Ever since I started my own company, I’ve read every blog post I can get my hands on about failure. I thought if I read enough about how things went wrong for others, I’d have the ability to avoid disappointment myself.

I’d like to begin by saying that my company is still alive, but pivoting largely from the “big vision” I (and those who have invested blood, sweat and tears) hoped to achieve. The dream was to create a color-focused home planning and search tool.

I had the idea for Vishion, the only color search engine for home, the summer…

730 days ago I had an idea. Today, it’s in the app store. I just lived through the montage; the period in the movie that looks almost glamorous. For 30 seconds you see the founder, typing away in a garage, taking meetings, looking frustrated. Almost magically, their invention is ready to be launched into the world.

In this crazy time, hours before launching Vishion, I wanted to note exactly what it took to get here. We’re at the point in our companies life that people say “it’s just the beginning” and “nothing really mattered before this”. …

Founders and investors candidly discuss the Charlotte ecosystem. | Clockwise starting far right; Samantha Smith, Founder of Vishion; Calvin Williams, Founder of Freeman Captial; Emir Dukic, Founder of Rabbu; Roy Morejon, Co-founder of Enventys Partners; Sherrell Dorsey, CEO of BlkTech Interactive; Aru Anavekar, Founder of Botsplash; Adam Michela, Cofounder of Combine VC; Karin Klein, Foundering Partner of Bloomberg Beta; Shauntel Garvey, General Partner of Reach Capital; Macie Mata, Founder of Maze; John Stewart, Founder of MapAnything; Meggie Williams, Founder of Skipper; Dr. Shante’ Williams, Managing Partner of RW Capital Partners; Juan Garzon, Founder of StartCharlotte and Pitch Breakfast (not pictured, Roy Bahat, Head of Bloomberg Beta).

A group of 10 Charlotte-based founders and investors, an Ohio congressman and four investors from Silicon Valley and New York sat around a large table at an Italian restaurant late October 16. A party you might only experience in San Francisco was brought to our backyard through a tweet.

Wanting an authentic view of startup life in the Queen City, Roy Bahat, head of Bloomberg Beta, asked his Twitter followers for advice on whom he should meet on his three-city tour of the South. …

I want to preface this post by saying that every mother is “doing it right” if they provide their child with two things: love and support. The other parenting decisions a mother makes are pretty small in the shadow of this.

I was speaking with a gentleman at a networking event about becoming the founder of a startup. He asked how he could inspire his daughters to become leaders too. I told him that I knew early on that I had the ability to take on any challenge because I saw my mother succeed.

My mother wasn’t an entrepreneur (that…

This post is one part of a series focusing on a first-time founders experience fundraising. Read the Introduction and Part I here.

The Google office had a photo booth; a great opportunity to show my serious demeanor.

March was the month I went out of my way to be judged. I wanted to test different styles of pitching and start putting our company, Vishion, in front of as many eyes as possible to learn how we can tweak our messaging to prepare for important conversations. Although I was spreading the word about my company, I fell under the microscope as well.

You’d assume I would have anticipated this notion… that I would be judged…

This post is only one part of a series focusing on a first-time founders experience fundraising. Read the initial post about my efforts here.

Founder Sam Smith walking door-to-door in San Francisco to get attention from Venture Capitalist Firms

Going to the Silicon Valley to Gain Attention

I decided three months ago that I would use my miles and book a trip to Silicon Valley to start pitching Vishion to investors. My strategy included:

  • Walking door-to-door to VCs that invest in my vertical, writing hand-written notes to introduce my company
  • Competing in pitch events
  • Attending a conference for Angels and VCs to create organic introductions

I promised I would record exactly how this strategy played out and I kept my promise. …

The Experiment

As a first-time founder of a startup, I’ve been preparing for my first fundraising experience by listening to podcasts, reading countless books about best practices and attending events to hear different entrepreneurs’ experiences. One underlying theme has become abundantly clear: you need an introduction to get a meeting with an Angel or a VC .

While the startup community in Charlotte, North Carolina is strong, we severely lack access to seed-round funding. We are also 2,688 miles away from Silicon Valley; the heart of Startupland. While there are other large cities with strong foundations, this region could easily be…

The idea of starting your own business is daunting on its own, but creating technology without ever writing a line of code can make the entrepreneurship mountain seem insurmountable. Only a few days after seeing the prototype of my company’s mobile app, I want to share how I built the confidence to found a technology-focused startup without technical skills.

If you asked me a year ago, I would tell you that owning a business was not part of my career plan. As the VP of Customer Experience at a Fintech in Charlotte, I had seen firsthand how stressful it is…

Samantha Smith

Founder and CEO of Vishion (vishion.co), writing about the startup life outside of Silicon Valley

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