Startup Calgary just concluded its inaugural Startup Grind with its newest advisory board member, Rajen Ruparell, the Head of Global Sales at Groupon.
If you’re unfamiliar, Startup Grind is a movement out of California, powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, with a vision to educate, inspire, and connect entrepreneurs. This global event currently takes place in 50 cities in 15 countries and is designed as a monthly fireside chat interview featuring successful entrepreneurs, innovators, educators and investors who share personal stories and lessons learned on the road to building great companies.
Rajen is a native Calgarian, Flames fan, and a builder. He considers himself fortunate to have worked in his family business of car dealerships growing up which helped him understand the day-to-day grind of running a business. Rajen earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto, where him and a few friends built a pizza delivery business that expanded to six universities.
He then went on to Imperial College Business School in London where he learned the importance of “focusing on your value proposition." While in London, Rajen also co-founded Citydeal, an online discount deal company that was acquired by Groupon five months after launch in an estimated nine-figure deal, allowing Groupon to make an entrance into Europe. Rajen has been the Senior Vice President of Global Sales for Groupon since 2012 and currently resides in Chicago.
After an engaging discussion, the attendees left with a lot to think about. Here are seven key lessons from Rajen:
1. Entrepreneurs are both born and raised. There are some skill sets that need to be taught, but the will to “win," succeed, and create has to come from within.
2. Take a chance. “I knew that when I was 30, I would look back and think, ‘this is either the best decision, or the worst decision of my life.' But that’s what you need to do to win in this world.”
3. Really good entrepreneurs can sell and they can recruit; the rest falls into place.
4. Hire good people and trust them to do the work you hired them to do.
5. Stay focused on the goals that lie ahead. Surround yourself with smart people by tapping the resources available, like the ones brought forth by Startup Calgary.
6. Stay humble, entrepreneur or not. Appreciate the lucky breaks you've received and give back.
7. Really good entrepreneurs focus on building their business; their success helps build the community around them.
Perhaps one of the most important items of discussion was Rajen’s prediction of the huge consumer based tech-company that will come out of Canada. His excitement for Calgary’s startup community was evident, as he repeatedly talked about the massive growth that’s happened over the years and the vibrant community he was excited to come home to.
To close the night, two lucky entrepreneurs with the most tweets were offered one-on-one mentorship with Rajen, which, by looking at Rajen's past, seemed to prove great value. Stay tuned for the next Startup Grind YYC in January.