What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
My first job was in banking where I felt I had far more passion for the success of the bank or my team than my managers and peers. It frustrated me to the point that I left and set up my first company aged 24. I have this fear of looking back on my life and thinking I didn’t try hard enough, take enough risks, succeed enough, fail enough. As an entrepreneur you only have yourself to blame. I hate the lows but I love the highs.
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?
There are so many things! On a macro level I am super frustrated at US Politics, Education, Healthcare, Infrastructure, Transport, Environment, Prisons, Pensions I can’t think of a department that is excelling at the moment. All of these areas have issues that are solvable but big companies have Politics by the balls and corporate agendas are running above the countries agenda which feels such a waste.
At a micro level I feel we are going to move away from a “Microsoft Office Work Environment” where everything was compatible and under one infrastructure to a much more disparate set of tools. These don’t communicate as well with each other as they used too which leads to a lot of new opportunities.
What’s the best advice you have for entrepreneurs looking to raise money?
Raising money for a fundable company is easy. Building a fundable company is really difficult. You can’t do the former without the latter so if you get a load of “NOs” stop asking and get back to building a fundable company. People think simply trying harder for funding is the answer. It’s not. Fundable companies soon rise to the top and get funded. I see this time and time again with the startups at RocketSpace. People think failing to get funded is failure, it’s not, you simply don’t have product market fit (with the investors). It is easier to change the product than the market.
What have you learned in your career that you wished you’d known when you were starting out?
Great companies are built by great teams, not great entrepreneurs. You can only do so much as an individual so your number one job is to find, attract and retain amazing people to work with. Great advisors, mentors, investors, friends all play a vital role in your company’s success. They pick you up when you are down, force you to tackle real issues and hold your feet to the fire on delivery. Great investors don’t just invest in great companies, they help create great companies.
What’s your favorite spot to relax, reflect and work stuff out?
I have 3 or 4 “Me Time” places. The first is on flights. I often don’t watch a film or read I simply sit and scribble ideas down. I find conferences often make me think. I think it is important to get away and listen to other people every now and then to get some perspective. My balcony with a beer is hard to beat. The San Francisco Hills give most people a great view. I live in North Beach and stare at Russian Hill, It looks like Christian Lanng of Tradeshift lives in Russian Hill and stares at North Beach. Here’s looking at you.
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CEO and founder of RocketSpace
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