Jewel Burks Solomon On Laying The Foundation For A Successful Startup

Kwame Som-Pimpong
Written by Kwame Som-Pimpong
Jewel Burks Solomon
Jewel Burks Solomon discusses how she built an industrial supply parts startup and sold it to Amazon: an interview with GHOGH podcast host Jamarlin Martin. Photo: Anita Sanikop/Moguldom

Jewel Burks Solomon is part of a vanguard of Atlanta entrepreneurs who have shifted the conversation towards the Southeast city as a source for great talent.

In her interview with GHOGH podcast host Jamarlin Martin, Burks Solomon discusses key principles that contributed to her building an industrial supply parts startup that she eventually sold to Amazon.

Jewel is the founder of Partpic and U.S. head of Google for Startups. You’ll see why as she shares some of the keys that took this talented individual with an idea to a successful exit with one of the most important companies in the world. 

Discovering your customer

Before taking the leap to start a business it’s probably worthwhile to make sure you’ve actually got an idea that can be a business. Jewel shared how valuable it was to talk to as many customers as possible while she was working at a large industrial parts company. These conversations helped her refine the idea she had for Partpic. Even after leaving the company to focus on developing her idea, she continued to interview hundreds of potential customers to better understand their problems, identify themes across customers, and bring more clarity to her idea.

Not sure where to start in getting feedback from your potential customers? Here are resources to get you going:

Lean Startup

The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win

Customer Discovery: What Do You Ask, with Justin Wilcox

Having Your Support System on Board

There are people who play critical roles as we go through life and career transitions. Jewel highlighted how important it was for her to touch base with her mother to ensure she had her back in case things didn’t work out with Partpic.

“A lot of times we set out on doing things and haven’t really talked to our support systems,” Jewel told Jamarlin. “I’ve had to lean on folks a lot through the course of the time that I started my business.” 

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 43: Jewel Burks Solomon 

Partpic founder and CEO Jewel Burks Solomon discusses how she developed an idea to streamline the purchase, repair and maintenance of parts. Partpic was acquired by Amazon in 2018.

Looking to check in with your support system? Here is some great advice for building and nurturing your support system:

Who’s In Your Support System?

Building Your Support System

5 Ways to Strengthen Your Support System

Building a team

A key component of building a strong team is knowing what skillsets you need to making sure you’re putting the right pieces together. Jewel highlights her approach to that process. She started with assessing her strengths and weaknesses as they related to what she needed to run Partpic.

“I started with myself and kind of doing an analysis of my pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses, and trying to fill in the gaps with people who either were strong in the areas where I’m weak or from a skill perspective, were good at things that I’m not good at,” Jewel said.

Need to build a team, but not sure of what skillsets you need? Here are some resources to help you clarify your needs:

The New Science of Building Great Teams

Important Steps when Building a new Team

How to Build Effective Teams

There is so much that comes at you as a startup founder. The keys Jewel shares around customer discovery, getting the blessing of your support system, and building a strong team will help you position yourself to have the best shot at succeeding in your venture. 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.