The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten
237: Disadvantages as a Founder
Sep 1, 2017
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In today’s episode, Steli and Hiten discuss the topic of how to deal with your disadvantages as a founder. Your differences as a person, whether it be your age or ethnicity, is a characteristic about yourself that could be considered a disadvantage or an advantage—depending on your outlook. Steli and Hiten discuss the power of your MINDSET when it comes to embracing your differences and others’. Tune-in to learn how you can make your differences an advantage for you and why aiming to please everyone is a futile task.
Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:27 – Dealing with disadvantages as a founder is a topic that comes up a lot for both Steli and Hiten
00:58 – This is one topic that not all people talk about
01:13 – People may see Steli and Hiten as two successful founders with diverse backgrounds
01:56 – “Everything you think is a disadvantage is actually your advantage”

02:18 – Pitching American investors when English is not your native language is not a disadvantage
02:41 – Being surrounded by a lot of diversity is what will make your uniqueness shine
03:02 – Hiten’s example is Mathilde from Front, who is French
03:28 – Hiten got introduced to Mathilde because he meets foreign founders
04:01 – Use your disadvantages as advantages
04:53 – In South Africa, there’s a great pool of talented people that are 50% lower than the regular cost
05:28 – Being able to have lower costs is a clear advantage

06:09 – A better word to refer to disadvantage is difference
06:35 – “Being different depends entirely on how you play that or how you utilize that”
06:48 – Your level of awareness regarding one’s disadvantages is what matters
07:12 – The losing mentality is what makes you see more wrong in the world and is that’s going to debilitate you in your taking charge
07:46 – Your success in pitching with a foreign accent depends on many factors
08:01 – On the US coast, people care less if you have an accent
08:52 – There are ranges within foreign accents – in-person it might mean less, but if you’re cold-calling with a strong accent, it could be a disadvantage
10:28 – You need to be aware that the kind of accent you have can be interpreted differently by the person listening to you
11:26 – Elon Musk is originally from South Africa
12:24 – Go to the few people who will respond to you more positively
13:12 – Another disadvantage Steli usually comes across is the age issue (too young or too old to be a founder)
13:58 – For founders with an age issue, do the opposite of ‘act your age’
14:43 – Act as if the other person is not thinking about your age
15:15 – Hiten personally doesn’t bother to ask the ages of people he works with
16:01 – Act appropriately for what you’re doing
17:11 – Steli shares about a woman he read about in an article 10 years ago when he first came to the US

17:21 – It was about the Co-CEO of Pepsi, a woman born and raised in India, who is still wearing traditional Indian clothes to work

18:34 – Attitude and mindset matters a lot
19:05 – Highlight what makes you unique
20:05 – How do you respond to the negativity?
21:25 – A percentage of the time, the negativity is just in your head
21:48 – Don’t ever think people are biased
22:03 – If you feel the bias is real, you have a choice – change yourself in some way
22:52 – The way you handle bias is the way you handle sales objections

23:45 – Disqualify certain objections
24:20 – “Not everybody who has money should be my investor”
24:35 – Know who your target is
24:52 – Trying to convince everybody is NOT the right way
25:37 – “You can’t hide from reality, you can’t run from reality – you need to embrace reality”

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