Years as a Founder and Investor?
2 years as founder, 7 years prior as investor (5 years professionally, last 2 years as angel investor)
If a Founder, first-time or serial Founder?
First time founder at Zelt - an employee engagement platform centered around employees and what they need to do great work.
Whats your backstory?
I was lucky to work at funds that backed companies like Revolut, Canva, Slack, Brex, Legalzoom, Personio, Deel, etc. Meeting inspiring founders influenced my decision to dedicate my efforts and talent to building a company rather than an investment portfolio.
What has been your highlight as a Founder so far?
Making the first hires was probably one of the most astonishing things. I did not have a network of engineers to be able to recruit from, so had to hire strangers. Given the stage I was at at the time, with little funding, not product and no customers - it seemed crazy to me that people would decide to quit their job and join me instead. For fairly modest salaries, too.
What about a lowlight?
Having to let go of an underperforming employee who had taken a big salary cut to join us. I delayed it for far longer than I should have which did not make it easier for either of us.
How you come across Landscape?
Mutual founder friends introduced Adam and me and we have stayed in touch since.
What is the biggest challenge right now you need help on?
Go to market, sales, marketing. Looking for guest blog opportunities (happy to reciprocate) and introduction to potential customers, get involved in panels and events, etc. to get as much exposure as possible. We have a differentiated product, but our market is very noisy.
Biggest mistake you’ve made so far and what did you learn from it?
Believing that you can change people or that they may just happen to change on their own. That almost never happens. Take people for who they are, the good parts and the bad parts. Figure out how to leverage the good parts and decide if you can live with the bad parts - and if you cannot then make a change quickly.
Any advice for other founders?
Follow your insights and instinct when it comes to building early product. Listen to customers and investors and take their feedback into account but don’t just blindly follow it - it may lead you into the wrong direction. Hire the right people and make sure they understand your vision - that’s 50% of your job done.
Most frustrating thing you find about the startup fundraising ecosystem?
Investors chasing trends, most of them are too late and waste capital that could have given a new idea a shot.
What you would like to see change in the startup fundraising ecosystem within the next 5 years?
More founders with meaningful exits becoming partners in established firms / or starting their own funds.