In one of many meet ups located in Camden, the Waterfront Lab invites Chad Stender, Director of Operations at SeventySix Capital, to Camden’s June Tech Meet up. At the meetup, Jie Kuang, Moderator and Editor-In-Chief of Owner’s Magazine, sits down with Stender to discuss some sensitive topics in intent for startups to learn. In speaking about his career, the power of being nice, the future of startups, and what it takes for VCs to invest, there are many things to take away from this event.
As an entrepreneur, Venture capitalist, and Director of Operations, Stender’s career spans from working at Disney to the SeventySix Capital. After graduating college, Chad was gifted an internship job at Disney, in which he then made the decision to move to Orlando, Florida. Although his check was only $10 an hour, Stender’s advanced internship taught him many things in his stay with food and beverages. From working with the best customer service program globally, he learned many values that he still withholds today, due to Disney. This quickly ended though, as he later understood his drive for working with sports. Once Stender had quit his internship with Disney to go back to school in Philly for a graduate degree, he quickly landed another internship opportunity with the 76ers. In many more openings working with Comcast and the Flyers, it all adds up to his plan that will eventually lead him to his true vocation. Although nothing he did was linear, he had a world map and the opportunity to meet with many people that gave him his career today. In meeting unique and gifted entrepreneurs, Stender would then learn his calling path to working with entrepreneurs and innovations in the startup world. Others recognized his skills and wisdom, which led to SeventySix Capital, calling for a perfect position for him there.
In developing his own personal quota of the power of being nice, Stender ultimately aims to invest in being smart and nice. In being a smart entrepreneur, it takes executing your vision respectfully, knowing when to push and when to pull, and simply, understand who to bring on the team. To be nice on the other hand, it’s far more difficult to be sincere and genuinely kind. Reason being, some people are simply just not considerate in response. If that is the case, it still shouldn’t be the reason to be difficult. Take into precaution, the founder’s personal life, spouse, kids, etc. The best and smart thing to do is to be considerate, help them through their personal conflict so they can go back to their work. Normalize the personal aspect of business and keep the people in mind. It’s the small gestures that relieve the outcome. So take Stender’s saying, “be nice always, life is too short to work with the wrong kind of people”.
Chad then jumps to another topic, when asked about the startup community. He related it to the iPhone. “It’s 10 years old now”, he says, “and it is easily identified as the most powerful device in this century.” To start a business today, it’s all in your pocket. It’s that simple. The difference between now and then is the growth. Startup communities are rapidly growing now more than ever, simply because it’s that easy to get involved and make a difference. To start a revolution, it’s all in your pockets, meaning, it’s all in arms reach. In additional talks of Camden’s startup community, Chad Stender is thoroughly impressed with Camden’s people, along with their drive and passion there. As the ecosystem is striving to achieve, the attempt to silence all of the negative criticism is making an effect through the celebration of all of Camden’s wins. By changing the mindset and stigma to Camden’s name, more entrepreneurs are able to expand their innovative ideas into Camden.
The most vital yet terrifying task for startups rely on the investors. Finding an investment is a full time concentration. When you have a lead investor trying to get money into your company, that is the best scenario. If on the other hand, you feel forced to take a capital, only to keep your company going, that’s not going to be a good relationship. If you take an investment, but you don’t believe in this team or leaders, it’s a bad start. If you know in your gut, don’t take the investment. Trust your gut in all business instances.
In another scenario, some investors just might not be interested. Chad Stender calls it as, “every no is just a not yet, you have to be resilient.” On the investor’s side, reasons for not taking an investment is not because of the team or the idea. It is actually because it’s not the investor’s focus. To investors, they view it as enabling them from adding value that can be deemed useful since it’s an area they’re not acknowledged in. To get over that, you have to ask the real questions. The two best things in this situation are the responses, yes and no. With the worse possible replies of ‘maybe’ and ‘I don’t know’. Maybe is just a comfort zone, it’s a reassurance that things could work out. With a no, you can simply move on, it’s not the right fit. Get out of the maybe, hopefully you’ll get the yes. The biggest thing to investors are the people and team behind the idea. So it is crucial to know your investor. For Chad Stender, he really enjoys being hands on. He strives on really getting to know the founders, team, and the advisors. So if a company doesn’t agree with that, it won’t work out. There must be an understanding on both sides. The shiniest product doesn’t always win, it’s the people that makes the company go.
The worst situation to be in is getting out of an investment. Getting out of an investment happens and it’s not pretty. You might think you want to work with this company for years but one day, you just wake up with an even better idea. Its business and you have to deal with it when things don’t work out the way you want it to. Chad Stender has been through it, and so does a lot of investors, it happens. Business keeps going.