In this NextCast, Dave Schappell sits down with Jeff to talk about working hard, setting standards high, and taking tech local.
“Do something you’re passionate about,” says Dave about getting started in tech. He lets Jeff in on his path from a “practical” career in accounting to founding TeachStreet and finding success in the tech world. Dave explains why hard work, passionate employees, and high standards are classic startup wisdom for a reason. He also tells the story of lessons learned when his startup lost 2/3 of their traffic overnight … and what they did next.
Dave wants people who care about tech to get involved, and get passionate about their field. “Putting in the long hours” is his deceptively simple key to success in anything. “A lot of people want stuff, but they’re not willing to work their ass off to get it,” he says.
His top three keys to startup success are simple: customer focus, passionate employees, and really high standards. He reminds us that customers are always willing to tell you what they don’t want if you’re willing to listen and use that information. Never let quality standards slip, either; once you relax that, output will always be good, not great.
Startups in trouble can “go from good to bad really, really quickly”. Once you’ve started to slip into trouble, it’s just a matter of when you run out of money – which always happens faster at the end.
Dave has seen firsthand what a good startup can do in a crisis. When Google changed algorithms last February, TeachStreet saw traffic fall by 2/3 overnight. They had to completely change their strategy, and started working with big partners who could drive traffic again. He learned the importance of seeing a business plan in the big picture, and how important effective customer communication is.