You may have seen our social media posts about this, but Sente Foundry is celebrating five years since Gerod joined as COO. We asked Gerod and Serhat to look back on the last five years and share five lessons learned in the previous five years.
1. Entrepreneurs are Super Resourceful
The entrepreneurs we work with at Sente continually surprise us with their creativity and resourcefulness. Perhaps this is because we work with startups in emerging ecosystems, where lack of resources is just how it is, so resourcefulness is built into the culture. But we also see US-based startups continuing to show their resourcefulness - operating, and even fundraising under the constraints of the pandemic is a great example.
2. Trust Must Happen Quickly and Authentically
For us to be good mentors, our startups and their leaders have to trust us. And trust is earned, not given freely. But, entrepreneurs are born optimists and usually default to trusting and being open. By listening with a sense of empathy and understanding, we have found that we gain trust from our startups and prove ourselves as mentors.
3. You Don't Know the Team Until You Go on the Journey with Them
We don't really like pitch competitions. Some entrepreneurs are excellent storytellers, so they can deliver a great pitch. But, communication is only one talent needed to run a successful business and work collaboratively.
With our business model, we spend a significant amount of time with founders and get in the weeds of their startup. We get to see them deal with adversity, how they learn, how they treat their employees and other investors. We truly know our startups, their founders, and their teams. This gives us a 360-degree view of the business and our role in it.
4. Parallel Thinking in Different Time Horizons
In sales and consulting, timelines start at the goal and work backward. With startups, though, there are multiple timelines. The short-term is tactical, and all hands on deck attract new customers and deliver on customer and investor expectations. In the medium-term, entrepreneurs need to think about the next major strategic milestone (like the next fundraising round or expansion phase). And there is always the long-term – understanding overall market dynamics and paint a picture for investors about how their little business can get really, really big
This isn't easy. Working with multiple timelines is a learned skill, and good investors and mentors can help guide entrepreneurs to keep their sights oriented the right way so they can execute today but still have an eye on the middle and long distant future.
5. Models are Useful
In our previous careers, we used models a lot to guide our thinking and analysis. Models allowed us to communicate complex problems in a way that the mind can better absorb them.
For similar reasons, model thinking is also helpful when working with entrepreneurs. You'd be surprised by how often the Business Model Canvas can be useful to break down a business into its main parts and uncover gaps in an entrepreneur's strategy. We have even used models from past experiences to help entrepreneurs work through problems in their technology strategies or thinking about customer segmentation.
And the unofficial lesson number six is that this is not a solo journey.
Our Sente team is not huge, but we have an incredible network of supporters and partners who make our Sente dream happen. We are so very grateful to all of you. Here's to many, many more years of Sente Foundry.