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Startup founders often have unique stories to offer about what drives them, how they got started, their decision-making process and how they’ve overcome challenges. AWS Startup Stories: Notes from Founders features 25 original interviews from 25 entrepreneurial founders, following the success of the podcast series of AWS Startup Stories.
In the e-book series, founders share many tips and insights on starting up a company. We have gathered some of the best ones from the founders of successful startups Bynder and Transferwise to inspire you.
Chris Hall always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Even as a kid he was always starting businesses. The idea for Bynder was actually born at his first ‘real’ company, Label A, a SaaS development agency. Tired of using zip files and USB drives to transfer customers’ images, videos, and files, they started developing their own organisation tool to manage digital assets and streamline workflows. And now they have grown into an innovative solution that enables teams to collaborate on content, streamline workflows and distribute content with ease. It employs more than 350 people, operates out of seven international offices and recently acquired its main competitor – the US-based firm Webdam – from Shutterstock.
In the AWS e-book series Issue 4, Hall gives a couple of tips and reminders for startups.
“Success isn’t down to avoiding mistakes, it’s down to fixing them. I wish I had made some of my mistakes sooner, so I could have fixed them sooner. If you are not making mistakes, you are not going fast enough!”
Build your business before focussing on getting funds
“I barely knew what a VC was when we started. We didn’t focus on getting money from venture capitalists straight away. We were bootstrapping and maybe it sounds weird, but we weren’t that interested in the funding side until quite late on. Instead, we focused on getting the product out, marketing it, selling it, making money and driving cash-flow, which is a healthy mentality for a startup to have.”
There’s a big learning curve associated with funding
Getting interest from venture capital firms is easy, but getting an actual deal requires a steep learning curve. Funding helps your business grow faster, but you need to keep in mind that it’s really hard to change your company after a deal. So, if you have co-founders, you need to have some tough conversations before the VC comes onboard.
Co-founder and chairman of TransferWise Taavet Hinrikus was once one of the first employees at Skype and moved to London for that job. Then he found out how difficult it was to transfer from Estonia to London and vice versa. And decided to do something about it. That was the beginning of TransferWise, a money-transfer service that has revolutionized the way we transfer money.
After 7 years of being CEO and growing the company to over 1000 employees and 3 million users, Taavet has some insights in starting up a company. Here are a few:
Changing the world is a far more powerful motivator than making money
“Find an answer to one of the world’s problems – something that impacts a lot of people – and if your solution is 10 times better than anything else on the market, then eventually it will work. The motivation to help people really inspired me in the early years.”
In the tech world, change is the only constant
“Progress moves at an ultra-high speed in the tech age and the only constant is change. You can’t assume anything will be the same in a few years’ time. If you keep that in mind, you’ll be in a good place.”
Done is better than perfect
“When you’re building a company, the most important thing is to just get started, but so many people have a tendency to lock themselves in a dark room until their product is perfect. That’s the wrong approach, as you need to get your idea out to market to see if it works. An 80 percent job that’s done, is worth far more to the world than a perfect product that’s never completed. Over time, you can see where you need to improve; but in the initial stages, just get it out there.”
You can read more in the AWS e-book series Issue 1
The complete e-book series has many more inspiring stories from founders of successful startups like Collibra, JUNIQE, Bring!, Immersive Labs and Ryte. Download it now!