7 painfully obvious lessons I learned in 2017 while building a startup.

Happy New Year Medium! 🎉

I didn’t know I suck at so many different things before I started a company. 🚀

Building a company requires you to get good at a lot of different things besides your domain expertise. You may be good at product/engineering but you also have to do other things like fundraising, hiring, marketing and taxes etc. As a result, you become self-aware of all the things you’re bad at.

Exhibit A: I am really bad at PR. I’d send press releases to journalists with detailed product description, quotes, image resources and announcements about Archie.AI’s product releases and never hear back. We hit 500 customers, launched on Google Assistant, Alexa, Chrome Webstore, won startup contests, got huge computation grants from IBM and NVIDIA, raised a funding round — press didn’t even accidentally write about us.

I just sucked at telling a compelling story to write about. But the PR failure pushed us to build our own audience the hard way.

We started getting our message across directly to whoever would listen.

We built our own audience through sharing real insights we learned and people started to listen.

Here are 7 painfully obvious lessons I learned in 2017 while building Archie.AI, in no particular order.

Gif by Lisa Vertudaches
Do not underestimate the power of your vulnerability. Sharing it is hard, but it is instantly relatable to EVERYONE. People like real shit, it’s beautifully simple.Empathy is the most useful skill for building any product. Second most useful skill is the ability to rely on Data to make decisions.People will never buy something they don’t understand. No matter how intricate your product or service is, a 10-year-old should be able to verbalize it in his/her own words.Humans have no issue paying for things that give them value. Your customers will look for a good deal, but if you can provide real value, people/market will reward you for your efforts.If you have real insights — only acquired by experiments and experience — people will listen. Your audience may be small today but it will grow if you have a real story to tell and you’re willing to put yourself out there in front of the world.“Done” is always, unequivocally better than “perfect”. Perfection should reside inside your head where all externalities can be ignored.

7. Faking courage is the same as having real courage.

Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’ ‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”