Pop Quiz, Monday with Andy Daidone, Founder at ThePresent

As a first-time entrepreneur, I’ve become obsessed with the not only the pace but the amount of learning I’ve had to adapt to throughout this journey.

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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?
Hi, I’m Andy Daidone.

Andy Daidone
Photo credit: Andy Daidone

What is your job role?
I’m the Founder of ThePresent.

Tell us about your company?
ThePresent is an attention management solution designed to help people reclaim focus in the modern workplace. It does this by purposefully and intelligently reducing the amount of digital distraction across multiple devices.

What do you love most about your job?
As a first-time entrepreneur, I’ve become obsessed with the not only the pace but the amount of learning I’ve had to adapt to throughout this journey. And this is not restricted to one specific skill set. Everything from financing to product management has been a challenge I’ve had to take head-on. When you see a real person respond positively to your idea, product and hard work, it’s an exhilarating experience.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
Knowing that what I’m dedicating my time and effort toward is ultimately aimed at improving the modern professional experience is what drives me to succeed.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
It’s crucial to be hyper-aware of your strengths just as much as your weaknesses – especially as you venture out on your own. And finding the right people to fill these gaps in your skillset is critical. I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with some unbelievably talented people along the way who share a commitment to our vision at ThePresent.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
When you’re a small team, it’s important to celebrate the small wins (sometimes, even the tiny victories). And at ThePresent, everything we do is founded upon being there, in the current moment, during the times that matter. So if there’s something worth acknowledging, we make sure that the moment is genuinely appreciated by simply being present.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
As an early stage startup, there is never any shortage of challenges. It’s important to be mindful about what’s in your control, and what’s not. With the latter, it’s all about being nimble and finding a solution or workaround to adapt to a changing condition. This could mean many things – a change in policy with Google or Apple, a new integration requirement with a partner, etc. And finding the right balance between short-term priorities and long-term goals is always a struggle as it’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘busy work’ (this is actually what ThePresent aims to solve). Lastly, as all early-stage startups do, you have to deal with each obstacle in the context of your runway and how long you can last at your current burn rate, which is the ultimate challenge in and of itself.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
I think the most relevant lesson for early-stage founders is not to try to build the world and force your users to live in it. This was the most crucial takeaway from Eric Ries’ “The Lean Startup,” and we’ve tried to implement it in everything we do from a product standpoint. You may have all these wonderful ideas in your head about what your product CAN be, but until it’s validated by users – by real people – then it’s not worth pursuing at scale. When we built ThePresent, we went through the same exercise and what these grand ideas eventually amounted to were merely assumptions. Instead, we kept everything lean, kept the core functionality of the app as the primary focus, and built out from there. This allowed us to listen intently to what people were saying, reduce feedback loop time, and ultimately build what people wanted. It’s led us in a completely different direction – from consumer-facing to enterprise. Start simple and don’t waste money.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
The corporate wellness industry – at least as it’s currently defined today – is still relatively new. Fitness, meditation, re-education, and new methods of employee productivity are all parts that comprise the broader space. And adoption up to this point is still in its infancy. This should be looked at as an opportunity rather than a roadblock. And with this in mind, you have something of a blank slate to create your path and help shape the corporate wellness industry for the future.

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:

Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media

“I highly advise anyone who has an interest in life online to get this book, sit down, and take notes because you’re going to want to hear what Brittany has to say.”
 –Iskra Lawrence, Aerie Model and Instagram star (@iskra)

Author: Ricky Singh, MBA

Editor of The Startup Growth.

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