Fostering Local Relationships

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Mendel KurlandOn Thursday, April 25th, Mendel Kurland paid a visit to the Strategic Innovation Academy. Mendel currently works for as a Local Outreach and Referral Specialist. He is also an entrepreneur and founded UILife, a University of Iowa-focused social networking site that flourished in the early 2000s.

The beginning of the talk centered on Mendel’s experience as the founder of UILife and the challenges of running a new venture. He talked about some of the successes and the failures of the site, and how these in turn became valuable lessons for him. The need to constantly “listen, learn, iterate, and improve” was one such lesson. Perhaps the biggest lesson to come out of the experience was that one should not give up, and that you very often cannot tell when success is going to manifest itself.

Throughout his talk, Mendel emphasized the importance of fostering incredible local relationships. This is the gist of his current project at, which aspires to connect creatives, entrepreneurs, and developers and to educate them on the how-to aspects of building websites and improving one’s web presence. The efforts consist of hands-on workshops.

Mendel also spoke to the importance of why customer education is important. In addition to improving brand loyalty, it lowers the costs of serving customers and increases the potential lifetime value of a customer. He also talked a little bit about the difficulties of measuring success within the context of his current GoDaddy project. Getting to an ROI number is not always easy when the focus of a venture is on enhancing connections and relationships among a network of people.

Bob Parson’s “16 Rules for Success in Business and Life and General” were also a source of frequent inspiration for the speaker. You can find those rules in their entirety here, on Mendel’s personal website. During the talk, Mendel stressed the need to get out of one’s comfort zone in order to do great things. In the words of Bob Parsons, “Security is for cadavers.”

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