By Casey Briody on August 7, 2014
One of the greatest things about working in a shared office space is being able to witness bright minds plant a seed and watch it grow, something that Nashville is seeing a lot of these days. For those of you who were not able to join us last Thursday and indulge in the delicious spread Puffy Muffin prepared, our former member Nick Yaeger stopped in to share his road to success. Nick is the CEO of Checkd.in, a local company that specializes in the world of data marketing. The company most recently won Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest competition here in Nashville. Checkd.in was chosen out of over 200 applicants to pitch their company/idea to Steve Case along with nine other companies and ended up winning a $100,000 investment from Steve Case along with an opportunity to meet local investors. As a start-up, that is exactly the kind of press and support you are looking for to break into the industry.
For start-ups, the beginning of the road can be a tough one to endure without a supportive business community to help provide partnership, advisory and financing. Nick knew they had a great thing going, it was just a matter of meeting someone who would place their faith in him. For Checkd.in, this was Sony Music Nashville. One evening, while attending a local networking, Nick was in the middle of a conversation when a man sitting at the bar next to him tapped him on the shoulder and asked, “what did you say you did again?” Nick, taken back, rambled off a snippet of what Checkd.in was, not knowing that this man held the faith that they needed. The next day, three people from Sony showed up to meet with Nick and his founders and the rest is history.
“Sony took the time and the energy to give us a chance.”
Alas, Checkd.in did not get to where they are today by simply meeting the right person at a networking event. First was the idea that Checkd.in could change the industry. Nick gave credit to the big industry leaders who believed in their company enough to take them up to New York and Los Angeles and allow their company to grow. Next was connecting founders. He shared how critical it was to connect strong founders in the right way. At the time, the now founders were working for different companies when they realized there was a common theme among them. They knew if they came together they would have the ability to create something great.
Then there was the crucial part of raising capital for their start-up. For Checkd.in, it was the community that helped raise the necessary capital. Nick stressed that in order for a start-up to raise the necessary capital, the community must encourage referrals and be willing to be part of the process, even if you cannot write a check. And finally, one of the most crucial parts of a start-up is the initial clients and partners. Checkd.in is a perfect example of how clients and businesses must be a good fit for one another. In the beginning they landed a big client that looked great on paper, but did not help them grow their business. Even though this business had a big name, it did not mean that they were going to be successful in their work with this particular client. It was Sony who brought them into the music world and before they knew it they were working for famed clients such as Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, and Taylor Swift.
“We were battling balancing between the company we had to be every single day, and the company we wanted to be.”
So whether you are a business leader or an entrepreneur yourself, a few things we can take with us today are to continue to evolve your business, expose your message to as many people as possible, have patience and always support the community around you.
Now I am not sure if you picked up on the theme of Nick’s talk, but for those of you who have not figured it out, it is supporting the community around you. Nashville has a ridiculous amount of creativity that has yet to be discovered, and as a city we are starting to see more and more start-ups succeed. Nick said Rise of the Rest allowed Checkd.in to be the company they wanted to be, but it was the community that gave him the strength to get up in front of Steve Case and tell their story. In order to take these start-ups to the next level we need the community to take an interest, give an opinion, and when possible, financially support these start-up companies.
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