My first stint in entrepreneurship was in footwear - making high-performance, luxury boots for professionals on their feet. Well, three years, countless trips to Portugal, lots of capital, and endless pivot attempts later, I finally threw in the towel. The shoe business is brutal!
After dealing with the pain of a failed business I began working with other entrepreneurs in technology and healthcare. While building out sales, customer success, and account management programs and teams - I began to realize how much I learned in the three years working on my own company, Paul Hardt.
I learned that you can be a 5 star jockey riding a 1 star horse and investors won't touch it with a 10 foot pole.
I learned that a capital intensive and multi factor of production business with immense supply chain challenges like footwear - is something you don't go into alone.
I learned that you need a big war-chest even for a simple idea.
I learned that you need to pay the mortgage the whole time.
Finally, I learned what I am good at and what I am not good at. What turns me on and what doesn't.
I am good at: Cold calls, setting meetings, running meetings, building agendas, presentations, investor pitches, project management, tactical planning and implementation, and customer success.
I am not good at: Marketing, branding, design, and global strategy.
I am laser focused, I do best with structure, and I can only juggle two things at once.
I am one of the few freaks that enjoy cold calls. Of course cold calls suck but I embrace the suck and get immense value from connecting with new folks and genuinely finding if there is a good fit.
I've realized that what turns me on is selling great products and services to professional companies that can benefit from them. I am not interested in building the next great company or launching a consumer product into the marketplace.
I am interested in bringing phenomenal product to companies that are equipped to produce and distribute them. In that setting I believe we can make a sensible deal.
- Austin Degenhardt, CEO