In the face of complexity, first time CEO and founder, Jason Furtado, doesn’t shy away from the hard problems.
Three years ago, he started Shoobx along with Stephan Richter, to provide a comprehensive platform for startups to manage corporate legal activities around things like company formation, fundraising, and other important foundational aspects of a company. It was an industry that was ripe for disruption, but not an easy one to change.
Walking Off the cliff
For Furtado, the fear of failure never goes away. Once Furtado recognized that was the only thing holding him back, there was no way he was going to let fear get in the way of his success. It was at this point that Furtado decided that instead of jumping to another large company or a small startup, he was going to venture out on his own and solve a real-world problem.
To Furtado, solving a problem doesn’t necessarily start with industry experience, “I walked into Shoobx as a first-time CEO knowing nothing about corporate law, venture capital or equity for that matter, but planning to change how the innovation ecosystem works.” Even though Furtado lacked relevant experience in the problem space, he did know how a successful development organization works and how products are built for growth. Before starting Shoobx, Furtado worked as a product manager and was part of the special operations team at Endeca (acquired by Oracle in 2011).
Changing how an ecosystem or an industry works is risky. Basing your future profits on your platform’s ability to change behaviors inside that ecosystem might be considered irresponsible. But big problems need big solutions, and Furtado doesn’t believe all problems can be solved with narrowly focused MVPs.
Furtado realized that too many solution providers were attempting to dig a big hole with a little shovel. Changing an ecosystem takes a lot more than simply optimizing existing activities. Contrary to the popular belief of the lean startup, Furtado says “Once you identify the right problem to solve, the MVP required to get traction might take a lot of investment.”
Not unlike most first time CEOs, Furtado struggles with his cravings to roll-up his sleeves and jump into the trenches. “I still commit code, but my team will call me out for taking on projects I shouldn’t take. They keep me accountable just as much as I keep them accountable. You set the example, but that doesn’t mean you do all the work.”
Furtado believes the most important job of a startup CEO is to facilitate his team’s success. When building a team, Furtado focuses on making their customers successful and letting that guide them as they collaborate. “I think being the CEO of a startup is a crazy thing to do. The first step to keeping above water is recognizing that it’s not all about you. You need to rely on your team.”
“It’s more important to have a balanced core team with diverse experiences than one perfect person to give yourself the best chance of success,” said Furtado.
Being a young CEO often means making mistakes, but it’s Furtado’s passion that drives his young startup towards success.