Friday, August 9, 2013

Chelsea McCullough talks about the statewide technology community

Where are you from originally?
Lafayette, LA

What university did you go to?
University of Texas at Austin

What brought you to Austin?
I visited the city with a family friend when I was a sophomore in high school and I knew right away this was the city I wanted to be my home base.  So I spent the next two years making sure I would be accepted at UT. 

What is the idea behind your startup?
We’re not a start-up, but we help start-ups all over the state. Our mission is to inform, educate and connect the statewide technology community relative to three key issues: education, entrepreneurship and infrastructure.

What need does it fulfill?
The technology community is an important contributor to economic prosperity for the State of Texas. It’s important for the entrepreneurs and executives that drive innovation to understand and participate in the policies that shape this reality. All too often, the technology community is so busy creating market solutions that they overlook the policies that enable those products to flourish. An example of that is access to high-speed Internet and wireless connection. Without this critical infrastructure, every Internet transaction and every app is stalled in its tracks. That is why we talk so passionately about keeping regulations in check so the private sector can continue to invest in building out the network. 

What exactly does your product do?
We connect the technology community in Texas with elected officials. 

Who is it for?
In a broad scope, our mission affects every Texan, as consumers are the ones who benefit from innovation in technology. But in the purest sense, we exist to serve the technology community of Texas.  

What was the most challenging aspect of starting up a business?
The answer I hear most often from entrepreneurs is “access to capital and a skilled work force.” However, that’s only because we have access to broadband networks and high-speed wireless connections. If those two things didn’t exist or if our networks don’t keep evolving to keep up with demand, I would bet “consumers being able to download or access my product” would become the #1 challenge. 

What is the next step for you and your startup?
We are seeking new partners and welcome the high tech community to join us in our mission to educate, inform and connect the tech community to public policy issues. 

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
Make sure customers need the product/service you are providing for them. You can have the greatest, most well executed, most well-funded idea, but if no one thinks they have to have it, there’s really no point. One of my mentors once said, “Nothing happens until somebody buys something.” That has always stuck with me and it always rings true. 

What Austin-based resource have you found to be the most helpful and why?

Austin Technology Incubator. They are an unsung hero and impact the tech community in so many ways, many of which are never headlines in the newspaper. They deserve a lot of credit for where the tech community is today.