Altitude Digital Founder spent his last $500 to start the company

Jeremy-Ostermiller-Altitude-Digital-uses-last-$500

There is no secret formula to starting a company that guarantees success; founders take many different paths to to achieve their goals. We recently caught up with Jeremy Ostermiller, the founder of Altitude Digital, an advertising technology company founded with just $500 during an economic downturn. That was the balance of Jeremy’s savings account at the time. The choices, as he saw it, were start a company or move back home with his parents. Jeremy leveraged what he had learned from his previous work experience and applied it to a building his business.

Most of time you hear about entrepreneurs following a process: research the market, create a business plan, obtain financing, etc. Jeremy, on the other hand, started Altitude Digital the best he knew how; he did not create a business plan, get advice from a mentor, etc. He knew advertising and saw the value in the future of online advertising. Jeremy knew the market problem and built a product to combat industry challenges.

Although Jeremy didn’t follow the typical path, he says if he were to do it again he would:

  • Create a clear business plan from the beginning
  • Network and have strong business mentors for guidance
  • Get legal counsel from day one
  • Create a clean and powerful website and web presence

Although it would have been easier for Jeremy if he had followed the above steps, there is more than one way to start a business. What steps have you followed to start a business?

3 startup tips from serial entrepreneur Henrik Zillmer

HenrikZillmer-on-startups
Henrik Zillmer is an experienced entrepreneur who has started 10+ e-commerce startups in Europe and Asia, including Zalora.com (€1 billion valuation) and Lazada.com. Henrik is also an alumni of the biggest and most successful incubators: Rocket Internet in Europe and Y Combinator in the US. He is currently the CEO & Founder of AirHelp, a startup that helps flyers claim compensation for delayed, canceled or overbooked flights. We recently caught up with Henrik to get his advice on startups and entrepreneurship. He tells us:

  1. Get customer validation:  “Launch as fast as possible to get customer validation. If you’re not embarrassed of the quality of your product when you launch, you’ve launched too late. So get customer validation first.”
  2. Don’t reinvent the wheel: “Some startups consist of components of already successful companies. If, for example, you want to start a webshop, then you don’t need to validate the idea, because it’s already proven successful elsewhere. Then you need to analyze the market and execute the hell out of it.”
  3. Henrik also adds that motivation is in the “DNA of an entrepreneur…Successful entrepreneurs thrive on the ups and downs (challenges) and could never settle for a corporate job. If the motivation disappears, it could be a sign that startup life might not be for you. You choose not to die.”

What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?