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Interview with Irakli Litanishvili, Co-Founder of Mirai Flights

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Interview with Irakli Litanishvili, Co-Founder of Mirai Flights

Originally published on IdeaMensch Source

Irakli Litanishvili is a co-founder of a group of companies called Aim of Emperor that operates in three niches: aviation, fuel & ground handling, and IT. He is also a co-founder of Mirai Flights, a UK-based tech company for instant booking of private jets with transparent pricing and a customised app. Since launching in February 2021, the company has made over 3,8 million euros, added 24 new planes to the system and partnered with 8 companies. Mirai Flights is passionate about making business aviation accessible and sustainable, and they have recently announced their sustainability strategy, which incorporates empty-leg flying and carbon offsetting projects. Just last year, the Mirai saved over 200 tonnes of CO2.

For Mirai Flights, the sky is no limit, and the company has even greater plans of attracting new users to the service. Together with his co-founder, Evgeny Chuprov, Irakli brings over 30 years of industry expertise to realise the service’s full potential.

Where did the idea for Mirai Flights come from?

Working in business aviation, I understood that the industry had to switch to digital solutions.

We watched several projects that tried to implement this solution and saw that their apps were already getting downloads from potential users.

I didn’t invent anything, I was just watching the trends. The trend shows that the luxury segment is the last to digitize. And digitizing aviation in a service format is not an easy task to pull off, because a number of factors have to come together. The first one is a good understanding of the industry from the professionals who have been in aviation for many years and who know how it all works from the inside. The second is the existence of payment systems that enable you to quickly and promptly pay for service. And client service, of course, which also requires post-sales support.

The idea was born after I saw this kind of service in the US, but I realized that they were making mistakes that made it impossible to achieve the goal.

My cofounder Evgeny Chuprov and myself originally discussed the idea of using just our own aircraft and producing an app that would service our own fleet. But later, when the pandemic-related lockdowns were introduced all over Europe and the world, we pivoted. We realized that by buying three or four planes, we wouldn’t get the project off the ground and satisfy the market’s demand for private jet travel. So we removed the part about our own fleet and just restructured everything into an application that would aggregate the whole market. We gave all the airlines an opportunity to get into this app and reach the consumer directly through this channel. This can be both B2C and B2B.

In other words, we didn’t reinvent the wheel. We simply bore in mind our colleagues’ mistakes, and restructured the “wheel” a little bit into the format that we have today and tht we continue to improve.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I usually get up, eat breakfast, and go to the gym. I train three times a week at 9 am. Then, at 10:30 am, I am already at work, and I have all the meetings related to my group of companies called Aim of Emperor. Each company has its own specific block of time, which is fixed, and during that time, I work on issues related to that company. Obviously, there may be additional meetings with clients and strategy sessions. Evenings are for the family.

How do you bring ideas to life?

There’s an old computer game called PacMan where the Sun walks around and eats fruit. For me, any project, any startup is a game. It’s as if you create a certain path for yourself, how you walk along it, and this path becomes convoluted. You hit a wall, you turn around, and then you move on. And that’s how all the companies in our group gradually form. Obviously, I know what I want to have as the end result, give or take. But to say that I have a clear, definite vision with steps A, B, C, D – no, I can’t claim that. The path is always transforming, even though there is a general strategy. It’s like a living organism.

Speaking about Mirai Flights, I clearly understand that in five years I want to see this company in the position where it can have an IPO. I believe that we can bring the whole global jet industry together and somehow bring it to a common denominator. At the moment, it’s all very fragmented. Bringing it together is the main objective of our app. This is especially true of the aircraft leasing service, whose consolidation will profit not just the operators and broker, but the end users as well.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I am closely watching products like AirBNB and Booking.com. They are the biggest  systems for booking accommodations, and it is a giant market that has made the transition from offline to online. And I can see that the airline market could just as well restructure and be on par with the players like Booking.com and Uber. Our price ranges are somewhat different, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that there are customers who have our service on their smartphones, and it makes it easier for them to organize any and all of their travel.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I am very pedantic. You could even say fussy. But in a work format this quality is very valuable, because you notice those little things that help to create the overall picture. Some people may draw in large strokes and see the picture in general. On the contrary, I always take small details out of the general picture, because these details ensure that a client gets the maximum comfort at every stage. And also, when people say that something is “impossible,” I always reply that “nothing is impossible.”

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I try not to be a contrarian, but I am an adventurer by nature – and adventurers are people who understand that there are no unsolvable or hopeless situations. Only by expanding your horizons can you reach your goal.

If I wasn’t adventurous, I wouldn’t have a group of companies today. Sometimes you have to take risks. And for any entrepreneur, the first and foremost risk is related to believing in what they are doing. If you believe in what you are doing, you will definitely succeed. You don’t sit down first and say, “It’s complicated, I don’t know, I have to weigh everything.” That’s not the way. Sometimes I get into a story first and only make decisions later, as I go along.

As for people disagreeing with your objectives that may sometimes sound delusional or impossible, you have to infect your team and your partners with enthusiasm and show them that you don’t simply believe these concepts in name only, but that you live and breathe them. And if you really believe in what you preach and put your money where your mouth is, you actually achieve the results.

There used to be these lamps with wax inside. And that wax gradually melted from the heat and floated up in the lamp. I think that any business, any project is a substance that is constantly changing its state due to the temperature, or the heat of passion, or some changes in legislation and market trends. Just this plasticity and the ability to adjust to today’s realities is very important for anyone engaged in business. If you don’t change or readjust, if you don’t anticipate any events, even unlikely ones, if you agree with the way things are and give up, you’re better off not doing it.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I really appreciate both the past and the present, and I believe in the future, so I guess the advice would be to stay the way you are.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

The strategy is very simple: I do what I know. And I just repackage it. Basically, I approach an existing project that is already a part of my group of companies. I never buy unfamiliar businesses. That’s the golden rule, because you have to know the whole process thoroughly. I get a lot of offers to invest in this or that field next to aviation, but I don’t go in there because I don’t know it from the inside.

I also have to be interested in what I’m doing. If I get enthusiastic about something and see some value in it, I fire up the people around me as well.

One of my business partners once said to me: “You have this habit. A new project for you is like a new baby – it comes along, and you switch your full attention to it.” I agreed with him and he continued: “But that’s to say that you leave the other kids behind.” “Yes, but I leave those kids in the hands of my partners. You know how to continue raising a child based on the DNA that’s embedded.”

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

The first one is actually my step-in. After completing my studies in England, I returned to Georgia with an idea for a delivery service. I was impressed when I went to a bank in England and then I would get a bank card in the mail and a PIN a day or two later. In different envelopes.

I had pretty extensive connections with banks in Georgia, so I went into each one and made a presentation. I said: “We are creating company X that will remove your headache of delivering the bank cards to your customers.” Everybody loved the idea, and we signed five or six banks up. At the time, each bank was issuing about 5,000 cards a month, and they were paying about $1 for each card. But then the volume of orders dropped. And I realized that it was necessary to expand this project with the delivery of SIM cards from mobile operators, as well as advertising mailings, bills, etc. It was time to scale up, but we didn’t have enough people, we had to take them out of other projects and devote all of our time to this delivery service, and that was unrealistic at the time. If you do something, you have to devote yourself completely to it, it’s very important. Besides, Georgia was a small market for me, and I wanted to go to Europe to build bridges between Europe and the ex-Soviet countries. I realized that I could not grow and become a big player if I remain in a small market with a small check and a small market volume.

The second failure story happened when I was working for a big company. I really believed in it so much that I dragged everyone I could there. Unfortunately, at some point the company went into receivership, it began to fold. I did not control the process, but as a salesman I lost the trust of my clients, and they were wealthy people who believed in me and gave me their assets to manage.

That’s when it clicked. I went to them, and there were 15 of them, and I said: “I will pay you back this money.” I had no idea where I would get this money from. At that time, a sum of six-seven million euros was a huge amount for me, as my salary was 60 thousand pounds a year.

They asked, “How will you pay us back?” and I said: “I brought you to this company and it folded. Things happen. It’s a business. You have to believe me again. You’re coming with me. I’m going to build my own system, my own airline, my own management company. And I’ll close the deficit you have today within a year.” Out of those 15 people, 10 believed in me.

For me, that was a failure, because I had no influence on the process (although in the end, the story was a successful one in the long run). Today, I only do things where I can influence the process. If you don’t control the business you’re running, if you’re not the one making decisions, it’s apriori a fiasco.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I have one idea that I want to implement. Today, Mirai Flights today enables you to book a jet right now. Of course, it would be trivial to say, “And tomorrow you will be able to book drones to fly people through this app.” But this is one such service that could be integrated there at some later point, and we are already in talks with drone developers.

I’m also looking into the problem of infrastructure for small aircraft and drones. And there are already interesting solutions, such as mobile stations for receiving small aircraft, helicopters, and drones. These are like little hubs that can be deployed all over the world. And in hard-to-reach places, you will have the ability to transport both people and cargo.

I think that soon, within a few years, we will see such projects in Singapore and the UAE.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

There are charity foundations that I just give money to. I never keep track of it, because when you participate in something like this in terms of money, I think you shouldn’t boast about it. And there are people who spend their time on it – that’s real help. I’m also more than happy to give money to street musicians. I love walking the streets in the winter. One day I was walking, it was cold. And a frail old woman was playing the violin. It was so enchanting: it was snowing, and she was playing this violin, and it permeated the whole scene, her music was somehow physically warming. I left $100 to this old lady, so that she, too, would feel warmed by my attention.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Today we have several platforms where we communicate. If we’re talking about the management team and people working with aviation projects, it’s Trello. The aviation software we use is Leon. Also for sales, we use Salesforce.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I liked “Hard Management” by Dan Kennedy a lot. I often reread it and put it into practice. Also, I recommended it to all the members of my team.

What is your favorite quote?

There is a funny saying in Georgian that translates as: “It would be good to live well, if it weren’t so expensive.”

In all seriousness, it is important for me to do something for the people. Clearly, I won’t be Mendeleev or Hawking, who once said: “Look at the stars, not under your feet. Be inquisitive. No matter how hard life is, you can always find a cause in which you can excel.” So it’s very important for me to do something that will remain after I’m gone.

Key Learnings:

  • To develop a business, you have to scale up.
  • For me, it’s important to do things that will change the world and people, change the industry, and to be useful in developing services, products all over the world. At the same time, one must never forget that projects have to be profitable.
  • Time is a very expensive resource. Some people might do something just for the sake of doing it – such approach is not for me.

Interviews

Interview with Sara Sheehan, Founder of Sara Sheehan Consulting

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Interview with Sara Sheehan, Founder of Sara Sheehan Consulting

Sara Sheehan, PCC, is a consultant and Executive Coach who works with C-Level executive leaders in designing organizations, developing business strategies, managing change, optimizing talent and leadership development, and solving complex human performance problems. Through executive coaching, Sara helps leaders sprint their way up the corporate ladder and increase their performance.

During Sara’s 25+ years in business, she has worked with leaders, teams, and organizations in Fortune 100 companies and individuals. Sara specializes in change management, talent and leadership development, executive coaching, and organization design. As a collaborative, results-orientated coach, Sara provides support and practical feedback to help clients effectively navigate change and address business challenges. She also integrates coaching techniques, methods, and approaches to help her clients develop change capabilities and learn to apply them right away. With a servant leadership mindset, she supports her clients in building new skills and customizes frameworks to her client’s project needs. Sara works with clients based on her network, referrals, and appointment.

Sara has been featured both nationally and internationally on podcasts as an expert on topics of change management, talent and leadership development, executive coaching, and organization design.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

The idea for Sara Sheehan Consulting is based on almost 30 years in management consulting and executive coaching. Through business consulting, I help businesses through complex business transformations from a human capital perspective. Through executive coaching, I help busy executives sprint their way up the corporate ladder by setting goals, increasing their performance, resolving conflict, and setting up an advisory team so they are even more successful in their current role or their next one if they are in transition.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

It’s a combination of time blocking for specific purposes like business development, market research conversations, reaching out to ideal clients or close contacts that can refer me to ideal clients, scheduled current client meetings, a wide variety of marketing activities, and time for things that feed me like exercise, cooking, or other interests like spending time with friends and family. I am innately extremely productive so when I am at my best I am in a positive flow.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I have a lot of creative ideas so bringing them to life is not a chore. Typically, writing is the first step to bringing new ideas to life, then it may spread across my marketing mix into videos, presentations, new offerings, or marketing research conversations to test market viability. Once an idea has filtered through these touchpoints, I am able to put more structure around it. Two ideas that I am formalizing right now: a paid membership community on Mighty Networks called The Center for Change Leadership and a chapter in a collaborative book.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I love progression and innovation in technology that helps us be more productive at the least possible cost. To provide a little more context, I love the current trend in software that allows users to get started on a web platform at a low cost and you can increase your plan as you need to if the services fit your needs. These pay-as-you-go plans and the ability to play with new tools are fantastic. Specifically, I have a project team that uses Monday.com and it serves as a tremendous productivity hack.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I know that I am not supposed to do everything, nor should I if I want to scale a successful business. To this end, I am working with the best expert vendors that are aligned with me to amplify my business and my message.

What advice would you give your younger self?

The advice I would give my younger self is that it’s ok to start thinking about how you want to use your craft as an entrepreneur. I’d express to younger me that thinking about offerings and solutions that can be commercialized is going to benefit you. You can start planning now, frame it up, and test your assumptions in market research conversations. You may find that it manifests differently than you expect and that it’s important to be open to the gifts it brings.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

One of the offerings I have done a lot of market research conversations on is my Mastering Change Management Course. The course can be delivered live via Zoom to a cohort or through self-study via Kajabi. I have had no opposition to the course to date, and I have also not found the right pilot group yet. Based on the conversations I have had, the right pilot group is out there! I understand that this is such a different way to deliver consulting work that people may not be open to it just yet. People that disagree with my approach are more likely to engage a consultant based on the project timeline, although this option will require more time with the client and be more costly. The differentiator for the course is that I am seeking qualified education provider status with the Association of Change Management Professionals so that anyone that takes the course could apply the credits toward the Certified Change Management Professional (CCMP) exam or credential renewals.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

The one thing I would do time and time again would be market research conversations on programs, solutions, and offerings. This is the best way to validate that a new offering is viable in the market, and it provides opportunities to uncover ideal clients or get referred to your ideal clients.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

One strategy that has helped me grow my business significantly has been increasing my visibility through engaging a professional marketing agency and a publicist. I was already active on LinkedIn through posting, writing, and videos weekly, however, engaging a marketing agency to support me has allowed me to get strategic in planning on a quarterly basis, as well as executing a broader plan. They also created my branding and collaborated on my website design so everything I produce visually supports my message and purpose. Engaging a publicist that I am aligned with has magically connected me with the right opportunities for increased visibility. Both my marketing team and my publicist are trusted advisors and I am looking forward to seeing how these advisors will continue to grow my business.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

It took me longer to attract my ideal client than I’d hoped since I spent so many years working for other firms. It’s not surprising or unexpected, it’s just a fact that it takes time to be known for your expertise. Additionally, I should have engaged a marketing agency and publicist sooner than I did on both fronts. To be honest, it took a little bit of time to come into contact with the right people to work with. I also think the patience and time allowed me to work on my own mindset which is invaluable.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

When I see questions like this one I immediately think of Peanuts, Lucy, and Charlie Brown at an advice booth with a sign that reads “Advice 5 Cents” with a dixie cup next to it. What’s the quickest way to start a business that can serve a wide customer base? Marketing and business development are two things that every entrepreneur needs to focus on to scale. If you can fit in that space and speak directly to the pain points of a differentiated ideal client, things should manifest fairly quickly.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Definitely reconnecting with friends, family, and clients over a shared meal. You can’t replace being in person and truly connecting with others following such an isolating two-year period.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

The top three online tools and resources that I am currently using to grow my business are Google Workspace, Slack, QBO, and Quickbooks Online. All three tools make work easy, support me in what I am doing, streamline all of my efforts, and keep me focused on what’s most important.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller: I believe the Story Brand is absolutely essential for entrepreneurs to incorporate as they build their business.

What is your favorite quote?

I have so many favorite quotes! Here’s one that is on my mind and heart right now: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” Jack Welch

Key Learnings:

  • If you want to grow and/or scale your business, it’s important to know that you can’t do everything alone
  • Working with the best expert vendors that are aligned with you and your business will amplify your business and message
  • Strategic partner progression and the right innovation in technology can help entrepreneurs and businesses be more productive at the least possible cost
Originally published on IdeaMensch.
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Interviews

Interview with Blake Kohler, CEO of Pulse For Good

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Interview with Blake Kohler, CEO of Pulse For Good

Blake is passionate about, well, everything! As the CEO of Pulse For Good, he uses that passion to help nonprofits worldwide gather feedback from vulnerable individuals more effectively. With his background in technology, Blake is helping to bring business-class survey tooling to organizations ran on shoe-string budgets.

As someone who likes to talk, he knows how hard it can be to listen, and along with the Pulse For Good team, he’s working towards building a more empathetic future.

Where did the idea for Pulse For Good come from?

Pulse For Good emerged from an early pilot of a partnership with the city of Seattle. The various city offices were trying to figure out how best to facilitate gathering feedback from the youth homeless population in Seattle, and our early solution, which was designed to gather employee feedback, was suggested. We quickly found that traditional survey methods left a lot to be desired when gathering feedback from vulnerable populations and set out to build something that better fits the unique concerns of serving vulnerable groups.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

As a small startup, our typical days are full of adventure. Some days are dedicated to sales, other days we spend doing support, some days we are working on marketing, and other days we’re trying to improve our operations.

We find that using an agile model works well for our team. We utilize Kanban boards and team standups to keep track of everything from development tasks to customer onboarding.

How do you bring ideas to life?

As a team, we tend to be very visual-focused, so often, our ideas begin to emerge onto whiteboards before they become something a little more tangible.

Once they’ve been thoroughly debated and diagramed on a whiteboard, they make it onto one of our tasks on our kanban boards.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Our team is excited about the combination of technology and social impact. More groups are looking to do good in the world instead of maximizing profit. It is fantastic to see people use their time and talents to help those around them.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

One of our core values is a default to action, which has proven time and time again to be the primary driver of our productivity. Too often, we spend hours debating something, and nothing gets done. By defaulting to act, we might at times cause some headaches, but those headaches are often quickly fixed, and the value we gain from the constant action greatly diminishes any headaches we’ve created.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Spend less time worrying about what others think of you and more time worrying about how you think of others.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Pain can be good for you. It’s a form of feedback, and the more you experience it, the more opportunities you have to make a change.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

We’ve had tremendous success posting on Linkedin. We try and do it every day, and it’s been an incredibly valuable part of our growth.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Very early on, we developed an advisory board of industry experts. This helped us gain a considerable amount of credibility and allowed us to develop tools, relationships, and techniques far beyond our abilities as just a founding team.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

One failure we had coming out of the pandemic was a communication breakdown amongst our founding team. Previously, we had conducted in-person meetings, but with the world changing, we switched to a more remote first attitude. Over time, our perceptions and goals changed without getting together.

We had to have some serious heart-to-heart conversations and institute more formality in our processes to help bridge the gaps that this lack of communication caused us.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

We’ve always thought there would be an opportunity for a crowd-sourced travel agency. We believe you could utilize people’s passion for planning vacations and natural competitiveness to offer tailored vacation plans to the masses without the expense of full-time travel agents.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

We recently conducted a series of case studies with our customers, and we paid each person who participated $100. These case studies are invaluable to us, and it is one thing for us to share how our system can help an organization. It’s entirely different for a peer of those organizations to share how we help. Case studies are worth their weight in gold.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Slack – we use it for all of our communication, and as a remote team, it helps us all stay connected and on the same page.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Outward Mindset – changing the way we think and feel about others helps all aspects of your life

What is your favorite quote?

“Listening is the first act of love.” – Paul Tilch

Key Learnings:

  • Defaulting towards action drives productivity
  • Pain can be good for you
  • The best $100 spent is the one that makes your next $1000
Originally published on IdeaMensch.
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Interviews

Interview with Dayana Doncheva, Founder of EcardForest Group Ecards

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Interview with Dayana Doncheva, Founder of EcardForest Group Ecards

Dayana Doncheva is the founder of EcardForest Group Ecards – a company for greeting cards that can be signed by many people online and sent digitally. Their ecard collection includes all key occasions and features birthday, farewell, baby, wedding and many more cards. EcardForest is highly invested in environmental protection and engages in tree planting around the world.

Where did the idea for EcardForest come from?

EcardForest was inspired by a personal use case. I was about to organize a leaving card for my colleague in early 2021 and looked for options online that would allow group signing so that the full team can share their goodbye wishes. I didn’t like the available options and realized that this could be a business idea. After doing my research and checking the competitors, I embraced my entrepreneurial spirit and thought I can give it a go.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

There is not a typical-day concept for us yet. We are growing fast and our routine changes very quickly, allowing us to navigate between new feature integrations, the creation and release of new greeting card designs, as well as support tasks. Of course, every team member has devoted tasks, but we work in an agile setup and adapt quickly based on the priorities.

How do you bring ideas to life?

The process is quite funny actually. We dare to dream and think out of the box. Most of our ideas come to life as funny suggestions. If some of those suggestions still keep us wondering a couple of days later, we put them to a sense-check and see what comes out. We do proper research and talk to a couple of external people to verify the idea before putting it into our backlog.

As a next step, we deep dive into the execution. Once we launch a new feature on EcardForest.com we make sure to monitor it closely. Is everything fine? Does it work as expected? Does it generate added value for our consumers and us? If not, we remove it.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Hybrid working. Naturally, that drives our business since our online greeting cards experience higher demand when people around the globe work in a hybrid setup.

Hybrid working is an interesting trend to us in general too. We experienced first-hand how easy working in a global model could be. Our team is spread around Europe and when needed we involve freelancers from around the world, which allows us to work with the best talents no matter the location.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

People often tell me that I appear to be very well organized. In fact, I am not, and I enjoy the creative mess to the fullest. It nurtures my imagination. It’s contra intuitive but working in a messy environment has proven to help me become more productive in the long run.

If I need to focus on a bigger analytical task though, I try to get a fresh mind by going on a short walk before I start. That helps a great deal.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be braver! Today, I love to challenge myself, even though I know that some things won’t work out. I take it as a learning and grow from there. But a couple of years ago I was still quite hesitant and tended to lean towards safe bets.

Looking back, I am not sure when I changed to become braver, but I can’t help but wonder where I would have been today if I would have done it earlier.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

There is always more to learn. The schedule of an entrepreneur is usually terribly busy and that’s no different in the corporate world. Often times people feel quite comfortable after completing a task or a project and turning a new page to handle the next one. I see great value in reviewing decisions and processes based on new learnings. In my mind, the “good enough” solution can always become a better one, powered up by new learnings.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Do research. I trust in data and have learned to appreciate its value a lot. Doing your research not only saves a lot of potentially unnecessary work but also helps you focus on what’s important.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Investing in advertising has certainly helped us grow EcardForest. We make sure to capture the available demand as much as possible.

When starting a business, thinking about advertising costs might be scary but advertising is usually what kickstarts your business, once the product is ready. Being brave, spending some money but also monitoring the success closely can go a long way.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Before starting EcardForest I was working on another startup. It was focused on financial investment data and most importantly it was a B2B product. That turned out to be incredibly hard to market and required a lot of sales and support efforts. Soon afterward I discovered that the idea was not worth the effort, and it was not going to work out as expected.

I learned two valuable lessons: First, bringing a B2C product to life is easier. Second, holding on to an unsuccessful business idea for too long doesn’t bring you anywhere.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Circular economy products. I am a big fan of renting and reselling and it’s great for the environment. This is applicable to so many product types – from tools to equipment, mobility, etc. Just find a new niche.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

As part of our sustainability efforts, we donate some of our revenue to tree planting organizations around the globe. Just recently we onboarded a new partner – Ecologi that allows us to not only plant trees but also offset carbon emissions by contributing to additional projects like wind power development.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

We use Github for our backlog and task management. The project section is a perfect solution for agile teams like ours and keeps us focused on important and urgent tasks. It certainly increases our productivity, and I can’t recommend that enough.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Refactoring UI by Adam Wathan and Steve Schoger is a great resource for any digital business or any website for that matter. It provides an understanding and best practices of website design, UI, colors, fonts, visual hierarchies, etc.

What is your favorite quote?

A single tree doesn’t make a forest. I just came up with that one, but the key message is that even the best entrepreneur or the most knowledgeable person can only go so far on their own. Building a strong team around you is what will bring you further.

Key Learnings:

  • First, do your research before you invest too much time and resources in an idea
  • Be open to exploring and learning more
  • Invest in bringing a strong team together to drive your idea further
Originally published on IdeaMensch.
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