George Constance is CEO of Kronicity, a web-based platform for simplified data collection, organization, validation, and value enhancement from any source. George told Innovation Destination Hartford about how he developed his business, shared startup challenges he faced, and provided advice for other entrepreneurs.
INNOVATION DESTINATION HARTFORD: When and why you launch the startup?
GEORGE CONSTANCE: I began building Kronicity in 2013 to continue my love of history and paleontology. As a 25-year veteran micropaleontologist in the oil industry, I developed correlation tools that facilitated analysis of my work and allowed me to communicate this technical information with other professionals and non-technical oriented stakeholders.
The oil crash of 1999 coupled with the Exxon-Mobil merger brought that career to an end. Hurricane Katrina then found me in New England. Determined to return to the field of paleontology, I obtained a Master’s in Technology Commercialization from Northeastern University and began to build Kronicity.
IDH: How did you develop the business concept?
GEORGE: I took note of the successes and failures I experienced as a paleontologist and applied them to data analysis in general. I decided the internet needed a better way to collect, arrange, and display data—one that allowed for enhanced understanding and added value through perspective and data validation. It was pretty much what I did for geologists, but on a much larger scale with a much broader market.
IDH: Did you rely on any Connecticut resources as you were starting out?
GEORGE: I set up shop at Axis901 in Manchester for critical business building assets. The co-working space provided a place to work, like-minded entrepreneurs, and access to a much broader network of talent.
IDH: How are you marketing and building a customer base?
GEORGE: Technology directors in schools, which is my launch market, are well networked and easily reached through trade shows and conventions. Likewise, my collaborators are in publishing and complementary markets. It’s important to work with networks that will benefit from your success.
IDH: What’s the biggest challenge your startup has faced?
GEORGE: Like all others, lack of cash and lack of talent. But, also, as a new concept, my real challenge was finding collaborators and investors who understood the concept.
Consider how many investors took a pass on early Microsoft and Apple prototypes. It’s easy to be discouraged by having so many doors slammed in your face. Persistence, so often, is the difference between success and failure.
IDH: Tell us about your best day as an entrepreneur.
GEORGE: After failing with four developers, an executive at a major development firm took notice of what we were doing and introduced me to my current developer and partner. Like the previous four, he promised the world and on delivery date for the alpha, I expected the usual—delivery of what they could develop rather than what I wanted developed. That early prototype was much more than I asked for. He was developing version 5.0 with features I didn’t think were possible. Persistence had paid off.
IDH: Any advice to others who are thinking of launching a startup in Connecticut?
GEORGE: You’re in it for the long haul. Do your homework. The best product doesn’t always succeed. Sometimes the adequate one that’s best aligned with the market is the one that makes it.
Work with a vetted business strategist who is unbiased. You’re going to have to build a plan that is good enough to attract the right people and slay your fears allowing you to risk it all—home, retirement, savings, time. And your spouse has to buy in too. It’s going to be really hard.
When seeking investors, don’t take the first one that rolls into your lap. Look for an investor in your industry or one that will benefit from your success. A lot of so-called investors are clueless. You want one that will not only provide working capital but also advice.
Talk to everyone for advice. Most entrepreneurs, including me, are happy to meet for coffee and share their experience and help others avoid the mines they’ve discovered.
Learn more about Kronicity