When I first started Omina Technologies more than five years ago, I had no clue about running a company. I had a vision of the future and I had a burning desire to make the world a better place, but I was not a born entrepreneur. And yet, here we are five years later and Omina Technologies is a thriving artificial intelligence company.
I am often asked what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, how our company managed to survive and flourish the last five years, especially during COVID, and what it means to be a female entrepreneur.
According to Forbes, 90% of startups fail within the first five years. This is a bleak statistic and thankfully I did not dwell too much on my chances of failure (I think this might be one small part of why we are still around and thriving five years later. I am just not the type to focus on the negative).
If you are planning on starting your own company, be assured there will be many moments you want to give up. There will be many reasons, that may seem compelling at the moment, to stop, but having a sense of purpose and not dwelling on the negative will help you persist.
I do not have the key to success, but I have managed to build a successful artificial intelligence company and I would like to share my experiences.
When I started Omina Technologies at the end of 2016:
I believed artificial intelligence was going to become an increasingly powerful technology going towards the future.
I believed artificial intelligence could be a force for good.
I believed ethical, explainable and trustworthy artificial intelligence was the only way forward.
I wanted to build an artificial intelligence platform that would enable business domain experts to co-create scalable, trustworthy and regulatory compliant AI innovations.
I made mistakes my first year and I would like to share some of them with you:
I started working for a company even though the contract had not been signed formally. I was too humble. I was so happy that this big company was working with me, I did not put my foot down and say, “No work will be done until the contract is finalized”. In the end, we worked for two months and never got paid. Do not undersell yourself. Do not be too humble. You are bringing value so make sure you radiate this in everything you do.
There is so much to do when you are starting your own company and I had a hard time letting other people help me. I wanted to be involved in everything, big and small, and sometimes I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Focus on what is most important and delegate the rest. It is the only way to move quickly towards your goals.
I also did some things right my first year and I would like to share this with you as well:
I listened to other entrepreneurs, and I was like a sponge when it came to absorbing good advice.
I rarely made the same mistake twice.
I realized early on that it takes more than just a great idea to build a successful company. I realized how important it is to create a steady stream of cashflow so if anything unforeseen might happen (spoiler alert: COVID) while we were building our platform, we would still be a viable company.
Next blog: Good ideas are a dime a dozen…how to turn your idea into an actual product!