Business Insights from Cyrus Farudi of @TryCapsuleMonday, February 17, 2014
Today's guest is Cyrus Farudi, the co-founder of Capsule.
For those who may not have met you yet, can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I moved around a lot as a kid - born in Texas, then to Colorado, then on to West Virginia. Within those states, we were moving a lot as well. From ages 5-13 I was in a new house or city every year. My father is a doctor of psychology by training, but an entrepreneur at heart (guess it runs in the family!). His initial foray into running his own business was successful early, but then hit rock bottom (bankruptcy) after the real estate market collapsed in the early 80's. As a result, most of my childhood years were during a pretty rough financial time for the family. I learned the value of hard work, and watched as my parents (Mom with a Masters and Dad with a Ph.D) took odd jobs to make ends meet. By the time I was in high school, however, my father had started another successful business, and things were finally stabilizing a bit for us. I think that entire experience taught me to not be afraid to take risks, and to work hard no matter what.
I studied Finance at the University of Colorado and started my first company nine months after graduating. From there, I co-founded Flipswap, Inc in 2004. Flipswap pioneered the concept of trading in your mobile phone for credit towards a new purchase. The company was eventually merged with eRecycling in a transaction that included a $30M investment from Kleiner Perkins. The systems we built still run the trade-in programs for Sprint, AT&T, Verizon and numerous companies in Europe.
After leaving Flipswap, I co-founded Capsule in 2011. Capsule is a simple way to aggregate all of the photos taken at a wedding (or any group event) into a single, shared album. We are partnered/integrated with TheKnot.com and growing rapidly.
Both of your businesses have had co-founders. What do you feel are the benefits of going this route? What have been some of the challenges?
We got criticized a lot at Flipswap for having so many family and friends involved (I co-founded it with my two brothers), but being able to absolutely trust and depend on the people you work with is critical in a startup. I’ve known Omri, my co-founder at Capsule, for fourteen years and I couldn't imagine trying to start a company from scratch with a stranger. There are definitely challenges, however. Managing people with whom you have a personal relationship can be a nightmare, and the personal responsibility you feel is even greater. I don't think it's for everyone, but the pros have definitely out weighed the cons in my experience.
You're in both the tech industry as well as the wedding industry. The combination of weddings and tech is still a nascent area. What opportunities do you see for the wedding industry as it evolves with technology?
Weddings are still very much hands-on, uniquely personalized events with a lot of artistry that goes in to them. As a result, classic applications of technology (e.g. automation, data processing) aren't a good fit. As photo and video capture technologies continue to advance, I think there are some great opportunities to start capturing the event in very cool ways. 360-degree video is just starting to come out, and I think that will become a staple at weddings in the future.
What three skills do you think a person needs to develop in order to build a successful company?
In my opinion, good management skills are a must. If you plan on building something successful, then chances are there will need to be other people involved. Keeping those people motivated and happy becomes an enormous part of the job, and you have to force yourself to remember that. I'm often prone to get frustrated with my employees and pile more on to my own plate as a result -- that is a recipe for stagnation. The only way to grow is to delegate and manage.
Networking and Sales is hugely important also. If you aren't a "people person," then take some classes and learn how to fake it, or hire someone who is.
Finally, you must be to dig yourself out of ruts quickly and stay positive. The lows you experience while running your own business are ten-fold what you experience working for someone else, and you absolutely must not get stuck in a rut for too long. On the plus side, the highs you feel are unparalleled!
You're a millennial, which makes you relatively young. What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs who may be holding back on an idea because they feel (or have been told) that they haven't put in the years of "paying their dues?"
I'd tell them that it might already be too late, so it's now or never! The older we get, the more comfortable we get, and starting a company is anything but comfortable. Giving up a steady paycheck, working double the hours, and pouring your savings into something is not for the faint of heart, so do it while you're young!
CYRUS FARUDI is an American entrepreneur who co-founded Flipswap, Inc in 2004 and Capsule Media in 2011. While at Flipswap, Cyrus served as CFO and President, helping build the company to over 100 employees and more than $20M in revenue. Additionally, Cyrus was integral in three rounds of fundraising totaling over $15M, and the company’s expansion to Europe, South America, and Africa. As CEO of Capsule, Cyrus leads UI/UX for the company’s web and mobile applications as well as the direction and business strategy for the company. You can learn more about Capsule at tryCapsule.com.
Think Splendid will be offering insights and perspectives from Splendid Guests for the months of February and March while I am working in Africa.