As part of our founder lessons series, we are fortunate to have Joseph Ansanelli, CEO and Co-founder of ZangZing for an exclusive interview on his entrepreneurship journey. Joseph shared with us those crucial lessons you will need to kick start your business. What do you think is the most important: the right market, the right product, or the right team? Read on to find out Joseph’s thoughts on this question.
ZangZing is a simple and beautiful way for you and groups to organize, view, and share photos. Prior to co-founding ZangZing, Joseph Ansanelli was CEO and co-founded three companies. Trio Development (acquired by Apple in 1994), Connectify (merged and then IPO with Kana for ~$300 million Sept 1999), and Vontu (acquired by Symantec for $350 million in Nov 2007).
Did you bootstrap your current startup or is it VC supported and why?
The three co-founders, Kathryn Corro, Mauricio Alvarez, and I have been self funding the company to date and we plan to raise a round of financing in early 2012.
Which do you think is most important: the right market, the right product, or the right team?
I believe that the most important thing is the right team, or more specifically a great team. A great team can figure out the right market and right market. Great engineers build great products. Great marketers figure out great markets. And on and on. It’s rare that a startup figures out the market and product from the onset, but great teams have the best chance to figure them out.
Startup trends you think will disrupt the web or mobile soon.
Wow, this is a pretty broad question. There are lots of changes happening all the time and I am never one to predict which will be the big disruptions because you often only know what they are in hindsight.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced while launching the ZangZing ?
Hiring great people is always the hardest thing to do at all stages of building a company. The best people are usually already doing interesting things and convincing people in the early days of a startup requires them to take a big leap of faith. Secondly, figuring out how to stand out in the crowd and capture people’s imagination and interest is never easy. Lastly, building a lasting company that people engage with for the long term is really hard.
Startup lessons learned over the years of your entrepreneurship journey.
A few of the top lessons learned:
1. People first and strategy (and everything else) second
2. Focus, focus and focus. In a startup you can only do a few things so pick one or a few and do them really well
3. Delight your customers and turn them into evangelists
4. Make sure what you are doing is 10x better than the alternatives.
5. It’s not a sprint nor is it a marathon. It’s like the Tour de France. It’s grueling for a long time with lots of challenges – sprints, time trials, thousands of feet of mountain climbs, downhill descents at 60+ MPH, crashes, exhaustion, and more…
Final words for those chasing the startup dream
You have to love it. It’s a roller coaster from day to day and you have to love what you do. One of my favorite quotes from Steve Jobs is “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”