We are all Geeks.
A guest blog from Katie Chastain, co-founder of Everfan.com.
Our business is not an innovative tech platform that will revolutionize the way you do business. Or a fancy app with a well-designed user interface to make your personal life more efficient. We are a product-based company. We make custom superhero capes and costume accessories and prefer to use our imaginations over our gadgets.
So we weren’t sure Geekend, a tech and innovation conference, was the right fit for us. But we wanted to build our entrepreneurial ecosystem and stretch our business horizons. (And we do have that geeky cosplay thing going on.)
I left convinced that even my brother-in-law’s low-tech, small town service station could leave the weekend with some new business insights and some innovative ways to harness technology. Here were our top three low-tech take-aways:
- Attention Beats Marketing 1000 percent of the time. Savannah Banana owner Jesse Cole kicked off the weekend in his yellow tux, with hilarious tales of standing out- from his 70+ year-old Banana Nanas dance squad to offering an internship to the now unemployed President Obama. The audacious owner turned the balks of Savannah society into sold out crowds through his Barnum-inspired showmanship.
- It’s not the workforce, it’s you. We often hear fellow entrepreneurs complain about a local talent vacuum or lazy employees; sometimes I wonder how much of this is management issues. Last year we encouraged our team to find their own problems to solve in the company and have seen some promising results. Gray Somerville systematizes this sort of intrapreneurship through his innovation platform, LaunchPath Innovation. Whether it is improving efficiency or effectiveness, expanding existing product lines or creating new ones, LaunchPath paves the way for employee engagement.
- Mind your mindset. Entrepreneurship is a wild ride of ups and downs. A mentor reminded Planted’s co-founder Susan Zheng the importance of mental care and she has kept it close as one of the most important pieces of advice for a founder. IBM designer-educator Devin O’Bryan echoed the need for emotional management. (I’m intrigued by his book rec). Too often we hire for IQ and end up firing for EQ. Be aware, take care of your mindset and your team’s.
We went To Geekend for a little inspiration, we left better resourced (shout out to Georgia’s technology incubator ATDC for reminding me that we are a web-based company and as so are eligible for their tech-help) and better aware. So while I am still chewing on the application of blockchain in our line of business, I have a better understanding of what I don’t understand. The mind of an entrepreneur is a curious one and Geekend tickled my curiosity.
Katie Chastain is a co-owner at Everfan.com. She is a conversation starter and business maker, frequently writing and teaching around entrepreneurship and education.