Nspire.org is a Canadian non-profit student-run organization focused on encouraging entrepreneurship, leadership and innovation. As an alumni, I had a pleasure of sharing a few quick thoughts in their monthly newsletter. Originally the article wasn't supposed to go beyond a few hundred subscribers, but a few folks liked it and recommended that I post for everyone's enjoyment. This is my address to the students about a few things that I've learned on the way to starting Scoutzie.com. Read at your own risk, I really don't know anything.
Above is a photo of the team, which @janeip and I lead to put together National Business and Technology Conference 2010. Nspire.org was started that year as the extension of the conference.
The journey is sometimes unpleasant, sometimes you want to cry, most people do not understand what you are doing, and you are the only person that really cares. And yet, somehow, you just cannot live in any other way.
However hard it is to do new things, it's a lot of fun! The little moments of joy when you launch a product, when you get to tell others about your first customer, when you get a blog mention, these little things make all the worries worth going through.
Right now you're still in University, or maybe just graduated from one and looking for a job. Right now you have nothing to lose: no job, no career, very limited amount of debt (no seriously, on the bigger picture, your debt is pretty small). At the same time, you have everything - you have time, energy, motivation and most importantly you have ideas. Now is the best time to be working on what matters to you.
If building a company has always been something you've wanted to do, then do it! Here are my two cents on the process.
1. Nobody knows anything, especially “experts”. If you are doing something new, then chances are, you just can't buy an “X for Y” book to follow. The best you can do is to do your best, making as few mistakes as you can on the way. You can ask people for advice, your can cry them a river, but at the end of the day you're responsible for your actions. You friends and your mentors could help you with an advice, but their advice is always based on their understanding of the world, of the problem you are trying to solve, and it always comes with the weight of their situation and experience. Unless the person giving you advice has done exactly what you're attempting to do, their advice is simply a guide, a suggestion. You make the shots, so don't wait and just do something.
2. Everything you do will take forever. Before becoming the founder of Scoutzie.com, a curated community for the best mobile designers in the world, I spent about a year building a number of different applications; none of them made me any money or brought me much fame. But, it was extremely useful for learning what I needed to know in order to build and run Scoutzie. You can't fight the way things are, but you can work hard and keep your eyes on the target. The road will test you, but eventually you will get someplace nice.
3. There is only one way to start, now. There is nothing more exciting than to create a product, from scratch, and to be able to make decision on the spot, to build the features the moment you dream about them, to create something that customers love and appreciate. Sure, there is a massive probability of failure, but the small chance of success is enough to fuel the passion and to create an addiction. There is only one way to discover this for yourself, start. If you have an idea, don't wait for better weather, don't wait till you have more money or more experience or more confident. If you wait, you will never start; start now.
Here, I said it. If you want to start a company, do it now. Go to NBTC, meet up with people who are smarter than you (or maybe dumber, but better at sports), brainstorm, tell them about your big vision, recruit them for your company, be recruited; #JFDI.
Don't listen to any unsolicited advice from people who don't know any better. Expect that building your business will take forever. And, whatever you do, enjoy it. How do I know? I don't know, this is just an advice, and I've already told you how to treat any advice.
Today, I live in Seattle and have launched Scoutzie. My startup aims to create a community of the best mobile designers from around the world, to make finding designs and designers easy and efficient. We want to have the best designers in our community to showcase their work and to inspire others.
The journey so far hasn't been easy, but it has sure being fun and rewarding; that's enough for me.
If you want to stay in touch, follow me on twitter @kirillzubovsky, read my blog and of course check out my company Scoutzie.com. In fact, if you've read this far, go ahead and email me - firstname.lastname@example.org - I am friendly, most of the time.