The Internet Summit and the new “Startup Summit” jumped off to an insightful start Tuesday with the opening panel discussion.

Four founders and chief executive officers shared their key secrets to success with southeast venture capitalist David Jones of Raleigh-based Southern Capitol Ventures, in the “Art of the Start.” 

Some of their responses to questions from Jones might surprise you.

For example, the founder and CEO has to be a sales person in addition to other duties.

Said Mike Doernberg, CEO of ReverbNation: “It is critical that the founder is part of the selling early on.

“You can’t just build a product and then outsource sales.”

Then there is this advice from Greg Cangialosi, founder and CEO of BlueSky Factory when you are thinking about financing.

“The very best way to finance your business is through revenue (and) customers.”

In other words, don’t expect any angel to bail you out.

Doernberg also stressed that entrepreneurs need to get started. Period.

“Don’t worry about someone stealing your idea,” he warned. “It’s about the execution.

“Hurry up and grow your business.”

Aaron Houghton of Boostsuite who co-founded and later sold email marketing firm iContact said CEOs must be good liseners.

“There is no substitute for listening to your customers,” he said.

Playing off the idea of listening, a couple of the founders noted their companies were developed out of services and consulting to other firms.

Also on the panel was David Morken, CEO of, which is growing so fast that it’s taking over Red Hat’s old headquarters at NCSU’s Centennial Campus.

Morken and his team are not afraid to take on challenges.

Their latest venture, Republic Wireless, aims to compete with the largest wireless providers.

How about that?