One of the primary reasons my cofounder and I launched an accelerator for women entrepreneurs was because we both strongly believed that there is great value in a network of mentoring and help by and for entrepreneurs.
While specific skills and expertise can be learned from a variety of sources, there are certain things within the journey of entrepreneurship which requires the understanding and wisdom of those who have made the same journey and gained wisdom from their own successes and mistakes.
To that end, I make it a habit to reach out to other startup founders to gather insights and lessons learned from every stage of the journey.
Here is what seven tech startup founders recently had to say about what they've learned from their own early successes.
Will Mason, Co-founder and President of Upload, Inc.
Upload is a tech startup based in San Francisco, California, focused on virtual and augmented reality. The company closed a $1.25 million seed round in 2015 and was named the "Fastest Growing Pre-Series A in the Bay Area" by Mattermark in January 2016.
"My number one piece of advice would be never to lose sight of the 'why.' The road of entrepreneurship is a windy one, with the highest of highs and some of the most gut-wrenching lows. You have to be prepared for those things to oscillate daily and the only way to do so is to keep your mind focused on why you're doing all this in the first place. For me it is knowing that I can help impact an industry that will change the face of computing forever, enabling millions of people to connect in new ways. Keeping laser focused on that 'why' is what helps drive me towards success the most."
Camilla Ley Valentin, Co-founder and CCO, Queue-it.
Queue-it's Software as a Service business model is aimed at making it easy for companies to create virtual "waiting rooms" when websites are overloaded. The tech startup based in Copenhagen, Denmark, has gained 1.5 billion end-users across a wide variety of verticals from retail to government.
"As an entrepreneur, board member and active tech community builder, who is also a mother of two young girls, my spare time has been extremely limited in recent years. My personal priority for how I allocate this time has always been my family, which means that very little attention is left for my really great friends. This is something I regret from time to time, but I have also come to realize that the friendships that really matter remain. My advice is to be completely up front, open and honest about what your priorities are. Tell the people, who will be affected, in a kind but direct way, what your new reality, as an entrepreneur, is and you will find out where the true friendships remain. When I do see those friends, once in a great while it always immediately feels like yesterday, when we pick up the conversation. I do miss the times when I was able to see friends on a much more regular basis, but I know that eventually, we will be resuming the frequency as our respective ventures allow."
Chris Dornfeld, Co-founder and President of Bonfyre
Earlier this year, Bonfyre closed on $4 Million in venture capital to grow their client list that already includes Marriott, Commerce Bank and Express Scripts. The St. Louis, Missouri based tech startup's private social communication platform is aimed at increasing employee engagement.
"Define success at the specific point in your life. In doing this, keep in mind that what you need to keep is your balance to perform at your highest levels. So, put that time on your schedule. It is easy to get so caught up in work you can erode your physical and psychological health. Understand your balance and then manage to your balance. For me, it is one or two travel adventures a year with my family and playing competitive sports twice a week (basketball and soccer). The travel helps me stay connected, grounded, and keep perspective. The sports, in addition to the physical benefit, allow me to step completely out of my daily routine and stress."
Tony DiMatteo, CEO and Co-founder, AutoLotto
AutoLotto's mobile platform makes it easy to purchase Powerball tickets on the go. The tech startup, based in San Francisco, California, has already secured venture capital and gained more than 230,000 users since launching earlier this year
"Success is inevitable. If you continue to learn from every mistake you make and not repeat them, continue to expand your network of contacts, give your absolute best effort into whatever you're doing, and are fully willing to embrace consistent and prolonged failures, then success is inevitable. It's not really left up to chance if you're doing all that and just refuse to give up. On a long enough timeline, eventually, you'll be successful."
Nadine Levitt, Founder and CEO, Wurrly
Based in Santa Monica, California, Wurrly's technology turns smartphones into music studios. Wurrly's technology powers the official "Lip Sync Battle" app, Spike TV's highest rated original series in network history.
"Make sure the passion that propels you forward doesn't also rush you and that you spend enough time in the planning stage, mapping out exactly where you are going (while knowing change will happen still). It's easy to be so excited to get up and going that it can be easy to forget to properly plan. Similar to building a house, you need to ensure your foundation is right - otherwise it's way more expensive than going back to fix the foundation later."
Josh Komenda, President, Veyo
Based in San Diego, California, Veyo's technology addresses healthcare logistics such as on-time performance, cost efficiency and transparency for non-emergency medical transportation. Named a Top Workplace by the San Diego Union-Tribune in November 2016, Veyo serves 2.5 million members across six states and reports client savings of $7 million.
"Entrepreneurial success stories always seem glamorous and straightforward, but the truth is the entrepreneur's path is full of extreme highs and lows. Some of your most herculean efforts will fall flat in the end and end up being totally unrewarded and unnoticed, your ego will be crushed, your finances may become incredibly strained, and your spouse/partner and family will be unwittingly along for the ride. In my mind, it's all worth it - there's nothing I'd rather do, and the wins are inspiring and exciting like nothing else. But it isn't for everyone. Before you embark, ask yourself - Do I have the resolve for this? Is my relationship going to survive this? Everyone can picture the happy ending, but it's critical to consider the journey and what you're putting on the line."
Remo Behdasht, SVP of AirBar devices at Neonode
Neonode's technology is currently implemented in over 40 million devices, including Amazon Kindle, HP, Canon and Epson Printers, General Motors, and Volvo cars, and many more. Neonode's flagship consumer technology accessory, AirBar, launched in October 2016 and is now carried by Amazon, Best Buy, QVC and Walmart. AirBar is the top product on Amazon Wishlist, and Best Seller at Walmart.com.
"People often look at success as an end point or a single "event" they need to reach. What success really consists of is not only a series of wins, but also losses, which typically end up being the most crucial lessons one can learn and grow from. Inventing a great product that solves a real need or desire of your chosen market, hiring a unified team that is driven to achieve this goal, and executing with consistency and perseverance are the three aspects I find most necessary in reaching ultimate success."