We jumped on a call with Swish Goswami to get his take on some important topics on starting up and scaling up your dream project.
Did you always know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I always knew that I wanted to own a business. At a young age, I would create sample business plans for ideas that I had. When I was older, I was able to do the Junior Achievement program and then at the University of Toronto, I realized that people who weren’t very different from me made careers out of their small businesses. This is what led me to start my own company with a friend. It was so fun to build something from scratch, even though the business was never able to launch officially. These experiences gave me the confidence to create my next company, Dunk, a social media-focused company. That experience led me to co-found Trufan, which I’ve been working on for the last three years.
Have you had any mentors? What did they provide you in terms of support? How has that helped you?
Yes, Trufan especially has taken a whole community to start and grow. Partners like our investors, advisors and even customers have helped guide us. In my personal life, I always like to talk to people who I find successful and generous. To get in touch with some of these people I started a LinkedIn article series, interviewing these people and building a relationship with them from there. I would talk to them about my ideas and run problems by them. The benefit of putting yourself out there to find mentorship is that your mentor will be someone who comes from your world, who knows your struggles and helps you succeed. Most people don’t have these relationships, and that’s where you may need to think outside the box like I did to find a mentor.
Startup Canada says that finding financing is the largest roadblock to overall growth. Does that align with your experience?
The biggest thing early on that helped was that I had a network, so get started early. If you don’t have a network, just know that money is out there and it’s your job to meet the right people who control those channels. When it comes to pitching, it’s important to strategize on how you reach leads, how you handle the “noes” that will inevitably come your way, and with those “noes” how you can learn from them. Another point to note is that fundraising is not always about getting two or three big-ticket investors. At Trufan, we have a larger cap table of investors with smaller amounts of funding. We’ve found that to be beneficial in terms of our expanded network.
What are some personal roadblocks that entrepreneurs need to overcome?
Remember that your mental health is important. This is something I see throughout the whole community. As an entrepreneur, you shouldn’t be in it for the short run, so you need to take care of yourself. If you let yourself burn out, your business will, too. Try as much as possible to take time off when needed. Block off times during the day to go for a walk and to think. It’s also very easy to think, “I need to be a billionaire by this age.” Get that thought out of your head, especially if you’re under 30 because it puts unnecessary pressure on yourself.
Any upcoming projects you want to highlight?
We just launched a new consumer product called Surf. It’s a browser extension that rewards people for their everyday browsing.