Being a founder, not to mention a CEO, can be a very lonely place, carrying loads of stress and requiring constant peak performance. This often makes it hard to find a balance between one's professional and personal life. Maintaining strong relationships with the co-founders and investors is also not an easy task, where clarity and empathy are not always present. As one of my entrepreneurs says: “It’s not the technological challenge we deal with, it’s the mental one.”
“Throughout my +15 years as a professional, I've always been attracted to the intersection of business and psychology through entrepreneurship - What makes people tick? How do people think and act? And what motivates people in business? What drives me is being there for the amazing entrepreneurs, who are under constant pressure, so that they can make our world a better place. That’s what I’m here for, and this is my podcast – The Human Founder.”
Ep. 87 - With Iddo Gino, Founder and CEO of Rapid
Being a young entrepreneur
Iddo founded his startup at the age of 17. For us, it might seem like such a young age to become an entrepreneur, but it’s a phenomenon that is becoming more and more frequent in the Tech world. Iddo explained this by the fact that these days, anyone could do software and get into that space - “I think that a corollary of that is you have young people who have a lot of time and have a fresh and untainted view on the world and have the opportunity to come in and create new things.”
Still, some can raise eyebrows. Being an entrepreneur is tough, it takes a lot of prices and it’s so hard to navigate all the uncertainty in the ecosystem, which could take a lot of years to learn - so being a really young entrepreneur without experience? Isn’t that impossible?
When I asked Iddo about it, he shared that in his eyes, there are cases where the best way of doing things is indeed the ‘traditional way’ that’s accepted by society - after all, it’s considered the norm because it worked for many people, and there’s value and reasoning behind it, but there's a catch - “In 60% of the time there’s a reason most people do it and why it’s the right way, but in 30-40% of the cases, it’s considered the right way because that’s the way it’s always been done.”
Nothing can be 100% right or wrong, and it can be a scary truth to face because we can’t be 100% sure of anything - there’s no one completely safe way of doing things and living your life. But when we agree to face that truth, we can start tapping into our own sense of wisdom and reasoning and decide our path from the most aware and authentic part of ourselves.
After all, if we really look at it, there’s also a benefit of coming with less experience, because you have a fresh eye. You can customize your own way without a set of accepted rules, you pave your own path and don’t do things on autopilot. And indeed, he shared: “There isn’t a single person or role or function in the company that we have without knowing the real ‘why’ behind it.”
Learning from the right mentors
He met with the legendary Ben Horowitz while his startup was still at an early stage - “I didn’t think we had any shot raising a Seed from them, so I saw it as an opportunity to just meet one of the greatest of the industry, and I prepared a page full of questions”. And it wasn’t just random questions, he did his research and came to the meeting bringing Ben’s book after reading it a couple of times - so he came with very specific questions that he could get only from Ben himself in the meeting.
There are a few lessons here: first, his preparation saved Ben and his valuable time - Iddo knew how precious this opportunity was, and by ‘doing his homework’ and preparing beforehand he could get the maximum amount of knowledge from Ben - he didn’t make Ben repeat something he already shared, but made the effort to meet him at the highest point of knowledge he could gather from him, and therefore, learned the most he could from him, and seized the opportunity to the fullest.
He shared - “It was an hour-long long meeting and for 55 minutes I drilled the hell out of him. Only in the last five minutes was I pitching him about Rapid and that was that.”
A day after that meeting he got a call inviting him to pitch to the rest of the partnership - and the rest is history.
It might seem like a smooth ride, where everything just came into place, but like Iddo said - “It always looks like an overnight success at the end, but you don’t realize that it was for years in the making.”
When I asked him about the highs for him in the rollercoaster of the entrepreneurial journey, he said with a smile and a spark in his eyes -
“Any time I see an app that I didn’t know and suddenly realize that it uses Rapid behind the scenes, or I go to a conference and see a random person that’s with a laptop that is open on the Rapid screen - that’s the highest high that there is.”