What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
As a child, I always wanted to grow up to be an inventor. I love solving problems by creating new solutions. I think entrepreneurs and inventors have a lot in common. I’ve certainly been able to fulfill that childhood dream of making an impact by helping to create Tradeshift. You could say we are inventing new business solutions on a daily basis.
It’s often said that new ideas come from things that frustrate us. Other than the ‘frustration’ that your company solves, can you name something that frustrates you right now?
Whenever I encounter a lack of interoperability I get extremely frustrated.
For example, I can’t watch HBOGo on my Samsung phone because Comcast (our cable service provider in San Francisco) hasn’t signed an agreement with them.
This just seems so silly and archaic.
What’s the best advice you have for entrepreneurs looking to raise money?
My advice would be you don’t have to do it all in one place, all at one time or through the traditional big VCs you always read about. Do some serious research and find the funding option or options that really make sense to your company and your vision. Also go for the investors who are interested in your company, cold calls very rarely work.
What have you learned in your career that you wished you’d known when you were starting out?
Just how important it is to be nimble, lean and iterative while building a company and developing products. I’m a huge fan of Eric Ries’ book The Lean Startup. That resonated with the way we have been working in the past and think about building our company. I read it on a plane and as soon as I landed I ordered copies for everyone at Tradeshift. The lean approach has taught us how to embark on big projects and make them digestible. It reaffirms that mistakes happen and they are ok (and sometimes helpful) and we learn from them. And whenever we have been in trouble, it’s typically been because we have strayed from that path.
Eric has even attended some Tradeshift events to speak to our team and the startup community. He’s been a really great influencer to have.
What’s your favourite spot to relax, reflect and work stuff out?
On the roof deck of my apartment in San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill neighbourhood. I’m able to look out over the bay, take it all in and really clear my head. It’s great to be surrounded by so much inspiration and entrepreneurial spirit here. Looking out over San Francisco really does invigorate me and reminds me that what we are building at Tradeshift is set to change the way global business operates.