“Being an entrepreneur is a journey that doesn’t stop.” These words of wisdom from Jenni Hogan, CEO of TVinteract pretty much captured the sentiment of established and aspiring start-up founders, students and industry professionals gathered at the recent Northwest Entrepreneur Network’s Entrepreneur University at Seattle’s Impact Hub.
During the event Flip the Media partnered with Jenni Hogan to hear “Prime Time Pitches” from local start-ups, giving them an opportunity to share their ideas in brief five-minute interviews. Over the coming weeks, we will present some of these pitches and offer a sampling of up-and-coming start-ups in the Pacific Northwest.
First up: Farmstr, an online market place connecting consumers directly with the farmers. Founded in February 2013 and located “where the dirt is”, this local start-up aims to support small and mid-sized farms and get consumers quality goods for less money through direct sales.
Janelle Maiocco, CEO of Farmstr, is no stranger to the “entrepreneurship is a journey” credo. From her experience as start-up consultant and adviser, she knew how much time and energy entrepreneurs pour into their work. So she decided not to begin her own venture unless it was something she felt passionately about. With a strong background in the food industry as a chef, marketing director for food companies, and an established food blogger, Maiocco has now taken the plunge and started her own company.
Maiocco credits the early success of her start-up to the relationships built online through trust, word-of-mouth and face-to-face interaction with the local farmers. “We are almost getting farmers too fast,” Maiocco says. To support each farmer, the company needs to find 40-50 customers, which has been a challenge. “We need to grow the customer base much faster than the farmer base,” Maiocco concludes. But with already ten years marketing and digital media communication experience, Maiocco knows how to reach customers in new and innovative ways. “This is my cup of tea, the part of my job that is the most of fun. My friends are all foodies and social media is where we live.”
When asked about her experience at the Entrepreneur University, Maiocco is enthusiastic. “This event is not what I expected, it is very down to earth. I feel like we are in the right place and it feels good–it is good to see other people feeling same way and this has been good reflection that we are doing things right.”
Finally, Maiocco shares parting words of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: “There are ups and there are downs, enjoy the highs, embrace the lows and take them both in stride.”