"Once you get into early stage companies, it’s hard to imagine doing anything else.” “It’s a hard road, there’s a lot of days when I wake up and think, "Man I wish I could just go work for a big company and cash a check and I’d be fine," but it’s just not the way I’m wired.” - Andrew Dumont
About: Andrew Dumont- Entrepreneur in Residence at Betaworks
Overview: Andrew is a determined and intelligent young man who has a passion for building businesses. He shares his experiences with starting the company Stride, and what he is doing now at Betaworks to prepare for future entrepreneurial work.
Background: Andrew is originally from Seattle, but now living in New York working at Betaworks. He came to NY to elevate his entrepreneurial game and be surrounded by people who are always on the go.
Betaworks: It's essentially like a startup studio and is structured by 2 sides. The first side is an investment side. They are currently involved in about 15-20 seed investments with about $100-$250k per investment. Some of the companies Betaworks has invested in are: Kickstarter, Tumblr, and many others.
Right now, they are investing in ProductTime. The other side of the company is the studio portion. Betaworks hires entrepreneurs to help with the media business and with what new media will look like. They build new products that will be compelling in that space. Some of those products include: Chart B, Dots (iPhone game), and Dig. It’s not a traditional type of company- they like to start their employees from scratch. They go out and find talent within the community they’ve built. They’re going to start a new program called “Hacker” where they work with a creator that builds a new thing within 3 months. This new program is very much like the film studios in Hollywood.
Daily Workload: Andrew went out to New York because a good friend was an investor with Betaworks. Andrew was very interested in the business model. He was ready to do his own thing, and by coming to Betaworks, was given a good opportunity to do his own thing at a great company. When he started there, Andrew spent a lot of time on helping platforms like Insta Paper, Dig, and Pancho. His role was to solve some of the problems that those applications were experiencing.
Andrew’s Goal: His next step is to determine if Betaworks will be the right fit for helping him start his own company.
Previous Startup (Stride): Stride was a company/app that Andrew co-founded. It was built it in about 3 weeks. Andrew and his team built Stride as a light weight CRM application. The idea behind Stride is that salesforce was a really complicated tool, so they wanted an app that focused more on the simple- more about the stages of where the sales were at. Stride was a completely bootstrapped company. It made about $20k in revenue in about year and a half (side project).
Once it started getting bigger, they were trying to determine if it was something they wanted to pursue, but Andrew felt like the market was completely capped, so they decided to sell the growing company to Neil Patel and Heaton Shaw. Andrew is good friends with Neil Patel, and he really trusted in their ability to scale and build products. It was a very smooth process selling it to them, which Andrew was grateful for, because they already had customers using their application. He wanted to make sure that those customers were taken care of and knew that Neil and Heaton would be the right fit.
Andrew’s Passion: Out of all the things there is to do in the entrepreneurial world, Andrew really enjoys businesses over consumer products. He states, "They aren’t as sexy but they capture my interest." In the future he'd like to do something similar to Stride but a little more aggressive.
Work-Life Balance: Andrew says that you have to understand that you’re sacrificing a lot of the work-life balance in the early stages. It takes more than 40 hours a week. You have to do certain things each week that make it so you don’t burn out. To keep a balance, Andrew tried to shut off and be unplugged on the weekends. Every year, he makes sure to do at least a week or two of being completely unplugged from the world. He says, "There’s no doubting the fact that it’s [being an entrepreneur] hard work, but it’s just part of the deal."
Common Mistakes: Andrew has made plenty of mistakes through his own journey, but says that’s how you learn. "You need to fail to really understand things." Every single company he’s been apart of started small. Many of them failed, but some of them did grow into large, successful companies. Seismic was a great example of company that had too much cash, and pivoted too often. There’s a right time to pivot and a wrong time to pivot. When things aren’t working, a companies' natural inclination is to pivot, which can ultimately destroy what is trying to be built. Andrew shares that it's important to have a hunch as an entrepreneur. You have to believe in something that others may not. There’s a lot of reasons why a company can fail, and it’s usually more than just one element that causes the fall.
Advice for Entrepreneurs After They Fail: It’s hard not to get down on yourself when things don’t work, but you have to understand that it’s part of the anomaly. You have to reclassify your definition of success. It’s a constant battle to readjust. Depression in startups is a real thing. So, a lot of it is making your mind stronger. For Andrew, preparing his mind means putting things in perspective and setting very clear goals. Don’t get distracted by what’s going on in other companies around you.
Take Away: In order to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be willing to put in overtime. 40 hours a week isn't going to cut it. Like Andrew, you may even have to start something on the side while working a mainstream job until you can launch. Even though it's not going to be easy, it's worth it.
Connect With Andrew:
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