The Startup Challenge

August 19, 2009


The best entrepreneurs I know are scrappy, resourceful, and are hustlers.  They identify a problem and will not take impossible for an answer.  They make things happen, but rarely if ever by themselves.  They are capable of surrounding themselves with strong team members, advisory board members, board members, vendors, and good support from friends and family.  One of the best ways to recruit strong team members, advisers and “friends” of the startup is through conferences.

For the first time, Inspired Startup is giving away one free ticket to Think Tank in San Diego including $500 in cash to assist in your travels totaling a prize that costs $3,500.  Also, Inspired Startup is giving away one free ticket to Startup Day in Seattle.  Read on to find out more…

I go to specific conferences (not many), the ones where you can meet key folks face to face in the industry you are in.  In fact, some of the conferences, I won’t even pay to get in, I’ll stay out in the lobby and just hang out meeting folks in and out of sessions.  I’ll go to dinner with key folks (paying for dinner is much cheaper than attending the conference), and to evening parties with them as well.  By attending the right conferences, I’ve met some tremendous people and built some long-lasting friendships as well.  My tip – plan out your next year and identify which conferences will drive your business and attend them.  If you can’t afford the ticket, go and be intentional about meeting people there.  If you’re scrappy, you’ll have a ton of fun and build real value for your company.  Or, if you are a true scrappy entrepreneur looking to startup a new online venture – you can win a ticket to the hottest Internet conference called Think Tank held in San Diego.

Think Tank is already sold out and attendees are all successful online entrepreneurs.  You will be challenged in your thinking, your approach, and your execution of your business.  You’ll come away energized and ready to take your business to the next level.  You will be inspired.  I’ll be attending and hope you will be my guest at the conference.  All you have to do is blog (if you don’t have one, start one!) about your startup’s single biggest challenge and your thoughts on how to solve that challenge.  If you don’t have a startup, blog about your biggest challenge to starting that new venture and how you’ll solve that problem.  In the comments below link to your post and I’ll be sure to read your post.  I’ll select the best post by August 31st at noon PST.  This is a $3,500 value to a sold-out conference and is open to anyone over the age of 21 in the US.  No purchase necessary:)

For the 2nd best post, I will be also giving away a ticket to Startup Day in Seattle which is led by some of the best and brightest in online marketing.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend.  But, this event is not to be missed.  It is a full-day session and includes opportunities to meet in an advisory setting as well.

For all blog entries that mention this contest and the non-profit Future Hope, my good friend DK over at Purpose Inc and the ThinkTank has graciously offered to send an El Salvadorian student to receive one year of computer training up to a total of 30 children and adults through Future Hope.  Not only does Future Hope provide computer and Internet training, it also provides leadership training to set up opportunities for a better life in the future.  This is a program that has been around for over 4 years and continues to donate nearly 100% of its receipts directly to El Salvador, there are no paid staff members in the US.  The children and adult students that attend come from a community that is considered extremely impoverished or living under $2/day.  It is a tremendous program and your post will make a difference.  DK will also send you a badge that you can place anywhere on your site recognizing your contribution.

Some additional thoughts – I’ve only been blogging for a short period of time, but have found it extremely helpful in getting my thoughts down on “paper.”  If you haven’t started a blog, consider starting one today and entering the contest, it will help keep you accountable to focus on the most important issue in your business or soon-to-be business as well as keep you accountable to solving that main issue.  I’d also encourage you to “syndicate” your post and get it out in the open as much as possible so that you get others thinking about your problem as well and for others to keep you accountable.  Here are some simple ways to “syndicate” your post:

1.  Make sure your post is on twitter.  Tell your friends to “re-tweet” it.

2.  Make sure it is on your facebook update.

3.  If you have friends that blog, perhaps have them “steal” the entire post and re-post on their site with their thoughts and link to you.

4. Add your blog to your signature line on your email.

5. Ask me to link to it.  Better yet, ask Neil Patel.

There really is no downside to entering.  It helps you focus your thoughts and put it down on paper, gives you a huge opportunity to help your business by winning a spot to ThinkTank or Startup Day, and you will be making a difference in the lives of those who really need it in El Salvador.  It’s a win-win-win!

For more information and details on this contest, please visit

UPDATE: A big thanks to everyone who took the time to enter the contest, you’ve helped make a difference in the lives of many in El Salvador, myself, and the readers.  I think I’ve read each post at least 5 times and I’m excited to announce the winners of the contest and I’ll also be doing a longer post on this well later.  So, the 2nd prize with a free ticket to Startup Day goes to Joe at with a great post on how to handle the problem of money with 4 solid operating principles.  Great post Joe!  And, the grand prize winner with a free ticket to ThinkTank and $500 cash to help with travel expenses goes to Gyutae of Winning the Web. His thoughtful post around handling the problem of passion in a startup was spot on – it’s hard enough doing a startup, without real passion you just won’t make it.  His thoughts around maintaining your passion by staying in community with other like-minded folks resonated with me, it’s why I get involved with EO, Thinktank, Future Hope – it keeps me energized, motivated, and passionate about startups.  More to come later.  Again, thanks everyone for participating!  I hope it was as rewarding for you as it was for me.

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Comment by Corey Subscribed to comments via email
2009-08-19 08:50:34

This is an awesome contest Andy and a great opportunity that I hope people will take advantage of!

Comment by Justin Goff
2009-08-19 10:11:02

Wasn’t easy but I made it through. Thanks Andy!

Comment by Andy
2009-09-02 20:19:15

Justin – great post! Thanks for sharing and I’ve got no doubt at all that you’ll crush it past $30k/mo.

Comment by MLDina
2009-08-19 10:23:10

What a great contest- a chance for tickets to two exclusive tech events and education in tech for up and coming entrepreneurs. Thanks to you and DK for supporting the industry in such a big way!

Comment by purposeinc
2009-08-19 18:24:50

Dina, Really appreciate you and Michael sponsoring my events. Without your financial support, contests like this would not be possible. Long live Market Leverage!

Comment by MLDina
2009-08-20 11:44:44

Always in for a good cause and great event. Sorry we missed you at ASE, but I’m sure we’ll catch up at BlogWorld.

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Comment by KGood?
2009-08-19 17:37:12

This sounds awesome!! Always glad to see people helping the kiddos. Good luck to everyone!

Comment by THE Kickball Coach
2009-08-19 17:48:54

What a great opportunity not only for up and coming entrepreneurs to mingle and bounce ideas off of fellow bloggers and the like, but you get to enjoy a weekend in sunny SD playing in the ultimate game of skill and survival – KICKBALL!! As the official coach, I’ll bust your balls and throw you in the ocean if you don’t make the base. Only the strong survive! Good luck to everyone on this competition- meet you in San Diego.


Comment by Corey Subscribed to comments via email
2009-08-19 17:55:03

Kickball huh? Interesting! Wonder who this kickball coach actually is

Comment by Orie
2009-08-19 18:04:19

What a great thing to do. I hope whoever wins this uses this chance to it’s fullest. This is a win-win, cheers Andy

Comment by Fajar Subscribed to comments via email
2009-08-19 18:06:46

I hope people will take advantage of this good… I mean ….great opportunity and don’t miss out.
Thanks to DK and Andy…
Good luck !!!

Comment by Jo
2009-08-19 21:18:46

Thanks for helping the world!
Whoever wins the contest is going to have an amazing opportunity to network with the best in the industry (and not to mention have FUN.)

Comment by Brian Armstrong
2009-08-20 07:20:21

Sounds good! Let me put a post together later today.


Comment by Brian Armstrong
2009-08-20 07:41:42

Actually, just realized you said folks in the U.S. only…I’m in Buenos Aires at the moment! Ah well, would probably still be valuable to write it up.

Comment by Jenny(whiteshorts)
2009-08-20 17:57:10

This is just one overall absolutely amazing opportunity that you have managed to create. Also a wonderful gift that you are giving away to have some lucky star dive into an ocean of entrepreneurs, like yourself, with thousands of tips, tricks, and ideas for the internet industry. Can’t wait!

Comment by Philip Subscribed to comments via email
2009-08-21 18:37:50

Andy, thanks for this contest! This was the push I needed to get my thoughts on paper. Here’s my entry:

Comment by Andy
2009-09-02 20:25:27

Philip – Thanks for your post! I’ve found that paying gets skin in the game and the user is more likely to try it and give you feedback whereas with free the implied value is so low that the user may never use the product.

Comment by Mobile
2009-08-23 11:24:41

Well done. Sounds like a great challenge but I am not sure if I will attend. I will think about it.

Comment by hedge
2009-08-23 13:34:09

Great contest Andy, and thanks for opening my eyes to Future Hope. Here’s my post:

Comment by Andy
2009-09-02 20:31:41

Thanks for your post! Dude – that was a great deal for both you and the former owner of yumm, well done! I’d love to see what you end up doing with the domain as there is still a lot of innovation left in the food industry 😉

Comment by DC
2009-08-24 14:22:05

Andy, Love to see international development catalysts. Hopefully, we max out with 30 kids. Here’s my contribution.

Comment by purposeinc
2009-08-25 00:17:16

yes, please max my donation out at 30 kids! I want to spend the money on this. :)

Comment by Andy
2009-09-02 20:36:41

Thanks for the post! You’re definitely in a HUGE market and a market that at first glance is not easy to reach. You’re absolutely right in trying to reach them through social means and I suspect with the right approach can go viral across the senior community. I’d imagine even going downstream perhaps with the “younger” and more connected generation who are caring for their folks would also be potential clients and lead to strong word-of-mouth and online social sharing as well. Good luck!

Comment by Kenny Hyder
2009-08-25 12:58:52

Hey there, DK told me about this, goes along with a post I’ve been wanting to write for awhile anyway! Here’s the link:

Comment by Andy
2009-09-02 20:43:11

Kenny – Great post. I can’t agree more that focus is critical to a startup’s success. Appreciate the thoughtful and well written post.

Comment by Eric Itzkowitz
2009-08-26 13:04:23

WOW! This is a fantastic opportunity for those that want to come out to sunny (and currently VERY hot) San Diego to meet with some very smart and successful people. I can tell you right now that I’d be busy writing my entry if I had not already locked up my ticket.

p.s. I didn’t know about kickball, but it sounds fun. I’ll be praying to the surf gods in the meantime because everybody deserves some tasty salty snacks while at the think tank.

Comment by purposeinc
2009-08-26 23:53:24

I like the tasty salty snacks part! Yeh, little hints about the ridiculous activities are being leaked here and there…

Comment by Scott Krager Subscribed to comments via email
2009-08-27 12:21:46

Great contest Andy. I’ll throw in my two cents…

Comment by Andy
2009-09-02 20:52:04

Scott – thanks for posting, love the post. Your thoughts on scaling and aiming for 100M is spot on. The problem with many small businesses is actually the owner, everything lives with them. If the owner can’t take a holiday, a big company will have a big problem paying a premium for a company that relies so heavily on the founder. Scale the business, learn the discipline of taking yourself out of the critical path and you’ll find you’ll scale a lot faster.

Comment by Scott Krager Subscribed to comments via email
2009-09-03 15:33:42

Thanks Andy. It’s been fun for me learning how to take myself out of the business so I could actually work “on the business” (thanks E-Myth!). I think often entreprenuers, including myself, have difficulty giving up the day to day tasks of doing their business. But you’re exactly right, if you want to scale, you gotta get yourself out of the way.

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Comment by sağlık
2010-11-09 02:33:55

Completely agree with what you say to the Blogger’s Cafe Plus.

Comment by Joe Subscribed to comments via email
2009-08-29 12:27:24

Thanks for the opportunity. This is pretty cool. Here’s my entry:
a href=””>

Comment by Joe Subscribed to comments via email
2009-08-29 12:29:41

Thanks for the opportunity. This is pretty cool. Here’s my entry:


Comment by Andy
2009-09-02 21:03:15

Joe – thanks for the post. Your minimal staff and minimal features really resonated with me. That discipline is so hard to live by because there is always a huge backlog of things to work on and if only we could get more staff we could do it all, but that’s almost never the case. It increase complexity, costs, and can kill a startup. One of the biggest advantages of a startup is small teams that can adapt quickly, it’s a strength that needs to be preserved for as long as possible to compete. Don’t lose it.

Comment by Zac Johnson
Comment by Andy
2009-09-02 21:08:50

Zac – thanks for your post. I am always amazed by successful 1 person teams, great stuff!

Comment by Ryan Porter Subscribed to comments via email
2009-08-30 23:48:18

A great opportunity from a great mind! Thanks Andy!

Comment by Andy
2009-09-02 21:18:13

Ryan – thanks for sharing your post. You’re absolutely right that time is so limited that it is an enemy of getting things done and ultimately your rate of return, those that are capable of making the most of it – specifically by optimizing their workflow as you put it will have a huge advantage.

Comment by Gyutae Park Subscribed to comments via email
2009-08-31 00:59:12

Hey Andy,
Awesome contest here… great prize, great sharing, and great cause.

Hopefully, we’ll all be able to learn from one another and make a difference at the same time.

It’d also be amazing to go to Think Tank this year. 😉

Here’s my entry!

Comment by Andy
2009-09-02 21:27:54

Gyutae- thanks for posting! I’ve always encouraged folks (including myself) to make sure you have at least 2 years of focused time to give your startup a real shot at success. If you don’t have passion for why you’re in business, you’ll almost never make it because it is very hard and requires commitment. Don’t start a business only for money, I agree with you that you’ve got to have passion to make it!

Comment by Jeff Khadavi Subscribed to comments via email
2009-08-31 03:44:31

Just in the nick of time, I hope everyone enjoys, here’s the link to my entry:

All the best,

Comment by Andy
2009-09-02 22:24:01

Jeff – thanks for the post and thoughtful comments. Distribution is very important as is your loyalty model, if you get a lot of visitors and they don’t stick you’ll have to have an endless supply of visitors and it will be hard to scale. If you nail both, you’re well on your way to very successful venture.

Comment by Jeff Khadavi Subscribed to comments via email
2009-08-31 08:18:15

Trying one last time to submit. Just in the nick of time, here is my entry:

Hope it’s helpful and all the best,

Comment by Ryan Porter Subscribed to comments via email
2009-08-31 08:36:28

What a great opportunity and cause! Thanks Andy

Comment by Jackie Lohrey Subscribed to comments via email
2009-08-31 09:26:41

What an awesome cause! Hats off to you and here is my entry…

Comment by Andy
2009-09-02 22:47:23

Jackie – thanks for the post! I love the focus on customers and also the generosity from your business. Like you said, that is a real recipe for success.

Comment by Jackie Lohrey Subscribed to comments via email
2009-08-31 09:29:03

Trying again…
Waht an awesome cause! Hats off to you and here is my entry…

Comment by purposeinc
2009-08-31 23:34:45

The drum rolls…………..

Comment by Ryan Porter Subscribed to comments via email
2009-09-01 08:45:51

The anticipation is growing!

Comment by Gyutae Park Subscribed to comments via email
2009-09-01 12:50:43

dun dun dun… A lot of great entries. I’m guessing this is a tough choice for Andy to make.

Comment by purposeinc
2009-09-02 00:24:45

Glad to see you in this contest!
There are some very talented and amazing guys who entered.

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Comment by Ryan Porter Subscribed to comments via email
2009-09-02 17:16:41

I just went back and re-read each post and wanted to thank everyone who provided their insight and experiences.

A post like this goes to show the following of bright minded and driven readers and friends that Andy has gathered and it’s great to be a part of this group.

Comment by purposeinc
2009-09-04 10:57:23

Good Job Andy!

I am thrilled that Gyutae won!

I am very appreciative to everyone who put their hearts and souls into entering. For each and everyone of you who blogged we are going to get another kid in El Salvador a YEAR of being trained on computers and how to use them. I would guess most of these kids would have barely even been able to see a computer otherwise. So, no baloney, for total realz, your simply writing a blog may have taken a kid from complete poverty, and instead given him a career, security for himself and his family, and a thin frail rope that might lead to what most of us have.

thank you….

Comment by Zac Johnson
2009-09-10 16:37:48

Glad to see Gyutae won. Of all the entries, I thought his took the most time and thought to put together. Have fun at ThinkTank!

Comment by Joe Brown Subscribed to comments via email
2009-09-04 13:21:19

Well I would rather have won but hey, I’ll take 2nd! Seriously, this was a great experience, writing my entry was cathartic and I enjoyed all the other entries too – I made a folder of all the entries and a few I’ve re-read a few times, they’ve made me think and challenged me a little … thanks Andy and DK for this, it was a cool exercise and for a great cause too! Don’t go crazy at DrinkTank :) All the best, Joe

Comment by okey
2011-04-23 11:02:49

Between me and my husband we’ve owned more MP3 players over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.xx

Comment by Rügen
2011-11-02 06:56:24

I think often entreprenuers, including myself, have difficulty giving up the day to day tasks of doing their business. But you’re exactly right, if you want to scale, you gotta get yourself out of the way.

2013-01-22 20:55:38

“The Startup Challenge” was indeed a very excellent
post, . Keep composing and I’ll continue following! Regards -Selene

Comment by shakeel moosa
2013-08-27 02:49:06

great contest
what a great opportunity

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