We sometimes get the feeling that entrepreneurship is the path taken by professionals who do not end up finding work in their respective fields: in a particularly difficult job market, starting a business can seem like the perfect solution for many young Europeans. That is one side of entrepreneurship; the other side is made up of entrepreneurs like Daniel Araújo, a Portuguese data analyst who decided to leave his secure job in one of the most important companies in the world, Google, to found his own startup. He went from a glamorous job at the largest search engine in the United Kingdom to developing his own ICT business, ‘Attentive.us’, a platform that offers real-time information about clients, businesses and markets to professionals in practically all areas.
From a secure salary to the adventure of entrepreneurship
“Many people told me I was crazy for leaving Google to start a project that was going to be difficult to carry out, especially due to the fact that I was moving from the UK to Portugal, where it would be even more difficult to find a job if I needed to.” That’s a summary of the reactions Daniel Araújo received when he explained that he was going to become an entrepreneur; but his decision was not subject to appeal and the ideas bubbled in the head of this young man, who holds a Master’s in International Business Development from the American Business School Paris and a degree in Business Administration from the Universidade Católica Portuguesa.
In his case, he had always been interested in technological developments, information technologies and the Internet, three fields that are known today as the ICT sector and about which Araújo admits to being obsessed with. “My brother and I always talked about how technology would change the lives of people in decades, especially if the information that is around us were better organized.” Over the years, the Araújo brothers tried out different products and solutions to find an answer to the need for order and information management, particularly in business environments, but it wasn’t until smartphones appeared that these two entrepreneurs realized that that was the missing piece they needed to make a great product.
It was in that moment that ‘Attentive.us’ went from being an idea to a real plan and from there it was shared with friends and family to get their opinions in the process of validating the idea, a key step in building any business. The idea was exceptional, yes, “everyone had the same problem but didn’t know how to fix it,” but it wasn’t until he revealed his idea that he understood he had a potential startup on his hands: “After showing people our solution, which at the time was just an outline, everyone wanted it immediately”. Of course, there were also those who were not so enthused or pointed out possible problems, but Araújo understood the need to listen to those reactions as well to be able to improve his product.
Understanding funding well is a key step
As an idea begins to become a reality, it becomes more and more evident the importance of financing and the possible economic costs of all of those blueprints. In this sense, Daniel Araújo was clear, “you must be prepared for the worst case scenario. Save money until you can live off for at least a year. That also comes with a price; of course, I haven’t had holidays since I left Google, among other things. If you are prepared for the worst there is no reason not to startup. Remember that the benefits are really rewarding!”
The beginning was hard, explains Araújo, who planned on not having income during the first year, and even though he mentally prepared for that he recognizes that it wasn’t easy but it was quite revealing, “the flip side is that many of the things you thought were essentially really aren’t, it is great to be able to see what really matters in your life.”
This entrepreneur understands the opportunities that the ICT sector represents, since in most cases launching a business idea is not particularly expensive, “if you’ve got a designer on your team, a couple hundred Euros a month can allow you to reach thousands of users. What’s more, you can work on a prototype before taking the leap.”
In Araújo’s case he began his startup with his own savings, although he admits to having met with some investors as well. For him, asking for credit from a bank was never an option, “I believe that it’s a risk not worth taking for ICT entrepreneurs.”
Continuing on the subject of monetary issues, there is always a network of aid and support for entrepreneurs that are available more and more in all of the European Union member states. For instance, business accelerators, incubators and mentors“are fundamental to the success for ICT entrepreneurs. Mentors are an incredible tool to help those in this world, who often times may feel very alone.”
There is a loneliness that, beyond the possible economic benefits, has other impacts on the lives of entrepreneurs, So says Daniel Araújo, who believes that if ‘Attentive.us’ fails in the next few years, the job market will be able to see the incredible learning journey that he has made as an entrepreneur.
But, why did he leave? Why would someone leave a well paying job in a huge company to start their own business? The answer lies in his reasoning in his final reflections, “Being an entrepreneur is the most ambitious thing I have ever done in my life and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve got more challenges than I’ve ever had before and financial limitations that I didn’t have five years ago, but I feel like I’m growing every day. If you are struggling to decide to start your own business, begin preparing for it now. Europe needs more people like you!”