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Getting to know: Erin Powell with Lighthouse Labs
Getting to know

Getting to know: Erin Powell with Lighthouse Labs

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Title: Executive director of Lighthouse Labs, a Richmond-based business accelerator program that provides mentoring and equity-free funding for startup businesses.

Born: 1980 in Roanoke

Education: Bachelor’s degree in communications, Radford University, 2004

Career: Copywriter at Royall & Co., 2004-06; director of sales at Snagajob, 2006-16; founder of Ginger Juice, 2014-present; executive director of Lighthouse Labs, April 2020-present

Where in the metro area do you live: Woodlake area of Chesterfield County

Best business decision: “Not being first to market. Market disruption doesn’t necessarily have to be a radical new idea or a patented invention. Some of the most successful startups of our time didn’t come up with anything new — they just figured out better ways to do everyday tasks. I’ve been lucky enough to be part of several local companies that weren’t the first of their kind. Colleges recruited students before Royall & Co., people found jobs before Snagajob, and healthy people had juice before Ginger Juice. I think there’s a place for all businesses if you pick a large enough market.”

Mistake you learned the most from: “There are no mistakes as long as you are constantly learning. I’ve learned that you can’t do anything on your own — never underestimate the people you surround yourself with. If we want to make progress we have to ask for what we need. When people ask, ‘How can I help you?’ it’s your job to give them something to do.”

First job after college: “During college I was a camp counselor (I can still gut a fish and park a trailer). After college my first job was with Royall & Co. (now EAB).”

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently: “I’m still doing things differently every single day.”

Book that inspired you the most: “Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike,” by Phil Knight, “because it told the brutal truth of how long it takes to build an amazing company. It is always longer than we think.”

Favorite/least favorite subject in school: “Favorites were drama (I was a dancer and this tapped into my creative side) and math (I like it when there’s logic to backup critical thinking. Plus, numbers never lie.) Least favorites were biology (I faint at the sight of blood, so dissecting the frog didn’t go well for me) and geometry (even though I designed three fast-casual restaurants, depth perception is not a strong suit.)”


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