EPITA students meet the “world’s worst equity raiser”
On Saturday 21 September, as part of the monthly events organized by startup accelerator The Family, EPITA and Epitech and their startup accelerators StartUp42 and Creative Valley welcomed Suhail Doshi, founder and CEO of Mixpanel, an analytics platform for mobile and web. This was a chance for incubated startups to chat to the renowned Silicon Valley entrepreneur.
Going against unencouraging opinions
Suhail Doshi started by talking about his own experience as a digital entrepreneur. After giving up his studies, he was given advice by Max Levchin (co-founder of Paypal and Slide.com) and Kevin Rose (co-founder of Digg). That’s when he decided he wanted to create a startup. He was first interested in video games but soon chose another path as he wasn’t “passionate enough to develop a solid project.” So he turned to services and drafted a project which was to become Mixpanel: “Even though the advice I was given wasn’t very encouraging – Max Levchin thought the idea was “an interesting sideline project“- I embarked on the adventure knowing that there was a chance I might fail.” After several months of hard work, looking for innovative ideas and getting turned down by several investors – “I’m the world’s worst equity raiser!” – Paul Graham (co-founder of Viaweb and the Y Combinator) became his first financial partner. Since then, the startup has grown and been able to monetize its services. But, as Suhail Doshi explains, “what’s more interesting than earning a lot of money in the long run is the way you progress to make your startup viable.”
Open mentoring sessions
After the presentation, the attending startups were able to take part in open mentoring sessions. The principle is quite simple: the young entrepreneurs have a few minutes to present their startup in a simple and efficient manner and explain the problems they are faced with. Among the startups chosen were Mobeye and Modizy, which took part in the first incubation session of EPITA’s StartUp42 accelerator. “Because he has an external point of view and is a successful startuper, Suhail Doshi gave us advice that we can implement once we’ve reassessed things, said Augustin Rudigoz, CEO of Mobeye. Until now, we were going to base the application we are currently developing on open and general crowdsourcing. Suhail Doshi advised us to first create a group of loyal users before opening up our service to everybody as it is maybe too soon to call upon all potential users.”
The day of mentoring ended with open discussions about the microcosm of Silicon Valley (where exchanges between innovative companies are made easier by the fact that they are all close to one another geographically), finding new clients and exchange possibilities between American and European startups.