Ryan Wilson On Moving From Idea To Raising Capital For Your Business

Ryan Wilson On Moving From Idea To Raising Capital For Your Business

Ryan Wilson
Ryan Wilson was rejected 97 times while trying to raise capital for The Gathering Spot — validation, he says, that he had a disruptive idea. He talks about moving past ideation. Ryan Wilson, the CEO and co-founder of The Gathering Spot. Photo: Anita Sanikop/Moguldom

Atlanta has long been a strong entrepreneurial bastion in the Black community, benefiting significantly from the groundwork laid by the late Maynard Jackson. In the past several years, the city has become something of a counter to what Silicon Valley has been to establishment players in the technology industry. Players like Tope Awotona, George Azih, and Jewel Burks Solomon have shifted the conversation around who can build a strong technology business. 

Ryan Wilson, co-founder of the private, members-only club The Gathering Spot, has done a masterful job feeding that energy back into the city. He created a place that seems to have won the game in bringing together folks in Atlanta’s tech industry and beyond.

In his conversation with GHOGH podcast host Jamarlin Martin, Ryan shares some principles that will help entrepreneurs across a range of industries.

Building a company vs. having an idea

Ryan stresses that it’s not enough for you to have an idea one day and think you have a business. The business only comes from executing on that idea. In his words, “You have to be able to execute upon that idea in a way that makes people understand that it has moved from pure ideation into a stage where people can buy (r whatever it is that you do). They’re able to actually interact with the business.”

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Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 45: Ryan Wilson

Jamarlin talks to Ryan Wilson, founder of Atlanta’s Gathering Spot. They discuss Wilson’s plans to scale his profitable subscription and events business, and whether Kamala Harris’ candidacy will result in a civil war in Black America. They also discuss the term “people of color” and why Atlanta is one of the hottest cities for tech.

Looking for insights on how to best execute on your ideas? Here are some resources to get you started:

Ryan Wilson on validation from ‘no’

In his conversation with Jamarlin, Ryan recalls that he was rejected 97 times over the course of raising capital for The Gathering Spot. He points to those rejections as validation that The Gathering Spot was a disruptive idea, making the case that if an idea is truly disruptive, people shouldn’t be able to immediately understand it. 

You may be stuck on how Ryan even spoke to 97 people to hear “no” so often. Here are some resources for setting up meetings to pitch your business.

Raising capital

Ryan points out the importance of entrepreneurs understanding how venture capital works, if that is what they’re planning to raise in financing their business. A lot of entrepreneurs don’t understand that “it’s very difficult as the entrepreneur, as the founder, to make a ton of money in that (venture capital) system, unless (your) company is valued at more than what you raised money at,” he says.

Looking for resources to educate yourself on how venture capital works? Here are some resources to get you up to speed:

These are key principles and resources that will help you shape your venture. Increase your understanding of the venture capital game, don’t shy away from hearing “no”, and execute on your idea to actually build a business. Let’s GHOGH!

Kwame Som-Pimpong leverages relentless research, a knack for connecting dots, human-centered design approach, and effective communications strategy to help organizations realize their strategic objectives. Over a 10-year career, Kwame has supercharged grassroots political organizing efforts, assessed the effectiveness of U.S. federal agencies, managed an international program, founded a digital media startup, and advised government agencies on delighting their end-users. He earned a BA in Political Science from Davidson College and Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. He can be reached at kwame.som.pimpong@gmail.com.