As a young company, we faced incredible challenges in the journey from idea to launch; we lost an early potential co-founder, found a replacement, we started building a site only to have to scrap it and build in a new language, we won a demo competition without a real demo, we recruited several to work with us and lost a few along the way. By Tricia Rampe (Founder & CEO, GetArtUp)
Time flies when you’re having fun. And it seems to tick off even faster when you’re building a new company that excites you. Given that GetArtUp is approaching two big milestones: the recent launch of our new site and celebrating a year from when we first brainstormed our art sharing service at Women 2.0 Startup Weekend, I thought it might be useful to share some of my experiences and offer advice culled from the past year.
Lesson #1 - Take care in choosing your team.
One important lesson I had to learn the hard way is that there will be very nice people who want to join your start-up who are simply not going to make it go. They may have passion and enthusiasm for your product but if they can’t deliver, it’s going to cost you! My advice is to take extra care in hiring and giving equity out before fully vetting your future team members. You may have to go through courting several potentials before the right one comes along. In my case, number 3 was the best fit.
Lesson #2 - Get revenue coming in as soon as you can.
Cash is king! I know everyone seems to be focused on raising money first, but I find that raising money too soon can offer a false sense of security and may even produce a certain laziness in execution. Focus on getting customers right way, before you build anything. We had recurring monthly income from early on and it helped me focus on what it was that these customers were willing to pay for and how to build that magic into the product.
Lesson #3 - Don’t rush to ship.
When there is competition, we may want to rush to ship the site, to be first to market and beat out the other potential entrepreneurs working on the idea. In reality, working at your own speed is best. Take time to fully understand what you building and what the customer wants. Passionate founders will prevail, so be confident in your vision and work at your own pace.
Lesson #4 - Always be grateful.
Make time to thank and build relationships with people who have helped you. It could be an early customer or a friend who gave you their time or useful advice. I have been lucky to have so much help from friends and other believers along the way. Without their help, I would not have gotten this far!
Lesson #5 - Learn to Persevere.
You will be challenged for sure. Success will only come if you learn to persevere and overcome adversity and constant rejection. As a young company, we faced incredible challenges in the journey from idea to launch; we lost an early potential co-founder, found a replacement, we started building a site only to have to scrap it and build in a new language, we won a demo competition without a real demo, we recruited several to work with us and lost a few along the way.
At the end of the day, my advice is love what you are doing and that passion will allow you to get through even the worst wrenches life can throw your way.
Finally, just enjoy the ride! Building your own company or brand is probably more exciting then any job you’ll take working for someone else so savor the journey.
GetArtUp is an art sharing service offering affordable access to original contemporary art for the home or office on a monthly subscription.
Don’t live with bare walls, check out how for the price of a meal out for one in San Francisco; you can have a $7,000 photograph hanging up in your space! Women 2.0 subscribers receive a free month of GetArtUp, simply type “Women 2.0” in the checkout’s special instruction box. We’ll credit your second month of art rental!
Women 2.0 readers: What is your big startup lesson learned of 2012? Let us know in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Tricia Rampe is the Founder and CEO of Get Art Up. In 2011, Tricia created a mobile app for discovering and sharing art that is near to you. Artspotting is available in the app store. Before the age of 28 she owned a gallery which is still operating. Along with a co-founder, Tricia started an original content lifestyle blog Limner, making trips all over the country to source our own photos and content. Follow her on Twitter at @triciarampe.