Shelley Nolden

Shelley Nolden Shares Five Things She's Learned About Starting a New Venture

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Shelley Nolden, ’02 BSB, is an entrepreneur at heart. After starting her career in investment banking, she left to become employee No. 1 for a middle-market lending firm, Solar Capital Partners. In 2011, she received a leukemia diagnosis—an experience that led her to become an angel investor, founder, and chairwoman of GRYT Health, a tech startup company that has a mission of improving cancer care. For her “5 Things I’ve Learned,” she shared tips for starting a new venture.

1. Go ahead, take the plunge

Starting a new venture is terrifying. If it wasn’t, everyone would do it. But once you have a solid business plan and a financial safety cushion, every day you wait gives someone else the opportunity to seize the first-mover advantage. If you’re not in a position to give up income and benefits, consider what you can cut from your daily schedule to give yourself time to start your business during your personal time (e.g., I watch one hour—at most—of TV a week). 

2. Partner with passionate people

Starting a business is a lot of work; it requires relentless drive by more than just yourself. Find people who have both grit and skills that complement your own and make them your partners. And, while it’s easy to keep your head down when you’re working hard in the trenches, make sure you take the time to regularly look up and appreciate those around you and refocus your vision for the company.

3. Contracted, recurring revenue is key

From business planning through execution, never lose focus on establishing contracted, recurring revenue streams. Seed and early-stage investing is highly risky, and showing future revenue certainty will be a tremendous asset in securing financing.

4. Be a legend in your own mind

You will come across people who don’t believe in you and your vision. You will hear “no” many times: when asking for a sale, when asking for investment capital, when asking for media coverage. While it’s important to be open to criticism that you can use to improve your business model, it’s even more important to never lose faith in yourself.

5. The ‘builders’ deserve equal credit

In today’s business culture of glorifying startups, so much attention is put on the founders. But without the builders—those who do the heavy lifting to help carry out the founders’ vision—successful startups would be nothing. Give the builders the credit they deserve. That’s why I’m so proud of the entire GRYT Health team. Their passion and energy amaze me every day, and we couldn’t do this without them.

This article appeared in the Fall 2019 alumni magazine

The Carlson School is celebrating its centennial. In this issue, we examine our storied history (and the people that made it possible) and look forward to the next 100 years of excellence.

Fall 2019 table of contents