World Entrepreneurs Day 2020: Startup Advice from our Portfolio
At LEGO Ventures, we invest in entrepreneurs, ideas, and start-ups that sit at the intersection of creativity, play, and learning.
At LEGO Ventures, we invest in entrepreneurs, ideas, and start-ups that sit at the intersection of creativity, play, and learning. To celebrate World Entrepreneurs Day, we asked three of our portfolio company founders about their startup journey: Neal Shenoy, Co-Founder & CEO of HOMER; Paulina Olsson, Co-Founder & CEO of Peppy Pals; & Ben Caulfield, Founder & Co-CEO of Eedi.
What’s the best piece of entrepreneurial advice you’ve received?
Neal: One of the most important lessons I learned early in my career is that great leaders execute Plan B flawlessly. What that means is that we rarely have an opportunity to execute our original business plan, our plan A, as intended. If you remain committed to a North Star of a consumer need and developing consumer demand, it is equally important to be flexible with regards to how you achieve that and iterate your way to success.
Paulina: One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve received as an entrepreneur is really to relax and have fun. It is so easy to get caught up in the business and work relentless hours. Another key piece of advice that I’ve received is to trust the process. Things happen for a reason, so if you are turned down by an investor or a client, that does not mean that your startup won’t be successful. It means that this needed to happen in order for you to have a better client or a better investor.
Ben: Get your product in the hands of your customers quicker. The longer you leave it, the more assumptions you are making, the more development time, et cetera, that you’re using. Get it into their hands, get feedback, and then iterate. Do not wait too long.
What habits helped make your startup successful?
Neal: One of the habits that is created success in our company at a very early stage is a relentless focus on self-improvement and personal growth in the name of humility and curiosity. A well-expressed entrepreneurial journey is one where your company is growing as quickly as you are, and those two things cannot be separated.
Paulina: The habit that made our startup successful is really health over hours. I think it’s really important that you work the hours that you are most productive and that you don’t feel stressed to put in twelve or even more hours every day, and that should comply for your employees as well.
Ben: Being an entrepreneur is an element of character. I think one of the biggest characteristics, the biggest habit, is perseverance and the ability to pick yourself up. In the last five years, I’ve had over 400 plus investor meetings, and that means a lot of notes. That is a key characteristic, I think, of an entrepreneur.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Neal: When I think about the inspiration behind my entrepreneurial journey, the first thought that comes to mind are my parents who immigrated from India to the US and went on to create very successful businesses in both engineering and design. The way they did that was by following a very basic but fundamental principle, which was to focus on possibility rather than probability.
Paulina: One of my biggest inspirations is Rosie, my co-founder of Peppy Pals — she is like my guru. She has this overt spirit but still knows how to hustle and has founded a successful company.
Ben: My greatest inspiration is sport — the characters, the culture, and everything else that sits around them. I think, to be at the very top of your sport, it takes a lot of determination, and it takes a lot of hard work and graft together.