Danielle Lanyard has channeled her passion for resource-sharing across the small business community into a powerful presentation, Launch Your Start Up on Your Lunch Hour, which she offers, pro bono, at SIBL each month. I caught up with her after last Friday’s session which one attendee aptly described as “Fabulous! Pure gold!”
Danielle, you must be chuffed when you get a full house in this icy weather.
Shocked, to be honest. January's class ran during a snow storm. 20 of the 22 attendees sent me follow up emails, echoing the sentiment that new entrepreneurs are dying for this information. Manhattan is so vast, and the new resources emerge so frequently, it is difficult to navigate what is available, how to access it, and what ‘real life’ implementation looks like.
What inspired your social activism?
Simply put, I was born this way. My grandmother was a wealthy lady who was perpetually miserable, so I figured out that money wasn’t the cornerstone to happiness. My mother, intent on raising us differently, started a nonprofit with me when I was just five. Together, and with the support of our entire community, we built a neighborhood playground. The experience changed my life, and became the root of my Achilles heel: to fight compassionately for social justice.
You call yourself a “serial entrepreneur.” Which of your ventures makes you most proud?
I’m most proud of my current project, a culmination of my life’s work. At present, I’m developing the Startup Menu, a yellow pages of startup resources. I’ve joined forces with Startup Cause on a global initiative to build the capacity of local startup ecosystems. It’s the global version of the work I am currently doing here in NYC with SIBL, the Social Enterprise Alliance, and other agents of change.
You and I first met at a Technology Meet Up Group where you’d invited me to pitch SIBL resources. What other metro area meet ups or venues do you hit on a regular basis?
I avoid regimentation in my life, so I tend to try a little bit of everything, not preach to the choir. I find unlikely places to spread my kind of systems thinking. At my college everyone was on this same page, so I now enjoy checking out communities that are the least likely to encounter my approach to social and environmental change. Kristin adds: for local business events check out smallbiz.nypl.org.
Your class outline provides leads to freely available web resources, like open source software for building a website, managing content, and tracking usage. Yet many of the premium databases you trumpet are really only “freely” available to startups on site at SIBL, right?
Yes, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t advise someone to come to SIBL to check out these databases. Factiva is like my new best friend, eMarketer a close second, the Emerging Markets and Euromonitor International my gateways to future work and travels, and the Market Research.com reports are like scripture for different industry niches.
I guess I can't help evangelizing for the 'knowledge is power’ adage. I find that SIBL is the Manhattan mecca with its vast resources and the hands-on classes
in searching them.
It’s Social Media Week, so let's have some tips on how startups can use tools like LinkedIn even before they’re fully launched.
My advice is start using social media before getting a website or new venture off the ground. We are all in this together. If we all start talking, interacting, and learning from each other, we find the journey a lot more enriching. I recommend that in posting comments on other blogs or answering others’ questions, folks stay authentic, let their own voice emerge, and find an area of expertise to share passionately, and then give give give, like life and livelihood depend on it – because it does. As to what networks to be on, go with what you are comfortable with, and start engaging!
You urge start ups to touch base with SIBL every month for an "information infusion."
Yes, I find myself at SIBL at least once every two weeks, either for my own research, or to follow up on a question I can't answer. I still end most days online, looking up whatever word or concept I don’t t know or understand. When my needs require more, I’m back at SIBL ferreting through the databases for the resources I need. If and when awesome Social Media Week events like the British Library panel on entrepreneurs and social media are on, I’m at SIBL even more frequently, tapping into the greatest resource any community has to offer: each other!
While Social Media Week 2011 wraps on February 11, SIBL will continue to offer programs by expert practitioners that help job seekers and start ups exploit LinkedIn and other tools to build a personal brand and a business. Two are scheduled for the week of February 14, one at lunch time and one after work.