Pro Tip Tip for Working With Your Spouse: Try Not To
Tadas Labudis grew up thinking he might become a musician.
Labudis was born in Lithuania and went to music school there. Both his mom and dad were musicians, but he saw them struggling. Labudis started on the piano but hated it, then moved on to wind instruments like the trombone before settling on drums.
Deep down, though, while he loved music, he had an entrepreneurial spirit, and as he was pounding away on the drums and listening to American jazz greats he was building a business buying and selling bicycle parts.
At first, at the age of 13, Labudis simply wanted to upgrade his own bike, and he bought and traded bike parts, making a little money along the way. This sparked the idea to go abroad and study, and Labudis wound up at the University of Glasgow where he studied business and management with a focus on entrepreneurship.
By his own estimate, Labudis only studied about a third of the time — he spent the majority of his days running micro ventures. None of them made much money, but he learned about key business factors like change management, budgeting, and resource allocation.
The Drive for Entrepreneurship: Being at the Top of the Food Chain
Although the ventures were not successful, Labudis figured out things about business and about himself: Chiefly, he did not understand how large companies worked, and he did not want to be a cog in a wheel.
“I don’t want to be some small part in a big machine,” he told me during an interview for my podcast, Back Yourself. “I was thinking, what could I be where I was there from the start.”
His first two business ideas were around percussion instruments, one of which included buying and reselling drum kits for a profit. It was a natural fit since he understood the problem he was solving. But, as he said, the job got boring pretty quickly, so he looked for something that was easier to scale — a student social network. This venture included his first attempts at coding.
Labudis won his first customers by throwing a huge party on campus. There was food, drink, music, and laptops spread around the party zone where attendees could sign up for the network. But despite the success — 1,000 people signed up that night — he discovered a problem.
“Students are not the best demographic because they do not have a lot of disposable income,” he said.” “We were trying to make money off of people who did not have much in the first place.”
Working With Your Spouse: Avoid It at All Costs
In one venture, Labudis co-founded a business with his wife. She was studying marketing and her marketing abilities seemed to mate well with his coding.
“I would not recommend working with your spouse,” he said.
The project did not work out, and Labudis went into product development. But he kept the lessons learned from his entrepreneurial adventures. Part of what Labudis had learned was that if you have a product that has any measure of success you will receive customer feedback. Broadly, feedback is any customer touchpoint, from a review to a survey to an interaction with technical staff.
Typically, negative reviews on social media earn a response, and technical issues are sent to troubleshooting staff, and so on. But what if you could use all of the interactions to gauge your company against the competition and use it to drive more comprehensive business action plans?
From that drive, Labudis’ venture, Prodsight, was launched.
Prodsight is an efficient way to get the insight you need to make sound business decisions. It turns data into a SaaS product.
Advice to Mono-Founders: Everything Is About the Product
Labudis found Prodsight on his own and managed to raise money for it. Being a sole founder is not easy, and Labudis attributes his success to knowledge of the tech background of his product. Once he had proved the need for the business and the desire for people to pay money to solve the problem, he secured funding from four angels. That money allowed him to hire a data scientist and a project engineer, which helped him scale.
While the company is well on its way to success, Labudis acknowledges he has made mistakes. One near-miss was that he almost gave away half of the company to a potential co-founder with whom he had a massive falling out. The lesson: Get to know your co-founder.
Labudis has advice to pass on, too: People tend to get excited about the size of their market, which can cloud their ability to understand the underlying problem that their product must solve.
“Spend time with your customers and truly understand what it is they are struggling with and how you are going to make that better,” he said. “Otherwise you are going to build too much of the company before you realize that there is no fit.”
Labudis’ early passion in life — jazz drumming — helped fuel an entrepreneurial spirit that lasts to this day. Hard work, technical understanding of his product, and a quest for customer insight have created the foundation for success.