A Startup Canada Podcast hosted by Dr. Sean Wise.
As a serial entrepreneur, Nicole Verkindt knows the startup world like the back of her hand. As a Dragon on CBC’s Next Gen Den, and the CEO and Founder of her own company, Offset Market Exchange, Nicole has experienced failures and setbacks of her own and has guided other budding entrepreneurs through their own.
Nicole has a reputation for being a tenacious problem solver and a true paragon of her generation. Learning from her own startup journeys to now investing in other startups and entrepreneurs, Nicole experiences the ups and downs of her business as well as those of others.
What is your experience with failure?
NV: There have been so many failures along the way. But each time you fail, you realize there is a lesson to be learned, or that you have solved the problem. How can we make it so that the customer will pay for it or what will they pay for this? That’s the part where the conversations are hard but, you’re failing and changing and you’re going through that process.
Do you think it is easier today to start a company than when you first turned your mind to start one?
NV: It feels easier for myself because I’ve been through so much, and I think it is important for entrepreneurs to get those battle scars as quickly as they can because it always gets easier. Somebody told me ten years ago, the air gets thinner the higher you go up. And it is true that you start to grow and learn. This is why technology is so exciting, you can start to scale and accelerate rapidly.
You’ve been both an investor and an investee. What surprised you the most when you became an investor?
NV: I learned a lot. I think you forget that the person on the other side of the table is learning a lot too. I actually learned very quickly, how to be much better at pitching. I think it is so helpful if you’re negotiating or trying to do something, to really picture yourself in the other seat because then you understand what they’re looking for, what they do not want to hear or want to hear.
What kind of common questions do you get frustrated that entrepreneurs do not prepare well enough?
NV: If I’m sitting in the investors’ chair, I then put myself into the customers’ chair. To me, it is about that one on one conversation that I’m hoping the entrepreneurs had with their exact target customer, about “I know you have a problem. Does this solve it? Does your problem really hurt or is it just kind of annoying.”
Do you have any final advice you want to leave with our listeners today?
NV: There is just so much stuff that I’ve learned through all these failures and I think the more that entrepreneurs are listening to these types of podcasts and we are having real conversations and, stop analyzing and just go out and execute and be okay with the many failures you will have. And just tying it back to the very first thing that we said, it is a long gruesome process that is so grueling and totally unsexy and almost boring at times. So knowing that I think will be helpful because you will not feel like you’re on usual things are not working for you, that is the process. It is very fulfilling and I think that we are doing really important work.