Monday, February 7, 2011

Author Interview: Cynthia Kocialski, Author of Start Up from the Ground Up

Joining us today is Cynthia Kocialski, author of the business book, Startup from the Ground Up: Practical Insights for Transforming an Idea into a Business. Cynthia is the founder of three companies – two fabless semiconductor and one software company.  In the past 15 years, she has been involved in dozens of start-ups and has served on various advisory boards. These companies have collectively returned billions of dollars to investors.

Prior to her work in the start-up community, Cynthia held a wide range of technical, marketing, and management positions at major corporations. Cynthia graduated from the University of Rochester with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and applied statistics. She also has graduate degrees from the University of Virginia in both electrical engineering and systems engineering.

She also writes the popular Start-up Entrepreneurs’ Blog and has written many articles on emerging technologies.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Cynthia. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

As the youngest of four children, I am an observer and pay attention to much that goes on around me. I am highly analytical and very good with numbers and statistics. I am also exceptional at rooting out information. These traits have given me great skill at figuring out complex systems and getting the big picture perspective. I love puzzles, mysteries and figuring out how things work.

When I start something, I feel obligated to finish it and compelled to do it the best that I can. If I’m not willing to pour my heart into something then I don’t do it.

I love meeting and talking to people. I can’t stand sitting around and doing nothing. I am not a good spectator because I always want to be playing the game and not watching it. I am always out and about. I am my harshest critic. I am demanding of myself and others. I question most things – the rules, the facts, and the norm. I don’t like negative people. There is nothing else like the feeling of the thrill of victory.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in upstate New York. I’ve lived in New York City, Washington, D.C., Miami, and San Francisco.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

By second grade many of my friends were having birthday parties, and I decided I wanted one too. I sat down at my brother’s desk one day, and made up my own party invitations. I handed them out at school the next day. Then I told my parents I was having a birthday party at our house and I needed a birthday cake, party favors, and party games. My parents didn’t scold me, they just did what I asked and supported me. I was thrilled when all my friends arrived for the party. It was so successful that this was the first of a string of similar childhood initiatives.

When did you begin writing?

I began writing during one of my start-ups, where I found myself writing articles and white papers to explain how computer networks worked. What really got me writing was my mother. She lived on the other side of the country and wanted to know what her grandchildren were doing, and so I got in the habit of writing a daily journal about my children and sending it to her in email. Once I got into routine of writing daily, I started a website about emerging technologies and from there I started writing a blog about start-ups.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I write in the morning before my kids get up for school. I often wake up in the middle of the night with an idea and then I grab my laptop and start typing. I have been using computers most of my life and I find it almost impossible to write using paper and pen. I have to be typing at a keyboard in order for the words and ideas to flow.

What is this book about?

Startup from the Ground Up - Practical Insights for Entrepreneurs, How to Go from an Idea to New Business is a non-fiction business book.

Start-ups don’t fail because companies are unable to build a product; they fail because the business factors needed to bring that product into the market are either neglected or ignored. Startup from the Ground Up gets the entrepreneur moving down the right path and thinking in the right direction with tips, strategies, and techniques on how to launch a start up. In this book, readers will discover why a great product isn’t enough.

What inspired you to write it?

At about the same point in time, a few friends and colleagues mentioned that I should write a book. At first I didn’t take the suggestion seriously and then one day, I came across an article about the new era of personal branding. That got me to think more seriously about the idea. Someone suggested I started with an e-book. But as I started writing, the e-book became a book.

Who is your biggest supporter?

My 9 year old daughter. When the proof of my book arrived, she took it to school to show her teacher and classmates.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

My book can be purchased online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It is also available in some local bookstores.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

My blog is
My Facebook page is

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

The publication and editing process takes a lot longer than you think. Get started on planning the promotion and marketing of the book as early as possible.

What is up next for you?

One of the emerging technology topics being talked about is book augmented reality books. A simple example of augmented reality are the line markers and playbook doodles added to the footage of a football game. With the proliferation of electronic book readers and books in digital formats, it comes down to enhancing the written word with digital age features. I would like to try and write my next book on start-ups using this new approach.

Thank you for spending time with us today, Cynthia. We wish you continued success.


Michelle V said...

Great interview! Looks like a very good book.

terri.forehand said...

This sounds like a good resource for anyone thinking about starting a business. Thanks for sharing.


Suzanne Lieurance said...

I love books that give tips for starting a business! This one looks like a good resource.

It's also interesting to see how other authors got their start.

April said...

What a great interview, ladies! This sounds like such an informative book!

Farrah said...

I love that your 9 year old is one of your great supporters! Kids are awesome cheerleaders!

Mayra Calvani said...

Wonderful interview and the book sounds terrific to business starters.