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What You Can Learn From This Successful Entrepreneur's Journey Focus on exploiting market gaps and solving real customer problems

By Satyen Kothari

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Entrepreneurship is not an easy journey. There are setbacks and challenges all along your way, but you have to manoeuvre through them to find your sweet spot of success. Here are a few takeaways from my experience of being an entrepreneur.

1. Mentoring Matters

I wouldn't be where I am without the help of experienced entrepreneurs guiding me along the way. Found by intention and chance. Accessible to me and provided the right advice at the right time, tough love and many thought provoking questions. Now I mentor others, it's a privilege. I learn back from a fresh perspective, get direct insight into millennials and the energy spurs me on to be at the top of my game.

2. Learn a Systematic Way of Thinking

Every new startup CEO always asks me what the secret is and how did I do it. It's both flattering and frustrating. Stop wasting your time looking for a prescription of readymade answers. Develop a systematic way of thinking, keep refining it, go back to first principles often, and you can solve any problem, no secret sauce needed.

3. Failure is Valuable

My first startup was the failure that set me up for success. I realised I wasn't invincible, and I needed time to learn and develop my capabilities despite my enthusiasm. I tried to level up before I was ready. I saw my deficiencies and I acted on them. I learnt all layers needed to build a product, grew leadership skills and did something about every battle scar learnt in my first failure.

4. Great Idea Doesn't = Start a Startup

Focus on exploiting market gaps and solving real customer problems. Don't let your CEO vanity take over by getting fixated on your idea alone. Research, use your network to validate ideas, figure out your riskiest assumption, test that theory first before committing everything. You may get an even better idea during this process.

5. Exercise Your Intuition

In the Startup game you need the ability to make decisions where data isn't available. Chances are the data won't even exist if you are doing something new and disruptive. So how do you decide? Intuition is a muscle and needs to be used to further develop. Start tuning in and making intuition decisions. Intuition combined with a mentor's advice can be very powerful. If you get it wrong, analyze your performance and be better next time.

6. Values Matter Most

Operate in an authentic manner and always make sure that you are true to yourself. Be your best version of yourself every day and find people to do business with that have the same values as you. You will avoid unpleasant situations, cultivate positivity and enjoy the people you work with. Be excited to get out of bed every morning.

Satyen Kothari

Founder and CEO of Cube

Satyen is the Founder and CEO of Cube. One of the most successful names in the Indian fintech scene, Satyen is also an angel investor and serial entrepreneur whose prior experience includes founding Citrus Payments, where he led the brand’s overall strategy, product, user experience, marketing, and strategic alliances to drive the company to a valuation of $100 million in 4 years.

Satyen has spent the last 18 years in Silicon Valley and India and has successfully started companies in the areas of marketing automation, social e-commerce and strategy/design consulting. His career has included stints with several start-ups and larger companies such as Intuit, First Data, Cisco, AOL, Yahoo, frog design & App.

Satyen has invested in 14 companies in the spaces of marketplaces, payments, solar, education, and payments. He is an active member of the Stanford Alumni Association of India and Stanford Angels.  He has a Masters from Stanford University in tech entrepreneurship/HCI/Computer Science and a BE in Computer Science/Engineering from Bombay University.

Satyen is an aspiring kite-surfer, alternative travel fan, and a roving philosopher in his spare time.

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