Dean Isaacson works on his startup as his summer internship. Image of Philadephia skyline courtesy of Ransomtech on Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ransomtech)

Startup Journey: Networking and Building a Team

Oh, where to begin?! It has been an interesting summer for sure thus far.

What Starting a Company Is Really Like

In past posts, I have mentioned that my hours are strange because of my west coast team members. As the person responsible for making sure everything is successful, my hours don’t start and stop when I get off a phone call.

Growing up, I’ve had other people plan my every move. And then, even in college, I have a schedule which dictates when and where I get my work done. This is the first time in my life I have not had a strict schedule to follow, people to report to, and guidelines on how to do anything.

Being 100% responsible for your own time and your overall teams’ progress can be daunting. I have no set hours, no set sleep schedule, no set eating schedule, and no income. But I must put in as many hours a day as it takes to make sure I am giving myself every possible chance for success.

Finding Inspiration with the Entrepreneurs Organization

As for some other updates since we last spoke, my dad and I attended a retreat in Pennsylvania for the Washington D.C. chapter of an organization he belongs to called Entrepreneurs Organization (EO). It was honestly freaking awesome! Meeting and networking with all kinds of entrepreneurs, even magicians: after one of the events a mind reader performed – it was crazy. I’d like to add a quick shout out to Max Major! Check him out.

Throughout this show, I learned an important lesson on influence. Just like a magic show, relationship building and business are all about influencing other people. But in order to build meaningful connections, have others be passionate about your mission, or understand the value of your business, you first need to build trust and influence.

Mentoring Young Entrepreneurs

Early on at the retreat, I met two younger boys: one was in middle school and his brother is an upperclassman in high school. They hoped to one day start their own business. They had already started with small businesses, selling snacks in school before the school shut them down.

Like me, they were also there with their dad, and, like me, were trying to take in all the knowledge they could. Their dad encouraged them to listen to my past experiences and look everything they could from me. It was eye-opening and a little humbling to have these younger entrepreneurs eagerly listen to my past setbacks.

Being surrounded by my dad and other like-minded individuals at this retreat helped instill in me a more profound image of entrepreneurship. This image is reflected perfectly by the chapter’s own motto: “The Dream is Free. The Hustle is Sold Separately.” It was a great get away and was a nice energy booster to help finish the summer strong and go full throttle going into launch!

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Lessons on Team Building, Team Management, and Conflict

This week we are supposed to talk about what we have worked on that we are proud of. The hardest part of getting to where we are now was putting together the right team. I have been working on this project and building a team for over two years now. At first, I tried working with close friends, but it didn’t work out. I have had to go back to square one more than a couple times. It is tough, but it has been a great learning experience.

My team is now at a point where I am truly confident in our team’s ability to put together a great platform and execute our vision while working as a cohesive unit. For that, I am extremely proud and grateful. I feel that I have already accomplished something. We still have a very long way to go, but this summer we have made some incredible progress. We are looking to only pick up the pace as the summer continues. On top of this, I am proud to have a team behind me that believes in me and our company.

Recently I learned that it doesn’t matter who a person is or how well you get along with them. If you spend enough time with anyone, you will clash. It will likely happen more than once. You must learn how to handle these situations. It’s important to manage your own ego and personality and move forward from conflict. The iSchool has helped me understand how to do this through extensive experiences working with groups, coworkers, friends, and mentors.

What’s Coming Next

Some recent company updates: we have a new logo (stay tuned for the next and final blog to see a sneak preview). Our user interface/experience is completed and development is making great progress. We are working on ironing out the details of our marketing campaign since we are beginning our outreach and brand awareness efforts within the next couple weeks. We are also in the midst of putting together a campus ambassador program at Syracuse University.

Right now, a lot of the pieces of the puzzle are in place and we are focused on staying on the ball to put everything else together and make sure it fits together. As I said, we still have a long way to go and I am looking forward to the challenge to get us there!

I hope you have all enjoyed following along with my summer journey and on the final blog, I will be giving a run-down of what the heck my company actually is, when we are launching, and how you can get involved!

Dean Isaacson

Dean Isaacson

My name is Dean Isaacson. I am an incoming Junior in the School of Information Studies majoring in Information Management and Technology with a minor in Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises (EEE) in the School of Management. I live outside of Washington D.C. and am passionate connecting with people, travel, and start-ups!

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