Lessons Learned From Building A Successful Startup

Q&A with Co-founders of Tint, Nikhil Aitharaju and Tim Sae Koo


Lessons Learned From Building A Successful Startup

Highlights From Nikhil Aitharaju and Tim Sae Koo’s Q&A

Recently I had the great opportunity to witness a live stream on AskMeAnything for Q&A with Nikhil Aitharaju and Tim Sae Koo.

Nikhil Aitharaju and Tim Sae Koo are the co-founders of TINT that got the attention of billionaire, Mark Cuban, who tweeted out his interest in the company.

Now TINT works with over 40,000 brands like Hootsuite and $2M+ annual revenue in under 2 years.

To a crowded room, they answered questions like:

How did Tim your CEO convince you to join his crazy startup idea?
How did you assess the market potential and demand of this idea?
How did you come up with the idea of RevShare and salary disclosure with employees?

.. And Many more. Check out all Q&A here

Here are some lessons they learned while building this startup that has made them better and healthier business leaders.

Your First Product Will Never Be The Final Product

TINT was actually not their first product or idea. It was a social bookmarking website for links called Hype Marks. It’s features were to prefetch links from Facebook and Twitter on a display board when a user signs up.

One day, a high profiled agency looked at their website and wanted the same feed for their own website in embed code.

This encounter led to the creation of what is now called, TINT. They realized this new product would be more profitable than Hype Marks.

When you fail, don’t give up. Things work if you persist and focus on product.
— Nikhil Aitharaju

Everything Happens For A Reason

Through AskMeAnything, I learned about the moment that inspired the duo to work together. While Aitharaju was pursuing his master degree at USC, he was offered a lot of jobs to extend his working experience. However, he had his eyes on a cloud communications company called Twilio. He even got a few interviews with them but was not given an offer. Disappointed from the rejection, he thought he would never fulfill his dreams of working at Silicon Valley.

Until later that same day he got an email from his future co-founder, Sae Koo, looking for engineers for his new startup idea.

This was a sign of a new beginning for Aitharaju and Sae Koo. Aitharaju speaks highly of his partner and believes that the main reason that they were able to have so much success is because of their ability to trust in each other’s ideas and decisions.

Looking back it makes sense why I was denied the internship opportunity because I was meant to work on TINT. So I learned a new lesson — everything happens for a reason. — Nikhil Aitharaju

High Stress is Part of the Journey

Starting a successful company isn’t an easy task. So, I really appreciated Aitharaju for being vulnerable enough to explain the moments that he felt the most pressure. He felt the most stress when finding funding for TINT and counting the days to the expiration of his F1 Visa. It got so bad that it started to affect his health. After being emotionally exhausted from questioning his days in America and spending late nights working on his business ideas, he became unhappy.

There have been some really tough times where I was literally shivering thinking about my existence here in the US. — Nikhil Aitharaju

But he soon found happiness when he stepped out of Silicon Valley and spent time with his supportive family. When Aitharaju isn’t working in San Francisco, you can find him enjoying life with them.

How To Determine If You Can Build a Startup

If you want to start your own business, you need to honestly answer these three questions:

Do you have enough passion to build your business? Do you have the patience to stay with your business through hard times? Do you have a good product that will sell well?

If you answered yes to all these answers than you might have what it takes to create your own startup. Aitharaju believes that through passion, patience, and a great product, a business can grow to become something powerful. You don’t even have quit your job in order to get your business together.

You can come up with an idea, validate it and then once you start believing in the product, you can start working on it full time — Nikhil Aitharaju

You can still submit any Questions for Nikhil by text, tweet or email:

Check out the entire Q&A at http://www.askmeanything.me/influencers/nikhilaitharaju

The event was hosted by AskMeAnything.me along with SVEnterprenur and the beautiful space by 1920C

Some fun images from the event here