Startup Founder Chris Duell
Chris Duell is the co-founder and CEO of elevio, his third and most successful startup to date. Chris has gone through all the stages of a startup from failure, through accelerators, being funded, and now to expanding a team to work on a successful and growing startup, in elev.io.
Throughout his work life, he has always looked for ways to streamline or automate whatever tasks a machine could better handle, in a “scratch your own itch” kind of way. While working on a previous startup he saw a better way to offer ‘contextual help content’ to users in apps. He dived right in to make the MVP of what would end up being converted into a full service of its own when others saw the benefit in it too.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Not wanting to work “for the man”, the Internet has always intrigued me since I first came across it in the mid 90s, and I’ve always wanted to be involved in it. Running elev.io lets us help other companies grow their business, so we often get to get an inside scoop on how their company runs, and I get a buzz out of that too.
Can you remember what the biggest barriers to entry entrepreneurship were for you?
The biggest thing for me was always taking risks. Early on it was something that was unnatural to me, but over time I’ve come to embrace it as something that’s not only helpful, but also crucial. Starting a startup in and of itself is a huge risk, you’re putting the rest of your life on hold to chase some idea, and convince others to give up their cozy jobs to join you on your adventure. It’s scary, but worth every moment.
What does success look like to you personally?
When the whole team is operating smoothly together and celebrating each other’s wins.
What is your role at elev.io?
I’m the co-founder & CEO.
What does a productive day for you look like?
At least one thing done to “move the needle”, and hopefully my emails are up to date.
Which problem are you solving with elev.io?
Too often help content and access to support is disjointed from a product, making it too much effort for users to learn and understand a product. elev.io exists to streamline this process, and improve customer success through contextual in-app resources.
Where does your motivation to solve this problem come from?
Every online company is different; there is no magic pill that will help every site. So it’s always fun to work with a completely new company and help their users in a unique way.
What does success look like for elev.io?
Improving an end-user’s understanding of a product. When that happens, we’ve achieved our goal.
“The lesson from there was just to get the MVP in people’s hands, and go from there. They’ll tell you what is worth working on next.”
Which one thing would you love to tell your younger self?
Just jump in, and forge your own path.
What has been your biggest failure?
In a previous startup that never made it to market, we tried to do too much. The net result was that we were never happy with our progress, and never even got to launch it. The lesson from there was just to get the MVP in people’s hands, and go from there. They’ll tell you what is worth working on next.
What would you highly recommend aspiring entrepreneurs to do?
Ship it. That’s my biggest piece of advice, just get something into the hands of your users, even if it’s rough around the edges or has bugs in it. Just ship it.
How many users and paying customers do you have?
400+ paying customers at the time of writing.
How big is the team?
Nine full time, six male and three female team members. Two are in dev, two in management, and one is support.
What are you currently failing at?
Our biggest challenge right now is to get more of the right people on the platform. Personal digests are ideal for thought leaders, journalists and authors in general.
What are you currently struggling with?
We are yet to solidly get a marketing funnel up and buzzing, it’s our next major task.
What makes you worry?
There’s no time for worry.
What’s your favorite emoji?
Thumbs up. I use it in real life daily anyway, so it fits.
Who is your favorite super hero?
Batman, I can’t remember why, but I used to go down the street with my Batman outfit on all the time.
Challenges expressed are in no way meant to solicit commercial acquisition.
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