#NEXTFounderChats: Ruwan Silva

Ruwan pitching at NEXT Canada’s Prototype Day in May 2017.

Ruwan Silva is a Next Founders entrepreneur and Co-founder of StockJocks.

With professional experience in IT, management consulting and finance, he specialized in product and project management for StockJocks and was featured in season 11 of Dragons’ Den in 2016.

If you had $1 million to start StockJocks again, what would you do differently?

I would experiment and spend more time getting to know customers before building the product. We initially focused too much on product development instead of customer discovery, and as a result our MVP wasn’t as compelling for customers as we had anticipated.

How did you market your venture initially and how do you market it today?

Initially, we marketed ourselves as StockJocks the app, whereas now we market the underlying sports gaming platform on which StockJocks is based. We made this shift to add emphasis and clarity to one of our other advantages, which is the flexibility of our platform to be utilized for multiple use cases.

What do you feel is the difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?

I feel that having the conviction and dedication to follow your vision is what separates entrepreneurs from others. Everyone talks about their ideas and how great they would be, but rarely do they pursue them. I think this paralysis stems largely from having a fear of failure, either due to feeling that we don’t have enough information to be confident or that we lack domain expertise compared to others.

(From left) Ammar Dayani, Ruwan Silva and Nader Mohamed of StockJocks on Dragon’s Den. Photo: CBC

What advice do you have for others looking to make an impact in the sports industry?

With the proliferation of new and enabling technologies, sports teams are increasingly looking to become global brands and grow their fan bases in emerging markets. This global expansion will be one of the key drivers of growth in the sports industry going forward.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made as a founder?

My biggest mistake was that my initial focus was on trying to be all things to all people. Customers will give all kinds of feedback so in order to make it useful it’s crucial that you know which customers are most important to your business. Instead of looking at feedback from everyone, focus on the feedback from your best customers and strive to optimize your product for them.

When you’re feeling drained, what do you do to recharge?

I try to go outside for a walk or just have a chat with a friend. Anything that temporarily takes me away from the computer usually helps to recharge.

Follow Ruwan’s journey with StockJocks on Twitter!