NEW YORK — Hey twentysomethings, dreaming of trading in the safety of a regular paycheck to start your own business? There’s no secret sauce. Instead, founders of three companies have obvious tips: Work hard, network and ask for help.
Chicago venture capitalist Bruce Barron, who has invested in companies including food ordering service GrubHub and pet products website doggyloot seconds that. He counsels young entrepreneurs to be open to advice. Some young company owners “wanted us to write a check and just get out of the way. Those qualities don’t bode well for us. We want to see people who are collaborative,” he says.
Three entrepreneurs who successfully raised money for their companies underscore the importance of hard work, of course — and making friends and playing nice.
FOUNDERS: Adora Cheung, 30, and her brother Aaron Cheung, 25
STARTED IN: Mountain View, Calif., July 2012
THE BUSINESS: Now based in San Francisco, Homejoy’s website connects more than 100,000 house cleaners with customers in about 30 cities in the U.S. and Canada
MONEY RAISED: $40 million
BIG BACKER: Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal
Coming out of the University of Rochester, which had no entrepreneurial community that she was aware of, Adora Cheung wanted to learn how startups work. She joined a Bay Area company, Slide, which was started by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin.
• IMPRESS THEM: Slide didn’t have many employees when Cheung came on board. “I got to work closely with Max, and he came to know a lot of how I work. He and I work on a very similar sleep schedule,” she says. They would find themselves talking shop at 4 a.m.
• FOLLOWING FRIENDS: After Cheung left Slide, she and her brother spent three-and-a-half years trying to come up with a business. They participated in the Y Combinator accelerator program, which helps startups launch. Friends who had been through the program recommended it.