We’re starting a new series here on the Stride blog, keeping with our theme of startup growth, we’ll be interviewing select startup founders, co-founders, and CEOs periodically.
First up on our roster is Paul DeJoe, who founded Ecquire. It’s is an awesome way to connect your Gmail and your productivity tools, Stride included. As Paul would say, it adds hours back to your week.
Like many people, Paul didn’t begin his path with startups. Here’s a quick introduction of Paul as he wrote it.
I used to be a professional hockey player in Europe. People ask me all the time: “Why did you stop playing?”. It wasn’t by choice.
I stopped being good enough and started losing more teeth than I had goals. I knew hockey was only temporary anyway, I thought I wanted to be a federal agent like my dad was (ATF) so I had to get a Masters degree as apart of their requirements. That’s when I was exposed to an entrepreneurship class at Drexel in Philadelphia. It was a practicum class where you just worked with a startup company. I couldn’t get enough of it and fell in love with getting exactly what you put in without dealing with bureaucracies. The company I started with was called OmPay. I remember watching their pitch and falling in love with the vision of a single card for transportation in Philadelphia. I can single handedly point to that presentation as to when I realized how powerful a vision can be.
The right vision can strip you of any concerns with tangible items like money and inspire you to be apart of something great.
Every entrepreneur has their own path, and as some people have said, entrepreneurship chooses you, whether you like it or not. Here’s how he his start with it:
When I started the practicum class with OmPay. I harassed the founders for a job even though they didn’t have any real budget for me. While my degree was in investment management and I really wanted to be a CFO, I had to negotiate a business development role to warrant a paycheck from the company. I had no idea what I was doing. I went to sleep every night for three months thinking I had to come clean and tell them they needed to let me go. I just couldn’t get any momentum closing deals and I knew it was me because the product was just awesome and so much better than the alternative (You can read more about it here in the beginners guide to sales). I eventually figured a few things out and as the only person in charge of BD, we went from 20k a month in revenue to 420k a month in revenue over the course of my three years there. One thing I absolutely hated was entering data into NetSuite, our CRM. When I got better at sales, all I wanted to do was be in front of more potential customers. Not entering data. But I knew it was important for the board and for our executive team.
Recently we’ve seen a lot of productivity hacks, but something that’s made it above the noise is an article over at Fast Company that was written by – you guessed it, Paul. His day to day is quite amazing when you consider what goes into it:
4AM – Wake up
5:30AM – Crossfit
6:45AM – Start work with the most difficult things first
12:15PM – Yoga
1:30PM – Swim and Run
2:45PM – Work
5PM – Call it a day.
A typical day usually involves a majority of product, feedback, and raising/making money.
When it comes to burnout:
I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been burned out. It gets really stressful when cash is low though. If I sit and think about things without acting or at least moving forward it compounds the stress. Planning or writing things down the night before is the best therapy. There’s been times when I’ve felt paralyzed and that just happens because I’m not doing anything but letting my thoughts compound. If you can recognize this when it’s starting and just complete one task, you open the door for momentum. I’ve learned that momentum is a real thing that you can control for and that’s what I have to remember when you get in those spots.
And finally – the one single best piece of advice Paul has for those who are starting out:
Young entrepreneurs are stubborn, arrogant and think they know everything. If you get into this because you want to have some big exit or because you think it’s glamorous you will sacrifice some of the best years of your life. Do something you would do if there was no paycheck or even the thought of an exit. There are so many difficult times and lonely times that all you have is passion and vision, and a badass team you love working with.
You cant have those three things if money or some ulterior motive is why you started this. Trust me I did this and our product and my life sucked at the time. If it always feels like a hobby and you love what you do, it will show in the quality of your work and your efforts.