What was the biggest obstacle you faced as a founder and how did you overcame this challenge? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
All founders face similar obstacles and there is no single biggest obstacle but obstacles change over time as you overcome the last known obstacle.
The first obstacle is to determine what to build to attract VC investment and assembling the team that is willing to work with you in that very high risk environment where you may have no funding and unclear timelines on when funding will show up.
The second obstacle is choosing a VC partner and how to codify the relationship. It is a lot of learning of legalese as well as the human aspect of the individual you want to work with in this journey. Depending on what kind of startup you are building you need to find the right VC partner. Building new things takes patience especially if they have differentiation in technology. Some startups are more about filling an unmet need rather than a whole new tech where execution and time to market are paramount and need a different mindset and partners.
The third obstacle is building the core team once you have initial funding and what that should look like. The founding engineers are usually very versatile players who have a key strength you don't possess in the team already but can also do other roles that you cannot hire for. For example a machine learning scientist who is also a great coder and a devops person by night or a kernel hacker who doesn't mind building a barebones UI using open source tools to start working with early adopters. This is also a key phase of the startup since you will expand beyond the core team you started with and adding people you may have never worked with in the past. This has been key to our success by infusing us with knowledge beyond the initial founding team. Diversity of thought and experience is key to innovation.
Following this it is all about executing to the mission and pivoting quickly when needed. It is important not to build AI based systems in a vacuum. Get a lot of customer feedback early when your models may be rough around the edges. Customers may want to use your models in different ways than you imagine.
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