Name and Current Occupation: Bill Attinger, CEO and Founder at ActSeed Corporation (http://actseed.com/)
What is your start-up story?
I started at Morgan Stanley as an investment banker where I specialized in a brand new area of banking: derivatives and debt instruments. We helped our clients save a lot of money as they acquired and grew hospitals, but the work was too transactional for me personally. I didn’t have any particular “light bulb” moment in becoming an entrepreneur, but I really like being able to come into a venture with a blank canvas – there is something incredible and chaotic and opportunistic about that purity.
What is the secret of your success?
I am good with ideas, but my greatest strength is that I have the structure, organization and discipline needed to be successful in a venture. There are lots of great ideas out there, but without the structure of the business in place, a venture with a great idea will still not be successful. That has been the key to my success in this sphere.
What is ActSeed? What made you start ActSeed?
ActSeed is an “early stage business ecosystem” that includes professional networking, resources, access to service providers, access to potential investors, and other advice from proven entrepreneurs.
I decided to create ActSeed in 2008 after launching my last startup, Ansible Mobile. I had a reputation as a “fixer” and “builder” for startups – an executive for early stage companies navigating the growth stages, especially when a young founder needed a mentor. From all of my startup experiences, I derived a common list of insights and necessities that were applicable to start-up founders in any stage of early business growth and across any industry, from high-tech start-ups to a “Main Street Entrepreneur” who wants to open a bricks-and-mortar business. I took this list and created a blueprint for any young business to build a company and find angel investors or other sources of capital.
No entrepreneur succeeds in a vacuum. The founder of a start-up is only going to succeed if the founder has access to talent, access to investment dollars, access to service providers, and access to start-up focused education and resources. ActSeed provides resources for individuals and entities in each of these “roles”. We charge a nominal membership fee to entrepreneurs and service providers to use the resources in the ActSeed community, which helps fund the operation.
What do you think of other “innovation ecosystems” that aim to increase start-up success?
We know that some systems work well for some entrepreneurs and not as well for others. Most other innovation ecosystems are industry- or region-specific. There are many entrepreneurs for whom industry- and region-specific groups are not robust enough to meet their needs. ActSeed is meant to work both as a stand-alone product and as a complement to those other resources that entrepreneurs have access to.
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur (other than to join ActSeed)?
Entrepreneurs should budget at least $100 each month for community-building and education, whether that be joining ActSeed, taking a business class at a local community college, or paying for membership in an industry group. The key is to research the available options and choose the ones that will give the most benefit. Those investment dollars will come back many-fold in increased visibility, free advice, and access to investment dollars.
This post on Start-up Stories was authored by Caitlin Vaughn.