When Blake Squires kicks off Flight, Launch League’s conference for startups in the Midwest, the serial entrepreneur will bring with him the lessons and insights he’s accumulated from founding and growing seven startups. As a founding member of Hatch, he’s helped entrepreneurs make connections and find capital. Now he’s working on two more companies: Doctors Orders, a medical supply ordering system, and Stubl, an non-electric razor based right here in Akron. With a month remaining, as of this writing, Stubl has already blown past its $12,000 goal. He hasn’t sacrificed his home life for this impressive career either. In fact, at times, the two worlds overlap — such as when Blake sold his second startup, Movable, a group fitness tracking company that was inspired by his wife Michelle.
We asked Blake a few questions so we could get a sneak peek at the insights he’ll share at Flight. To hear him live, get your tickets for Flight at launchleague.org/flight. Support Stubl on Kickstarter at kickstarter.com/projects/stubl/stubl-the-worlds-first-non-electric-razor-for-stub
Chris Horne: I understand you went out to the West Coast at the start of your career, which was in artist management. Can you tell me a little about how that experience influenced or lead you to life here as a serial entrepreneur, especially around products?
Blake Squire: Artists are, of course, people but they also are brands and products. Managing bands taught me about clear, simple and concise messaging along with relentless targeted promotions. I also learned from some of the best marketers in entertainment (Polydor, Maverick, A&M, Universal) how to grow a musician and brand. I also got to see the creative process first hand — in this case music, which I’d say is more complex than the most complicated software creation!
Chris: How much have you learned about entrepreneurship from coaching others? I’m thinking specifically about your work with Hatch.
Blake: I’ve lead several organizations and coaching gives me an interesting perspective to experience and influence how others lead. Leaders must be authentic, and they must lead with passion and conviction. And coaching CEOs on harnessing and expressing their points of view against business suggestions and guardrails is certainly interesting and fulfilling.
Chris: Why aren’t you doing this somewhere else, somewhere bigger? What are the advantages of being an entrepreneur in Northeast Ohio?
Blake: Northeast Ohio is first and foremost home. There are amazing people here, and since it’s easy to travel to and from here, it is easy to live here while doing business in the world.
Chris: One of your latest projects, Stubl, is based in Akron. How did that idea evolve and why are you launching this one through a Kickstarter?
Blake: The idea came to be by a close friend who lives in Denmark and is involved in a beauty experience and products company (Stuhr.dk). He sent me a website in Danish and I thought it was the idea for Stubl. But in fact it was a standard razor. Once I engaged my patent and design teams, it became clear there was a market fit for the product. So we’ve been busy creating the product. Kickstarter gave us a touch point to potential customers and help us understand “if people would buy it”, and how to best evolve the brand and product. Thankfully we reached our funding, but we are still looking to push further.
Chris: You’ve done all this as a family man. How have you balanced the demands of your work with being an attentive husband and father of four?
Blake: Being totally dependent on yourself to earn a living through my companies, coaching and efforts allows me to make my own schedule. It does of course require extra work and attention, but with my family as priority number one I find plenty of time to be there and enjoy the time I devote. I am very fortunate that I can decide where, when and how to be there — especially as my four young kids schedules are sporadic and evolving. I can be there.
The Devil Strip’s small business and entrepreneur section is possible thanks to the support of The Fund for Our Economic Future and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation. You can learn more about being an Akron entrepreneur by visiting akronisforentrepreneurs.org