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The Story of an Entrepreneur: Using the Interview Kit

I collected these insights from my friend who wants to let us know that it's not all bad, there are some great resources out there for start ups. The interview kit was used to collect the insights.

Photo of Ashwin Gopi
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So tell us, what was your greatest resource in the early stages?
I was inspired by Craig Venter's autobiography, which described how he leveraged the great power of economics to expand his personal research passions. I was also lucky to have access to the problem we're trying to solve by virtue of my parents, who are doctors and who complained about their ineffective healthcare IT solutions.
What was the greatest barrier when starting your company? What was the villain?
The single greatest barrier was the fear that failure would mean something like jail time or being cast into the depths of the Well of Losers. In other words, my ego was afraid of being bruised and I had an aversion to legal and financial repercussions. The perceived cost of starting was also a delaying factor. The irony is that most of the people that tell you how expensive it is, don't really realize that it can be as cheap and paying the incorporation fee and the franchise tax. Making is a success on the other hand, might take more financial sacrifices.
What kind of people or organizations helped you on your journey? How? The hero of the story.
I have had amazing support from my family, my friends , my teachers and above all , my mentor , who was a professor of mine in undergrad and who would help reinforce in me my confidence and tenacity. He helped me reframe failure in terms of greater reward down the line and proof of great action. It also gave me a better "risk-apetite" since I knew that I wouldn't be considered a failure in his eyes.
What about technology, did you find a particular technology helpful?
I think that we live in a unique time in history where all the technology I need (and some that I don't!) exists in my laptop. Without all the incredible work of people that have gone before me, I wouldn't be able to code, launch and finance a company without having left my kitchen.
At what point did you feel good?
I felt good when the people I pitched to started to also become excited and passionate. I also loved sharing in the success and failure of a particular thrust or goal. By sharing these up's and down's I got a feeling that is akin to what I imagine a soldier feels in a battle: a brotherhood. We as a start-up, battling all odds and greater numbers, are trying our best to make something great. Failure brings us closer together, as does success. I love that feeling.
At what point did you feel low?
I felt low when I perceived that maybe the competition would unveil our idea before we could get it off the ground. Or that we wouldn't be able to continue to work on our ideas since people needed money to pay rent and eat.
What surprised you most about starting a company?
It's way way easier than it sounds, and it gives you the vehicle to change the world, help millions and become wealthy. This is the best kept secret in the world.
If there were a start-up genie in a bottle, what three wishes would you have?
1) I want to be able to combine deep science with deep economics for the rest of my life 2) I want to live in a world where people with incredible thoughts can translate those thoughts into actions and products extremely quickly 3) I want those around me whom I love to live with me through the successes and failures of my companies.
Tell us a story: what was the issue you were facing and how did you overcome it?
I was terrified when I went to pay taxes and due to a math error I was told I owed $33,000 that year. I freaked out, since I don't make that much in a year (in fact it's closer to how much I owe my school!) I ended up paying the minimum($450) and everything was ok... I overcame it by contacting the relevant people and taking deep breathes....

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Photo of Meena Kadri

Great stuff Ashwin. If others want to use the interview kit that Ashwin & his NYU-Poly professor put together – check it out here: http://www.openideo.com/open/web-start-up/inspiration/the-interview-kit-learning-from-entrepreneurs/

Photo of Amy Bonsall

Great interview, Ashwin. A couple points in particular stand out: the first being that your friend felt more confident when he knew someone (his mentor) would be proud of him even if he "failed" - this is awesome because it points to the importance of having the right cultural support. The second point that moved me was his first "genie in a bottle wish," which is simply to keep doing (in this case combining science and economics) what he's doing forever. I think a lot of success in start-ups comes from not just wanting to START something, but wanting to SOLVE something.

What did others find inspiring?

Photo of Meena Kadri

Nice one Amy – this brings up a great point when posting interviews. It's a good idea to add your key takeaways/insights from the interview somewhere on your post. Here's hoping others using the brilliant kit, which Ashwin & co have put together, keep in mind going forward. Ask. Highlight Insights. Inspire!

Photo of Ashwin Gopi

Wow, yeah. I'll definitely do that from the next inspiration.