It’s been 2 years since Sparkmate launched, and we’ve been making millions of revenue ($2M in 2021, $4M to be made in 2022).
I am very transparent about Sparkmate's growth and I usually get questions like “You are 25yo! How do you do it?” so I wanted to explain how I got here, and help you to do the same
Hint: Expecting quick 3-steps to making millions? You will be disappointed - good things do take time and work.
But I’m here to give us something even better.
The 3 biggest lessons I’ve learned in stumbling into entrepreneurship.
I didn’t come from an entrepreneurship family at all. I stepped into entrepreneurship by mistake.
I was just doing what I loved, and learnt everything on the field.
It's been a couple of years that I’ve been navigating through the high seas of entrepreneurship to be where I am today.
I see some peers also do the same but aren’t patient enough to achieve it. So first things first:
🚨 We need to play the long game to grow in life
We struggle to reach "success" for a couple of reasons:
- Social media influences our biases and make us think "success" is overnight
- We compare ourselves to people playing in other leagues
- We give up too early in the process
- We do not focus on what matters
Building several companies taught me a lot. But more than anything else, it taught me how to grow in life. So here’s how you can do the same, step by step:
Step 1: Learn how to be valuable 💎
If you don't have value, you are worth nothing (thanks captain obvious 🤠).
The first step is to build value around ourselves, for this we’ll have to:
- Pick a field we love, a field we are passionate about.
Everything can be learned and trained. Choosing something where we have natural abilities could be even better.
Not everyone finds it easily, remember to never settle. Keep trying new things and keep looking for it.
- Keep relentlessly building/creating.
We’ll learn best when we’re doing. They say to become an expert, we have spend 1,000 hours of doing something.
“Doing” also gives us experience. So stop “studying” and start “doing” and putting what we learn into practice.
- Stack as many skills as possible.
Especially in the same space, keep expanding our projects to keep growing. This still only adds to our scope of experience!
- Work for others.
Whether it's a boss or a client. There can be times they’ll have unreasonable expectations or get difficult to work with.
Building for others teaches us how to deal with many types of people, and it will teach us to become reliable. Which brings us to the next point.
To illustrate this let me tell you the story of little Morgan.
I jumped into engineering at 12 years old. Thanks to F1 in School I learnt to use CAD softwares.
Right after I was in love with how CNC machines worked. The endless possibilities they offered for Maker made me dream.
Because I could not afford a real one, I started building mine and since then I just never stopped building.
I was lucky to find my passion early on. Even luckier because I didn’t know that I was also learning a lot of hard skills that would be in high demand.
People who knew about what I did would ask if I could help them, and would pay me for it.
Even if it was 5€, I didn’t really think about it because I was doing what I loved. So I took on the fun and said yes, yes, yes to every project.
I enjoyed it a lot and wanted to help even more people so I started freelancing at 18 yo. I did my best everytime. People would then recommend me to other people.
I took up more projects and learned to better prioritize and optimize my time to keep my word.
I was learning and polishing my skills so much, after a year clients started paying me US$150/hour - it became a perfect way to help pay for my studies.
If we’re valuable, people want to work with us or would bring us opportunities.
Step 2: Learn how to deal with people 🕺🏼
Now the hardest part, people. It's actually where most of us make the most mistakes and get stuck in.
Some of us consider that after a couple of years building, they know everything and need to switch to managing people - which is bullshit!
Building/creating/doing is a different job than managing. To avoid this mistake, here’s what to do:
- Always pay it forward.
Share what we know, do what we can and not expect anything back. It’s easy to underestimate these interactions for people.
Supporting others could only lead to others also supporting us.
- Keep building, keep doing, keep creating.
Any field, especially in tech/science, the path to growth is infinite. Take on bigger, bolder challenges and work with others to get it done the best way possible.
- Build a team around us.
Connect them with our values. Engage them with our mission. Build trust and keep building things we can be proud of together.
Remember that we don't want to be managers, we want to build things WITH others. It's different.
If we do things from step 1 like a pro, people will be amazed and will want to join us in our quest.
- Do not delegate something we can't do ourselves.
Obviously as the company/team grows we will need to find time to focus on growing the business.
Hire someone that has the same skill set as us, the same hard skills we have and work with her/him. Spend the rest of the time on growing the business (Sales, Proposals, Hiring...).
- Take accountability.
For all the mistakes we and our team will make. Put our skin in the game and show up first when a problem arises.
We will need an insane amount of courage to be the first to stand up every time there is something to fix.
As I started getting more freelance projects. Max (my co-founder now, and flatmate at the time) wanted to start becoming a freelance too. We started working together.
We built so much and crushed any project in our way. Clients kept coming back or recommending.
Our projects grew, and soon we needed more people. We thought it was the perfect time to start a company.
Bring other passionate engineers together, who wanted to build amazing technology with us. So our first startup was born, myCTO.
Definitely, growing the team also brought a lot more challenges. More projects with a bigger team, a bigger client base. It all brought more problems we didn’t see, or bigger ones.
But we all worked together to figure it out along the way. We failed, learned ways that didn’t work or did.
Through failures, (but not only) we learned the essentials of working well with a growing number of clients, teammates, and constantly new types of people we meet.
I learned to be courageous, thankful, and bringing positive energy to the team - which in the end only helped us grow.
I learned that to scale or expand your opportunities, you need to learn how to deal with people.
Step 3: Learn the power of Leverage 🪢
All this hard work will actually prepare us to jump to another league. After years of building, we’d have collected an insane amount of data and insights about our industry.
Now, we will need to leverage this to move a step ahead, so here is what we’ll do:
- Analyze in-depth what's broken in our industry and find a fix.
Years and years of working have made us experts of the field. We should be able to position our company with a unique edge that will differentiate us from the crowd.
- Build an operating system to deliver and standardize our clients experience "at scale".
Again follow our guts, we have been building things with our team. Design the best operating system (practices, process, methodologies) to deliver the best quality for our clients.
- Enjoy the snowball effect that your name has.
If we have applied the advice of step one and we took pride in doing your job better than anyone else. We start to have "a name" in our industry. And this will help us with a lot of things, getting new clients, making partnerships... Use it!
Continue to focus on this: there is no better marketing than doing our job better than anyone else. Get active on social media and post regularly, share what you know.
- Focus tirelessly on building.
But this time instead of building the car we should focus on building the machine that builds the cars 😉
The work we put into myCTO, prepared us for Sparkmate. With the reach we built, we entered a bigger, more international league.
So I’m in the middle of this step now, building and leveraging at Sparkmate. Some stuff are still a bit “hot” in my mind. There are still a lot of things to learn, a lot of progress to make.
Building the products and companies of tomorrow.
Building meaningful and fulfilling lives for our teammates.
We will do the opposite of what legacy tech companies have done.
They ended up creating a non-stimulating work environment and killed the passion for building. Period.
There we go, we are ready to build anything! Again, this is a reflection based on my experiences.
To me, we can transpose this approach to many things, whether you are an employee or even a student. Anyone that wants to build success in their professional life can use it.
I am looking forward to experiencing and leveling up the leagues, and building more steps for #4 and on. Stay tuned for the next episodes!