Sandy Kemper, C2FO founder and CEO, looks back at his experience from past start-ups and gives advice to entrepreneurs about trust, adversity and the key to starting a successful business. Here, we share some of his remarks from Startland’s Innovation Exchange event that took place on June 19th in Kansas City.
“Complete transparency — even if you’re not making money — builds trust. Act like everyone is watching, because they are”
According to Kemper, trust starts internally. “If you’ve got that, then you’ve got the loyalty of your team and you’re showing them loyalty by trusting them with the numbers of your company.”
“Trust is action validated over time. It’s a super hard thing to do when you get big. Trust just breaks down.” To combat this, Kemper says he is always actively working towards keeping a close connection between himself and his employees by “trying to find ways to build more cohesion in the team through trust.”
“The bigger you get, the more you have to reiterate, the more you have to talk about diversity, parity, different ideas.” Part of building a community based in trust is recognizing and embracing the team for its attributes and characteristics, he adds.
“Embrace adversity. Adversity breeds growth. Adversity created C2FO”
Kemper spoke on the importance of adversity. He believes it was the adversity that he felt at past companies that lead to the creation of C2FO. His advice for any entrepreneur is to “embrace adversity — it is a catalyst for greatness.”
The three P’s to every successful business: problem, people, product
“Don’t build product first. Find the problem to solve. Get smart people. Find the giraffe — someone who will stick their neck out for you,” advises Kemper. The foundation of every business is finding a problem to solve. If there are enough people that relate to your problem, there is a need for your solution in the market. The most important thing is to know why you’re doing it. “If you don’t have a ‘why’ when you set out to start your company, it’s not going to be successful.”
“Do one thing really well and don’t be distracted”
When starting a business, it’s better to be good at one thing instead of being mediocre at a lot of things, Kemper advises. Startups that try to do everything are doomed to fail. “The attempt to be great at everything is what we all aspire to do, but it is the death of startups.”
The Innovation Exchange was hosted by Startland News in partnership with NBKC bank in Kansas City. The event gathered people to network and celebrate the rapidly growing local fintech community that has gained global recognition in recent years. Kemper was joined by three other executives; Matt Burgener, CEO of Blooom, Rachael Qualls, CEO of Venture360, and Jim Starcev, co-founder of PerfectCube. The executives shared their professional journeys along with their thoughts on the future of the fintech and start-up community in Kansas City.