NoteStream™, like so many entrepreneurial ventures, was created to fill a void. The idea took root while I tediously searched on my smartphone for information about French wine. I wanted articles that were credible, weren’t summaries, but were formatted for reading on a smartphone. After realizing that mobile had yet to deliver on this surprisingly simple request, NoteStream was born. I’ve since learned a great deal about French wine—but that’s not all I’ve learned.
NoteStream is a free learning app that encourages personal growth and exploration. It presents compelling content—not news—that’s written by expert contributors, covering a wide range of topics.
I may be the CEO of a growing app company, but my background is not in technology. Sure, I’ve learned a lot about tech, but it’s my non-tech background that’s proved most valuable. I approach things from a different perspective—I don’t think about limitations or what’s “normal” within the tech industry—I care about the user, because I am one! Of course, some of my ideas were amusing to tech folk, but it was just as common for them to say, “That’s not the way it’s usually done… but that makes sense… let’s do it.”
Companies need to nourish a culture where multiple viewpoints are encouraged and embraced.
Today, NoteStream delivers hundreds of authors in ever-growing categories, from the Library of Congress to the Public Library of Science. Many nonprofit organizations are creating awareness via NoteStream, directly engaging mobile readers with timely initiatives and issues. Additionally, several corporate partners are represented, and each has embraced NoteStream’s mission to help mobile readers Never Stop Learning.
Learning is really what all of this is about—and believe me, I’ve had my share of ups, downs and pivots along the way. Here are four things I’ve observed as a former outsider to the tech industry that I think are particularly helpful to entrepreneurs who don’t mind ‘breaking a rule’ from time-to-time on their path to success.
Don’t Get Distracted By Statistics
Case in point: TechCrunch recently reported that more than 97 percent of all venture-funded businesses have male CEOs—this isn’t great news if you’re a female CEO raising capitol. Our business motto is Never Stop Learning, and I figure that goes double for all those VCs.
Women and men are different—we get it, but I’m not about to let a couple of digits stand in the way of securing funding for growth. Rather, I spend time figuring out ways to use this truth to an advantage as I build NoteStream.
Statistics are a distraction at best, and misleading at worst. What’s more important: understanding the market, the customers, the industry and the opportunities.
And here’s some food for thought: statistics are a representation of the past. They don’t represent my future or the futures of innovative entrepreneurs.
Do It Yourself
Can’t find what you want? If it’s that important, build it yourself. No matter your background, now is the time to learn, innovate and grow.
As a CEO, I’m constantly looking for ways to improve the app so that it’s easier for readers to access the content they’re passionate about. I also look for ways our nonprofits can further their missions and innovate new mobile solutions for our corporate partners.
Don’t wait around for your partners, clients or contributors to come up with, or solve problems. Do it yourself. You have to believe in your ideas, and in time you’ll gain the self-confidence required to shatter your own limitations, giving yourself the most opportunity for success.
Be a Leader You Would Follow
Entrepreneurs must assemble a leadership style that genuinely reflects their personality, values and core beliefs. Breaking barriers can’t happen if you aren’t true to yourself.
It has been said that ideas without action aren’t ideas, they’re regrets. Being a leader is about doing away with regret altogether. Leaders are up late at night, replying to emails, finishing projects and starting new ones all the same time.
Truth be told, there are lot of great role models at NoteStream, but I’m the one always trying something new; my job is to inspire the team so they believe it’s all possible. And yes, it also means taking responsibility when things don’t go as planned. But don’t ever let those setbacks slow you down.
Giving back is one of the most potent opportunities we have as entrepreneurs. Our culture is increasingly occupied with quick sound bites and news updates, making it difficult for non-profits and inspiring individuals to share their powerful messages. NoteStream wants to help shout-out those messages.
Learning more about the people and organizations that change our world can inspire each of us to do great things. Whether it’s helping to #MoveToEndDV, protecting our beaches or finding out more about where our food comes from, the more you know, the easier it is to get involved.
Whatever motivates you to give back, find it and incorporate that into your business model.
I’m a woman CEO in the tech industry, carving my own path. I don’t always do things by the book, and there’s nothing wrong with that. As an Entrepreneur, your job isn’t to be limited by the status quo, other people’s expectations or even your own limitations. Regardless of your background, gender or education, know that doing things differently is a good idea and one that will separate you in a room full of people who love the rules.
I may not have a background in tech, but I’ve got a great app and user community that I’m pretty darn proud of.
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