As an unknown liquid dripped down my head and onto my face, I tried to keep my composure and continue our customer interview in Central Park. Melissa, my co-founder, helped me wipe my face as I wrapped up the interview. Our first day doing field research and a bird had “left a present” on my head. The summer was off to a great start!
After starting our business in January, Melissa Bergin (Section A, 2019) and I (Section J, 2019) decided to work on our company, Bundle, for our summer internship. Bundle is a platform that provides back-up and flexible child care to working parents as an employee benefit. We not only were challenged and learned a ton, but also had a lot of fun working on our venture in NYC.
Here are the top 6 lessons we learned:
1. Identify your strengths early on.
As the summer progressed, we realized that we each had different strengths and could be more effective if we divided up our responsibilities. This not only enabled us to accomplish more, but also helped us focus by creating structure.
2. Give structured feedback.
While we were proactive about asking for feedback from one another, especially after pitches or meetings, we definitely would have benefited from giving structured feedback more often instead of just on the fly. It’s easy to get so busy with the day-to-day that you forget that making the time for formal, weekly feedback is useful. It will only help you improve and accelerate your own personal and professional growth.
3. Discuss the awkward topics head on.
One of the hardest parts of a partnership early on is deciding on “titles” and negotiating the founders’ agreement. Let’s face it, it’s just awkward! Yet, by doing this in a completely honest and open way we learned about each of our goals and priorities, which only allowed us to work better together.
4. Utilize your network and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
We spoke to countless alumni and professors throughout the summer who gave us invaluable advice based on their knowledge and experiences. Their perspectives and insights forced us to delve much deeper into our business model, our hypotheses, and our assumptions.
5. Be patient…really patient.
One of the most difficult lessons we learned was that things take a very long time to develop and transpire. Whether it’s designing and conducting an MVP, creating a presentation for potential customers, pitching, or waiting to hear back from a partner, you must be excruciatingly patient. Make sure to keep your eye on the long-term vision and know that it will take time and persistence to get there.
6. Enjoy the wins and learn from the losses.
When we got our first partner to sign with us, we had a dance party in the streets of NYC. When we went to a senior center to recruit caregivers and no one wanted to speak with us, we discussed the failure, learned from it, and moved on. We realized that the highs and the lows that people talk about in start-ups are real and you just have to deal with it and enjoy the journey.