Serial entrepreneur Grant Kirkwood has been founding and working on startups since 1997. Currently founder and CTO of Unitas Global, he has a love for new innovations, currently trying out a watch whose faceplate transforms into a bluetooth earpiece. “Both features suck equally,” he quipped. As a StartFast mentor, Grant flew from Los Angeles to visit the accelerator in person to meet with the companies and share his entrepreneurial journey.
Grant launched his first company in college thinking, like many entrepreneurs his age, that startups were a one-way ticket to private jets and free caviar. However, through the various ups and downs of the four different companies he’s founded, he learned what really makes a company successful, offering seven pearls of wisdom to us:
- Sales forgives all sins. When a startup is selling, making money, and building the customer base, it can survive many mistakes. If not…
- People are your most valuable asset. So hire them carefully and treat them well.
- If a prospective employee is just ‘good enough,’ don’t hire them. Unless they are ‘definitely a yes!’, they are a ‘no.’
- Fire quickly. No employer ever wished, ‘Gee, I wish I had waited longer to fire that person.’
- If you are not learning and growing, you are dying.
- Be direct and transparent with your investors, even when you don’t have good news for them. Investors expect setbacks, so respect them by being honest with them, and don’t dance around difficult conversations.
- Don’t spend money needlessly. It should go without saying, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that because you have money, you should spend it. The paradox is needing to spend money to grow. Knowing when to be frugal and when to go for it are marks of a great CEO.
Grant also suggested three books that he has found to be particularly helpful: “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz, “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore, and “Good to Great” by Jim Collins.
It’s because of the dedication of mentors such as Grant Kirkwood that StartFast companies can grow so quickly. We’re very grateful to Grant and the advice he and other mentors have shared with us.
Here are some bonus tips from Grant: