Modern Entrepreneur Series: Part 2
Last week, we talked a good deal about "why." Why you should follow your dream. Why you should focus on your hobby. Why you should pursue passion in lieu of a job.
Today, we're shining a spotlight on Rudy DeFelice, Founder and CEO of Bizinate (formerly Kidworth) as he tells us his story. He describes the "how," as in how to utilize resources and how to overcome your fears of failure.
Check it out...
"If you told any of the parents in my neighborhood you wanted to be an entrepreneur they would have laughed..."
College Hunks: I read where you had a newspaper route when you were 10. Would you say that's what inspired your true interest in entrepreneurship, or did that happen later?
Rudy DeFelice: I remember doing entrepreneurial things as a kid. But I don't remember feeling like an entrepreneur until much later. When I was growing up, no one considered themselves an entrepreneur. It wasn't an acceptable thing to do. I never heard the term in fact. I knew some small business people, but they were mechanics or mom and pop grocers – not what we think of as entrepreneurs today.
If you told any of the parents in my neighborhood you wanted to be an entrepreneur they would have laughed and told you to get a government job or work for a defense contractor.
So I found myself at a large international law firm doing stuff that serious adults were supposed to do. Then the dot com bubble came and I realized that it was possible to start a company – you could have fun and build something meaningful and call it work for the first time I was aware of. I committed to starting my first company then.
However, I didn't really consider myself an entrepreneur until years after that. It wasn't until we had 50 people or so that I really believed we had started something and felt like this was something I could do and that I'd earned the title entrepreneur. Before that I thought I was just cheating – getting paid for doing stuff I loved.
CH: What was the inspiration for Bizinate?
RD: I feel very blessed to have had the opportunities that the startup path afforded me. As a result of that path I've been able to live the life I dreamed about- make a good living doing stuff that interests me that I felt the world needed.
Therefore a big driver for my desire to start Bizinate (which was originally called Kidworth) was to give something back to the startup world by making it easier for people to pursue that path.
We believe that many of us have great ideas. Unfortunately, the hurdles in starting something are significant – you need technical skills, bank relationships, money. We felt that we could remove all those hurdles and make it super easy for people to start something – start a simple company in a few minutes.
Our belief is that this would unleash a tidal wave of entrepreneurship which would be great for society and our economy. As a parent that feels a long term commitment to the country that was meaningful to me.
We believe we will do for entrepreneurship what YouTube has done for entertainment. Before YouTube, if you wanted to share your talent, there were plenty of guys in suits at record labels and studios that could say 'no'. After YouTube, anybody can share their talent easily.
That's the impact we want to have on entrepreneurship. That is where our commitment to "Launch a Million Startups" comes from.
The name change to Bizinate from Kidworth is to acknowledge that many adults are using the platform. We realize there is no age limit on great ideas. So we built an adult track on the product and adopted a name that reflects our broader audience. Bizinate means "to turn into a business". We're helping thousands of people of all ages do that. Some day, a million.
"Take the energy you're wasting on fear and channel it into inspiration."
CH: So what advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs who are uncertain, doubtful, or just plain scared of failure?
RD: We've all confronted this one. I've stared failure right in the face many times. One of the things I've learned is that the horrible consequences you fear almost never happen. Sure, some things go wrong, but you can't underestimate your ability to work around disappointment.
The world changes rapidly – the situations you worried about change too. You don't know that you're not taking a risk staying right where you are. But you probably do now whether it is igniting your passion. And if not, it's perhaps a greater risk to let life go by without chasing something you really care about.
Take the energy you're wasting on fear and channel it into inspiration.
One of the great things about America is that we embrace failure. There is not stigma – in fact, most people regard it as a badge of some sort – you've learned something that will help next time. And we all get a next time. So not only do I encourage people to put their failure in perspective, I encourage them to fail fast.
Let the market tell you if your idea has legs – if not, change it. Failure of an approach is fine. Failure of heart isn't. Know the difference.
CH: What were the most important resources you utilized in starting your companies, resources that others can use as well?
RD: Two things I'd encourage:
Read a lot. Lots of guys have great insights on company building. Read some biographies, you'll get great value. Start with Eric Ries' The Lean Startup. It's most of what you need to know.
Talk to everyone about your idea. Don't worry about idea theft, which paralyzes lots of new entrepreneurs. Every time you talk about your idea you're refining your skills in articulating the business as well as getting feedback. One of your chief contributions as the founder is to generate excitement about your company. It takes a while to make your vision concise and compelling. Practice all the time.
CH: Is there anything that, in retrospect, you wish you would've done differently?
RD: Two things I've learned that I wished I'd known earlier. One is to take greater advantage of mentors. I knew talented, accomplished people along the way but didn't focus on building an ongoing relationship where I could discuss decisions and situations and benefit from their experience. Learning everything for yourself is the hard ways.
Tapping the expertise of a mentor can be extremely valuable and help you see things with a broader perspective. It is helpful to have someone who has some interest in you watching from a distance. The eye can't see itself after all.
The second is that I would have invested more in professional coaching – business coaching, peer groups, etc. Eventually in business school I experienced great peer to peer work and it opened my eyes to have valuable it can be. I wish I had started that earlier.
"Failure of an approach is fine. Failure of heart isn't. Know the difference."
CH: Any advice for people who maybe haven't even considered entrepreneurship as a viable option for making a living in life, people on whom it never dawned to strike out on their own?
RD: One thing I'd encourage them is to try something that is low risk and give it a try. Starting a simple business on Bizinate is one option – you can start something quickly and free to see how it feels and learn some things before making a deeper plunge.
CH: Any other projects on which you're currently working? Or are you singularly focused on Bizinate?
RD: I am an investor in several startups and try to help those companies. I think the experience makes me a better leader at Bizinate. I encourage everyone at high levels in an organization to get outside the 4 walls and help other companies out. First of all, it makes the whole community of startups stronger.
But also, it helps you. The old cliché that you get as much as you give has been true for me.
CH: Thanks Rudy!
RD: Thank you!
You can check out Rudy's site at www.Bizinate.com. It's a great site and we highly recommend it if you want to take immediate action in launching your idea.
And be sure to check back soon. We'll be interviewing Jen Gresham, Founder of the No Regrets Career Academy and Writer of the Everyday Bright Blog. We'll be video chatting with her to pick her brain and give you even more advice on how to live the dream of a modern entrepreneur!
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