"I urge founders to focus less on fundraising and more on testing the product out with real users and gaining traction."
David is a marathon runner, sky diver and entrepreneur. He is a San Francisco based, 26 year old co-founder of Startup Fund, a platform that connects startup founders with investors. Prior to moving to Silicon Valley he worked with startups across South East Asia and Europe.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about your company – what is Startup Fund all about?
Startup Fund connects founders of early stage startups with investors. It is a platform that investors utilize as a deal flow pipeline for potential investments. We analyze every new member on an individual basis and make recommendations to investors on the platform based on their investment preferences.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about your background and how you started your company?
My first job frying french fries in McDonald’s at age 15 taught me a crucial lesson. It made me realize where I definitely didn’t want to end up. I did my bachelor degree in London and later started an MBA in China but dropped out as I had an opportunity to move to Silicon Valley. I didn’t hesitate. A part of my job there was negotiating partnerships with VCs. That’s when I realized that many of them are desperate to get a well curated deal flow. They simply needed to be introduced to more promising startups they could invest in. My co-founder Jakub Plas and I started to shape the Startup Fund concept based on this observation.
Q: Quickly describe what an average working day is like for you?
I often end up crashing at the office since I typically work till 2am or so. I wake up at around 9am, reply to emails and check in with the team. We discuss what needs to be done that day and debate over features we want to add to the product. I go over how many new users joined Startup Fund, funny how that can determine my mood for the day. Later on I’d have calls with multiple investors and founders who are looking to join Startup Fund. I’m usually able to slip in an hour of cross fit at the gym during the day. Can’t focus without doing any sports, strongly recommend everyone to spend more time on physical activities. The remaining time I use to optimize our marketing campaigns and discuss strategy with my co-founder Jakub Plas.
Q: How are you funded? What is your best advice to entrepreneurs when it comes to raising funds?
We’re backed by STRV, a successful software engineering company I’d highly recommend to anyone looking for web or mobile app development resources.
I urge founders to focus less on fundraising and more on testing the product out with real users and gaining traction. If you think you need investor money to build a prototype, use tools available to imitate the intended functionality of your future product. Before raising funds, test whether people are willing to use your product and more importantly, pay for it. Traction is a magical word investors love to hear. With traction, fundraising is a hell lot easier.
Q: What would you say are the top 3 traits of successful entrepreneurs?
- Understand that a “NO” is not a “no” but a “try again” – don’t get discouraged, you’ll face a LOT of rejection.
- Be adventurous – don’t be afraid of the unknown. For entrepreneurs, every day is an unknown.
- Always remember the WHY – no matter what, never forget why you’re doing it, why you’re fighting for it.
Q: What were the top 3 mistakes you made starting your business and what did you learn from it?
- Too much thinking & planning, too little doing – you learn most by doing, not thinking.
- Too much pitching, too little selling – focus on traction, acquiring real users. This is the only way to improve your product.
- Too much emphasis on perfection – don’t worry what your prototype or V1 looks like, just go with it, get first people to try it out, there will be plenty of time to work out the details.
Q: How do you go about marketing your business and what has been the most successful form of marketing for you?
Getting your company out there will be the toughest job you’ll need to deal with. I always say that startups don’t compete against one another, but rather they compete agains nobody giving a f****. We market Startup Fund utilizing various channels like content marketing, social media presence and campaigns but also word of mouth. However generally speaking, email will be you best bet if you’re starting out. Email is 30x more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined. Focus on building a mailing list of potential users/clients.
Q: What was the best business advice you have ever received and who gave you this advice?
This is a learning from the Tao of Seneca:
We waste our live doing things we don’t like, to prove ourselves to people we don’t respect, to get things we don’t want. In other words, stop doing what you think you should do and do what you actually want to do. Do what you love. This isn’t just a business advice, it applies to life in general.
Q: What’s your definition of success?
One is successful if he or she possesses complete inner peace, emotional balance and loves who they are as a human being.
Q: What are three books or resources you recommend for entrepreneurs?
Q: What is your favorite entrepreneurship quote?
“Stay hungry, stay foolish” – Steve Jobs
Q: How can our community get in touch with you?
Hit me up on Instagram: @eleviworld