Learnings by Sameer Kapur

Lessons from building Teacherly

Published February 26, 2020

Last October, my cofounder, Saurav, and I decided to close down Teacherly. We spent over a year working day and night to make this a success, but ultimately decided to move on to better opportunities. After shutting down, I reflected on what we had accomplished. I'm proud of what our team was able to do: we raised money from an angel investor, built a web-based platform, taught dozens of students, secured paying customers, and found great mentors who supported us all along the way.

The following is some advice I would give to any young entrepreneurs thinking about starting a company (or my younger self):

1. Your age is both your biggest strength and weakness.

Being young, people are generally very receptive to taking your call, meeting you, and working with you as long as you take the first step to reach out. But, being young usually means lack of experience which can hamper your ability to truly understand an industry. Also, don't feel like now is the only time to start a company, it may be worth it wait until the opportunity is right. Premature optimization is real.

2. Find your edge.

We founded Teacherly a few months after we had sold Future Engineers Camp. We decided to pursue another idea in the education space because we had relationships with schools and centers all around the Bay Area. Having experience in the education space helped in getting the business off the ground and let us kickstart our first few services. If you have leverage on a particular space or market, double down and use that specific space to your advantage.

3. Team matters.

I was lucky to be building Teacherly with one of my best friends, Saurav Pahadia. This made a world of difference going through the painful moments of launching a product. Of course, we had worked on many projects in the past and were able to play to each other's strengths and weaknesses.

4. Relentless optimism & focus.

Being a founder, it is not easy juggling school, the company, family and other commitments. When times get tough, it is vital to stay optimistic towards the future and focus on your goal. Of course, pivot when necessary after due diligence has been done. But optimism is an important quality to fall back on to keep you going. Sometimes, we found ourselves doing work that was rather tedious. In these times, we reminded each other of our mission and the end goal. It's what brought us through the hardest times while building.

5. Tell the world what you are building.

Talk to as many relevant people as you can about the problem you are solving. Long term, these connections compound. Sharing content about what we were building on social networks, like Twitter, as well as networking events is what got us our first few hires.

To those of you thinking about starting a company as a student, get ready for one of the most exciting times of your life. There will be low lows and high highs, so it is important to define your mission and stick to it. Building a startup was one of the most thrilling times of my life and I can't wait to get back to it :) Good luck!

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That's all, folks!

heya! this was written by me, Sameer! i’m an interaction designer, developer, problem solver and many other things that won’t fit in a few sentences. i try to write about what i've learned or done every once in a while. follow me on Twitter for more frequent updates.