Stop Sucking, And Be Awesome Instead: 5 Lessons Learned From 5 Entrepreneurs

5 Lessons5 Lessons collageLet’s face it: sh*t happens. As an entrepreneur, you’re going to go through a million peaks and valleys and make a heck of a lot of mistakes along the way. Luckily, out of most of these mistakes come some valuable lessons. At Launch Academy, we’ve seen teams break apart, reform, take off, disband, and pivot completely—all under one roof. So, in the spirit of paying it forward to prevent other startups from making the same mistakes and, well, sucking, we asked five of our most seasoned entrepreneurs—what is the biggest lesson that you learned within the first twelve months of starting your company? Here’s what they had to say:

1. Focus, Think Big, Then Just F*cking Do It

“Start with a clear picture of what you want to accomplish and what it will take to get there. You'll be wrong, but that's ok. The faster you can validate your ideas the better, and if you're hedging your bets you'll never get conclusive answers. Have a big vision and attack it with everything you have. 

 Along those lines, don't chase small wins. Money in the bank feels good, but if you're not learning or moving your product forward, it’s never worth it. Think bigger. 

 All the cliche entrepreneurship advice you read is true, but there's no replacement for Just F*cking Doing It. Read less, do more.”

-- James Clift, Co-Founder and CEO of Karmahire


2. Build. Test. Learn.

“Build. Test. Learn. Do that as fast as you can. Don't get overly attached to your idea. It's likely wrong anyways. Tackle a big challenge. Make it something that people desperately want.”

-- Justin Wong, Co-Founder of Battlefy


3. Form A Team That Will Think About You In The Shower (no, not THAT way)

 “Your team is the most important element to your startup. You’re essentially marrying your cofounders—it doesn’t matter what your product looks like, it’s going to change. Implementing an idea isn’t a “tech thing”, it’s a people thing, and hiring the wrong person will take your company backwards.

Bring people aboard who will be thinking about your company in the shower, who can teach, drive, and hustle, and most importantly, who have passion.” 

-- Jayesh Parmar, Co-Founder and CEO of Picatic


4. Solidify Your Vesting Schedule

 “Starting a business is no joke and should not be taken lightly. A vesting schedule is something that co-founders should all agree and commit to. I prefer:

· Founders: 6 months cliff, the rest every six months over next 2 years

· Employees: 1 year cliff, 25% after one year and the rest monthly over 3-4 years

The reason why I prefer a cliff is because during that time, you get to feel each other out as co-founders. Most startups fail before they have even started. And, investors typically prefer to invest in co-founders who are friends for at least a year or who have worked together in the past.”

-- Alex Chuang, Co-Founder of and Co-Founder and Managing Partner ofEmberyl Creative


5. Sometimes, You Have To Be A Little Cynical

“The biggest lesson I learned was just how hard it was to get people to learn about your product's existence, especially in the consumer space. While it's tempting to think that your product will be so amazing that it will get picked up by media and spread by word of mouth, that rarely happens. Even if you do get some media attention, it's fleeting and doesn't necessarily mean that your customers will stick around unless you have a very compelling product. 

You almost need to be a little cynical in terms of how people will discover you. Ultimately, you have to have existing customers refer new ones within your app in a non-spammy way or you have to pay to acquire them through advertising or similar means.”

-- Ian MacKinnon, Co-Founder of Placeling


What did we miss? What’s your biggest lesson learned as an entrepreneur? Let us know! 



If you would like the opportunity to learn from some of the best and brightest startup minds that Vancouver has to offer please consider a Launch Academy membership.

This is a post by Jackie Murchison. Jackie is Community Coordinator at Launch Academy. Follow her on Twitter @JackieMurchison