Meet Eleanor Haglund — Founder and CEO of Aspire360
Aspire360 helps startup CEOs reach their next fundraising, sales, or product goal.
Eleanor Haglund is the Founder and CEO of Aspire360, the network for startup CEOs.To date, she’s built a network of serial entrepreneur coaches that have raised more than half a billion dollars, coached CEOs through their pivots, building a sales team, and through their own multi-million dollar fundraising rounds.
Her entrepreneurial journey started when she was selected to be an inaugural member of the Innovation Scholars program at Carnegie Mellon. Before her senior year, she had started her first company, e. e. books. She worked with NYTimes Bestselling Authors and won the McGinnis Competition, the CMU Venture Challenge, and Hack-a- Startup. Through her next startup, Halo Mountain, she was invited to participate in two accelerator programs (Health Wildcatters and eLab NYC) and raised funds for the preclinical development of an Alzheimer’s Disease therapeutic.
How did you get started on Aspire 360?
I built Aspire360 because I know how difficult it is to start a company. There are a billion decisions to be made and even more things to do every day. Some people try to go it alone, but my success has always come from utilizing my network and my resources.
So, in 2020, I decided to offer these and many more resources to my fellow startup CEOs, to make it easier to fundraise, find product-market fit, etc.
We’ve built a network of serial entrepreneur coaches that have raised more than half a billion dollars, coached CEOs through their pivots, building a sales team, and through their own multi-million dollar fundraising rounds.
What is Aspire 360 and what services/support do you offer?
Aspire360 helps startup CEOs reach their next fundraising, sales, or product goal so that they can create wealth for themselves and their investors.
Aspire360 offers access to:
- 1:1 Coaching Sessions with Serial Entrepreneurs
- Bi-Weekly Mastermind Groups with Peer CEOs
- Expert Mentor Network
- Digital Platform for Matching with Investors
- And more!
What is the company’s vision and mission?
Alone, an entrepreneur can accomplish so much. And with a community that believes and supports them, they can accomplish so much more. We support the entrepreneurs in becoming the best they can be for themselves and their companies. In turn, they solve the problems for the world.
Your proudest achievement so far?
My proudest achievement was a moment I had with some of my first investors.
I’ll start from the beginning though. I build businesses because I genuinely want to make the world a better place. I start only businesses that I can stand behind and say “this is making a positive change for people.”
People notice this trait and they appreciate it. When I look to bring on new members at Aspire360, I first make sure that we can actually provide them the value they need/see if it’s in their best interest to work with us. Our members and even those founders who we decide not to work with (based on their needs or stage) are amazed at how far we go to support their goals
At my last company, when my first investors invested in me, I asked them what made their decision. They said “We’re investing in you. You’ve got grit, and you’re honest. Basically, you’re a good person.” This has been echoed by team members, mentors, etc. People want to work with people who they can trust to have their best interest at heart.
The biggest mistake you have made so far?
When I was first starting out, I thought that the idea was all that mattered. I was a college student and I had no idea what I was doing so I focused on the first thing that came to mind one day, as I had brought my lunch to campus and some of sauce had leaked out of the container. The gods of inspiration like to laugh sometimes. Because of this, the first idea I ever tried to turn into a product/company was a way of transporting soup without spilling it (I still look back on it fondly). I had all these grand ideas about how it would be built and manufactured, even though I had no relevant experience or understanding of the material science that would need to be done to create what I envisioned. This was a huge problem.
I’m grateful that I had mentors who guided me to speak with experts and who supported me in choosing a business that would have a larger impact on the world. Through this, I learned the importance of at least knowing a little bit about the type of product you need to create or the industry you’re trying to start a business in.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other women entrepreneurs just starting out?
Taking investment too early is a really common mistake that founders make. My advice: When you’re just starting out, you should bootstrap as long as you can.
I’ve seen a lot of founders raise money because they think it’s a necessary first step to having a startup, and then regret it down the line when it limited their options. I know many founders who raising funds was the right choice for as well. The important thing is to make sure that you, as the founder, actually make a choice, instead of falling into the trap of thinking that it’s the first step to starting a business or a pre-requisite to being taken seriously.
Why does mentorship matter?
I started to see a tipping point in my career when I stopped focusing on the idea or the product and started focusing on my team and the people who I was bringing around me. I learned that if you bring smart, driven people who care about a certain problem together, miracles can happen.
Who are your role models or mentors?
My longest standing mentor is Kit Needham. I’m grateful to her for mentoring me throughout college (and to this day!). She’s often still my first call when I hit a wall.
I tell this story often but when I was at a startup hackathon, things had been going badly (it seemed like every card in the deck was stacked against us) and my team and I weren’t sure if we were going to be able to get the idea to work by the end of the weekend. I was really discouraged and turned to Kit for advice. She talked to me, encouraging me to keep going — basically refusing to let me quit. I took her advice and my team and I poured our hearts into the product for the rest of the weekend.
We ended up winning that competition. More than that though, Kit taught me the first real lesson of entrepreneurship: “when the going gets tough”, you have to get tougher. I’ve been able to weather really challenging situations because of that lesson.
Products by Women is on a mission to make skill-based jobs, mentorship and professional development more accessible for women in tech.
Our Goals for 2021:
- Reduce gender inequalities and pay gap that exists in tech by making tech education more accessible
- Supporting minorities and women-led ventures by making resources available to them
- Re-engage women (especially moms) back into the workforce, who’ve been impacted by COVID
Founded in 2019, Products by Women (formerly known as New York Women in Product Management) has since expanded beyond product and now has members at all career levels from over 90+ countries across all STEM disciplines including data, engineering, business, design and more making it truly an inclusive community.
In a short span, Products by Women has expended to over 100+ countries and partnered with organizations and speakers like Forbes, Glossier, Amaon, CNN, Hotjar, Etsy, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Squarespace and more.
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