This last Wednesday, we headed over to Trailhead where StartupGrind Boise was hosting Natty Zola. Natty was Co-CEO/Co-Founder of AOL-acquired company, Everlater. He shared startup stories from his days as a research assistant for Jim Collins, as well as lessons learned from working in finance during the crash of 2008, traveling the world, opening a hostel in South America, and moving to his parent's basement to start Everlater.
Success and luck
First of all, Natty is a very young entrepreneur. Some might think he was "lucky" to have seen so much success so early in his career.
What I took away from his discussion was that success isn't made through some "Eureka!" moment. It's made through the iterative process of trying something new, failing, and learning. He emphasized the importance of surrounding yourself with people that will elevate and motivate you. You're the average of the five people you spend most of your time with. (Good thing my coworkers are awesome.)
If you believe in luck, you should also believe in getting return on luck. Surround yourself with people that will put in a place to be lucky and make the most of the "lucky" opportunities presented.
Stories shared, lessons learned
Natty told us a great story about partnering with Martha Stewart on a project, thinking - finally, they had made it big! Well, as it turns out, that project backfired and fizzled. The company managed to recover, but learned the valuable lesson of not putting all of their eggs in one basket.
Another major breakthrough, which I think will resonate with many startups and founders, was when they finally got their first client. Someone actually wanted to use their product? Someone wanted to pay them? What!? The lesson here is that most founders don't think their products are ready for launch, and spend too much time trying to perfect the product rather than get it in the hands of users. As it turns out, people may actually want your product. But the only way you'll know that, is if you actually let them have it.
One solid piece of advice
Natty and fellow founder of Everlater didn't have a programming background. They were business guys. Natty said that the single best decision he made, was learning how to write code. Not only because him and his partner didn't have to rely on other to see their vision come to life, but also because having these skills gave them credibility. Having good talent is important, and when you can speak the language, not only do you know what questions to ask, but you can also be more empathetic and credible when hiring.