Delegate where appropriate. Don’t get caught up working on things you don’t really know how to do — hire someone — it’s worth the cost.
Startups have such a glamorous reputation. Companies like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Uber, and Airbnb once started as scrappy startups with huge dreams and huge obstacles.
Yet we of course know that most startups do not end up as success stories. What does a founder or a founding team need to know to create a highly successful startup?
In this series, called “Five Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Startup” we are talking to experienced and successful founders and business leaders who can share stories from their experience about what it takes to create a highly successful startup.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Christian Barsanti.
Christian started his career in finance more than 25 years ago working for several large financial firms including Goldman Sachs and Prudential Investment Management, where he learned to lead teams globally with a strategic mindset. In 2016 he transferred his skill set briefly to the medical industry before partnering with Brendan O’Shea and Rezzil. Working for Rezzil, Christian is responsible for leading the implementation of Rezzil into the US market.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
By chance, I had met up with an old friend (and eventual business partner Brendan O’Shea) at a soccer facility. Brendan and I had known each other for over 20 years but I had not seen him in a decade. Both Soccer dads, we started talking about the state of training in youth sports and where technology could play a part. Soon a business plan was developed, and Brendan and I were looking for opportunities and implementing a strategy.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
During our discovery phase, Brendan would constantly challenge me to find a technological solution to the current way things are done, and he insisted there were no bad or far-fetched ideas, only to push the bar. Virtual Reality and how its applied kept coming up, which ultimately led us to Rezzil.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
Brendan. He has a successful background as an entrepreneur and owns a technology company. 20 years ago, when he first got involved in becoming an entrepreneur and ecommerce, I would ask him how he was doing it, just asking questions, and trying to learn. Fast forward 20 years and he is helping with this journey.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
For starters, the product is outstanding. Most people have a preconceived idea of what to expect when they go in the VR system, and afterwards they are blown away with how good the product is and how much fun. Secondly, I take pride in our relationships and partnerships we build with our clients. When I hear from clients that their other vendors do not interact with them, the way we do (in a positive way) I take pride in that.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Every day either in the small things you do for people or how your organization interacts with its customers and the public are all great touchpoints of bringing goodness to the world. From the organization standpoint, we look to work with youth sports clubs to help them be able to provide their services to all children interested.
You are a successful business leader. Which three-character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
I might be a bit old school or generic with these answers’, but they are so true in today’s environment as they were years ago: 1) Execution — People talk, but to get real results you must execute your plan to see results. I see people fall flat when they do not execute. 2) Accountability — To achieve success, you must realize that you must make it happen and not put your fate on others’ shoulders. 3) Listening to all ideas and not letting people get talked over. This happens all too often where people do not listen because they are thinking about what they want to say. I have seen a lot of good ideas die out because another person spoke over them and their ideas where never visited until it was too late.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
This is a good question. I can never “wish that I never followed” when it comes to business, as I have learned a tremendous amount, however jumping into a job that never met my career goals or aspirations, but I did it for the money (and in retrospect, the money really was not that much more).
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
When I first started selling the system, I had a high-level meeting with an executive. This executive was in and out of the meeting taking calls and had his staff listen to the presentation. The staff was extremely impressed with the product and wanted the product, but the executive only saw 5 minutes of the demonstration and assumed based on what he saw. The staff was afraid to go against him and thus we lost the client.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard? What strategies or techniques did you use to help overcome those challenges?
I love what I do, I love the products, and love the Adventure and experience. I often step back, self-assess to see where I / we are as a company, see what we can do better and then dive back in to execute and make sure I get the people that can execute.
The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills, and celebrations. Can you share a few ideas or stories from your experience about how to successfully ride the emotional highs & lows of being a founder”?
It can be so personal and emotional. You have this entity that you have helped grow and you cannot understand all the reasons why a client may not share the same passion that you have for it. That is a hard one to get over. You must be persistent to get that exact yes or no answer. If it is a “No” ask why and figure if you are adaptable enough to make a quick shift, or if you do not want to adjust your model just yet.
Let’s imagine that a young founder comes to you and asks your advice about whether venture capital or bootstrapping is best for them? What would you advise them? Can you kindly share a few things a founder should look at to determine if fundraising or bootstrapping is the right choice?
Depends on the stage of growth the company is in. If you are creating a market, you need expertise from every area of that market and chances are that you will not have all that experience. If the VC can provide that experience and help you need, then it might be worth it. However, if it is an immensely popular product out of the gate and turning a profit quickly, I would reinvest in the company and hire the expertise you need quickly. So really depends on the stage of growth the company is in.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Many startups are not successful, and some are very successful. From your experience or perspective, what are the main factors that distinguish successful startups from unsuccessful ones? What are your “Five Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Startup”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.
- Get to the decision makers quickly so you do not get caught up in trappings of an organization
- Have a takeaway / action point from a meeting. If you do not then chances are you had an unsuccessful meeting because there was no value exchange, with not knowing what to do which cause doubt that leads to issues.
- Delegate where appropriate. Don’t get caught up working on things you don’t really know how to do — hire someone — it’s worth the cost.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Get to the decision makes faster so you do not burn through your cash. Work with people that share your passion and believe in you and the product, and that makes a huge difference. If you hired someone that is looking to collect a paycheck (and believe me I understand why they would) but do not seem invested in the product, mission, or values of the company, then that is a bad hire. Also make sure you hire people that can combine being thinkers and doers; it is a hard combination to find.
Startup founders often work extremely long hours, and it is easy to burn the candle at both ends. What would you recommend to founders about how to best take care of their physical and mental wellness when starting a company?
Exercise a lot, figure out quickly what and who are time wasters and avoid, do not fall into the trap of trying to do everything yourself — hire a person or consultant to delegate too, they may do a better job at certain tasks than you. Obviously carve out working time and relaxation time with your family — this is important.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Positive mental state — I know sounds great but can be very hard. Stay away from negative thinkers. Don’t let them effect your output and beliefs.
We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Mark Cuban. Yes, he is immensely popular and that is for a good reason. His insight and knowledge are second to none and to be able to learn from him would be an invaluable experience.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I’m at Rezzil and working hard behind the scenes. You will see a lot of what our company is doing in social media.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!