This is according to the startup princess herself… as I would never call myself the king of anything right now (she has also called me the wizard) :p Kelly King Anderson grew up in a family of “kings” and has always had this element of kingdoms, royalty, etc. So when she started her business encouraging women entrepreneurs it was a natural theme, and a brand that was there for the taking. She snatched it up and ran with it!
Kelly hosted the first Startup Princess Conference in Provo, Utah yesterday, and she invited me to exhibit to her 60-100 attendees. I was excited for the opportunity, as I’ve been trying to figure out how to get more involved with her organization, but I had that problem (… the one where I could not be a princess… you know… ).
I have to admit, I was driving home after the conference, trying to think of a more inspiring business event that I’ve been to. I can’t. This was the most inspiring, uplifting, and informational conference that I can remember attending. The audience was alive with energy and questions. There were those who had not started their own business but wanted to. There were those that were in the thick of starting their own business, and there were those who have very successful startups, or work with startups. I love conferences where everyone wants to be there, and this was one of them.
Kelly King Anderson opened the event and had the entrepreneurs write down three to five things they needed in the next 60 days. The tagline on Kelly’s blog is “Make a wish, make it happen!” and this theme permeated the entire conference. There was mention in almost every presentation about networking, relationships, contacts, etc. (great for me, right?)
The opening keynote was Becca Levie, who is a fabulous speaker with an amazing… amazing! story. I had goosebumps as she shared her story with us (read about her childhood here … unbelievable). But Becca has owned a number of businesses (right now she owns LipNotes) and was a terrific CEO-speaker. One of the things that I remember from her presentation is about how we think of ourselves, and the idea that no one will be able to think more of ourselves than we can (talking about having the right self-esteem).
Becca shared the idea of “grasshopperitis,” which is a disease that 85% of the population suffers from (I bet you do!). She bases it on the story of Moses and his men who he sent on various missions. One group came back and reported “and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” (this is when the came across the giants (as in, David and Goliath) and were sure they would get crushed). Becca said “if we see ourselves as insignificant and incapable, then our dreams will not happen” (or something like that).
I then went to Erika Wilde’s presentation titled “Bootstrapping to Grow Your Startup.” Erika owns StopDirt.com, a website that sells mats. Mats. Can you believe her startup is to sell other people’s mats online? Well, she does, and she does quite well (she shared company revenues). What a terrific, inspirational story. I’m not even going to tell you how many hours she works now… it will make you jealous! Another awesome speaker with terrific information (cash flow is king… always watch your cash position!).
Next was a panel discussion that was really cool, featuring Melissa Chappell (Raw Melissa (raw foods)), Lori Harris, of Mary Jane’s Shoes in Park City, UT, Melissa DeMordaunt (no picture below :(), of Snugabug Baby (they sell “warmsies”), and Tracey Christensen of “Now I can Center for Intensive Therapy.” What an awesome group of women who had ideas and developed them into businesses! They each got five minutes to share how they went from idea to execution… it was so cool to hear what it took to get where they are now. One of the questions was “how much $ did it take to get your business started.” Huge differences, from the Mary Jane’s shoes needing the most startup capital (I think it was over $100,000) to Raw Melissa needing the least (she started with $30, made a pie, and sold it to a local health food store… and the rest is history). The message was inspiring, but to see these women entrepreneurs sit there with some level of success, and to be recognized as leaders, wow, it was very cool.
The third session I went to on “Building a Management and Support Team” by Cydni Tetro. I’ve bumped into Cydni a few times but this is the first time I heard her present. I have found Cydni to be the most talked about businesswomen in the Salt Lake area – and now I know why. She hold a CS from BYU, and an MBA, so she has the capacity to talk geek-stuff, but she is clearly passionate about business. Her presentation was probably too much for startups, and more appropriate for companies that just got venture funding, but it had plenty of meat for people to think about. I just sat in awe as she talked and talked and talked, thinking she is one of the smartest business people that I know. No wonder she holds a VP role at NextPage, as well as a number of consultant gigs around here (not to mention her own startup, Rocky Mountain Voices). She is very, very sharp.
The last session I went to was “Creating Strategic Partnerships” by Rachael Herrscher, of Today’s Mama (and now, blogger at entrepreneur.com). I have “known” Rachael for a while, as Kelly would include her on e-mails that she has sent me in the past. But this was the first time that we actually got to talk, and I got to see her in action. Rachael is just 29 and has been building an awesome business for the last three years. I’ll probably blog on her stuff later, since there is so much to it, but the takeaway I got from her presentation was great. As you know, I am looking for industry partners… and so I was interested in hearing about how Rachael found her partners. During her presentation I learned that Rachael considers all of her network contacts partners (!!). Media partners, distribution partners, etc. I had been thinking of my partners as those who pay a license fee to me to incorporate JibberJobber into their system, but now I’m shifting the definition so that all of the people and companies I deal with are partners in one way or another. This is huge because “partner” means a lot more than “contact” or “associate” or even vendor, customer, etc. I learned a lot from Rachael, and I’m sure there is much more to learn. Watching her company grow in this next phase is going to be very, very exciting.
Barbara Vineyard, Owner and editor of Wasatch Woman Magazine, ended the conference as the final keynote speaker. Barbara has a great, inspirational story. She is very transparent in her magazine, which is very refreshing. She talked a lot about her team, having their pictures on various slides as she described them and how great they were. You could tell that she had put together stellar team and allowed them to do their jobs. I think it’s fair to say that Barbara’s message is “if I can do it, anyone can do it!”
I would have liked to attend sessions from Inc 500 recipient Katie Maloney, Liz Galloway from Lotus Effects Spa Consulting, Nancy Cadjan from Sign Babies and Carrie Dunn from XO Marketing … but I had to choose 🙁 Maybe next time.
Kelly, this was an awesome, awesome event. Congrats for bringing it to Utah, and helping women entrepreneurs (and me) make a wish, make it happen!