Listening is what helped me the most in tough times. Listen to every bit of advice you get. However, take it with a grain of salt and “experiment” the advice.
Raphaël Paulin-Daigle is passionate about entrepreneurship and business. He is creative and believes business should always be fun. For Raphaël, nothing is impossible and there are no limits to his dreams. By the time he was 11 years old, Raphaël had already launched an online magic store and built another business from the ground up – this time being a magician for hire. Today his entertainment business is successful like never before.
Now at the age of 16, Raphaël couldn’t wait until starting his University education to kick-off his next venture. He loves marketing, and after seeing so many businesses lose money because of bad marketing, he decided to build an accessible online solution to help. That solution is Idealinput.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on Idealinput. It’s a website that helps businesses improve their marketing by getting their ads, logo or website reviewed by top marketing experts (some whom have worked with companies like YMCA Canada, CIBC, Bell Sympatico and Yahoo!) at an affordable cost. These consultants normally charge thousands of dollars so I find it quite exciting that small businesses can finally access these experts to help improve their conversion rates, ROI and overall marketing effectiveness at about half the cost of what they’d normally pay. It’s something that wasn’t available before and since small and medium businesses must do a lot of marketing in order to get known and be successful, I’m confident Idealinput will help them save lots of money while improving their marketing.
Also, since Idealinput has only recently been launched, I’m busy improving the website, managing relationships with our experts and taking care of our customers. In other words, I’m working on making Idealinput one of the most valuable marketing tools for businesses.
Where did the idea for Idealinput come from?
About a year ago I was reading an article about high school teens who were building successful companies. The article made me think that even though I was still in high school, it’s possible to start something. I’ve always been passionate about business and entrepreneurship and since I can be a bit impatient, I could not wait until graduation to start my next venture. So I brainstormed several business ideas that came to mind. Most of them were about marketing, which is not a surprise considering it’s probably my favorite part of business. After explaining my idea to several entrepreneurs and business associations for feedback, I simplified my idea, tweaked the concept a bit, and finally, had Idealinput.
What does your typical day look like?
I’m still in high school, so my typical day is pretty normal. I wake up, check my emails and head to school. At the end of the day is when I will make my calls, reply to emails and work on Idealinput. Weekends are when I’m the most productive. Thank god they exist! Also, I am a really social guy so whenever I get the opportunity to, I spend time with my friends.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The first thing I do when getting an idea is to write it down. Then I think about it for a day or two and do some research on similar ideas that may exist. Then if the idea still makes sense, I’ll talk about it with my parents, family members and friends. If I still like it, and if time and resources are available, I will look at ways to bring it to reality. At that point, I might create a minimum viable product and ask other entrepreneurs for their input. The rest is like anything else – it happens or it fails.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The rise of entrepreneurship. I really find it exciting to hear more and more people (including lots of teenagers) say they want to start a business. I think entrepreneurship is one of the key solutions to solve many of the world’s problems, including global warming. It’s our future and this is what might save our economy in the upcoming years. Entrepreneurship can be fun and extremely beneficial in so many ways.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I never had a “real” (like some might say) job. And I’m quite happy with that. Ever since I was 11 years old, I’ve been my own boss. Except for once. My father who is a real estate agent needed to have all of his contacts and clients info entered in a database. Well, he asked me if I was interested in doing it.
I said “yes,” however, it required a huge amount of time and it was a painfully redundant work. As someone that always needs to do something a bit challenging, I procrastinated for a long time. And if you’re wondering, no, I never finished it completely. What did I learn from it?
1. I could never have a job that involves doing the same things over and over.
2. If you don’t take your job seriously, you won’t be any good at it. And then your clients won’t come back. My father never did, as he hired a personal assistant.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
My first real business was my magic business and getting it started was not too difficult. I mean, it’s a small local business and I didn’t need an office or anything like that. However, launching a large scale startup is something else. One thing that I did not use enough for Idealinput and for my previous projects is the lean startup methodology. I can assure you that now, I will use the lean startup methodology (including the amazingly useful lean canvas) principles a lot more than before and certainly before starting any other project or startup. It helps for almost everything and I’m certainly a fan.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
My answer is a bit cliche, but it’s to listen. Listening is what helped me the most in tough times. Listen to every bit of advice you get. However, take it with a grain of salt and “experiment” the advice. Keep doing what works for you.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’m still only 16 years old, so I cannot say I’ve had many failures.
However, my first real failure was my online magic store. I never received a lot of orders with that store and about a year and a half later I decided to close it. I must say that I was 11 years old at the time and managing a business at that age is not your first priority. It did not cost me a lot to launch that store so I took it as a learning experience for future endeavors. In hindsight, I can confirm that having an online store at that age did help me a lot with various aspects of Idealinput.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A simple online timeline and milestone web app that would show important events (past and future) of your life or business. It would help you keep track of your personal and professional goals.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
The world has many problems. Global warming and our planet’s pollution issues trouble me a lot and I would love to be able to fix those problem. Maybe one day I will.
Tell us a secret.
Do what you love and learn as much as you can. Follow your passion.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Clarity.fm: I find that Clarity.fm is an awesome tool for entrepreneurs because it gives you the chance to speak directly with successful entrepreneurs like Eric Ries, Sean Rad and Dan Martell, just to name a few. I used it several times and found it very useful when I needed some clarity when building Idealinput. It’s great!
Mailchimp: I love Mailchimp and use it all the time for our newsletters. It’s simple and easy to use; in other words, the UX is amazing. More importantly, it’s extremely reliable, the analytics are great and easy to understand. Plus, they have wicked customer service.
Hootsuite: I use Hootsuite to manage Idealinput’s Twitter and Facebook accounts and I love it. It’s a powerful tool for social media management. Plus, it’s practical to be able to monitor channels and to schedule posts from one dashboard.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
One of the books I would recommend the most is ReWork by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson of 37signals. It’s disruptive and far from being a traditional business book. The content is pure genius. I think that if entrepreneurs can follow the philosophies explained in the book, the business world will be better for it. It truly is a fantastic book.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
@Idealinput – Providing marketing and branding related tweet to help you improve your marketing.
@Getmoreclarity - Twitter account of one of my favorite tool, they send great tweets about startups, entrepreneurs and has a nice dose of inspiration.
Last, how about someone who inspires you and makes you laugh.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laugh a lot but the last time was when I read something my friend retweeted which said “This says it all” and there was a picture attached to it that said “It all”.
Who is your hero?
My parents. They always supported me through all my projects and taught me everything I know. I’m extremely thankful for their continuous support. As for my main business inspiration, I have no choice but say Richard Branson. I share his vision and love the way he does business and how he creates.
Did you ever feel disadvantaged by your age in the business world?
No. I’ve always had great support and getting advice might even be easier at my age. Being a teenager and having businesses also helped me getting media attention when I launched the first version of Idealinput.com. Where it could get a bit more complicated is when you want to get funding. The fact that I go to school also make running a business a bit more difficult as I can’t invest as much time in the business as I would like to. But in general, no, I’ve found that age doesn’t really matter.
You go to school, do several magic shows per month, follow circus classes and hang out with friends. How do you find the time to work on Idealinput?
Even if finding time can be quite difficult at times. But I’ve always believed that when you like what you do, you’ll find the time to do it. Oh, and having an iPhone helps too.
Idealinput Website: http://idealinput.com
Idealinput on Facebook: http://facebook.com/idealinput.com
Idealinput on Twitter: @Idealinput
Raphael Paulin-Daigle on Twitter: @Rpaulindaigle
Raphael Paulin-Daigle on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/raphaelpaulindaigle