Advisor Highlight: Dave Parker
September 12, 2022
Our Advisor, Dave Parker (he/him) is a 5x Founder that is dedicated to helping startups from launch to exit. He’s well known in the startup space because of how much time he dedicates to helping out founders. He’s the author of Trajectory: Startup: Ideation to Product/Market Fit and is the current Founder of DKParker, Founder & CEO of Trajectory Media, and Partner at NextPath Advisors. He serves as an Advisor, Board Member, &/or Mentor for WTIA, Techstars, & other great organizations.
If there’s one thing Dave knows, it’s startups! We interviewed Dave to learn more about why he’s so interested in the startup world.
What energized you to start your business?:
Generally I think people start companies for one of two reasons. Founders are builders, they can’t help but start things. Some start out of necessity, loss of a job, change in life circumstances, etc. I’m the prior one. I can’t not start things. If a business gets to a steady state (or heaven forbid, a business in decline) I become uninterested.
I started my first company to solve a problem I saw in the market. I wish I knew then, what I know now. The problem was legit. The solution was something we could build. But could we solve the problem for reasonable economics (can you make money). Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have started that business. It’s not enough to just solve the problem, the economics need to work. That’s why I ended up writing the book, Trajectory: Startups, to help founders understand how to make money as well.
When/why did you get started in working with startups?
I shifted into the wireless industry early in my career working for Vector One (now Verizon). That was a great experience to learn the life cycle of the business. Wireless lived many lifetimes in fast cycles. Direct sales, channel sales, big box sales, all in just a few years. So you could apply those learnings to other industry segments. I switched then to IT staffing and services, matching people with jobs at tech firms. My first startup was making it easy for system integrators to order Microsoft software. Most of those companies were in the services business vs. the product business.
What excites you most about tech startups? Any industries in particular?
All industries, but currently investing in tech and consumer goods, via Fearless.fund
What change are you hoping to create in the industry by serving as a Find Ventures advisor? & How?
By helping Founders succeed faster. I think there is a lot you can learn from the market, you don’t need experience. For example on revenue models, you’re not creating a new one, you’re duplicating what already works. That narrows your risk factor and speeds your time to market. Early on in your startup, time matters. Getting to validation in six months vs 18 months is a huge difference.
In your experience with startups & entrepreneurs, what’s one of the Founders’ biggest hurdles? What advice would you give Founders facing similar struggles?
Every stage of a startup has constraints. Constraints are actually good, they cause you to focus. You have limited cash, people and time. In the early stage, you’re defined by what you decide not to do. Many founder have a vision of what the world will look like in their future state. But they fail to recognize that they don’t live in that state (yet)!
I’ve blogged about a lot of topics that become chapters in the book.
What one piece of advice would you give to a Founder that is thinking about launching their own tech startup?
Narrow your focus on your launch customer. Get traction. Get to PMF (product market fit).
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