LinkedIn has become an incredibly powerful platform for hiring and meeting other professionals, but it is “one size fits all,” and some professions and skills don't lend themselves to being a bullet point on a resume. For example, if you’re a creative talent in the TV, film or game industries, you have a portfolio to show, and your work needs to be seen-- "more show, less tell."
Christofer Karltorp has created the ultimate "show your stuff" platform with his startup Zerply, and the impressive work already uploaded on the platform will blow your mind! But it's more than just another flashy site-- more than 65 VFX pros have already been hired via Zerply over the past four months alone.
Read on to discover Christofer's plans to take over the VFX world.
Startup #6: Zerply
In just one sentence, what is your company offering/what do you do?
Zerply is a community and marketplace for creative and technical talent.
What is the one thing you love the most about running a startup?
The best part is the rollercoaster ride, because it’s such a crazy high and low that most people don’t understand. If normal people live in a certain segment, as an entrepreneur; you’re either way up or way below that segment, which is kind of nuts. I think that you have to be a specific type of personality to deal with it. I love the freedom, and the fact that you work really hard in order to make the world a better place. I don’t think most people understand how powerful that is; knowing that you’re working for something that you thought of, and that you made something out of nothing is hugely fulfilling. Especially when you see real people that you’ve never met before, starting to use your service.
What is the hardest or most surprising part of running a startup?
The hardest thing about running a startup is getting constantly rejected; the feeling you get when the thing that you’ve thought about for so long -- your baby -- gets rejected over and over again. A sales person learns to handle rejection, and s/he generally won’t be emotionally attached to a product s/he is hired to sell; for a founder this is really hard, because you’re selling your own thing, your sweat and blood. You get so many no’s all the time; nine out of ten meetings is going to be a no, because they don't believe in you, the product is not quite there yet; and until you cross that hump you just have to get used to dealing with rejection, and that is the hardest part. You think you know beforehand what you’re getting yourself into, but you realize pretty quickly that it hurts more than you would have thought. At one point you just have to shut off and don’t listen, and just keep going anyway; because if you listen too much to what people say you will lose track of where you’re going and that’s when you get discouraged.
Do you have a success story (big or small) you would like to share?
Last year about this time I gave a talk at Stanford. Our company was struggling, we didn’t have any money left, and I was driving for Lyft just to cover expenses. We thought it was over. I had been invited to give the talk several months earlier, in April, so by August I had completely forgot about it; I received an email saying they looked forward to hearing my talk on "how I got to product market fit." Little did they know we were pretty much dead.
The person scheduled to go on right before me was Andrew Chen who was going to talk about tactics on how to get to product market fit; I didn’t want to talk about this topic because we weren’t there yet. But I was already on the agenda, so I figured I should just tell my story and be open about what we'd done -- basically just give them the whole journey; good and bad. It was emotional and cathartic.
At the end of the talk, a guy came up and asked if I would take money from Sweden and if he could invest. You know, I’d heard this story before; people are interested and want to invest but most of the times it's just words. As it turned out, this guy was really serious and ended up investing $300 000. This really gave us the fuel to keep going.
How, if in any way, has Foundersuite helped your company?
I mostly use the Investor CRM; the visual representation of where people are in the different stages has been really helpful. I have invited a few of my advisors to also help collaborate on the list and add people. It is fun to pull people from AngelList and to see how we’re connected through LinkedIn, and having my advisors work on the account with me has been very helpful. I am really focused on the fundraising right now, but I’ve also looked a bit into the documents, and will potentially start using the Media CRM when that time comes around. Another thing I plan to start working on is the Progress Tracker; I need something to remind me to send out updates to investors and also to keep a log of the good things in this journey, because you forget too easily. Just a year ago we were almost drowning, and today we’re not only up and running, but thriving. I want to record our story.
Finally, what is your best tip for running a startup?
Don’t give up. You have to figure out how to not die, and just continue to not die until you’ve figured it out. It is kind of harsh actually, either you succeed or you don’t, there is no in between. You have to figure out how to survive on very little, and get minimum revenue coming in.
Thank you tons to Christofer and Zerply -- we are looking forward to follow the rest of your journey! And creative talents -- keep a lookout for a new feature that will be added this week (it's super cool!)