Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dan Flatt, founder and head neighbor at Naborino. A community-based marketplace from Toronto, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Naborino's mission is to unlock all the potential of a local community between neighbors in multi-resident buildings. Some invisible but genuine barriers keep neighbors in apartment and condo buildings from building up the basic familiarity, communication, and trust to start enjoying the social and economic benefits of the local community. We're building the world's first social community building app designed for the unique interactions of urban multi-residential living, connecting neighbors through gamified social features that reduce many common friction points. As we bring neighbors together, we also connect them with group buying deals from local vendors allowing them to believe in large wholesale quantities and split the savings.
Tell us about yourself
I just turned 40 recently, and I feel like my life is just starting. About two years ago, right at the beginning of the COVID Pandemic, I realized that I have ADHD. As I figured out that my brain has an instruction manual that I never knew existed, so many aspects of my personal and professional life suddenly began to make more sense. I got laid off from my job as the head of marketing at a tech startup right around that time. With this newly found self-knowledge, I found a sense of purpose in solving a problem that had been bugging me for years: "Why does the experience of urban residential buildings feel so isolating, and why are so many aspects of building management so hard to do well?" This combination of factors all came together in Naborino. For the first time in a career where it was a struggle to maintain my focus and attention on objectively exciting roles, I feel like I've found the one thing that I could happily get up every morning and happily work on it for the rest of my life.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment so far has been assembling a fantastic team that shares my vision for strong, supportive, and self-sufficient local communities working together to improve their collective experience. Talented people have so many choices of where to build their careers in the tech industry. I'm honored that they've chosen to focus their energy on a mission that has so much personal importance to me.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
"Where do I start?" No, that's not just me introducing a list of complicated things. It's asking myself the question, "Where do I start?" each day when I need to decide the best use of my and my team's time and energy to get ourselves to the next milestone. I'm a solo founder, and so I'm entirely responsible for those daily priority decisions. I get very excited by new ideas and opportunities as I discover them (see "ADHD" above!), so it can be a struggle to choose the most critical projects, trust my gut and learn to forgive myself when it's not the right call. I'm grateful for some fantastic advisors and a team that I encourage to call me out when they disagree.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- If you've got an OK job right now - DON'T QUIT. You'd be amazed how much you can accomplish during evenings and weekends when you're excited enough by a new opportunity to forego Netflix. Use the security and income of a steady pay-cheque to validate your idea before you leap.
- It's hard to go alone but don't compromise when finding a co-founder. Please do your homework, make sure your visions align, and get an experience of what they're like in a stressful situation before you sign a partnership agreement.
- It doesn't have to be perfect. There is so much value from launching a fundamental Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or even just getting feedback on your ideas in a slide deck before you invest a lot of time, energy, and money into building something precisely as you envisioned it. Make sure people want what you're creating before you build it.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Get to know your neighbors! There is incredible power in "soft ties" - the social interactions with acquaintances outside of our immediate family and close friend groups. If you find it uncomfortable or unnatural to form more intimate connections with your neighbors, ask yourself, "why"? And if you feel like sharing the answer you come up with; I'd love to hear about it!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.