uShip Inc. founder and CEO Matt Chasen condensed 10 years of entrepreneurial experience into four key lessons during the Austin Young Chamber of Commerce’s December luncheon.
Chasen — named a 2012 Best CEO in Austin, a 2011 Austin Under 40 winner and a finalist during Ernst & Young’s 2010 Entrepreneur Of The Year contest —offered the four nuggets of advice to the crowd and said while they mostly pertain to entrepreneurs and managers, they can be applied in personal life too:
• Stay flexible. “When we funded the company we had a very specific idea of what the business will be,” Chasen said. “Then we realized there was a lot we didn’t know or were outright wrong about.” In technology, he added, staying flexible means embracing theminimum viable product concept.
• Know yourself, and really understand your strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, every entrepreneur will need to build a team, and it’s essential to “build a team that complements you,” Chasen said. “In my situation, that core team was made up of me — the tech guy — a marketing expert and an accounting expert.”
• Control your destiny. “If you’re starting a business, you want to be in control of your destiny,” Chasen said, “and one way to do that is to not be too reliant on others — especially investors.” Chasen said he bootstrapped his business in the beginning and has been very conservative, in regard to giving up control and value of the company to outside investors in recent years.
• Live by those core values on your wall. “Always point to your company’s core values and beliefs — every day, especially during the hiring process,” Chasen said. “UShip has even passed up business that violated our core values. It’s easy to put those core values on your office wall, but it’s tougher to live by them. And stay flexible even when it comes to your core values. Revisit them now and then to make sure they’re still relevant.”
Chasen said his online shipping marketplace now employs about 100 in Austin, about a dozen abroad, and is on the verge of raising more venture capital to take the company to the next level. Read more about uShip here — including its role in A&E’s television series “Shipping Wars.”
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