The Internet has given young entrepreneurs the space to solve new problems with technology. Dennis Crowley, 35, co-founded the company Foursquare in 2009 and in that time the company has grown to over 20 million users. Some speculate that Foursquare is worth $500 million.
During the Northside Festival in Brooklyn, N.Y., Crowley offered key tips for new Internet entrepreneurs.
How does a young business owner know when it’s time to relinquish control?
That’s a tough thing for a lot of people to do; opting out of the fun stuff and choosing to work on the hard things that will make the company better. You start to realize that my role is to lead the company and make sure that every single person that comes into work every single day knows why they’re here and what they’re supposed to be working on next. You don’t feel like you’re doing any work because you’re just meeting with people and talking all day, spending time putting thoughts together. It’s not glamorous, but it’s what’s needed to get everyone back on the same page. I’m not as productive as I used to be, but I’m productive on a different level. So, getting comfortable there and being able to fully articulate the mission of the company is extremely important. And it takes a lot of time to be able to get there and just making sure that my schedule is filled with the right things and not the wrong things.
What are three things every new CEO must be focused on to be successful?
They must make sure everyone knows what the mission of the company is and be on the same page. Every employee at the company has the resources that they need to get the job done and making sure the company as a whole has the proper resources such as the right people, enough money to hire the right people, and enough to keep resources improving. Hold onto those big three and hold on to the notion of being unafraid while also letting go of actually having to do everything.
Why is it important for new Internet entrepreneurs to seek help when needed?
There’s no shame in asking for help when you’re a start up. Somehow, there’s a stigma against asking for help now and I don’t know why. I ask for help all the time. People expect me to know all the answers and I’m like, ‘I don’t know.’ This is the first time I’ve done this job. Here’s what I’ll do: I would talk to a few of the board members and go talk to someone else and get some advice and gather as much information as possible and then make a decision. You never out grow needing to ask for help.