- Whitney Wolfe
Starting a company at any age can be a difficult endeavor.
In most cases an entrepreneur needs to secure the necessary funding, get the right team together, and fend off potential competitors.
Business Insider spoke with eight 20-something entrepreneurs named to the 2017 Forbes 30 under 30 list who know what it takes to start a company from the ground up.
They come from different walks of life and have started companies in various industries. But they all share a similar tenacity, and are disrupting their respective fields.
We asked them to share the story behind their respective firms and their entrepreneurial journey for eight separate profiles. Scroll through below to see the advice they have for young aspiring entrepreneurs.
Whitney Wolfe (27), cofounder of Bumble
- Whitney Wolfe
Whitney Wolfe’s firm, Bumble, turns the dating world on its head. On Bumble, women make the first move. Unlike other dating apps, guys can’t send the first message after a match. Once a match is made, the woman must message the guy within 24 hours otherwise the match disappears forever. Here’s her advice for young entrepreneurs:
Overcome the self-doubt. I am a firm believer that the only person who can make you feel inferior is yourself. When you start a business or try to challenge the status quo there will be a lot of people who will put you down and try to tell you that you or your idea is wrong. Don’t let that make you feel inferior.
For women, specifically, Wolfe offers advice that reflects the philosophy of the app she created:
Don’t be scared to ask for more than what you think you’re entitled to. I always tell young women that they have a right to own their opinion, to speak up, and to make the first move. Ask yourself if a man were to do this would it be OK.
Michael Hill Kennedy (29), founder and president of Component Wine Company
- Michael Hill Kennedy
When Michael Kennedy set out to start his own wine business, Component Wine Company, he was looking to break some of the strict rules that have underpinned the wine industry for the last 100 years. Here’s Kennedy’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:
Listen to your crazy idea. If you have a crazy idea then you need to try it out. Don’t let your fear of failing and looking dumb get in your way, because if you do then you will fail. It’s as simple as that.
Don’t blindly follow the status quo. One of the biggest mistakes I made early on had to do with the structuring of the company. I thought that I had to do what everyone else was doing and that made things difficult for us in the beginning. When I was backed into a corner, I was able to think of a creative solution that worked better.
Maxim Razmakhin (28), cofounder of Thirstie
- Maxim Razmakhin
Maxim Rezmakhin is the cofounder of Thirstie, an online alcohol-delivery service that’s disrupting the over-$250 billion alcohol industry. This is the advice he thinks aspiring entrepreneurs should consider:
Ignore the noise. The media is going to say stuff about your company. Competitors are going to be saying stuff or trying different tactics. Pay attention to it, but don’t make it your focus. Don’t chase your competitors.
Constantly test your hypothesis. When you start a company you need to try to disprove your assumptions. Trying to prove yourself wrong is hard, there’s no doubt about that, but if you don’t then you’re just delaying your death.
Amber Venz Box (29), cofounder and president of RewardStyle
- Amber Venx Box
When Amber Venz Box was 23-years-old and working as a personal shopper, she launched a blog to attract potential clients. That project led to the creation of her current company RewardStyle, a platform that allows so-called influencers “to make cash from their social media content.” Box told BI young entrepreneurs should consider the following:
Learn as much as you can about your industry. Learn what motivates people in your industry and take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way. When I was in college I took advantage of internships in different cities and on different sides of the fashion industry in order to expose myself to everything.
Be your own costumer. We created RewardStyle to create something that I really needed. Look for problems in your own life, a real problem that you and other people have, and try to fix it. And if you continue to be your own costumer, then you will be able to properly critique and improve your product.
Build the right team. The founding team is so vital to a firm’s future success. If you’re a tech firm, and most startups these days are dealing with some sort of technology, then you have to find experienced engineers. They’re going to be more expensive, but it’s worth it. Hiring the cheaper engineers will result in a bunch of speedbumps and cause a ton of headaches. The second thing is finding people with operational experience as early as possible. You can have the vision, but you need the management. And don’t underestimate the importance of marketing. You can have a great idea, but if you don’t have a solid team or the resources to market it, then that idea won’t go anywhere.
David Hysong (29), founder of Shepherd Therapeutics
After David Hysong was diagnosed with a rare head-and-neck cancer, he founded Shepherd Therapeutics, a biotech firm dedicated to finding cures for rare cancers. He told BI that aspiring entrepreneurs need to do two things:
Follow your gut. Typically your boldest and craziest idea is your best. Don’t be afraid of it. From my experience if you listen to that idea, it’ll pay off.
Be Courageous. You need to be courageous. But that doesn’t mean you should be overly confident. Humility and knowing where you fall short and should seek out help is just as important.
Michael Martin (29), cofounder of RapidSOS
Michael Martin’s firm, RapidSOS, is growing quick. Their smartphone app Haven, which allows users to transmit their exact location to emergency dispatchers, was launched in June 2016 and the company expects to be in a million devices by the end of this year. Martin told BI that aspiring entrepreneurs should consider the following:
Importance of passion. When you’re starting a company there are so many ups and downs and tons of challenges. If it’s not something you’re passionate about, you’re going to be miserable.
Take on a big problem. I always encourage my younger peers to avoid anything that’s too comfortable. If you’re too comfortable, then you’re not being challenged. Do something that’s different and that will make a difference.
It’s not all about disruption. The notion of disruption is very in vogue these days. But from my experience, it’s not always about disrupting an existing industry but partnering with it and then improving it.
Eugene Marinelli (29), cofounder and CTO of Blend
- Eugene Marinelli
Eugene Marinelli is the cofounder of Blend, a fintech startup that aims to make the mortgage process quicker and more affordable for lenders and big banks. He told BI that young entrepreneurs should consider the following pieces of advice:
Fix something that seems boring. We embarked on a journey to improve something that seemed boring at first glance. I would encourage all aspiring entrepreneurs to do exactly that. Find a niche that most tech enthusiasts wouldn’t care to fix, and fix it.
Find the right team. Finding the right team is also key to entrepreneurial success. You have to be working with the right people – especially early on – who compliment your strengths and weaknesses.
Michael Johnson (27), CEO and cofounder of Visikol
- Michael Johnson
Johnson is the CEO and cofounder of Visikol, a biotech company that “allows scientists to view tissues in a 3-D space as opposed to the traditional 2-D slices,” according to Forbes. This makes it easier to identify diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer in body tissue samples. Here’s the advice Johnson thinks young entrepreneurs should follow:
Be passionate. Choose something that you’re passionate about. I often see people getting involved in startups just for the sake of doing it and making money. That can’t be your motivation.
Read as much as you can. Read everything and anything you can about your industry so you’re informed when you go to conferences and events. Make sure you’re always looking for people who can help you reach your company goals.