When you think of #startupcincy, a few key things come to mind. Wendy Lea, CEO of Cintrifuse is one of them (let me save you all some trouble and let you know it’s pronounced “Lee”). She has started companies, sold them, angel invested into others and has now brought her talents to Cincinnati to help our ever-growing startup scene bring in new talent and continuously foster innovation. With Wendy on the startup team, big things have been brewing in Cincinnati…and it’s just getting started.
Let’s start with the obvious…Wendy is a a hardworking, intelligent and fast-moving boss lady (#careergoals). I only spent a half an hour with her, so how would I know this? Well we can look at her successes during her time out west and at her previous companies, we can also look at the recent success of Cincinnati’s NewCo. But…there is something else about Wendy, something that can be hard to do. Wendy is always forward thinking. She knows how to celebrate the successes while keeping in mind how Cincinnati can get stronger. She sees the power our region has with our 9 startup accelerators, 4 major universities, many established big companies and new emerging tech companies. At the same time, she sees how in fully developed ecosystems (cough, cough, San Fran) they have a lot more access to entrepreneurs, money, peer-to-peer connections and an unmatched fearless attitude into the unknown. It’s a little discouraging, but it’s the truth…Cincinnati is no San Fransisco when it comes to startups.
The good news is that Cincinnati is on it’s way to being as successful as Silicon Valley. Our resources are growing and our region has the drive to accomplish what it takes to move the needle forward with more business. But, most importantly, Cincinnati needs to keep bringing in top talent. This region has potential, and now it is up to the millennial generation to get in there and figure out how to keep Cincinnati startups competitive with other regions. Here are Wendy’s 4 tips to millennials on how to dive head first into being a successful startup guru:
1. Be a groupie. Get plugged into the entrepreneurial community around you. Network and get to know others…learn from them and immerse yourself.
2. Experiment. Work for a range of startups that line up with your passions. Get as many experiences as you can to learn more about your talents and the kinds of projects you want to be working on.
3. Study. There are a lot of things to lean about startups and how they operate. Do you know how venture capital works? Do you know how to get capital? No? That’s fine, that’s what Google was made for.
4. Line up your passions. According to Wendy, there are two main types of passions: functional and life. Functional passions are the ones you have for your career and job types. Life passions are the things you love that you pursue outside of work, like hobbies and values. In startups, the company you work for becomes so much more than a job. It’s important that the company aligns with both parts of your passions.
Most importantly, working in the entrepreneurial space means that you are obviously someone that is smart, resourceful and ready to get plugged in. You will have many jobs in your life, but it is important that with each one, you learn and grow. Learning and growing…Cincinnati sounds like a millennial because our region is going through the same stuff. With each new company that comes in, graduating accelerator class or each big company backer, Cincinnati becomes a bigger startup ecosystem. Lucky for us, we have someone like Wendy to keep pushing us forward.