Brent Weaver is your typical tech startup guy -- someone with entrepreneurship in his DNA. Weaver started his own web design business while still in high school. He then attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, earned a degree in economics in 2000 and moved to nearby Denver in 2005 to focus on growing his (still-running) web agency.
By the time he sold that agency after 12 years, he had made more than 1,000 deals with a wide variety of businesses and non-profit organizations, totaling, at the end, over 300 clients under active management.
Still, even with that kind of experience, Weaver was humble and mindful enough to "know" (as he told me in an email) that he didn't really know how to sell. So, he began hiring sales coaches and consultants, and taking classes.
The result? He went from hustling $2,000 websites to selling six-figure projects. And that kind of success enabled him to build a successful life and pursue passions beyond his entrepreneurial pursuits.
Along the way, Weaver said, he realized he had invested a long period of time, many ups and downs and plenty of money to learn what worked in business and what didn't. So, he took those 12 years of learning and hard knocks and turned them into a 10-week accelerator community that teaches others to crack the realm of entrepreneurial success.
Named UGURUS, Brent's startup community has helped over 1,000 digital agency owners avoid the usual hardships of startup life. UGURUS' defining characteristic is its effort to connect personally with all who enroll, meet them "where they are at," as Weaver said and help them find the right answer for their particular project.
The community also supports and promotes members through the "dark night of the soul" that Weaver says every entrepreneur goes through at least once.
While learning is important, Weaver told me, his accelerator also sees the need for people to be held accountable and to be pushed outside their comfort zone. Every participant is assigned a mentor, eventually developing personal and unique relationships.
"I've experienced failure up to a dozen times in a single day and that can wear on you," Weaver told me of his own experience. "A lot of early-stage digital agency owners are isolated and alone. They work from home and don't have much of a connect with others.
"That can lead to dark places. We give them a lot of connection, encouragement and support that they might not otherwise had. And that alone becomes a huge beacon of hope and force for good."
Clients are grateful for the support, Weaver said: "We get these really cool thank-you letters from our customers, about how our community has helped them make more money, take their first vacations, start families and achieve things they never thought possible. It simply can't get more fulfilling for me."
Wannabe entrepreneur takeaway: Business is a very personal endeavor. But, you have to have support. It's great to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, but it's far better when a trusted peer, advisor, mentor or support group can help with that process. There are a lot of great communities out there -- join them, use them, and most importantly, give back more than you get.