Tim Schigel is the chairman and founder of ShareThis
, a sharing and engagement platform. He served as the director of Blue Chip Venture Company
and was involved with the growth of Nielsen Buzzmetrics
, a leading platform for measuring blog sentiment and forums, and Third Screen Media
, the first mobile advertising platform.
Schigel will be sharing his experience and tips with other entrepreneurs at the first Startup Grind
event in Cincinnati, Dec. 6 at The Brandery
What was your first startup in Cincinnati?
My first job out of college (CWRU BSEE) was with Pharos Technologies. I was employee number 11. The company grew and became Digineer
. I created a pioneering product for remote computer management for the Mac at the time. I also built P&G
’s world-wide network. This was all in the early 90s.
Where did you get your idea for that first startup?
I’ve always enjoyed pursuing new ideas. At Pharos, I grew and transitioned from a technical role into the VP of Sales and Marketing, and eventually left to do my own thing. I was also fascinated with venture capital and the fast-paced tech lifestyle of Silicon Valley. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, albeit mostly small business.
Why do you think startups are important to the community?
Startups are the engine of innovation. There is so much freedom to explore technology, business management and business models. This creates a great environment for unanticipated results.
Often great innovations are accidental. It takes the right environment, however, to let those accidents happen. The other factor that is a driving force for startups is time—they don’t have any. It forces the entrepreneur to adapt quickly in all respects.
Do you regularly attend Startup Grind meetings?
No, this is the first one. I’m excited, and anyone who knows me knows that I love to help startups and explore new ideas.
Where do you draw your inspiration from when coming up with new ideas?
Everywhere. I’m a big believer in the cross-pollination of ideas. The next answer to a software problem might come from biology or some other completely different domain.
We should put everything on the table and encourage people to develop a natural curiosity and well-rounded perspective. I also think innovation comes from constraints. Some of the most interesting products have emerged from very constrained environments that act as a forcing function for creativity. Open-ended creativity is actually hard and doesn’t always lead to the most interesting solution.
Finally, I like taking a contrarian point of view. If everyone thought about a problem the same way, you would lack new ideas. Sometimes the biggest disruptive ideas are viewed as out of touch, misunderstood or not even recognized until after they’ve become disruptive.
This is an interesting balancing act for an entrepreneur because you need to be a good listener and respond to feedback, but also stay true to your convictions. The more informed those convictions are, the better. Some people stick to convictions regardless of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Ultimately, the evidence should hopefully support your thesis and when that happens, you know you’ve done something new and special.
By Caitlin Koenig
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