In the last few months, SentiSum has experienced a growth spurt. We have taken on more people and clients while working on a more focused, customer-driven product. Yet in moments of success it is important to reflect on how you got there. That is why I spoke to Kirsty Pinner, our Product Owner, about startup life and lessons she has learnt.
Kirsty has been at SentiSum since April 2018. She begun as a Junior Data Analyst and worked her way up to being Product Owner; present at the moments of success but also there working hard at the times of stagnant growth. After a truly insightful conversation about working at a startup, I took away these three key lessons about how startup culture affects your mindset and personal growth. SentiSum learnt that the hard way so you don't have to.
Lesson Number One: Personal Learning is the key to business growth
Kirsty has listened to every single episodes of "This Week In Startups" for the last two years. By creating an environment that encouraged learning she has been able to become incredibly knowledgeable about the process behind creating a start up and optimising it for growth. Why does she does this though? It certainly was not in her job description to actively learn about this.
"You realise that even though there are competitors, you need to focus on yourself. It is about knowing the key differentiator of your business that will help you grow and succeed compared to one that will fizzle out. If you keep learning, you gain more competitive edge and it makes you more adaptable."
Lesson Number Two: You have to be pragmatic if you want to succeed
Being pragmatic is much harder then it sounds, especially when you are
excited about your work and the technology behind your product. It is a tough lesson to learn that you could have the most innovative product in the world but if it does not solve a problem that people need solved then no one will use it. From Kirsty's perspective, learning to be pragmatic is an explanation behind SentiSum's growth.
"We had to learn to be pragmatic. In the past we would look at the more complicated solutions to problems by being tech and solution first then understanding the problem second. Now, we have switched it around. Before we invest in any tech we understand the problem properly before it should be approached."
Lesson Number Three: Things don't take off straight away, you have to be resilient
When people think of startup life they often think of a fast-paced environment where everything is go, go, go... and it is often like that! Yet Kirsty was really honest in saying it wasn't like that all the time. In the early stages, there will always be times of slow growth where you are still trying to work out the perfect way for a product to fit in an industry.
"There is a time for growing aggressively. However you need to make sure you have a stable foundation before any rapid growth. You need trust, trust in your team and in your product. Everyone wants super fast growth but it just is not realistic or healthy in the long term."
I took away a lot from my discussion on startup life with Kirsty. A clear take away message is that it won't always be easy but it is most certainly rewarding in terms of personal growth. If you want to hear about more startup lessons that we have learnt at SentiSum then subscribe to our blog for updates below.