The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.
I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.
Can you please tell everyone your name?
What is your job role?
Co-Founder and CEO
Tell us about your company?
Ultimately, Ushur was designed to make enterprises smarter and more efficient. It is a service engagement platform that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to accelerate workflows across many departments including sales, claims, billing, administrative tasks, and service desk — and this is just the beginning.
Ushur was born out of our frustration with the relationships between customers and enterprises. As customers, we face significant friction and frustration when communicating with companies (think insurance claims or tech support). Simultaneously, companies struggle to powerfully and efficiently act on their customer data.
So, we created Ushur to eliminate friction between enterprises and their customers for seamless customer engagements.
What do you love most about your job?
Finding a solution that solves customers’ top of mind problems is most exciting to me. Discovering what customers need and finding the ways and means to fill those gaps.
People also tend to love what they’re good at. My greatest strengths lie in building and managing teams and selling something I’m proud of — and those are also parts of my job that I enjoy.
What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
I wake up energized about talking to current and prospective customers to figure out the best ways for Ushur to make a true impact in their businesses. We also have a fairly high-energy team with little friction, which makes it a great place to spend the day.
How do your co-workers inspire you?
Ushur is built with people who are not just skilled at what they do, but who also have positive energy and who we know will stick together through the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Building effective teams at startups is all about assembling like-minded, highly-skilled people who can row the boat in the direction it needs to go, facing and overcoming all kinds of expected and unexpected challenges. Growing quickly and efficiently is much more feasible when there isn’t too much friction among team members, and we’ve been both thoughtful and fortunate in our hires.
How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
I’m a major advocate for sleep and exercise. It’s amazing what people can do when their body and mind are centered and aligned. I’m a long-distance runner, so sometimes I’ll take the team out for a run. We also all enjoy a good meal, so we try to pick unique places each week to eat together.
Volunteering is also a big part of our culture, so we make sure to build in time to give back to the community. For example, we’re all taking a day off this week to volunteer together at Second Harvest. This time is great for team building and for reminding the career-focused people that we’re all part of a greater community and we have a responsibility to do our part to give back.
What are some of the challenges of your job?
Starting a company from scratch is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life — and I’ve run 14 marathons. The biggest challenge a startup faces is in finding the right customers — particularly in finding the first. Then you have to switch gears and find the new momentum to find five customers. Then, again, you have to switch gears and find the new momentum to get to 50. Then again to 500.
The need to dig deep to find that inner momentum to face adversity as an individual and as a team becomes vital to the organization’s survival and success. In that way, it’s a lot like running marathons — despite any amount of exhaustion or energy, pain or pleasure, good days or bad (and there will be a lot of bad) you have to find the strength to persevere.
What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
One major lesson Henry (co-founder) and I brought to Ushur is to prioritize team dynamics. The ability to hire the right people at the right time, and to recognize and quickly correct bad hires, is a vital skill, and one that comes with experience.
Young companies with young founders don’t always have the ability to spot the challenges in recruiting and retaining the right talent, but having been through mergers and acquisitions, as well as taking a company public, we’ve been able to build a strong team that continues to grow with the company.
Another major lesson we’ve learned is how important it is to be lucky. People often say luck has nothing to do with it — it’s all about hard work. Yes, of course, you need a good idea, a solid business plan, the right skill sets, capital, the ability to survive the rough times — all the essentials. Fortitude is absolutely necessary. But I truly believe that luck is equally important.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
The most important piece of advice for any entrepreneur is to be sure to match your solution to your customer’s actual problem. There are so many false positives that can set up a new company for failure, so it’s crucial to uncover specific and real pain points to be able to offer something that resonates with the customer and truly solves their problems.
Then, make sure the company has some mature management with experience behind them. Ultimately, the idea is only as good as the ability to execute, and the skills that will help the company do that come with experience.
Finally, funding doesn’t necessarily lead to customers. However, if you can prove that there are companies that find value in your product or service, funding will follow. So, rather than focusing on finding someone who can lead you to investors, focus instead on finding someone who can point you in the direction of a customer.
Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web: