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[Today in Startups] Sendbird, chat services API

In the fast-paced world of startups, where success stories and failures are intricately woven, every word of wisdom from a seasoned entrepreneur holds immense value. In this edition of "Today in Startups," let’s deive into the world of John Kim, the founder and CEO of Sendbird, a company that has powered major applications like DoorDash, PayPal, Reddit, and more, raising over $220 million in funding and achieving a valuation of over $1 billion. John shares his insights, experiences, and the crucial lessons that have contributed to his remarkable journey in the startup ecosystem.

Here are the 6 key takeaways:

1. The Importance of Customer Feedback

John emphasizes the need for founders to regularly engage with customers. He highlights that talking to 3 to 5 customers a day is essential for building a strong product. This interaction forms the foundation of understanding the market and identifying a product-market fit.

2. Aligning Strengths with Ideas

John cautions against picking ideas that don't align with your strengths. Many founders realize, often too late, that the journey is more challenging and time-consuming than anticipated. Choosing a venture that you can commit to for the long term is crucial.

3. Continuous Iteration

In the early days of Sendbird, quick iterations were key to finding a product-market fit. They aimed to respond to customer feedback within 24 hours and deploy new features within a week. John also highlights the importance of managing release cadence as your business scales.

4. Nurturing Company Culture

John likens company culture to muscle memory—it's challenging to change once established. He underscores that the culture is not just what you write on the wall, but what you live and breathe every day. It's a collective effort and a critical operating system for a company.

5. Seeking Guidance

For rapid growth, John advises connecting with individuals or companies that are a stage or two ahead. This advice extends beyond startups and is relevant to anyone aiming for professional growth. Learning from others' experiences and identifying patterns of greatness can be a strategic move.

6. Risking Greater Things

John encourages founders to have bigger dreams, a longer time horizon, and the patience to dare and risk greater things. His personal journey, from moving to the US against skeptical advice to building a billion-dollar company, is a testament to this mindset.

John's journey is an inspiring one. His emphasis on customer interaction, aligning your venture with your strengths, and nurturing company culture all resonate deeply with the challenges and aspirations of budding entrepreneurs. I think that part of being an entrepreneur is realizing that starting a company is probably the hardest thing to do. Success in this field requires not just innovation but a relentless commitment to learning and growth. When I talk to starutp founders they always share 1 thing: you’re always wearing multiple hats. This is especially true at the early stages, where as the CEO you may also been the tech lead, the chief marketer, the product guy, the sales rep, and you’re required to excel in every one of these roles (before you start getting more help through hires).