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Your 2023 Manifestation Guide to Founder Success

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Your 2023 Manifestation Guide to Founder Success

This is the sign you’ve been looking for.

If you’re an avid social user — or even an occasional scroller — you’ve likely heard of manifestation. What is believed to have started as a Hinduism practice has now turned into a worldwide phenomenon trickling into the world of business.

So, what is manifestation? Simply put, manifestation is the practice of turning thoughts into reality. It requires you to be intentional with your emotions, beliefs, habits, and of course, actions. But it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Whether you believe in manifestation or see yourself as more of a goal-setter, there’s no denying the power of positive intent followed by disciplined action. Dreaming is one thing, but the day-to-day grind of a startup can be dark and challenging.

If you’re ready to hustle, keep reading to discover your 2023 manifestation guide to founder success.

Let your mind wander

Ever catch yourself daydreaming about your startup becoming the next big thing? What about securing a million-dollar funding round or landing your next big client? Don’t stop! Exercising your brain to get excited about the future is key to manifesting. Take a few moments each day to sink into your daydreams and discover what truly fuels your passion.

“When you’re passionate about your dreams, it doesn’t feel like work. Organize your life around your passion, turn your passion into your story and use that story to leave a legacy.” — Ahmer Rafiq, CEO, Souqh

Be intentional with your goals

How can you map your aspirations? Goal-setting looks different for everyone — but whether you create a detailed Excel sheet, draw up a mind map, or jot down notes in your journal, being intentional is key. Set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) to achieve your desired outcome, and don’t forget to stay disciplined.

Fail quickly, learn fast

As a founder, there’s no question you’re going to fail — we all do! While it may seem like the end of the world, failure truly is the secret ingredient to success. Think of failure as a tool that helps uncover next steps by telling us exactly what’s working and what’s not. After all, Yin doesn’t exist without Yang.

“With every failure, I’m one step closer to success.” — Kelly Emery, Founder & CEO, Troop

Stay positive

Turn “I wish” phrases to “let’s do it” and “what if I fail?” to “when I succeed.” Focusing on the negative is easy, especially as a founder who inevitably hits what feels like every bump in the road. When you catch yourself drifting to that place of negativity, shift your mindset to practice gratitude and confidence. There’s nothing more powerful than believing in yourself and your business.

“Success is not defined by the end result – within every initiative, you will find an opportunity to grow, to learn and to push yourself one step closer to your goals and your success.” — Ahmer Rafiq, CEO, Souqh

Put yourself in the driver’s seat

Be accountable and disciplined. Of course, the most essential practice in manifestation is action. Joining an incubator like the DMZ helps hold founders like you accountable to your goals and provides a playbook to put dreams into action. Take ownership. You got this.

“I meditate daily, allocate time for sales calls, and have regular touch points with advisors who hold me accountable.” — Kelly Emery, Founder & CEO, Troop

 

Can you really manifest your startup dreams? Try it.

If you’re looking for a sign to join the DMZ, this is it. Check out our programs here.

Your golden ticket to business success: customer relationships

How to harness the power of relationships to drive business innovation and success


As an early-stage founder, it’s all about your customers. Want to create a unique product? Looking to catalyze your startup? Ready to soar above the competition? Strong customer relationships are your golden ticket to business success.

Think customer values, needs, and wants. Is your product or service truly hitting the mark? There’s no one better to ask than your customers. Establishing relationships with users is a key competitive advantage — from real-time suggestions and feedback to brand advocacy and word-of-mouth marketing.

But it doesn’t stop there; the benefit goes both ways. Organizations working with early-stage startups get access to innovative products and services catered to their specific needs. Agile startups move fast, and recommendations are met swiftly.

It’s a win-win! 

We sat down with Leonard Ivey, Co-Founder of Softdrive (DMZ Incubator ‘23) and Michael Robinson, Chief Technology Officer at The Plus Group, to discover how they harness the power of relationships to drive business innovation and success.


Leonard, what inspired you to found Softdrive?


“My professional career started in the architectural engineering construction industry (AEC). I held various roles at several companies within the AEC industry. 

There was a common theme at all of these organizations: the computer experience I had or the computer solutions I was given were not adequate for me to be productive in my day. Unfortunately, anytime I asked for a computer upgrade, IT responded with, ‘We don’t have the budget’ or ‘We’re stuck within a three-year provisioning cycle,’ leaving me unproductive and frustrated. This wasn’t IT’s fault, it was just the reality.

Alan Daniels [Softdrive’s Co-Founder] and I chatted about computer issues at our jobs and how we could improve the experience. We brainstormed and looked at the incumbents in the space but couldn’t find an adequate solution for the experience or price, so we built Softdrive in 2019.”


Michael, what intrigued you about working with an early-stage startup? 


“At The Plus Group, we enable staff to work from anywhere. A couple of years ago, we were looking into VDI [Virtual Desktop Infrastructure] software, previously called Remote Desktop. Over the years, I would test different VDIs, but I never found a solution where I could feel the difference. 

A year into the pandemic, Leonard approached us. We tested their software, and although it was very new, it was fast. 

They proposed a partnership where we would test their software and give feedback. Of course, there were kinks, but Softdrive always keeps improving. We’ve rolled out Softdrive to two architects, and now we’ve begun rolling it out to other companies in our portfolio. They love it.”


Leonard, what are the benefits of working so closely with a customer? 


Our relationship has evolved to where The Plus Group directly influences and advises our roadmap. Michael is easy to chat with and the nicest individual, but he’s pretty no-bulls**t. Having a CTO as a resource that we can tap into who’s also your customer is awesome. It’s the best of both worlds. It’s very much a partnership.”


Michael, how does working with tech startups drive innovation in your organization?


“The Plus Group is one of the big three in architecture for residential design. We’re a forward-thinking company constantly pushing the boundaries of where we can take technology. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we transitioned everyone to virtual seamlessly within 12 hours. You should always try new things and position yourself to take on anything.

We had a problem with an architect who couldn’t open a large file. With Softdrive, we took the load time from 12 minutes to just 30 seconds. He told me it saved him time from working on the weekend. The savings are significant.

Being able to log in anywhere, do anything, and pick up right where you left off without having a physical computer is the future.”

“At the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey,
your customers are everything.”
– Leonard Ivey, Co-Founder, Softdrive

Leonard, how do you grow and foster your customer relationships? 


“At the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey, your customers are everything. You have to learn from them and treat them as if they are royalty. Some things may give you pause and think, is this better for the organization, or is this just a customized feature that will only help them?

Besides that brief pause, you must listen and work with your customers. Otherwise, your organization will end up like any other enterprise product. 

Try to touch base with your customers frequently without annoying them. Have as many open channels of communication as possible — phone, text or slack channels — and always be sure to get back to them immediately. They are the lifeblood of your organization, treat them as such and give them the best possible experience.” 

Softdrive is a cloud pc software redefining the personal computer. They leverage the power of cloud computing and fast internet speed to stream a computer to any device. Check it out >

The Plus Group combines digital marketing with architectural design and real estate software to revolutionize the real estate industry. Learn more > 


Looking to access customers, capital and community?
 Discover how the DMZ can help you to uncover your golden ticket to business success.

Hear from Roadmunk’s Co-Founder & CEO, Latif Nanji, on his rollercoaster ride from emergence to exit

Event recap: The DMZ’s Founder Dinner

Latif Nanji, Co-Founder and CEO of SaaS platform Roadmunk, connects the dots of his entrepreneurial journey at the DMZ’s Founder Dinner, uncovering his rollercoaster ride from emergence to exit.

Founded in 2012, Roadmunk is product management software that solves how product innovators build and communicate their strategy. Roadmunk has an impressive track record, from being listed as one of Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 and their acquisition by Tempo in 2021 to serving over 3,000+ customers, including Amazon, Visa, Nike, Adobe and Morgan Stanley, to name a few.

Latif’s history is also not one to miss. Before Roadmunk, he co-founded several companies, including Pokerspace, an online social network for poker players, and Pragmatic CEO, a Toronto meet-up group for tech entrepreneurs. He also spent five years as a Product Manager at Miovision, working on intelligent traffic infrastructure, where he developed his passion for helping product managers build the right things for customers. Latif enjoys biohacking, rock climbing, scuba diving and angel investing in his spare time.

Looking for inspiration to build the next big thing? Check out Latif’s insights on his rollercoaster ride from emergence to exit from our latest DMZ Founder Dinner – an event series designed to bring DMZ’s community together for an evening of food, drinks and connections. ​​Watch Latif’s full founder talk below, or keep reading, to discover his top tips for being a successful entrepreneur and building an acquirable business.  

Go team!

“One of the early things I instantiated in the business was a core value called ‘Start with empathy.’ It was a family-like core value, and I thought it was a great idea.

Eventually, I realized that the mentality I had was one of protectionism — a high empathy and high loyalty culture. There’s nothing wrong with these values, but as an investor, I want to know if you are going to make the hard decisions.

Sometimes the teams need to change their structure or formation, just like they do in a sports team, to get to the outcome. If you want to level up through the divisions in soccer, you are going to different players as you progress. It’s not that you can’t thank the players before, but the new ones have to come in.”

The secret to reliable hiring: homework

“There were a few key things we did to fix our ongoing issue of short-lived new hires:

  • Anyone who walked through our doors looking to be hired was assigned homework on neutral ground that had nothing to do with our company or product.
  • This homework was assigned in an open-ended exercise that allowed us to have a dialogue and observe how responsive a potential hire is, how they write emails and how they ask questions.
  • We invited team members from other departments to sit in on meetings and presentations to get a chance to spar with candidates and provide feedback. This was the single most important thing we did when hiring in the early stages of the business.“ 

Students don’t interview the teacher

“We had to hire a software architect in 2020. I interviewed him, and I thought he was great, but I didn’t think he was that impressive from a cultural perspective.

I had my two top senior engineers interview him, and they came back to me and said, ‘We don’t think he’s the right fit.’

My COO walks in, and he asks us what we were doing. I said, ‘We’re interviewing.’ He said, ‘No, you’re not; students don’t interview the teacher.’

It was a simple concept, but it felt like a hammer hitting me in the head. So, we brought in the VP of Platform at Ritual and two external CTOs, who gave him a test on how to scale Google Drive. They came back with a report and said, ‘If you don’t hire him, we will.’ 

This was a great lesson in making sure not just other people that feel like they’re more senior, but people that have experience in the domain that understand your business and your business needs, are part of that process.” 

The key to winning the valuation game is pacing

“The problem isn’t with raising a little bit more money; it’s when you get further down the valuation trap.

If you raise five, six, seven million bucks when you only need  $1m, your post-money is maybe between $30 to $35 million instead of $5-10m. That means in the next 24 to 36 months or less, you’re going to grow >$30 million in valuation. That’s where things get really complicated. Going incrementally at a reasonable pace is how I think the best startups function before they see some version of a breakout growth path.”

Hear from Roadmunk’s Co-Founder & CEO, Latif Nanji, on his rollercoaster ride from emergence to exit

Want a front-row seat at the next DMZ Founder Dinner to hear from other inspiring founders? Apply now to join our next Incubator cohort at dmz.to/incubator.

 

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