By Oza Klanjsek (Founder, Zebra Minds)
Since I was a little girl, I was taught by my parents that I can be whatever I want to be. My parents never stereotyped me. And when I asked my mom for one piece of advice she said, “Do NOT get easily discouraged.” Those words stay with me.
From Software Engineer to Startup Founder
Fast forward 30+ years and 5 different countries and languages, I signed up for the Denver 2010 Founder Institute startup accelerator program.
Before I entered the program, I knew a lot about mobile devices, programming, Java, but very little about Delaware-C corporations, cap table, term sheet, hiring, firing, PR or marketing.
The program pressured me to do all the key requirements of the startup, not just the ones I was comfortable with. It gave me input to numerous other companies and great networking opportunities with the founders and recognized mentors.
Shortly after, ZebraMinds was incorporated with the vision of delivering educational content onto mobile devices. We created a framework to transfer quality children’s picture books to digital media and create games around the stories. The framework provides children’s book authors the ability to turn their books into mobile applications.
By utilizing ZebraMinds’ framework, we recently released out first illustrated book on iPad, iPhone, WP7 and Android smartphones and tablets. Currently, we’re working on a game around the story that offers several customized levels.
Startup Lessons Learned
Here are pieces of advice that I collected along a way from my fellow founders and mentors:
- Creating a company is really hard. It’s a lonely endeavor, so do not do it alone. Find co-founder(s).
- Define your company culture. It’s important to do it from the beginning. Respect what other parties bring to the table.
- Be obsessed with your product and your customers. Make decisions quickly, even though you may be wrong. Do not be afraid to fail and learn from your failures.
- Release often and early. Do not wait until your product is perfect.
- Believe in what you’re doing. You’ll get tested often and on many things.
- It does not matter if you’re doing it for first time or the fifth time, you’ll still have to do a lot of work.
- You’ll get phenomenal support from your fellow founders and mentors; just ask them to be honest and brutal with their feedback. It is about community too.
- Work on stuff that matters and do not sweat little things. Every now and then, remove yourself from a daily grind and think about the big picture.
- Creating a company is enormously rewarding. Have a lot of fun along the way!
ZebraMind founder Oza Klanjsek is hosting Founder Friday Denver on June 3, 2011. Aspiring and current entrepreneurs can register for the Women 2.0 networking mixer here.
About the guest blogger: Oza Klanjsek is the Founder & President of ZebraMinds, delivering educational content onto mobile devices. Oza is a software engineer with extensive experience developing both desktop and enterprise software. She worked on several award winning products and has been involved in a number of different technology areas. Oza is a contributor to AndroidGals.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ozaklanjsek and her startup at @zebraminds.