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Chris Seper of MedCity Media

Meet Chris Seper, Founder of MedCity Media

When and why did you start your business?

We started the business in December 2008 and launched MedCityNews.com in January 2009. I saw a new, successful path for emerging media and an opportunity to go down that path by creating a media company around the coverage of life science and healthcare innovation.

Did you consider yourself an entrepreneur before that?

Probably, but I was wrong to have thought that way. Before making the leap, you are a person with ideas, and someone is paying your salary. True entrepreneurs take that leap to make an idea a reality, have total responsibility for the business and, as an added bonus, have to pay themselves and everyone else.   

Where did you find your first employee?

I hired Amanda Todorovich four months into the business. We had just started to look for a business development professional, and Amanda e-mailed me cold about freelancing opportunities. She was a vice president at National City before it became PNC. Of all the people I've hired, very few have come through jobs boards and similar sources. All have either come from personal networks or reaching out to me.

What state or local resources did you take advantage of and how did they help?

Ohio is a great state to give entrepreneurs a start. We received grants from the Civic Innovation Lab and GLIDE, were eligible for the Technology Investment Tax Credit, and have received investments through JumpStart Ventures. We wouldn't be here without the money and expertise provided through state funding.  

What’s the most difficult thing about running your own business?

The time you lose with your children (two boys: 6 and 8) and the constant fear that if the  business fails all that time was sacrificed for nothing.

What’s the best thing?

Success. Seeing those assumptions and strategic decisions you made validated. Watching the team you built work together and land the big deal. Seeing the value of your company increase and the revenue climb. Seeing the people you chose to hire flourish in their jobs.

What has contributed most to your growth?

The support of my wife Leah, plus my investors, my board, my advisors and my employees. People like Jason Therrien of thunder::tech, board members Merrill Brown and Andie Rhyins and the team at JumpStart. I've been extremely fortunate that I've been able to gather people who are so knowledgeable about business and media, as well as to have found individuals and institutions that put not only their money but their own talent behind me. One of my goals for 2013 is to say less often that “I wish I would have listened to you more.”  
What companies or founders do you admire and why?

If I could be a bad carbon copy of Christopher Celeste, MedCity's first investor and a close advisor, MedCity would be a runaway success. He's an innovator, he's generous with his time, selfless and infinitely business savvy. He even finds work-life balance. I also admire several Ohio entrepreneurs in how they handle themselves, including Jon Snyder of Neuros Medical, Joe Pulizzi of Junta42 and Jodi Marchewitz of iGuiders.

I also admire the digital media entrepreneurs who made it: Michael Arrington (TechCrunch) for his no-apologies approach to writing about his sector, Om Malik (GigaOm) for such authoritative knowledge and a unique business model, and Matt Marshall (VentureBeat) for demonstrating that journalists can also be entrepreneurs. In addition, I read, follow and observe as many digital media entrepreneurs as I can find -- from Nikki Finke to Henry Blodget. 

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