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  • Writer's pictureMaggie Schrock

Insights from Austin Startup Week (and Life)

This is my third (and final) installment of Insights from [insert city] Startup Week for the season. Over six weeks I ping-ponged around the US from St. Louis to D.C. to Austin to attend three week-long celebrations of local startup ecosystems. It’s been wild and oh-so-fulfilling.

Austin was my last stop. I love Austin, dearly. I would move there in less than a heartbeat if I could talk my darling husband into simply embracing the 150-degree summers. But alas, here I remain, in St. Louis, anticipating the sub-zero temperatures and pining for Mozart’s coffee and my fellow weirdos.

Austin Startup Week didn’t go as planned for me. To be clear, Capital Factory, IOOGO, and the many other sponsors hosted an amazing event! For the two days I was able to attend I sat in on impactful sessions, met some great humans, and accidentally paid $50 for parking (worth it).

And then, I tried lamb for the first time (unrelated to ASW). I’ll spare you the gory details, but I definitely laid in bed for 2.5 days acutely aware of my impending death.

I have struggled to write this blog post. I love sharing these insights and highlighting different startup communities around the country. After a lot of reflection though I realized that the beauty of these events is that you don’t have to attend all 5 days and every session to gain meaningful takeaways.

So, here’s where I’ll focus because it’s highly relevant: perseverance and alignment.


Monday was Women in Tech Day and Beth Goff-McMillian, CEO of FOLIO and SKG, Inc., gave the Keynote Address, What’s the story behind your stick-to-it-iveness? She focused heavily on perseverance and through her own story, shared that “grit is different than perseverance. Grit is courage and resolve and it drives you, but perseverance sustains you.”

Starting a business is not for the faint of heart. Anyone can take a good idea and try to sell it, but it takes perseverance to pivot and fight when things get tough. Goff-McMillian shared that when your vision for yourself and your business is rooted in your personal why and you fall wildly in love with your business, it helps you to see what things are and are not at the moment.

With Loam, I have already experienced the need to make a few slight pivots with my positioning and messaging. I’ve shared my mission with hundreds of different types of people and keeping my ego low when seeking feedback, has allowed me to shift a few things. That said, I’m also keenly aware of the importance of surrounding myself with people who are aligned.

Both Beth Goff-McMillian and Nilima Achwal touched on the importance of alignment. Nilima is the Founder of The Female Founders Lab. In her session, Pitch Like a Goddess, she highlighted the importance of creating a container for others to join you on your vision and holding firmly to that container to ensure the right people are joining.

Beth and Nilima noted that it’s easy to become distracted by the opinions of others as you’re launching your business. Sometimes the distraction is so real that you can become lost in the opinions and lose alignment and focus altogether. This is the point where you stay firm, which allows you to get closer to finding the right people who are aligned.

With Loam, I focus on culture operations. Culture is nuanced, ambiguous, and means something different to everyone. This has made for very interesting conversations. Some believe wholeheartedly in what I’m seeking to accomplish, and others think it’s silly. Hearing these differing opinions has made for an amazing discovery process, and while I have made some tweaks, I’ve also firmly held to my mission.

So what do I do?

1. Gaps between vision, strategy, and execution? I partner with key leaders and help bring their vision to life.

2. Lack of progress toward achieving company goals? I help build goal-setting frameworks using a top-down approach to ensure goals are clear, attainable, and realistic.

3. Experiencing operational inefficiencies? I evaluate, design, and implement efficient and scalable processes that save time and money.

4. Team members disengaged? I assess, diagnose, and then design sound people strategies to activate your people and align them to the mission.

5. Navigating complex team member dynamics? I resolve conflict between team members by providing employee and manager coaching, mediating conversations, and offering an unbiased and non-judgemental space to process complex issues.

6. Disjointed systems and/or spending too much on underutilized technology? I assess company-wide technology spend, utilization, and efficiency to ensure teams have streamlined productivity tools.

While the 2023 Startup Week season is nearing its end, I am grateful to have met many wonderful people these past few months. From my hometown of St. Louis to D.C. to Austin, I am continuously impressed by the outpouring of support that is displayed at these events.

Thank you for being part of my journey!


Schedule a free consultation to see if we’re a match. If we aren’t, I have a wide network of other Fractional leaders across varying specialities.

Cheers! (coffee emoji)

Maggie Schrock

Founder, Loam

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