A few weeks back I had the opportunity of speaking to Egidijus Jarasunas, founder of Inamus. We spoke about his journey into entrepreneurship, his experiences at Springboard and his new startup, Inamus.
Hi EG, How are you doing, great to have you on YHP?
Hello Joseph and hello dear readers. Thank you for your invitation to share my story on YHP
Could you quickly give us some background information about yourself? Tell me about yourself growing up?
Originally I’m from Lithuania, East Europe. I’m 22 now. My story till I grew up is nothing different from 99% of others who lived their normal lives, went to school and that was about it. After school I went to vocational training school and got a diploma in computer hardware.
Still in school I started to work, starting from the simplest work that a teenager could do – placing ads, or working in constructions. At 18 I started working in a fireplace service company as a manager. Although this experience was short, I found my passion for fire and fireplaces – passion that I’m trying to make as a business at the moment.
Then an unexpected opportunity came to establish a computer retail chain office in my home city. This was quite a big task for me, while still 18. I took that opportunity anyway. At that time I was the only office manager, a sales person and a technician and everything that I had to be. However, I consider that the best thing that could ever happen in my career. I learnt how to manage small business, how to deal with problems, how to be responsible and many many other stuff that would be very hard to learn in any other situation.
After a year as an all-in-one role in computer retail business, I decided that I wanted to go to try something new, and got an opportunity to work in USA-Lithuanian web Development Company for specific projects. It was quite a nice experience; however just after a couple of months I and my team were invited to take place in accelerator program in Cambridge, UK, called Springboard Cambridge 2011.
The year after Springboard was very intense and very interesting. Even though many things changed and the company we were working on Springboard is not operating at the moment, I learned startup lessons in a hard way and I’m now working on my own startup – http://inamus.com, where I am the sole founder
How did you get into business? Were you exposed to entrepreneurship as a child?
I always had the attitude of a business man. Even though no one ever encouraged me to be entrepreneur. I consider this entrepreneurship spirit as a quality that people have or don’t have. The ones that have it, comes to business naturally, without much of an effort.
Who was your inspiration growing up and why?
There were plenty of people in my family and friends circle. Even though not all of them were entrepreneurs, they taught me qualities that is always practical – to be honest, responsible, punctual etc. When I grew up and started to work in IT, my inspiration were Ilja Laurs from GetJar, Lithuanian for vision of a business and how to do it and of course Steve Jobs for attitude to make it simple, beautiful and cozy for people to use whatever you make.
What was the inspiration behind Inamus? How did the idea come about?
While working as a manager at the fireplace shop I had to consult clients, help to find the best fireplace to fit the client needs. At that time there was no good source of information about that. I had to sit for hours and search through the web or official manufacturer pages (which were probably created in 1995s) and try to find information i needed. Many people expressed the need for a convenient fireplace catalogue, so at that time I created a small website, which featured several most popular fireplaces, had lots of their photos, descriptions, technical specifications etc, and people loved it. However when I quit the job, website died too...Until now
So EG, what is Inamus? What are you guys are trying to solve?
Inamus is a decision making catalog for fireplace buyers. And we solve 3 problems:
1. Fragmented and complex to understand information about fireplaces
2. Dealers and resellers trying to sell their over-stock
3. No unified rating system to compare products and make wise decision when buying.
What were you doing before you founded Inamus?
I was the founder of Adwings, a startup that got in Springboard Cambridge 2011 accelerator program. I was responsible for communications and pitching the idea. And we were quite successful – during the Investor Day tweet about our pitch was the most retweeted. We had a fantastic pitch.
What was your biggest challenge during the starting up phase?
I‘m the only founder of my company (even if most of accelerators and big-shit-heads-in-startup-industry would say that you have to have at least two founders, I disagree with that!). So the biggest challenges at the moment are: time, partnerships, young age. People do not tend to listen young business founders, or at least accept what we‘re saying. I always say to them – you can be young only once, but you can always be immature.
Raising money is always such a hot topic, How have you been able to fund the business?
The business I’m running at the moment is funded mostly from freelancing or contract-work. Only a small portion comes from the project itself. I have an opinion that going to raise money is the last thing entrepreneur should want to do. I’m planning to bootstrap since it will be really necessary to raise money for rapid expansion. Nothing else.
Tell us about your Springboard experience and some of the key things you learnt and took away from it?
Springboard was a great experience. I got quite a big experience on how to lead a company, how to establish contacts. There were many things that were totally new for me, as a young (20 years old at that time) entrepreneur. While talking about what I learnt, I would rather like to talk what was the mistakes and what could I’ve done better. At Springboard there were perfect opportunity to “milk” the mentors for contacts and other useful help and I don’t feel that I did enough of that. I would organise my list of mentors from begging, prepare email templates for different kinds of mentors etc. That would help to move faster and get the most of the situation.
The second thing I missed was the founders of our company. When starting a company I was a bit sceptical about “warnings” to choose founders carefully, however at the accelerator and afterwards these mistakes came out and was one of the reasons our startup – Adwings, is not operating at the moment.
What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business?
It is always crucial to get the right partnerships. This rule applies to any business you do. It saves lots of time, and makes easier to live.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
I would say there were two highlights:
1. When I had to open a computer retail store. That was when I really understood what it really means to do a business.
2. When I got in to Springboard. I got so much experience on how to do international business.
What can we be expecting from Inamus in 2012?
2012 is just a very beginning of Inamus, I already look at 2013. We have many great features on the road-map that people, looking to buy a fireplace we love!
What three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
The one most important thing that matters is your charisma – use it!
Do not create solutions to problems you don‘t have, rather find something that really annoys you and try to solve it.
Show qualities that matters – be honest, responsible, punctual
And do not waste time - Execute!