STARTUP SUCCESS: FEATURING THOSE WHO DO GOOD WHILE DOING WELL A series of interviews featuring Upside Foundation Donors, Board Members, Advisors, and Partners.
Meet Mircea Baldean: the founder of MeetVibe. After spending more than 15 years within Toronto’s financial sector, he realized the careers escalator was jammed. When Mircea read The Start-up of You he began to consider whether there was a better way he could be spending his time. Always one to embrace change, Mircea began down the path towards entrepreneurship by welcoming trend shifts and positioning himself to be ready for change- the entrepreneur’s recipe to create unexpected opportunities.
The Start-up of You written by Reid Hoffmann, founder of LinkedIn, talks about the importance of always having three plans, in business and in life: Plan A, Plan B, and Plan Z. Plan A is your current plan, Plan B is what you pivot to when you recognize an alternative or a higher potential opportunity, and then there’s Plan Z, the fallback position or lifeboat. The certainty of having a Plan Z backstop is what allows you to take on uncertainty and risk in your career.
“As soon as I had that Plan Z at the back of my mind, I started taking baby steps to ensure the lifeboat would hold water. The more time I invested in the idea, I realized it was becoming my passion project. Chance favours the prepared mind. When I had a chance to move on in my career, my Plan Z was quickly elevated into the next Plan A: MeetVibe”.
MeetVibe is a platform that simplifies scheduling and enables you to spend more of your time focused on the people who matter most to you, and less on cumbersome organizational tasks.
Mircea has reflected a lot on how to make the most of your time, both from the perspective of his product and the needs of his customers, as well as in terms of the success of his own startup. Mircea was kind enough to sit down with me and share some of his tips on making the best use of your time.
1. Always be aware of how you are spending your time
As any entrepreneur knows, windows of opportunity come and go, and there is never enough time to accomplish all that you want to do. Being purposeful about how you use your time is the most important part of any entrepreneur’s planning.
“I did not fully realize the importance of time when I was a full time employee. Now that I’m out on my own, my time is limited for what I want to accomplish. There’s so much to do, so much opportunity – I’m always thinking about how I can accomplish more, how I structure my time so I can maximize what I get done”.
2. Do business with people who believe what you believe
While some opportunities may seem to align with exactly what your business needs, Mircea suggests that it is critical to ensure that you have the same vision and values.
“Our time is limited as entrepreneurs – you don’t have time to convince people to see things through your eyes”.
3. Be a selectively good listener
Advice on entrepreneurship can often be contradictory. “Be focused on what you do best” versus “listen to your customers”. “Seek out mentorship” versus “don’t let other people’s opinions stand in your way”. It can be difficult to know which path to follow.
“The entrepreneur’s paradox is the need to be resilient, perseverant and stubborn, while also remaining open to feedback. There is a danger that you become so focused that you can go too far ahead on your own without paying attention to what’s going on around you”.
Mircea suggests looking for trends in the feedback you receive, and paying attention to the input you receive multiple times- one off suggestions can often be a reflection of personal bias.
4. Approach partnerships with caution
Partnerships can make or break your startup. There are so many factors that need to be considered when deciding who to involve at what depth in your business.
“At the end of the day it’s a journey, and that requires commitment – the most important thing with partnerships is difficult to judge. You have to assess for yourself whether you believe people will make a long term commitment to your business; think through the scenarios that would trigger a drop-off along the way.”
5. Find people who will hold your hand
In Cirque de Soleil, the performers trust each other with their lives. If they let go of each other’s hands, there is a high probability of death – and of course, the brand will be extremely hurt.
Startups operate in a similar fashion. Thankfully, human life is not usually at stake, but the life of the business is. At MeetVibe, the team works remotely from around the world. Each team member operates independently and knows what they are good at. Everyone has a responsibility to think about how their current work will impact the business, and to speak up whenever they see something that doesn’t make sense.
“Some people don’t understand how we can not work together physically. Our team really understands the ‘hold my hand’ mentality, and it inspires so much commitment and passion from our people”.
6. Be better tonight than you were this morning
The only way that your startup will continue to grow and accomplish new levels of success is if you the founder consistently invest in your own growth and development.
“You will learn a lot through building a startup – I think of it as a second MBA. My goal is to get better at what I do every single day. If I can accomplish something by the end of the week that I was stuck on before – that implies that I am working with intention, making mistakes, and making progress”.
7. Plant seeds to generate good karma
Sharing is ingrained in everything MeetVibe does. At the core of the MeetVibe app is opening your calendar up to those around you, to signal when you are free and invite others to take advantage of that. Mircea extends that sharing mentality into the company’s philosophy about their role in a larger ecosystem.
“When I learned about the Upside Foundation from chair and co-founder Rob Antoniades, it was a no-brainer to support the Upside Foundation’s mission. If we’re successful, we’re happy to share that. Being a part of the Upside Foundation will help me as well. Sharing is extremely important to create an ecosystem of seeds – you never know which one will pay off down the road”.
Mircea found a very early payoff for his involvement with the Upside Foundation. Shortly after making the pledge, MeetVibe was selected to be profiled at the Salesforce World Tour in Toronto, alongside a few other startups.
“Seeing the MeetVibe logo on the big screen, in front of 3,000 participants, was a surreal experience for us while still operating in stealth mode at the time!”
Mircea is committed to carefully considering the merit of each potential initiative, the alignment of vision and values, and the process by which any undertaking is approached. Making the most of his time is what he has committed his life’s work to.
In both company structure and product, MeetVibe follows the same principled commitment. Company leadership is based around the world (Toronto, San Francisco Bay Area, and Zurich), a prospect which would have been impossible 5-10 years ago.
As Mircea pivoted towards MeetVibe, a former colleague shared with him his admiration for taking control of his career path. Taking control of your time, taking control of your career, taking control of your life – a common theme throughout Mircea’s story, and a lesson all entrepreneurs continue to learn every day.
Here’s to making the most of it!
For more information about how pledging with the Upside Foundation can support your mission to do well while doing good, check out our website at www.upsidefoundation.ca. Take the pledge today to ‘share the upside’!
ABOUT MEETVIBE INC.
We are a mobile social networking company headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, with key representatives in Toronto and Zurich.
Our MeetVibe app is the next evolution of social technology. The unified platform brings people together for meaningful connections. It is location aware, allowing members to discover others in their proximity. It also facilitates introductions so that people can easily link and exchange contact information – perfect for professional events and conferences.
MeetVibe addresses the obstacles of maintaining active networks. By simplifying scheduling, sharing availability, sending automated updates, and providing directions to meeting locations, we reduce planning time so that you can focus on meaningful interactions.
Deeply committed to giving back to the community, MeetVibe is a genuine supporter of the Upside Foundation of Canada and Pledge 1%, a global movement spearheaded by the Salesforce Foundation.
ABOUT THE UPSIDE FOUNDATION
The Upside Foundation of Canada is a registered charity. The Foundation provides an innovative corporate philanthropy platform to help Canadian startups and high-growth companies “Share the Upside”. Since startups’ cash is scarce, as is time, the Foundation makes charitable giving quick, easy and cash-free.
The model is powerful: Earlier-stage and high growth private companies pledge stock options or warrants to the Upside Foundation. When the company has a liquidity event (e.g., IPO, acquisition), the Foundation monetizes the options and donates the proceeds to registered Canadian charities selected by the donors (and approved by the Foundation).