By Claudia Capos
As the new program manager at the Desai Accelerator, Katy Lind looks forward to being the “bolt that zaps people into action.”
Having launched her own Ann Arbor-based company, Pincause, in January 2017, Lind knows all too well the many hurdles and hiccups that entrepreneurs and founders must overcome every day. Often they need a business-savvy coach or mentor to serve as a sounding board, offer feedback and make valuable connections.
“Being the founder of a new company can be tough and exhausting, so I intend to bring positivity and high energy to our startups and interns at the Desai Accelerator,” Lind explains. “I have had the experience of starting something from nothing and building it into a big success in a short amount of time. I understand what it takes to get a venture off the ground, to get products in front of the right customers and to grow a brand.”
At Desai, one of Lind’s first priorities is recruiting and hiring University of Michigan student interns for the accelerator’s paid summer internship program. The initiative is intended to build a pipeline of future entrepreneurial leaders while providing Desai’s portfolio of startup companies access to student talent across a variety of disciplines.
“One of the hardest things for startup founders is getting talent to perform tasks they don’t have the skills or time to do themselves,” Lind explains. “We want to make sure we have that talent on hand, so our startups can keep moving forward and become investor-ready. This is one of our key differentiators as an accelerator.”
Lind also is assisting Desai’s managing director, Angela Kujava, in the selection of high-tech startups for the 2018 summer cohort, which will be in residency at the accelerator for four months. During that time, Lind will help founders navigate through the tangle of nuts-and-bolts business tasks ─ such as creating partnership agreements, procuring sales-tax licenses, creating marketing campaigns and modeling cash flows ─ that are essential for keeping high-growth startups on track.
In addition, Lind will be working with Desai’s cadre of professional mentors, overseeing some event planning and program management and raising public awareness of the Desai brand name.
Wearing many hats at the same time comes naturally to Lind, an East Coast native who has pursued a variegated career path crisscrossing different industries and geographies. After earning dual degrees, in Theatre and Dance, at Scripps College in Claremont, California, in 2006, she headed for Los Angeles to enter the film industry. For three years, she worked in marketing and produced movie premieres for studios including Sony Pictures and Lionsgate.
Lind pivoted in 2009 and enrolled at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business to earn an MBA degree. “I was the only dance major at my business school,” she says. After graduation, Lind moved to Ann Arbor and landed a position at Root Inc., a business management consulting firm in Sylvania, Ohio. For four years she provided creative and analytical business services to Fortune 500 companies, such as Hilton Worldwide, Gap Inc. and PepsiCo.
In 2015, Lind’s career path took her to the Michigan Small Business Development Center, where she offered business assistance to local companies. Her interest in entrepreneurship then drew her to Ann Arbor-based information-security firm Duo Security, where Lind “wore a lot of different hats.” She worked closely with Duo’s co-founder, Dug Song, which afforded her “a front-row seat to seeing how to scale a business very quickly.”
Over the past 14 months, Pincause has been the apple of Lind’s eye and has consumed most of her time. The micro-fundraising nonprofit, co-founded with her partner, Nate Stevens, commissions artists to design unique pins and then sells them to raise money for important causes. British actress and activist Emma Watson wore a Pincause pin in 2017. To date, the nonprofit has donated more than $200,000 to worthy causes.
With the pressing demands of her new job at the Desai Accelerator, Lind will assume “somewhat of a figurehead” role and hand over leadership of Pincause to Stevens.
“I’ll be serving entrepreneurs by day at Desai and taking care of entrepreneurial tasks at night,” Lind says.