Often, startup stories focus more on the product and company than they do the people that made them possible. We at The Startup Collaborative have found that our mission statement to allow everyone an unbiased investment thesis to building their own tech-centric company allows us to step aside and let the entrepreneurs be center stage. The Behind the Founder campaign is meant to do just that —  let the stories of those who call themselves TSC Fellows be told from their own perspective.

What’s your name?

Ross Harding

Where are you from?

I was born in Anchorage, Alaska but I grew up in Omaha. After going to the University of Virginia, I moved back to Omaha and that’s where we’ve been working on growing Scribe.

How did your upbringing influence you today?

I think I owe everything to my upbringing. Though I’m naturally curious I think ambition and a love of learning are cultivated. Without my parents’ encouragement and guidance, I don’t think I’d have the drive or interest to start a business. 

Whether you’ve met them or not, who is one REAL person that has influenced you?

I have a friend named Ishmael who has inspired me since day one. He’s an immigrant whose parents both passed away before he was 21. Despite a period of homelessness, no college education, and life dealing him a rough hand, he has gone on to become an incredibly successful software developer and entrepreneur. His grit and drive remind me that I can do anything I put my mind to.

Who is one FICTIONAL character that has inspired your life/career and why?

As strange as it may seem, I find Michael Scott inspirational. As a manager, he sets his employees up to be self-sufficient and responsible. Though this is through his own shortcomings and not by design, I still think it’s a good reminder that people can and do manage themselves. They just need an environment in which to do so.

From a sketch on a napkin to officially starting up, what triggered the inception of your company?

I originally felt the need to start a company in the greeting card space after several fruitless attempts to buy greeting cards. I was increasingly frustrated by the process and selection. Finally, in February of 2018, I tried to buy a card for my uncle’s birthday and my grandparents’ anniversary. After spending forty-five minutes at two stores and only buying one card I was pissed off. I called Jesse and told him we needed to do something.

How did the founding team meet?

Shortly after coming into this world I found myself sharing a room with him. He’s my brother and about two years my senior. 

Within The Startup Collaborative, what level was the most challenging for you, your company and why?

I personally found Level 3 // Messaging the most challenging. While Jesse is very brand-focused, I’m not. I tend to pay attention to operations and logistics. I like the numbers and processes that make up a business. Jesse doesn’t find these things all that interesting and instead focuses on brand, marketing, artwork, etc. Messaging was probably easy for him but I hadn’t given a ton of thought to the story Scribe was telling. This made the messaging stage challenging for me, but it was also fun to think through these aspects of the business I had brushed over initially.  

Within The Startup Collaborative, what level has been the most rewarding for you, your company and why?

I think it was the first two levels that I found the most rewarding. Prior to joining The Startup Collaborative, we only had an idea and didn’t know whether it was a good one. The team at TSC gave us some quick validation when we joined. But far more exciting and promising was the feedback we got on our initial customer surveys. Seeing the frustration people had around greeting cards and the excitement they seemed to feel when we explained our solution was all the encouragement we needed to really dig in and start building a business. 

Presently, what does a typical day look like for you and your company?

Since we haven’t officially launched, Jesse and I are still working other jobs, so we mostly work on nights and weekends. I usually go to Jesse’s house and we talk through ideas, send emails, etc. I handle fulfillment from my apartment.

What’s next for you and your company?

We launch on October 16! At that point, we’re going all-in on acquiring users, fine-tuning our offerings, and ensuring we have product-market fit.