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The best advice from successful entrepreneurs at HustleCon

How to land a manufacturer and why legacy marketing channels are becoming the best investments

5 Minute Read

Would you like advice from Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren? How about The Athletic’s Alex Mather or ThirdLove’s Heidi Zak?

We’ve got you covered. They were among the many speakers at Hustle Con last week, and we picked the best, most practical advice for entrepreneurs and investors. 

How to get a manufacturer when you’re starting out 

It’s not easy for anyone. Manufacturers typically don’t want to work with companies they’re not familiar with or who don’t have large orders. “You just pitch a lot of people,” says ThirdLove’s Heidi Zak. “It’s kind of like pitching investors. You need your gameface on.” 

What you should study to be an entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship requires a level of risk-taking you can’t learn in school, but a certain subject can help. “Engineering was far more important than business school ever was to me,” says Clearbanc’s Michele Romanow. “Science is really affecting every one of our industries.”

Don’t waste your time on blogging, no matter who you are

If you have something valuable to say, The Athletic’s Alex Mather recommends pitching it to an established publication: “That world is so far gone with how much content is produced right now. VCs all think they can break through, and it’s all the same crap. I would just very much dissuade you from writing a blog post.” 

Old marketing channels will be new again

As the costs of successfully advertising on Facebook and other digital properties continue to rise, Clearbanc’s Michele Romanow says legacy advertising platforms, like TV, will become better deals. ThirdLove’s Heidi Zak says her company plans to leverage TV and traditional media more often. The company also opened a brick and mortar store, which Zak calls “a marketing investment.”

Don’t listen to the “great companies are bought, not sold” cliche    

Shaan Puri sold Bebo to Twitch earlier this year, and he recommends founders be bullish on selling if they fit into one of three categories:

  1. They have a great offer in hand
  2. They don’t believe in the business anymore
  3. They don’t want to run the business anymore

And when you’re thinking about selling, Puri says to discuss the pros and cons with your mentors, not investors. “Don’t just listen to your investors. They want to see you go for the big one, the billion dollars. The $15 million is just the cost of business for them. But you only get one shot.” 

Make revenues, not funding your goal

Mark Ruxin, CEO of Mixhalo, warned that VC money was a “drug you can get hooked on. But there’s a better drug called revenues.” Gina Bianchini, co-founder of Mighty Networks, echoed that sentiment, saying, “The next generation of entrepreneurs is going to look at venture capital as something that should only be done on your terms after you’ve already generated real revenue.”

Meet your potential audience/customers 

When Tim Westergren founded Pandora he did thousands of informal town halls with his audience. The first one was at a New York coffee shop, and two people showed up. But he says it was still important because face-to-face meetings help customers associate a person with a brand and make them more likely to be evangelists.