Start-ups: tech or lifestyle?

Shuru Law has now officially been going for a month, and it’s been a fascinating ride so far. Anyone who knows Charlottesville is well aware of how friendly and welcoming people are, and so it’s been no surprise that I’ve been welcomed with hearty congratulations and lots of warm referrals. Already, I’ve had the privilege of listening to people’s stories: where they’ve been, what they’ve learned along the way, what drives them, and where they are headed. My life has become much richer for the experience, and I love serving people as they turn dreams into reality.

One question I’ve received more often than I expected is an interesting one. Am I focusing on tech start-ups or on lifestyle start-ups? Before I answer that, let me share some background and local info.

  1. What is the difference between a tech start-up and a lifestyle start-up? Perspectives can vary quite a lot on this topic, but at a high level, when people talk about tech start-ups, they are talking about people looking for the Next Big Idea. If you’ve heard anyone using the well-worn phrase “my idea is like Uber, but for…” then you know what I mean. Swing for the fences with a huge idea, get the interest of angel investors, manage your burn rate until you get venture capital investing, spend that cash to grab market share, make your IPO the hottest ticket around, and profit greatly from the whole thing. It’s a nice ride if that’s your goal, but of course it’s a challenge to make it all happen. On the other end, think of a lifestyle start-up as a local coffee shop or salon. You’re doing this because you have an expertise or a passion for what you’ve selected, you like being your own boss, and you love connecting in with your community. The business may never make you rich, but it’s fulfilling and rewarding.

  2. What are some Charlottesville resources for tech start-ups? With the University of Virginia integral to the area, there are many resources for entrepreneurs looking to hit it big with a tech start-up. A few great places to go are the iLab at UVA, Charlottesville Business Innovation Council, HackCville, and the UVa Licensing and Ventures Group.

  3. What are some Charlottesville resources for lifestyle start-ups? The Community Investment Collaborative runs a series of workshops that will help any new business get a great start, along with offering microloans and mentoring. There are also some incredibly bright people who can help small businesses with planning and strategy, such as my friend David Deaton.

So where am I focusing? Both, of course. Today’s tech start-up may become tomorrow’s lifestyle business, and the other way around. There’s no reason to fit people’s ideas into one box, and there is plenty of room out there for all kinds of new businesses. Heck, even Shuru Law may start out as my lifestyle business, and one day I’ll realize that I can franchise my legal services across the country as a massive public company. Then my lifestyle can include more fruity umbrella drinks and sandy beaches!