This article was written by Tomer Zussman, Co-Founder and CEO at TravelersBox, that allows travelers to convert leftover foreign currency at the end of their trip into usable digital currency (PayPal, iTunes, Skype, Pre Paid Visa, etc) through easy to use airport based kiosks.
Establishing a startup is tough and challenging, but there are a few principles, that no matter which field you’re working in, you must follow in order to start the company with the right foundations and chance to success.
1. Your first investor is the most important one – Choose well
We’ve all been there, you have this great idea, the presentation is ready, you practiced the pitch perfectly and the only thing left now is cash. From my experience, most of them are very nice and even if they do not invest, in most cases you can get great feedback for your next meeting. I know. It’s tricky and it depends on the momentum of your roadshow but the decision on the first investor will be one of the most important decisions you will make throughout the life of your start up.
Once the money is in, you start dealing with decisions that will affect your chances to succeed dramatically. Having the right person next to you to help you, advice, criticize, show you a different approach and help youngest more money is crucial.
What should you consider when choosing the investor:
• Industry related (You must get the best advisor)
• Previous investments (don’t be shy to ask and even get references)
• Chemistry (like any relationship, if you do not connect, it won’t work)
• Reputation (It is very important to your next investor who is the previous one)
• Personality – are they good people?
2. Don’t do it alone – Share the restless nights
When establishing my first start up, I did it all by myself. This isa great challenge but most certainly a big mistake. Start-ups involve stress, tough decisions, multi tasking and a lot of sleepless nights, endlessly wondering – about what I did todaywhat am I going to do tomorrow and how do I solve all of my R&D, Marketing, Operations and Finance challenges. Doing it by yourself makes it even harder, youfeel alone in the battlefield, and it is indeed a battlefield. Having someone else to help you carry the load is important, it really changes the weight you feel on your shoulders and helps to have a clear mind in order to be creative and motivated.
3. Don’t look back (or sideways), Focus!
Time is of the essence and in most cases you don’t have the amount of money you need in order to get to your next milestone (even when you are positive $1M will take you all the way).
You should run as fast as you can for your next milestone, don’t look back, never stop and don’t get distracted by anything. You will heara bunch of “No”s, “This won’t happen”, “You are crazy trying to achieve this” and more. Set your goal and go for it. Remember, momentum is very important at this point in so many levels.
4. Don’t save your way to Success
I’m not saying throw your money away. You should have a budget and you should try to stick to it.
But, if you discover a way to improve, get sales, bring users or anything else that will get you closer to your next goal – even if it is out of your planned budget – go for it. You received money in order to achieve specific goals.
You’re better off running out of money earlier than planned while you achieve important milestones, rather than presenting your next investors that you kept your budget plans and you are the best in controlling expenses, but have achieved no or few goals…
5. Find the best team possible – ‘A’ players only!
There’s never time to train employees, no time to deal with micro management, and you simply can’t afford hiring and firing at this stage. Every employee you hire must be a Touch Down. Your team will be the one who will help you achieve your goals, without them you are just an entrepreneur… Without your team – nothing will happen. Invest your time to find A players, don’t settle for less than AMAZING. They need to be independent, goal driven and self-motivated. Don’t expect less than you expect from yourself.
Fintech entrepreneur? Here’s a bonus tip for you –
Take your most difficult obstacle and use it as a barrier of entry
Fintech will always involve regulations. If you come up with a revolutionary idea, you will most likely be working in a gray area in regards to regulation and legislation.
As a start up with limited resources, it is always hard to overcome these challenges up to the point that you might be forced to stop your activity or pivot.
Another way to look at is, is to understand how the regulation can be a barrier of entry for your competitors while an open path for you.
It is only when you truly, deeply understand the market and the reasons for the limitations and regulation, that this could be achieved. Coming up with few sophisticated changes (and some brave, but not stupid decisions); you can create a tough barrier to your competitors while you achieve your goals.