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How two startup founders overcame setbacks with help from Arlington’s business network

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring Three Ballston Plaza

Fear nearly prevented Scott Love from starting his data analytics firm, Arlington-based Lovelytics.

“I always wanted to start a company… There was always an excuse not to do it, like, ‘Oh, I don’t have enough money. I don’t know how to do that,” he shared during a panel hosted by Rosslyn-based tech accelerator Unstuck Labs in August.

While Love admitted these were real challenges, he said navigating them became easier after tapping into Arlington’s business community.

“From the time I was one person… Arlington made me feel like I was going to be a 6,000-person company,” he said.

Anything Love needed, whether it was advice or introductions to investors, he said people made themselves available to help.

Natalia Micheletti, who co-founded Pryze, an app that encourages employees to minimize phone use at work, agrees.

“It just felt like we had a million opportunities,” Micheletti, the CEO of the Arlington-based startup, said during the panel.

Despite starting companies in different fields, both founders faced similar obstacles, including fundraising and managing employees effectively. They said talking through their struggles with startup founders who had been there before helped them persevere.

Unstuck Labs CEO Wa’il Ashshowwaf (left) speaks to local startup founders Natalia Micheletti and Scott Love during a panel discussion in Rosslyn (staff photo by James Jarvis)

For instance, Love and Micheletti noted securing investors was a “draining” process. Micheletti said she heard “No” from 100 people before finally getting that “Yes.”

“And being able to take feedback from all these people who are in the industry, or you think no more than you, without losing your essence, without losing, like what’s making you special and what made you like be crazy in the first place to start this one thing… is hard,” she said.

But Micheletti said she and co-founder Tim Hylton were able to push through that wall with support from their peers in the start world and Unstuck Labs, which gives founders like Micheletti mentorship, office space and investment.

“I think what’s keeping us here, other than Unstuck Labs… I think it is the roots that we’re planning in the community as well,” she said.

Love said pitching to investors was hard work but another challenged he faced, as his company grew, was refining his leadership skills.

“I think one of the weirdest things for me when I started, it was like, you change your title, and all of a sudden people care a little bit more about what you say and trust you… It’s a completely uncomfortable position,” he said.

Love, who oversees a team of 82, said talking with other Arlington founders made him realize the difference between delegating and leading.

“And I thought I was delegating. But in reality, I was just having them do all the work and come back to me and ask for approval. And that gets me nowhere,” Love said.

Instead, Love said he needed to learn to step back and trust his employees to handle tasks independently.

The mentorship the two founders received from Arlington’s business community appears to be paying off.

Pryze hired its third employee and plans to expand its services after raising nearly $1 million in venture capital, Micheletti previously told ARLnow.

Meanwhile, venture capital firms Databricks Venture and Interlock Equity made “strategic investments” in Lovelytics this June. These investments, for undisclosed amounts, will help the company deepen its expertise healthcare, media, financial services, retail, and manufacturing, Love said in a blog post.

“This investment will accelerate the growth of Lovelytics’ team and expand its technical offerings related to enterprise data environment creation, AI and [language learning models], business intelligence, data science, and cloud infrastructure,” a press release said.

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