Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kristen Marumoto, Co-Founder of Insights to Markets, located in Oshawa, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Insights help first-time founders and small business owners validate their idea and how they can turn it into viable businesses. We've built an online alternative to an accelerator or incubator with no workshops or cohorts. We don't take any equity. We want to help founders build a robust strategy so they can feel confident about the market, the revenue opportunity, and the pathway to profitability. With a mixture of online modules combined with one-on-one sessions, we wanted to position this for people who perhaps have a 9-5 job full-time. They've been in an industry for 10+ years and have an idea. They are questioning themselves if their idea has any merit and if they can turn it into a viable business. It's hard to find honest advice and people asking you the tough questions; we wanted to create a process for folks to self-conclude if their idea could stand up to the stark light of day or if it's better to keep their day job and keep thinking.

Tell us about yourself

Over the past few years, I've been involved with running the operations of an early-stage private equity angel group. I've spoken with hundreds of founders seeking their first round of external capital, and a key problem we kept recognizing was the lacking of quality advice... or advice resources encouraging founders to pursue their idea of entrepreneurship without actually helping them figure out if they can generate revenue, if the market is attractive, how they can position their company to execute and scale. And these were resources that were taking the equity of these companies for seemingly invisible benefits.

We thought that there could be a better way. That's really the key driver for me. I want to enable entrepreneurs to succeed and provide them with the knowledge they need to give them a realistic chance of success.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I'm really proud to have worked with so many talented, hardworking, and persistent founders over the years. As a co-founder of a boutique consulting firm, every client's progress is a moment of pride and satisfaction.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Just taking the leap. A lot of people assume there is such a thing as an overnight success, but what they don't see is the years of hard work before anyone knows about it. It's the equivalent of trying to push a train out of the freight yard; the beginning is so tough because it's at a standstill - and once there's momentum, it becomes the trouble of maintaining speed and constantly evaluating if you're headed in the right direction.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Start small and bootstrap for as long as possible (and feasible).
  2. Take a good hard look in the mirror, know where your strengths lie, and be honest about your weaknesses. This especially helps when building up the initial team and making sure to get people that complement your skills.
  3. Be patient, persistent and continue to show up. Starting anything is tough; it's quite a learning process. Being adaptable and having the attitude of being a knowledge sponge has really helped keep me motivated.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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