Startup founders need a mentor who can tell them how the world works and what to focus on when it comes to the volatile business of starting a company.

When Slava Rubin, Danae Ringelmann, and Eric Schell built Indidegogo in 2008, they were building a startup in an industry that did not yet have a name. Indidegogo's crowdfunding platform was "trying to prove something new," Ringelmann says during an Inc. Trep Life documentary. "It was a huge experiment."

But Rubin says through the hard work of all three founders, eventually they were able to make "a reality out of thin air." It was a struggle, but they made it happen. Looking back, Rubin says he wishes he knew a single bit of advice he feels would've saved them time, money, and energy.

"The best piece of advice that I had not gotten, but I wish I had, is to focus even more on the product and design right away. A company starts with the product. It's not about the idea. It's not about how you market it, who has the better PR, or better sponsors--it's about have you created something customers want," Rubin says. "You'll know by how they are reacting to it."

Rubin explains that no matter what type of product your company is creating--be it food, software, or a service--people must want to use it and they must like using it. "You need to be nimble when it comes to the product. You can't be sitting there and wondering if it's working or not. You need to capture data and make changes."

For more advice and tips from Indiegogo, watch the video below.

Published on: Oct 10, 2014