Jess Lybeck knows the ups and downs of starting a company from nothing. Nearly three years ago, Lybeck founded Dabble—a Chicago-based education startup that offers busy locals the opportunity to take or teach classes on a variety of subjects (everything from beer brewing to website design).
Lybeck took her expertise from Dabble to her new role as COO of Artifact Uprising, a web company which makes tangible products for digital photos. Built In Colorado recently caught up with Lybeck to hear the advice she wish she knew when she began down her entrepreneurial path:
1. Think long term and see the big picture. “Think about the long game from the beginning, what are you trying to accomplish with this? What kind of company do you want to build? Asking these questions from the beginning helps guide you and where you want to go.”
2. Embrace risk. “You’ll face challenges, but you’ll learn from them.” Faced with the predicament of an unprofitable company, Lybeck and her co-founder of Dabble, Erin Hopmann, shared their struggles openly on their blog Thirty Days of Honesty.
3. Connect with your audience. “Your company needs to really resonate with your core group and target audience – your customers need not just to be excited, but over-the-top in love with what you do. Getting to this takes time and a bit of luck.” Lybeck found that Dabble had a strong and enthusiastic customer base who served as a constant reminder of why she had started the company in the first place.
4. Separate the person you are from the company you are building. “I’ve been through a few different ventures and I’ve learned not to take myself or my businesses too seriously. It seems counterintuitive, but being too emotionally involved can be detrimental. In order to be executing and moving forward you need to separate between the company and who you are as person – at the end of the day the goal is to be happier because of your startup and your business.”
5. Get a team on your side. “Entrepreneurs often are afraid of not knowing what to do or are worried about the best decision to make —surround yourself with mentors and colleagues. This makes all the difference and allows you to move on something quickly.”
6. Meet people. “Start networking, you need to jump into with both feet, go to events, introduce yourself. You will be welcome into the community. Meeting people is really where things happen in the startup world –that’s where you hear great stories that can inspire you to take the next step.”
Lybeck is now focused on her work with Artifact Uprising - a Colorado company that gets photos off your device and into your life by turning them into photo books whose interior pages are printed on 100% recycled paper. Artifact Uprising, which was started by two Denver photographers, is focusing on scaling the company and the product line in the next year.
“They’ve done amazing things so far,” Lybeck said. “I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us.”