“Just Because You’re Passionate About Something Does Not Mean That You’ll Be Automatically Successful” 5 Startup Strategies with Arvind Raichur, CEO of MrOwl
“You have to have determination and commitment to make it happen. I’ve worked with people who were passionate about something but they weren’t committed enough to make it happen. They faced adversity, and, even though they were very passionate about the thing they were doing and problem they were solving, they did not have the fortitude, confidence, and commitment that they were going to stick it out. Adversity is a part of doing business — it’s going to happen. You have to have tenacity in the face of adversity.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Arvind Raichur, CEO of MrOwl, Arvind was one of the pioneers of internet organization. Prior to the web categorization we’ve grown to depend on, he founded AttorneyLocate.com, an online attorney directory and portal for legal information. Today, he is behind the technology that allows people to easily grab and share knowledge about the things that inspire them every day. MrOwl allows people to have complete control over how their information is organized. The start-up is one of the pioneers of Web 2.0 — the new land of apps and websites that will lean on a more modern and user-controllable design.
Yitzi: Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
While building my prior companies, AllLaw.com and AttorneyLocate.com, I saw how people wanted to use the Internet. What I recognized was that people wanted to use the Internet in a way that wasn’t possible for the average user. I thought that there must be a better way, where people could have the power to control their Internet experience like they wanted.
The thought was that you should be able to create and share with the community the things that you are passionate about in a place that preserves that knowledge regardless of the topic and regardless of an individual’s level of expertise. So, I decided to create a way for people to do that, and that’s how MrOwl began.
At the time, what was online was just a simple representation of our digital lives, but now, everything occurs in your digital life from banking to relationships to work. Our digital lives have grown more complex as our appetite for technology has changed. MrOwl is a better representation of what the Internet is becoming, bringing together the social elements and tools to allow you to manage your digital personal and work lives all in one easy place.
Yitzi: Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
One of the things we’re most excited about right now is our continued focus on refining MrOwl to get to the best possible consumer experience. The entire MrOwl team really cares about making MrOwl an intuitive and fun platform for people to use. Our ultimate goal is to get to the point where we don’t need an FAQ because the product is so intuitive.
Yitzi: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
I have a couple of people who I consider my mentors in business because they give me great perspective on how to be a better CEO — from both the professional and personal aspects. John Patton, of Dion’s Pizza, and Sam Soleyn, of Soleyn Publishing, both offer very different perspectives from each other, but I find that they complement one another all the time. It’s hard to imagine that any CEO can be effective without seeking outside advice and mentorship from people who have been through it before.
Yitzi: What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why?
1) Make sure you are getting into a business that you are passionate about. The wrong reason to want to start a business is mainly because you think you can make a lot of money doing it. You’re less likely to be successful if your main goal is money.
2) On the other side, just because you’re passionate about something does not mean that you’ll be automatically successful. You have to have determination and commitment to make it happen. I’ve worked with people who were passionate about something but they weren’t committed enough to make it happen. They faced adversity, and, even though they were very passionate about the thing they were doing and problem they were solving, they did not have the fortitude, confidence, and commitment that they were going to stick it out. Adversity is a part of doing business — it’s going to happen. You have to have tenacity in the face of adversity.
3) Make sure that you put together your team for the right reasons. It’s tempting to hire friends and family because we know them and they’re comfortable. When you’re starting a company, it’s scary and it’s stressful, so you’re looking for comfort. What you really need to do is looking for people that are different from yourself, but have a common passion for the business that you’re creating. This will help to create a great corporate culture. I’ve made the mistake of hiring friends, and it becomes difficult because the lines often get blurry. The same person you may go to for comfort, could all of a sudden be the same person who’s causing you stress. By hiring friends, you’re removing a piece of work-life balance that you need.
4) Make a clear plan with detailed goals and expectations for your first year. Break this plan into several week chunks that account for each step of the plan. The big mistake I see people make in a one-year plan, is that they don’t give themselves specific and meaningful milestones to hit, and then wonder at the end of the year, “why didn’t it happen?” You can’t get from point A to point B without taking the first step. Also, you need to understand that this plan will be a living, breathing thing that will change based on the needs of your business. It shouldn’t be so rigid that you can’t pivot if necessary.
5) Finally, seek out a mentor who’s done it before and who can help guide you. They don’t have to be in the exact same business as you, but it should be someone with a lot of business knowledge. There are a lot of CEOs out there who love helping young CEOs get started, and who will give up their time to make sure they’re a success. And, if you can’t find one on your own, join an organization that can help find one for you.
Yitzi: How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
There’s a quote from Roberto Clemente that I really love and that I try to live in my own life — even in the workplace. ‘’Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.’’ I sincerely mean it when I ask my employees how they’re doing. It’s important to me to take care of and develop my employees and help them to reach their goals. That’s one way as a CEO that you are achieving that goal of making the world a better place.
I also have a passion for keeping people fed. I’ve worked on several charitable boards over the past decade with just that mission in mind — including the Roadrunner Food Bank in New Mexico and, most recently, Teach A Man, that focuses on teaching villages in developing countries how to cultivate sustainable food sources.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, or I might be able to introduce you.
Jeff Bezos. He is continuously innovating. He never stops innovating. I appreciated a piece I read about him where he basically talked about how every day is Day One for him. It’s like a brand new, fresh day to achieve and innovate and keep going forward. And I feel the very same way. You never get to the end. You’re always striving to move forward. It doesn’t end when “I’ve made it, I’m done.” Innovation is what motivates him. Innovation is what motivates me.
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If you would like to see the entire “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” Series In Huffpost, ThriveGlobal, and Buzzfeed, click HERE.