If You Want Something Done, Send A Startup Guy

We here at TechDrawl spend countless hours, days and weeks debating all that is startups, and inevitably it all comes back to the people. Investors, entrepreneurs, mentors, professional services people, etc. ­– everyone has a role to play in the startup universe. That’s why we love video interviews, and have gone even longer-form with the South’s most impactful voices like Vivek Wadwha, Sig Mosley, Chris Klaus and even Urvaksh Karkaria (I can’t help razzing my journalist buddy).

One of the guys on my upcoming list is Scott Burkett based simply on how much he’s done and what he gives back in the form of StartupLounge. But the dude blew me away this week, so here’s my pre-Drinks On Fifth story on Scott. Never fear; this absolutely will not preempt our video interview – if only for me having 45 minutes of fun filming it with Scott…

Anyone who follows Scott (or his partner-in-crime Michael Blake) on Twitter is likely familiar with a most unfortunate story this week: the foreclosure and eviction of a Lithonia family whose son was the first Georgia casualty during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Spc. Jamaal Addison was killed during an ambush on March 2003, and the Lithonia branch of the United States Post Office has been renamed in his honor. And in a miserable twist of fate, the family is set to be evicted on the very day set aside to honor Spc. Addison, Monday August 2nd. You can read the entire back-story at the AJC, but suffice to say Scott wasn’t going to let it go down like that. (It’s also relevant to know Scott served in the US Army, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized), 1st Brigade, 3d Battalion, 64th Armored Regiment.)

So Scott (along with other concerned citizens who were touched by the story) set out to solve the problem. He reached out through the Veteran’s Administration, and made contact with the Roberts family. Scott led the effort to secure new housing for Roberts, while folks from Grandmothers for Peace International have helped the family setup the Jamaal Addison Fund at the Delta Community Credit Union’s branch at 1025 Virginia Ave. in Atlanta.

Scott tells me he’s got 4-5 other startup guys committed to the fundraising effort, and they have more than $4,000 raised as of Friday afternoon – and hopes to be in the $8,000-10,000 range by early next week. They also have a group put together to help the Roberts’ move early next week. If you want to contribute financially, you can contact the Delta Community Credit Union at (404) 715-4725. To contribute your manual labor or other assets, contact Scott via first initial + last name AT

So let's take a minute and draw a few startup lessons out of Scott’s effort this week:

Focus: Scott is not a guy you see at every networking event in town. He’s simply too busy as the COO of Atlanta-based StarPound. Yeah, that means he’s busy making it happen everyday, and doesn’t have much time slack.

Action: When he saw a spot to make a difference, he moved quickly with decisive action. No committees, no debating – just the tactics needed to stop the problem.

Giving Back: Scott has run StartupLounge for years, and has probably given more back to the entrepreneur and startup community than he’s taken. How many people can you say that about?

Humility: Scott won’t merchandise what he’s done; in fact I’d expect him to actively downplay it and define himself as part of a larger effort to help a family in need. But never underestimate the role of being the first to rally the troops.

Whether you’re trying to build your own company – or have an exit behind you – take a lesson from Scott. See the problem and engage to solve it. When something requires your attention, move with a quickness. And help those who need it the most when you’re fortunate enough to be able to.

Well done, Scott. I’ll be honored to buy you as many Drinks On Fifth as we can consume during one 45-minute interview. Although that may lead to TechDrawl’s first NC-17 rated content…


0 # Scott Burkett 2010-07-31 00:35
I'm not sure I'm worthy of this kind of praise, but i do thank you for helping to spread the word about the Roberts' situation.

One clarification, if I may. I was not involved in setting up the official fund through Delta Credit Union. I believe that Doris Benit of Grandmothers for Peace International was involved, as well as Ms. Roberts herself.

I was more focused on the immediate need to keep the family together, and to ensure that they had adequate housing until such time they can get back on their feet. So our effort is running parallel to the official fund.

There are also a lot of other great folks that are driving this as well - not just me :) Jason Jones (Cresa Partners, Navy) and Doug Ingram (DHL, Navy) as well as Robert Shoe (StarPound, Army). Also my good friend Mike Blake and all the folks at HA&W who do an almost insane amount of community-related stuff.

We're not done yet - we're still raising money (anyone who wants to contribute, please contact me!).

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0 # GFRRTDEFF 2010-07-31 05:23
Post suitably tweaked, and thanks for sharing names of the entire crew. Well done guys!
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0 # Scott Burkett 2010-07-31 00:42
I should also add that I don't have as much time to check my personal email these days. If anyone wants to contribute to our housing drive, please contact me at my first initial + my last name AT

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0 # LocalGuy 2010-07-31 12:24
I love this lesson about being the First Follower, and it reinforces Scott's comments.
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0 # Heath Wilkes 2010-07-31 14:03
Brilliant video, LocalGuy! What Scott and gang have done here is not only a great story of leadership and teamwork, it's a damn fine example of how to care for one another and help people in need. Follow that, and good things will get done...
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0 # Scott Burkett 2010-08-02 02:26
For those that haven't seen this yet, I've posted a longer update on the whole situation, and how this is unfolding. A lot has changed even since I posted this, but I'm off to Chicago tomorrow and won't have time to update it until maybe tomorrow night.

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0 # Marlina 2010-08-02 15:12
This is a moving and touching story. It reminds me of several quotes. One is about individuals making a difference (instead of committees). Two heads might be better than one, but they aren't faster
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