BusinessOne's Jason Tips and Tricks for Those Seeking to Enter the Start-Up Space: PART 2
Nothing can compare to the value of gaining first-hand insight on how to start a start-up from someone who has done it in the past. It gives us the opportunity to learn from their triumphs and failures and pick up tips along the way in order to best prepare ourselves before taking on the challenge.
This week, we continue following Jason's journey through this exclusive interview about his start-up experience and next steps.
If you had to draw a graph to represent an aspect of your start-up journey, what would it look like?
When you think about a graph for a start-up, what you immediately picture is an exponential graph. In the beginning, you get some small wins, but then you find out that this isn't working out. Things don't go your way, and then the graph peaks down, then you have another win, and you keep encountering new events that will shape the direction of your start-up. So very much, it's like a wavy side pattern. You only really have that breakout moment when you find something the customer genuinely relates to - that's when you start going into that exponential growth phase. For start-ups, this is often called product market fit, where the product name meets the need of the market. That's when you can really start growing and putting money into the business to scale the growth to the next level.
So yeah, I would describe the graph of VidUp as a sine wave. Unfortunately, it didn't reach the heights that we believed it could have reached. But you know, through the sine waves, we were able to learn a lot of new things, and grow as individuals and as a team - so it was very much a rewarding process.
When you look at the team, we've had one co-founder go to Quantium, one go to Splunk and another go to LegalVision. This summer I'm going to Atlassian and my other co-founder is going to Arista. When you look at the journey and where it has taken us, it's been a massive positive for our careers - in terms of us exploring the space and opening our minds to what's possible. So, yeah, I would recommend getting into start-ups. 100%.
What was some unexpected learnings that you had throughout this journey?
It's the importance of talking to your customer - understanding what they need, their wants, their motivations, what makes them happy, what makes them sad.
You need to get inside the mind of your customer before you can start addressing their problems on a deeper level. If you don't use those insights, you're only scratching the surface. So, for the companies with real success, what they do is their customer and how they will react in certain situations.
Another thing I learned is how experimental and scientific start-ups can be. If you're doing it the right way, you can be sure of whether an action you take will have a positive outcome or not, because you have that much data to draw from. It's important in start-ups to be able to use data to your advantage and not rely too much on intuition. Rely on what's in front of you and what's on the table. Obviously, it's important to have a vision. But a vision will only get you so far. You need to back it up with actions, plans and data.
What does the future look like for you, and what are your next steps?
Right now, is a transitionary phase for me in life. I'm moving on from my very own, first start-up and instead getting involved again in the start-up space as a programmer. I'm also starting my own club called Google Student Developer Club (GSDC). Furthermore I'm trying to learn new things, grow my skill set, particularly in terms of network building, and take the opportunity to enjoy my last few years of uni.
Down the line, I'm very much looking forward to my internship at Atlassian over the summer. It's going to be a great opportunity to get into the tech industry and see what it’s all about. I guess the grand vision is to work full-time in tech while working on my start-up on the side. Once my start-up gains traction, it needs to be self-sufficient to support the lifestyle I want to live.
I’m trying to take the opportunity to pursue things that I want to do most in life. I think it's really important for every student to have a good think about that.
Once you have an idea of what you want to do, just go for it. And for the students who have no idea at all, I think it's extremely valuable to try new things. See what works best for you.
Honestly though, you can't really plan out your life because you can't predict your future. You can only manage your risks and be prepared for situations that may happen.
Apart from career-related things, do you have any other big plans?
One thing on the side that I really care about is being consistent with the gym because it’s a very rewarding process. I'm also getting involved with Muay Thai and boxing, which has been extremely fun and rewarding. They’re putting me outside my comfort zone. Once I tried martial arts out, I fell in love with it. Outside of my career, it's all about having fun and trying new things because new experiences are powerful for growth.
Will the Google Developer Student Club only be for the UNSW cohort, or is it open to all university students?
The cool thing about GDSC is that it's international. There are branches all over the world - America, the UK and Australia. We can connect internationally with other ambitious, talented students who are interested in technology and innovation.
As the new lead for UNSW, I'm looking forward to creating cross-university events and focus on bringing students together to learn and grow as a group. For UNSW students, GDSC will provide an opportunity to grow by learning from other people's perspectives and their life experiences. Ultimately, if you're always surrounded by people who are similar to you, you're never going to change or grow.
You have to put yourself out there and meet new people. That's how you evolve.
A lot of amazing opportunities will be available for the GDSC program. There’s also free food and merchandise from Google, so feel free to come over to some of the events!
Now that Bennett has gained some deep insights from Jason’s journey, he has noted down the important points which he will use as guidance if he were to pursue a start-up.
Keep an eye out for the next article coming next term!
Interviewers: Alex Loke, Lynne Jiang
Editors: Alison Tan, Alyssa Liem, Gary Kong, Natarsha Wong