Building a Business: It Takes Two
Having a great idea is simple. We all go to the pub, chat among friends and believe we can solve the world’s problems. However, developing, launching and scaling a product is an entirely different proposition. None of this is easy, but from my experience founding CurrencyTransfer, I highly recommend partnering up with a co-founder – preferably one with a different skillset to yourself.
I strongly believe that wherever there is inefficiency, innovators will emerge to disrupt old antiquated methods of providing services. This was the starting point for me and my co-founder Stevan.
In our case, we personally found international business payments to be a nightmare. We figured the $21 trillion a year market was ripe for innovation.
The power of two
Funnily enough, Stevan and I met online. How romantic! It was on an excel spreadsheet that was set up to match up commercial with tech talent. This particular excel spreadsheet drew in talent from the Silicon Valley, Sydney, Berlin, Tel Aviv and London.
The first meeting in St. Pauls lives long in the memory and I often recall the moment when mentoring a new wave of start-up entrepreneurs. It was the first opportunity to assess whether this was the guy that I wanted to work with 12 hours a day, five days a week. There needs to be a 100% fit on a strategic, emotional and technical level. So it also felt like somewhat of an interview for me as I wanted to impress Stevan!
I believe too many entrepreneurs meet at hackathons, meetups and other community events and rush in without taking some critical founding team considerations into account. These events are the perfect forum to meet your business partner, but my overriding advice would be to go through a mutually beneficial courting process for at least four-six weeks. Do a couple of test work days together. Debate, argue, innovate and discuss. If you go through this process and still have hunger and passion, it’s time to make the partnership official!
Two versus going solo
See more on the reasons for and against forming business partnerships…
Speed and momentum are two of the most important characteristics that embody a successful startup. The way to build and grow fast is to have a well balanced founding team with complimentary skills. By background, Stevan is a software developer. I do business development. Very quickly, we brought on Phil who headed up design and user experience.
With the right founding team in place, we were able to, among other things, get out of the building and speak to customers, write code and create beautiful design. I’m a firm believer that a web-based business needs all three from the get go to succeed: design, development and commercial talent. Strategically, we wanted to fill these three roles and move fast on both the product and brand buzz.
Never fear failure
Whether working alone or with a partner, many of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world have failed once upon a time. They fail again and come back a third or fourth time succeeding. I passionately believe there is a common denominator that binds the Silicon Valley and other major start-up capitals of the world: no fear of failure. We live in a world where failure is frowned upon and seen as something to be embarrassed or ashamed about. This should not be the case. If anything, I’d assert that if an entrepreneur is going to fail, they should fail fast.
Hanging on to an idea or product for too long can be damaging. In most businesses, there will be a need to pivot or change course at some point in the lifecycle of a company. By studying closely your metrics and navigating change that’s needed to grow your business, you’re well on the way to becoming a stronger and mature entrepreneur.
Daniel Abrahams is the Co-Founder and CEO of CurrencyTransfer.com – the world’s first online marketplace matching businesses with the most competitive international payment quotes. Recently, the company was selected to represent the UK at SXSW Interactive.