Take more risks early, change jobs often to keep learning and build a good network.

 

Alexander Bregman co-founded invitly after having worked eleven years for Google. He started off at Google with Inside Sales for the Dutch and Russian market, then moved to Product Marketing, initiating B2B marketing efforts for Google in Russia with the aim to extensively grow the number of advertisers. From 2011, he joined the Global Product Partnerships team, negotiating and working with strategic partners to launch various Google products (software and hardware) across EMEA, including Google Play Books, Play Newsstand, Google Chromecast, AMP and Google Assistant.

Alexander is fluent in English, Russian, Dutch and French.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

It all came from personal frustration when I was frequently having meals by myself in front of my phone during business travel. At the same time, I observed the explosion of dating apps like Tinder and started wondering why I couldn’t just as easily connect with people for professional occasions. I came to realize that professional networking is broken and is ready for a breakthrough.

But the main turning point for invitly came when I was struck by the idea of connecting people through invites, which today is the main premise of invitly. This was a real lightbulb moment that got me extremely excited. I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on a notebook and draw up some mocks of how this could look like. Thinking back at how it started, it’s amazing to see how far we have come and that thousands of people around the world are using invitly to expand their professional network.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I’m constantly juggling between running invitly, commuting to and back from the office – about 45 min cycling one way – and spending quality time with my wife and 2 kids (7 and 1 y/o). Having all that on my plate forces me daily to prioritize and focus on what’s important.

After arriving at the office, I take some time to set priorities for the day and try to get that checked off. At the same time, I try to be flexible since as a startup founder, many things – both good and bad – can and do come up any time.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I’m usually very pragmatic and focused on problem solving. The same holds true for ideas. I usually just go for it, talk to people, get their input, put something on paper and start taking small steps towards testing and realizing those ideas.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I’ve been really obsessed by social networks for a long time. I just couldn’t comprehend that while it’s so easy to connect with people online, it’s really hard to meet someone in-person and build real social relationships. Dating apps lead the way on this matter and I’m excited that with invitly we’ve created a way for the professional audience to meet as well.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

From my almost 11 years at Google I learned, sometimes the hard way, to prioritize. While millions of things can come up, I’m reckless in filtering everything through and asking myself, is this really going to have a long term benefit to the company? Is this something worth my time?

What advice would you give your younger self?

Take more risks early, change jobs often to keep learning and build a good network.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Being stubborn is not a bad thing. Especially when it translates into perseverance, this will usually serve you well in life.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Talk about your startup to as many people as you can. Feedback is extremely valuable at any startup stage and you never know what could come out of those conversations. Don’t shy away in a corner.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Launch early and iterate. Also from the Google lexicon of how to run a startup, but it’s extremely important at the early stage. We’ve been testing, getting feedback and iterating over and over again. You have to be flexible and open-minded as your initial assumptions and ideas may not be true. In this case, being stubborn will only work against you.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Hiring the wrong emloyees or partners and not getting rid of them fast enough. Whenever you feel something is wrong, try to fix it or move on, don’t leave it unsolved as it will blow up in your face later.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Digital transformation has yet to happen in many traditional businesses. Too many companies are still run in very old fashioned ways (Lotus Notes anyone?!) and need help to modernise and become more productive. There’s still a lot of opportunity for many types of SAAS startups.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

To the point that you should keep on sharing and talking about your business to as many people as possible – I recently attended a dinner with some classmates where I obviously let everyone know how my startup is moving along. These talks turned into a $500K USD pre-seed founding round, so definitely one of my best $100 I’ve spent on dinner.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

By far, it’s Slack – for any communication within our team, there’s nothing else like it. Still wondering how I used to work without it in my previous corporate job.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Start-up Nation by Saul Singer – great perspective on how a small state like Israel can punch so much above its weight when it come to tech companies. It’s both inspiring and eye-opening.

What is your favorite quote?

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” —Walt Disney

Key learnings:

  • Be open-minded and be humble. Entrepreneurship is anything but glamorous, especially at the start.
  • When hiring, prioritize enthusiasm & team fit over skill.
  • Don’t postpone decisions. Startup life is all about moving fast, you don’t have the luxury to sit and wait it out.
  • Talk about your startup, get feedback, don’t shy away.
  • It’s all about who you know. So build your network as you won’t be able to do it on your own. Invitly can help you with exactly that.

Connect:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexanderbregman/

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