The economy has delivered a number of smackdowns in recent years. Damien Hoffman decided to help people pick themselves back up and stand tall. Building on previous startup success and his experience in investment banking, he co-founded Wall St. Cheat Sheet, a financial media company meant to give entrepreneurs, investors, and business professionals the info necessary to lift fortunes.
Maximizing its outreach on the web and mobile devices, the newsletters and articles on the Wall St. Cheat Sheet have earned the startup a place on numerous leading media platforms and a nod on the Forbes 2011 List of America’s Most Promising Companies. While there’s no list of the creeps that helped cripple the global economy as the name might suggest, The Cheat Sheet gives more conscientious workers top-notch financial insights to compete with the titans. Hoffman tells us more:
Why did you become an entrepreneur?
I have been an entrepreneur since graduating during the dot com boom. Since then, I sampled law and iBanking, but neither fit because I am an entrepreneur at heart.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about getting through the startup phase?
Persistence and pivots are the path to winning.
What inspired your current startup?
The stock markets had crashed for the second time in less than a decade. We saw a market opportunity to provide mainstream investors with better transparency into the real state of affairs on Wall Street.
What makes your startup so killer? How is it different from the competition?
We are THE Web 2.0 pure-play in the financial media space competing against much more traditional media companies. We are focused on providing analysis to busy people in a mobile world while our competitors must continue to focus more heavily on their legacy base of users who are less mobile-friendly consumers.
How do you motivate yourself and your team?
We are inspired to become successful in a highly entrenched sector where almost no new companies ever capture meaningful market share.
If the Internet didn’t exist, what would you be doing?
Building companies in offline sectors that interest me.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are struggling to get their businesses off the ground?
Go back to the drawing board and get brutally honest with yourself: where are you in the life-cycle of your startup? Is it arrested in the idea stage, but you “feel” like you’re farther along? Do you have a sustainable business model supported by a large pool of demand?
If you have a company in the execution phase meeting market demand yet continue to struggle, you need to recruit a Board of Advisors who can offer wisdom for success.
What has been the biggest startup surprise for you (good or bad)? Have you had any incredible / funny / challenging experiences that you can share with us?
The most incredible experience has been starting a company at the depths of the economic crisis and working around the clock to emerge as the fastest growing company in our sector.
How do you handle frustration or disappointment?
As a challenge. Every time something misses expectations or surprises us, we look for the chance to pivot into an opportunity.
What are the top 3 online tools / websites / devices that you couldn’t live without?
- Google Docs
If you had $1 million and one year off, what would you do? (Other than work on your current startup)
Take my kids out of school and travel to 12 countries, each for 1 month.
How do you maintain work / life balance?
It’s a constant process. Having kids forces me to be focused on life balance when I am not working. However, as an ex-athlete, I know I could have better balance with exercise.
Who would play you in the movie of your life, and what would be the theme song?
Paul Rudd. Fitzpleasure by Alt-J.
How has being an entrepreneur changed you for the better? How has it enriched your life?
Entrepreneurialism is the way I express my creativity. Some people paint. Some play music. I envision ways to create products or services people need. The results are incredibly enriching – to see people enjoying something I’ve created.
What is the tech scene like where you live?
Asheville is trying very hard to nurture a burgeoning tech scene to one day compete with Austin and Boulder for startup talent.
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