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Daily Inspiration: Meet Charlotte Clark

Today we’d like to introduce you to Charlotte Clark.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I’ve always had a familiarity with STEM and the need to help people. Before I went to college, I wanted to be a robotics engineer and create accessible devices. After I graduated, I became a software engineer at a large healthcare technology company. In 2018, while on vacation, I was talking to an entrepreneur friend and had a bunch of different ideas that could potentially solve the issues she was having with her business.

From that point, I knew I needed to make a career pivot so that I could have a more involved role in helping others. I initially thought I could become a consultant or entrepreneur but didn’t think I was ready to make that kind of transition without more schooling.

In 2019, I spent the year learning about different topics – business, consulting, marketing, product management, and design. I blew through the product management course and realized that product was the perfect blend between business and technology. From then I knew I wanted to become a product manager.

In 2020, I was in a business incubator cohort, where I decided to create a business around helping non-technical startup founders build their apps. In July 2020, I launched CustomQuest Consulting and in speaking to many non-technical founders and understanding more about the product development process, I was able to make a transition away from software engineering into being a CTO (Chief Technology Officer) for an early stage-startup.

Since breaking into the startup community, I’ve connected with others who work with startups and founders who are hitting a variety of roadblocks. The conversations I’ve had about the startup ecosystem have made me realize that the work to help founders is not just an individual’s job but a collective of people who believe in the power of entrepreneurship. Currently, I’m working on relaunching CustomQuest Consulting to be an organization that aligns to this mission.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Oh nope, not smooth at all. I struggled a lot with my mindset.

Initially, when I decided I wanted to make a pivot away from engineering, I sought advice from a variety of people about how to break into tech consulting. Many of those people told me that I was ready to make that transition now, I just had to rework my resume to speak more towards a consulting skillset. But, I was sure that I needed to learn more and develop those skills before making a transition.

Once I got into product management, I knew I wanted to be a product manager but was stuck because most jobs didn’t allow you to get the position without having some experience. Even after I launched a business around product management, I still thought I needed more experience before expecting to be called a product manager.

I’ve realized that entrepreneurship has opened up so many choices and available paths for me to take. Before, that would make me nervous because I was waiting for a single way that would take me from where I was to where I wanted to be. But now, it’s exciting to only be limited by what my mind hasn’t thought of yet.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am an Innovative Product Consultant. I help entrepreneurs bridge the gap between idea and implementation by designing and documenting a plan. I work a lot with early-stage startup founders who are creating an app or software product.

Most non-technical entrepreneurs have an idea and go straight to finding a software developer or engineer to help them build the product out. These entrepreneurs miss out on a few major steps, including idea validation and product design. These crucial steps help them to clarify what it is that they want to build. I help these entrepreneurs understand the next steps they can do on their own and also provide resources or referrals to others that can help them.

I am most proud of the opportunities I’ve had to speak to and help startup founders. I’ve been able to answer questions and provide advice through Clubhouse, and having founders reach out to tell me how much my advice resonated inspires me to keep going.

I am passionate about making sure founders understand what they need to do in order to put themselves in the best place to create their product. Because I have a tech background, my ability to translate between technical and non-technical when talking to founders about their needs and when speaking to technical people about the needs of founders is what sets me apart from others.

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
I have not attempted or succeeded in finding an official mentor, but I do love networking.

My advice is to find those people who align with what you’re trying to do as an individual or as a business. It’s been way easier for me to message and converse with people who align with my interests and aspirations.

If the networking part is still daunting to you because reaching out to strangers is nerve-wracking, I’d suggest using – you sign up and they match people to your interests and schedule the meeting to the times you’re free. Most of the people I met through Lunchclub have been friendly and personable.

Another way is to use Facebook Groups. When you join a group you’re interested in, you can comment under other’s posts as you get familiar with the group or you can create your own post about how you’d like to meet and connect with members.

I’m always open to connecting and meeting people, so I’ve used Lunchclub, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Clubhouse. Being clear about the purpose of the connection has worked the best for me, and usually once introductions are made on a call, it’s easy to discuss how you can keep in contact with the person you’re speaking to.

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Photos taken by Nicole Johnson

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