‘Find Your Gift And Give It Away’: Isa Watson On Building A New Startup

Kwame Som-Pimpong
Written by Kwame Som-Pimpong
Isa Watson
‘Find your gift and give it away’: Isa Watson, CEO of Squad, shares insights on building a new startup and positioning yourself to be successful. Isa Watson is the founder of social community platform Squad by Envested. Photo: Anita Sanikop

Are you thinking about launching a startup? In a conversation with GHOGH host Jamarlin Martin, Isa Watson, founder and CEO of Squad, shares insights founders can leverage to position themselves to be successful.

Squad is an invite-only app and exclusive community for millennials and Gen-Z looking to make real-life connections. It helps professionals build relationships across their industry. Isa and Squad were named to the Inc Magazine 30 under 30 list in 2017. Prior to founding Squad, Isa was a vice president of digital product at JPMorgan Chase and before that, she was a diabetes chemist and data scientist at Pfizer. Isa earned an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master’s in pharmacology from Cornell University and a bachelor’s in chemistry from Hampton University. She is a classical pianist.

Check out Isa’s insights below. 

Find your gift and give it away

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” This quote shapes how Isa approaches building Squad. She was clear on her gifts and saw it as her responsibility to use them to have as great an impact as possible on the world. “I think that the only way that we can make this world better — we’re taking resources from the world, we should put back more into the world — is to nurture our gifts and give them back to the world in a much greater way than we were able to receive them,” she said

Looking for ideas on how you can put your gift out into the world? Here is a resource to help you figure that out:

The Lean Startup – Eric Ries

Hustle for that validation

During the process of raising funding, Isa stresses the importance of building relationships that enable you to get the validation you need from investors. In particular, she stressed the importance of adding value to the relationships you’re seeking to develop. “Everyone can add value to your life, but also don’t be selfish about it. Think about how you can add value to other people,” she said.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 35: Isa Watson
Jamarlin talks to Isa Watson, founder and CEO of Squad by Envested, a VC-backed software company that is scaling a next-gen platform to build relationships at work.

Working on building relationships with people you’d like to be your investors? Here is a resource to get you started:

How To Build Relationships With Investors Before You Need Their Money – Dave Bailey

Take care of you

Isa pointed out how she wished she knew how much she would invest in self-care. She highlights it as critical to her success as a startup founder. Her therapist, life coach, and conversations with her small circle of friends help her to navigate the loneliness that comes with being a startup founder, she said. 

Are you trying to figure out to take care of yourself? Here are some resources:

The Most Difficult Hurdle To Overcome In A Startup’s First Year May Be Psychological – Alyson Shontell

It’s Lonely Being a Solo Founder – Dave Itzkoff

Isa shares a wealth of insights on components necessary for building a startup. What will you be implementing? Let’s GHOGH

Kwame Som-Pimpong advises clients on incorporating human-centered design into their strategy development processes. He is also a writer covering business, technology, policy, and their intersections with black people. 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.