Dan Bladen is the 27 year old father of two and co-founder of Chargifi, a wireless charging solution which gives customers visiting venues such as coffee shops, bars and workspaces the ability to charge up their devices for free. Venues are then able to gain invaluable insight into their customer’s behaviour.
Here, Dan shares tips for how to start a business and balance life as a young millennial family man.
1. Validate – I often come up with ideas that seem like they are going to be world changers. I now give them the sleep on it test before getting too excited. Write the idea down, think where the idea will progress to (what does it look like in 10 years’ time), do a little bit of preliminary research and see if the idea is still a game changer in the morning. If you can’t sleep – that’s a good sign! Once you’ve done this ask a handful of friends and peers what they think of the idea. I’m now lucky to have a great Board to ask including my co-founder Charlie Cannell. But regardless, get honest feedback and see if you still have the same level of passion.
2. What are the current market trends? Uber and Airbnb are both great examples of companies that have taken old services and transformed industries because they spotted market trends and applied those mechanics it to real problems. The trend that Uber and Airbnb benefitted from was the ‘sharing economy’. Facebook did this with ‘Platforms’ – YouTube did this with ‘Web 2.0’. Key trends over the next few years will be IoT and Blockchain – how can your idea take advantage of these market trends?
3. Gather your band of fools – According to Inc.com 96% of businesses fail within the first 10 years. If you’re going to go the long haul you need some people around you who believe in you and your vision. Make sure you can be honest with them, tell them what you are struggling with and where you need help. Get them to open up their networks and make introductions for you. In our first 12 months of operations at Chargifi I had a couple of friends who were lawyers in London who would do our legal work for coffee, a friend who was a professional designer did our first logo, my father-in-law introduced us to one of our first distributors, my Dad did Chargifi deployments with me. We did all this stuff in the early days and now we have the back of a group of premier venture capitalists. Doing this stuff means you have integrity – you know your business inside out. Once you can afford to have a team then they become your focus as a leader of the business. The business is only as good as your team. Invest time in them, see to it that they have what they need to do their job and keep them envisioned.
4. Learn Fast and Lose Your Pride – one of the biggest blockers of progression is pride. Not wanting to get something wrong, and/or accepting that someone is right. The British Olympic rowing team have a phrase that they live by – ‘will it make the boat go faster..?’ They apply this question to every decision they have to make. If everyone on your team is rowing in the same direction then it shouldn’t matter who had the idea or who was wrong or right – lose pride – move fast – move on. A super leader is someone who can lead others to lead themselves. As a business leader your goal is to grow your business – the best way to do this is by empowering your team.
5. Lead Yourself – I once heard someone say that leaders need to spend 50% of their time leading themselves. Even if you have the most exciting business world there will still be days when you think quite the opposite. Take time, look at what you have achieved, evaluate the market and re-evangelise yourself. As a leader you need to burn with enthusiasm and passion for your product – make sure you keep fanning the flame.