Entrepreneurs Just See Problems Differently

Back in high school and college, I spent my summers working for my dad and the family landscape supply business. While most of my friends sat around all summer, I was working outside stacking brick, bagging mulch, or condensing pallets of material. Pretty sure I started at $5/hour when I was 14 years old and each summer I would get an extra dollar per hour raise. Ah, the good ole days. Not sure how, but in the midst of the Tech Wildcatters Pitch Day yesterday, I did one of those TV-like flashbacks where I was able to see myself working for the family business and remember exactly what I was thinking and saying in that moment.

Our company had made a big mulch delivery to a local customer, but somehow someway the type of mulch they received wasn’t correct. I’m almost positive that the customer had chosen the wrong stuff, but either way, there was a gigantic pile of mulch on their driveway the size of a large conversion van and it needed to go.

Without hesitation, my dad told me to grab a shovel and take one of our delivery trucks to manually load all this mulch up by hand and bring it back. Dad, if you’re reading this, I was seriously furious. I’m really not kidding when I say this pile was massive – it took up almost the entire driveway. At the time, I couldn’t comprehend in the slightest why I was doing what I was doing, but I did it.

So, why in the world would I be sitting in the Granada Theater thinking about this? Well, it occurred to me that each of the startups has spent the last 90 days, some much longer, battling their own pile of mulch. Whatever their industry, whatever their product, these entrepreneurs see a problem that has evolved through no fault of their own and turned their lives upside down working to make it better. They’ve barely slept, they’ve been away from their families and loved ones for months, they’ve maxed out credit cards and drained their bank accounts, they’ve worn more hats than they ever realized they could – but here they were, still battling the mulch pile without any hesitation.

As I spoke with the Founders of Voncierge, ScribeSense, and HedgeChatter, I think I realized why my dad sent me out there to that mulch pile. Entrepreneurs don’t see problems the way most normal people do – problems are an opportunity. My dad could have easily told that customer they were stuck with what they bought, but he didn’t. He sent me to make sure we did the right thing so that the customer could get the correct material, and just maybe, tell other people how great it was that we took care of that for them.

It’s a good lesson for us all really. I can’t even begin to convey how frustrated I get when I turn the TV on or read articles complaining about something and that “this is the way it should be done”. Talk is cheap folks. If days like yesterday teach us anything, it’s that if you don’t like something or you find a flaw with how something works, go fix it! Why wait for someone else to come along and do it? If you aren’t sure how to get started, there is a rapidly growing community here in Dallas that would love to help you take on your mulch pile. Do what needs doing – grab a shovel and get to work!

Michael Walsh

Michael is the Co-Founder and CEO of Cariloop, a platform that connects geriatric healthcare providers with patients and families needing assistance. As Founder of HealthSparx and Health 2.0 Dallas, Michael is also a huge supporter of health and technology entrepreneurship here in Dallas and around the world.