Founder of Startup Storytellers shares his own bound into the world of entrepreneurship.
David All knows a good story when he hears one, and he knows the power in sharing stories, especially when the right audience is listening.
Those elements are key to the growing success of his Startup Storytellers events, with the fifth slated for April 19 at the Columbus Museum of Art. The evening will feature a dozen curated stories of central Ohio entrepreneurs describing how they took the leap to owning their own businesses.
One story that won't be told that evening, though, is All's own leap a decade ago to create a Washington, DC-based strategic communications firm, the David All Group. His leap is a story worth sharing.
For All, a leap is “that moment that you really decide for the first time ever that this is what I'm going to do for essentially the rest of my life. I'm leaving safety and this idea of the paycheck fairy—this mythical little creature we all rely on but could disappear at any moment. Leave all of that and take a leap.”
The concept that pushed All into the unknown was to focus a politics and advocacy consulting firm on using social media. He had been working in Republican communications positions since shortly after getting a political science degree from Bowling Green State University in 2001. In those positions, he began appreciating the power of digital communications but believed they were not being leveraged as they could by candidates and officeholders, especially in Republican circles. So he took a leap to make it happen.
“I was 27, working out of a coffee shop, nothing new,” All recalls. “All of my colleagues who were still in the safe jobs on Capitol Hill used to make fun of me and they'd be laughing at me, like what am I doing? Like social media is a fad and this was a joke. That stuff really hurt,” he adds.
One of the lessons learned from his leap was to give your enterprise enough “runway” to be able to take off. For All, his runway was $10,000 in the bank, which allowed him to live a pared-back lifestyle for the 4 ½ months it took to win his first client. “I never thought it would take that long, but to be honest a lot of it was just me figuring out what the heck I was even selling, what I was doing, how do I write a contract. It was all fly by the seat of my pants,” he recalls.
His first job was to create a web site, then his business took off with CNN taking note of a YouTube video he produced urging Republicans to embrace new media. Who knew a Republican would ride Twitter to the White House 10 years later?
One important support All didn't have was a mentor. He now sees it would have helped to have an “advisor or mentor that I could check in with at least once a week, just someone to help you out on the blind spots, because they're everywhere, and there's so much that you have to take on.”
All has started several other enterprises in the past decade, including his latest consulting firm, One Nine Ninety, which will help to prep the 2017 Startup Storytellers presenters on sharing their leaps. It gets easier with subsequent ventures, especially when you focus on your core talents, he says.
The loneliness of All's leap need not be others' story, which is a big part of his passion for Startup Storytellers. In his leap, All says, “there wasn't this culture of entrepreneurship. … There wasn't this place to hear all sorts of stories that you could relate to and get through.”
I'm looking forward to hearing about a dozen more leaps on April 19. See you there?