George Natchev is the CEO of FoundersExperts, the European marketplace where entrepreneurs receive advice from the world class experts. In today's interview for Magazine MN George talks about his entrepreneurial journey, provides insights into his business mindset and gives valuable bits of advice for startup founders.
Magazine MN: What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
George: It is said that you are either a natural-born entrepreneur or you become one. I think the first case describes me better. I started making my first entrepreneurial endeavours quite early. I remember when I was in kindergarten I already enjoyed getting down to business. The kids figured it out and started coming to me whenever they wanted to exchange something. I always got new toys and my toy box started growing slowly. Over the years my interests have been changing, but I never settled. I kept on searching for and creating opportunities. My main driver has always been the delight of knowing that I am creating value not only for myself, but also for others. I like questioning everything all the time. On the other hand, I am quite pedantic and I love perfection. Following rules is not my thing. It doesn’t matter to me if someone else is doing something. All I care about is knowing the reasons behind every single decision I make. The only way to achieve that is simply to be constantly making my own decisions.
Magazine MN: Apart from being an entrepreneur, you are also a student at the moment. How do you manage to juggle studies and running a startup?
George: An entrepreneur is a student for life, and any smart student is able to demonstrate entrepreneurial spirit by finding the best way of achieving the most with minimum effort. Yes, combining the startup with university is not an easy task. Both things are time consuming. And there is always the possibility that running a startup might take too much time. It requires a proper time scheduling and a good sense of balance. On the other hand, I started university with the clear vision for improving my entrepreneurial skills. From that point of view, running FoundersExperts while still attending courses at the university is a pure win-win situation. I get the best out of both worlds - practice and theory.
Magazine MN: How do you keep yourself motivated in difficult situations?
George: I don’t really have problems with the motivation. Since my early childhood I have always been goal oriented. That means that if I don’t give it 120% of my energy every day, I get a feeling of guilt. The same goes for difficult situations - the more challenged I feel, the harder I push forward. In case it goes like this for longer, every two weeks I might need a half day off to relax. And that is enough to recharge my battery.
Magazine MN: What is the best advice you have ever received?
George: "Don’t worry if you do some mistakes here and there. As long as you keep learning from them, it’s fine! And if you want to be very smart, you shouldn’t learn only from your own mistakes, but also from the mistakes of others."
Magazine MN: Tell us more about FoundersExperts.
George: FoundersExperts is the new best friend of startups, founders & entrepreneurs. We make it possible for them to have quick access to an infinite source of knowledge on an interdisciplinary and international basis. And one more thing - it’s on demand!
Magazine MN: How did the idea of creating FoundersExperts occur?
George: The idea for FoundersExperts was born around the beginning of the last summer. Back then me and my colleges had just stumbled upon a very sad statistic about the success rate of startups. We were really shocked by the small number of startups that survive through their first year. At that moment we decided that we should search for the reasons and find a way to change the reality.
We found out that building a new business is a route full of iterations. Challenges occur on a daily basis and each new challenge differs from a previous one. We realized that there is no ultimate „one-size-fits-all“ solution to address all situations. We made a conclusion that in most cases all that a startup needs is a simple, but good advice. Finally, we decided that we should start connecting startups with people who have relevant experience.
Magazine MN: How will FoundersExperts help to raise awareness for entrepreneurship in Europe?
George: One of the many false assumptions startups and first time entrepreneurs make is the idea that asking for advice is a mistake. Moreover, there is a common belief that to communicate with others about new business ideas and the surrounding challenges is a “bad thing”. People either have fear that their unique ideas will be copied or they don’t want to appear weak because of talking about challenges.
We want to show people that there is nothing wrong about asking questions. Nobody is born with ultimate knowledge. And entrepreneurship is more about constant learning than hiding behind the curtains. Furthermore, all our Experts are under a NDA clause, so they aren’t authorized to use any of the information which they get during a call.
The first and most important step for raising the awareness is to simply teach people to communicate more and to ask the right questions. Getting the answers to the right questions as early as possible can change a lot.
Magazine MN: What is the biggest business lesson you have learnt so far?
George: The biggest business lesson for me is that having the right team at a startup means half the game is won. I learn new things every day, but what I value the most is the support from the other team members.
Magazine MN: What is your best advice for the first-time startup founders?
George: I would advice first time founders to start with the following two questions:
„Why do I want to start XYZ business?“
„Why should people care about my offering?“
Starting a business shouldn’t be just for the sake of earning money and fame. Entrepreneurial activity should be executed for the purpose of creating value for people and contribution to the overall well-being. Personally, I like meeting people with great visions. And I also believe that the incentives behind the idea of the founder as well as his/her vision of the future are quite important. They predefine in a particular way whether or not a certain person will succeed.
For more details on FoundersExperts click here
Photo credit: http://www.photo-melanie.at/
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George Natchev was interviewed by Natalie Myhalnytska