3 Major Startups and Their Lessons for Entrepreneurs

startup lessons

Although there are numerous ways to learn and develop intellectual capital, one of the most efficient ways to obtain knowledge is from startup lessons from experienced entrepreneurs.

While there are numerous ways to learn and develop a foundation of intellectual capital upon which the entrepreneur can build his company, one of the most efficient ways to obtain knowledge is from the experience of others. Following are the startup stories and learnings of three entrepreneurial companies as told by some of the key leaders from within them. Each are packed with nuggets which should be useful to all entrepreneurs.

  1. HubSpot

Our first company is based in Cambridge, MA, and was founded in June, 2006. The founders came from MIT – Brian Halligan, CEO & co-founder and Dharmesh Shah, CTO & co-founder. The company specializes in the development and marketing of software for inbound marketing.

Revenues grew from $ 255.0 K in its initial year to more than $ 115.0 M in 2014. In route, the company went from initial funding of $ 500.0 K by Shah and followup angel investments from Edward B. Roberts, the chair of the Entrepreneurship Center at MIT and fellow MIT Sloan classmate Brian Shinn, to more than $ 100.0 M in funding from various investors. This includes, General Catalyst Partners, Matrix partners, Sequoia Capital and Google Ventures. The company, which has more than 775 employees, is now publicly traded on the NYSE under the ticker HUBS. The author, Dharmesh obtained his undergraduate degree in Computer Science from UAB and his MS in management of Technology from MIT. He is a serial entrepreneur, author and active angel investor. Read their story, Happy Birthday HubSot! 9 Lessons From Our First 9 Years, for some enlightenment.

“HubSpot’s focus is to help businesses get started with inbound marketing. Prior to our company’s inception, there were already a lot of tools out there for people to use — content management systems, email tools, social media applications, and more. But there was nothing that put all those tools in one place so businesses could focus their time on creating content. HubSpot was built to be that place for businesses.” -Darmesh Shah, interview with Mavenlink

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  1. Freecharge

Our second story is about Freecharge, which was launched in August, 2010 and is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharasthra. The company provides online facility to recharge prepaid mobile phones, postpaid mobile, DTH and Data Cards in India.

Founded by Kunal Shah and Sandeep Tandon the company received early funding shortly after its launch from Tandon Group and Sequoia Capital. It received Series A funding from Sequoia in 2011 and Series B from Sequoia, Sofina and Ru-Net in 2104. The company was acquired by Indian e-commerce company Snapdeal in April, 2015. Alok Goel the CEO of the company through this growth process tells their story. Mr. Goel now serves as Managing Director, SAIF in Bangalore since the spring/summer of 2015 and focuses on mobile and SaaS businesses. He has previous experience with Google in Bangalore and Mountain View in various product roles. His educational background includes an MBA from ISB and a Bachelor in Technology from DCE. Goel shares his story and learnings in My Learning while building FreeCharge.

“Every few years a new paradigm emerges and creates new winners in an otherwise existing market. People who get stuck with past baggage and don’t move to a new paradigm generally become redundant. Whatever we build today will be used in future. Hence having a perspective on how the future will look like is very important. Companies that used to build calculators responded to the threat of computers by building faster calculators. People who built bicycles countered the attack of cars by building better bicycles. You need to decide if you want to build a better bicycle or car.” – Alok, Goel, yourstory

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  1. Medd

Our last story shares the learnings and intellectual capital gained by the author Aepit Kothari who is now the Co-founder of Medd, a marketplace for healthcare services. Medd was acquired by 1MG in 2016. It shares his journey of experience from his “pilot” effort startup failure and the reasons he feels the failure was not a failure at all, but instead a success, in Why my startup failed, but I didn’t.

Excerpt from “Why My Startup Failed, but I didn’t,” 8 Mistakes

 1: Never create businesses that you are not 100 per cent committed to, they simply don’t work.
2: Not focusing on technology and making an offline solution.
3: Not having a mentor/ adviser/ investor on board who has scaled businesses.
4: Going after immediate profitability than scalability with a vision.
5: Not having a defined and written distribution of responsibilities.
6: Not trusting yourself enough .
7: We hired freelancers instead of building the team.
8: Trust people, but have the legal paperwork in place.

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Tony Lettich

Tony Lettich has previous Business Analysis, Business Valuation, M&A, and Venture Capital experience and currently serves as the Managing Director of The Angel Roundtable and a Partner in Sheehan, Lettich M&A Advisory. He is also a co-founder of FundingSage, which provides valuable information, tools and resources to entrepreneurs seeking to launch and build startups.