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How This Startup Won Amazon's Startup of the Year

The Winston-Salem chapter of Startup Grind hosted their second fireside chat on Thursday, June 11th at Flywheel Cowork in Winston-Salem, NC.  Their featured speaker for our second fireside chat was Jeff Toewe, a specialist in digital and mobile startups. Jeff has 20 years of experience in mobile and digital marketing, leading the strategy and development for global mobile telecoms, mobile & digital marketing firms.  Jeff has recently played a strategic role with Binary Parcels, and has contributed to the design of multiple ground-up solutions now valued in the hundreds of millions.  He has led or contributed on seven USPTO filings related to promotions, real-time data, mobile identity & risk modeling.

“Starting out, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do.” 

Jeff graduated from college with a Bachelors of Arts in Politics, but wasn’t sure what his next steps would be. He began his career in the corporate world, and stayed there for eight years. “While they paid for my Master’s Degree and I learned about mobile telecom…I do feel that I stayed there too long.” While there’s no set schedule on when someone should branch out of Corporate America into their own startup, Jeff recommends that the entrepreneur feels his/her own way, as it’s not always the best choice to jump straight into the startup world immediately after college.

"...Tell people about it [your startup] in the most public way possible.”

Jeff continued on to be a part of five startups, and success wasn’t always the case. In 2008, Jeff worked for a startup that had solvency problems. This was a very scary time for him, and it validated the belief that there are risks involved in all startups. However, Jeff’s startup luck would improve in 2010, when his startup won Amazon Startup of the Year. When asked about that experience and the publicity it brought, Jeff said “if you have a novel idea and you build the right team of people behind it, get out there and tell people about it in the most public way possible.”

"It isn’t all about the having the best idea."

Jeff stresses that success isn’t going to happen overnight, and that it isn’t all about the having the best idea. It’s important to get yourself out there and meet the people who are going to help you make your startup a reality. “You have to have social currency with people who are making investments and building startups.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDJL2VzulUI&w=560&h=315]