When I started Technical.ly in early 2009, I had no experience or real awareness of entrepreneurship. We’ve learned a lot, and in truth, I still remain a relatively inexperienced founder, but I have taken and enjoyed this early entrepreneurial experience.
With just eight full-time team members (excluding, of course, our part-time independent contractors), I am solely responsible for managing our healthcare coverage plan, and while I tried to prepare for what the change might be, I wasn’t ready for our costs to more than double, and, for some plans, almost triple. Here’s what I learned and what we did.
Founders aren’t scalable. You can grow an organization only so far with a founder and her emotion, personality and drive.
So you shouldn’t build an organization around them. They’re great in the beginning. They’re the ultimate generalists, as a good founder will do anything to get the job done. But it won’t last. It can’t last. Even if a founder stays a lifetime, eventually that life will end.
Eleven University of Pennsylvania students pitched their media startup ideas at an Entrepreneurial Journalism Demo Night held in the Kelly Writers House last week. I was there by invitation of the class’s professor Sam Apple, whose reporting background stems from a stint experimenting with launching theFasterTimes.com.
The Daily Pennsylvanian, the student newspaper, covered the pitch night here, so I just wanted to share the 11 pitches I saw.
Updated with more perspective on the job-crashing Internet here and more from Vox Media here. Also, though some think there is a mighty economic transition happening, many readers and friends have pointed that I didn’t properly address the ‘lump labor fallacy‘ here, in which I incorrectly assume there is a static number of jobs that are going away. I still think there is perspective worth sharing below. More comments welcome.
In the next 20 years, the United States and the broader global economy will either dramatically rethink its employment structure or a history-altering societal change will take place.
Of course, unemployment numbers are gamed by those who give up on looking for jobs, but the idea here is that it’s hard to understand why anyone seems to think that the overall unemployment numbers for our country will trend anywhere but upward.
Let me be clear, this is armchair commentary from someone with absolutely no background in economics or geopolitical, socioeconomic trends, so I am writing this hoping for outside insight because I can’t figure this out.
Below, I (a) outline the problem as I see it, (b) look at big economic drivers that seem to be chances for more problems, (c) list all the opportunities I understand that could reverse somewhat this trend and then (d) highlight some of the transformational changes that could lie in wait for the next generation, before offering some more reading and then waiting to get yelled at in the comments.
OK, yah, it sounds pretty boring, and, well, maybe it is, but if you ask about our success (whatever it is) I think it has quite a bit to do with the meetings we’ve almost always held, from the very beginning.
It’s largely a style I’ve advocated for years that has now been further evolved, practiced and cemented into our culture with a lot of follow through from two colleagues who really buy into it and have crafted it on their own. So much do I prefer our meetings over others I often find myself getting into, that I often find myself bringing the style elsewhere.
When I am unsure about something, I tend to over-indulge in the research.
So, when my two colleagues and I decided that, despite our size, we thought it was worth the cost of hiring a payroll services company to withhold taxes for Technically Media from the very start, I knew I’d be indulging.
In the end, we went with a Center City Philadelphia representative from payroll services giant Paychex.
Let me tell you a bit about the process, in case you have a small business that might want to outsource that work as we have.
Bright and passionate 20-somethings pleaded the case for their products, eager for funding to follow the $25,000 and three months of mentoring they received at DreamIt. It was an exacting event.
It was also interesting to think of Technically Philly, a news site I helped co-found that is very much a startup. The conversations I had with some of the young entrepreneurs after the event were startling in similarity to the struggles I’ve had with TPhilly.