For most of my life, the richest, most culture-shaping, most lesson-teaching, most glamorous thing I ever did was launch my own company at the age of fourteen. When you're that young, you really don't think about it; you just do it. Of course there are a ton of factors that go into play with any new company, but I opened shop from conception to launch in less than two months- full with product, to market strategy and customer acquisition in tact and with a shitload of capital. The day I launched my first company, was the best day of my life.
Over the years, I've started a lot of of other companies, which I like to refer to as "experimental". Now, I written about many of these in prior posts, so I won't bore you with the details, but most of these experimental companies came to me in the height of my undergrad. I went to school in New York City, the mecca for innovation on the East Coast and one of the most challenging, productive and interesting cities on the planet. My bullish approach and attitude served me well and I could never sit still, which ultimately meant that I had many experimental businesses, which I believed would change the world. I've got to admit, from the time that I entered college until now, I feel like this approach of just doing it has slipped away from me. I enjoy running experiments, on top of creating experimental companies, and in my experiments I like test out different methods and then pull all the data together into one big case study. After running a few of these experiments, I realized that in the majority of my prior companies that have either failed or succeeded in some way or another, there was a common trend. In all my companies since my first company, I have fallen into the trap of planning. Me? A planner? How could this be?
The big underlying advice that many VC's offer start-up's is to just get out there and launch a product; test it out, get some traction, find out what works and what doesn't and then adapt and iterate. Kickstarter is now a great platform that uses this same approach. You have a great idea for a product? GREAT! Launch a Kickstarter page. If people are willing to give you money for someone you've created, you have successfully created value. When I was working in Venture Capital, I had a million and one ideas coming into my head and being surrounded by other entrepreneurs that all have ideas and are all building really cool things made me even more inspired to want to create. I was in this class at NYU Stern, which was probably the most important class of my entire undergraduate education, and it brought me back to my roots of just doing it. In the class, we had to go around and pitch ideas for new companies we wanted to build in technology and then we got into groups based on the company that interested us and we were told to just do it. Stop worrying about the resources you don't have. Stop worrying about what it takes to build something. Stop worrying; just do it. I had a few roller-coasters in the class, since I once believed I knew it all from having had a successful start-up earlier in life, and soon realized I didn't know it all. Although my strong willed personality wouldn't admit it for many years to come, I like to think that I grew a lot from this experience.
A friend recently pinged me to ask if I would speak to a start-up that had just launched an app in the space of fashion tech. I of course took the time to speak to these budding entrepreneurs since they were entering into a very crowded space, but one that can easily be disrupted; I was intrigued. After talking to them for a good thirty minutes, I heard myself telling these guys that the most important thing they can do is to focus. Focus their energies on one thing and one thing only and to do that one thing better than everyone else. I advised them to launch the product and get some traction; see if they can get user adoption and if not, they don't have a viable business and they needed to pivot. Stop worrying about phase two and focus on the core meat of their business- their app, because if that doesn't work, they don't have anything and they have wasted a ton of time and a lot of money. Here I am, such a hypocrite, giving advice to this new start-up and I haven't been drinking my own medicine. This is by the far hardest thing for someone with an idea to do. Focus on doing one thing and one thing only and making that one thing better than everyone else.
I write this now because history is seldom kind when you have had so many experimental cocktails and you've realized you're better off with gin and juice. The start-up that I am currently with does this best- they focus on one thing and one thing only and guess what? They are the doing it better than everyone else out there. Beyond the moon to be working alongside such incredible minds. Time to take out my notebook.
Coco wears a Hache Charcoal Dress, Uniqlo White-Collared Shirt, Givenchy Tights, Prada Cross-body Handbag, Prada Booties, Chanel Sunnies, Italian Leather Gloves, Vintage Gold Chain and a Forever 21 Tartan Bow.