Lessons Learned as a Startup CEO

Now that I’ve been non-involved at Teens in Tech Networks in a day-to-day operational role, I wanted to spend some time reflecting on my time at Teens in Tech Networks at CEO.

First of all, since I founded the company in February 2010, I’ve had an amazing time building the company, both as an organization, and as a product. I’ve been really fortunate to have an amazing staff, advisors and board support me through the last two years, and I think that was one of the instrumental parts of the company.

I think I made three crucial decisions as CEO that led to where the company is now, and I’d like to share them with you all as advice.

1) Find someone technical right from the start who can handle anything from servers, to MySQL issues, to database screw-ups, etc. Having Mike Cohen as our CTO almost since the beginning of the company has been instrumental to us. When I was CEO, I didn’t have to think about upgrading the servers, or anything like that — Mike was constantly on top of it, and having someone technical be able to hop on any issues as the arise was key for us. Without Mike, I don’t know what I would have done when we had technical issues.

2) Hire people who are experts in their specific field. I knew from the start that I couldn’t do anything technical, so we hired people for positions that we knew we needed, like Mike as our CTO, and Spencer heading up Operations and Strategy at the time. For me, my specialty is in marketing, product, and customer interaction. To learn more about the latest trend about digital marketing, check out seo company near me at node-marketing.com For everything that I wasn’t good at, we made sure we had someone who was, that way we didn’t have go searching for someone who was great at front end development.

3) Business Partners. Teens in Tech Networks is mainly known for one thing — our conference. The conference would not be possible with out the help of numerous help of lots of people, but in particular my business partner, Sam Levin. And it’s not just the conference that Sam has been there … Sam is one of my best friends and now family friends that I can always talk to. Sam maybe older then I, but he truly is a kid at heart. Find a great partner that you understands you, and you can work well together with in stressful situations and are able to lean on.

There are many more lessons learned from my experience, but now I’m learning about a different position inside a startup — being on the board. Thankfully we have an amazing board supporting us, and Spencer is really rocking it right now. Teens in Tech Networks is literally changing everything right now, and launching something very, very cool.

What startup advice do you have to give? Leave a comment below!

NextGen Conference in November

I tend to take on too many projects, so here’s another one. Teens in Tech Networks has partnered up with teenage entrepreneur Cory Levy, to produce the 2009 NextGen Conference. NextGen is a one-day conference at Stanford University in the heart of Silicon Valley. NextGen’s mission is to help you succeed, by providing lectures, panels and networking opportunities on areas that are vital in building and maintaining your business.

We’ll have a business plan competition, where startups and entrepreneurs can go on stage, and pitch some investors of their idea. The panel of judges will then go over the business plan, and pick a winner. So far, we have Kevin Hartz, co-founder/CEO of Eventbrite, Ann Miura-Ko, Partner at Maples Investments, David Lee, a partner at Ron Conway’s investment firm, SV Angel, LLC, and Skye Lee and Brian Phillips (early PayPal employees and co-founders of Thread).

We’re still getting a lot of the details figured out, but if you’re interested in sponsoring, or speaking, please contact Cory or myself through the contact page. You can go ahead and register for a ticket today.

Also, don’t forget that the second annual, Teens in Tech Conference, or as we are calling it, Teens in Tech Conference 2.0, is coming in February 2010 at Google’s San Francisco office. You can pre-register for tickets today.

Speaking at Macworld 2010

I’ve been holding this news back for a few weeks, and I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be speaking at the next Macworld in San Francisco from February 9-13, 2010. It may or may not be the last year of the Macworld Conference and Expo, but I’m very honored to be speaking at the conference. I’ve been going to the Macworld conference since 2006, and being the Apple fanboy that I am, it’s always fun, with or without Apple being part of the fun. I’ll be speaking at the Users Conference on February 12, 2010. My topic is called “Youth and Educational Tools” and I’ll be speaking on a variety of topics, from the iPhone, to Blackberry’s, to the Mac/Windows debate, and how this affects the youth, and especially the schools.

With more and more of the next generation bringing devices like the iPhone, Blackberry, Palm, and other devices to school, what do teens really do with these devices? What’s hot and what’s not with the Mac and the iPhone/iPod? Hear from a high school senior employed in the tech industry how this is already changing schools and classrooms across the globe.With more and more of the next generation bringing devices like the iPhone, Blackberry, Palm, and other devices to school, what do teens really do with these devices? What’s hot and what’s not with the Mac and the iPhone/iPod? Hear from a high school senior employed in the tech industry how this is already changing schools and classrooms across the globe.

I’ll be speaking on February 12, 2010 from 1:00 PM – 2:15 PM, so if your around at Macworld, come on by to my session! I can assure that it won’t be something you’ll want to miss. See you at Macworld 2010!

Tatango Gains An Advisor

white_bg-630x150I have been very fortunate in the last couple of years with what I’ve accomplished, and I couldn’t have done it with out support from mentors and advisors. That’s not to mention that Teens in Tech Networks wouldn’t be where it is now with out it’s amazing group of Advisors (Robert Scoble, Louis Gray, Daniel Ha, Chris Yeh, etc). I’ve always had the mentality that if someone gives you something, you should always give back, and I try to do that as often as possible.

Today, I’m proud to announce that I’ve taken an Advisory role at Tatango and Derek Media. Tatango and Derek Media are both run by Derek Johnson, whom I’ve been friends with for quite some time. I took a trip during Spring Break earlier this year to go visit some startups in Seattle, and Tatango in Bellingham.

Tatango has done really well in the last year, and I’m really excited to be working even closer with the team there. Derek recently launched Derek Media, which is a social media consultancy company, that I’ll be involved in as well. Tatango has a great team, and looking forward to seeing the product evolve even more.

Update: Tatango’s announcement is here.