Has your startup raised over $200 million from many of the world's great venture firms? If so, congratulations -- and please contact me -- I want to write about how your company achieved that success.
If not, there is much to learn from the CEO of OfferUp, a Bellevue, -Wash.-based company that bills itself as the "largest mobile marketplace application for local buyers and sellers" that raised $119 million in September of 2016 from Andreessen Horowitz, Warburg Pincus, T. Rowe Price, Tiger Global Management, Allen & Company and others.
Since it includes a mutual fund, T. Rowe Price -- which tend to invest in startups that are poised for an initial public offering (IPO) -- this collection of investors clearly believes that OfferUp is poised to deliver them a big return.
OfferUp was launched in the App Store in 2011 by co-founders CEO Nick Huzar and CTO Arean van Veelen and by September 2016 employed "more than 100." And it's growing fast -- indeed Kleiner Perkins partner, Mary Meeker, pointed out in June that OfferUp is growing much faster than eBay did at this point in its development.
As Huzar explained in an October 7 interview, "Six years ago I was trying to solve a problem. My wife was pregnant and we had a room in our house with thousands of dollars worth of stuff. We took pictures of the objects to make them discoverable. But we did not get quick traction. We analyzed how we could create value for sellers and buyers and realized that we needed to build a new, trustworthy way to buy/sell locally -- items that you would be willing to get in the car for and drive, say, up to 30 miles."
One reason for that growth could be features that encourage users to trust others who use OfferUp -- which it accomplishes through "a verified ID system, in app messaging, buyer and seller ratings, and a 24/7 Trust and Safety Team."
OfferUp -- which claims its app has been downloaded more than 29 million times from the App Store and Google Pl -- expects to end 2016 with "more than 14 billion dollars' worth of transactions in 2016."
Here are four powerful insights from Huzar for leaders seeking industry-beating growth.
1. Be persistent
Believing in your idea is essential because there will be no shortage of people telling you it won't work. But how can you distinguish the signal -- voices of people who are telling you truths you don't want to hear -- from the noise?
Huzar seems to have figured out how to do that. "We started six years ago and for the first three years, we got nothing. There were plenty of naysayers. We were trying to solve a problem we had encountered and were solving it using smartphones which required a new business model. We believed it would work and we kept simplifying until we got traction," he said.
2. Find the best people
A founder needs help from other people. But the best ones are hard to find, hire, and motivate. A good first step is to imagine who would be the best possible person to fill the key roles in your company and then figure out a way to meet and bring that person into the company.
OfferUp excels at this. "I thought -- who would be the best possible board member for what we want to do? Jeff Jordan came to mind. He is a partner at Andreessen Horowitz who was previously general manager of eBay North America. He was also on the board of Airbnb and Pinterest and is now on our board," said Huzar.
3. Be good at networking
If finding great people is crucial to startup success, it follows that you must excel at networking. How can you decide which networking events to attend and which to shun? How can you get the most benefit out of attending a networking event?
Huzar provided great advice. As he said, "You ought to get to know everyone in your location who might be able to help your business. You should identify the right events at which you can meet them. Once you are there, talk to a lot of people and find ways to connect with them efficiently. Follow up with people with whom you share a mutual interest."
4. Have a great idea and execute well
As Thomas Edison said, "genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration." This idea certainly applies to startup success. Beyond your idea, you must have at least one skill that is crucial to turning that idea into a reality that creates irresistible value for customers. As Huzar said, "The idea is not enough. You have to have or develop a skill that's essential to executing the idea -- such as design or coding."
Huzar's advice should help point you in the right direction but it's up to you to figure out how it applies to your business.