How Julie Shen Is Turning Ideas Into Strategy and Dreams Into Results
Julie Shen, Founder of Springstead, has a deep passion for the strategy and development needed to launch new businesses.
Though she did not grow up envisioning a path of entrepreneurship, Julie has proven to excel in the role as a founder, possessing a unique knack for connecting the dots of creativity, ideation, and innovation to ultimately start her own business and help others do the same. Harnessing her 15 years of experience in incubating profitable new businesses for organizations such as HBO and Condé Nast, Julie is now focusing her efforts on Springstead, an organization that consults with founders, businesses, and purpose-driven organizations to grow new initiatives. Julie is committed to supporting female and AAPI founders and has been able to strategically utilize Springstead to further her life’s mission.
We asked Julie about the problem Springstead solves, the biggest misconception others have around entrepreneurship, and what’s next for her and Springstead.
Q: What problem does Springstead solve?
A: Women entrepreneurship is growing but obstacles remain in what is often someone’s first foray into starting their own business. As more women start businesses, there is a greater need for advisory and business support to help them develop strategic plans and roadmaps, invest their time and resources wisely, and launch and grow profitably. Business owners pour their love, sweat, and tears into building their endeavors and they deserve to be successful. That is what we help them do: we position their businesses to trailblaze, ascend, and flourish.
Q: What makes Springstead different from other, similar companies?
A: I have deep experience in launching consumer initiatives and executing against the strategic plans that I developed. Our value proposition is that we offer, and are excited about, engagements that straddle both strategy and execution, while other practices primarily focus on strategy. Strategies are absolutely critical—they provide a destination and a path to get to the end result. But anyone who’s ever operationalized against a plan knows that the key to success lies in execution. Real life is dynamic and fluid, and unforeseen circumstances will always arise. Founders need a trusted partner who can help them navigate through challenges and circumvent roadblocks so they can continue to meet their goals.
Q: Did you always know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
A: As the only child to Chinese immigrant parents, the values that were instilled in me were education and profession, not entrepreneurship. I did not grow up thinking I would be a founder, but creativity, ideation, and innovation were always coursing through my veins. My mind is constantly recognizing patterns, looking for white spaces, and seeking new opportunities. That, fused with strategic thinking, business acumen, and characteristics of action and resilience, allows me to feel confident and excited about not only my own entrepreneurial journey, but how I can help my founders with their entrepreneurial journeys.
Q: What’s the biggest misconception that others have around entrepreneurship?
A: Entrepreneurship is often glorified by the buzz around unicorn valuations, high-figure exits, and founder prestige. But people don’t see or understand the sacrifice, grit, and extreme hard work that goes into starting a business from scratch. Even if they see a slice of a startup’s life on social media, it does not reflect the physical, mental, and emotional grind of owning your own business. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to step into your journey for the right reasons—because you have passion and purpose to drive change, and to leave things better than how you found them.
Q: Have you struggled with self doubt as an entrepreneur? How do you navigate this?
A: Self doubt is a symptom of resistance, which always shows up when you are on the precipice of making a change, striving for betterment, or achieving a higher purpose. The resistance tries to keep you safe and sheltered, but it leaves you unchanged and stagnant. The resistance shows up in the slippery forms of self-doubt, impatience, anxiety, procrastination, and fear among other detractors. Use that resistance as a lighthouse on a dark night—the more you feel yourself resisting something, the more it’s an indicator that that’s what you need to pursue.
Q: What would you tell your younger self if you were to start your entrepreneurial journey all over again?
A: Stay hungry, passionate, and humble. The climb is never over. There is always another peak beyond the horizon.
Q: What’s next for you and Springstead?
A: We want Springstead to be the springboard for new ideas, new businesses and new opportunities. We see Springstead as a portfolio business, one that supports founders and businesses with advisory, consultancy, and capital. But also one that positions ourselves to launch original products or services under the Springstead umbrella as we scour the landscape for untapped opportunities.
Julie is a member of Dreamers & Doers, an award-winning community that amplifies extraordinary women leaders and entrepreneurs by securing PR opportunities, forging authentic connections, and curating high-impact resources. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and get involved here.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.