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Learning from Their Mistakes

On the 15th of February, I had the pleasure of attending a panel discussion titled ‘I am a Tech Founder. My major mistakes and what I learnt from them.’ 

The panelists, Louis from Yindii, Samir from GoWabi, and Viona from SAIJAI candidly shared the challenges they’ve faced in their founder journeys and the important lessons they learned along the way. Expertly moderated by Olivier, the discussion was not only deeply insightful but, perhaps even more importantly, helped normalize making mistakes as a founder and using the lessons as stepping stones.

A huge thanks to our friends at La French Tech and The Urban Office for putting the evening together.

Let’s unpack my key learnings from hearing each of the 3 founders tell their stories. 

Here’s what I learned from Louis and his rollercoaster of a journey at Yindii. 

  1. The narrative matters. Yindii had to pivot their value proposition from ‘food waste minimization’ to ‘sustainability’ in order to resonate with Thai customers and partners.

  2. Find others who care. It’s never easy to hire, but having co-founders and employees who deeply care about what you do makes a significant difference.

  3. Build with others. Instead of building their product in a silo, Yindii works closely with their partners to build new features that truly add value for stakeholders who matter.

Samir Cherro, Co-founder & CEO at GoWabi

Here are my favorite takeaways from Samir’s experiences of building GoWabi.

  1. Talk to your customers. GoWabi initially targeted a niche audience of men looking for haircuts. Listening to their users, they quickly expanded their offerings that cater to women, who turned out to be a larger and higher-paying customer base.

  2. Attitude > Experience. Samir is very hands-on with hiring for a rapidly growing team at GoWabi and really values candidates who bring the right attitude to the table. 

  3. Get a hobby. Samir’s love for crossfit has provided him a valuable coping mechanism especially during times of crisis at work.

Viona Zhang, Co-Founder & Managing Director at SAIJAI

Here are the main pointers I took away from Viona’s incredible journey at SAIJAI.

  1. Product-market fit. SAIJAI has gone through 3 major pivots. They moved from B2C to B2B, and then back to B2C. This experience makes Viona an advocate for testing the waters to find the right model for your business. 

  2. You can’t solve everyone’s problems, and that’s OK. A startup can’t be everything for everyone. The team at SAIJAI has come to terms with the nature of the industry they operate in and take pride in the difference that they make.

  3. Focus on efficiency. Viona and her team prioritize maintaining a sustainable burn-rate as opposed to a ‘growth at all costs’ approach. 

For current and aspiring founders, discussions like these provide a valuable glimpse into the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, giving much-needed assurance that it’s OK to make mistakes as long as we continue to learn from them. 

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