Krakow-based French entrepreneur, Vincent, has been a CEO of 6 start-ups till now and has experienced his fair share of highs and lows, and very highs and very lows. He is currently leading the Krakow-based gaming startup, Lucky Duck Games, that has reached over 4 million dollars in revenue this year. OMGKRK’s fortunate Dragon’s Cave Pre-Accelerator teams had the opportunity to learn from him and hear his experiences, thoughts, and anecdotes from his journey.
Vincent has started off with making video and digital games and now has shifted to a more old-school method. This is proof that nothing is established in life. He was at his candid best with our early-stage startup founders and shared some lessons from his startup journey that can benefit all founders. Compiled by OMGKRK’s team member, Kirti Sangita, below is the content of his powerful talk during the programme
“Entrepreneurship is about giving a chance to an idea. That doesn’t mean that you are bound to it You might be emotionally attached and very dedicated to that idea, but don’t forget you are just giving it a chance. It is important to decide whether it is worth to work on or it is better to leave it and move on to another idea.”
Lesson 1: Don’t waste resources, and give yourself a deadline.
The idea of a lean company is a good one. Entrepreneurs are really bound to what they are doing, they are very emotionally invested. The idea of failing is a very unpleasant one, however a very important approach. In the journey of failure, you can gain contacts, experience, and solutions all of which are life lessons. It is thus important to figure out a deadline.
An example was how I had initiated a startup with a friend, and with quick and efficient work, we had even designed an MVP in the first three months. However soon we realized that the particular idea was not working and understood the cons of the project. This is why, it is important to set a deadline, and until the deadline, be solely dedicated to that idea.
Lesson 2: Recognize what is worth your time.
It is essential to also figure out whether people are willing to pay money for what you have created. A common mistake is to add monetization later on. There are exceptions to this rule but very few. You can approach the idea of not being paid if you’re living a life where an income isn’t the first thing you think of. When you have your resources and basic amenities paid for. Beyond the first couple of customers, determine your growth path- online, organic or paid growth. Spend money to find people that will convert into clients. If you cannot find funds for paid growth, this could be an early sign that the startup isn’t too successful. You should rather wrap it up instead. Every tough time will build you up as an entrepreneur.
“A project may fail, but you as an entrepreneur never fail!”
Lesson 3: Fail as fast as possible.
You probably not comfortable with the idea of failure, but having this option of potentially failing is a good process. I had this idea to convert video games to board games. The first one went off successfully however the next year was tough. Most of our work had failed miserably. But this was not our sign to quit, instead, we reformed the idea and we found success through app-driven board games.
Being able to fail fast is important, and even more important is to be able to constantly re-evaluate and check if the direction you have taken is a good one and being able to pivot another direction if it doesn’t work.
“Giving up on an idea doesn’t mean giving up on a startup. With your MVP working, you can test out the results of the idea, and how successful it is. If it doesn’t work you might want to shut down the startup, or if you have enough data, you can pivot from that idea to another.”
Lesson 4: It is all about failure.
To help understand this, let us use an example. Our startup is now a person we are interested in. The initial butterflies in your stomach about how you cannot wait to meet them and spend time with them, this roughly equated to the idea of the new start-up and the willingness to work on it. Then comes the more established phase, when you are dating, similarly your startup getts work done on it. And ultimately the final question arises. Will you be ready to go to great lengths just because you like the person? Or will you look at the person on the whole and accept the issues that would make you incompatible? Similarly with startups, is the idea so fascinating that you will be willing to go to great lengths? Or is it better to look at it broadly, and accept that in the long run, it won’t be successful? It is better to confront your self and have a reality check. Because there are plenty of other people to date who might better suit you. There are plenty of other ideas that can kick-start and be successful.
“We always hide from the topic of death as people from America or Europe, we tend to make it a taboo. However, if you look at the Asians, the Buddhists, the idea of death is not a topic they fear about. They believe that the only reason we mourn at a time of death is that we are scared about it. If we talk about it and confront it, it wouldn’t be scary to us. Similarly, putting an idea out there, and being open about the option that it fails, is healthy, it strengthens the relationship between you and your start-up.”
Lesson 5: It is all about people.
After all my experiences ultimately I have learned that it is all about the people you have around you. You will need the people who share your thoughts and attachment to the startup, to get that drive to complete the project. The best way to recruit people is to go along with the flow. I was the happiest in the company with 7 people who I eventually recruited one employ at a time, compared to a company with multiple people. Basically, I would suggest to take time out and take care of them so they can take care of you and your company.
‘How to bring traffic and let your startup gain attention? You have to pinpoint the target customer and try to give leaflets and brochures at places where they might be present. You can then see how many people download the app. If you can’t find money to do it, this might be an early indication of an unsuccessful startup, then maybe you need to pivot to another idea’
Lesson 6: Focus.
It is okay to have multiple ideas. But at the point of real success, I realized it was because I was really focused solely on one idea. I was not making too many startups at a time or dedicating my time partially to other ideas. It was that one sole idea, and I concentrated on that. However, if you apply focus and obsession to something, it is important to time bound it. Because if that startup doesn’t succeed it is important to renew that focus and obsession to a new idea. If it fails, it’s okay, we try something else.
As soon as you have some traction or some first customers, you may start feeling stressed. Having any kind of revenue may be stressful. And then it will be very tempting to diversify your income. If you’re not getting enough income with your base project, you might look to expand your income. However, that may be a sign that your startup is not successful and maybe you need to look for other ideas. Look at it as the mitigation between dedicating your focus on the initial project vs money.