Five Essential Elements of Startup DNA
Startup companies inspire me, so I like to tell stories about them. Following that passion led me to the role of Comcast’s Senior Director of Entrepreneurial Engagement. It seems hard to believe now, but Comcast was a startup over 50 years ago when the company was founded.
My mother worked on the third floor of the building where Comcast was previously located in Philadelphia for many years. Working in the same building at a coffee shop on the first floor, I got to experience some of Comcast and obtained a little taste of the marketing and communications world. As a high school and college student at the time, that side gig included informal conversations with teams from a nearby ad agency. We’d chat about cool trends that could help their startup clients. That's where I first caught the startup bug and I’ve been interested in telling startup stories ever since.
That experience led me to work with startups at a marketing agency, helping small, innovative businesses to grow and launch some amazing products. It was exciting to be a part of little engines that could. Later, as head of marketing for the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, my job included telling visitors from around the world about Philadelphia – a city of firsts and also an original startup city. When representing Philadelphia across the globe, I always took note of what was happening in innovation neighborhoods and startup and coworking spaces.
These experiences, and my latest role working with startups at Comcast, have given me a lot of insight into entrepreneurs and how they work. I would say that within all entrepreneurs and highly innovative people, there are common characteristics I like to call "Startup DNA."
From what I’ve seen, Startup DNA consists of five essential elements:
Curiosity: Entrepreneurs display an unmatched willingness to ask hard questions of anyone and to surround themselves with people who look, sound and think nothing like them.
Vulnerability: Most startups don't have the past to look back on, so they go for it. They throw ideas at the wall just to see what sticks – knowing that many will not. They are willing to fail.
Determination: Entrepreneurs will chase their dreams and convince anyone that what they're building is the next best thing and that it WILL succeed.
Grit: Entrepreneurs know they can fail, and they just go for it anyway. They come from the mindset that, "If it didn't work, that was version 1.0. We've got 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, and 5.0 coming." They don't wait.
Generosity: This one often surprises people not familiar with startup communities. I’ve found that founders are by far some of the most generous people I have ever met. They share ideas and create platforms for learning from each other. They share the "give before you get" mentality and really build and grow collaborative communities.
Although Comcast has grown into a Fortune 50 company, it still maintains many of these traits. I remember my first day at Comcast in December 2014; I opened up my new employee manual and the first thing I saw was this quote from our founder, Ralph Roberts, "The advice I gave my son, Brian, was to follow his own instincts, do it well, don't be thwarted by those who find objectives are not to their liking. Be creative. Tell the truth. Maintain a high level of integrity. And do the right thing for people."
At the top of the page it read: "An Entrepreneurial Spirit." I thought to myself – wow - I'm part of a family with an amazing entrepreneurial startup DNA. And even with more than 150,000 family members around the world, in many varying business areas, we all share a slice of that startup DNA that Ralph and Brian and others have sparked in us.
And we aim to make it easier for the next generation of entrepreneurs to connect with us; to innovate everything with us. Our goal is to open the doors even wider for startups and innovators for potential partnerships. Connect with us at ComcastPartner.com, and learn more about how our startup heritage is leading to new relationships with some of the most innovative minds in the world today.