Four Mantras to Starting a Start-Up

Mantra 1 :

Never confuse what seems with what is.

Successful can tell the visible apart from the intelligible. They always put function before form, because any form would be futile without function. It is never about the fancy WeWork space, the flashy animation effect, or the 20 prestigious titles your CFO carries. What really matters is having a product that jumps the curve and solves the problem, hiring competent employees regardless of their social status, and constantly improving your product rather than paying people to evangelize a product they do not love.

Mantra 2:

Humans are made of emotions and feelings; not atoms.

Nike does not sell shoes; it sells confidence about your body. Starbucks does not sell coffee; it sells happiness and joy. Dunkin’ does not sell donuts; it sells patriotism. Customers do not care about jargons or analytics or market statistics, they care about how the products make them feel. Your brand, your product, and your service needs to elicit intense feelings and deep emotions in your users. Make them feel important and valued. Make them feel so special when they use your product that they fall in love and become evangelizers.

Mantra 3:

Storytelling matters.

A large part of entrepreneurship is about being able to tell a good story. Storytelling is crucial, whether it is manifested through pitching, attracting talents, fundraising, or marketing. Nobody wants to hear about the inner workings of your software, or the groundbreaking material you used for the new shoe model. Never bore your investor, colleague, or customer. Tell exciting stories that draw them in, grab their attention, and make them excited about what you are about to say.

Mantra 4:

The means are not the end.

While hiring, pitching, fundraising, and networking are all important, at the end of the day, they are still just means, not end. Failure in any of these intermediate steps does not equate to failing in starting up. As long as you have faith in yourself as the CEO, and you care about a problem enough, you can always start over. Each failure will teach you something, and you will come out stronger.


Alexandra Huang