Startup Scaleup Gives Inspiration, Advice To Entrepreneurs

By Julie Washington The Plain Dealer, Cleveland

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Dozens of entrepreneurs packed the day-long "Startup Scaleup" event in Cleveland. With panels titled "Mastering the Side Hustle" to "Silicon Valley Money, Midwest Zip Code", business owners exchanged ideas on ways to launch and succeed.

CLEVELAND, Ohio

News anchor Tiffani Tucker spends her work days at the WOIO Channel 19 television studio, and her off hours whipping up treats for her side business, Have a Slice Cakes.

"My hobby is my passion, something I love," said Tucker, who moderated a panel called entitled "Mastering the Side Hustle" at Startup Scaleup, a networking event for entrepreneurs held Tuesday. To prove her dual talents, Tucker served samples of her chocolate and lemon cake to the audience after the panel.

She was among the dozens of entrepreneurs who shared insights and advice during the day-long Startup Scaleup, organized by JumpStart. The event's breakout sessions were spread among 12 venues throughout Cleveland's Gordon Square Arts District, including theaters and restaurants.

Former Yelp and Move.com executive Rob Krolik and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Alex Bard were among the speakers appearing at the event, which presented more than 35 workshops, panel discussions and networking opportunities.

Event-goers filled Gordon Square's sidewalks as they searched for panels, pausing to buy pastries at Gypsy Bean and Baking Company' sidewalk booth and having impromptu meetings while waiting to cross Detroit Avenue. About 1,300 participants were expected at Startup Scaleup.

Inside Cleveland Public Theatre, "Mastering the Side Hustle" presented advice about getting a side business off the ground while working a full-time job.

"Don't listen to people who say you're crazy," said Robin Doerschuk, who got the idea to start the Women's Leadership Conference of Northeast Ohio while pregnant with her second child.

"When people say I can't do something, that fuels my fire," said Doerschuk, who also works at a staffing firm.

Panelist Jason Estremera, associate director of the Hispanic Business Center, converted his men's boutique called Trunk from a brick-and-mortar store to an online business. Shibani Faehnle, owner of Bombay Taxi Boutique Jewelry, weathered a lean period before learning how to market her Bombay-based jewelry to Northeast Ohio customers by partnering with bridal shops.

"I had completely the wrong mix of products," said Faehnle, who also works at Key Bank. "You have to pay attention so you can see what changes are needed. Talk less, listen more."

The panelists agreed that having a work-life balance is an impossible goal when you're running a side business. "I work all the time. There is no balance. Don't waste your time worrying about it," Faehnle said.

Cuyler Holmes of Cleveland attended "Mastering the Side Hustle" hoping for advice on growing his side business, a truck detailing firm he co-owns called B2B Polishing and Detailing.

"I see the need for more economic growth in the African-American community," said Holmes, 37. "That's the vehicle that drove me to be an independent entrepreneur -- to open doors for other African-Americans to start companies."

In a panel called "Portrait of a Serial Entrepreneur," Aaron Grossman explained that all of the companies he has founded shared a common goal -- to motivate others to unlock their unrealized potential.

"Everything I do is centered around my purpose," said Grossman, founder and CEO of Alliance Solutions Group, a Cleveland-based staffing and recruitment firm.

Grossman shared the panel with Kris Synder, who described how he started out mowing lawns as a kid and is now CEO of Vox Mobile, a mobile IT firm in Independence. Synder's advice: Learn from peers, face your fears and avoid raising money from friends.

The panel titled "Silicon Valley Money, Midwest Zip Code" featured two Ohio based entrepreneurs who found capital investment and grew their businesses without relocating to the West Coast.

Andy Nielsen, CEO of Cincinnati-based Everything But the House, identified investors who were excited to uncover the next hot start-up in the Midwest. "The question has been asked, but I've never had a ton of pressure to move," Nielen said. His company organizes online estate sales.

Dan Manges, CTO of the Columbus-based firm Root Insurance, hopes that in the future, start-ups that need serious capital will find it here instead of Silicon Valley. "Eventually, we won't have to go to the coast," Manges said.

Even though she's not an entrepreneur, Bridget McQuaide of Solon found ideas and inspiration at Startup Scaleup.

The 2016 Ohio Wesleyan University graduate is program coordinator for a nonprofit program offering services to seniors, and finds that she needs to learn about business plans and financial policies.

"I thought this was the perfect event to boost my own knowledge," McQuaide, 23, said. "It's been amazing. This is awesome."

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