From whiteboard to customers: a perspective from the startup world

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Editor’s note: This is the first of what we hope will be many contributions from Jesse Rodgers. I first met Jesse via Twitter, and then in person when he became director of Velocity, the student dormcubator at the University of Waterloo. I seem to run into him every time I go to the Waterloo region and he’s always in the middle of conversations with interesting people. I asked him if he’d consider contributing to our blog because I liked the stuff he was writing on his own space and on StartUpNorth. I was delighted when he said yes.

Welcome aboard, Jesse. I’m sure I’m with our readers when I say we’re looking forward to your insights on how to bring technology to market.

-Francis Moran

By Jesse Rodgers

I am excited to write my first post for Francis Moran and Associates. Francis is someone that I have crossed paths with many times over the years and having him ask me to start writing for this blog was a nice surprise. I have always learned a lot from our interactions and I hope I can contribute to the great stuff found on this blog.

I am often called the ‘startup person’ but I have spent the last 10 years working in higher education working on web-based technology. Only in the last seven years have I been focused on building connections between the University of Waterloo and the startup community. I was lucky enough to help shape one of Canada’s best incubator/accelerator programs (that is extra-curricular, like a varsity startup team) for student entrepreneurs for the last three years.

I only found the courage to do my own startup a little more than three years ago. I co-founded TribeHR, which has gone from a whiteboard idea to a funded startup with offices in Waterloo and Boston. It has been an exciting ride but when I look at what I knew just 15 months ago and what I know now, I don’t really understand how 15-month-ago me could make decisions.

What happened in the last 15 months that changed me?

This is why people get addicted to startups and the world around them. So much can happen so quickly that your capacity to learn and adapt is constantly challenged. How somebody goes about developing that capacity fascinates me, as does developing products from whiteboard ideas to something someone would pay to use or own.

Expect to see posts about incubators, accelerators, and early-stage startup issues from me.  I will likely throw some B2B SaaS stuff at you from time to time as well.

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