Allen Lau, co-founder and CEO, Wattpad; Caitlin MacGregor, CEO, Plum; Yoav Schwartz, co-founder and CEO, Uberflip; and Markus Latzel, CEO, Palomino Inc., come together to discuss their entrepreneurial lessons and insights in a panel at the Techweek Toronto Summit 2016. The panel is moderated by Sheetal Maya Nanda, managing partner at SN Legal and Canadian Of Counsel at D’Alessio Law Group.
Being an entrepreneur is a journey. The speakers in this panel specifically focus on the evolution of entrepreneurs and traits of a successful entrepreneur.
Some of our key takeaways from the conversation:
- Entrepreneurs’ Attitude is the Key Towards Successful Ventures:
Entrepreneurs need to be agile with a learning attitude and an open mindset to learn and grow, as their job is ever-changing. A great entrepreneur needs to have the ability to self-learn and achieve his or her targets in real time, according to Allen. Caitlin considers perseverance and determination to be the two key factors for an entrepreneur to succeed. Entrepreneurship is a huge roller-coaster ride and an entrepreneur is the master of his own enterprise. Markus feels another key aspect to be an entrepreneur is to have the capability to make promises that can be kept.
- Key Factors to Launch a Startup Successfully:
These include an early launch of a startup, getting customer feedback with proper execution, and making use of governmental funding as much as possible. For Allen, one of the key things that he had to learn initially was ‘how to delegate’ so that he can free up his time to focus on other aspects of the business which really needed his attention. Once the business starts scaling, it is important to get trusted and experienced group of advisors. However, it’s critical to realize that at the end of the day, no one knows the business better than the entrepreneurs themselves. Finding the right investor is also essential for the business to thrive and move in the right direction.
- Hiring Employees is Critical for the Success of a Startup:
Caitlin feels that “selecting co-founders and key employees is like a marriage where you are committing to something greater.” Hiring someone with great credentials might be good for an interview, but it might not be a fit for a new venture. It all depends on how an entrepreneur can find a raw, eager talent to fit into the organization culture, which in turn will help in the growth of the startup.
- Fundraising Remains the Best Interest for Entrepreneurs:
Startups which generate positive cash flow attract investors. Many startups are keen to obtain external funding as early as possible, but some entrepreneurs rely mostly on bootstrapping. That was what Markus’ company needed and it also provided him with the flexibility to manage the business without being tied down to what investors may require. Fundraising is an option once all the grants of the company are exhausted.
- Inclusion in Tech Field is Gaining Prominence:
Toronto encourages diversity in tech to a large extent. The minority is the majority here, according to Allen. Companies like Wattpad ensure no ethnic or gender bias takes place during an interview, as well as in the office. Equality at work needs to be driven down from the top and the working environment needs to be inclusive, welcoming, and well-balanced for all.
- Skillsets An Entrepreneur Develops in the Long Run:
An entrepreneur is always learning different things at different stages of a company’s growth. These include having a sense of self-awareness, the ability to learn new skillsets quickly, learning execution, and selling skills. To be a successful entrepreneur, it’s beneficial to read business books whenever possible so as to absorb business lessons and other success stories.
Below are some of the key points and moments from the conversation:
- 0:01 – Sheetal Maya Nanda introduced the topic of discussion and the panel members to the audience
- 1:21 – The speakers introduced themselves and their companies
- 6:20 – Entrepreneurs are agile and cannot work for anyone else
- 13:09 – Certain factors help in successful launch of a startup, including customer feedback, government funding, and delegating work with proper execution
- 19:38 – Advisors and investors play an important role in driving the startups in right directions
- 20:42 – Hiring new employees is quite tricky and needs keen observation from the entrepreneur
- 23:45 – Startups can be bootstrapped or venture-capital backed
- 28:27 – Employees in tech need to feel equal and unbiased at work; Toronto encourages diversity in tech
- 35:08 – The journey of becoming an entrepreneur lets one explore certain qualities that they were not aware of earlier