What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
“First of all, don’t do it for the money. If your primary goal is to get rich, your risk-adjusted return will be a lot higher if you climb the ladder in finance or maybe aim for a management role at an early-growth startup that already has a lot of the risk squeezed out of it. (Like Avatour, for example; we’re hiring!)
It’s almost certainly going to be harder than you think. Be sure you’re ready to handle a long period of low or no income, along with a lot of emotional ups and downs. And if you have a spouse or significant other, make sure you have their buy-in. A failed marriage is way worse than a failed startup.
It’s enormously helpful to have a co-founder or two along with you on your journey — you can compensate for each other’s weaknesses and keep each other’s spirits up when things get tough. But choose your co-founder very carefully. They should really be people you know well already and have worked with before.
Discuss your medium-term needs and long-term goals — how long are you in it for? And make the roles and responsibilities clear from the start. There’s a reason why the CEO / CTO co-founder model is so common — it’s simple and sturdy.
Think carefully about whether you want to go the VC route. There is a categorical difference between the kinds of startups that are fit for venture capital money and those that aren’t. Simply, VCs only want to invest in businesses that could conceivably go public within 10 years. There are a lot of great business ideas that just don’t fit that model, and these days there are a lot of other sources of capital. Don’t assume you have to fit the VC model. Find the right funding model for the kind of company you want to run.
B2B SaaS is a beautiful business model, but you have to take care of your customers. Hire customer success early. Pay close attention to your onboarding process and your usage metrics. Learn who is getting the most value from your product and tailor it for them.”
What is the best method you've found to avoid burnout as an entrepreneur?
“Make time for family and take care of yourself.”
What is your advice for coming up with a unique startup idea?
“It’s best to start from a domain you know well — whether that’s a technical, business, or consumer domain. The higher-probability route is to identify a problem in a business or consumer domain that has a potential solution driven by some new technology. The much harder route, the one we took, is to build a new technical capability and then try to figure out a business application for it. I’d recommend the first option, for sure. Brainstorm on the ‘pain points’ you’ve experienced in your business or your personal life. Can you think of a way to improve them? If so, you might be onto something.”
What is your advice for overcoming challenges and failure?
“When things get hard, there’s no magic bullet. The only thing I know how to do is work harder. Sometimes it’s that last bit of effort that makes the difference. As long as you do everything you can, there’s no shame in failure. Do your best. Leave it all on the field.”
What is the biggest lesson you learned and what can aspiring entrepreneurs take from it?
“Don’t be afraid of mistakes! It comes with the territory. As long as you’re able to recognize a mistake and change course, you’ll learn more from your mistakes than your successes.”
- Check out Avatour’s company profile, origin story, and ways to support them!
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