Pictured above: (from the left) Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, James Quigley, Steve Case, and Secretary of Technology Jim Duffey
James is an award winning mobile and wireless solution executive with an extensive background in building and growing wireless start-up ventures. Prior to founding Canvas, James was VP and Managing Director of the Enterprise Wireless Solutions Division at inCode Wireless then acquired by VeriSign. While at VeriSign, James and his design team were honored with the prestigious Motorola Wireless Solution of the Year Award.
CIT: Tell us about your current venture.
James: Canvas. We believe that when organizations and groups more dynamically share the data they are collecting from remote and disconnected employees, team members it changes how we all connect. We make it easy, affordable and elegant for any business to replace any traditional data collection process (think paper form) into a mobile app.
CIT: What advice would you give an aspiring entrepreneur?
James: 1) Don't do this for the money - if you do, that is all you should expect from this process and quite frankly the journey is worth far more then the money. Here's the great thing, if you are here to make your own dent in the world, to change things for everyone - you will be far more successful and in turn the money will come.
2) Listen to that little voice. You are going to get lots of advice on what you should do, sifting through it can be awesomely challenging at times. Sometimes advice from people you trust and even have invested in you will go counter to other trusted advisors. Trust that little voice that you heard when you began this journey. If this were an easy idea and everyone had thought of it there is probably a good chance that you wouldn't be creating a company to do this anyway - so expect that lots of people won't get it, will question your path.
3) Fail fast, iterate often - adjust and move forward: Listen to that little voice, but always be prepared to adjust and do it quickly. In today's market no amount of market research is going to be as good as launching your idea and watching and listening to the market. They will tell you far more than a research study ever could where you should go. It level sets everything. Listen, watch, break things, fail then adjust… and do it quickly.
4) Bring your passion in heaps: People will hate your idea, they will directly refute your conjectures, they will reject you outright. It will seem overwhelming at times and there is heaps of truth in the statement that you will experience the highest highs and the lowest lows in starting your own business. One of my favorite books Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected some 121 times before a publisher picked it up. Bring your passion and determination and bring it big time - it will get you through those moments.
CIT: How important is collaboration and knowledge sharing to you?
James: We actually found that the most important 'networking" possible was when other start-ups work next to each other. We believed in that concept so strongly we helped to create a co-working environment right in our offices - Our space now houses (including Canvas) some 12 other organizations. We are in the midst of expanding this idea to take full advantage of our collaboration strategy. We have some 12 companies including Canvas in our space now in Reston Town Center.
CIT: What makes your city's startup scene unique?
James: Reston is not the typical start-up city with 20 something developers. I have found the start-ups are more measured and typically the average age is slightly older then say you would find in the Valley. Our environment is unique in that we have a mix of different types of start-ups in our region from biotech, high tech and government you have an interesting mix of organizations serving different markets. We also have the interesting power and flexibility of what feels like three start-up areas, downtown DC, Northern Virginia and Maryland all bringing their own energy.
Co-Founder and CEO, Canvas