Business start-ups are the viable alternative to the endless search for white-collar jobs. However, most Entrepreneurs are not adequately prepared for the tasks and hurdles ahead leading to the failure of 90% start-ups.
Below is an excerpt of an interview conducted by Yitzi Weiner and Casmin Wisner for a start-up founder whose wealth of experience would be beneficial to budding and rising entrepreneurs.
Richard Milam, CEO of Foxtrot, is a leading expert in the fields of AI and Machine learning– both of which including Blockchain are the future of Technology and Innovation. Richard has leveraged his passion for aviation to build the business using his twin-engine aircraft to engage and connect with customers in all 50 states of the United States and beyond.
Banks were literally working around the clock manually inputting names, addresses, account information etc. It was a brutal and error prone process. With my engineering and software background, I knew there was a better way so I started to prototype a solution. The prospect of liberating people from the labour of manual data processes and also boosting the performance of organizations worldwide energized me. Therefore, Robotic Process Automation was born and we released Foxtrot RPA.
In the Beginning
Starting any company is a risky and arduous process. I had traded my six-figure income for a desk, a telephone, some files and brand new software. It only seemed natural with a wife at home and a two year old as well with only a few customers and no pipeline, the full weight of the situation was upon me. We visited friends and family and I called on a dozen banks. More than half of them licensed our product and suddenly we had customer stories and a pipeline.
Unique Selling point
Our vision from the beginning was that we would enter into partnership with our customers to enable them to implement an automation strategy rather than merely selling them a piece of software.
Roles of Helpers
There are so many. I have been in CEO round-tables including Vistage and CEO Nexus where I have sought insights and advice and been challenged to learn, grow and become a critical thinker. My mentor modeled and taught me how to become the gentle giant, not a 100-pound gorilla (I am still learning), and my wife is my cheerleader, sounding board and truth teller. These people are critical to an entrepreneur ‘as there are many people who want you to like them and few who will tell you the truth’.
“The bruises of a friend can be trusted but an enemy multiplies kisses.” -Proverbs
None of us is able to achieve success without some help along the way.
5 (Five) things I wish someone told me before I launched my startup
1. It’s going to take three times as much time and treasure than you think.
2. You are not as smart as you think you are. I thought I was smarter than those for whom I worked. I was sure that I could hire and on board sales people more effectively than the people I worked for. I had to learn that one the hard way. Selling direct is very hard work.
3. You will not be the only person doing what you do. Twenty years later, it turns out there were about 20 companies worldwide with an RPA solution, although I believe we were first and the first to improve efficiency in an entire industry.
4. Debt could sometimes be hard to pay back. One of my CEO roundtable buddies once said that debt is evil. I have used some debt along the way but that thought never left me. If there’s no absolute and obvious need, don’t go into debt.
5. Make sure you know what your priorities are in life. There was a time in life when I worked so hard that I was away from my family. I eventually changed the business model to minimize travel so I could be there for my half-time schedule with my two daughters.
Giving back to the Society
I believe to those who have been given much, much is expected. As much as possible, I make myself available to mentor entrepreneurs. It is my passion and vision for the people in our company to grow and become more valuable inside and outside of the company. We use our financial and time resources to that end. In addition, we support mission-oriented non-profit organisation.