Mikkel has given many interviews over the years and wrote about the company’s amazing journey in his book Startupland — but Alexander and Morten have operated mostly behind the scenes, so read on for a rare opportunity to hear more about some of Alex’ unique insights and learnings!
Christoph: Less than 1% of all companies that raise early-stage funding become a unicorn. What do you think was it that Zendesk had which the other 99% didn’t have? If you had to rank the importance of factors like idea, timing, luck and team, what would the ranking look like?
Alexander: I think you are missing a vital element — crazy hard work. Work ethic and the team you assemble are the most important factors. If you don’t work like crazy until you “arrive” (for years on end), you will never make it. Building a startup is extremely hard. There is no “if I am smart, I only need to work 30 hours a week”. Or “The hours I put in after 40 hours a week have diminishing returns anyway”.
If you don’t have a founding team that complements and inspires one other, you are starting off with a serious handicap. Don’t start out with a pure engineering team, or an all business team. Outsourcing in the early stages is extremely difficult.
Next important item is timing (also known as luck). The very last item is the idea or concept. The inconvenient truth is that ideas are cheap and plentiful
Another important point is to stay away from the mainstream. At any given time, it seems like everyone is pursuing variations of the same 3–4 ideas. Partner with someone with domain knowledge of an industry that is underserved — and go own it.
Continues here: https://medium.com/point-nine-news/meet-alexander-aghassipour-co-founder-chief-product-officer-at-zendesk-2e951c2279e5