Home > Articles

My Start-Up Story: Advice for Would-be Entrepreneurs from Mobile Evangelist Sian Morson

Mobile evangelist Sian Morson talks about her path from project manager to entrepreneur and offers words of advice to those considering entrepreneurship.
Like this article? We recommend

As a young girl, I remember having a fascination with how things worked. Anything remotely electronic, I would take apart and put back together again. Even so, I never gravitated towards any of the STEM subjects other than those that were required. I believed they were “too hard” and didn’t have a teacher that made them seem particularly exciting.  I did, however, take a BASIC class in junior high school, which I really enjoyed. My instructor was Mr. Fuller, an African American. In retrospect, I realize how unique this was. And truth be told, Mr. Fuller was probably the first Blerd I’d ever seen or met!  The class piqued my interest so much that I asked for and received a Commodore VIC 20 computer and later on, a Commodore 64 when that was released. I remember being up late at night writing lines and lines and code, but eventually my interest in computers faded, and I turned my attention to other matters.  It didn’t help that I wasn’t particularly good at math and I was just OK in science. A career in technology was never really on my radar. I focused on my creativity and eventually landed in film school at NYU, but the fascination with how things work remained.

When the dot com boom (v1.0) happened, I was front and center and had relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area. I was working as a bartender at the time, but dot com cash was everywhere and it was changing the city in many ways. It was while I was behind the bar that I came into contact with some of the newly-minted  millionaires and employees of this ‘new economy’. I quickly found that technology fed my latent fascination with how things work.

My first real contact with a true software engineer came when I met my friend James. A nocturnal creature, he coded all night and slept during the day. There was something truly fascinating about the myriad of computers in his loft apartment. I was also impressed by the lifestyle that ‘engineering’ afforded him as well. I asked him to teach me about what he did and he reluctantly agreed.

It was a rocky road. I was only learning HTML at the time. We were using a WYSWYG editor called Visual Page. And let’s just say James wasn’t the most patient teacher. But I managed to pick up the basics. He gave me an old computer and a modem. From the moment my modem connected, I knew that the Internet would change everything. By then, my skills, though rudimentary at best, qualified me for some of the jobs that this new economy was creating.

I started my career as a project manager managing teams doing large-scale web builds and banners (remember those?). I wasn’t even sure what we were building when I started, but I knew that I was able to communicate well with people and get them to do what I needed them to do. Project managers are responsible for the successful (on time and on budget) delivery of projects, and communication is key. I have an innate gift of gab, so in a way, it was the perfect entry point into technology..  By managing engineers and creatives, I learned about their work and how they did what they did. I learned to speak the language and excelled at my job, eventually moving in up in the ranks and working at various agencies in San Francisco, New York and London.

Starting Out
My initial idea for Kollective Mobile came as I was deciding to leave my job as Director of Interactive at a Bay Area pharmaceutical agency. I knew that whatever I would do would be in the mobile realm. I’d just spearheaded the creation and expansion of a mobile subsidiary, and I’d seen the exponential growth of mobile since I’d relocated from Europe back to the US. I knew mobile was the future, and I knew how to manage a variety of skillsets – from technical engineers to creatives (designers, writers etc.) and project managers. I knew how to placate clients and deal with complex issues. But I still didn’t know that I was on the brink of starting a new agency. When I finally accepted that, it was quite daunting. I’d always worked for large, global agencies. It wasn’t immediately apparent that I could do this on a smaller level. I discussed it with family members and friends to get their take. But very few of them even knew what I was talking about. Agencies are a breed of their own. Anyone who has spent time working at one can attest to that fact. But, I still wasn’t comfortable talking to coworkers about my idea. So, I didn’t. I kept it stealthy until my launch.

Starting an agency or any other business is difficult work. I had the name set up, but then I had to find clients and talent! Fortunately, I was able to tap my network to find people who were willing to take a chance on me. Once we proved ourselves on the smaller projects, we knew that the larger projects would eventually come. And they did.  We found ourselves in a position where the competition was fierce; we were being undercut by other mobile development shops that were shipping work overseas. But eventually, our clients would come back with horror stories of unfinished work, badly written code, and products that simply didn’t work. We took those as opportunities to show what we could do and to build solid relationships with our clients. In the beginning, no job was too small. We pretty much took everything that we were being offered. Now, we’re a bit more selective. But when you’re initially starting out, you need a wide range of jobs to prove that you can do many different kinds of projects.

One of the things that I learned early was that we needed to diversify our client base. So while one of my goals was to work with small businesses, I realized pretty quickly that they were not going to sustain ourselves working only with small businesses. We sought out a range of clients from small businesses to large advertising agencies, mid-sized companies and even start-ups and government work because we were hungry, but also because the range of projects that we would be able to work on. The breadth of the work was staggering. We were able to work on cool, disruptive apps for Silicon Valley startups, simple prototypes for independent entrepreneurs, and consumer-based apps with a larger user base for million-dollar clients. In some instances, we were invisible to the client, and in others we were a part of a large campaign with a team of over 30. All of this variation really makes getting up in the morning really exciting. 

It Wasn’t Always Rosy
Along the way, there were disasters too. Growing pains make for awkward situations, and sometimes clients think that you are bigger than you really are. When you take on a big project, your client expects a certain level of flexibility that we weren’t always able to provide as quickly as they may have liked. In one instance, we were working on a global account with partners in China, the US and the UK. Coordinating communication across country lines with language and cultural barriers as well as time differences made for a challenging project. We struggled to stay on top of the feedback coming from all corners of the world and even, sadly, dropped the ball a few times. Luckily, we were able to communicate with our client who stepped in and helped out by channeling all feedback through one main stakeholder. This made the process much easier and we were able to get the project back on track. Ultimately, it was very successful for us and them. I’m happy to say that we’ve worked those issues out but it was pretty touch and go there for a month or two.

One thing about having your own business is that you can never sit back on your laurels and coast. You’re always out there trying to find the next client and trying to understand which direction technology is moving in. Things are moving so fast in the mobile space that it’s important to stay abreast of all of the wonderful changes taking place. Clients expect that, and if you want to stay in the game and be competitive you need to keep up.

I am always trying to find new opportunities to learn. Since I do best outside of a structured environment, the advances in technology have been great because you don’t need to sit in a classroom to stay abreast.. I learn best by doing. Sometimes when we’re placed in a position where we have to learn something quickly is the best way. When you’re running a business and you’re all doing it together it can be crazy but mostly it’s exciting!

Advice for Entrepreneurs
Plan everything: Plan the business before you actually start it, and once you’ve started it plan every project. Success comes from proper planning and preparation. You might be able to wing it for a little while, but it won’t last long. Failure is certain without it.

Surround yourself with like-minded people: Some people are leaders and others are followers. There is no judgment in that statement. But leaders don’t often hang out with followers. If you’re on a path or a mission, you need to surround yourself with people who share your drive, your determination, your struggles and yes perhaps your failures, too.

Always have an outlet: Work is great. You will do plenty of it when you are running your own business. But, work isn’t everything.  Balance is important. So, take time to ensure that your life is well balanced.  Entrepreneurs often glamourize the ‘start-up grind’; the long hours with no sleep and stories of living in cars and on ramen noodles.  But that life is overrated. Make the time to do other things, whether it’s seeing friends, meditating and exercising, or veg’ing with a bit of reality TV.

Get a mentor: Entrepreneurship isn’t new. Find someone who has done it before and spend time with him or her. Be prepared to listen and learn.

Try to find a lesson in everything: There always is one.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember to have a good time at whatever it is you choose to do.  I always say entrepreneurship has been the most difficult undertaking for me. But, it has also been the most rewarding thus far.  If you can find the time to enjoy the work you do, that’s half that battle.

For more articles and resources, visit our Women in Technology page.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020