Interview with Bluurp Co-Founder & CMO Darell Austin,Jr
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business? How did the idea for your business come about?
My Co-Founder & CEO Kevin Rivers came up with the idea when he was with his previous startup Venzo. Venzo allowed indie artists to sell music on iTunes for free. One day he was on YouTube and he had 4 tabs opened with Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook
Kevin was trying to figure out why there isn’t a better way to share. Why does he have to copy/paste YouTube links on each tab and login. There has to be a better way. So Kevin started to research and found social media management services like Hootsuite and Buffer.
The problem with those services was that they charge monthly subscriptions to get the full experience, was clunky, and he still had to copy/paste links from
YouTube. That’s when Kevin came up with the concept for Bluurp which eventually evolved into a social network!
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
That’s a great question and one I often ask myself frequently. If I had a chance to hit reset button to start my career over again, I would definitely have pursued something that I really wanted to do and not just take and/or choose a career for the money. When you work on the talents that you have, the money will follow. Most of us aren’t taught that, we’re taught to choose a school,career, network based on the highest payout. In addition, believing in yourself more despite what others may say will save a lot of heartaches & pains for establishing a career path.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
There’s a myriad of skillsets, but the top 3 that’s needed for entrepreneurial success, is the ability to network,setting goals & passion. Those 3 are very important in my opinion because without those, your startup/small business cannot get any traction. It’s not about how smart you are, where you went to school, but the personal attributes behind the startup.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
One of my biggest failures was being apart of a previous small business for the wrong reason. That reason was money. Going through that process did not feel good at all. I had no passion and once that happens, your creativity and mind suffers. So I learned do not do anything just because of the money. It’s important to believe that the small business/startup is really going to solve a problem.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Being an entrepreneur is definitely a challenge to how your previous life was before. Entrepreneurship is a lonely path as not to many want to pursue it due to the risks involved. Starting out, there is no structure, everything is adhoc. But as you grow through those hard times, you will learn new ways to balance your business and personal life. It’s a discovery process that takes time, but balance can be achieve. The key is having some supporters out of your family that really understand that you’re doing something that most want to do but won’t do.
How do you generate new ideas?
The best way I generate new ideas is to find a pain point that annoys you and start thinking and troubleshooting ways on how that problem can be solved.
How do you define success?
I define success based on what I want to pursue and my action plan behind pursuing that goal. Most people define success based on monetary outcome or getting something, but to me success is what you decide to pursue and actually doing it.
What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
To me, the best way to achieve long term success is to have goals and benchmark yourself against those goals. Also, continuing to self develop is very crucial. If you don’t find ways to improve who you are overall, long term success will be impossible.
How do you build a successful customer base?
You build a successful customer base by connecting with your customer emotionally. It’s not enough just to sell your features, apps, but sell how your product/service is going to make your customers life easier based on your offering.
How did you decide on the location for your business?
We decided on silicon valley because it’s very Business to consumer focused and the investors that invest in such startups are located in the valley. It’s important to be where the investors are to succeed.
Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
The formula to become successful as entrepreneur is to have passion,hustle and not be scared. Those 3 are more important than anything else. To start a company, you have to have the guts block out everyone saying not to do it which is easier said than done. Also believing that you can be successful is just as important in pursuing entrepreneurship. Once you implement those 3, you will start to figure out your path. Again, it’s a process for one to grow.
If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why
The one person I would love to talk to in history would be Reginald Lewis, who was the first African American Private Equity Billionaire. Would love to find out why he pursued Private equity at a time where there were literally to no African Americans that were in that space. Would love to find out why he decided to pursue that path.
What book has inspired you the most? (OR What is your favorite book?)
The one book that has inspired me constantly was the Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner. That man went through so much in his life, took so many punches, people doubting him, abuse, homelessness and he still found away to chase his dream and succeed. His story is a testament that despite your circumstances, you can overcome anything if you believe.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
The fact that I can build and grow something from nothing. What you learn about yourself from being an entrepreneur is priceless. The creativity, thoughts, and the freedom to try any and everything to see what works and don’t work. You can’t get that experience anywhere else but starting your own business.
What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
The difference between entrepreneurs and workers is structure. Those who work for someone have some sort of security as far as pay, work and a process. For entrepreneurs, they don’t like the structure, the process and want to create their own rules for life & success.
In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Besides Bluurp, I admire Kickstarter, because this one platform has created a pathway for all business types to spread awareness as well as raise money to pursue their dreams.
If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?
What was the tipping point that made you become an entrepreneur!
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
Have an idea that’s going to actually solve a recurring problem. You don’t need to have the perfect product/service, just get out there and do it. You will figure it out as you progress. Believing in yourself to carry out your startup dream will propel you forward more than anything.Also, you will always need to get better, but know that you have enough within yourself to develop & launch a startup.Highly recommended but not required,try to relocate to one of the major tech hubs such as San Francisco,NYC & LA. Being apart of the ecosystem helps tremendously to grow your startup as well as yourself as a budding entrepreneur.Bootstrap,work odd jobs to make the move work for you.Learn and practice storytelling,very important to emotionally connect with your potential customers and investors for your startup.For inspiration,listen to hip hop legend Slick Rick’s The Art Of Storytelling classic album.Be sure to understand the law of reciprocation. Offering to help with no imminent return will carry you very far in life.Lastly, network,network and network. no one will know about the product/service you’re offering unless you get out of the building to meet & connect with people.