M&S 011: Launching a Successful Tech Start-up with Don Charlton


Here on the Movers&Shakers Podcast, we love talking with entrepreneurs about the journey they took while starting their business. This episode excites me because we’ll be specifically talking about starting a technology company.

Why does it excite me so much, you ask? Well, many of you know that I have a bachelors degree in engineering and an MBA, so my passion lies in both business and technology.

But one thing I’ve noticed about tech is that while most of us are consumers of technology, some of us get stuck when it comes to being creators of technology

In order to help you bust through that roadblock and to encourage you to build and create new technologies, in this episode I have someone who has been there and done that, Don Charlton.

When I mention tech startups, you might immediately start thinking of the wealthy silicon valley, or rich kids starting companies in their dorm rooms. But Don’s story definitely didn’t start that way.

He’s not afraid to tell you that he grew up, in his words, “ridiculously poor.” When he left his small Pennsylvania town at 18 to go to college, he had all of $75 to his name.

Now he employs 40+ people, has raised millions of dollars in venture funding, and counts as customers some of your favorite web 2.0 companies such as Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest, and had his product used by both 2012 presidential campaigns!

Don Charlton Entrepreneurship Tech Startup Interview with Rob Wilson


In this episode of Movers & Shakers here’s what we’ll cover:

  • The environment of poverty Don grew up in and what helped him escape it
  • The surprising job he took in college  to help pay his way through school
  • Why his early attempts at starting a company failed 
  • Whether he thinks having a business plan is important
  • How he raised millions of dollars in funding
  • How he landed big clients like Instagram, Pinterest and Evernote
  • And much more!

Check out Don’s TED Talk – A Blueprint for Entrepreneurship here

Advice from Don Charlton

  • Always do it early.  The pain of doing it late is much worse than the inconvenience of doing it early.
  • The business plan is less important than doing something. Particularly when start up costs are low, get a minimally viable product out there and start getting feedback from real customers.
  • Words -> Actions -> Accomplishments. This framework will help you get what you want to get in life.

Items mentioned in this episode include: 

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Action Item: Start working on that great technology idea or invention that you’ve always thought about and develop a minimally viable product.

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