A Meeting of 500+ Tech Minds— CONNECTpreneur Fall Forum Part Two: Entrepreneur War Stories

30 Sep A Meeting of 500+ Tech Minds— CONNECTpreneur Fall Forum Part Two: Entrepreneur War Stories

In part one of our Big Idea CONNECTpreneur Fall Forum recap, we provided an overview of Seth Goldman’s Fireside Chat with tech entrepreneur guru Tien Wong, as well as the emerging start-ups who pitched their ideas to a room of more than 500 attendees. Now, let’s dive into the closing panel – “What’s Really Going on in Venture Capital?”.

We got the chance to hear from a diverse group of entrepreneurs who spoke about the good, the bad and the ugly of starting a business. Each panelist shared their war story and discussed the key lessons they learned while growing a business. The panel included:

  • Moderator: Eric Koefoot – Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Public Relay, CEO and Publisher, US News Ventures, Founder and CEO, Five Star Alliance
  • AJ Jaghori – CEO, Solebrity, Founder, HelloLoco
  • Beth Johnson – Founder and CEO, RP3 Agency
  • Jeannette Lee – Founder and CEO, Cyper, Founder and CEO, SYTEL



(Photo Credit: Tien Wong)

Some insights from the panel:

  • Never look back (or sideways) – When growing a business it is important to never look back or sideways – just look ahead. Jeannette Lee shared that when she was in the process of building her business and things got bad, she never once looked back or saw anything in the past tense. You need to set up yourself mentally and emotionally to keep looking ahead and be a go-getter.


  • Have strong counsel – One of the biggest lessons that AJ Jaghori learned after his first business failed was that he couldn’t walk on water and that he should have asked for help from the very beginning. At 24 years old, AJ started his first company with no counsel or litigation support. Within one year he had burned through all of his capital and fallen flat on his face. Now, he’s wiser and onto his second successful business venture — with five different law firms representing him.


  • Go all in – Growing a successful business also comes with risks. Beth Johnson described her experience of growing her business as living in a Mad Men world – you make big bets and cross your fingers. The climax of Beth’s business occurred when she and her team of five had the opportunity to pitch a huge piece of business. Despite everyone’s better judgment – she went all in, shoved all of her poker chips onto the table, and won the business. That moment defined the future of her company – now she has a thriving team of 40 and just brought in The Coco-Cola company as a client.



(Photo Credit: Memecrunch)

Overall lessons learned:

  • Success does not come easy;
  • Always be growth centric;
  • Don’t run after the money and;
  • Never give up.


I can only speak for myself, but I left the event feeling inspired. Thank you, Tien, for putting on another amazing CONNECTpreneur event and bringing together a group of exceptional entrepreneurs and innovators.

We are already looking forward to attending the next Big Idea CONNECTpreneur forum on December 14th at Falls Church Marriott Fairview Park in Falls Church, Virginia. We’ll be sure to keep you up to speed on the discussions that take place, and hope to see you there!

#ICYMI – We captured the panel via Facebook Live, watch here.

Jennifer R. Sherman
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