A Real Startup Founder Pt 3 of 4


Let's go back to my my dad told me about that investor meeting that was I was so excited. And I remember what was


I felt like suddenly it could be real. Okay. I remember being unable to sleep. I remember being very nervous before talking to Eric on the phone. Okay. Eric doesn't know that


when you are going to talk to him on the phone. Did you know like, I'm gonna ask him for money? Or I'm gonna ask him to mentor Did you have any idea what you're gonna say, knew that investors give money. That's all I knew. back then. I didn't realize that they can be amazing mentors, I was gonna learn some of the best information from them. Okay. Um, I really didn't know it was it was kind of honest. But what I noticed is how nervous and excited I was about now this information that they could teach you. I mean, you're a professor of machine learning, is it more skills? Or is it more just business? Is it more connections? What type of information can they give you?


Well, really, all of the above I'm doing a startup is, um, it's different. It's kind of it's some of the skills of being a professor. transferable experience in managing people. I've experienced, inspiring people doing original ideas, getting projects to completion lot about a startup about the business ecosystem, about the culture, even Oh, how you relate as business people, he's not the same way that you relate to your colleagues. For example, I will never forget how interested in an investor meeting that was going very well. Yeah, the investor asked me to brag about myself, okay. And that really threw me off


because it's just in academia, you know, personal, you know, you're talking to, okay,


based on their research papers, or their titles,


like credential these like, you shouldn't have to tell anybody that you are an amazing researcher, that you've done some really important work that you know, that you're on the committee's reviewing on all the most important conferences and journal reviews, okay, for AI. Because for me, people that are taught in academia know that about me, they know they've done find that foundational work in clustering, they hear me talk for 10 minutes about my work. They know I'm amazing. So I don't have to say six, like, okay, but the startup ecosystem brand new, I mean, they're not in my world


didn't connect on LinkedIn with you.


They're not Sean.


And also they're not in my industry, they might not know what does it mean to be a computer science professor? How does it How is it different from just having a PhD world of a difference, but it's not fair of me to expect them all to know that Okay,


so you would you say that startup founders might have difficulty bragging about that, or, or selling themselves, you just have to be honest about who you are, and understand that investors are not in your world, you simply need to tell them who you are in the clearest way possible. Okay, if people want more information on that, look at the episode where we interviewed doors from Silicon Valley speaks she a lot of great information on your presentation. But my please talk a little bit more about your encounter with investors. And what's happened since then. So this was this was a long time ago, so called capital really helped us get started. And it made it real. So I had a lot of super basic questions like, how do I open an entity? What kind of documents design is really simple?


Yeah, but it's at first, it seems so obvious right now, it seems so obvious. But back then you have zero experience with it. Nobody around you had any experience with it. When you go online, you get a whole bunch of controversial opinions. That's the biggest problems was just googling you just get these extreme of people being sensational and arguing really unusual perspectives. Yeah. When you just want the basics, okay. And books are often outdated. Yes.


So I really found myself in this state where I needed the advice of real people, okay. And the mentors are that investor was the one giving you this real advice, yes. How'd you know you could trust the investor and or not?


Um, for the most part, I mean, I think I think part of it was that we were lucky we really had a person who had our best interest in mind, who really believed in what we were doing overtime, I did learn pretty after a few months that people really have different perspectives. Okay. But I do think that he he really helped us get started on the right foot. Okay.


And then a few things in a few ways. We also got lucky. So we got a good lawyer pretty quickly. Okay,


so right now I five question the very often call my lawyer, we have them on retainer. Huge, amazing resource of the people I get along with really well, oh, what resources Did you outsource or go for? That's really up to the team, a lawyer on retainer, an investor, that's a great mentor,


because we have more, we also eventually you need to go back and look at your own network. In fact, that would be a better place to start. And I know better. So kind of the burger, who is it's been a longtime friend and colleague, he's started 15 businesses, and many of which are successful up IPOs and sold very well. So he is right now our advisor, okay, so how you go about finding your advisors. So it's the he was in our network, and it's so it's sometimes even if you're pretty well connected, you might not people are drawn to business, sometimes they're not used to even using their own network, because you're not used to thinking like that because in regular jobs, even in the professor job, which is fairly flexible, it's somewhat similar to having a business it's a lot more structured, we don't even realize how much structure there is, in our lives. I told there is nobody above you and your company, there is nobody to blame. There is nobody to you know, there is nobody to share the well I have co founders but still there is nobody above me. Yeah,


then I can sort of defer to Well howdy how that switch go from being the professor where you had people you had to report to, to now being the boss, how was that transition? It's,


um, it's very interesting.


Overall, I think I like and I think it's, it's who I am. And it's a kind of very kind of healthy progression in my career. Okay.


But in a way, there is a very interesting self redefinition that happens it's very profound, okay. I found a lot of time finding myself thinking feel like I'm rediscovering who I am.