Today we speak with Marci Weisler, mentor at Women Innovate Mobile, the first startup accelerator to focus its investment strategy on mobile-first female led startup ventures.
Marci is the COO of EachScape and an accomplished digital executive with over 15 years of experience growing online businesses. She holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA from Cornell University.
What’s the worst mistake a founder can make?
There are so many mistakes that a founder can make. One of the biggest ones I’ve seen is that the founder sees everything that needs to happen for her dream to become a reality, but she has not examined it at a granular level to know all the resources/timeline it will take. Along this vein, some founders fail to communicate the details well to their team, and assume that everyone is on board and understands what’s expected of them, but, in reality, it has not been clearly articulated. This leads to a difference between the expectation and the deliverable.
What’s the most common startup error?
Trying to bite off too much with a limited set of resources. Prioritize. And then cut your to-do list to the top handful
What does “fail fast” mean to you?
If you see something not working, acknowledge and address it quickly. Make changes that need to be made in personnel, direction, strategy. If you set a definitive timeline when results should show, and at that point you are seeing different outcomes, you need to react and reset. It’s not always failing,; it’s adapting, adjusting and rethinking.
If you could fix one thing in the startup eco-system right now, what would it be?
I think there’s a general perception, particularly among those who have watched the startup world but have not been part, that success is rampant and comes easily. Startups can be fun and great, but they are hard work. Perseverance, execution and timing are important. Many more startups fail than succeed, and that’s a reality check that people need to have. Go into it knowing it’s your biggest challenge and that you need to not only have a great idea, but also great execution at the right time.
What should startups be focusing on in 2013?
There are so many opportunities right now. As a longtime mobile person (way before smartphones), I’m excited that mobile is now embedded in the landscape. The business model really needs to evolve, but I am excited that mobile touches all. Whether it’s standalone or a component of something, consumer-facing or enterprise, there’s a real opportunity to tap the fact that the market is here and there are many needs that have to be solved.
When’s the right time to seek funding?
For most companies, it should be once you’ve gotten results from proof of concept, clear interest by the market, and chance for a real business. You want enough under your belt so that you get both the funding and the valuation that you need. Also, realize funding is a time-consuming activity, so you need to be sure that your product is there or that you have someone you trust – perhaps a co-founder – focused on the day-to-day while you’re out fundraising. If you don’t have that, then the timing is not right.
Best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Change is constant. If you’re looking for routine, if you’re looking for a clear path, then the startup world is not for you. In today’s world, there’s very little certainty, but it’s exponential greater when you’re in startupland.
Guess who’s coming for dinner…who would be your dream dinner guest(s) and why?
Wow, this one is tough, and it’s hard to narrow down. I’d be honored to have dinner with Nick Kristof. His global perspective on offering women opportunities that can change the world is amazing, both in third world countries and in the first world, too. His emphasis on education and its contribution to women in business and starting businesses is superb, and he also recognizes how established businesses can change policies and behavior to drive women to more leadership positions.