Tag: startup tips


The below post and podcast was republished with permission from PluggedIN, an automated talent recruitment and matchmaking platform specifically focused on startup companies. PluggedIN was founded by Colleen Liebig, who serves as an Industry Career Specialist & Advisor at Olin, with specialization in entrepreneurship.

“When we look to hire people, we look to see that we can get along as a team. We say that they need to pass the barbecue and beer test. Would we want to sit down and have a barbecue and a beer with this person?”
—Jaye Connolly-LaBelle, CEO, RippleNami

Imagine the last time you needed something. Whether it is the nearest grocery store or best-rated dry cleaner in the area, a quick Google search would provide an accessible answer and even a map to take you to your destination. While these benefits of a connected society are often taken for granted in developed nations, people in many parts of the world do not have access to these resources. From 6-hour searches for suitable drinking water to nonexistent information about the nearest primary school, unconnected people in developing nations struggle to get the basic information relevant to them.

Out of this need arose RippleNami. Although the startup is less than two years old, RippleNami has set out to provide unconnected people with simple mapping technologies to better visualize the resources or situations relevant to them. Working with NGOs, logistics providers, aid organizations, and governments in several developing countries, the company has already begun to realize its mission and establish a global presence.

We had the opportunity to learn about RippleNami’s unique work during a podcast episode with CEO Jaye Connolly La-Belle. During our conversation, Jaye shared a host of insights into how she became involved in the project, manages a global team, and helps work towards RippleNami’s mission on a daily basis. Some highlights of our discussion include:

  • How Jaye transitioned from her career in finance and accounting to connect with RippleNami’s founder and help operationalize the idea
  • Why she embraces a globally distributed team and how she hires the right employees in developing nations
  • What leadership strategies are key to running a start-up and why successful entrepreneurs must be able to handle all aspects of the business
  • How RippleNami is building its simplified mapping technology and where the startup sees itself in the future
  • Why Jaye felt St. Louis was the right startup ecosystem to grow RippleNami, and how the company is participating in two accelerator programs (Capital Innovators and Prosper Women Entrepreneurs).

This 31-year-old CEO knows the ups and downs of business and has some important startup tips to share from his experience. Jeff Platt, BSBA’06, helped his family business, Sky Zone, pivot and succeed as a chain of indoor trampoline parks. Jeff told Olin Business Magazine in 2012 that one of the important lessons he learned from Olin’s Intro to Entrepreneurship course is it’s important to keep bouncing ideas off your mentors. Here are some startup tips Jeff has learned from running Sky Zone from a recent interview on CNBC.

Trust your team
“I learned over time that if you’re ever really going to truly scale or grow a business, you must delegate to your team, you must empower your team, you must let them make decisions,” Platt said.

Pay now or pay later
“Who you need for the next six months is very different from who you need in two years.” Platt suggests start-ups pay more for talent in the beginning, even though that’s expensive. “The cost of hiring someone right now, training them, and then in six or 12 months later having to get rid of them because they can’t scale, that’s way more costly.”

Know your customer
As Sky Zone has expanded outside the United States, it’s learned to tailor parks to meet cultural norms. In Saudi Arabia, for example, some Sky Zones segregate jumping areas between “men” and “families.” In Australia, they’ve created performance trampolines where customers can run up a wall. “They’re an ‘extreme’ culture,” said Platt of the Aussies. “They’re extremely athletic.” Up next? “We’re actually under construction now in India.”

Link to story on CNBC