Rajen Ruparell, the Calgary-born entrepreneur best known for founding Citydeal in Europe, which was later bought by Groupon, is already finding much success in his latest investment, Endy. The online-only mattress store offers mattresses for much less than those found in traditional showrooms, and made more than $500,000 in its first week of sales.
Now part-entrepreneur, part-investor, Ruparell has a lot of experience under his belt, from founding startups to working in large companies to investing in new ventures. Techvibes chatted with Ruparell to get some advice for those aspiring to launch businesses of their own. Here are the tips he offered.
1. Know your strengths; start from there.
“Know what you’re awesome at,” Ruparell says, “and have that in your head and play to that. Entrepreneurship is really about defining what you’re great at, how you can drive that via being an entrepreneur and that being your core skill set. What drives greatness in companies is people knowing that they have certain skill sets.”
2. The road can be lonely, sometimes.
“It’s very lonely, so you have to make sure you surround yourself with great people and people that push you,” Ruparell notes. “You always need someone pushing you outside of your scope and I think surrounding yourself with good leaders, no matter if you’re a young entrepreneur starting out, you want to make sure you have the right type of people who will be honest and direct with you so that you don’t fool yourself into thinking that something is working when it’s not.”
3. Be honest with yourself.
“I think, once in a while, having an honest conversation about where you are as a business and where you are as a leader just promotes self-awareness,” says Ruparell. “The best entrepreneurs are the ones that are the most self-aware.”
4. Be specific when getting a mentor.
“Mentors are always willing to help but they need something to latch onto,” explains Ruparell. “It’s really asking them for something specific as opposed to just saying, ‘We’re looking for mentors.’ What are you looking for mentors in? What skill set can I help you with? People come to me a lot and the question is, exactly how can I help you? Are you looking for advice to hire higher-grade people? Are you looking for advice on how to accelerate a specific product?”
5. Woo investors with simplicity.
Great ideas that appeal to potential investors are “business models that can be explained in 10 seconds and make sense to the mass of people involved within that ecosystem.” Find an idea that instantly resonates, Ruparell advises.