ST. GEORGE – Between 80 and 100 people packed themselves into Outlier Labs Friday for the first meeting of the Outlier Conference, a conference dedicated to helping startup company entrepreneurs through mentoring and networking. New and seasoned entrepreneurs came together to exchange ideas and build relationships while also gaining insight on how to propel their businesses to success as they were taught by successful businessmen and women.
“(A lot of) ideas start on napkins,” said Jeff Sherman, a member of Outlier. These ideas are often the launchpads of startup businesses, and Outlier, through its collaborative workspace location, conference series and popular online Outlier Magazine, is geared to help those startups mature to success and profitability.
Entrepreneurs sharing trials, triumphs
“Every business is a miracle to me,” said CEO Francis Pedraza, of Everest, a startup that helps people achieve their goals of any sort by taking those goals and breaking them down into smaller, more attainable ones along the way. A featured keynote speaker at the Outlier conference, Pedraza shared his experience in starting Everest, as well as some of the challenges.
In order to start a business, he said, a person needs to get funding, build a team, create the product, convince people to use that product, and become profitable doing it.
“It sounds simple until you try it,” Pedraza said. “It’s hard.”
Business involves a lot of trial and struggle amid success, he said, “only when you struggle do you fully respect what you have.”
Pedraza noted a recent period in which a business partner decided to leave the company. He was at a low point and wasn’t sure how to proceed. However, he said, it was the team he helped build at Everest that encouraged him to keep going. Everest officially launched its product in December 2013.
Your team is very important, he said.
Fishbowl Inventory at Outlier Lab
Another keynote speaker was Mary Michelle Scott, president of Fishbowl Inventory, a software-based company out of Orem. Fishbowl Inventory is the No. 1 add-on for Intuit’s QuickBooks program and has won multiple awards.
Scott said Fishbowl is run on seven principles that are nonneogtiable: respect, belief, trust, loyalty, commitment, courage, and gratitude.
She also stressed the importance of building human connections. “People buy from people they know,” Scott said. “If people trust you, your business will always be in business.”
Scott also announced at the conference that Fishbowl Inventory will be opening an office in St. George using the Outlier Lab as its launchpad.
Outlier Labs, located at 1071 East 100 South in St. George, is a place were startup businesses are able to rent office space and take advantage of what the Outlier group has to offer, such as mentoring and training resources, a collaborative working environment, and networking – lots of networking.
“I love it here,” said Brandon Knudsen, founder of Generation Labs, a web marketing startup. Along with an employee, he rents space at Outlier Labs. “It’s a great place to bring my clients.”
Startups currently housed at Outlier labs have access to a conference room and class rooms, as well as mentoring offered by the Business Resource Center, which is housed in the same building.
As for networking, “That’s actually been amazing for me,” Knudsen said. He has been able to meet several business owners who walked into Outlier Labs, some of which became his clients as he got to know them.
Knudsen’s company was also the winner of the conference’s business pitch contest, which won the company $2,000 in funding, a six-month membership in Corporate Alliance of Southern Utah, and introductions to five prospective clients by the contest’s judges.
While a number of the startups currently at Outlier Labs are tech-based in one form or another, other businesses, such as St. George Health & Wellness Magazine, are also at Outlier Labs.
St. George Mayor Jon Pike was present for a portion of Outlier conference, as the city, along with Dixie State University, sponsors Outlier Labs.
“I’m really excited to know stuff like this is going on,” Pike said. “It’s what we want to encourage in St. George. These are the people who are the future business leaders of St. George.”
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