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Dale Willis, Curate Solutions

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Dale Willis, co-founder and CTO, Curate Solutions.

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What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

My co-founder and I started Curate from nothing a year and a half ago. Curate’s software scans through public meeting agendas and minutes from cities, counties, and school board websites and sends its customers weekly reports of leads and business intelligence. Curate’s customers then utilize this information to grow their businesses.

It has been incredibly challenging to build something from scratch, all the while trying to find the best way to communicate a complicated product’s value to potential customers. Having said that, when the wheels finally start moving and you get a chance to step back and see sales and customer success stories, there isn’t anything else like it.

Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

Locally someone who I admire is Joe Kirgues, the co-founder of gener8tor. Joe is an amazing individual who is fun to be around, and he is a visionary thinker who’s always willing to help solve difficult problems. He understands what it takes to start out with an idea on a napkin and develop it into a thriving business. Outside of the local community, I would have to say Elon Musk, for being someone who doesn’t take no for an answer, and for being someone who understands both the 30,000-foot view, as well as the small details.

What has been the high point of your career so far?

Getting accepted into the gener8tor startup accelerator program in February 2016, which has a less than 1% acceptance rate. Prior to that, I was working on my PhD in computer science at UW–Madison and dabbling in starting a company. Getting into gener8tor was the day I realized I could focus on starting a company, and dabble in research instead. I find it incredibly rewarding to see customers using what you have built firsthand, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Everything you do is part of your story; don’t be afraid to take risks and add chapters to your personal story. When things get difficult, focus on what is really important: your health, family, friends, and what makes you passionate enough to get out of bed in the morning. If you focus on that, everything else will fall into place.

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