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April 11, 2017

What’s it like to start a company?

Last week I’ve talked to the entrepreneurs from the 2017 cohort of RebelBio, in Cork, Ireland. I’m hopeful I’ll be helping them overcome at least some of the ongoing issues you face as a startup founder. So I had a presentation that touched some of these points:

1. You’re not alone

You’ll often feel that you are alone and nobody understands you. While it may be true that most people don’t understand you, there are some that do: the people around you, that go through the same shit. People that just went through it are also a good source of help (I’ve started MavenHut 5 years ago, I still remember the feeling of waking up and not knowing what I should do next).

2. Too much information, too many mentors

You don’t have to act on everything NOW. Just know that these mentors are available to help and know that what they say is something that you will need at some point. It’s a resource you can use at some point.

3. You will fight with your co-founders

This is not an issue. It’s an issue if you don’t sort it out and let it linger. All of you are together in this so find a way to sort out the issues when they appear.

4. Draw a co-founder agreement

Look, maybe the most important thing you have to do along with your cofounders is to align your expectations. Even if you don’t make it a document, make it an email that you all know. Things get forgotten in time (everybody kinda forgets things that they don’t really care about), so keep this as a reminder.

5. Define success

What is it that you want from this company? Money? How much? Reputation? What does it mean? Being in scientific journals? Appearing on the cover of Forbes? All of you need to understand what the others want so that you can align.

6. Define failure

When do you stop? While it’s anticlimactic to think about it, you should. It’s not a bad thing. If you say that you will stop if you don’t get enough funding (and define the amount clearly) in a year, you will have a lot of fire under your ass to make that thing happening.

7. What are your cofounders’ limits?

Each one of us has limits: being it family time, not being able to travel, financial issues (mortgage). Talk about them as early as possible.

8. How to use the accelerator (if you go through one)

– Meet with as many people as you can and pitch your business
– Ask them two questions: what should I do to improve my pitch & who do you know that you think would be interested in what I do?
– Create a monthly newsletter where you add (ask them before!!) all the potential investors and mentors that you talk to. Just to keep them updated, even if they are not interested in your company or domain. I’ve never heard of an investor saying “no, don’t send me information about your company”. We’ve done it pretty successfully at MavenHut.

That’s it for today :) A good, complementary reading might be the story of the first year of MavenHut.

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