This blog has been written based on the interview with Hung Tran founder of Gotit!
You count Guy Kawasaki, the former Chief Evangelist of Apple and currently the Chief Evangelist of unicorn Canva as one of your personal advisors. How did you make that happen?
Hung: That's an interesting story. Actually, it was a cold call to Guy. Nobody believes that. When you want to talk to some people like Guy to be your advisor, you need to do your homework to see what he wants. We spent a lot of time watching his presentations and reading his book and we kind of knew we fit with what he wants.
Guy really likes the foreigner founder and Asian founders specifically. On top of that, education is what he really is about. That's why we thought that we had something that really fit what he wants. Based on that knowledge, we sent him a cold email. Somehow he replied and we got into a Google Hangout, talked to him, showed him the product and he really liked it.
Eventually he put in his own money down as an investor, not just an advisor. I would say, it's lucky, one of the luckiest things that happened to us as a company.
What was the key difference between your pitch and the hundreds of other pitches that Guy gets on a weekly basis?
Hung: I would say, for Guy, you need to have something to show him. You need to prove to him that you can do things. Other than that, he doesn't care. At the time we reached out to him, we already had the product and we had users.
Most of the startups don't make anything, they just talk. When we talked to him, our product spoke for us. Because of it, he believed that we could get somewhere and that's why he wanted to help.
What has been the value of his advice to your company?
Hung: How we market our product and other marketing subjects, Guy has a lot of insights in those things. So whenever we need something, like, say, hiring marketing people, we ask him for introductions or we send people to his office for the interview.
Also, the connections. This guy lived most of his life in Silicon Valley, he has connections with almost anyone in the Valley. When you need to connect with someone you don't know, but you don't have people around you to connect to the person with, the very next link would be Guy for us. Somehow he can make all of that happen.
What advice do you have for startups looking for mentors who have the same influence and expertise like Guy?
Hung: First, you have to be sure that you've made the product or an MVP version of it, so you can show people your ability to execute. A lot of people have great ideas. With the idea alone though, you achieve nothing.
Ideas only have value if you can turn it into a product or service. First, you have to show people that you can make the MVP. Second, you have to think about, if the thing that you are doing also aligns with the advisor's interest. If not, it can be very difficult.
Third, you have to make sure that there's something the advisor can do that's of value immediately. It won't work if the value-add is for something way off in the future. It needs to be something he or she can help with now, like connections, some advice about the product or even the copy of your marketing materials. Something concrete.