It’s time for Louisville to think big. That was the consensus last week at NowSourcing’s Stop Thinking Small Louisville event.
Brian Wallace, Founder of NowSourcing, Jason Falls, VP of Marketing at Cafe Press, Tony Schy, Executive Director at Velocity, and Zack Pennington, Co-founder and CEO of US Chia each took turns addressing the crowd. Topics covered included startup culture, capital, and the fact that Louisvillians are too nice to tell you your “ugly baby” idea is bad.
The overarching theme from the evening was that we shouldn’t aspire to be the next Austin, Boston, or Silicon Valley. Rather, we should strive to put Louisville on the map in its own unique way. There is enough talent and capital here to put us on the map, we just have to mobilize it all in the same direction.
For starters, we need to find a way to come together as a community to nurture talent and entrepreneurs through what Zack Pennington referred to as the “valley of death” between starting a business and getting it to pay off. As Brian Wallace pointed out, “you can afford to fail here,” meaning the cost of living and job climate are such that you can always go work for someone else. In order for the next big thing to take off, we have to come together as a community to nurture and support.
There are also valuable lessons to be learned from failure. Failure is completely acceptable as long as you learn from it and move forward in a slightly different direction. We also need to caution entrepreneurs against stagnating at the first sign of progress. As Jason Falls put it, we need to “celebrate, but don’t settle.” Every small victory can move us forward, but it isn’t enough to stop there.
One lesson learned from previous attempts at mobilizing the startup community in Louisville was that talk is easy, but it’s a lot harder to get people to mobilize and take action. Think Big attendees were reminded of this and encouraged to turn the lessons learned into actionable insights. As the startup community in Louisville progresses, other events will take place to brainstorm and remind people to take action. We’re in the process of surveying attendees and analyzing feedback. From the feedback we’ve received so far, you definitely want us to do this again. We’re already planning our next steps. It’s time to Stop Thinking Small, Louisville!
Photos Courtesy of Brian Wallace