August Dayton Startup Grind Recap – Nancy Koors
The following post originally appeared on Startup Grind Dayton Chapter Ambassador & UpDayton Director A.J. Ferguson’s LinkedIn. Access the original post here.
Just get started.
Startup Grind Dayton’s Candace Dalmagne-Rouge sat down with Nancy Koors for August’s fireside chat. Nancy is a distinguished entrepreneur who has created, led, advised, and invested in successful startups throughout her career. If you missed the session, here is a recap of the insights and experiences Nancy shared:
Focus on your first market. | Nancy discussed the tendency for startups to spread their focus across a bunch of target markets or to only think about their largest market. Instead, she encourages startups to focus on their first market, the market that is the best fit for getting their product off the ground.
Just get started. | It’s easy for startups to put countless hours into grandiose plans, but Nancy believes in PED – progress every day. Once you get started, you’re going to get smarter and find traction.
What’s your game plan? | As an investor, Nancy looks for startups with thoughtful and realistic steps going forward. If plans are overly luxurious and ambitious, she is likely to step back. She expects there to be room for changes and iterations along the way. A good game plan focuses on the first market described above.
Be transparent with investors. | Candace asked Nancy about what she’s looking for when choosing whether to invest in a startup. Her one-word answer was transparency. She wants realistic projections and has little tolerance for spin and overselling. She wants to see founders who know their strengths and weaknesses. Startups need more than an investor’s check. They should present gaps in connections, relationships, and expertise that investors can fill.
Consider adding a Board of Advisors. | Nancy likes the flexibility and informality of a Board of Advisors. Whereas Directors have formal and structured roles, Advisors can dig more deeply into the entrepreneur’s real challenges. Advisors are the right people to go to for a good cry, to let it all out, or to grind through a messy issue. Advisors aren’t additional investment experts; rather, they surround a startup with additional relationships and skillsets. When the company’s challenges change and evolve, the Board of Advisors can change, too.
Nancy’s Career & the Cincinnati Startup Scene
Nancy spent her early career at Cincinnati Bell and then Fifth Third Bank marketing technology solutions, developing new products, and launching startups within the umbrella of these companies. The dawn of the internet pulled Nancy back to Cincinnati Bell in 1996 where she led the creation of CBTS (Cincinnati Bell Technology Solutions). Nancy saw the need for an association of internet professionals and began connecting with her fellow e-business pioneers in the early 2000s. These relationships led to her involvement in a number of startups and the creation of Main Street Ventures, an entity that eventually grew into Cincinnati’s well-know and highly successful accelerator, The Brandery.
Nancy emphasized that it has taken more than 15 years for Cincinnati’s startup ecosystem to get off the ground. In 2004, the initial push had pretty much fizzled out, but Cincinnati is now home to multiple venture funds and accelerators that are producing successful startups. She emphasized the importance of Cincinnati’s corporate catalysts in bolstering the startup scene. In recent years, big companies have been more open to working with startups and riding the bumpy roads that come with newborn products and companies.
Nancy has been in the middle of it all. After more than a decade leading and operating digital agencies, Nancy signed on as Executive in Residence and COO at Cintrifusefrom 2013 to 2015. She is a valued board member and advisor for startups and recently co-founded Find Your Next Customers Bootcamp. She even hopped back into a startup of her own as Co-Founder and COO at iReportSource, Inc.