May 16, 2021 | E052 How To Trade an iPhone For an Online Platform? Business Development for Beginners
Miguel Heinonen is an entrepreneur who has worked in the startup community across the United States and United Kingdom. He is the founder and CEO of Heirizon, an employment marketplace that pairs employee with employers. Heirizon collates jobs by geography to make sure that out users can find employment conveniently. Miguel bootstrapped and built from the ground up, and he is an expert in building companies with little to no financial resources. He also serves as a board member, advisor and avid YouTuber. In this episode, Miguel gave us his advice for business development for beginners!
The episode was recorded on March 30th, 2021. This material represents the speaker’s personal views and not the views of their current or former employer(s).
Miguel’s personal website: https://miguelheinonen.com/ 🔥
Miguel’s LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nataliabielczyk/
Heirizon website: https://www.heirizon.com/
Natalia 00:15 Hello, everyone. This is yet another episode of career talks by Welcome Solutions. And in these meetings, we talk with interesting personalities and professionals with interesting career paths behind them to tell us a little bit about their insights and share their awesome stories with us. And today, I have the great pleasure to introduce Miguel Heinonen, who is a tech entrepreneur and has worked in the startup community across the United States In the United Kingdom. He’s the founder and CEO of Heirizon, an employment marketplace.
Heirizon collates jobs by geography to make sure that the users can find employment. Conveniently, Miguel bootstrapped and built the company from the ground up. And he’s an expert in building companies with little to no financial resources. He also serves as a board member advisor and he’s an avid YouTuber. Thank you so much for joining us today. I’m very curious to hear your story from your own perspective.
Miguel Heinonen 01:49 Thank you very much for having me on your show.
Natalia 01:55 It’s not as much of a show unless you take off your shirt.
Miguel Heinonen 02:02 Another podcast for another time.
Natalia 02:07 I’m very curious, how did it all start for you? Because I know that you’re from Peruvian nationality. How did it happen that you moved out of Peru and ended up in a sort of community in the US and UK? I’m very curious about your path up to this point.
Miguel Heinonen 02:27 I was born in Peru in South America but I was adopted, the day I was born. And a couple of months later, we went to Switzerland. And after that, we spent a lot of time in East Africa. So I grew up in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda. And in high school, my parents thought it would be good if I went to a boarding school in England. And I had a good time there. But I thought it’d be great to go to military school in Texas. I asked my mom, Hey, listen, sent me to the Marine Military Academy in Texas. I love the culture. I grew up there for a couple of years. And then I went to University in Providence, Rhode Island.
And my best friend pretty much pushed me to go to university. He just told me, Hey, apply to Johnson and Wales University of New entrepreneurship. I had no idea what that was. We both went to the same university. And then that’s when I fell in love with tech because of all these websites. And we were learning a lot about companies that were brick and mortar and about how to create businesses, like, for example, bakeries, or b2b services.
But I knew at that point, I wanted to have a website where it would affect lots of people, even across the globe, even without me having any interaction with them. And when I graduated, I ended up being a service charge accountant. And it wasn’t for me. After two years, it was enough to bootstrap my first startup. And I made a lot of mistakes in that first startup as well, hence I had to keep working for two years. And I just pushed my way into the tech community and went to LA. I ended up working for a friend at a med-tech company and being young, I was like, this is what I want, the platform and working with developers.
And I learned a lot and then luckily enough when I came back to the UK, I started working with an early-stage tech company which taught me a ton about lead generation. I boarded about 2500 software vendors onto the platform. I talked to all the founders. I started to study all their pain points and stuff, giving them advice. And slowly, people started asking for help. And it’s been great. You know, I work with quite a few different tech companies now and I have my own startup as well. During the lockdown, I now live here in London.
Natalia 05:33 The interesting point in your story is the first startup that you set. That failed. Can you tell us a little bit more? I would like to learn a little bit more about business development in general and about the common mistakes people make? Was this your first failure in entrepreneurship?
Miguel Heinonen 06:03 I did the math. With the money that I spent on that startup, I could have brought a brand-new Mercedes. I blew a lot of money on it. But you know, I’m glad that I went through that experience. Because now from a mile away, I can see issues and many tech companies. And the problem wasn’t that I didn’t have a good idea. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a good solution. I didn’t know how to sell it. And it was a great idea. And basically, the problem was that I didn’t have the skill sets to do mass outreach. And even today, you’d be surprised that I work with so many companies, you know, I look at quite a few companies. And it’s always the same issue.
They just don’t have the capacity nor the skill sets to do mass outreach, how to automate, and how to find leads. From those mistakes that I’ve made, I learned how never to do that again and when I built my next startup, all those principles, you know, that I learned that mistake, I didn’t make it on the new one. For example, let me give you a good example. On the first platform, we had the ability for many end users that they could log in to the platform. We had different permissions. We had Master admins. We had, you know, guests that didn’t sign up. We had people that signed up that could give other admin permissions.
If you don’t have the skill sets to build these platforms, I knew that going forward, when I built this platform, I wanted a platform where everyone can view the data. It was more of a content site and no one had to log in, you know, so I learned, and the only people that log in now, either the admins of my team or employers, and that was like an experience that I learned that you want to build a platform where you don’t have too much maintenance and a great front end. There were lots of experiences there.
You know, it’s also about scaling up as well in costs. Before I just wanted the best, you know, I was young, a little naive, and I wanted the best server. And now, I tell my developers, like, Hey, guys, you know, we only have so much traffic, I built this platform by selling my iPhone, I was really not doing well, I was between jobs. On the first platform, I was persistent. And I knew that I loved the tech industry. And I knew that if you do it well, you potentially exit very well. And I remember I had originally built another platform but it basically was like Uber, but for employment, the laws changed. You know, the dynamics changed.
And I realized it was more of a C2C platform. That’s not where the money is. I don’t want to make money off people that you know that they work for, like $10 an hour, and I take $2 and I was like, this is not working. I remember I just scrapped the entire platform. I needed about 400 pounds. I sold my iPhone X. And I got about 480. I wanted a back-end developer. I put everything in a PowerPoint. I said, this is what I want the front end to look like and what can I get for this? And I realized against all those expenses, I failed. What is my core purpose? My core purpose is to find people’s jobs locally on a map. That’s what we did. Were you really stuck in them?
Whereas no one had to sign it, they could view it. And I just kept improving and improving. We started building admin dashboards. I believe in digital displays but constantly I make sure that every single penny that we put into the platform is all like that there’s a return on the investment. These are all experiences that I learned from my first failures of a startup but to a certain degree, they used to celebrate failure. I don’t want to celebrate it. I never want to have that learning experience again. But at a young age, it’s such a valuable experience because one mile away, I can look at a startup now I’m just like, nope, these founders just can’t do it.
I can tell when people are a little too aggressive. I’m like, Hey, cool it down. You need end-users first before you’re gonna spend this amount of money on building this. That was a great experience. No, I don’t ever want to learn again about failure. But it was a great experience to have because it forced me to learn all these other skillsets for the next time.
Natalia 11:27 Business development looks easy from the outside. And it could be like, you have all these courses and all these books about business development. And you know, all these successful people that speak online, you know, you can watch Kevin O’Leary’s YouTube channel, and all these, like multi-billionaire school, who will tell you, how to be successful in business. But in fact, you cannot learn it another way than by mistakes. I come from academia myself and when you go for a PhD, the output of your project should be academic publications. You can technically learn about the process from books.
You have to come up with a research question. You have to come up with a pipeline. You have to come up with a way of testing your hypothesis and then just do the tests, do the experiment, and then write down the results. And then you have a paper and then you send it out to a publication. It’s like no big deal. It’s just a lot of work. But technically, it looks like it was algorithmic but when it comes to doing it, then you have to get a little time to learn that. It’s not enough to just go according to the schedule because you have to think in advance about what type of project you have to create and what type of hypothesis you have to frame to have a maximum chance of it working out.
Because the fact that nobody did something like nobody tested this hypothesis before might mean that you’re a genius. It might mean that everyone who tried failed because it’s not possible. What are the odds of actually succeeding? You have to fail multiple times to learn how to weigh risks and rewards, and how to frame a project so that it always has some safe side. If it doesn’t turn out the way you want it, you still have a beast that is still kind of publishable.
And then you have to know, when you wrap up the package and wrap up a manuscript, how you have to pitch to the editor of the journal to sell it best. If you didn’t get all the results you hoped for, then it’s still attractive enough to the receiver to publish it. It reminds me of business developments that I recognize very well.
Miguel Heinonen 14:18 I mean, everything you just said is the perfect startup, you know, where it looks easy on the outside, we’re gonna get users. You got to build the protocols. You’ve got to find what type of end-users gotta get feedback. You got to submit it. The only difference of your point was at some point, you need even more capital, you know, and just to keep the wheels turning and know everything you saying is it’s exactly very similar. The only thing that you know is that I mean they’re both similar. Just one more thing as well, is that you need persistence as well. You know,, if I were smart, I would stop what I was doing.
I would have gotten a job at Deloitte or one of those big consulting firms that I want to stick up this road. For a moment, I was scared as well. There was a moment, I’m like, you know, 32 years old, and I’m borrowing money off my brother now and then because I paid a lot for the development. But thank God, I’ve crossed that threshold. But my point is that you got to be persistent and you gotta have thick skin. And, more importantly, you got to be an optimist. This sometimes is a long learning curve.
Natalia 15:46 I’m quite positive about my company at the moment. If I went to a company straight after my contract expired in 2017, then until now, I would be just leaving safely. In terms of the total value of my salary, it would be 200,000 euros.
Miguel Heinonen 16:13 What’s the fun in that, though? You know, there is no fun and security. You live once, you know. The truth is, if you build something, you know, what we were talking about earlier? And I want to mention, in case it’s not public yet but that’s a huge exit for you. You monetize off debt and you could be on the beach somewhere and it’s something that you built. Both platforms are monetizable. I wouldn’t be worried, I think you just need to make sure you present better than anyone. I think many people think that they have to have something so unique and something so different.
But it’s the simple things that are easy for people to understand that are what people buy. And that’s at a younger age because he kept hearing disruption. Everyone has a mindset. I’ve got to build the next Uber but people are not always looking for the next Uber. People are just looking for convenience. And you know, there are always competitors out there to speak better than them. You know, even if my company were small, we are so small compared to like, you know, monster indeed. But, do we look good?
I mean, when the end-user comes there, they feel comfortable. We have nothing, no traffic compared to them, of course. But the point is that when people come to our site and feel like, wow, the UI is very simple. It’s very clean. I’ve never felt threatened. I think you just got to do it better than the other guy.
Natalia 18:01 I mean, it’s not difficult to have a better UI than the Monster.
Miguel Heinonen 18:06 Yes.
Natalia 18:07 I would say it’s hard to have worse. But I agree. I would say one thing, is it enough if you do something a little bit better than others but also lots of blind spots, there are like little problems that are an inconvenience for a lot of companies who would like to pay for the solution. And many businesses are like entrepreneurs. They are so busy with saving the world, you know, coming up with the next cure for cancer and the next big thing that they overlooked those opportunities.
And yesterday, I released a blog post on my blog about that and there are so many WordPress plugins that are unnecessary and there are just nowhere to be found. And this WordPress plugin is a very viable business model. And those successful plugins are multi-million businesses and these are very simple functionalities that nobody programmed.
Miguel Heinonen 19:19 You really have to think about the elevator pitch constantly. The first platform that I had, I think I tried to make it genius and I was going down the road of making it disruptive. Now, when people ask, what do you do, I help people find jobs and it’s so simple to explain. It’s an employment platform. I don’t try and get, you know, brave and say, well, we use AI to push why do that simplicity sell.
Natalia 19:56 That’s right. Can you tell us a little bit more about what your platform does? Who would you recommend to take a look at your platform and what type of services do you offer and maybe whom you work with on this platform?
Miguel Heinonen 20:15 The platform was called Heirizon. And it is an employment platform. But I wanted to get tech for years. And I kept going to these horrific websites. And I realized that every time I went there, some of these jobs have been expired for months. But it was so good for SEO, they pulled me in there, and they say, here are other similar jobs that are alive. And then I realized, on these platforms, there are so many recruiters as well that they don’t even tell you who you’re applying for. You would send a resume, and they’ll say, Hey, we’re looking for a marketing executive who’s got experience in the FFCG Industry.
And it doesn’t do much for you, like, I want to know who I’m applying for. I can tailor my CV or resume for the company. I was also really visual as well. At the end of the day, I really imagined of just having a map because I love Uber, the business model of Uber. In my mind, I was gonna have a map and a pin of all the local jobs around you. You can see the company, so we did it. Again, as I told you, I sold my iPhone and we built the basic MVP. But now, you know, if you’re looking for a job and you don’t have to go to multiple different websites, our platform aggregates all the local jobs around you.
If you’re in Berlin, it will show you all the tech companies, for example, physically around you showing you your office and proximity. You’re going to learn about the company because the companies are profile pages and then you can see what jobs are available from remote to on-site as well. And anytime a job is expired, it’s taken off our system within 24 hours because we remove so many jobs almost daily in the hundreds. It’s actually terrible for SEO, but at least our end users know that the jobs there are alive and legit.
We’re pretty big now in London. We’re quite big in Paris. We’re growing in Denmark. It’s been fun. You know, our next goal right now is to make sure that we’ve got 1000s of jobs being pushed daily across the globe. And there are no borders. I want this to be used everywhere. And we’re not charging companies at all during the corona season. I just want to post as many jobs to end-users across the globe.
Natalia 23:08 That’s very impressive. Can I ask how you put postings on the website? Is it that you work with corporate clients?
Miguel Heinonen 23:19 We provide technical employee candidate lead generation. And many companies have two choices, either post the jobs themselves or pay for the advertising. They hire a recruiter and spend about 50% of the annual earnings of that candidate. If the employee they’re looking for is 100,000 a year, that’s, you know, 50 to 20 grand sometimes as the upfront payment to the agency. What we decided to do was to work with SMEs to say, listen at a fraction of the cost, just post a job here. We will direct traffic to your career page, your applicant tracking software that many companies use, and at a fraction of the cost.
I mean to post, you know, up to 20 jobs and our platform is almost about $200 per month. As some agencies charge you $200 for one job for about a week. You know, pricing is not as important for us. It’s more important to get end users. We’re just doing lots of outreach right now to get SMEs to just post freely on our platform.
Natalia 24:43 In the times of the Corona crisis was your business hammered in any way because there are so many businesses today that go online and just start accepting remote employees. Did it in any way affect your business model?
Miguel Heinonen 25:04 Yes, hardcore. I mean, think about it. My platform has a map with local jobs. I mean, right now people are staying home. At that point, everyone was looking for a remote job. We actually pivoted our platform a bit where we now have a dedicated remote section. On the page, wherever you’re located, if you’re located in London, it doesn’t matter. There’s a button that shows you all the remote jobs that people are hiring within your city. That’s been getting the most traffic. We get a lot of traffic from the remote job section. That changed things a lot. You know, what else to change? Lockdown is almost over.
But because we gather so much data, it’s very visual and it’s our data because we clean it up. I created a digital display for universities and charities, and I’ll explain that. The premise is that we could create these lightboxes that digital display that you could tag, only specific jobs to be displayed. For example, if there’s a culinary school, you know, for students learning to cook, I can place one of these displays, it’s white-labeled, and all the students can see all the jobs in their city of hiring and their industry for bar staff, you know, for internships and scramble for fashion schools, where you could put all the fashions, you know, institutions, you know, retail stores that are hiring, and this is free.
But it’s a touchpad. And with COVID, it’s not the right time right now to be selling touchpad services. We were gonna go live. But now, I’m waiting. And we’ve got a couple of universities wanting to deploy it in their school. It’s just now we’ll have noted to make sure to wipe the display after you’re done. We’ll have the spray bottle as well as cleaning. When you’re done, you’ll have to clean the screen. But we just have to adapt and overcome.
Natalia 27:39 You would think that if you have an online platform, then you’re safe in Corona times. It also depends on what type of jobs you offer probably for blue-collar workers. The distance, you know, still matters, even today but you probably offer more of the white-collar positions, and that’s the problem.
Miguel Heinonen 28:04 I mean, they will always be jobs. I think the media is brightly covering what’s bad going on and a lot of closures and in the businesses like, you know, major retailers, but there are a lot of companies hiring as well. I mean, we run reports daily of all like the new jobs that we’re going to put on Heirizon. And we’re just amazed constantly about how much more new jobs and you know, some of these companies are growing and hiring more. It’s not always doom and gloom.
Natalia 28:46 I also think that. Given that you’re in London, I think, London has its own culture. And there will always be these places in the world like London or some other big cities where people want to stay. And they want to work there because they feel like it’s in a microcosmos that they don’t want to leave and they don’t want to work outside because they want to build a professional life in that space even in the times of remote work.
I think there will be still lots of people who prefer to keep the same environment even if it’s online. At least the job market is changing even after the lockdown is over. There will be lots of remote jobs left. It’s not going to come back to the same state of affairs that it was before the crisis.
Miguel Heinonen 29:57 I don’t think people are going to be called back in Immediately. I’ve seen this with many companies. You know, Europe or London is so expensive. And the average payroll for someone in their 30s over a year, in operational roles, whether it funded or not funded, there’s about 27 to 35. That’s the average payroll. And London is just so expensive. I’ve seen so many of my friends move out of the city. They got rid of their leases. In the US and those major cities, they just moved, you know, close to the families that tomorrow if they said, Hey, we’re opening up the offices, the logistics are just not possible because you have employees now, all across the country.
This is definitely something I think that’s gonna be a long time before people comfortably shake hands and exchange business cards. I’m very curious about the next trade show of what that’s going to look like at the London Excel. But I think there is a change. I think remote is going to stay a long part of the screen to be, you know, for a long part of our culture for a while, I think, you know, the next few years and maybe a couple of days on site.
Natalia 31:25 At the moment, you have postings of jobs in the UK, and you said France as well.
Miguel Heinonen 31:35 Yes. France, a lot of the US New York, Dallas, San Francisco, and San Diego. We’re growing.
Natalia 31:44 Are these for people who might be potentially interested? Are these profile jobs profiled in any specific way?
Miguel Heinonen 31:58 Yes, mostly in the tech industry. The reason why we decided to start there is the tech industry. I knew how to classify them. I knew about the type of roles we started going into. There are a lot of now SMEs that are posting but they still are looking for people with operational experience. And they were cost-effective. I’m happy that we get the post done.
But originally, it was just trying to find tech roles, but we have over 30 different categories now. You can just filter, like, I only want to see jobs in the startup community, or I just want to see jobs in the hospitality industry. We have multiple categories and also a specific section just for executives.
Natalia 32:50 That sounds great that there is a section for that as well. For PhD graduates, I have a lot to deal with. That’s the hardest category to get when you leave academia, so it’s good that you can find those platforms. I like to learn a little bit more about business development from you since you have to have this experience to effectively kick off a company by starting from one iPhone. Let’s imagine that there is a person, let’s say, I come to you and ask, I have an iPhone and I’m willing to trade it. And what do I do next to build the company in 2021? What do you say? What are the first five steps? What is the most important thing to do?
Miguel Heinonen 33:55 The first thing I would definitely ask you is what’s going wrong that you sell your iPhone. In my case, it was one of those situations, I had a sense of urgency to do it. But I always tell people, Hey, man, don’t quit your day job until you make more money with your platform than what you’re making at your current job. Because at the end of the day, you’re going to pay rent, buy food, you know, take your girlfriend out for drinks, dinner dates, and all of it costs money. I bootstrapped for years. And even today, I have advisory roles. I can pay developers as well.
But the first thing to do really is just to do it at the most cost-effective price by building an MVP, which is a minimal viable product. Strip down your idea to the core. If you can’t explain what your platform does, you know, in less than 30 seconds, you don’t want to build something where you can build a prototype. Get feedback from end-users. Make sure they understand what it is that you’re looking for, and make sure that it’s scalable as well. You want to know that the code that you built, many other developers can take over the project, and start building upon that. Today, you may have heard that one of the most common types of developers is called full-stack developers.
I worked with a full-stack developer. I went on Upwork and met this great guy. And we built a relationship there. We were just constantly working together building many different platforms. Now, he works directly with us. But it was the best way to get started and I got a lot of feedback. You know, people don’t like certain things. For example, it used to be just a map, and people click it. But then people said, now we just want to list on the left side, we built it. You just got to constantly keep evaluating what your platform is, how clean it is, is it like do the end-users understand what it is and then start calculating or how much does it cost and that’s the thing.
It costs money, especially in tech to make all these changes. Things you need to do is make sure that every time you build something, you ask yourself, how much does this cost? What was my return? And, you know, what are the worst-case scenarios? Like, for example, if I did, it may break, it’s going to slow him down. And the other question that you should ask yourself is, can you afford this as well? You know, like, do your end-users need this? The first thing is just to keep it simple and make sure as well that you can afford it and you’re always eating at night. I mean, my case was just a real sense of urgency.
Natalia 37:07 Well, that’s, I think it’s an open debate what is better because I also have friends who would be wonderful business developers and I have good business acumen already, even before they started the company, I think because every time I talk to them, I feel that they have it takes but they never decided to try. Because they have this belief that they just don’t have enough cash yet. And they keep on working in startups and procrastinate in starting a business for way too many years already. And the point is, there is never a perfect moment to start. They’re taking on a pile of cash, and taking very expensive courses in marketing. And they just try to pump up even more before they start.
Miguel Heinonen 38:05 Everyone is good. It takes a lot of courage to say, I’m going to do this, I’m going to let everyone know I’m doing this, and I won’t commit to it. You know, some people do feel comfortable, you know, having someone experience that will pay. It’s crazy. I mean, some of the companies I’ve worked with in the past, pay people, like premium dollars overpriced, just to have someone guide you, it doesn’t make sense to me, that it never has made sense unless just like they have a technical skillset. You know, I think another important part is to talk about it as well.
Because people like comfort and like guidance and someone to talk to. I get very hesitant when people try recruiting to join this startup without pay. Because you’ll notice that they’ll say, hey, I’ll give you 20%. And they always end up walking off because they don’t execute and resolve disputes. And make sure people are always paid because then as an agreement, you’re paid for X, Y and Z. But he is your friend and you talk about it, and he doesn’t do anything, you start resenting them, you know, so always make sure I never let too many people especially like in the first time that like, Hey, if you build a code, I’ll build the business model or the business part.
Don’t do it. Because the developer always needs to have food money. I just tell people to make sure that you pay people.
Natalia 39:52 Most people offer shares because they don’t have the cash to pay. That’s the problem. That’s a common problem for first-time entrepreneurs. They just start from scratch. In my experience, what you can also leverage is your own skills. Try to find people who you can barter with, like what works for me, I work as a career advisor. And I often help people in exchange for doing something else for me. I also found good developers through Upwork, and even through Fiverr.
And I know that what they were paid is nowhere near to what they should be paid because what they did was amazing. But that was all I could afford at that point. But at the same time, I just tried to always leave people with more by recommending them to more high-ticket clients. Some other people I know are much more wealthy than me and promoting them through the website.
Miguel Heinonen 41:06 I agree with you. It’s a paid exchange for an agreed set of services. And I love writing reviews. Like, hey, this is a great developer, you know, contact them, his skillsets are not in a box. I just mean that you will find that many people love to have comfort and try and give up equity. But if things fall apart, because people are always trying to get paid first, you know, and there’s always like, Hey, I can’t do it after work, I can maybe do this as a part-time and people get upset. And I’m saying that you should be comfortable doing a lot of things on your own, especially to get the wheels turning.
Natalia 41:52 I also don’t offer shares. That’s one of the reasons also that I would feel the burden that it has to work or otherwise someone doesn’t get paid for what they did for me. That’s indeed not good karma. Because you take real work from people for the promise of something. That’s what you do when you pay with shares. That’s like selling people’s dreams.
Miguel Heinonen 42:29 That’s exactly how I feel like. I can’t just do my shares anymore. I have a board. I have to get disaster permission now.
Natalia 42:42 I also know how it feels from the other side from a person who got shares on paper that is not worthless because two years ago, I was also involved in one blockchain project. And I spent two months writing the white paper and I was promised some shares. But until now, nothing changed in this project. I’m like, Okay, you know, if you don’t see any changes on the website, they didn’t launch even though they plan to do so two years ago, probably they are nowhere now. It will not be worth anything in the future. I wish them well. But just realistically looking at it, it’s probably like two months of work.
Miguel Heinonen 43:26 It happens. I mean, don’t get me wrong. That’s a great experience as well. But now you’re a lot more aware. Like what happened to me when I dropped the ball, my first startup now from a mile away, someone offers me some pay just for an agreement of me putting a couple of weeks worth of work hearing empty promises. It happens and it’s not bad. It’s just not experiencing, you know?
Natalia 44:01 It’s estimating your chances in the market. And so I also don’t think it was a viral play of any kind that’s just a lack of experience in the end also, like when you are not a founder, but just like a core team member, you don’t have that much influence on the company. You’re one of 6, 8, or 10 people who are involved so even if you do everything perfectly well, then you still have a minor impact on whether or not this company will be successful.
The third thing I also learned and now I design my own company in a way that I have complete control over what’s happening and if the company fails, it’s all on me. I cannot blame anyone.
Miguel Heinonen 44:51 Okay, you’re so close. I can’t wait. I can’t wait to get to see it live. Plus, we’ve already done the setup.
Natalia 45:02 Thank you. I mean, I’m positive about it. I think in a year or two, I will see real benefits from what I do right now. At the moment, I’m quite positive about the future. But I think it helps me that all the blame is on me. It helps me rather than making it difficult. I never feel alone because there are so many friends with companies and we exchange information. I got so much good advice from many other people. If you are a solopreneur, you’re never really alone unless you’re a completely weird type of person who cannot speak with others. If you’re very aloof, maybe then you’re in trouble. But if you’re sociable, I think we need to share as well, then I think you’ll be fine.
And I have another question about your opinion on these expensive programs for entrepreneurs and expensive courses. I have to say, at the moment, we are running an experiment with a friend of mine, who is a big fan of investing in himself. And what I mean by that is that he can spend 50,000 euros on, or $50,000 ongoing for Master studies on Oxford and on sales process.io course that is, you know, the most expensive course for salespeople. And a few months ago, he bought such a course. And he paid 15,000 from his own pocket because he believed that it was the best option to learn about sales before he starts his own business. And we made the bets.
I bought a course for 10 euros from Udemy about online marketing, and he bought this one for 15,000. We are now in the race. We have one year to learn about sales. And he’s learning from that course. I’m learning from Udemy. But when I’ve seen a few slides from that course, I was shocked because I feel this is just too complex to be true. Because I’ve seen complex models of how the dynamics of the company should look like and they even calculate integrals. There are differential equations to solve. And these models are like, Is this real? Because how can you predict a company? How can you model it with equations like this?
The market is so unpredictable. You have so little information. There’s so much you don’t know. I felt this is just overfitting the data and maybe just too much and maybe taking a simple approach and just following with the clients. I think following the money and just listening to the client is enough. I’m curious about what is your attitude to those expensive tools? And is there any Insider knowledge about business development?
That only people who pay 15,000 for a course get that is like a secret knowledge that no one else has. But people like me, like poor business developers, can start from scratch that people don’t know. Anyone can build a company with courses for 10 euros. What do you think about it?
Miguel Heinonen 48:59 I mean, I went to university and this course subject was entrepreneurship and I hate to say it but all those things that I learned in class never really even came to it. I mean how to write and get back a tax credit that was never there. You know how to get rid of our founder, get back to your shares that weren’t in the class, and how to network. I used to go to LA and just tried to network over there. You learn the textbook. When you look at these courses, I guess some people just want to feel like they have some experience, but the moment you’re out of that class.
You’ve only learned theory. And the real-life of what it’s like to have an employee right now is pretty brutal. Now, you have a situation where you don’t need this employee. It’s more cost-effective for you to just get rid of them. Because you’re not paying yourself. These are things you don’t learn in classes. And I think I would never pay for those courses. That’s my honest opinion for me but there are some people out there that do pay for it because they feel comfortable. What I don’t like is that some of these companies are making almost guarantees.
I feel that they’re preying on people with these insecurities. I’m a YouTuber and I see a lot of these fake gurus who’re promising, like, Listen, if you just go on my course, you’re going to make so much money, and it’s going to be automated. You don’t have to work and I understand about automation. Maybe it does work but I do not know-how. People have the ability and it’s never going to change. People are always going to be insecure and pay for education. But in my mind, I’m like, Listen, why would you wait two years to build your tech company or your startup, and learn about something where you can learn it on the go.
Do you know what I mean? And only you will know better about this industry. I know my industry very well. And I do feel like if anyone tried to build a platform like that, I have the authority of that, not a guy who’s teaching me from a textbook or a lecturer and that’s because I put in the hard work. I don’t know. I feel that every time I see those ads. It’s very predatory. They’re guaranteeing people and just the fact that this guy is putting 15,000, you know, into these courses that you have them on YouTube.
You will just type in YouTube, the best leadership principle, you know, the three types of leadership delegated authority and once I believe, these are life experiences. I just find to spend that type of money, especially when you want to get a startup.
Natalia 52:47 Why I didn’t go for MBA? Because some people were telling me and I personally even have friends who, after PhD, went for MBA studies. I didn’t want to go there. I felt I am done with my studies. I’m in my 30s. I didn’t feel that that would be the best way to learn about that business is streetwise knowledge.
Miguel Heinonen 53:16 That’s a great thing. I mean, you have to be the straight start to a certain degree trying to find the best discounts of like, Hey, listen, help me build this for you. And I’ll help boost your profile. These are things you don’t learn about trying to save a buck or partner even for us. We partner with other companies to help us get more traffic. And obviously, that’s me like going on their site. It’s a great product.
Some partners don’t learn that in schools but I think it’s also very important. There are some of these social media influencers that are always preaching about business. I used to hate them. Because to me, it was regurgitated content and very basic. And then it took me a long time to realize there are some people out there that this is not common knowledge. It is very good information for someone who doesn’t have experience. It’s good content. But I don’t like it when they prey on people guaranteeing them guarantees access.
Natalia 54:39 If there is a channel on YouTube called contrapreneur bingo. It’s about all these fake horses. Funnily enough, the price always ends with a seven number. If you see a course that is priced out, let’s say 1997, it’s a shady course. It’s easy to recognize for some reason they all like to end with the number seven.
Miguel Heinonen 55:06 What am I pricing? Because I think one of my pricing is 197 for 10 jobs.
Natalia 55:13 Check it out like this is motivated by some psychological studies that a seventh of the end is kind of subconsciously incentivizing people to buy.
Miguel Heinonen 55:27 My birthday is December 27. I’ve always been a salesman.
Natalia 55:35 I see a price ending with seven.
Miguel Heinonen 55:42 You’ve made me conscious about my pricing now.
Natalia 55:47 You should be.
Miguel Heinonen 55:50 I’ll send you a screenshot later by pricing. Maybe I should change it.
Natalia 55:57 Just add 50 cents and then fine. Do you know this TV show, The Apprentice? I was curious. What’s your opinion?
Miguel Heinonen 56:10 I’ve seen it a couple of times.
Natalia 56:15 I know that it’s controversial. But I know what people think about Trump. But I think it was a great idea. And when you think about the team dynamics and what is valued in business, and you listen to these boardroom conversations, it taught me a lot about business. And I feel like it was quite useful. It was much more useful for me than all these textbooks because I was also going through entrepreneurship courses like courses for PhD students. What I learned from Trump was so much more useful in the end.
Miguel Heinonen 56:58 I like the show when Arnold took over. I took over while Trump was in the presidency.
Natalia 57:07 I’ve watched a few episodes with Arnie. But honestly, he didn’t have that charisma. He didn’t have the boardroom and for me, that was not as interesting anymore.
Miguel Heinonen 57:22 I love Arnie. I grew up already, you know, as a kid, I had Terminator two, on VHS. I was six years old watching Terminator two, a commando Kindergarten Cop. The reason why I never liked it was that I think it was also a lot of entertainment. I’ve met so many people. You know, just working in local jobs that they could have done a lot better job, you know, I feel like for entertainment that it just wasn’t for me.
But I always wonder like, maybe I should apply for that one day, you know, for that show just to see what my skill sets are because I forget to do something. Maybe I should do it. Maybe I shouldn’t challenge myself.
Natalia 58:27 I’m not sure I probably would never have to appear TV show or any type of reality show?
Miguel Heinonen 58:36 Let’s see, let’s see if I can find the time. Maybe I apply.
Natalia 58:46 My point of view is that usually, you can lose more than you can gain. Because it’s easy to get pictured as a fool. You know, confessionals that you make sure are cut down to picture you in a specific way. They create some persona and it’s usually not as you are. And I heard so many stories about this. And then they just decide like straightaway, you will be the big one or you will be a goofy one or you will be the idiot and they will frame you in a way that they need for the show.
Miguel Heinonen 59:21 Yes, it’s a show at the end of the day. I mean, some of them are just like this guy. You know, I mean, I don’t know that it’s for entertainment.
Natalia 59:34 I know what the defaults are like celebrities, like the apprentice or any other show like this. They have these like Bibles. And there is a format in the Bible. It’s a bit like a screenplay. It’s like about 100 pages and everything is explained there. How the formula of the whole show looks like and it’s like, you know, if you have a committee that assesses under that, then there has to be always like one critical person there and one goofy person and one understanding emotional person.
Miguel Heinonen 1:00:18 I played the bully.
Natalia 1:00:22 You know, two teddy bears, they will just try to frame you in that role.
Miguel Heinonen 1:00:26 I’ll try and be the alpha that everyone hates.
Natalia 1:00:31 There is already enough. It’s completely not for me. I know that for sure.
Miguel Heinonen 1:00:45 Now, you make me want to be the apprentice. After this podcast, I’m going to see if I can apply.
Natalia 1:00:54 Good luck. I wouldn’t be worried about you if you apply. Because I know how television works.
Miguel Heinonen 1:01:04 You’re just gonna have a winning smile.
Natalia 1:01:09 All right. I like those. I like the apprentice. Maybe I’m just trying to justify why I spend so much time on YouTube.
Miguel Heinonen 1:01:20 I’ve learned so much on YouTube. I learned all my photoshop skills and video editing skills on YouTube. I’ve learned a lot. At some point, I need to learn a dance. That’s my next thing. I’m going to a wedding in September. I’ve just been invited and need to brush up on my skill sets but it’s incredible what on YouTube you can learn. You can also listen to so many authorities and so much thought leadership there. It can be inspiring. I don’t think you need to feel like you can only get that in institutional paid. You can get it anywhere.
Natalia 1:02:01 And I also feel because I’m also working on my second book right now and I am concentrating on how people navigate in the job market and what are the differences between those who navigate well and those who cannot find their way. And I feel that the way of learning new things is different because whether or not you’re successful in the long run doesn’t depend on how well you learn when learning is intended. Every student gets the same textbook for studies and they just have to memorize the information.
That doesn’t create any differences between people. What creates differences is whether or not you can extrapolate what you see and learn something that was not intended. For instance, you watch a stupid show. But you can learn from there, for instance, Hey, why did this person get to the final and the other person didn’t? And what is the winning strategy here? It’s something more than what you intended to get out of it. You were intended to get pure entertainment.
But in fact, you learned something extra because it made you think and some people are more thoughtless and they always get extra information that was not intended to be conveyed compared to others who just consume what they see and they have no questions about it. I think you can learn from almost anything, even standing in a queue at a store, you can still learn something if you look around. And the same with TV and reality TV. And you can always learn something if you have that mindset that whatever you see, we just question what you see and try to get some extra insights that are beyond what is just served to you. And that was more philosophical.
Miguel Heinonen 1:04:02 I guess. I don’t know. I keep learning. In the entrepreneurship road, you always have to learn and adapt quickly.
Natalia 1:04:12 I like to ask you if you have any general advice for young people who are thinking about launching their first business and they have no money in their pocket. What would be the bits of advice you could give?
Miguel Heinonen 1:04:32 As I said earlier, my case of having to sell that phone was out of a real sense of urgency because I need to get this platform up and running ASAP. But if I had a job at that point, or guaranteed income, I wouldn’t have had to have sold my phones. You have to be willing to bootstrap your company. You know what I mean. And you will have to make sacrifices. You won’t be going with your friends every Friday night blowing a quarter of your paycheck on beers at night and clubbing. You have to build an MVP at the fraction of the cost. You will learn about tech, even if it completely fails, and you lose a couple of 100 bucks.
You know the foundation of how it’s done and how you scale this and build an MVP. And you don’t have to build the next Uber. But you can build like an MVP, for example where a driver can connect and chat with a passenger, then build on top of it. But bootstrapping is a great way. The other thing I was gonna say is, you know, I have failed. But I’ve also worked at companies that have failed and I’ve learned a lot. They teach you not about what to do.
If you want to get into the tech industry and learn how to sell, you have to work in a tech company, get the experience, learn about what they do for outreach, sales, and those experiences you can bring to your startup. And I would tell you if you want to get a startup and you’re young, you don’t have to build yours. Just get a job in the community and learn as much as you can.
Natalia 1:06:21 I couldn’t agree more. Thank you so much, Miguel, for all the insights that you shared with us today. Thank you guys who came to the end of this episode. And Thank you so much for watching. If you would like to get more of this type of content, then please subscribe to the channel and we are open to your comments and questions. If you have any, please post them below. And take care. Have a great day.
Miguel Heinonen 1:06:48 Thanks.