Eric Smith has known since he was 15 that he wanted to support entrepreneurs and business owners like his dad. Now 31, he’s doing just that through Wilmington-based Launch Point Labs – one of Delaware’s first startup studios that is also building an early-stage venture fund. Smith started Launch Point Labs in 2021 after stepping down as vice president at Carvertise, the Wilmington-based advertising company he helped build into a multi-million-dollar company.
Launch Point Labs provides small businesses and nonprofits with access to a team of sales professionals, content creators, brand strategists and project managers. The goal is to help entrepreneurs gain traction in their businesses while also providing financial help through a $5 million fund the company is building to invest directly in promising companies.
Launch Point Labs, which has been working to launch multiple Delaware companies in 2022, helps startups for free out of the gate. Once the startup is profitable, it can become a paying client with access to LPL resources through either a monthly fee or equity.
Here are Smith’s views on innovation in Delaware and the advice he’d give to hungry innovators.
Delaware is a fantastic place to start a business and is becoming a hotbed of entrepreneurship. The First State has a favorable business climate, a long history of assisting businesses and an excellent track record for supporting entrepreneurs.
The state provides a great environment for small businesses, which have provided the majority of jobs in the state (and are vital for economic growth). The state also has a strong background in science and technology, which has led to a vibrant economy and a strong environment for entrepreneurs.
The biggest thing I would tell any entrepreneur is to keep his or her eyes on the long-term goal. Every day, you must do something that will advance your business, but it’s important to understand that it’s a journey, not a destination. You must keep moving forward and take small steps that add up over time. Be patient. The process of building a company is long, difficult and often frustrating. It takes a lot of hard work, and the payoff is often years in the future. Focus on building a strong foundation and keep plugging away.
The most successful innovators are those who are passionate about their ideas, constantly learning new skills and seeking new ways to improve their businesses. They are also ones who are patient, keep moving forward and are flexible enough to change course when needed.
It takes a lot of drive and determination to keep pushing forward when the going gets tough. It also takes a strong work ethic and the ability to turn criticism into fuel to keep moving forward.
You must be creative, determined and strategic. The best innovators know that the journey is a long-term one, not a get-rich-quick scheme, so you must be comfortable being patient while you build your business.
As a leader, it’s critical to have a process for deciding which new ideas to pursue and which to set aside. In the heat of the moment, it can be hard to separate the good ideas that should be expanded from the bad ones that should be cut. This can lead to a lot of wasted time and energy, and result in the same old status quo instead of the innovation the company needs. Receiving feedback and customer validation is key to determining if an idea is worth pursuing. Before you start turning your idea into a product/service, make sure you ask potential users/customers if they’re willing to use (and pay for) your idea. If yes, then what they say will reinforce your beliefs and direct you on what to do next. If no, then you must be ready to back out and try something else.