December 23, 2013

Ryan Graves from Uber talks

In my lessons learned from interviews with famous entrepreneurs of the Foundation series, I heard of a guy called Ryan Graves. He's now working at at Uber. But, according to Chris Sacca, when Ryan Graves wanted to get a job at Foursquare, they didn't want him. So he took matters into his own hands and set out to find customers to Foursquare on his own. Then he visited Foursquare again and told them he had customers he wanted to give to them. They hired him. So I thought it would be fun to learn a little bit more about someone with such a motivation.

Lessons learned
  • The best thing you can do for a startup community is to stop worrying about the community and start building companies.
  • "The corporate career - 20 years in the same company - was not really my thing." 
  • His first project failed, but it gave him the experience he needed.
  • To get a job at Foursquare, he went to bars and introduced himself as if he worked at Foursquare. He sold them the idea and showed them how Foursquare worked. In the end he got a list with 30 customers. Then he emailed this list to people who were connected with Foursquare, including investors.
  • "72 percent of all incoming taxi requests on a San Francisco Friday or Saturday night go completely unanswered" - that's the problem Uber wanted to solve.
  • Only hire the best. 
  • "Getting rid of the wrong people is maybe one of the most important pieces of keeping quality [people] and hiring fast."
  • Be optimistic. "This is hard because there's everything working against you." But you have to be happy and excited because you have to sell. "Optimism breeds solutions."
  • Sleep and vacations are important. You need to have the endurance to survive the "everything working against you" moments. 
  • Use checklists! Ryan Graves learned this from the book The Checklist Manifesto