Insights on Success from the GIST Community

Insights on Success from the GIST Community

July 7, 2020


The GIST community is a diverse family of innovators, ecosystem builders, and investors. Each brings their own insights and perspectives to entrepreneurship. In this article we share some of the best quotes from GIST community members on a number of topics, all of which are designed to inform and encourage innovators in their own personal journeys. 

Gustavo Becker of Box Synergy on breaking into foreign markets.

We recommend hard work, every day. Think about your customers and how your solution meets their needs. A great product is the result of that process. If you want to achieve something big, you must think big. Regarding our product launch, we evaluated a lot of the different ways to enter the U.S. market. On the one hand, we analyzed the market of the Outdoor Industry Association in the USA, looking at the alternatives to entering through retail stores. However with Box Synergy, not being a recognized brand and not having sufficient product capacity, we did not want to move in that direction. We considered brand ambassadors as a possibility to present our brand to the public, but they are a very expensive method and we are still in our startup stage. Finally, we saw many brands that launch their products through crowdfunding and found that it is a very good method to gain traction for a product in a market. 

Learn more about Box Synergy and their launch into the U.S. market here.


Alvin Chai, founder of Netizen Testing, on building your innovation locally and using your network when moving into new markets.

Be a problem solver wherever you see problems. Solve local problems. Create jobs. Create wealth and prosperity in your own communities. Innovation in your own country can then be scaled to other markets around the world. Find the conduits from your local market to the U.S. and the world. U.S. investors are looking for those types of solutions. Remember relationships take time to build and nurture. My colleague brought his U.S. investor back to his home country to show them the effect of their investment. 

Use your network. Reach out to your network in new markets. It helps to have that connection, that soft landing, someone you can trust. 

Don’t give up easily. It’s a tough road but it’s also a rewarding one. That time when you feel like giving up, don’t. Hang in there. 80% of it is just your attitude. 

Learn more about Netizen Testing here.


Sadaf Naz, founder of HerGround, on the benefits of participating in GIST programs.  

Previously we didn’t do any bootstrapping. We were just using word of mouth. But through GIST we learned about how to commercialize the product more. This has led to a partnership with another health company and we are building a larger client network with them. 

Watch the full interview with Sadaf Naz here.


GIST mentor and Startup Training instructor Rhonda Shrader on keeping yourself on track in difficult times.

There are three mantras I use to keep myself on track:

Control the controllables. Startups can expect a tougher fundraising environment, as investors double down on existing investments and reduce new ones. This can’t be controlled. What can be controlled is a continued focus on the fundamentals of building a solid business, solving problems customers care about.

Focus goes where attention flows. It’s so tempting to sink into distractions right now—watching breaking news, scrolling through social media feeds or streaming endless videos. You don’t have to be perfect, just willing to redirect your attention to things that move you forward. Focus will follow.

Stop forcing, start allowing. This is one that a wise yoga teacher whispered into my ear when she saw me straining during a particularly tough day. Many times you can power through adversity by trying harder, but life often requires us to take a step back or even aside. It’s not about giving up, it’s simply observing and learning from what you see.

Read the full interview with Rhonda Shrader here.


Svetlana Jaghatspanyan of Forest Guard on the role GIST has played in supporting her successes.

First of all, being part of the GIST Network builds trust. When I say I'm an alumni of a program organized by the U.S. Department of State, that changes lots of things. It gave me self-confidence. It gave me useful contacts in Chicago and Washington D.C. It changed my mindset totally.

Read more about Svetlana Jaghatspanyan’s journey here.


Angel investor and GIST mentor/instructor Melissa Bradley on the importance of entrepreneurship.

There are 580 million entrepreneurs in the world. Entrepreneurship is not a job. It is a lifetime journey. We are part of a much bigger opportunity to truly change the lives of ourselves and the communities that we serve and the generations we have yet to meet.  

Learn more about Melissa Bradley’s organization Ureeka here


Queeny Lopez, founder of Anuka, explains her passion for entrepreneurship and how GIST empowers science and technology innovators.

Our common enemy is poverty. I truly believe that entrepreneurship is a way to stop poverty and make better conditions for all people. 

Scientists don’t know very much about business. That is why GIST is so important. As part of GIST’s Business Incubation program we improved many parts of our company. We improved the logo, the website, and started to write a patent. Through GIST we have also made very good connections for networking.

Learn more about the GIST Business Incubation program here.


Yakua Buta of StringersHub shares his advice for startups who are looking for their first round of funding and what specific characteristics investors are looking for in a startup.

First, be confident in your product. Because if you're not, investors will feel it. Second, don't hesitate to talk about the weak points of your product. Don't hide it. Third, try to make investors interested in you even before your first conversation. The best option is if they hear about your product everywhere and want to speak with you. In that case, you will be in a strong position. As for specific characteristics, I would say that the best are people from your industry, who will be able to help you not only with their money. Expertise and connections matter.

Read more about Yakua Batu’s journey here.

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