Thinc Iowa: Paige Craig - ‘Pitch the massive, disruptive thing’
As the morning moved along at the inaugural Thinc Iowa conference today at the Temple for Performing Arts in Des Moines, attendees began to think about lunch, but Paige Craig showed up to shake things up. Craig is the CEO and co-founder of BetterWorks, a company committed to finding a better way to manage employee perks. With a background in the military, Craig has built a handful of companies and invested in 45 startups with a can't-lose attitude.
Five T.I. Takeaways
1. The right reason
Throughout Craig's entire talk, he emphasized the importance of doing things for the right reason. As Craig explained, it is sexy to be an entrepreneur and a founder, but there are more important questions you must ask. "Are you doing something you really believe in?" Craig asked. "Are you solving problems you want to solve?"
2. Think big, execute small
If you work or interact with Craig, then that means you think big. Craig made it clear he only does projects or investments with people that think big. That being said, he explained that the best entrepreneurs think big with goals to solve the world's problems but can execute the small tasks effectively. "Those of you pitching your company, pitch the massive, disruptive thing," Craig said. "Solve big problems and then show that you have experience and practicality to execute."
Passion was a theme throughout Craig's talk and one you'll hear many entrepreneurs emphasize heavily. Craig said that you won't succeed without passion and that you can overcome anything if you have passion, which he explained with the story of his first company, the Lincoln Group. "I took $75,000 to Baghdad and trained my people," he said. "I built this company on passion, not money. Plenty of entrepreneurs make it happen on passion alone."
4. Talk to users/customers
A classic piece of advice that Craig made sure the audience remembered is the importance of interacting with users. Don't start a company or go sell a product that you just assume people want. "Talk to people who you want to sell to," Craig said. "Ask them what they need, want, and then make changes."
5. Investment tips
During the Q&A portion of Craig's talk, many audience questions circled around Craig's investment experience and what to remember if you are an investor or you are pitching to an investor. "Do not invest in someone that you have a relationship with," Craig said. "Trust me." The answer garnered lots of laughter, but Craig also added, "Invest in people that are still in the game, going for the big win is what excites me."