Since 2010, I've worked on a startup project in one way or another.
First came Corkbin, a mobile app that made it easy to snap a photo and record a wine that I've just had. The ultimate vision was to use the data to build a collaborative filtering-based wine recommendation system and make it easy to pick a wine that I'd like. The app was acquired by Hello Vino and sunsetted once Instagram became more mainstream. More recently I've been working on Blumio and building a radar-based wearable sensor capable of measuring blood pressure at the wrist. In building Blumio I've raised venture capital and grants (NSF, NIH, Thiel Foundation), participated in startup accelerators (Highway1, Texas Medical Center's TMCx, Springboard Enterprises), received recognition for the innovation (UCSF Rosenman Innovator, Exponential Medicine, Medcity), and structured multiple corporate partnerships (Google, Infineon, Roche).
Reflecting back on my entrepreneurial journey, these 5 foundational concepts have enabled me to persist through the ups and downs of the startup founder life:
1. It takes 2X
... as long, as much money, as many people to reach the milestones you set. So buckle up and enjoy the ride.
2. ”Marry” the right co-founder(s)
Co-founders are work spouses and you'll likely spend more time with them than your actual spouses. Choose ones with shared values and commitment so that you can weather the ups & downs together. That being said, relationships cab end. Put in framework on how to separate ahead of time so a founder departure does not derail the business.
3. Spend money wisely
Capital is the fuel. Having enough and being efficient makes it possible to ride out market downturns or execution missteps.
4. Build a support group
Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey. Find peers and mentors who can share their experiences and commiserate with you. Join a CEO group if you can.
5. Be generous
... in how you treat those in your orbit. Everyone is a potential customer, advocate, partner, investor. Help others be successful and it will be reciprocated when you need the support.