Ben Yoskovitz is a founding Partner at Year One Labs, an early stage accelerator in Montreal. He previously founded Standout Jobs (and sold it).Ben has been an entrepreneur for 14+ years. He founded Standout Jobs, in 2007 and sold it in 2010.
Ben Yoskovitz shares his insight and tips on starting Standout Jobs, Running it and eventually selling it.
# Success is never as easy as it seems when someone else talks about it, and failure is rarely as dismal as it seems either.
# Although we did exit Standout Jobs it was not a financial success. In fact, personally, I have less money now than when I started the company.
# Our timing was terrible. We launched the paying version of our application in the fall of 2008 about 5 minutes before the economy collapsed.
# In fact, I think most failures of CEOs and startup founders fall under the category of, “didn’t react quickly and aggressively enough.”
# Simply put, I wasn’t bold enough. I absolutely believe that taking a more analytical approach – driven by Customer Development and Lean Startup principles – can bolster your sagging ego and help you make rational, honest and difficult decisions. With Standout Jobs, I wasn’t rigorous enough in this process. I won’t make that mistake again.
# I didn’t have a strong enough understanding of the HR / Recruitment market going in.
# I just didn’t do enough homework. And doing homework while you’re writing the test as fast as you can is pretty damn hard.
# The lack of market understanding ultimately meant that we couldn’t match the right product to the right market at the right price.
# I had an exceptionally strong team. Best I’ve ever worked with. But in reality we didn’t code and launch fast enough. We didn’t get product into customers’ hands fast enough.
# In the future I’ll focus a lot more on a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and getting it into the hands of customers as early as possible. And even more importantly, I’ll solicit real, hard feedback from them.
# If you find yourself in an argument with a market, you’re very likely to lose.
# I was able to simplify Standout’s value proposition to the point where it was clear, but that’s not always enough. Part of the problem was that our value proposition lacked immediacy
# I didn’t make a strong enough case for tying the value proposition to something immediate that HR could sell internally to their bosses.
# I raised too much money, too early for Standout Jobs (~$1.8M). We didn’t have the validation needed to justify raising the money we did.
# I had a great group of investors. I didn’t engage them enough for introductions to potential partners and customers. I didn’t follow through as frequently as I should have.
# I think the key to successfully managing and leveraging investors is consistency. You need to be consistently knocking on their door, asking for help with specific issues, and providing them the ammunition they need to promote your startup.
# In some ways we tried to offload responsibility of selling our product to our channel partners. It worked, to a degree, but not well enough.
# Having said that, I think founders have to be very cognizant of their startup’s lifecycle. When it’s time, put a bullet in it and move on.
### I’ve now moved on to Year One Labs, an early stage seed accelerator based in Montreal. So I’m (sort of) on the other side of the table, although I can’t ever really picture myself as an investor.
This post was originally posted on Instigator Blog