At ClutchPR we have the great pleasure of meeting entrepreneurs of all walks and all stages of development. This week we met Uri Levine, co-founder of WAZE.
We met Uri as part of our work with the Einstein Legacy Project, we were honoured to spend a morning with a serial entrepreneur. Uri is most famous for co-founding the app WAZE and selling it to Google for 1.1 Billion. If you’re curious how Levine spent his earnings from that sale here’s a great read.
Since the sale of his global mapping startup Levine has dived into a number of other ventures including: Moovit, FeeX, Roomer, Zeek, Engie, Fairfly and Spamoff.
If you look at his portfolio you’ll see one thing in common with all his startups –they all solve problems and they all have a Robin Hood-esque vibe to them.
Take FeeX -which looks for hidden fees in your financial services and investments. Or Engie which allows you to self-diagnose your car so when you take it to the mechanic you know what’s wrong with it and won’t get swindled.
During his keynote at the Einstein Gala here’s what we learned from the trailblazing tech titan.
1) Prepare to ride. It’s a long roller coaster. Entrepreneurs should be prepared to sacrifice and to understand there are ups and downs.
2) Be a problem solver. Before you start the ride and the journey, think hard and long on what problem you’re solving. Ensure your business venture (or startup) is in fact solving a problem and ideally it’s one that will make the world a better place. Find a problem worth solving. Find a solution for as many users with this problem as possible.
3) Prepare for unhappiness. You’re never quite happy as an entrepreneur according to Levine. If you’re happy with your product, you’ve launched it wayyyyyy too late and spent too much time tweaking it. There is no “perfect,” entrepreneurs are always evolving their product.
4) Failure is the best teacher. Levine says it’s only through failure that you actually learn what works. Embrace the failure. Iteration is the only path to success.
5) Celebrate it all. It’s good to celebrate the first sale, the first employee, first user, first million, first office space, prizes, and fundraising rounds. It’s better to celebrate when you’re feeling overloaded, when someone wants to sue you, when there’s been a patent infringement –even the tough times should be celebrated because it means you’re making waves and disrupting enough that others are noticing. The best kind of celebration according to Levine is when your users, clients or customers send thank you letters. Those should be celebrated the most. Celebrate even the smallest wins because the celebration will lead to more wins.
6) Ask for help. Don’t ever be above asking for help as a business owner. There are mentors and guidance everywhere, find them and use them when you need them.
7) If you don’t love what you’re doing, do something else.
8) Free and good enough wins the market
9) Move fast and break things – the best feedback comes from your users – so don’t wait to launch, launch then iterate and continue to break things and grow and change quickly. Make your mistakes fast.
10) What’s in a name? Grab an easily pronounceable and easily searchable name. When WAZE was founded they wanted WAYS but the URL for that cost more than the company had to spend so they opted for WAZE with the untraditional spelling.
11) There is only one kind of decision. The right decision. As soon as you make a decision, this is the only valid decision. Don’t look back.
12) Fall in LOVE with the problem, not the solution.
13) The hallmark of the best startups is mission-driven employees. Culture and mission are what drives all of the best startups. One of the top tips for startups is that team is everything. Half of failed entrepreneurs said they failed because the team wasn’t right. Levine has asked these entrepreneurs when they knew their team was not right. More than 50% of them said they knew within the first month, some said they knew the first day. Some said they knew before they even started. The real problem was not that the team wasn’t right; the problem was that hard decisions were not made. A great startup CEO needs to make hard decisions and let go of the elements that are not working as soon as they know.
14) There is no such thing as a good idea – everything is in the execution. Levine estimates that 10% of success is attributed to a good idea with 90% of success hinging on excellent execution.
15) Create value for your customers. Do well by them always.