The Checkered Flag Turns to Green: My Next Thing

I’ve been really fortunate to spend the last 3.5 years at GoKart Labs, a venture incubator and digital innovation shop in Minneapolis. I came to GoKart for a couple reasons: to be part of a team that was doing really amazing digital strategy & development work for leading companies, to learn how to run a small professional services business and to learn about entrepreneurship from the inside. I was attracted to the unique positioning GoKart has in the market, the team and leadership, and, since GoKart is an incubator, the chance to (eventually) springboard from GoKart to something of my own.

“Eventually” is now. I’m leaving GoKart this week to work a new venture i’ve been researching since earlier this spring. It hasn’t been a quick or easy decision, but it’s been revealing. Over the course of a lot of thought and discussion with the partners and the leadership team, it’s clear my passion is going to be around getting my own thing off the ground.

GoKart is in a strong position so the timing is right. We’ve refined our strategies over the last 6 months and sharpened our business development focus. We’ve re-aligned the leadership team to get ourselves set for the next 3-5 years of growth and we’ve focused on the skills and leadership behaviors we’re going to need. As a result, we’re looking to strengthen our bench via a search for our next UX Director and our first CFO.

I’m really proud to be a small part of  what the GoKart team has accomplished in the last 3 years. The business has doubled in size. We’ve opened an office in DC to serve clients and expand our talent pool. We’ve added a bunch of great clients whose names you’d recognize. We’ve been on the Inc 5000 list of the nation’s fastest growing companies and we’ve been on Fast 50 in MN, joining some of the best startups in the state. We’ve done that while being named a Best Place to Work multiple times. We’ve launched The Big Know, a truly innovative content marketing company that is changing the way brands connect with their communities. We’ve committed to investing in and supporting startups, and we’re making good progress there. We’ve done some of the most important strategy and development work I’ve ever been a part of, where we’ve helped organizations fundamentally change their trajectory. We’ve brought some amazing talent into the organization and we’ve helped a couple really talented employees get their businesses off the ground.

I love the solutions we’ve created and the innovation we’ve helped spark. But, there’s a persistent digital talent & skills gap that i’ve seen at just about every company we’ve worked with.  It’s not that there’s not strong talent, it’s just that there’s not enough of it. I want to help address that going forward. More on that later.

While i’m getting my biz started up, i’m taking on a couple digital projects and a few that  aren’t in my wheelhouse (e.g. podcasts, print) to flex some different muscles and learn about some new stuff. At the same time, I’ve been given so much, i hope i can give back somehow to the community. I hope to help out a couple non-profits with their digital opportunities. And, i’m going to finally learn to love coffee while i meet all the smart people i’ve been watching from afar via social media.  And, i’m still a true believer in the power of a good blog, so I’d love to get back to writing more.

I’m coming around to my last lap at GoKart and i can see a checkered flag waving for me. I feel like i won the race by getting some time with the team at GoKart and our great clients. I’m super excited about what the future holds for GoKart and i know the leadership team will guide the organization to the next level. But, i’m also really excited to see the green flag coming out for my next thing.

Get in touch if you’d like to talk (first last at g mail.com) or connect on Twitter (@jcuene) or Linkedin. I’ll buy the first round!

2 thoughts on “The Checkered Flag Turns to Green: My Next Thing

  1. Jim, Congrats on your work at GoKart and All the success to you as an entrepreneur. I am fueling my own path and journey right now as well. Cahllenging and exciting! Cheers!

  2. Jim, what a cool and transparent summary of your great run with GoKart. They are a great company and now I wish you all the best as you strike out on your own. From one entrepreneur to another…good luck and God Speed! Mark

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