We are continuing our blog series of  “5 WTF questions” with Techweek CEO, Katy Lynch. We are thrilled to have a woman who not only created a full service social media business – with the trend maker SocialKaty – but to have one of Chicago’s own be named CEO this past May, makes her someone whom both men and women alike can be inspired.
Welcome Katy! Can you give our readers a little blurb about the company.
Techweek is a weeklong technology conference and festival that takes place currently in several cities across the U.S. Techweek creates and curates engaging media, dynamic events and disruptive content on web, digital and interactive technology, bringing together diverse communities of entrepreneurs, corporate professionals and thought leaders.”
Okay, now let’s get started with your 5 Questions:
1. Katy, as we know startups get launched based on solving a problem, can you share a bit about what your WTF moment was and/or the problem for which you were looking to solve?

Absolutely. Let’s rewind to 2008, and I can tell you more about my ‘a-ha!’ moment and why I launched SocialKaty. This was the company I ran for 4 years before I became the CEO of Techweek. 

Back then I was working at Where I’ve Been, Facebook’s largest travel application, as their Head of Social Media. I was very good at my role. I was constantly invited to do talks about how I grew WIB’s online community, single-handedly, from nothing. 

I was blown away by how many startups struggled to find the right individual to handle their social media. The more talks I did, the more requests I’d get from entrepreneurs to help them. 

That’s when I knew I was on to something, and I got the idea to start a social media marketing agency that helped startup founders. In 2010, SocialKaty was born and the rest is history! 

2. There can be many tough patches in the beginning of starting a business, as well as the rewards. Can you tell us a few of the struggles and some of the rewarding moments that got you to where you are today?

 I’ll be honest, the beginning is hard. Very hard. You spend most of your time focusing on the things you’re amazing at, but the truth is, you need to learn the things you’re NOT good at. 

For me, back when I first launched SocialKaty, it was learning the financials. Everything from how much money I had in the business bank account, to understanding payroll, to getting companies to pay on time. 

It was also hiring my first employee. Bloody hell, It’s so important that you get it right. This individual has to be professional and trustworthy, and should totally love your company (and believe in the mission/vision) as much as you do! 

But, you know, the rewards are great, too. As you grow, you hire great people and empower them to help you run your business. That’s rewarding – for them, for you, for your clients, for your business. 

3. We’d love it if you could share what drives you, along with your passion to stay the course?

My husband Craig Ulliott, who is a serial entrepreneur, is my greatest mentor and has taught me a lot about business. Seriously, I could write a book that is filled with little pieces of advice from him. He’s a genius and I love him. 

My team at Techweek. They are so devoted to and passionate about the brand. I am lucky to work with them, and am looking forward to doing great things with them!  

Positive people. No joke. I love being surrounded by happy, energetic people who have that “let’s get sh*t done!” attitude. Debbie downers are the worst. They make very toxic employees and create a bad work environment. Remember that. 

4. As a leader in the field of Tech, social media, and CEO of Techweek, could you give our “up-and-upcoming” WTFer’s some advice about tech and entrepreneurship…and can you also offer them one piece of advice you wish you knew when you were getting started?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, be prepared to learn about every aspect of your business (not just the stuff you’re good at). The financials, the tech, HR, sales…  learn all of it. 

My biggest piece of advice, though. TRUST YOUR GUT. Great feeling about a potential employee? Hire her/him. Slightly bad feeling about a potential client? Don’t sign them.  Your instinct about something, whether positive or negative, is pretty accurate.

5. Do you have a favorite quote?

“Wake up. Kick ass. Repeat.”  

Thanks again Katy for your time and inspiration. No doubt we will be seeing you sometime soon at one of the many events. And readers, if you want to  learn more about Techweek connect on the web: http://techweek.com/ or on land: 350 N. Clark, Suite 500. Chicago IL 60654.


Linda Barrett and the WTF Q&A Team

Terri Brax is a founder of Women Tech Founders.