How to create a successful business without experience or connections

How to start a business without connections or experience?

Bozhena Klichuk talked to Nikolay Lysenko, a Ukrainian-based entrepreneur and the creator behind the networking club InterRegnum. Lysenko truly believes that networking is the key to boosting the startup industry development and believes that everything is possible with the right people and connections.

Please tell me your story. How was your life before InterRegnum? 

I’m 18 now and I don’t have a lot of experience. I used to work on small projects in retail and now have a business on Amazon.

What made you come up with this idea?

We already have a few clubs in Kyiv such as Young Business Club and CEO club. However, the concern I had while looking into those clubs was the absence of young people. I had an impression that everyone forgets about them, so I decided to be that guy that gives them a chance to show themselves and share their ideas. I feel them, I am the same age and that is why I think that I can lead them.

How long was the path from the idea to its creation?

It took me about a year including all the ups and downs.

What were the first challenges you met along the way? 

The main challenge for me was a lack of competency and experience, everything was new and unknown. But you learn from your own mistakes and grow from them. The theoretical knowledge doesn’t help until you test it in real life.

Startup ideas tips

How did you build the connections with companies and mentors that are invited? 

Building the first connections was actually pretty easy due to the help of the Young Business Club. They were mentoring me from the beginning that I am really grateful for! Step by step I kept networking, going to events and meeting new people. You never know how the person next to you can influence your life.

What are the further plans?

The main plans are to expand to the four major cities in Ukraine: Lviv, Kharkiv, Odesa, and Dnipro. The main mission is to promote networking, support, and trust among our Ukrainian youth as we can see from our European neighbors.

What would you advise to the young entrepreneurs that are just starting their path?

Before you get disappointed about your project and want to throw it all away, stop for a minute and think about what you can change. Then change everything except the main idea. Another thing is the perception of your idea. If you do it as it is for fun without overthinking and tension, it will definitely work out.

George Burke, co-founder of Founderpool, on how to launch a successful startup during pandemic.

Written by iryna prysyazhnuk

George Burke is a San Francisco based entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience in the startup industry and the co-founder of FounderPool.

FounderPool, Burke’s new project, de-risks entrepreneurs by pooling startup equity. In the first month of allowing for open enrollments and applying, FounderPool got around 60 founders, who had raised almost a billion dollars between them.

FounderPool was ProductHunt’s #1 Product of the Day.  Since its launch in July 2020, the founders have raised billions of dollars for their startups.

How did Burke create such a successful project in a short period of the most uncertain time of the last decade? 

First, there was an idea. However, he didn’t transform the idea into the project right away, as many entrepreneurs do. FounderPool is not Burke’s first startup, but the first one he created differently. Burke explained, that the book “Lean Startup” by Eric Rise made him take a different approach.

“I didn’t want to start up anything until validating it. I’ve had too many startups where I feel like I’m trying to push a good idea onto the community onto consumers or customers, but they don’t actually want what I’m creating,” said Burke. 

Burke’s advice – do not build a thing until you know that you have customers for it.

How would you know something like that?

Talk to your audience. Don’t try to ask anyone if they like the idea of your startup, as most of the people won’t tell you the truth anyway.  Instead, ask questions and learn about the challenges, fears, and needs of your audience.

Burke has taken this exact approach – being pretty immersed in startup culture in San Francisco, he was able to get a short conversation with founders and CEOs of tech companies he knew. However, he didn’t ask them right away if they would be willing to become customers of this new thing he is creating. Instead, Burke asked about their fears and learned that risk, fear of a total loss, and uncertainty about their business was at the heart of investing challenges the founders experienced.

“80% of them said at the end of the call without me even asking: “Hey, can I be a part of this thing, when you actually launching it?”

To Burke that was an indicator that there was a market fit and that he should explore the question and actually make a product around it.

“Create a product around the fears and needs that the people you interview have” – advises Burke. 

The other element in FounderPool’s success was the messaging company used – the messaging was coming directly from the users’ words, the way they described their experience with FounderPool. Burke explained, that the way founders of the company want to present it and the way customers actually interpret what the company is, is not the same.

“We rely on how other people see it for that messaging. Somebody said that we are team Avengers for the founders. And we’re like, yeah, we’re definitely using that!”, said Burke.  

Finding the right niche and the right messaging is great, but not enough for a successful launch.

A personal network was a key element in building trust and attacking the first founders to FounderPool. Many of the 60 first people in FounderPool have been friends of either Burke or other co-founders.

“There’s the right time. There’s the right market. There’s also the right network“,  said George Burke. 

You can join Founderpool by submitting an application on the official website and keep in touch with the company’s updates on LinkedIn and Twitter.