10 Helpful Lessons Learned From PG Startup Founders

March 16, 2021 – Kalya Nuñez

Creating a startup as a new entrepreneur can lead you down a very bumpy road. Make your journey a little smoother with the 10 lessons learned from our startup founders.

The Startup Founder Journey

Building a new business from the ground up can be an overwhelming experience. There are so many new things to learn and even more things to do, every single day. This process can also create a lot of creative insecurities and leave you wondering if you are doing the right things, taking the right steps, and focusing on what is truly important. 
We want our community of entrepreneurs to feel confident in their ventures and have as many resources as possible at their disposal, so they can focus on creating the best possible product or service they can and leave the second-guessing behind. 
This is why we have asked the startup founders in our network to share with us a few lessons they have learned throughout their journey that can help upcoming entrepreneurs become better professionals.

10 Lessons Learned From Startup Founders

Lesson #1: Market research is key, no matter which stage of the process you are in.

The first lesson our startup founders learned is the importance of doing market research while seeking to develop a truly useful product, and how continuing to do it throughout the rest of your journey can help you stay in touch with your customer’s needs!
“Do your market size research before starting to develop your product. As good as you believe your product may be and as much as you might enjoy creating it, at the end of the day, you need people that want to pay for your product if you want your business to be able to sustain itself.”
Jaime Ginorio, FindIt
“Talk to your customer (or your future customer) as much as you can. This will help pinpoint the problems in your industry. It may even help you create a solution faster. And if it doesn’t, you still gain knowledge about the pains and the problems in that industry.”
Francisco Matos Ortiz, Immersive Learning

Lesson #2: Avoid marketing myopia if you want to create a sustainable business.

While researching and developing your initial idea, it is important to always keep in mind why you are doing this in the first place. You have to focus on the customer’s needs over the product or service you are selling in order to have a sustainable business.
“Fall in love with the problem you are solving. If you do not like the problem you are solving, or if you are in love with the solution but not the problem, then you will have a hard time letting things go and you will be on the road to failure. The beauty of entrepreneurship is not the solution. Instead, it is how you can change the life of a business or person for the better with your solution.”
Francisco Matos Ortiz, Immersive Learning

Lesson #3: Be mindful about staying true to your vision.

Doing market research and customer discovery can produce a lot of changes in your initial idea, and that is completely normal. The important thing is that you stay true to your long-term vision to avoid losing your focus.
“Customer discovery is an important part of the foundation process! Do it and prove your thesis, even if it means pivoting several times, but make sure you do not lose your vision. Staying true to your vision can be tricky, because, although individual objectives are important, your business is an entity of its own with its unique set of values and image. You have the fiduciary responsibility of this entity that also represents you as an individual.”
Jacobo Concepción, LabbGo

Lesson #4: You will learn through every step of the way.

Do not let an initial lack of knowledge hold you back! There are always ways to learn.
“You don’t need to have all the answers to get it going. At first, it was overwhelming because I didn’t know the first thing about running a business (and I’m still learning!). But, I made sure to apply to programs and seek out opportunities that gave me the business knowledge I needed. Even if you don’t apply to programs, you’ll eventually learn along the way. 
Keep learning, asking questions, seeking out opportunities, surrounding yourself with the right people, and you will make progress. Just keep moving, even if you don’t know exactly where you’re going.”
Jubal Rodriguez, FindIt

Lesson #5: Start small, and continue to build from there.

You will always want to make your product or service better, but it is important to stay realistic and know that your first release will probably not have all of the features you envisioned. Start off with just a few useful features, and build the rest as you go.
“You have to start somewhere. It’s ok if your product or service is only one small part of what you have in mind. If you don’t have a clear picture of what it can be yet, that’s ok too! As long as you are solving a problem or need, go for it. You will eventually add more features, services, and live up to the full potential of your product as you’re building it. 
At first, our startup was going to be a rental platform to help students search for college apartments. Fast forward to a year and a half later, and it’s now a real estate website that covers listings from all over Puerto Rico. In the next few years, it will for sure evolve into something we can’t even imagine right now and solve bigger problems, but you have to start somewhere to get there.”
Jubal Rodriguez, FindIt
“You will never reach perfection. Understanding this can be a big factor in your success. After working for years with developers and designers, it can be hard to manage expectations. Products or software will never be completed and you will always continue to make changes and improvements as you go. 
Initially, just try to launch something that works and that checks some of the boxes of what you want your product to be. Test it out, get feedback, and make changes as you go, starting from day one. If you keep waiting for the perfect product in order to launch, you will never end up launching. This only wastes a lot of invested money and time, and possibly even creates a product that your customers do not want.”
Orban Mendoza Valiente, Flexio

Lesson #6: Build a diverse, multi-functional founding team.

When thinking about who should form part of your founding team, think strategically and look for people who will add value to your product, service, or idea.
“Build your founding team with people that bring their own unique thing to the table. When we started, it was all about building the initial product. As co-founders, we were both involved in creating the product but our roles were very different, and I don’t think we would have made as much progress as we did if we were both working on the same things. Each person in your team must bring value.”
Jubal Rodriguez, FindIt
“One of the biggest lessons I learned when starting my first company is that you need people that compliment you and have the skills that you lack. As a founder, you cannot do everything. If it means you need to give part of your company to somebody else that can help you reach your goal, don’t hesitate to do it. Finding great partners is not easy, but they are out there. It also does not have to be your best friend, try reaching out to people that have that specific skill you need.”
Orban Mendoza Valiente, Flexio

Lesson #7: Quality over quantity.

As important as having a great founding team is, do not let it hold you back from creating something great. It is better to have one fully dedicated person than a full team of people who do not add value. 
“Don’t force any co-founders. If, at the moment, you don’t seem to know anyone that can be or fit the co-founder position, let it be. You’ll eventually find someone later down the road.”
Jaime Ginorio, FindIt

Lesson #8: Efficient communication will get you far.

As a startup founder, you will be constantly reaching out to others and writing emails, drafting proposals, and networking at events, which is why it is important to continuously develop your communication skills.
“Communications and its advances are the foundation of our modern society. Be clear and transparent with yourself, your associates, and your clients. Never stop reading, practice your writing, and develop an outstanding interpersonal communication by talking with new people every day.”
Jacobo Concepción, LabbGo

Lesson #9: Practice your patience.

Much like your communication skills, practicing your patience is very important as a startup founder. It takes a lot of time to see results, and you have to be ready to manage this.
“Be patient. There is no overnight success and there are a lot of highs and lows down this road. Just be consistent and patient with your vision and goals.”
Jaime Ginorio, FindIt

Lesson #10: Never stop learning and having fun!

Finally, you should always keep having fun and learning new things throughout your journey! If you are not passionate about what you do, it will show in your work.
“Have fun, keep learning, and bring families together – Immersive Learning’s Team Quote
To all the new entrepreneurs, don’t forget to have fun while on your journey, keep learning to continue to grow as a person and professional, and bring families together as much as possible with your entrepreneurial projects. Families can mean a community, a conjunction of businesses, and more. You, as an entrepreneur, give meaning to it as you see fit.”
Francisco Matos Ortiz, Immersive Learning
“Never lose sight of your goal and never stop having fun with your venture. You must love what you do, even when it becomes repetitive. If you’re going to invest your heart, soul and sweat in a project, choose something that makes you have a purpose in this chaotic and unpredictable world! ”
Jacobo Concepción, LabbGo

Which lessons have you learned so far?

As shown by these startup founders, there are never too many lessons to learn when working as an entrepreneur. Which lessons have you learned so far in your own entrepreneurial journey?

NOTE: Some quotes have been edited for clarity.

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