundraising success. With better knowledge of our odds, we were able to identify and pursue more reliable funding solutions: startup grants and competitions. In the last 3 years, we've won $26,500 in grants from startup competitions. That filled some gaps, but the ultimate solution was to be more strategic about our operations, and limit our expenses as much as possible. Minus the occasional legal bill, we've managed to reduce our burn rate to $500 per month. We're staying frugal with our expenses, so we can afford to keep growing ProjectMQ as long as possible.

 

Where do you see your company headed next?

Our goals for ProjectMQ in 2019 are to expand the functionality of the platform, expand the platform's digital distribution, and expand ProjectMQ's brand. To improve the site's functionality, Malcolm plans to implement an API, so that we can make ProjectMQ's catalog of excellent indie games available to third party sites. Next, we plan to use that API to complete our mobile application in the Unity game development engine. This will allow us to publish the ProjectMQ mobile app to all computers, laptops, mobile devices, gaming consoles, and smart TVs. Finally, as iHeartMEDIA's official Esports partner, we'll continue building out their gaming events in their 150+ markets nationwide. That should help us establish ProjectMQ's physical brand footprint, in addition to our digital one.

 

Give us a tactical piece of advice that you'd share with another founderjust starting out.

Aim small, miss small, fail fast, learn, and then repeat. Whatever product, feature, or strategy you have in mind, you should try to figure out a way to test it with 5% of the time and money you had planned. We've burned two of the last 5 years, investing resources on initiatives that didn't work out, when we should have prototyped them first. When you're short on time and money, a quickly failed prototype is the best gift you can get.

Learn more about ProjectMQ on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

12.19.2018

Featured Founder: Steve Lazaridis of Phonism

Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Petersburg who are building and scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. We interviewed Steve Lazaridis, Founder and CEO of Phonism, a VoIP provisioning solution that enables businesses to setup and manage all of their VoIP phones on one cloud-based platform.

Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Pete who are scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.

 

What were you doing previously and what inspired you to launch your company?

I previously had a 15+ year career in software engineering, working on a variety of networking devices, network protocols and robotics products. We started the company building the software nights & weekends. It all started by scratching our own itch. We were driven by the lack of device management solutions for telephony devices. And the solutions available in the market were not as sophisticated and easy to use as they should be in today's tech ecosystem.


What pain point is your company solving? What gets you excited to go to work every day?

We're solving a few things for the telecom market.

    1. We get rid of on-site technician visits (truck rolls) providing a plug & play experience in device deployments
    1. We allow customers to use any type of telephony device with our solution, which differentiates us from competing solutions in the marketplace.

Our customers love what we do and hearing that from them gets me excited! We are constantly listening to feedback & improving the product. We release new code and features on a weekly basis allows us to quickly iterate and return value to our customers.


Name the biggest challenge you faced as you’ve launched Phonism. How did you overcome it?

As a small startup everything is challenging, and we are constantly learning and iterating on our processes. A few that come to mind are:

  1. Fundraising.
    • In many cases, being a startup outside of silicon valley makes it more challenging to raise capital. With a lot of hard work and luck, we are super excited that the majority of our capital has come from local Florida investors!
  2. Finding talent.
    • Being a solo founder is hard and recruiting the right talent to help the company grow is extremely important, so limiting mistakes there is key.
  3. Sales & customer growth.
    • It's hard enough selling a product to a market as a small company, but when your founder and lead sales guy are engineers - it's even more difficult! :-). We now have two key hires to help grow that and they are doing a much better job than I ever could.


Where do you see your company headed next?

The problem we're solving expands way beyond telephony and we are engaging with manufacturers in the Internet of Things (IoT) market to leverage our solution for managing their devices. This is an exciting opportunity for us because the device markets in IoT, Telecom, and others are growing non-stop every year and we want to be the platform that manages them.


Give us a tactical piece of advice that you'd share with another founder just starting out.

Instead of boring you with hindsight 20/20 stuff which may not apply to all your readers, here's something that my parents instilled in me and keeps me going throughout my journey.

  • The two Ps:
    • Persistence and Patience and without love you won't have either. So make sure you love what you are building.
  • And lastly, please ignore the "overnight successes" from the media and keep pushing towards your dream.

Learn more about Phonism on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

12.13.2018

Featured Founder: Chitra Kanagaraj

Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Petersburg who are building and scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. We interviewed Chitra Kanagaraj, the founder and CEO of PikMyKid, a comprehensive student safety platform for schools that mitigate risks and distractions during school dismissal.

Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Pete who are scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.

 

 

What were you doing previously and what inspired you to launch your company?
I was a Corporate Director for Cognizant Technologies, a global IT consulting company with over 250,000 employees for over 12 years. In my role I held various positions across multiple departments within the company. I did everything from digital product rollouts to Corporate Operations, driving company performance scorecards. When I felt like I had outgrown my Engineer’s degree, I got my MBA from USF, allowing me to work with local CEO’s and incubator programs to pitching my startup. My new-found knowledge combined with my corporate experience helped me launch and carry my startup, PikMyKid, from that incubator into the thriving business it has become along with my husband and Co-Founder, Pat Bhava. We found a niche in the safety of the school dismissal process that no one else seemed determined to solve, and we took the chance to create something new and solve a problem we witnessed almost every day at our daughter’s school.


What pain point is your company solving? What gets you excited to go to work every day?
Schools today are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of technological resources and softwares available to them, but an incredibly small amount of them figure into school safety and none looked to regulate, automate, and track dismissals that were often chaotic and dangerous for everyone involved. During dismissal, children get into pretty much whatever car they want to, and there is no direction, save for the occasional frazzled teacher with a clipboard and a walkie-talkie trying to keep it under control. After both being given the wrong child and our child almost being directed into a stranger’s car, we realized not only the safety issues of the current system but the massive liability the school has for mistakes that happen during that time. PikMyKid is helping schools with simple, user friendly tools and a process to identify every parent, guardian, or assigned driver that comes onto campus and streamlining traffic around the carline, while also supplying an emergency alert system that teachers can use to contact the appropriate authorities in unsafe situations. Our system makes the experience safer and hassle free for both parents and staff, and we enjoy making life easier for these hardworking people. Every day I come into work knowing that what I’m doing is keeping children like mine feeling safe at school and protecting their futures, and nothing feels better than that.


Name the biggest challenge you faced as you’ve launched PikMyKid. How did you overcome it?
Every school faces this problem, but most of them assume that it is not at their school until a student goes missing or the wrong parent picks up a student. We learned that we cannot sell a solution when the buyer does not understand there is a problem to begin with. Our marketing and safety consultants have to fine-tune our reach to create awareness about the issue so we can work proactively to prevent disaster rather than retroactively when the damage is done.


Where do you see your company headed next?
PikMyKid’s growth is completely based on what we hear from schools and what we see through our data. The numerous schools using our program have given us insight to optimizing district transportation needs and promoting traffic intelligence guiding parents to efficiently manage their time. When technology presents itself as a solution in many areas, we see more challenges also created by them. PikMyKid in its new Kidio avatar would continue its focus on student safety and help district use innovative social media analysis to engage with their students


Give us a tactical piece of advice that you’d share with another founder just starting out.
Ideas are dime-a-dozen! It is only worth something when it reaches the right audience with the right pitch with a great go-to-market strategy and a passionate team behind it.

Learn more about PikMyKid on Twitter and LinkedIn.

12.05.2018

Featured Founder: Bobby Quinn of Raven Spatial

Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Petersburg who are building and scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. We interviewed Bobby Quinn, the founder and CEO of Raven Spatial, a geospatial intelligence company that specializes in crowdsourced drone and smartphone imagery collections.

Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Pete who are scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.

 

What were you doing previously and what inspired you to launch your company?

I flew UAV’s for the US Navy’s Special Surveillance Program in Afghanistan between 2012 and 2014. Following my deployment, I hired on with DigitalGlobe, the world’s largest commercial satellite imagery company, as a geospatial analyst.

During my time with DigitalGlobe, I had to identify several small features (e.g., weapon emplacements, small vehicles, people, temporary shelters, building damage, etc...) in satellite imagery but was severely limited by the low resolution of satellite imagery at that scale. This is a common problem for anyone who uses imagery for analysis. All too often, analysts make best-guess assumptions about the features they’re trying to identify. Drone imagery could provide a much needed “microscope” in this situation, allowing for imagery at ten times the resolution of satellite, but no one in the drone or geospatial industries were appropriately trying to solve this problem. The error in best-guessing important analyses can cost millions of dollars, and in some cases, lives.


What pain point is your company solving?

Soon after hiring on with DigitalGlobe, I realized that drone imagery was not being leveraged appropriately throughout the geospatial community. There’s an increasing trend in using drone imagery to overlap imagery from other sources for geospatial intelligence, but the major pain is the lack of a single-point ordering solution for georectified drone imagery without major geographic restriction.

Currently, the most popular business model in the drone imagery industry is collection by local companies with their own drones and pilots. But this model doesn’t scale well, and companies or government agencies needing imagery across a broad geographic area (country or continent-scale) would have to find several different companies to fulfill their requests. Our model is different. We use crowdsourcing to rely on the widespread availability of low-cost consumer-grade drones to collect imagery for our customers. Drone owners who have downloaded our app will be notified of available flight plans near them. We generate the flight plans that our crowd of pilots will fly for us, standardizing the image collection process. We then process the resulting imagery into GIS-ready imagery that can be used immediately for location intelligence by customers ranging from oil and gas companies to government intelligence agencies.


What gets you excited to go to work every day?

My company is solving a very real problem on the edge of technology in a booming industry. The magnitude of impact we will have on this industry if we are successful is hard for me to fathom right now. I know the problem intimately, and can clearly see the solution. The thought that our platform could effectively save companies millions or that we might help save lives is like having rocket fuel in my tank.


Name the biggest challenge you faced as you’ve launched your company. How did you overcome it?

Selling an idea, even if it’s awesome, is difficult without a product to demonstrate. Having a complex business model adds to that difficulty. Investors have a short attention span, especially for pre-revenue startups. As far as overcoming that, I’ll let you know how I did that when we get to our seed round in March!


Where do you see your company headed next?

We just kicked off our friends and family capital raise round last week. We’ve partnered with a local dev shop to carry out the development of our platform, with a demo due in March of 2019. We’ll open a seed round just before the MVP launch, which will allow us to fine-tune our platform, add essential post-MVP capabilities, and recruit our crowd of users. Being able to demo to the government and military customers will be a key component of traction for us.


Give us a tactical piece of advice that you’d share with another founder just starting out.

Be tenacious and always strive to move forward. Don’t bog yourself down with analysis paralysis. Take each “no” as an opportunity to grow, and drive on. Balance confidence with self-awareness. Be kind and helpful to as many people as you can; business karma is a very real thing. Always take care of those people who helped you along the way, and never forget their contribution to your success.

Learn more about Raven Spatial on LinkedIn and Crunchbase.