How many years have you been a Founder?
Are you a first-time or serial Founder:
What's your backstory. How did you come to be a Founder?
I started my first proper business five years ago to create real-world games that took advantage of AR, but I have always been tinkering with ideas for businesses or communities.
For my current company though, after years of working in a fairly antiquated PR industry and dreaming of creating software products that would change it, I decided to spend some time building out my ideas into a prototype, now 8 months later we have a business.
What has been your highlight as a Founder?
Working with the team we have at the moment. The speed at which we’re working together and the quality of what we’re creating makes it an addictive environment to be a part of.
What has been your lowlight as a Founder?
9 years ago I moved back to London from Amsterdam to start what I thought was going to be my first ever business. I was naive and gave myself a runway that was far too short. Naturally I ran out of money and spent nearly a month pretending everything was ok to my friends & family, while walking everywhere because I couldn’t afford public transport.
How did you come across Landscape?
Landscape and Joe came up in a number of converging conversations from a few different sources. So I signed up for the newsletter.
Biggest challenge right now/thing you need help on:
Reaching £10k MRR, I’d love to hear practical tips on sales tactics from other founders on how they achieved this and how long it took them.
What's the biggest mistake you’ve made so far and what did you learn from it?
Focusing on funding too early. Getting funding is a necessary evil, but it isn’t good to spend too much time on funding in the early stages, or before you have a reasonable MRR. Get to the MRR you need and the funding will come, whereas focus on the funding alone and you can only fail to get funded and then have to work on increasing your MRR anyway.
What piece of advice would you give to other Founders?
My advice here is two-fold.
1. Make sure you know the difference between good advice and bad advice. It took receiving really good supportive advice to recognise how poor previous mentor advice had been for some of my older businesses. You are ultimately the expert on your business, find advisors that fill gaps in your understanding of how your business should work and are willing to go back to basics with you, not just give you an overview of what your business should be working towards or what other companies did to achieve success. In my case, this was to go through all the user stories one by one and question the user journey at every click - it gave me an incredibly deep understanding of how the product needed to work, which ultimately made development of it faster as we weren’t going back to remake things.
2. Get a mix of operators and late stage investors as mentors. Listen to the operators for bottom-up advice on practical workings of the business, but with a late stage investor’s perspective on how your business’ unit economics will work against that in the short and longer term. This will help you understand faster where your biggest levers for success and failure are.
What is the most frustrating thing you find about the startup fundraising ecosystem?
VCs don’t even remotely stick to deadlines / timelines. In no other industry would someone confirm they’d feedback by the end of the week and then you wouldn’t hear from them for three. It would be better if they shared realistic timelines / deadlines and met them.
What you would like to see change in the startup fundraising ecosystem within the next 5 years?:
1. Stronger alumni & feedback networks among founders. I’d also like to see the VC community adopt a brutal feedback policy.
His email address is also firstname.lastname@example.org and he is happy to be contacted.