Being an entrepreneur all his life, David Geiger has lived at the intersection of new ideas, new people and new ventures. This week, he's crossing & checking his way through a series of events at Startup Week Columbus, which culminates with a legendary closing party this evening at the Ohio Statehouse.

 

 
David Geiger: Lifelong Entrepreneur
By Terreece Clarke, May 2nd, 2016

Everyone in business has an entrepreneurship story. Sometimes they are wistful dreams, or gritty rags-to-better-rags tales and sometimes they are stories that start at a time when most kids aren’t thinking about lifelong career decisions.

David Geiger, Vice President of Business Development at CrossChx, spent a few minutes of his time with IT Martini to talk about his entrepreneurship journey as Columbus Startup Week comes to a close.

“I've been an entrepreneur my entire life,” Geiger said. “When I was a child I sold baseball cards, fireworks and had a paper route. After graduating college, I worked for a few large, fortune 500 companies, but always looked at the business as if it were my own. After spending 7 years working with Pfizer, I realized no matter how hard I worked, my efforts would never increase the stock price. I knew entrepreneurship was for me when I realized the problems I helped solve improved lives and had a positive impact on the future.”

Geiger said when he was six years old he got his first business idea.

“I grew up in a small town and each summer the American Legion held a 4 day Carnival with rides, food stands and events. It attracted thousands of people from all over. I saw this as an opportunity to provide these folks with refreshments on their walk to the Carnival so I sold RC Colas out of a cooler in my front yard while my friends were riding the Tilt-a-Whirl.”

Entrepreneurism isn’t for everyone, many get started and realize that the dream of working for yourself comes at a high price. Geiger said people thinking about striking out on their own need FIT, GRIT and WIT.

“Entrepreneurship is the right FIT when you wake up every morning thinking about your mission, and it's the last thing you think about before going to bed,” he said. “GRIT [means] you aren't afraid to grind it out, hustle and do whatever it takes to get the job done. At CrossChx, one of our Core Values is ‘Sometimes you're the captain, and sometimes you're the deckhand.’ Most entrepreneurs can probably relate to this."

Geiger said WIT is saying the right thing, to the right people, at the right time.

"At CrossChx, one of our Core Values is ‘Sometimes you're the captain, and sometimes you're the deckhand.’ Most entrepreneurs can probably relate to this."


Leaping from Failure

Nothing goes 100 percent right in life. This is especially true when it comes to learning and growing businesses and careers. Failure can be a great teacher if entrepreneurs allow it to be and Geiger said he learned a great deal from his best failure - a startup named PURGE.

“In 2012 I launched...PURGE to solve a problem I had. I've moved around a lot, and every move required me to make a decision about my stuff. Throwing belongings in the trash was difficult, especially when they held value. I had success with Craigslist, but it was creepy,” Geiger said. “I always wanted to be able to snap a picture of an item I didn't need with my phone, post it to my trusted social network, and PURGE it from my life. It wasn't about making money; it was about getting rid of stuff.

“My buddy and I launched PURGE at StartupWeekend. We had a prototype, investors and a webpage, but Purge didn't make it out of the validation stage,” he said. “It was one of my best failures because it taught me how to pitch investors, work from a lean business canvass, and that a startup is the ultimate vehicle for networking. I met hundreds of fellow entrepreneurs in the community, and one of these connections, Brian Zuercher, introduced me to Sean Lane and Brad Mascho, the founders of CrossChx.”

A Passion for Problem-Solving

Successful entrepreneurs have a passion and curiosity about the world around them, but staying passionate while juggling the demands of running a business is difficult. What keeps Geiger going, he said, is people development and small wins.

“Building companies is fun, but empowering people, removing obstacles, providing them with resources, and watching them impress you is what's most gratifying. To think that everyone you work with feeds their family because of what your team has accomplished is pretty cool. Entrepreneurship is really a perpetual series of problems you must solve to get to the next level. Your mission keeps you focused, but small wins propel you forward.”

Everyone has their secret to what makes a successful entrepreneurs. Books, webinars, classes etc., all have a great deal of useful information, but all the advice has the ability to quickly overwhelm most. Geiger has one simple thing entrepreneurs can do everyday: meet someone new everyday.

“It's not easy,” he said. “It's much easier to stay heads-down in your work, but networking is one of the most valuable things you can do as an entrepreneur. When I moved back from San Francisco, I was working from home while traveling out west monthly. Working from home is isolating, but I set a goal to meet at least 2 new people each week. I easily met 5-10 [people] because each person wanted to introduce me to someone else in the community.”

That community is why Geiger thinks events like StartUp Columbus are important.

“...events like StartUp Columbus, WakeUp StartUp and Startup Weekend give entrepreneurs a venue to connect, learn and celebrate the community's entrepreneurial success,” Geiger said. “I believe success breeds more success and the energy at these events is infectious.”