Founder Friday at the Vine with Cailen Sullivan of 170 Ventures

December 04, 2016

ELEVATE: What’s the most challenging thing about being a founder?

CAILEN SULLIVAN: The most challenging thing is that EVERYTHING is challenging! Nothing is easy no matter how simple it seems on the surface. Just to get started you have to dig in, talk to potential customers, feel and understand their pain at the core. Then you have to figure out how to solve their problems, build the product, realize you got a lot of things wrong, iterate, iterate some more, then if you’re lucky you now have to scale that to tons of customers, figure out how to grow and manage your version of a company, hire the right people, and on and on!

ELEVATE: What’s the most rewarding?

CAILEN SULLIVAN: Doing things on your own time… Even though you will probably push yourself harder than anyone else ever would, it’s a great feeling knowing that at anytime you are in charge of what you want to be doing. That kind of control is what makes life enjoyable. You are doing what you want to be doing.

ELEVATE: How’s your experience been being based at The Vine San Diego? What made you choose The Vine vs. all of your options?

CAILEN SULLIVAN: It’s been great! We’ve worked in amazing private office locations, our own homes, and even other co-working spaces, but The Vine is definitely one of our favorites. The atmosphere is upbeat/friendly and the environment is clean/accommodating. I’ve spoken with the community manager a few times and it seems like there are a lot of great ideas on constantly improving this place. Can’t wait to see what is in store.

ELEVATE: What’s one piece of advice you would share with all budding entrepreneurs?

CAILEN SULLIVAN: Keep your head down, stay focused, and network!

ELEVATE: What’s one thing you would advise budding entrepreneurs to ignore?

CAILEN SULLIVAN: Distractions. There will be a lot of opportunity, but stay focused on your goal.

ELEVATE: Anything you would do differently if you could go back and launch Email Copilot again?

CAILEN SULLIVAN: Nothing at all! Mistakes are what allow you to run things better in the future. And it’s impossible to start off perfect.

ELEVATE: What do your customers LOVE about Email Copilot?

CAILEN SULLIVAN: They love our accessibility and ease of use. Our product provides instant gratification for our customers.

ELEVATE: What do YOU love about 170 Ventures?

CAILEN SULLIVAN: The margins 🙂

ELEVATE: What do you look for in a stellar team member across functions?

CAILEN SULLIVAN: Willingness to adapt and superb problem solving skills.

ELEVATE: Thank you so much for your insight Cailen! We like to end with a window into how our founders get work done. What are the 3 productivity tools that you personally cannot live without?


  1. Gmail
  2. Freshdesk
  3. Cuda Sign
  4. Google Sheets (one for good luck!)