Last night, at TechSquare Lab’s sneak peek event, we were lucky enough to hear some words of wisdom from Jeff Arnold, the founder of WebMD and Chairman and CEO of Sharecare. His message was clear – hard work and perseverance (mixed with a little luck) is the only way to make your startup successful. And not just any hard work, but complete and total focus driven by passion and curiosity.
He believes the best ideas are developed by talking to anyone and everyone you possibly can that might shed some insight into the problem you’re trying to solve. Then, take away the most helpful piece of information from each and every conversation and build a vast knowledge base. Once you have this base, you’ll be able to understand and see solutions that were not there before.
When Jeff wants to invest in a company, he looks for the “secret.” The one thing that differentiates you from everyone else. Your team and the market are also extraordinary important but having that special insight or answer makes your idea far more powerful. There’s too many people describing their companies as the “Uber of this” or the “Yelp of that” and not enough coming up with novel ideas that make him say “oh wow, I hadn’t thought of that before.”
Allen Nance, moderator for the night and co-founder of Techsquare Labs, asked Jeff why he kept WebMD and ShareCare in Atlanta rather than leaving for the Silicon Valley or New York. His answer - because people in Atlanta are loyal. And he’s never this type of loyalty anywhere else. Additionally, the southeast, and Atlanta in particular, has a vast talent pool to choose from. The only thing that’s missing? Capital. He wants to see more people putting more money in new businesses. While there is certainly a lot of capital available in Atlanta, it pales in comparison to other start-up hubs around the country. And that’s something we’re hoping to improve at TechSquare Labs.
Have a “secret” idea? Let us know! www.techsquare.co