Having a willingness to learn and a desire to do so should not be underestimated. Building a startup is an experience unlike any other. For the founders, it is a journey full of uncertainty, stressful beyond imagination which can often result in a lack of sleep but don’t let this put you off. It is also a hugely rewarding journey, full of adventures and excitement that can lead you to places that you hadn’t thought possible.
Dealing with the unexpected
As a founder of a startup, the journey requires you to become something you haven’t been before and deal with situations that you have never experienced. In my short experience of being a first-time startup founder, I have come to realise that one of the most important characteristics you need to display is to have a desire and willingness to learn.
My co-founder Lauren and I graduated from university in July 2012 and began working on our startup straight away. Having both studied Business Management we had a solid academic knowledge base to build upon. What we didn’t have was practical experience of building a company. This is exactly where a desire to learn comes into play.
In terms of executing ideas and building a business, so many skills are required. We attended tech events, classes at General Assembly, read books and took online classes to develop skills, to learn to speak the language and to pick up tips where possible. As both my co-founder and I came from a non-technical background, we had to develop the skills required to hack together an MVP. We immersed ourselves in the tech startup ecosystem to really try and understand what is required to build a startup.
Meet inspiring people
Surrounding yourself with good people and being able to learn from them is crucial. Having good peers and mentors is invaluable. In our case, showing that we are driven, and willing to learn has been a big factor in getting people to work with us and attracting mentors to advise us. Being open to advice and asking for help when needs be has put us in great stead and we’re fortunate to have great mentors to call upon.
Fail, Learn & Succeed
Lastly, a startup is just like any experiment. In the words of Eric Reis, “the unit of progress for Lean Startups is validated learning- a rigorous method for demonstrating progress when one is embedded in the soil of extreme uncertainty.” As a founder, you have to continually learn, iterate and adapt in all aspects of your business be it on your product, management style or even your daily routine.
While the above argument is particularly applicable to us as young first-time founders I believe that the principle and the importance of constant learning stands for nearly all founders.
We are now eight months into our startup, and the learning that we have experienced has been monumental. I’m certain that will continue as we are faced with new challenges. We are fortunate to have raised investment as part of the Student Upstarts program and to have found many great mentors. We are constantly learning about our business and improving our proposition; as demonstrated by a very recent pivot we have taken. We’re excited about what the future holds, and our journey so far has been immense. It’s a journey that I would highly recommend to anyone. Just be ready!
Andy pivoted away from his first startup to launch Zealify, an algorithmic online recruitment company for startups and entrepreneurs.
Updated 28 November 2015