Honey, I seem to have joined a start-up in Silicon Valley!
The entrepreneurship journey – What you’ll need to succeed
One thing led to another; or rather, many things led to one thing: a Delaware-registered company. After months with endless meetings, discussions and presentations, countless Skype sessions and iterations, and hundreds of (in) formal talks with all kinds of experts, here we are: one company and four co-founders.
Here are seven of our takeaways thus far:
1. Align your motivations
Sounds basic, doesn’t it? I mean, who isn’t super motivated and wants success? But how do you define success? And have you asked yourself what really motivates you? Is it money, recognition, or a grand vision like making the world a better place? All great engines, but they count for very different focus points and therefore result in different consequences as you go along. As your team will surely encounter difficulties, you better make sure you have a coordinated fist and not a set of disparate freewheeling fingers – if that metaphor makes sense.
2. You can’t go it alone
Great innovations no longer come from lone geniuses, but dedicated teams, empowered and with a clear sense of direction. Collective greatness and complementary skill sets beat individual geniuses flat out, again meaning culture is paramount. I’m not a genius, but my competences, experience, motivation, and (Scandinavian) cultural behaviour seem to be a good fit with the rest of my co-founders. At least, so far…
3. You never really make it
Having started ventures and companies before, we all know there is never a finishing line. No matter how great your original idea, it’s just a starting point. There are only lap times and new goals on the horizon. But more frustratingly, there are continuous hurdles and one problem more insurmountable than any other. Oz calls this the “sinusoidal wave of start-up life”, where there’s a predictable pattern of highs and lows, except you never know where the next down will come from. But be sure, it’s a pretty deep one.
4. It’s not magic. It’s not even art…
Entrepreneurship is the new black. But enough already of the “How I Made It” books and LinkedIn fodder, innovation seminars, start-up hackathons, incumasturbators, and lush corporate accelerators. To a large degree, entrepreneurship is a muscle that needs to be exercised and fine-tuned every day. You know, like work. It’s not magic, science or fine art. It’s more like making food: many ingredients, a few good recipes, and lots of practice. But no matter how much you practise you can still screw up or be average. Most do. We hope we’re not.
5. Want an interesting life? Get an interesting life!
An interesting job doesn’t equal an interesting life. And entrepreneurship is a night-and-day endeavour. So figure out if you want to be interested or interesting. Those who are aiming for a fulfilling job quickly find the entrepreneurship work-life balance is more like a work-work balance.
6. You’re not too old
Silicon Valley seems to be full of brilliant 23-year-old college dropouts. Not true. Gen Y is less likely to be entrepreneurial than Gen X, according to research. And the average successful entrepreneur (that has created value, according to some other research) is 58-years-old! This not only makes us feel really young, but it indicates that experience still has some value in whatever “new” economy we’re living in.
7. See you in court. Or just over coffee with a lawyer
It’s a mission. It’s a calling. It’s both fun and frustrating. But it’s also a legal process, with lots of paper work to go with it. With paragraph upon paragraph of incomprehensible language and fine print. Contracts, NDAs, patent applications, and what have you. It takes a lot of time, money and energy. And paper. Lots of paper. Back and forth. And back again. This time with the right signature if you don’t mind, sir!
Caption: And then there were three, soon to be four.
Hospital on Mobile Entrepreneurs Dr Baris Yildiz, Ozcan Cilkmaz, and Aris Theophilakis at a workshop last Christmas in Atlanta.
Aris Theophilakis is also the founder and CEO of Futatsu Industries, a hybrid marketing agency based in Oslo. Aris and Ozcan are Alums of the Executive MBA (Class of 2016)
Impressed by Aris’ journey and how he tackles the challenges that entrepreneurs must overcome to be successful? Checkout how ESCP Business School and its Marketing & Creativity programmes can equip you with the tools you need in any challenge!
7 things I Learned While Pretending To Be an Entrepreneur in Silicon Valley
MSc in Marketing & Creativity