Have you ever written a book, planted a tree or flown on a hot air balloon? Well, you still have to set up a startup. I had to set up mine at the age of 42. Too late? Honestly, I have never had better ideas than now and I have never felt as energetic as I feel now.
If you are between 40 and 50 years old, I recommend reading Marc Vidal’s magnificent article “Tremble, twentysomethings!” We forty-year-olds will screw it”.
The idea of my first startup emerged the best way a project can start (and I do not mean at a bar, which could also be the case): it started during an MBA programme at a Business School. One class, one good project, one emerging market, one professor with enthusiasm and some students with more enthusiasm, if that is even possible. In the end, 12 brave students, the professor and myself as programme director started the Xkuty adventure.
It seems easy, but I would be lying if I told you it was. It never is.
The important thing is to start. You have probably heard the phrase “anyone can have an idea, but only a few are capable of putting it into action”. Everybody has an idea to set up a project and also a thousand excuses not to carry it out. So, if there is something constant on your mind, set it in motion, and if you make a mistake, you learn.
We started my first project, with 500 € each. Five hundred euros I knew I didn’t need at that time, so, if things didn’t go well, it wouldn’t ruin my life. We started investing only as the project became more and more viable. So, you know, even if you have extra money: austerity and prudence. Especially at the beginning. In the United States projects start in garages, here they start with a lot of effort and whatever you have at hand, as a friend of mine would say.
A piece of advice: jump with a net below. Training is always important. Steve Jobs never completed his studies. This doesn’t mean he was not trained. A recent study by Kauffman called “The Anatomy of an Entrepreneur”, based on a survey to 549 business founders, revealed, among other things, that 95.1% of respondents had an undergraduate degree and 47% had a graduate degree. So take your time and prepare yourself. You will avoid many mistakes and, above all, save money that you will probably need in the future. Every year I try to take at least one training programme to help me grow. It has been and will continue to be my best investment.
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After my first project came the second, then a third, and, not to be outdone, a fourth one. And so you realise how right the saying “Jack of all trades, master of none” is. Our electric motorbike project was not consolidated yet when we started the second round of investment for Welcome My Talent, our fourth project, aimed at finding the best young talent for companies. A word of advice: based on my experience, put your body and soul into one thing. It’s 50% of your heart and 100% of your mind. Everything will be less complicated and your health will appreciate it.
Be obsessed with data, analyse and analyse, and then analyse again. Research and copy, you know that copying one person is plagiarism but copying many people has a name: “benchmarking”.
Your friends’ opinions are important, but always have in mind that they love you too much to give you negative feedback on your product.
If your idea is new and it is about something that does not exist, ask yourself why it is not on the market before undertaking the project. Do not be excessively concerned about being copied and about whether your product already exists. Most of the times you need the market’s help. Imagine how much money you would need to advertise a new product in the market.
Read a lot: nowadays there are many books that illustrate and help; attend courses, undergo training, be prepared and, above all, take risks.
Meanwhile, I am relaxed because, as Carlos Andreus puts it, “there is a world conspiracy for me to succeed”.