Technology designer and startup investor John Zeratsky recently spoke with Jackie Hermes, chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based Accelity Marketing, during Startup Milwaukee Week to discuss navigating uncertainty during the early stages of a startup venture. Zeratsky, who has authored two books, “Sprint” and “Make Time,” spoke about how his experience working at high-growth tech startup FeedBurner, helping launch YouTube channels and working at Google’s investment arm led to developing “Design Sprint,” a tool to help startups reduce risk when bringing a new product or service to market.
“If you assume that all successful startups are created by people who have the brilliant vision from day one or have that X factor or happen to know some investor who’s going to give them a bunch of money, if you think that’s the bar, then you’re going to come up with excuses to never get started.”
“I think there’s sort of a risk aversion from a lot of the venture investors here (in Milwaukee), which is ironic because it’s inherently a risky asset class. … I’ve talked to a number of investors who are doing angel investing or venture investing but they’re not looking for those companies that are going to become billion-dollar companies.”
“If you embrace the inherent risk of building new things and doing new things and you understand that building a new company is really a series of questions that you need to answer, and that there are techniques … to answer those questions, it becomes less scary.”
“For the individual, unless you can reach a certain level of diversification, angel investing is probably best thought of as a way to sort of give back to the next generation of entrepreneurs.”
“In Milwaukee and in Wisconsin, I think that we have tried to do things on our own, which is good, but the nature of building new things and creating new value requires new connection and fresh blood and new ideas and it requires moving capital and moving talent and connecting companies with customers. I think we can do that stuff inside the state but the state’s not that big, so if we can be a little more outward looking about connecting with the Twin Cities, with Chicago, with Michigan and with the coasts … I think it’s going to be the proverbial rising tide that lifts all boats.”