Jack Underwood, CEO and co-founder of Circuit
I started Circuit when I was just 23 back in 2017 and it has been a crazy ride. Having never started a company before, or even really worked in one, I had my sceptics, but I knew that I had spotted an opportunity and it was not one I wanted to waste.
While industry and life experience have their advantages there is absolutely no reason you cannot start a business in your 20s – it’s business acumen, tenacity, adaptability and frankly a lot of hard work that leads to success.
Initially I built Circuit as a route planner and since then the business has grown to a company bringing in an ARR of $10m. As we’ve grown, I’ve realised that the problems facing delivery are bigger and more complex and so our business is now evolving to tackle the larger issues facing the industry.
So for anyone who has an inkling or is debating about whether their idea might just work here are my top tips.
1) Ensure the unit economics make sense
The simplest way to make sure your company turns a profit? Base your economics on a single customer.
Put the bigger picture aside for one moment and think about how you will make a profit on a single customer. Can you acquire a customer, sell them a product or service and still have money left over? If yes, then you know you’re on the right track. But if you can’t make enough money from a single transaction then you need to fix that before you scale.
2) Industry connections are not the be all and end all
Whilst industry contacts are always useful, they’re not essential. Many young entrepreneurs get caught up with ‘it’s who you know’ ideology and let this distract them or scare them off taking their first step.
But, in reality, you don’t need an established network or impressive array of industry connections to start a successful business. A great product will open doors for you.
In fact, coming to an industry with fewer ties can even be an advantage. A fresh perspective is often the best way to figure out what no longer makes sense about the accepted way of doing things.
3) Know how to spot an unrealised opportunity
The strength of your business is impacted on the strength of your idea. But it can be difficult to identify a problem that affects enough people yet isn’t already well-served by a crowd of competitors. If you want a successful business then you need to find an unrealised opportunity that others have missed.
The trick is to look for areas where the current product or service offering is poor, but people are still buying the product or using it anyway. This shows there’s a deep need for a solution and proves that a market already exists.
With Circuit I saw that delivery drivers were heavily dependent on technology but were having to rely on products that weren’t properly built for them or that did a poor job. Circuit is built specifically for delivery drivers and so is able to cater to their unique needs and offer true value.
4) Listen to customer problems not customer solutions
While customers will come to you with feature requests you need to focus on the root problem, not their solution. A customer will generally be unable to tell you the best way to solve a problem but their feature request gives you key insight into how your service can be improved.
You need to understand why this particular feature is requested and what problem it is attempting to solve - then come up with the best possible solution to that problem.
5) Charge from the start
It’s tempting to initially offer your service for free to draw in new customers and get feedback, but you need to charge from day one as it will give you a crucial advantage.
Paying customers will give you very different feedback to those using a product free. You need this higher level of honesty in order to refine your service and make it as user-friendly as possible.
At the same time making your customers pay will indicate the long-term success of your business. Nothing tells you if a customer would be willing to pay for something like actually asking them to pay right now.
Starting a business is a big step and it can feel daunting, but if you believe you’ve got a great idea and can work out a way to make revenue per customer then don’t let people put you off. You’ve got a solid foundation and all that you need now is to get started.
For more information on Circuit visit www.getcircuit.com