Founder Profile: Micah Baldwin, Founder & CEO of Graphicly4 min read

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Micah Baldwin, Founder & CEO of Graphicly

Micah Baldwin, Founder & CEO of Graphicly

Name:
Micah Baldwin

Member Cohort:
March 2012

Location:
San Mateo, CA

Education:
Organizational Studies, Sociology, and Business, University of California, Davis

Prior Experience:

  • Founded and sold previous start-up, Current Wisdom, a full service search marketing agency
  • Considerable start-up knowledge has been involved with over 7 start-ups to date
  • Extensive experience mentoring and advising various start-ups
  • Mentor for 500Startups and TechStars and advises various other start-ups
  • Revenue generation and distribution strategies management, including strategic alliances and new business development
  • Numerous successful writings and blogs on internet, including
    – Blogs on Mashable and ReadWriteWeb
    – Started #followfriday meme on Twitter
    – Actively operates his own blog, Learn to Duck

Current Startup:
Graphicly:  provides an immersive social experience and marketplace around digital comics and associated merchandise

Mission:
“Great stories need to get seen”.

Milestones:

  • Has raised $4M
  • Hired 16 team members
  • Over 1,000 publishers & 8,000 books
  • Current growth run rate of 300%
  • Revenue growth rate of 4000%
Current Focus:
  • In process of raising another round of funds
  • Concentrating on continuing the current growth phase: has had an 80% growth over January and 180% over February while raising another round
  • Working on a new project: Juliard for Entrepreneurship

Lessons Learned:
“The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is to keep going. We talk a lot as entrepreneurs about failure. Failure isn’t what’s interesting:  it’s the understanding of limitations. Humility is the understanding of limitations. Actively look at what you don’t do well and properly manage your limitations and you will easily get to the point where you are successful. The most humbling experience I had was being addicted to drugs for 5 – 6 years. This taught me the most humility I had ever experienced in my life. With business, I pitched Graphicly to 50 investors and had about 46 say no. The pitching process teaches you more about humility than you could ever imagine, primarily because when you go through process, you will hear a whole bunch of no’s. Just as there are 7 stages of grief, there are the same 7 stages of fundraising (their fault, the pitch’s fault, company’s fault, your fault).  This can easily create self-doubt. Rather than doubt yourself, step back, gain an understanding of your fundamental error, and make the necessary changes. When you are humble, you’re able to look at your situation clearly and understand.”

Staying Motivated:
“For me, the thing that I find most interesting about a startup are the people with which I work. This will sound totally Disney-esque, but I really get excited when others get excited about what we’re working on. The more excited the people are around me, the more motivated I become.  I am a strong believer in intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. I think entrepreneurs are motivated by intrinsic things, such as customer praise and gratitude and/or the positive effect you are having on the world you are living in. When teammates are working late at night because they want to, that’s motivation for me to step up and be involved. I just get excited when other people get excited..”

Biggest Mentor:
“Honestly, I am in an awkward position because I am a mentor and an advisor, but even mentors and advisors need mentors and advisors. Personally, I’m learning the process of being in the constant mode of thinking, adjusting, changing, repeat. Sometimes you’ve got to understand that it just may not fit with that person. There are a million reasons why people say no, and it’s not always because of you or your pitch as you may think. The reality is you can see the people who have mentors and have listened to them, and you can see the people who haven’t. Great mentors don’t tell you what to do, they help you figure it out on your own. It’s the positive mixture of trial and failure on your own that will help you grow. Brad Feld and David Cohen really push idea of the Socratic method. First, I always ask, “what do you do?” Then, “why do you matter?” If you can answer truthfully, this will always tell you who your customer is. I think those two questions are at the core of my mentoring process. We talk about entrepreneurs trying to change the world. If that’s the case, you should be able to answer why you matter.”


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