Jennifer Carinci co-founded Artemis Targeted Solutions with her husband Glen to put their training, management, data, and start-up skills to work serving small businesses thrive instead of just surviving.
She told OrangeWIP how joining gALPHA accelerator’s first Columbia cohort, run by GrowCo, helped sharpen skills, knowledge and relationships to meet her own targets. (See the other grads below!)
What was something you learned that you'd had totally wrong before gALPHA?
While business plans have a place, building a business should be iterative. It is much like how in the world of nonprofits, strategic plans are only useful if they are used and living, versus a check-the-box activity that sits on a shelf until it is time to update it 5 years later. gALPHA emphasizes that the name of the game is traction. They like to say, "Every time you say your traction an angel gets its wings."
What was the biggest surprise?
It is important to get out from behind the computer and engage with the community. As a new entrepreneur and recovering perfectionist, I have a tendency to want everything fully together prior to interacting with potential clients.
However, our brilliant gALPHA Director, Linda Janes, taught us that the idea is not so much build the business, but to remove uncertainty and risk. Really listening to customers and systematically testing yields the best evidence for iteratively improving your business.
What was the biggest difference this experience made for you?
The gALPHA experience culminated in a showcase at GrowCo where my fellow cohort members and I presented our pitch decks. Preparing for the event helped me to articulate my customer-focused process, while beta testing allowed me to systematically and iteratively refine them.
Further, the GrowCo community has been welcoming and encouraging, offering much inspiration and many invitations for potential collaborators. I even met a client at the pitch — before our official launch — with whom I am currently working!
What would you tell other founders who are considering gALPHA?
To get started, I would share advice from one of the lunch and learns: “Fall in love with a problem, start with a high-quality problem. Something that’s specific and not abstract.”
Next, there is deep value in connecting with others engaged in problem-solving and scaling so you can phone a friend to troubleshoot, and network with people who are happy to say your name in a room full of opportunities. For example, I had coffee last week with a cohort member, Lauren Mills who founded College Action Program, to exchange resources and support.
Additionally, GrowCo’s Executive Director, Caroline Crowder is an amazing catalyst, fostering an effective and inclusive culture of entrepreneurship in the Columbia area.
Finally, what’s to lose having an accountability coach of a free, venture-creation workshop to kickstart your vision and push you on the path to becoming a high-growth start-up, with a high-value bonus of meeting some entrepreneurial new friends along the way?