Ross Petersen, Blitsy

Founders: Ross Petersen, Ryan Petersen, Katy Weade, Ab Fadel
Company Description: Online arts and crafts retailer
Company Site:, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
Date of Interview: December 2014

Ross Petersen, Blitsy

Ross Petersen, Blitsy
Art by
John Rose

Ross Petersen is the CEO and co-founder of Blitsy. He comes from an ancestry of entrepreneurship and has deep industry knowledge through the family business and his own work experience – which includes starting and selling a startup to Michaels, North America’s largest crafting retailer. He believes in family, quick decisions, learning, ethics, living without regrets…. and letting the family pets inspire the office.

On his previous startups and building up to Blitsy:
After college, Ross and his twin brother, Ryan, actually started Vintage Revived, a drop-shipping site for t-shirts, as a way to earn some extra money to help pay their mortgage while they worked full time jobs. In 2008, Ryan came home with a “sit up in your seat idea” for ScrapHD, a digital scrapbooking platform. They brought in their older sister, Katy, and current Blitsy CTO, Ab, to be part of the team as well. Within 18 months, they went from launch to exit and sold their software to Michaels in 2010.

“Back then I was so green to everything. Venture capital wasn’t even really an option. It was just about thinking through a sound business idea and executing against it. I think that’s a good way to think through it for any entrepreneur.”

 “Don’t get too far ahead of yourself.”

After getting bought by Michaels, Ryan continued working for their dad’s distribution company and Ross and Katy went in-house at Michaels. Then, in November 2011, Ryan launched the original version of Blitsy as a side project. Shortly after, the original ScrapHD team reunited and decided that Blitsy was worth pursuing as a stand-alone product. In July 2012, Ross pitched to a Chicago-based venture capital firm and started getting serious traction.

 “That’s really when it was game on.”

On entrepreneurship DNA:
“One of the biggest issues for most people in starting a business is accepting the risk. I think that I’m a naturally risky individual. I don’t know if it is nature or nurture. I think some of it is that we are just true entrepreneurs. We have a lot of the DNA for it and I’m finding that out more as I continue. The fact that they (his family) were successful entrepreneurs lowered the barrier of entry for us to think about becoming entrepreneurs and starting a business.”

“I don’t live having any regrets about anything. When I think about the way I naturally process things – I’ve just always allowed negative to roll off and focus on the positive.”

On networking, collaborating and transparency:
“When I first started out I was very stealth-minded. I didn’t want to share my view and ideas and wanted to be under the radar with building. For some ideas that makes sense, but not for the vast majority. The best advice I would give is to not be stealthy – be screaming from the top of your lungs to everyone and anyone who will listen to your ideas and thoughts so that you can hear their feedback. I recognized over the course of time that it’s a huge advantage to actually talk to people – whether it is investors or other entrepreneurs or anyone. The more the merrier – I’m learning from everyone. Back in the day, that wasn’t my mindset.”

“Most people should want to talk. If you feel strongly about your market and the opportunities you’re going after, then you should have no hesitancy to talk through these things.”

 “There’s enough here for all of us.”

On investors and funding:
With ScrapHD, the team bootstrapped from their friends and family to launch it. “With the first company, I wasn’t sophisticated enough to even think through it. I was just genuinely passionate about the idea and we had enough capital to get to that MVP (minimum viable product). I was not worried, for whatever reason. I felt so strongly about what I was doing. In my mind, there was no doubt that I’d get them their money back. If venture capitalism had been part of my background, maybe I might have negotiated a little differently.”

With Blitsy, the scene, timing and vision were different. Ross and team saw a huge opportunity to disrupt the industry and wanted to be the first to market. “It became natural to realize we needed outside help besides friends and family. I’m using this money to accelerate growth by doing X, Y and Z. You don’t just raise capital because you’re up against the guys with big pockets. You do it to get a strategic advantage or allow a ramp up fast enough to disrupt the industry.”

“I can’t tell you if what I’m doing is right or wrong, but I’m doing what I feel is right. We’ve ramped up pretty aggressively. I heard once that when you start accepting funding you have to imagine yourself running as fast as you can towards a brick wall.”

“Right before you hit impact, you hope someone jumps in front of you and helps you hurdle that wall before you have to do it all over again.”

On managing people along with growth:
Ross is not shy about supporting a quick hire and quick fire mentality. “It’s managing personalities not so much the role. I’ve learned a little more about what I’m looking for in a hire. I try to be upfront about everything. We’re very transparent with our data. I let people know exactly how I’m feeling and where we’re at. I want them to know what they’re getting into so that there are no surprises. We have a phenomenal team in place right now.”

Ross believes that it’s not just about the opportunity that Blitsy is seizing in the marketplace. It’s also about providing a platform that gives manufacturing brands a way to survive against the big box brick and mortar retailers. “Someone has to come in and support these manufacturers that are attempting to sell online amidst the declining shelf space and visibility at box retailers who continue to favor their own private labels. We’re helping create jobs and making sure these brands survive.”

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