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How to Navigate Life as a Solo Founder with Ariel Kaye, Founder & CEO of Parachute Powered by
This presentation consists of insights inspired by 33voices® interviews with Jenna Abdou.
Table of Contents Chapter 1 - Surviving the Early Days Page 4 Chapter 2 - The Key to Productive Startup Culture Page 13 Chapter 3 - How to Release Your Inner Fire with Investors Page 22 Chapter 4 - Reflection Page 30 Credits Page 31
Chapter 1 Surviving the Early Days
“It’s all consuming. There’s a lot of hope, excitement and naivete about the challenges of the upcoming year. It’s a serious adrenaline rush. Nothing could have stopped me at that point.”
Make networking a priority. Personally and professionally, your relationships will keep you grounded and help you solve early challenges. Try applying to an accelerator, attending meetups, and reaching out to specific individuals and mentors you’re eager to learn from.
Be prepared for friends to ask “What do you even do all day?” For founders, the real question is “What am I not doing?”
Make it a habit not to sweat the small stuff.
“It’s easy to make a very small thing so big that you stop moving forward. Like any startup, we’ve got fires to put out. I realized that the moments I was sweating the small stuff I wasn’t able to focus on other things, see progress, or cut myself a break… There is always going to be something. Every day there is something, big things and small things. That’s just the nature of a new business. As long as you keep learning and improving, and make sure that things in the past don’t happen again, you’re able to resolve them faster.”
Each week in the life of a startup is a reason to celebrate. “It’s hard to make transformative changes. Working on little things adds up to the big things.”
Ariel’s most defining lesson is: “Always be persistent, but also be patient.”
“It required days that seemed like they’d never end. It required taking a deep breath and realizing that the process is a part of the fun.”
Chapter 2 The Key to Productive Startup Culture
Despite wanting to hold on to each role you play in the company, growing your team is the most direct way to grow your business. Identify your strengths and hire for your weaknesses.
Working in close quarters enables you to quickly recognize when problems arise. Be prompt about identifying and solving them.
Your most important role as a founder is to be available. Whether it’s for your CTO or an intern, always be an active, open and present member of your team.
Ensure that your team members have a life outside of work. Smart leaders recognize that individuals are “only as productive at work as they are happy.” Encourage team members to disconnect and unwind.
Be adamant about celebrating company achievements in a social, non-work related environment. Whether you’re going to happy hour or taking a group spin class, celebrate incremental progress.
Build an office that feels like home. Try getting groceries delivered, cooking out after work, or playing an impromptu ping pong match to break up the day.
“You spend so much time at work that if you’re not having fun and enjoying it what’s the point?”
“Building culture and making sure my employees are happy is what keeps me up at night. It’s what this whole thing is all about; Creating a place where people love to work.”
Chapter 3 How to Release Your Inner Fire with Investors
Investors meet with hundreds of entrepreneurs every year. In the words of Ludlow Ventures Jonathon Triest, stand out by “being the good kind of crazy.”
“This isn’t a job where playing cool works. Playing badass works.” CLICK TO TWEET
Make it clear that you’re the right entrepreneur for the job. Find and implement tangible ways for investors to feel that in a room.
“Sit up straighter. Look into people’s eyes longer. Bring the intensity you feel inside out.”
Demonstrate that you’re listening to and implementing feedback. “People appreciate persistence. I’d take the feedback I got in those meetings and put it to work. Then I said ‘Hey! I’m back, and I listened.’ They have to pay attention to you.”
Let them know that you’re a fighter: “A person with persistence, confidence, and a vision. If they want to be here and go with you, do it. If not, move on and find the person who is.”
Whether you’re raising your seed round or your Series D, make it a habit to constantly practice and improve your pitch.
Despite the challenges she faced as a solo founder, this is what Ariel has to say about the journey thus far: “I feel like I’m a completely different person. This has been the most transformative experience of my life.”
Stay up to date with Ariel & the Parachute team @arielkaye @parachutehome Website Instagram Facebook
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