This Entrepreneur Built a Business Designed to Help His Parents Live a Happier Life

On this ongoing collection, we share ideas, recommendation, and concepts from true entrepreneurs what are they doing enterprise battle day by day. (Solutions have been edited and condensed for readability.)

Brian Park, CEO of Hank

Who’re you and what’s your small business?

My identify is Brian Park and I’m the co-founder and CEO of Skein, a digital platform that connects adults over 55 with individuals and actions of their group. We curate group actions and help member-led actions like pickleball, espresso meetups, artwork workshops, ping pong, skydiving, and nearly all the pieces else. Our aim is to construct Hank to be the proper expertise answer for this era to create and preserve the social connections that we all know assist us dwell longer, more healthy lives.

What impressed you to create this enterprise?

Hank’s genesis got here from a sort of fusion between two totally different elements of my life: skilled and private.

On the time I began serious about Hank, he had spent over a decade working within the tech trade, the place a typical rule of thumb is to “design for your self,” which means somebody beneath forty. There may be this deep-seated false impression in expertise that older generations do not perceive or need new expertise, so we very not often design options with older individuals in thoughts.

The private a part of my aha second got here when my mother and father ran out of the nest. With my brother and I away from dwelling, I watched as my mother and father struggled to seek out new social circles and actions. That imaginative and prescient started to intermingle with my expertise within the tech trade, and collectively they started to form Hank. My mother and pop finally discovered social retailers by means of church and alumni organizations, nevertheless it was a protracted and disjointed course of for them. Watching my mother and father undergo a tricky time as they moved into this new section of life drove dwelling for me and my co-founder Andrew (we have been greatest mates since sixth grade!) How essential social connections have been and new actions for our mother and father. ‘Happiness, which was the nugget that began Hank.

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What was your largest enterprise problem and the way did you pivot to beat it?

In my expertise, one of many largest challenges we face as entrepreneurs is staying centered and true to your imaginative and prescient.

Our first iteration of Hank was truly a really totally different enterprise: We have been basically attempting to convey assisted dwelling companies like transportation and high-quality meal supply to the person properties of seniors. We discovered fairly shortly that constructing that individual enterprise was going to require an actual shift from our authentic imaginative and prescient of group constructing and social connection.

The problem was that our first model of Hank would in all probability have been a viable enterprise, albeit with a shorter ceiling – we have been seeing early wins! However we knew he wasn’t actually going to ship on what we got down to do for ourselves or for the 55+ demographic. So we basically went again to the tacks: we put all the pieces on maintain for about two months whereas we talked to our customers, wrote new fashions, and rebuilt the model and product with our group.

These months have been actually thrilling and in addition very tough: it was tough for us and our group to stroll away from the primary indicators of progress and short-term viability and begin once more. However we’d do it once more in a second – it led us to construct a enterprise that we’re extraordinarily happy with and one that’s higher positioned to ship worth to our Hank group.

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What recommendation would you give to entrepreneurs searching for funding?

There are three issues I at all times take into consideration when confronted with a elevate of any dimension: being organized, working it as a course of, and telling a narrative.

The primary two are actually nearly execution. Some first-time entrepreneurs make the error of considering that financing will magically seem if their thought is sweet sufficient, when in truth there’s a construction and timeline for dealings and investor relationships, and you’ve got to pay attention to it. of these particulars. to make a elevate go easily.

The third, telling a narrative and getting traders to purchase into your imaginative and prescient, is crucial factor. You need traders who actually perceive the place you are attempting to get to, which implies your you must perceive and be capable to articulate the place you are attempting to get to. Take time to make clear your imaginative and prescient and use it as an anchor on your story. Funding is barely a small a part of what it’s essential to search for – you additionally need traders to be companions who’re aligned along with your imaginative and prescient, to allow them to advise you on how one can get there and enable you assume by means of what it is going to take to get there. the subsequent progress milestone.

What does the phrase “entrepreneur” imply to you?

Persistence and perseverance above all.

For each second of glory as an entrepreneur — an excellent launch, a lovely product, a category-defining thought — there are one million others which might be irritating, tough, and unpredictable. The perfect entrepreneurs are those who come again every single day, whether or not the enterprise is booming otherwise you’re nonetheless struggling to suit the product into the market, and convey willpower and tenacity to be taught and enhance and discover a method to repair issues.

It is also value noting that those self same qualities are crucial to have in your group typically; it won’t be sufficient for the founder or founders to function that method. I’ve discovered that to be very true within the early phases, the place there’s a number of change and determining what must occur throughout the corporate.

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What’s one thing that many aspiring enterprise homeowners assume they want that they actually do not?

I feel it’s normal for first-time founders to really feel like they want all of the solutions earlier than they begin, so that they’ll delay product work or fundraising conversations or different crucial actions till they have all of it “proper.”

However one of many ideas that Andrew and I dwell by as founders is the concept of ​​taking small steps reasonably than no steps in any respect. We relaunched Hank’s new website on the MVP stage after just a few weeks spent conceptualizing the providing and redesigning the location. Since then, we’ve got developed it piece by piece, week by week, primarily based on suggestions from our clients. It is crucial to get on the market and discuss to clients and begin iterating in your product as an alternative of attempting to develop it in a silo till it is excellent. There it’s not excellent, and the earlier the founders get comfy with that, the sooner you may transfer, your group will really feel extra empowered, and you will finally find yourself with a greater product.

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