Here are five concepts from Startup Grind that look to inspire startup founders.

The dealmaking flits between a corner Starbucks and a nearby Philz Coffee in Redwood City, California, a pop-up hub in the bay area’s tech universe during the two-day run of the 2018 Startup Grind Global Conference. Packlane, an online printing company that delivers affordable packaging to brands of all sizes, is the winner of the Startup Grind startup competition.

Other startups include BookBandit, an online book exchange for students, Brandzy, an innovative branding platform, and Supportbench Services, a customizable, customer service platform, and Juble it, a digital media and fintech company bringing crowdfunding tools to creators. Juble it is also the startup that brought me to Startup Grind as a chief storyteller to help with their product launch and content marketing.

Farmkart CEO Atul Patider and Platforum Co-founder Britney Schielack talk about the costs of bringing products and services to Startup Grind. All of our conversations lead to an inevitable conference question for startup founders: Are the resources spent getting in and getting to Startup Grind worth it?

For the 130 select companies chosen to exhibit at Startup Grind, what’s immediately evident are the quality of the feedback and responses thanks to the thought leadership and influence of the conference attendees. If you’re looking for valuable feedback to your tech products and services, Startup Grind delivers a community like no other.

“It’s all about evolving,” Derek Anderson, Founder, and CEO, Startup Grind, says, speaking at the closing remarks. “What entrepreneurship means to me is evolution.”

What’s also evident at Startup Grind is the spirit of generosity and support spread throughout the two-day event. Founders from other conference exhibitors like Hive Refrigeration and CoFit take time away from marketing their companies to ask great questions about Juble it and discuss affiliate partnerships.

Tech ecosystems are often competitive to the point of being cutthroat. Sure, there’s hustle at Startup Grind and competition to land some coveted, investor meets at Starbucks or elsewhere. There’s also a strong spirit of community and support for each company in attendance. If you take the time to connect with attendees and share your stories, Startup Grind transforms into a powerful, open, focus group providing valuable product feedback.

See You in Redwood City!

For Startup Grind’s two brainstorming days, life is turned upside-down in Redwood City, a town on Highway 101 with as many working-class pockets as tech-leaning neighborhoods. It’s a vibrant backdrop for startup founders looking to make an impression on the world’s leading tech startup ecosystem.


Coffee bar dealmaking and VC panels reveal the stark, business realities facing tech startup founders coming to the bay area to promote their companies. You have to rise above local startups out Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley, who can network 24/7. You also have to make every offline, onsite contact matter. That way, you can successfully reconnect and begin customer traction after your startup team returns home.


Come to Redwood City with curiosity and, the discoveries and thought leadership from conference speakers would continue to inspire long after you return to your hometown startup ecosystems. For many startup founders, chances are you did not leave Redwood City with a VC’s term sheet. However, you did exit with valuable feedback, inspiration, and encouragement to take your company to market-entry, market fit, customer traction, and beyond.


Here are five concepts shared at Startup Grind that look to inspire startup founders.


  1. ‘Don’t fall in love with your solution. Fall in love with your problems.’ – Alex Chriss, SVP + Chief Product Product Officer, Intuit


Alex Chriss, SVP + Chief Product Officer, Intuit, explains the value of focusing on customer problems. Focusing on issues increases the likelihood of developing products and services Intuit customers want and need tomorrow. For all the small companies in attendance, Chriss’ ‘Big Co’ examples are inspiring and relevant.


  1. ‘Keep the global effect but balance with localization in individual markets…work with your communities and source content from your communities.’ – Adi Tatarko, co-founder and CEO, Houzz


Company founders frequently address scale challenges in a strict, spreadsheet manner. How much do I invest in sales and marketing to reach additional markets for my software? What are the other supply chain costs for my tech product? Do I have sufficient data and research to make quality decisions regarding growth? These are all top-down, leadership questions. Speaking about her company’s expansion into Britain, Adi Tatarko, co-founder and CEO, Houzz, emphasizes a bottom-up, civic-oriented approach. Listening to Tatarko, you realize the importance of customizing your product and service via 24/7 connectivity with new and potential customers.


3.’ Clear intent is necessary to bring value to customers.’ – Gillian Tans, CEO,


Startup founders representing the 130 select companies chosen to exhibit at the Startup Grind understand the value propositions driving their products and services. However, Gillian Tans, CEO,, dives deeper into a company’s value prop as well as their spirit and tone. To better achieve your market benchmarks, Tans tells attendees to focus on your company’s intent and your aims clear and understandable to your customers. It’s intent that drives market fit as well as customer traction.


  1. ‘No founder ever presents a crappy value prop…so try to discern the holes in your story because VCs are paid to be cynical and probe for weaknesses.’ – Jeff Jordan, Partner, Andreessen Horowitz.


Jeff Jordan, Partner, Andreessen Horowitz, delivers a call to action to startup founders to identify the holes in their startup’s stories. By readily revealing company challenges and weakness, they’ll end up sharing a grounded pitch to potential investors instead of Cinderella stories. A balanced story that includes both company strengths and challenges will resonate better than any ‘we’re all going to get rich’ pitch.


  1. ‘Startups will be the great companies of tomorrow.’ – Dr. Andrew Ng, Founder, and CEO,



Dr. Andrew Ng, Founder, and CEO,, outlines why AI will be the next electricity and driver of systems change. Ng also believes that frontier tech startups will be tomorrow’s corporate giants. Ng’s words are compelling calls to action to Startup Grind company founders.



Thanks to Startup Grind, there are startup founders whose lives will dramatically change for the better. For others, the impact may occur with their companies. Are you a Startup Grind alum? Share your insights and takeaways via Twitter @steveramosmedia or Instagram @originalfeed