No corporate experience or connections, yet an entrepreneur at 20!

Radhika Gupta

Every individual has a different story, but essentially one of self-identity. Some take a little longer to figure out while others realize it sooner and Mitchell Sapoff was one of the latter.

A young boy who right from the age of 14 was obsessed with selling was not a person whose mind was ever idle. An ambitious person, his later high school years were strongly devoted to excelling at the SAT. Having studied for the exam meticulously, Mitchell came up with his own formulae, tricks and variable techniques to simplify the concepts and make them more intuitive.  These techniques contributed to the birth of his first entrepreneurial venture, X-Factor Tutoring, which proved to be successful on a local scale, helping about 15 students increase their SAT scores by over 400 points.

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Mitchell Sapoff

The main reason, Mitchell claims, behind his success was, “ability to sell, learn quickly, and build relationships,” which are his strengths till date. Thanks to his incredible SAT score, the dedicated student got into New York University Leonard N. Stern School of Business.  After his freshman year, Samuel Corso, CEO of TechSuite, approached Mitchell with an offer to come on board. Stating the reason as to why he decided to jump on the wagon, he said “I had a couple of internships at startups lined up for the summer, but I knew I would learn more running my own.”

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It is next to impossible to escape the infectious zest and enthusiasm this guy has for working on a dream. It was an unprecedented move, being a teenager, straight out of high school with no true experience running a business, few contacts, and limited prior knowledge of the field. However, according to the young entrepreneur, his age is his biggest advantage. “This is the best time to take risks because your responsibilities are at their lowest,” advises the young Co-Founder & Chief Operations Officer.

Being a full-time student, the impressive entrepreneur is balancing his life between classes and TechSuite. For a 20-year old that is no piece of cake!

Initially, under TechSuite, both founders concentrated on providing digital services to small business, like web design, app development, and SEO. But gradually, sensing a gap in the market for affordable, quality product development for startups, they shifted their focus primarily to assisting early stage companies with Product Strategy, Rapid Prototyping, MVP Development, and Growth Hacking. Within 18 months of inception, the company already has 18 clients across the world; mainly tech startups centered around web and mobile technology, in different verticals like FinTech, Social Networks, Marketplaces, and more. They are now expanding into the hot fields of Machine Learning and IoT. The idea is to deliver an unparalleled digital product development experience that exceeds even that of the technical co-founder and every startups strives so hard to find.

Talking about the initial hurdles, Mitchell explains that even till date, startup founders struggle to find the right developer and lack the adequate financial infrastructure to invest in the current popular options. “It is more about putting ourselves out there to make people realize that this is an option available in the market,” explains Mitchell. Building a relationship based on trust with clients and spreading their brand awareness were some of the biggest challenges too.

With the attainment of footholds in the market, the busy man is now looking forward to expanding his team. “Right now it’s a matter of scaling the company in terms of clients and team size. Also, we want to be the go-to technology partner for startups in the immediate future. Within the next two years” says the founder about the future. With some great plans that stem in different directions, the desired future for the company is not that far off!

Having been an entrepreneur since his teens, describing the experience of working in a startup, Mitchell says, “You carve out your own destiny.” The biggest advice that he has for potential entrepreneurs is, “if you have an idea that you think is great, don’t wait for a miracle to happen. Don’t wait for investors. Don’t wait for support. Don’t wait for developers. Go test it. Figure out the right questions to ask potential users. Ask 100 people if they would use something like this, save up $1000 to get a prototype built and show it to potential stakeholders.” He further adds, “even if somebody else is already working on a similar idea, don’t be disheartened. Having competition actually validates that you are doing something right.”

“Having competition actually validates that you are doing something right.”

According to him, any idea in spite of not ranking high in innovative quotient is worthwhile as long as there is some sort of proprietary aspect, something that brings value to customers. Don’t build something the market doesn’t want.

In spite of not hailing from a technical background, he runs his tech company super efficiently. “It took me about two months from coming onboard to get up to speed. After that, I became an expert on product strategy and am now able to oversee the beautiful transition from an idea, to a prototype, to a product.”

According to him, the main ingredient for success for any venture is, ”110% drive, being motivated, hungry, scrappy, and determined to make it work. Sending out 1000 emails every day and not taking it personally when only 10 respond showing interest. And most importantly a determination to wake up every morning just to do it again!”

 

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