An Interview with Frank Gruber

An Interview with Frank Gruber
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Frank Gruber probably doesn't sleep much. He co-founded Tech Cocktail in 2006. The company has grown into a hub for the creative class, offering tech startup focused news, events, and resources. Frank is also a Venture Partner with Crystal Tech Fund. Frank currently lives in Las Vegas and Washington, D.C. but travels across the globe speaking, hosting events and helping entrepreneurs, startups, and technology communities amplify their local technology signal. I had a chance to sit down with him to talk about his first book, Startup Mixology: Tech Cocktail's Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success.

PS: What inspired you to write Startup Mixology?

FG: I've always had a bit of the entrepreneur bug, but it still took me ten years to break free from my regular jobs and take the plunge on my own. Part of the reason was that there's so much advice out there and it's hard to figure out which to follow.

At the same time, our experiences over the last eight years at Tech Cocktail include thousands of interviews with entrepreneurs, some very early and some incredibly successful. There's a wealth of knowledge there that could have helped me when I was starting out, and I wanted to share it.

So I wrote the book I would have wanted to read ten years ago: an actionable, easy-to-read, step-by-step guide.

PS: What kind of stories can readers find in the book?

FG: Each chapter has one lead story, usually from someone we've interviewed at Tech Cocktail. Some of these interviews were hour-long fireside chats, so we get really deep into the details and the day-to-day of starting a business. My fellow Chicagoan Jason Fried is a huge bootstrapping advocate, so he told us about where that ethos comes from and how Basecamp puts it into practice. Laura Fitton (@pistachio) has this amazing network, so she explains her philosophy of relationships and how to cultivate them. Other entrepreneurs featured include Tony Hsieh of Zappos, Jessica Mah of inDinero, Travis Kalanick of Uber, and Matt Mullenweg of WordPress.

PS: How is Startup Mixology different from other startup books?

FG: It has llamas in it! Besides that, I like to think I tell it like it is. Each chapter has a "Harsh Reality" section, which tells stories of those terrible, what-can-go-wrong-will-go-wrong, worst-case scenarios. Entrepreneurs were honest enough to share with us what happens and how it feels when you totally offend your customers, lose thousands of dollars, or have to fire your friends. There's also a whole chapter on Failure.

PS: Celebration isn't a concept that entrepreneurs usually talk about. Why is it so important to you?

FG: Over the years, I've come to realize that celebration is a completely underutilized tool for startups. By celebration I don't mean huge parties or champagne popping, but recognizing the positive moments along the way. You can celebrate with a high five, an impromptu dance around the office, or a walk around the block. Taking a minute to pause and recognize the progress you've made gives you much more motivation to dive into the next task on your to-do list. Also, we believe in enjoying the startup journey at Tech Cocktail - if you're not having fun, what's the point?

PS: What do you hope readers will take away from the book?

FG: For established entrepreneurs, I hope Startup Mixology is a resource they can consult whenever they're struggling or looking for a little motivation. If you want a refresher on marketing or funding, you'll find it in the book. But sometimes all you need is a reminder that you're not alone, and we've all been there-and you'll find that there, too.

For readers who haven't quite taken the leap yet, I hope Startup Mixology inspires them to turn their ideas into action. I definitely belong to the "just do it!" camp-take a risk and see what happens. If you're talented, you can always find a regular job when you get back. Sometimes the bigger risk is not going after your dreams and regretting it later.

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