Hatchpad: Heather Holst-Knudsen’s Incubator for Young Entrepreneurs

golden-eggsAre you a young entrepreneur looking to launch, build, or improve your company? Heather Holst-Knudsen mayhave the answer for you with her very own company, Hatchpad. See what this entrepreneur had to say about entrepreneurship.

Q: Could you briefly describe your background pre-Hatchpad?

A: My background includes 25+ years in B2B (brand to brand) media. I was founder and president of Manufacturing Leadership Council, a division of Thomas Publishing Company, located in NYC. Our media portfolio connected senior level executives in manufacturing and technology to address and identify solutions and opportunities related to the transformational impact technology has on the way manufacturers operate, grow, and compete on global scale.

Q: How did you get the idea for Hatchpad?

A: HatchPad is a culmination of a few “forces” in my life. The first is my entrepreneurially-minded daughter, Carly. She asked me for a job when she was 8 so she could pay for college. Her eagerness to work to help pay for her education inspired me to look into what we are doing to help young people learn how to commercialize their passions starting from a young age. What I found through my discovery process is that huge gaps exist in the market in terms of youth entrepreneurship engagement and education from a cost, access, and real-life application standpoint.

Q: Why did you choose to make Hatchpad specifically for ages 13-23?

A: Our target market is young entrepreneurs who have never been in the workforce, which is a trait most high school and college students share. I realized that young entrepreneurs need support as they develop their basic business, operational, and soft skills including how to validate an idea, go to market, gain, grow, and service customers, manage P&L (profit and loss), hire team members, create RFPs (request for proposals), manage contracts, and project manage teams and partners.

Q: What were some instrumental steps, sources of support, etc. that turned Hatchpad into a reality?

A: I self-funded HatchPad for a year and a half and then secured $320K in angel funding. We are now seeking an additional $1M. I also have an amazing advisory board and junior committee who have been incredibly supportive in making introductions with potential partners and providing the critical product feedback we need to make HatchPad the best solution for young entrepreneurs.

Q: What’s a piece(s) of advice you would give to young entrepreneurs?

A: 1. Ask questions, listen, and absorb. Keep a diary of everything you learn. Re-evaluate that list and pick the advice that makes most sense but never all of it.

2. Stay true to yourself, keep your ego in check, and treat others as you want to be treated. If you win on Shark Tank or secure venture backing, you will continue to need your early supporters.

3. Test your product relentlessly, know that pivots are good.

4. Failing is totally an option.

5. Know that this will probably be one of MANY companies you will start in your lifetime. Keep it real.

Contributor: Evangeline Giannopoulos

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