Goldstrike Data is located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in a town where the population is still just shy of 8,000 people. In such a rural area with limited resources, I have found that one the most important factors affecting a young startup such as Goldstrike, is our network of mentors. My mentors have ranged from professors and programs through Michigan Technological University, SmartZone which is a business incubator, my family, and successful individuals from across the country.
During the first week of May, I was fortunate enough to be sponsored to attend TiECON in Santa Clara California which is a conference for entrepreneurs at all stages and from around the world. TiE’s mission is to mentor, network, educate and to encourage entrepreneurship, particularly for the next generation. The ‘pay-it-forward’ attitude found in Silicon Valley became very apparent to me through TiE’s mentorship program and the attitudes of successful entrepreneurs that I met at TiECON.
Furthermore, every mentor that I have had not only answered my questions and guided me… but gave me “homework”. I may have not been happy about this at the time but doing a few hours of extra researching and head scratching each week has gotten me far.
In late April Goldstrike Data graduated from SmartStart which is a SmartZone ran, hands on workshop where ideas are grown into successful businesses. SmartStart required a lot of homework and forces you to acknowledge and answer the tough questions that you did not even know existed. During this program, we discussed marketing, research, intellectual property, financial modeling and a pitched our companies at the final pitch night marking our graduation.
Goldstrike now has access to workshops, advertising opportunities, office space, peer groups, and a network of professionals in the area through SmartZone and collaboration with Michigan Tech. These resources are absolutely irreplaceable and I would not have been exposed to them without the entrepreneurial spirit that is fostered at Michigan Tech.
Finally, my biggest supporters and mentors have been my family and friends. My father is a statistical consultant and entrepreneur who introduced me to this world at a young age for which I am extremely grateful. Without him I would not have had the confidence needed to get to this stage. I was also fortunate enough to gain the director of research computing at Michigan Tech as a mentor and close friend. He has always encouraged my hard work and ingenuity, but he also lets me dig for solutions on my own… even if it takes me a while to get there. I am grateful for his patience, encouragement and frequent honesty.
As the founder and president of a technical startup, the best advice that I can give is to listen, question, and do your homework… even if you are not sure it is the “right answer”.