477 Views

WIN Wednesdays: Courtney Powell

Jess Erickson
by

August 09, 2012

This week’s WIN Wednesday woman is Courtney Powell. Courtney’s passion for helping dissatisfied consumers led her to become the CEO and co-founder of PublikDemand. PublikDemand is a platform that helps unhappy customers use their collective voice to file complaints against big businesses.  They are part of 500 Startups’ 4th accelerator batch. Previously, she founded the automated marketing firm LeedSeed.com. Follow PublikDemand on Facebook and Twitter and follow Courtney on Twitter here.
How did you become an entrepreneur?

I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad when I was 18. My family had a background in government and non-profit work so I had never been explicitly exposed to the idea of entrepreneurship until I read Kiyosaki’s book.It forced me to reevaluate my understanding of time spent working for someone else versus owning your own time.

A few weeks later I came across a Craigslist ad from two entrepreneurs looking for marketing help. I called the number and they asked me to come in for an interview 30 minutes later. I was nervous but their story sounded interesting. I showed up with work samples from my time on the high school newspaper.

I was green to say the least, but they were pre-funding and assumed that my willingness to show up 30 minutes after we first spoke was a good indicator of startup scrappiness. The company, Boundless Network, grew to over $50M in annual sales during my five-year tenure. After seeing the evolution of a company from an idea to become a major industry player, I knew that I wanted to build my own entrepreneurial dream.

What was one of the biggest challenges you’ve had so far with PublikDemand?

Prioritization. As a founder, you wear a million different hats. Especially during fundraising, I struggled with the desire to wholly devote myself to fundraising while I really wanted to just work on the product. Everyday you are forced to decide where to devote your energy and if you don’t have a single goal driving the evolution of your product or company, it’s very easy to go down the wrong path.

If you can give one word of advice to future founders, what would it be?

Think bigger. At every step along the way- moving from idea to team, MVP to funding and so on- I found the challenges were never technical in nature, but rather always an indicator of the fact we needed to expand our thinking in some way. I think it is critical to learn to overcome the fear of failure, or any hesitation in stepping out of your comfort zone as early as possible. For me personally, success is nearly 100% determined by my state of mind.

Do you have any advice for women considering a career in tech?

I don’t think of myself as a woman in tech. I think of myself as someone who wanted to solve problems for consumers. I don’t know if my gender matters to others or not, but I frankly don’t care. If someone you are talking to slights you in someway because your are a female, then you are talking to the wrong person.

Do you have any interest in becoming an angel investor in the future?

Absolutely. There are several startups in the current 500 Startups batch that I would write a check to today if my resources weren’t already committed to PublikDemand. Sqoot, TenderTree, TwitMusic, Chalkable just to name a few. I would also fund Refer.ly if given the opportunity.

What skills did you develop that you found extremely valuable to have as an entrepreneur?

I have learned to focus on my strengths and outsource my weaknesses or activities that are not profitable in some way. I don’t do laundry; I rarely go to the grocery story. Time is far more valuable than money. Although it sounds practical, many people seem to find it a bit radical. However, it has helped me to focus on building what I love.

 

Courtney with her team, Richard, A.T., & Jim, of PublikDemand

Most Popular

June 09, 2020

Our Framework Post-COVID-19

May 22, 2020

Launch Your Business in Georgia (The Country, not the State)

Recent

Accelerating ESG Adoption in Early Stage Venture Capital

The year 2020 has served up many reminders of the pressing issues facing society, from failures to address systemic discrimination to the impending climate crisis. Moving forward, realizing a more ...

Meet the Startups in 500’s First Fully Virtual Accelerator

At 500 Startups, innovation is a staple of our business model. In March, we announced the revamp of our SF flagship accelerator program to offer year-round enrollment flexibility to meet our founde...

15 Tips to Bringing Teams Closer Even During Tough Times

We are living through one of the largest collective challenges the world has faced, so it’s the perfect time to tap into the experience of these 15 female leaders. They offer tips for bringing team...

500 Startups Bolsters Commitment to MENA’s Startup Ecosystem

500 Startups made its first investment in MENA in 2012. Back then, few U.S. venture investors made their way to the region, but we recognized its potential and after making more than 30 investments...