Interview with co-founder of Marquee, Katrina Brickner – Techstars startup!

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Marquee is a new take on how to publish everything you make on the web in a way that’s simple and fun to use…

Marquee is built to make sure your content always looks its best.  We were lucky to catch up with Katrina Brickner, Co-Founder Marquee. During the interview, Katrina  indroduces us to Marquee while also sharing advice about the business planning process and applying to an accelerator program. Marquee is a 2012 Techstars NYC startup.

What’s Marquee about?

Marquee is a publishing tool that lets people easily create beautiful pages by dragging their digital media files from their desktop or cloud. We then make it really easy for them to share the pages directly to their social media accounts.

Where’d the idea come from?

Prior to Marquee, my co-founders Luke, Alex, and I co-founded another startup where we designed and coded websites for clients. We realized that not everyone needed a website; many people just wanted a way to share nice looking pages with their friends and followers. People were spending a lot of time and money to hire us, when they should have been able to create something themselves, without needing to code.

How’d you get pre-launch user insight?

We got some attention from early users after we launched a very early prototype at PyCodeConf, a Python conference we co-sponsored with GitHub, Heroku, and a few other great companies. The product was rough around the edges, but we got great feedback on the features people wanted to see. It was also validation for us that people were interested in what we were building.

What were some of the challenges that you faced starting a company?

In the beginning it was difficult for us to transition from client work to building our own product. Initally we were horrible at pitching our idea. Instead of focusing on the big vision, we’d talk about the product’s features, because that’s what we were used to doing. It was also a new experience for us to take the product to market; we were used to building something then handing it off to the client.

You’re part of the Techstars accelerator program, what difference do you feel being part of an accelerator makes to your company?

TechStars has been an incredible experience for our company. We were all living in Miami before the program, and weren’t plugged into business and technology communities. Within the first week of the program we made more contacts than we would have made in a year in Miami. We also had a great support system in the program. Twelve other companies were going through TechStars with us, and everyone was great about helping each other out. We also can’t say enough good things about David Tisch and Adam Rothenberg. They have been by far our biggest supporters.

What advice would you give to an entrepreneur looking to get their company into an accelerator program?

The right accelerator program will be both the most difficult, and most rewarding, thing you can do for your company. They should be prepared to clear their schedule for the duration of the program and to work harder than they ever have in their lives. They should also be prepared for incredible highs and enormous lows; often all within the same day. It’s a crazy experience, but we wouldn’t take it back for anything.

What advice would you like to give to an entrepreneur thinking about writing their first business plan?

It’s important to write a business plan early on, even if you don’t show it to anyone else at first. It helps to shape the overall vision for your product, and answer questions about market size. Just make sure you’re still working on the product while you write the plan, and accept that you will need to make changes to it as your business evolves.

What important mistakes have you made and learned from? 

One of our biggest mistakes was not moving to New York sooner. While in Miami, we worked in our own office and rarely interacted with people within the same industry. We also have a habit of waiting until things are “perfect” before launching, which causes us to miss out on valuable early user feedback. That’s why immediately after TechStars we forced ourselves to launch an alpha of our product, bugs and all.

Big thanks to Katrina for taking the time to give us an awesome interview. Be sure to check out Marquee’s site and to follow them on  twitter!!!

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