As a founder, one of the challenges is knowing when to listen to others, and when to trust your gut. It became pretty obvious to Lately founder and CEO Kate Bradley Chernis after years of working for others.
“Once you know that it’s a line in the sand that you draw. And to know what you have to do as a result of it,” Kate says in the latest episode of Series A-The Podcast.
What the founder of the burgeoning New York City-based startup has done is built a powerful marketing software solution that’s taking business by storm, from the SMB to the enterprise.
Kate tells host Jim Brisimitzis of Microsoft for Startups launching the company was something she did somewhat begrudgingly. She had owned a thriving agency managing multi-million dollar national campaigns for the likes of Walmart, the United Way, and many others.
The former radio DJ had built a booming business with the help of her savvy for spreadsheets, developing a reputation for her mastery of managing disparate campaigns and contacts. Some friends and colleagues urged her to automate her spreadsheets into software and create a company. They figured it would cost about $25 thousand. Kate wanted nothing to do with their idea.
“What are you talking about, why would we do that, leave me alone,” she told her friends. “I’m buying a house with my money.”
Unbeknownst to her, her friends funded and built the product themselves and showed up at her house on the Sunday after Christmas. She wasn’t happy. “I was so pissed and annoyed, and then they showed me what they had done and then I was like ‘Oh! Oh my god,’” Kate recounts in her conversation with Series A. And Lately was born.
Kate shares the myriad insights gleaned during the past several years as a founder, including how to find her product market niche, navigating some of New York’s top accelerators such as Entrepreneurs Roundtable and Grand Central, and the necessity of repeated preparation for the pitch. She offers founders valuable hacks gleaned from years behind the microphone and on the stage and reveals how she’s overcome a painful and debilitating condition that requires a number of adaptations including frequent use of speech-to-text software (with a cautionary tale: Dragon tends to misinterpret VC’s as feces, she laughs.)
And perhaps most important, Kate teaches others how to be true to themselves, and embrace who they really are. “I’m a pain in the ass. I’m a wild horse. I’m really stubborn, sometimes belligerent. I like to do what I like to do, warts and all,” Kate laughs.
It seems to be working just fine.
Join Kate Bradley Chernis with host Jim Brisimitzis for the latest episode of Series A-The Podcast, now available on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and Blubrry.