The Founders Series: advice for entrepreneurs and students who are thinking of becoming entrepreneurs
In this week’s Founders Series, we caught up with Connor Croteau of Checkmate Creations. Checkmate, a web design/development and branding studio focused on startups, is the culmination of multiple entrepreneurial endeavors undertaken by Connor and his fellow founder, Tom Nassr, dating back to when they were still college students.
Tell us about Checkmate Creations. What’s your vision for the company?
Checkmate is a digital studio that helps startups go from the idea stage to a minimal viable product such as a service offered, a physical product, or mobile app. Throughout the process, we help first time founders develop a strategic plan and a brand identity for their new product or service. In addition, we offer additional services such as web development, social media marketing/management, and ecommerce solutions. Our vision is to be the most effective start-up agency in the business.
What inspired you to start your own company?
It has been a long and treacherous journey for us to get to this point. I recognized early on in college that I was not the type of person that could work for one specific company. Tom and I started and failed numerous companies before Checkmate was founded. From the countless failures, we gained plenty of valuable skills, such as programming and business development. These skills inspired us to start Checkmate to help others looking to start their own company.
What was your first job after graduation? If in a different field, how did you make the transition from that to entrepreneurship? Highlight any other pertinent jobs held between your first one and now.
I’ve never had a “real” job after graduation.
My own personal journey to entrepreneurship is a unique one. In college, I studied Biology. Junior year, Tom and I were roommates and soon recognized that we had an awful landlord. We decided to develop a solution called RateAndRent.com where students can rate their landlord and pay their rent online. From there, I was hooked on entrepreneurship but decided to continue studying Biology with the belief that I could use Biology and Entrepreneurship as an advantage at some point in my life. Still searching for that opportunity!
What is the most important trait for an entrepreneur to have?
It is extremely important for an entrepreneur to be open to change. Technology, trends, and practices continue to change day by day. The first step is important to be open to new ideas that challenge your current ideology. The second step is to be completely okay with that. If you are able to do that, you open yourself up to countless opportunities that you otherwise may have not seen if you were stuck in your “old ways.”
What career advice would you give to current students who are considering joining a startup or starting their own company?
This may sound cliché, but make sure to “just be yourself.” Honestly, being yourself will naturally place you on the right path in your career because you will be doing what you are naturally good at. Potential hirers will notice that. The startup culture fosters individual uniqueness because they realize that you are the best at what you do when you are happy and you are yourself.
Where can people find out more about Checkmate Creations?