LFP124 – The Reality of Being an Entrepreneur w/Ruzbeh Bacha CEO CityFalcon

What is it actually like being an Entrepreneur? Despite being experienced and having an MBA Ruzbeh Bacha, CEO of personalised news aggregator/filter CityFalcon has found that the reality is very different from expectations. What is it really like? How hard can it be?

Media narratives are of some startups achieving amazing success with amazing amounts of work. Well the amazing amounts of work come to them all but the super-duper successes are perhaps less than 1%. And – like restaurants – most startups fail but one never gets to hear of those.

In between the great triumphs and the failures is a large limbo land. The reality is that for the majority of Fintechs that started say five years ago and are still going they have scored some successes (otherwise they wouldn’t be here). But, rather like swimming in a gloopy soup, there is much friction along the way be it the crazy times it takes to raise funds (every year being the rough rule of thumb) or crazily long purchase processes and buying decisions for BigCos or even with App Banks that boast millions of users (and so get into tech print as being “worth” billions the difficulty of actually doing the making money thing.

Topics discussed on the show include:

  • raising funds for Fintech via dancing?! (Salsa in passing)
  • importance of creating a tribe if one funds via the crowdfunding route
  • CityFalcon empower decision making by convert unstructured financial data into structured content – which is used for trading purposes or knowledge management purposes
  • news filtering/aggregating via Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning
  • “[Being an Entrepreneur] is completely different from what I expected it to be”
  • prior knowledge is from media, books, MBA, etc – but these do not reflect accurately
  • MBA course have Case Studies which are some help but aren’t what it is really like
  • media focus on the super-successful rather than the spectrum
  • how all media (including social media) filter the world is super-important in creating our understanding of the world (HT “perception deception”)
  • how the media economics feed into the mis-perception of startups
  • the laziness of people in general and hence scarcity of deep-dives
  • looking for proxies of success rather than understanding the mechanics
  • how this mis-perception feeds in to investors and employees’ perceptions and hence actions and pressures
  • the need for some base data at least of Fintech performance – even just survival percentages over time and at best an index of performance
  • long-form content – but consumers of information often do not invest the required time and attention that it takes to understand a topic in more detail
  • hence this perception gap is an interaction of current issues for both producers and consumers
  • the main gap with expectations was how quickly one can move, raise funds, how the valuation increases, how fast one can grow teams
  • reality is not a movie condensed into 1.5hrs, reality – the reality is far tougher, slower and with plenty of time for doubt to creep in
  • the opportunity cost of not sitting in a cushy job making steady money for far less stress
  • it is so tough that there are even examples of entrepreneurs giving up after they have become cashflow positive
  • CityFalcon now have a cash runway of 2yrs which is more relaxing but prior to that it was always 6mts which is super-stressful
  • “there’s nothing left but faith” [HT “The Cure”]
  • the reality of funding…
  • how to be successful in crowdfunding – the essential ingredients
  • Ruzbeh’s grant application from a government – didn’t succeed but the government wrote a note back saying “but hey you are a Fintech so it’s easy to raise funds” … why would you need a grant?
  • funding product development via selling services
  • the huge challenge of being a product company
  • “the VC model is broken”
  • checklist-based approaches in VCs
  • product-service, B2B-B2C four quadrant map – insights thereinto
  • what Ruzbeh would do differently if he started again tomorrow
  • one of Ruzbeh’s biggest mistakes in product development
  • tech is misrepresented in the media
  • most important thing in B2B is to get that first client, so much easier thereafter
  • the personal aspects to ensuring that, having started at sprint pace you transition to marathon pace
  • the importance of self-care protocols – physical, mental, emotional
  • Ruzbeh’s approach
  • “you have to treat your startup like a child which has been given only 10% chance of surviving and do everything you can to keep it alive”
  • obstacles make you stronger [if they don’t stop you lol] – cf weight lifting in the gym..
  • the most important thing you can do for your business is look after yourself – it takes a long time for a startup to be able to fly on its own without its founder(s)
  • a shoutout for who would benefit most from CityFalcon’s product
  • leveraging their Natural Language Processing as consultancy service
  • list of prestigious clients CityFalcon are working with
  • why business uses CityFalcon
  • premium subscription being released in May without advertising
  • 35 people at present
  • cultural issues of growing too quickly and managing a team

And much much more 🙂

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