Kyle Samani is an entrepreneur, intellectual, and a capitalist. He specializes in all things sales, e.g. selling equity (fundraising), selling candidates (recruiting), and selling product.
Kyle is currently looking for his next adventure. He's looking to join a leadership team that will make a dent in the universe. He enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, snowboarding, CrossFit, reading, writing, and video games.
In this interview, Kyle shares his background in entrepreneurship along with his earliest business ventures. He's experienced ups and downs, always getting back up to push forward. We can learn a lot from this guy, so when you're done reading his story be sure to follow Kyle on Twitter!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, Kyle and what you do as an entrepreneur?
I was born and raised in Austin, TX. Both my parents have run small businesses for my entire life, so naturally I was drawn to entrepreneurship. I started building computers when I was about 10, and programming when I was 11 with my dad’s help. By the time I was 18, I thought I was too cool to be a programmer, so I went to NYU to study finance. Two years into college, I realized I was too cool to be a banker and went right back into programming.
I started working at VersaSuite, a company in Austin that builds electronic health records, during and after college. I learned a ton there. After about 3 years, I quit and started Pristine, which was initially focused on building solutions for Google Glass for use by surgeons. Pristine raised $1M in angel, and another $5M in venture. Obviously, I had to pivot the business when Google effectively ended the Glass program. I left Pristine in December 2015.
These days, I’m working on a new startup in the legal-tech space. For now I’m keeping it quiet, but I think my new company can reshape how people think about litigation data.
Although I have a technical background, I haven’t written code in about 5 years. But I love working with engineers and occasionally can ask a tough technical question or 2. These days, I focus purely on fundraising, hiring, marketing, and sales. I also am dabbling with some angel investing on the side. I made my first few investments this year.
When did you know that you had a business on your hands and not just a ‘good idea’? (The ‘Aha!’ moment)
I started Pristine mostly out of desire to start something for the sake of starting something. Google had just announced Glass, and it was by far the shiniest of new toys at the time. I thought it was the coolest thing ever.
I also knew quite a bit about the intricacies of hospital operations. Naturally, I saw an opportunity to bring Glass to hospitals. So I started with a solution, and started running as fast as I could without actually having a problem. Luckily, I found one, which was a combination of luck and hustle.
For my new business, it’s been the exact opposite process. I had some questions about the legal system that I was unable to answer. So I kept digging deeper and deeper until I discovered what I think is the root cause of my initial problem. And now that’s keeping me occupied full time.
Have you ever gotten a disappointed client or customer? If so, how did you handle the situation?
Yes, many. In the early days of Pristine, we didn’t know what use case to focus on. As a result, we sold into many use cases that didn’t end up working out. There were so many use cases for Google Glass in healthcare. One of my biggest learnings from Pristine was picking a single use case and hyper-focusing on it.
Did you have a hard time starting your business? How did you handle time and resources constraints?
It was hard, but my naivety helped. I was just so committed to starting anything that I kept going at 100mph no matter what got in my way.
As a business owner, what is your greatest fear and how do you keep it under control or harness it?
Running out of money. I’ve run out of money enough times now to deal with the emotional roller coaster that comes with it. That process taught me how to compartmentalize my personal and work lives so that work wouldn’t ruin my personal life. I don’t know of any way to cope with it other than to deal with it and build a strong emotional frame.
Have you faced any failures with your business? How did you overcome it?
Yes, too many to count. I’ve had investors sign documents and not wire money. I’ve had investors invest and then immediately demand the money back and threaten to sue. I’ve had customers sign and not pay. Just keep calm, and navigate the political waters. Don’t get angry, and don’t let others pull you down.
What makes your business unique from others? How did you find your competitive advantage?
For my new business, we think we’re taking a fresh approach on a really opaque problem, and combining that with some recent technologies that would have made the problem previously unsolveable. Timing, insight, and execution.
When times get tough, what would you say motivates you to keep going? To not hit the snooze button and to keep fighting for your goals.
Accomplishing my vision, and not running out of money, lol.
What are your visions for your business? Where do you see it in the next 5 years?
I can’t really talk about this publicly, sorry.