Fremont Startup Grind Digest: Zinrelo’s Jai Rawat, a Tech Entrepreneur and Innovator, and Andrew Sawyer, VC turned Co-Founder
At the last Startup Grind meeting, we learned about tech startup Zinrelo, a loyalty rewards platform for small and mid-size retailers. Zinrelo disrupted the rewards program market by creating an affordable loyalty rewards platform which retailers can customize based on their needs. By expanding the concept of loyalty to include many other dimensions such as social, behavior, advocacy, and engagement, Zinrelo’s rewards program can boost per-customer revenue by 2.4 times and repeat purchases by 80%.
Zinrelo’s founder and our featured speaker, Jai Rawat, is a tech entrepreneur and innovator who has founded several successful technology companies and authored many patents. Growing up, Jai didn’t aim to become an entrepreneur. Two things he did learn—self-belief, and embracing failures—qualities that have served him well not only as an entrepreneur, but also in his personal endeavors. For example, successfully trekking to the Everest Base Camp, completing four marathons, and biking from San Francisco to Los Angeles in six days—all of this starting at age 47 with no prior athletic experience or training.
At the meeting, Jai shared a few things entrepreneurs should keep in mind in order to build successful startups:
- Humans are drawn visuals. Make sure that your product is aesthetically pleasing.
- Focus on one thing and do it well. If you find yourself adding more features to the product because you are not getting traction, stop and think hard about the best path forward.
- Acquire only a few customers initially and make them really successful.
- Meet your customer face-to-face whenever possible. We live in a digital world where it is easy to do video conferencing, but there is no substitute for meeting people in person.
- Own your mistakes. No product is perfect and you will make mistakes. But, you will find that customers are surprisingly forgiving if you own your mistake and do the right thing; it can even strengthen the relationship!
- Lastly, choose a co-founder carefully. Focus on trust. You need someone who can candidly tell you when you are wrong.
Jai’s advice on raising VC funds for their startups? Have complete conviction in your own product or service. Unless you believe 100% in what you are doing, you won’t convince anyone else. This will also help build perseverance. There are scores of examples of successful companies that were rejected by dozens of VCs, but did not give up.
In closing, Jai shared that while trying to raise money, startups must understand how investors make funding decisions. Between a low risk-low reward vs. high risk-high reward, VCs are likely to go for the latter. Angel investors on the other hand, who are investing their personal money, may prefer the low risk-low reward option.
On May 2, Startup Grind Fremont has invited Andrew Sawyer, Co-Founder and CEO of Cured, to share his entrepreneurial journey. Prior to creating Cured, Andrew was a venture capitalist at GE Ventures. He previously held roles at venture capital firms SV Health Investors, Flare Capital, and Rock Health. Andrew holds a Health Management degree from Harvard University. He will cover the following topics and much more:
- How to “break the startup rules” and avoid pitfalls
- What VCs look for before investing in a startup
- Insights from an early entrepreneur on how to create rapid growth
- Strategies to make your startup fundable
Don’t miss it, register now!
About Startup Grind Fremont
Startup Grind Fremont is the Silicon Valley East chapter of the international business startup community that has hosted more than 2,000 fireside chats across 200 cities and 85 countries. At monthly events, the local entrepreneurial community gathers to mingle, learn, find mentorship, pursue funding, and gain new customers. You can find additional information and purchase your tickets here: www.startupgrind.com/fremont.