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Aug 29, 2016 07:47 PM EDT

What I Learned After 2 Failed Startups and 1 Successful One

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Ecommerce in Africa and Asia: How startups can benefit from tomorrow's emerging markets.

It turns out that two wrongs do, in fact, make a right. Finally, after 2 failed companies, my third startup is on track for success. I founded my first company when I was still in high school and ever since, I've been learning and exploring what it takes to make a company successful.

Few entrepreneurs have a recipe for success, but rather guidelines that they've learned to follow to mitigate failure and to maximize the chance for triumph.

Here's a list of 5 things I learned along the way:

  1. Structure is key

    1. With my first startups, I failed to make sure that everything had a plan. At a startup, there's so much room for error that without a plan, even the best ideas fall into the abyss and are not taken care of properly. This time around, I made sure that everyone has a clear boss and management tree so everything gets done 10X quicker than it would without a well-mapped structure.

  2. You need to know, in-depth, everything about your company

    1. As a manager, anything from HR to back end development is important to at least know the basics of. For Gooroo, I actually made the decision to hire a tutor to learn more about coding and developing software. I realized that unless I learned what my developers know and how they think, I wasn't going to be able to work with them and relay our ideas back and forth. It's one of the best decisions I've ever made.

  3. Solves a real problem, not one you fished for

    1. I see so many startups trying to create a business that solves a problem that didn't need to be solved. Or the problem might be too niche to build a company off of. With my fashion startup, I realized that there was only a small gap between the problem and the solution. It ended up taking more resources and time to find different problems that my product was fixing. The point is: it's important to take a real problem that needs a real solution, and address it in a helpful and creative way.

  4. Rejection hurts, but failing hurts more

    1. Especially when looking for investors, your company gets rejected. A lot. So much it hurts and you become frustrated that others don't value your product the way you do. I've learned that this is no excuse to give up. There's definitely a right time to give up, but a few rejections shouldn't stop you.

  5. Treat your employees like family

    1. There is no "i" in "Team" is cheesy but true. My employees and my customers helped me build my company and are truly like family. So why not treat them that way? With my past companies, I valued my own work and my own perspective over others.

*Scott Lee is the founder of Gooroo, which aims to reinvent the tutoring industry with an app that matches students with tutors based on price, location, and subject. Prior to launching Gooroo, Scott worked as a senior analyst at J.P. Morgan, founded a niche online fashion retailer, and created a nonprofit English tutoring platform. He has a bachelor's degree in Engineering Management Systems from Columbia University and spent two years serving in the Republic of Korea army, which awarded him a medal of commendation for excellence in leadership and dedication.

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