John Beane has seven startups under his belt! Currently, he is one of the co-founders at the helm of MemComputing, a company offering breakthrough computer performance.
MemComputing is a new computer technology invented in the UC Sandiego by “a couple of insanely brilliant Einstein smart” Ph.D. Physicists Dr.Fabio Traversa and Dr.Max Deventra.
Their technology has overcome many challenges facing current computers that keep them from optimal efficiency. They’re delivering quantum computing (big deal!) today and making it possible on standard computers. It’s such an alluring concept.
We caught up with John on the show and I was excited to ask him a few questions. Here’s some of what I learned.
1.Lessons in failures
“Successes are great! They teach you some things, but your failures teach you so much more. At least you learn what not to do!’’John Beane
You don’t have a script on how to run a start-up, and while experience is a great thing, inexperience isn’t too bad! It would help if you run the show with the hindsight that you can be wrong sometimes.
John says he doesn’t give anyone grief for making a mistake as long as it is not repeated. He adds; you make a mistake, and it teaches you how to do it better.
Running a start-up is like raising a baby. They are so unpredictable and each comes with a unique cocktail of challenges, it’s difficult to come up with a script for it.
Because there isn’t a manual for how to be a start-up founder, you need some seriously thick skin and immense patience to sail through.
“The CEO stands for chief everything officer…as a startup I don’t have an accounting team, so I do all the accounting, I’m doing sales, all the administ rative work I need to be done…”John Beane
John admits he has a million mundane jobs every day, but that doesn’t blur his idea of what the CEO role entails. The co-founder of MemComputing says that his primary purpose at the helm is removing barriers for the team; making sure that they do only things that add value to their roles.
As the CEO of a startup, you’re in charge of accounting, sales, customer service, and everything else needed to keep the cogs turning. It’s no joke! Startup CEOs work their asses off daily but that shouldn’t deter you from the REAL job of ensuring all team members can operate at their fullest potential.
Making it work ain’t easy for startup owners but if you’re passionate about your vision, it’s impossible to stop. For those starting out, don’t be too hard on yourself for missing items on your to-do list (even one thing off your to-do list is a plus!)
3.Work hard, play hard!
“For people who have to be smart all the time, its fun and useful and good for your mental health to be stupid”John Beane
For John and his team, the culture is 50/50 work and play. The CEO says he believes that you play hard and work hard, especially when you’re in tech! People who have to be brilliant all the time have to be stupid at times. It’s called mental relief!
Relaxation comes in different forms. It means some undisturbed time away from all that seriousness. It could be a drink with friends, Netflix, sightseeing…whatever makes you tick. Deliberately doing something that gives you more serotonin makes you more productive during working hours.
All work and no play make John a dull boy. You cannot run a business 24/7/365 without taking time away to do something fun! It helps to create a fun environment at work using #random channels where nonwork banter is allowed. Chill cafes, standups, and games are a good place to start helping your team members relax.
4.Find joy in the journey
“In the back of my mind, I’m looking for that big win, but I know there’s no guarantee…the joy for me everyday is just building what I’m building…”John Beane
Startups are controlled chaos! As the founder, you must learn to “turn on a dime” because there are no guarantees on how any day goes. With this in mind, John takes delight in “building whatever I’m building.”
For startups, it doesn’t matter how great your product is or how good your people are… “the market will decide.” The best thing doesn’t always win!
You cannot expect to have the Midas touch every day. Sometimes you’ll enjoy a rosy time with your startup and the next day it’ll be as if everything is going to hell!
That’s startup life for founders. Find peace in the present and take it one challenge at a time. That’s the only way to run a successful business and maintain your sanity.
5.When is a good time to leave?
“if you stay with a big company you get boosts in you salary all the time, when you go into a startup you tend to take a paycut”John Beane
Many founders often wonder when to leave or at least relinquish control of their startups. It’s difficult to let go of a vision that you birthed and nurtured, so no wonder many aren’t too willing to leave their businesses.
John’s advice; do what makes you happy and brings you peace in life. There isn’t a right or wrong time to let go-just when you feel comfortable.
Moving on isn’t necessarily to get a bigger paycheck! You can leave your startup to pursue other passions that won’t necessarily bring in more bucks but give you a feeling of deeper fulfillment.
Time will come for you to leave your business and move on to something else. It’s not after a year or two that you should do this; in fact, you can stay on as long as you need to. Only when you are happy to move on should you let go.
“I’ll tell you another thing about listening to the customer, you have to listen to what they NEED not what they want.”John Beane
John’s experience in the startup world has taught him that customers want a lot of things but as a business owner, you have to think logically. Before trying to fulfill each request, sit back and see if it’s something other customers need. If so, it’s a profitable pursuit that you should consider.
Where possible, work closely with your customers to find the root cause of their problem so that you can provide them with the best solution.
The customer is always right about what they want but it could be misleading! The wise founder must therefore dig deeper to discover what the customer NEEDS. The trick is to forge a strong relationship with the customer so they’re never hesitant to share!
To Wrap Up
Start-ups are not for the faint of heart. It would help if you had the grit to survive in the cutthroat business space of today. Founders should find peace in knowing that tomorrow is another opportunity to do better.