Chris Swenor is the co-founder of East Coast Product, a one-stop-shop product accelerator to help get your product to its next milestone. They provide everything you need when you need it to deliver the best product there is. Follow him @chrisswenor.
What is the first thing you did to turn your current business from an idea into a reality?
I had just left my CTO position at Vsnap after it was acquired and I knew my vision for East Coast Product was a good one, so it was simple. I just started working. I reached out to the best developers I knew, built an all-star team and got to building.
What is the scariest part of being a young entrepreneur and how can others overcome this fear?
The more we grow the more I have to work to make sure we still have clients to keep the lights on and the bills paid for our employees. The scariest part is the risk of failing all of the people who dove in head first with you. The only thing you can do is to keep moving forward and push closer to that next milestone.
Were you ever told not to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams? Who told you that, what did they say and why did you ignore them?
Yes of course, I don’t know many entrepreneurs who haven’t faced that. It’s part of the risk and the fun. Early on I would hear from prospective clients that I wasn’t ready or our team wasn’t good enough. Everyone who knows me knows that it’s pointless to discourage me. I knew that there was a need for East Coast Product and I knew that if we just put our head down ignored the naysayers we would get there. It is really satisfying hearing back from those clients who doubted us.
What is the No. 1 thing you wish you’d known starting out and how did you learn it?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. As the CEO, especially one with a developing and technical history, you want to have your hand in everything. But as East Coast Product began to grow, it became harder to do so. I was trying to balance the workload as a CEO, CTO consultant and helping with coding, and it wasn’t working. So I just told myself take a step back and put my trust in the great team I have assembled.
What do you recommend all new founders do for their business — or their personal lives — that will help them the most?
Make sure you love your job.
How do you end each day and why?
My day never ends. I am always connected to make sure I am not the bottleneck.
What is your best PR/marketing tip for business just starting up?
Simply be human. Startups are a great and exciting space to be in and you want all your marketing and PR efforts to reflect that. When we first started, we focused on being passionate and active members of the startup community. We offered advice, feedback and even free consulting office hours. If you make your customer fall in love with you first, they will fall in love with your product.
What is your ultimate goal? What will you do if/when you get there?
My ultimate goal is to be the No. 1 choice for any startup that is just starting out. Once we get there we will expand to new cities around the world.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.