After-Action Report: RVM #67 with Jeff Amerine

If you pay attention to guys like Tim Ferris and Seth Godin, they will tell you that the route to success in business and life is to scratch your own itch. That way, whatever you do, you’re pretty much guaranteed at least one happy customer.

Well, today’s Meetup was a scratch-your-own-itch kind of Meetup.

Remember iconic GenX band Nine Inch Nails? Pretty Hate Machine was Trent Reznor’s debut album, and the second-to-last song was “The Only Time“, which if I’m not careful somebody will probably play at my funeral. There are a lot of great lines in that song, but here’s one that will always stay with me: There’s nothing quite like the feel of something new.

I’ve been involved in over a dozen startups in one capacity or another. My track record of marketplace success is not astonishing. But I will tell you that, for me, that track record is the answer to the wrong question. Because in my life there is absolutely NO experience like making SOMETHING out of NOTHING.

I’d rather do that for free than do almost anything else for millions… and, if I’m honest, I often have. I’m a startup junkie.

Which is interesting, because today’s guest speaker was Jeff Amerine (USNA ’84), founder of an organization called Startup Junkie!

Startup Junkie supports, inspires, and educates entrepreneurs and innovators by providing no-cost, one-on-one consulting; events, workshops and programs; and access to capital and talent. They remove barriers for historically underserved populations by democratizing access to entrepreneurial resources and providing strategic support to any individuals seeking to establish or grow their business. They operate a “startup ecosystem” in northern Arkansas and advise regional administrators on creating the conditions for robust startup ecosystems in much of the rest of the country.

This week’s conversation ranged from the theoretical to the extremely practical.

On the abstract side, we talked about the ways a startup can create a competitive advantage. It isn’t just about the product! Jeff cited:

  • the team
  • intellectual property
  • contracts & relationships
  • time: having put in the work

We also got down in the weeds using RINGKNOCKER parent Tribify as a case study. We’re ready to scale. Should we bootstrap or seek capital? How should we think about the problem?

Finally, since we had Jeff aboard, we invited a few new RINGKNOCKERs to introduce themselves and describe how THEY create a competitive advantage. A real standout was Shawn Hawkins (USMA ’92), who runs a logistics firm and whips his competition with what sounds like a laser focus on quality of service.

This was definitely one for the books. Thanks again to Jeff and all our participants for such a great conversation!

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