In the beginning, don’t worry about revenue. Just focus on finding the right answer to the right problem. Then, figure out how to make a business out of it.

 

Marc is the CEO at Stoplight, the API design management platform powering the world’s leading API first companies. He founded Stoplight in 2015 to transform the way that APIs are built and managed. He is also a full stack software engineer and designer with extensive experience with complex frontend UI and architecture (think “IDE but for the web”-type complexity), Node, API Design, and a whole lot more.

Where did the idea for Stoplight come from?

As a consultant, I’ve worked with many clients during their onboarding processes. Most of these clients had no API strategy – documentation, testing, etc. Whenever I signed a new client, it took massive amounts of time and resources trying to understand and improve their systems and processes. I knew there had to be a better way to tackle the general API lifecycle and thus Stoplight was born.

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

I am not a morning person so I make it a point to not have meetings in the a.m. hours. Instead, I prefer to crush through my emails and then never look at email the rest of the day. At 11 a.m., I meet with our team in EU as they wrap their day, tackling necessary tasks. Most of my best thinking comes in the evening so this is when I do most of my product design work.

How do you bring ideas to life?

As a design and product person with a background in engineering, I have the technical know-how to bring ideas to life after I draw them up on paper. Typically, I either do that myself or delegate to the best person to get the job done.

What’s one trend that excites you?

In general, declarative programming is exciting – the whole movement toward servers and codes breaking down into smaller parts through standardization will inform the way automation unfolds.

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

Focus on one thing at a time.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Exercise. Buy Apple stock.

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

Enterprise development teams should prioritize designating the new job position of API architect now – it’s a huge competitive advantage.

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

Read a new book every week if possible and never stop reading. It’s one of the best ways to expand your mind.

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

At least in the beginning, don’t worry about revenue. Just focus on finding the right answer to the right problem. Then, figure out how to make a business out of it.

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

I hired talent quickly and was slow to let them go. This only extended the suffering for everyone. The old piece of advice “hire slowly, fire quickly” really is true.

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

Combine food delivery with food boxes–a la Instacart + Blue apron–so that you can have everything delivered at once.

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

An espresso machine for my house, because caffeine…

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

Visual Studio Code from Microsoft. It’s a source-code editor but does so much more. I use it for all sorts of things, including note taking.

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

“The Three-Body Problem” by Liu Cixin. It’s a hardcore science fiction book that helps you to look at the world in a different way.

What is your favorite quote?

Software is eating the world – Marc Andreessen

Key Learnings:

  • At least in the beginning, don’t worry about revenue. Just focus on finding the right answer to the right problem.
  • Read a new book every week if possible and never stop reading. It’s one of the best ways to expand your mind.
  • Focus on one thing at a time.