It’s never been easier, faster, or cheaper to start your own business; resources are abundant and accessible, old economy industries are crying out for innovation, and technology helps fledgling endeavors scale quickly.
But one thing remains unchanged: entrepreneurship can be isolating.
You’d think that in this brave new world of social media, there would be more opportunities than ever to connect. But more is definitely not more when it comes to finding and engaging with the right community. We know that the fastest road to success is traveled with a carefully curated and like-minded group of people who know first hand what it’s like to start and build a company.
That’s why we started YEC — a highly vetted community of entrepreneurs who connect with one another at conferences, our annual retreat, and in other venues, and who maintain a lively digital stream of conversation on our private forum. Together, we solve problems, offer support and advice, make valuable introductions, and sometimes do business together. Our members tell us that YEC is an invaluable resource for connection, networking, and growth.
Here’s what our community has done for some of them:
- Antidote to isolation. Being an entrepreneur is a 365/24/7 endeavor and family and friends can’t always understand and empathize with the experience. “One of the biggest challenges about being an entrepreneur is that it's very lonely,” says Solomon Choi, the founder of 16 Handles, a 37-store frozen yogurt retailer that has recently expanded operations to the Middle East. Choi has been a member of YEC since 2013. The group, he says, has supported him on his entrepreneurial journey. “Going through that process is arduous and there are great joys but also a lot of lows, and having a network of like-minded entrepreneurs who are going through similar situations is a powerful thing.”
- Peer problem-solving. A highly-vetted community of peers can be an invaluable resource when you’re faced with solving day-to-day business problems as well as when you grappling with big strategic issues. For example, Taylor Irwin, the CEO of Rocky Mountain Carwash, turned to YEC when she was considering buying the third party app that her company uses to activate its Wyoming-based chain of car washes. “I probably talked to five or six different people in YEC,” she says. “I felt like I got enough good advice in my arsenal to make a decision.” And at the YEC Escape retreat in Utah, she chatted with fellow member Erik Huberman about marketing and ended up hiring his company, Hawke Media.
- Strategic introductions. For many of our members, YEC is the fast lane for introductions that can help drive business growth. When Vincenzo Villamena, founder of Online Taxman, was looking for an introduction to someone at the payments platform, Stripe, he posted the request on YEC’s Facebook page. The result: an introduction that resulted in an ongoing relationship for Online Taxman as a preferred provider for Stripe, resulting in a six-figure revenue boost.
- Visibility/credibility. A community like YEC that offers publishing benefits on media platforms can help members gain visibility and credibility that drive inbound leads. “It’s been really good in terms of publishing my thought leadership on various media sites,” says Syed Balkhi, CEO of Awesome Motive. And that exposure, says Balkhi, often translates into inbound leads.
- Opportunity to be helpful. YEC members love that our community is not based on transactions, but on true connection. And that often means that you’ll be helped by people who you may never have the opportunity to help, and that you’ll help people who may never be able to reciprocate. “YEC was one of the first communities I joined where my intention was not to get business, but rather to meet other entrepreneurs,” says Thomas Smale, founder of FE International, a leading M&A advisory firm facilitating the sale of online businesses. When he first joined YEC in 2105, he was the one asking questions of members. Now that his company has grown, he spends more time giving back. “I always try to answer questions in the YEC forum,” he says. “While my intention is not necessarily to get direct business from it, I definitely find now that I get quite consistently recommended, so it's been a nice thing.” In fact, he’s the member who helped Taylor Irwin when she was considering buying an app, and he also helped Vincenzo Villamena connect with Stripe.
There are as many success stories in YEC as there are members. Watch this space for success stories that will help you get to know our members better.