Startup Lessons from Pixability, FashionPlaytes, and More: Check Out 5×5 Videos from Turnstone

12/22/10Follow @gthuang

As we come down the home stretch of 2010, I wanted to take another look back at our most recent Boston event—“5×5: Five Cities, Five Big Tech Ideas.”

Not at the program or the public discussion, which I already summarized briefly here, but at some of the side discussions that were caught on camera. One of our event sponsors, Turnstone, took aside some of the 5×5 participants—entrepreneurs and startup experts—and asked them questions about their experience in building their businesses. Here’s the link to the videos.

And here are a few highlights from the entrepreneur interviews (you should watch them, they’re brief and to the point):

—What was the best business advice you’ve ever received?

Craig Labovitz, chief scientist at Arbor Networks: “Be careful about accepting advice. When you’re doing a startup, you’re going against the grain, you’re trying things that haven’t been done before. You really have to trust your own instincts and your own technical knowledge.”

Sarah McIlroy, CEO of FashionPlaytes: “Network, talk to every single person you know, and take every meeting that comes your way.”

—What was the biggest mistake you made, or lesson learned, along the way?

Dug Song, co-founder of Arbor Networks (now with his new startup, Duo Security, in Michigan): “To think that we had to have exactly the right idea before we approached a customer. I think many times customers know what they want, or at least have some idea what their need is, and can be pretty explicit about that, versus us having to guess at what a market opportunity might be.”

Bettina Hein, CEO of Pixability: “I thought we would be selling to families and now we sell to small businesses. So along the long journey that you go on as an entrepreneur, you always have to be flexible and pivot when it’s necessary.”

—How do you stay current?

Ken Zolot, entrepreneurship expert and senior lecturer at MIT: “I have access to a pipeline of great students and great ideas, and hearing who they talk to, who they’re pitching to, and who they’re partnering with, gives me a good sense. So the advice I would give to people who want to stay current is to find a source of innovation at the earliest stage—young people working on new ideas, university inventors—and try to stay connected to that source.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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