Donna McLaughlin-Travis thought she had her entire career in corporate America mapped out. But when she took a leadership role in a transportation company just as Uber and Lyft gained popularity, industry-wide disruption led her on a surprising detour.

As she helped her organization find a new way forward, she also discovered something interesting about herself. She loved the pace, freedom and excitement of the startup world. She realized this was an opportunity to leverage skills she’d learned in more traditional roles in a whole new way.

Donna is not alone. More execs are making the leap from the corporate…


Want to truly disrupt an industry and command a slice of the market? What are you willing to put in to become an expert in your domain?

True disruption and the best innovations come from a deep understanding of the industry. Specifically, how the people, processes, and products or services move within it, the current tools of the trade, and where the gaps and the blind spots exist. Doing so requires being on the inside rather than examining it from the periphery. Not an insider? Then you need to become one.

Growing up or building a career in an industry…


One of the greatest benefits of being a part of the StartupAZ Collective is obtaining access to a network of smart, driven leaders in our tech startup ecosystem.

We always gain new insights or perspectives in our talks with these founders, and it’s a virtuous cycle. Collective founders have learned from others who came before them and are eager to share advice with the next generation of AZ tech entrepreneurs.

This series will highlight some of the best advice Collective members have for others on an entrepreneurial journey. …


Chris Ronzio started his first business at age 14. As he grew his video production operation from a small company staffed by friends to a nationwide provider with hundreds of camera operators, he came up against a hurdle many entrepreneurs face: maintaining consistency and keeping the team united as expansion occurred.

This is the problem Chris and the team at Trainual seek to solve. The SaaS company has grown rapidly over the past three years after Chris decided to double down on building the platform. …


Jamie Baxter, CEO and co-founder of Qwick, was in Silicon Valley with his business partner when the pandemic hit. Days away from securing term sheets for their on-demand staffing platform that serves the food and beverage industry, suddenly, VC firms closed their checkbooks — leery of making any investments, let alone one in a startup focused on the hospitality industry.

Then, nearly overnight, the company revenue dropped 80% and they had layoff more than half of their team. Needless to say, it was a tough time. But instead of calling it quits, Jamie and the team they were able to…


Growth.

It challenges us. It stretches us in ways we never thought possible. It might even scare us. But it also opens us to new vistas and opportunities we never imagined.

And growth is what entrepreneurship is all about. Perhaps that’s what psychologist and philosopher Abraham Maslow had in mind when he said, “One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”

This is the path entrepreneurs choose every day. Yes, that path is often lined with hurdles, and caution and “wrong way”…


After addressing the irony of being a foot-traffic-generation platform in the midst of a global pandemic, Brandon Willey, CEO and founder of Hownd, shares how they were able to shift their strategies and adapt to the situation at hand. Despite losing 80% of their revenue overnight, their ability to pivot and the team’s esprit de corps are leading them to a strong rebound.

Prior to the pandemic, Brandon and his team at Hownd were doubling revenue year-over-year. They were just shy of a team of 45 employees, had just signed a lease on a new building that was to become…


With a company that follows a “high learn, low burn” motto, it only seems plausible that Design Pickle had secured a spot on the 2020 Inc. 5000 list of Fastest Growing Companies.

Like many great solutions that have come to be, Russ Perry, founder and CEO of Design Pickle, created the concept for the company in an effort to resolve a pain point he was experiencing. After discovering how much others were taking to it, he doubled down on bringing it to market. …


By Brandon Clarke (brandon clarke)

The flywheel is an incredibly efficient and effective technology with a remarkable ability to store and release energy. Its beauty lies in its ability to retain a great deal of kinetic energy and redistribute it back to the engine. And though it needs a lot of force to get it started, it also needs a lot of force to make it stop — which, as it turns out, is not unlike the growth and vitality of the Valley’s startup and innovation community.

I think it’s safe to say that our flywheel is spinning and only…


Generosity comes in all forms — the giving of time, expertise, knowledge, being open and vulnerable about hard lessons learned, making connections, and the list goes on. And when it comes to generosity, there’s no one-size-fits-all. What makes sense for one, may not for another.

For any act of generosity to be sustainable, you have to find what works best for you and your current resources — and that’s not always just in the form of giving money or time. The fact of the matter is, sometimes neither of those works. But the beautiful thing is, there are so many…

Beth Cochran

Public relations and marketing for small- to mid-sized businesses.

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