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Being new to an old business or being old to a new business

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05 October 2010

We continue our rotating Startupbootcamp blog series.  This entry is by Niels Kristian Schjødt, Co-founder of AutoUncle.


Setting Our Sails

The other day I found myself looking back at the first year being an entrepreneur with my brother. I was thinking about how we had gotten along, how we had managed the first ups and the first downs, and what we have learned from it.

It all started out around Christmas last year, when the idea evolved from a burning wish to help ordinary car buyers to find way through the used car jungle. However, at this stage the product and solution was only a fragile thought about ways of using powerful statistics to make it possible for ordinary buyers of used cars to easily spot the good buys.

In this very disordered and somehow chaotic scene of memories, impressions and thoughts, I felt both satisfied with our work and progress so far, and at the same time grateful and humble because of the great wind we have had behind us along the way. Now, after we have actually survived many of the first pitfalls, I still find myself wondering how we managed to get the first people to believe in us and our idea, in what could seem like a dead ocean sailed by huge ships like eBay. I think it must be the fate of the entrepreneur always to have a little doubt and anxiety about his product and the waters he is about to set sails in. Even though many of the biggest challenges are still to come, we are still here; we haven't given in yet and we are still working hard on preparing ourselves for Investor Day on of November 9th. - And now, the one million dollar question: how and why did we manage being brothers, having family living 300km away from the job, being new to tech-business, and being a first time entrepreneur in a field of many competitors? - and oh yeah, throw a 5 week old baby in the mix as well.

A Small Fish in Big Waters

Firstly, it takes some basic knowledge of the sea you are about to navigate - in our situation; mathematics, statistics, IT and of course used cars. Skills we both possess partly from our education and partly from our devotion and passion for cars. At the other hand, we did not have much knowledge about building up a tech business. So how might this at all be possible to do, especially when you consider the situation of the market of used cars? Starting as a small fish in big waters might not be such a big disadvantage after all - especially if you swim in a different direction than all the others. Even though you might have a hard time establishing yourself, you are not struggling with the trouble of turning a big old brand in another direction to engage in the battle with a smaller brand, that really hasn't got that much to lose - why do you think privateers mostly were small ships? - Not because they could not afford a bigger one, but because maneuverability and being agile was more important than having the most canons.

The same is true for the entrepreneur - do not be annoyed by your lack of funds and ability to produce huge marketing campaigns. Be glad instead that you are a quick mover and that you are able to change direction within the time it takes to refresh a website. If you remember this and remember to use it progressively, you will have a much bigger chance of surviving in the battle of customers and market shares, than any other marketing campaign you can afford at this early stage.

Sail into Unknow Waters - Now!

What can we learn from this? - Well, when you are new to being an entrepreneur, it often seems like an obstacle that you have to challenge companies that are many times bigger than you. But the fact is - yes, it is a different challenge sailing waters that are unknown, but the fact is also, that this might be a much more well-defined task, and maybe there will be some wins out there that are much easier to grab than in known territory where everybody is fighting to become ruler of the all the highest waves.

So if you are sitting out there wondering whether your idea is good enough, or whether you will be able to survive in waters of hungry sharks:

- "just f**king do it" - your own worries might as well be the most fierce shark of them all.

Happy entrepreneuring!

Niels Kristian Schjødt - AutoUncle


If you are curious to know more about AutoUncle, please visit our site www.AutoUncle.com or Facebook page www.facebook.com/AutoUncle. Here, you will find our blogs and within a few days also our fresh beta version of our used car appraisal tool.

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