Friday, July 6, 2012

The story of a part-time entrepreneur!

We recently did an interview with startup weekly, a local video blog that supports budding entrepreneurs in Portland and around the country.  Although the video quality was pretty amateurish (recording in a busy Starbucks at peak time), we got a surprisingly positive feedback about the questions and the content.  Many of our friends and well-wishes not only complimented us on the honest conversation but we also had a field dozens of questions on the mechanics of being a part-time startup founder while juggling a real job, and a young family.  Here’s a condensed write-up of that video interview, in case anyone wants to grab a tip or two:

  • Don’t get carried away by initial successes and positive feedback: after winning several competitions starting with Startup Weekend, I somehow got carried away and focused a ton of time fine-tuning and practicing my pitch at various venues.  Not the best use of our limited time given that we had to build a product!
  • Focus on finding a co-founder with complementary “everything”: in my case, complementary meant someone who could (a) fill the marketing skills gap and (b) more importantly represent the company during the day time since I have a full-time job.
  • Vet your co-founder thoroughly: we prepared an exhaustive questionnaire that I asked every single potential co-founder to answer thoroughly.  The questionnaire itself is a self-selection process since anyone who is discouraged by it most likely does not connect with the vision of returnGuru either!  If you want to get a copy of this questionnaire, please drop us a note at and we will be happy to share it with you.
  • The right of passage “Legal structure”: I didn’t talk to a credible mentor to figure out the legal structure needed for our startup and instead spent weeks researching and stressing over all the worst-case scenarios.  The mantra here like everything else in the startup world is “Just in time, not just in case”
  • The two best resources for my daily dose of “startup inspiration”: Everything else is a distraction, at least IMHO
  • Other free resources we use:
    • Microsoft BizSpark for software, hosting and marketing support all for free for 3 full years!
  • Prioritization: Every time I have to make a decision that involves time commitment, I ask a single question of myself, “Is this time spent worthwhile enough to miss my 10-month old’s naptime?”  The answer is quite easy in most cases.

All the best with your own venture and when you have a few minutes, check-out our progress at

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