5 tips to take you from tinkering techie to enterprising entrepreneur
COO Jonathan Caras of acclaimed video-messaging app Glide tells us what worked for him.
The success trajectory of the video-messaging app Glide is pretty much a techie's dream: Solid coverage from media like the New York Times and Fast Company, named a "Best of" at CES, and unexpectedly being super-useful in an oft-ignored communications space (the app has been embraced by the deaf community).
But the Israel-based Glide started as just a way for three friends to solve a problem they were having when they traveled and moved abroad: coordinating phone or Skype calls was tricky, and connections among far-flung family and friends were withering.
"We believe that the best way for two people to communicate is face-to-face communication," Glide COO Jonathan Caras says. The beauty of Glide is that you can still do that, even if one of you is unavailable. So, a Glide user can leave a "Happy Morning!" video message for their partner while they are traveling in another time zone (or just in back-to-back meetings at work). The recipient can download it from the cloud when they are awake or in a private area. It's video voicemail, and it works to keep people connected – long-distance lovebirds are especially fond of the app. It also recently became available for the Apple Watch, and the user base is now in the millions.
Caras, 32, who cofounded Glide in Jerusalem in 2012, currently leads a team of 70 people. Over the last few years he's learned a thing or two about starting a (successful) company – and growing it. Caras was kind enough to share his top tips for entrepreneurship with From the Grapevine:
1. Become an expert in your specific industry. This is one of the most important, yet challenging, things for new entrepreneurs. But, the Internet lets you really quickly do the research you need to become an expert in the industry’s history, competition, effective go-to-market strategies, financial opportunity, as well as where it came from and where it’s heading. The biggest problem I see with new entrepreneurs is they have a good idea and start building something without first understanding the industry. But, in reality, there’s a big difference between being an actual end-user with a problem you’ve observed and building a business to solve that problem.
2. Build a strong founding team. One person cannot build a successful company. It’s far more likely to fail with one founder than multiple founders. This is also where knowing what you are and are not good at comes into play. Find co-founders who have proven track records of success and are strong at doing those skills that you are not good at.
3. Create a compelling and beautiful visual presentation. The quality of your presentation will reflect on your expertise and the quality of your vision. I suggest following Guy Kawasaki’s simple 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint – a presentation should have 10 slides, last no more than 20 minutes and contain no font smaller than 30 points. Investing in a design effort to make this truly beautiful will enable you to leave something memorable behind with all potential investors, distribution partners and even employees.
4. Spend just as much time on your go-to-market strategy as the product itself. It doesn’t matter how good your product is without a strong go-to-market strategy. Without the latter, no one will even use your product. The world is a busy, noisy place. Remember, it’s not the best product that always wins (see VHS vs. Betamax). The product that invests the most time and effort in acquiring users is the one that rises to the top and achieves massive market adoption.
5. Don’t be afraid of someone stealing your idea. Ideas have very little value since it is very difficult to execute. It’s going to be the team, the key market differentiator and how quickly one can achieve breakout success and iterate the product to become high quality. Those are the things that define success. You’re simply going to slow things down if you become obsessed with secrecy.
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