Confession: Not a Startup Founder

This is the subject of a talk I pitched for SXSW 2016. Please head over to the PanelPicker before September 4th and vote for it!


Vote-PanelPicker-Idea-2016-FBMy name is Andrea Hill, and I’m *not* a startup founder.

I work on a small team and do customer discovery and testing to find product-market fit, I read all about #growth-hacking and am trying to optimize this whole pricing thing. But at the end of the day I go home, secure that I’ll get a nice paycheck (with 401(k) match!) on a regular basis.

Tweet: I'm an intrapreneur, and I feel like a bit of an imposter. #notastartupfounderI’m an intrapreneur, and I feel like a bit of an imposter. #notastartupfounder

Don’t get me wrong, I love being an intrapreneur within a larger organization. When I was in the Customer Discovery and Innovation Department at LexisNexis, it was great to share ideas and findings with people working on adjacent products for a common customer set. But although as I go throught he stages of identifying a target userbase, understanding their problems and developing and testing solutions like a startup founder would do, I know I don’t feel the same pressure to get it exactly right. At LexisNexis, we had such a backlog of ideas it often seemed easier to perish than persevere or pivot, and looking back I’m not sure every idea was explored to the extent it could have been.

I wonder, is that a common intrapreneurial trait: not to completely exhaust an idea before shifting to another? Does having a backlog of options lead to less rigorous exploration?

I follow a lot of startup founders on Twitter, yet I don’t quite feel like I belong to their club. I “work on” UbiMeet, I didn’t “found” it.

Part of the excitement and pressure of a startup is the race to viability before you run out of funding. Obviously I have to worry about my project continuing to be supported, but I don’t have to be chatting up investors or positioning myself for acquisition.

I’m also not really motivated by the potential financial upside of creating and selling off a startup. My interest in building products and businesses is in the act of creating (and learning).

So although I have a lot to learn from startup founders, I’m also not sure I’m really one of them. I’m not sure I have anything to offer them. I hope other intrapreneurs feel this way too?