What is your startup about?
To explain what we are building at Stark in one sentence, imagine this:
Car2Go + Bird + Airbnb getting together and having a beautiful fully electric baby.
Distributed ownership for shared electric vehicles that are “purchased” by hosts, yet we provide all the services. This model removes the quickly depreciating hardware CapEx from our books and allows for sustainable expansion. It has the potential to disrupt the current concept of individual vehicle ownership. At the same time it solves the charging infrastructure problem EV’s are facing in urban environments. Our users do not have to worry about it.
How did you find your startup’s ideal?
My startup journey began in Hawai’i of all places! After getting my Master’s Degree I was living there and working as a stylist for CBS on the show Hawaii Five-O. It was great fun, but it just wasn’t the “career” for me. My partner and I decided to move to Berlin in 2016. After a trip to China I partnered with a manufacturer to make the first ever USB compatible String Lights.
I launched my first successful Kickstarter project and after two months I had a fully functioning e-commerce business with $20,000+ in sales and 40K+ (real) followers on social media. The founders at Stark Mobility were launching their first ever Indiegogo project called the StarkBoard and asked for my help with gearing up for the launch. We had hit our first bump in the road.
What happened next was very important in realizing who to and not to bring on as co-founders. In the startup world “bootstrapping” is a common term for a reason. It was our time to get creative. The people who were positive, passionate, and strong willed decided to make it work. The other 4 co-founders, left within a few weeks, and our CEO stayed on as an advisor for a couple of months until he bowed out.
It was the best and worst time in my life.
My Co-Founder Laurens and I decided that we needed to buckle down and save the company. So we began our to pursue what we believe is a historic opportunity. We operate in a fundamentally different manner and structure than traditional micro mobility providers. To create an integrated company which successfully commercializes micro mobility vehicles while at the same time enabling Stark Mobility and vehicle owners to share and profit from those vehicles. Thus eliminating the traditional “one owner – one user” model.
What motivated you to launch/join your startup? Which role did female founder space (former wefound) played there?
Our beautiful earth. It’s the only one we have. Plus, if we do have to re-locate on Mars I would like to have a seat on the king of mobility’s Tesla rocket.
What made this time so perfect for your startup to kick off? And what do you think generally is the right time to build a startup?
What were your biggest challenge in running a startup and how do you deal with it?
Biggest challenge so far was learning the proper way to communicate assertiveness and directions as a co-founder across cultural and gender lines. Dealing with it was very difficult because we were running a primarily virtual team and communication got lost to interpretation. How I ended up dealing with it was taking the extra steps to call each person on the phone when I wanted to communicate with them instead of Slacking or Texting. It seemed to work better.
What were three main business lessons you learned from starting a company?
When starting off the benefit of a local team in the same vicinity rather than a distributed team it was clear for us that we were much more efficient and connected with the local team working in the same time zone and the same city. It helped to make us all more connected.
Phase one of building a company should be local if possible. Phase two can include satellites or remote workers who are freelanced based and are solving basic needs. These people can be interchanged or replaced. Phase three will be going more towards working from home part time and hiring additional team members that are partially remote.
Don’t hire morons. Don’t hire friends. Fire fast. Hire the best. Have a written out and regimented hiring and integration procedure. Make sure this agreement is understood by both parties when hiring. Lay out very clear and precise expectations, milestones, and outlets for help from the beginning. I see so many companies and employees get stuck in a job that they hate because of fear, confusion, and sympathy. The most important thing is skill first as a requirement. The second thing is the cultural fit/morale. These two things HAVE to be there.
The most important aspect is only say yes to requests when you know you can commit to it and execute. Also knowing that the decisions that you make and don’t make reflect on the morale of the team. For instance if you say you will do something and don’t end up doing it two or three times it sets the precedent for the rest of the team to be careless with deadlines. Need to enable workers and leadership to form within the team and within themselves. No hand holding.