CEO Corner With Arbit's Alex Bullington: Fall in Love With Your Customers, Not Your Product
Loyola University Maryland ‘13 | Men’s Soccer
Greatest Piece of Advice: Fall in love with your customers, not your product. I think too often startup founders (including myself in the early days) have an idea and become tunnel visioned by it. They fall in love with their idea/product, focus on that, and build, build, build, wasting countless resources, time, and precious capital. They let in what they want to hear and ignore what they don't (which is often much more important feedback). Focus on your customer and study their habits and needs to find out how you, your company, and your product can better serve them.
Post Sports Failure That Taught Him The Most: Going off my previous answer, we built several features in our platform before testing ideas and concepts, rather than the other way around. When we were getting started, this is what we thought we were supposed to do. We thought founders have a vision, then builds a product, and then the customers and consumers come. However, this couldn't be more wrong. I think it is important to do a lot of the processes manually to start and not build until it is completely necessary in order to scale your business and increase your efficiencies.
Biggest lesson from sports that informs the way he leads Arbit: It is impossible to build a company on your own. Every successful sports team needs a good coach and in business you need key strategic advisors to help guide you. You need great leaders and captains, similar to your founders and executives. And you need great role players, similar to your employees. Finally, in sports and business you need great communication throughout your team and you need to all be driven to a common goal. Without this balance it is almost impossible to have a successful startup.
Advice to Athletes About To Transition: The transition away from college sports can be very difficult. Often times, you go from being celebrated as an athlete to being just another employee at a large company. While it can be difficult at times to find your way, continue to work relentlessly to get to where you want to be in life, just as you did in sports. If you're not happy with your career trajectory, it is never too late to make a change. Do something that makes you happy and that gets you excited to get out of bed on Monday morning.