In 2012, CEA’s Innovation Movement launched a new campaign called “Faces of Innovation.” Every week, the Innovation Movement highlights a new innovator or entrepreneur on its website and “Innovation Conversation” newsletter. The individuals featured in the campaign are the real faces of American innovation and are job creators making a better America for today and for future generations. Each innovator has an opportunity to tell their story and voice which issues in the industry are the most important to them and their company. Their stories illustrate the struggles and highlights of running an American business, large and small. As an outlet for entrepreneurs, the Innovation Movement hopes their insights will inspire current and future innovators alike. The “Faces of Innovation” campaign will continue through 2013, featuring entrepreneurs from all aspects of technology. I3 will introduce several of these innovators in future issues. You can find out more at DeclareInnovation.com.
 

Lief Larson, Founder and CEO, Workface

 
Workface is a leading-edge communication and relationship tool for talking to existing customers (and the new customers you want to create) across the Internet. We discuss the future of Web-based marketing and social media, innovation and government.
 

Explain the concept behind Workface. Where did you come up with the idea for this company?

 
The concept behind Workface is that, as customers, when we’re thinking about buying something from a company, it would be nice if there was a “human” option on its website, somebody you could see is online and that you could talk with in real-time. The idea came from witnessing (and personally experiencing) what a painful process it is for new customers to find real human beings online.
 
Our experiences with social media have increased our expectations for a more social experience, but most companies are lacking the human layer on their web sites. Many companies herd customers like cattle into “contact us” form fields or call centers. Workface was the extension of a belief that customers expect richer, more humanized engagement with companies. Most of our clients believe in what we believe in. They want to enable their sales and support teams to make instant and meaningful contact with their customers online.
 

What are you most passionate about as an entrepreneur?

 
I’m driven by seeing ideas come to life, but more importantly the creativity and process that is required to see the idea come to fruition. I’m only an entrepreneur out of necessity. It is extremely rewarding working with new aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators to help them turn their big ideas into realities.
 

What has been the most challenging aspect of being involved in a startup? What has been the most rewarding?

 
In every entrepreneur’s life there will be points where you either feel demoralized or run into financing issues; these are the two leading killers of startups. The challenging part is overcoming these two issues. Having built and sold several businesses, I can speak from first-hand experience that the most rewarding part is being a survivor and knowing that your idea or business should have died, but you nevertheless persevered. Very often the early stages of the business are not about being successful, but finding out a way not to die. It sounds so cliché, but the reward is in the journey.

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