Jason Randolph, Seasoned Entrepreneur & Marketer
Introduce yourself! [00:00:20]
Hello, my name is Jason Randolph I've been a marketer in entrepreneur for over 15 years I have both built and sold technology companies and I've been very much in the entrepreneur community both leading founders and mentor groups.
What makes a good mentee? [00:00:44]
There's really two keys to being a great mentee: one is preparation, a mentor can only help as much as they can go and understand your problem. So it's critical to be prepared when you speak to your mentor and share information prior to that meeting, so they're prepared and then secondly it's being honest. It's easy to try to sell the good easy parts, but really let them help you and that and be open to those difficult challenges and questions.
What should you look for in a mentor? [00:01:20]
First, I look for people gone and been there before. The key thing you're looking for is experience shares, so that when you're going through those challenges over the next couple years you have someone there to help guide you and that's been there to give you advice and experience shares.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? [00:01:44]
Two pieces of advice - I've really found to be the most valuable first don't build something that people aren't willing to pay for and prove that very early otherwise it's just a new cool idea. Second, don't try to build the ultimate product to start with, start with a small prototype get feedback, and learn because too many startups go and try to build and spend too much time building the perfect product. Then find out there's only a few core features the clients really cared about, if they focused on that really early they'd have gotten far more growth and a lot more speed.
What should startups focus on when marketing? [00:02:30]
Ultimately a start-up is just a new product you've introduced in the market that has to be proven. You can have a product in an idea, but if people are not willing to pay for it it's just that. And marketing is that the catalyst that in the plan to say all right we've got a great product people are willing to pay for it and we understand who those customers are and what they care about.
When should startups begin focusing on their marketing? [00:03:00]
Before this startup starts ultimately a start-up is just a product that gets to market with an idea. Marketing is the validation that someone is willing to pay for the product and your customers want to pay, and how much they're going to pay, so proving that very early is going to provide them very clear path for your business and allow you to focus on the most important features and customers.
Why should startups care about their marketing? [00:03:34]
Ultimately marketing is what's going to drive the business and a product is just that, or an idea until someone's willing to pay for it and you as a business have a clear path of how you're going to take the business and your customers here all the way to a large growing company.
What characteristics do you see in successful entrepreneurs? [00:03:58]
The characteristics I see in successful entrepreneurs? Well, the first is passion. Ultimately building a startup is extremely difficult. It's 60 to 80 hour weeks for at least three, four years– so it's a lot of time that you've got to be passionate about what you're doing. That will if you're passionate about the problem you're solving. And your problem that will translate to your customers to investors to everyone, because you are the company for the first three, five years as you are the leader, and they have to believe that you believe in your product.
Is Chicago the place to be for aspiring entrepreneurs? [00:04:42]
Well we're seeing a large growth in Chicago. The Chicago entrepreneur community has grown significantly. We're also seeing investment and a lot of startups coming to Chicago and choosing to go here versus San Francisco, Silicon Valley, New York– because of the lower cost of living as well as a huge talent pool we've built here in Chicago.
What industries should we be on the lookout for? [00:05:13]
Personally, I don't look at the industry as much as the problem. There are very big industries that are starting to emerge: artificial intelligence, machine learning, the internet of things, but these are more technologies that still are just technologies to enable us to solve a problem. If you start with here's the problem I'm trying to solve and then back out of, well I'm going to use artificial intelligence. I'm going to use a lot of these technologies. So I would say don't get stuck in any of these very popular terms focus on solving a problem that people are willing to pay for and then figure out what are the right channels and the right technologies to begin there.