Launch Festival · Product launch

What is the best way to launch your start-up while still working full time?

Liz Lentis Marketing & Sales Professional with an Entrepreneurial Drive

October 3rd, 2014

My business partner, Lia Littlewood, and I are making strides towards launching our new business, Little List.  What can we say, we enjoy alliteration.  :) 

We both have full time jobs and we are new moms to 7 month old daughters, just two days apart.. needless to say, our mornings are very early and our nights are very late.  We are very eager to dive right in to the start-up scene (and very much appreciate the warm welcome from all of our entrepreneur colleagues on FD)... we'd like to create profiles on AngelList, CrunchBase, etc.  We want to make our footprint, but also don't want to jeopardize our current positions.  Is there any advice on how to do this effectively?  Any insights on other ways to create a footprint are also appreciated.


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Gabe Greenwood Littlecat Labs

October 3rd, 2014

Hey Liz,

Every situation is different, but for what it's worth, I spent nearly two years working on the project that would become Littlecat (I like your company name, by the way) before I gave notice at my day job. My approach was to be honest with my colleagues and managers about the fact that I had a side project, and I did admit from time to time that my eventual ambition was to pursue it full time -- but not yet, I assured them, and they would know well in advance when I was preparing to move on. I honored that commitment, giving six weeks notice when I was ready to leave, and working hard to leave on as strong a note as possible. The results of this approach were basically what I had hoped for: my old team was supportive of my ambitions while I was there, and they still are.

On the other hand, I did not create any public profiles stating that I was the founder of a company while I was still employed. I'm not sure whether or not I would have felt comfortable doing so, because at the time I was much more focused on product than on PR and I wasn't really thinking about it.

Good luck with your decision and with your venture -- I hope it works out well.

Lokesh Kumar Cofounder & VP of Tech at Urgent.ly

October 4th, 2014

I think there is nothing wrong with creating your company profile, as long as you are honest with your employer about it and you are not competing with them - including using time / resources from them. Who knows, they might even support you.
Otherwise, you might have to have another co founder who is the front for your company, till you are in a position to jump full time. This is tricky because the front co founder would be the public face and might start sounding like someone who had the original idea and even claim to bring you guys on to help him, when you guys join. So, be careful with this path, and set the records in stone from day one.

Vinay Ph.D. Director of Licensing at Wake Forest Innovations

October 4th, 2014

Hi Liz - I agree with the other commenters that it's reasonable to work on a startup while FT employed and to tread cautiously when establishing your "footprint". Reviewing your employment contract and/or discussing with your boss should help avoid any issues.

Speaking from a patent agent perspective, I would also recommend that you look closely at your employment contract regarding intellectual property before getting too deep into your startup. Most employers take ownership of any new inventions or work products you develop during employment. I've seen startups have their IP tied up with a founder's previous employer and it's not fun. You might want to make sure you have a clear understanding with your employer as to what falls outside your scope of employment.

Sridhar Rajagopal

October 6th, 2014

Liz,

Congratulations on your startup ambitions and being a new mommy! If you already have a full time job and a new born, things would already be quite hectic, so I'm not sure how effectively diving right into the startup world would be (especially since both founders are in the same situation).

My suggestion would be to enjoy your newborn, and keep your sanity with having long days and little sleep by enjoying some down time, nights out, etc. You could definitely continue to brainstorm and develop the idea with your co-founder, but not necessarily dive right in just yet. Considering that, it would be too soon for AngelList, etc, also considering other factors like current employment and intellectual property rights and establishing footprint.

Cheers,
Sridhar

Liz Lentis Marketing & Sales Professional with an Entrepreneurial Drive

October 4th, 2014

Great insights, thank you Gabe, Lokesh, and Vinay!!

Patrick Holman Enterprise Technology Sales

October 6th, 2014

Liz, like you I am in the same position.  We are about to launch our Alpha product.  In my employment contract I did have a clause that said something to the affect of:  "what ever you make while working at this company is ours not yours".  I approached my CEO about getting an exception to create my product on the side, he granted permission as long as it didn't compete with my current companies business (it did not).  Legal approved this in a letter, and I was good to go.  Might want to look at your contract closely...

Can you please let me know all the places you listed your product?
- crunchbase
- angelist