Erik Caso is the co-founder and CEO of younity (Entangled Media), which creates a personal cloud for all your files, built from your devices.
Most people would agree that consumer software is tricky, thus one of the biggest attributes to succeed in this space is a reasonable level of personal detachment. Obviously, you must have vision, passion and a deep understanding of your market and customer, but you must also know how to take yourself out of the equation so that your own opinion, and the opinions of an entire team, do not skew the outcome towards one’s self and not the market as a whole.
Trying to reduce my focus various areas of the business. As a very early stage startup you become accustomed to doing everything (literally). However, a business is built by many people and being able to get the whole team to work cohesively results in vastly more (and better) work getting completed in parallel.
There isn’t one; rather, there is a process of continuous iteration in our attempts to learn. We endlessly test concepts in an effort to affect user behavior and achieve desired outcomes. Many times it is two or three steps forward and then one or more steps back. Ultimately, this process results in an understanding of our user and that enables predictability of growth.
I’ve always used our vision as the key attraction to our company. We are working on something so big and something that effects so many, that people tend to immediately associate themselves with it. Those challenges resonate deeply with people who work more because of passion, instead of purely for a paycheck.
If I had to pick, I’d say transparency – everyone in the company is as informed of our strategy, tactics and company operations as is legally possible. Otherwise, we find that as we hire more people, we must continuously adapt our processes to embody complexity. Things started out very informal, but are continually becoming more formal across the company.
As a consumer software company, you start out pretty small – friends, family and social media. You then work each of them (seriously, each one) to understand how they would get everyone they know to use this… then you go do that.
Fundraising I think is something no one can really teach you, even if you get great advice you still have to learn how it is applied. Beyond that, I wish someone would have told me that being CEO means you are effectively never doing what you want; rather you are always doing what is needed.
I wish I could say there was something clever we’ve done, but sadly we’ve only worked hard without giving up.
We were nominated for Best Mobile Technology at SxSW 2013, and I really felt we had a chance at it. Then, as we got to the presentation day, we realized that almost every other company was about 100x further along than us, had many times more employees than us, and in virtually all cases vastly more money. I still thought we’d win. We didn’t.