The Life of a Dad-trepreneur

The life of an entrepreneur isn’t an easy one, and neither is the life of a father. This week, ETC would like to highlight some of the founders who have a second job: being a dad.


Meet some of our Dad Entrepreneurs (Dad-trepreneurs) and their Startups:



David Larson – founder of Early Light Media

Early Light Media consists of a dedicated, driven team of individuals who create videos “that shift perceptions and aspire to change the world.” ELM is located at ETC’s Eastern Campus.


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Bill King – founder of Roadmap

Roadmap is “intelligent product management, scheduling, time tracking, and resource planning.” Their software helps you organize and manage projects. Roadmap can be found at ETC’s Eastern Campus.


Dan Dawes – founder of Response Labs

Response Labs is a product development company that helps both customers and consumers to share their brands and experiences. They “aim to bridge technologies, integrate platforms, provide deeper user experiences and enhance relevant insights.” Response Labs is located at the ETC Haven Campus.

To get a closer look into the lives of the elusive dad-entrepreneurs, we asked them a few questions about what it’s like to lead a double life.


Firstly, we asked, “What is the most challenging part of being both a father and an entrepreneur?”

Larson: The most challenging part of being a father and an entrepreneur is balancing the time between working and being at home. Owning a business is like having another child.

King: Most challenging? Balancing time and focus between kids and startup. On the one hand, I’m not much of a father if I’m always working. On the other, I’m not much of a provider if I don’t make the startup successful. A related challenge is not bringing the stress of a startup into the home.

Dawes: The work-life balance is an ongoing challenge. As someone who likes to work, I have to be proactive and take the time to be with the family, too.


“Is it easier being a father or an entrepreneur? Why?”

Larson: I don’t know if either is easier than the other. Being a father is awesome and fulfilling in ways that being an entrepreneur can’t be. And visa versa.

King: Easier to be an entrepreneur. My company may not survive or become as successful as I’d like, but there are always other opportunities. With kids, you only get to be a dad once, especially at certain ages or periods in their lives.

Dawes: Both are easy to get into – but if we add the qualifier of “successful” that changes things a bit. I’d say being a successful father is more difficult. Success being that you raise a smart, driven young man or woman with a solid moral compass that positively contributes to society. The advancement of technology has been really disruptive in areas that are instrumental in their formative years. We now have resources like the internet, iPads for students, Khan Academy and distance learning. Kids can now create, edit and distribute their own music and films with just a laptop and a mobile device. And social media. All of these things come with pros and cons and keeping-up with it enough to help kids understand what to embrace, and what to stay clear of is a real challenge.


“What is your favorite part of being a father and what do you like to do with your kids?”

Larson: I love taking my kids on hikes and exploring interesting areas in Baltimore and in the county. I also love taking them to concerts in Patterson Park during the summer.

King: Favorite part of being a dad is having fun and (trying) to be a good role model.

Dawes: Watching the boys move from infants to little guys has been a blast. And now that they’re a little older, they’re my pals – we fish, play sports, all that good stuff. In fact, they helped launch Dundalk Dan’s beef jerky, so we’ve got them in the entrepreneur space already!


“What helps you balance your life?”

Larson: Coffee….and my wife. But mainly coffee.

King: Balance requires prioritization, compartmentalization, and learning that sometime “good enough” is good enough (just don’t make a habit of it).

Dawes: My wife Stacey is a Super Mom and is instrumental in giving me the time I need to get what’s necessary done at work. She shuttles the boys to school, many sports, etc. allowing me to focus on the company.


“Lastly, any advice for future fathers that have a startup?”

Larson: Find the right balance between work and home and don’t stress the small stuff.

King: Take your risks early in your career. Only making enough money to eat Ramen noodles and cover the basics is a lot easier to pull off than when you have a spouse, kids, etc.

Dawes: Having children is a big responsibility, as is starting and successfully running a company. You have to put in the time and hard work to succeed at both. There’s a lot less time for screwing around. It’s absolutely doable though — so go get after it!


ETC would like to wish a Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!