How to be the CEO of Datamolino … so far.
Last week I was asked to speak at the Shift Conference in Split, Croatia, something that was both humbling and exciting at the same time. I was humbled to share the same stage as Mike Butcher (TechCrunch), Justin Kan (Y Combinator), Semyon Dukach (TechStars), and Marcus Segal (ex-Zynga); I was excited to get the opportunity to share my experience so far, as an entrepreneur, and with Datamolino.
Ivan Brezak Brkan moderated a fireside chat at the conference with me last Friday afternoon. Ivan is the editor and founder of netokracija.com and netocratic.com, news sites focussing on business, marketing and startups of Southeastern Europe. Ivan started with Netokracija in 2009, and the site is now an impressive hub with great writers. The theme of the conversation was – What does it mean to be the CEO of a startup, in the middle of its creation?
Being a CEO is something I take very seriously, there are a lot of interested parties sharing in the work and the success of Datamolino. I need to employ all my experience so far, and that of our Co-Founder Jan Korecky, to ensure the best decisions get made … first time if possible. These are some of my thoughts that I shared at the conference, on being a CEO as we take Datamolino from beta to launch.
1. Hiring the right people is paramount. In startups it can be difficult to get it done right, especially in an environment with limited resources. There are two things you can always do though, inspire the people you want to work with, and hire people who are better than you. At the end of the day, for what the right person can bring, money doesn’t play such a significant role.
2. Raising investment should start before your startup. The people who invest money in your business, should already know you as a reliable and trustworthy person. Show them you can keep your promise – reputation is everything.
3. Create a culture of excellence. Marcus Segal spoke excellently on the subject at the conference, you can read about it here. Excellence can’t just come from the CEO, it has to be part of the culture … part of the inspiration. Everyone must buy into it, otherwise it gets compromised internally, and people lose trust in you.
4. Manage people’s ambitions and expectations within the business. Use your empathy, and don’t try to assert your system of rules upon them. There are many ways you can achieve a goal, and as long as the goal is clear, never underestimate the power of communication. Talk, talk, and talk more to your team, and make sure they know you care. Because you do!
5. Challenge yourself, and be open to being challenged by others. It’s not personal, it’s business. Allow your partners the benefit of the doubt and make sure everyone communicates to one another what you’re all doing. Everyone has to be on the same boat, floating in the same direction.
6. Share as much as you can with as many people as you can. An essential rule for life, and for business.
Number 6 is why I went to Split, and why I am so passionate about the startup community – everybody wants to share ideas.