"To me entrepreneurship is about working hard, often against all odds, to build and grow a business that makes true impact. Being an immigrant to the United States has taught me the values of entrepreneurship: hard work, grit, and excelling when the odds are against you." -- Arshia Moghaddam, Foundar, Trym
What does "entrepreneurship" mean to you?
To me entrepreneurship is about working hard, often against all odds, to build and grow a business that makes true impact. Being an immigrant to the United States has taught me the values of entrepreneurship: hard work, grit, and excelling when the odds are against you.
Moving to the United States from Iran at the age of eight, with a single mother, knowing no English, with highly limited resources defined Entrepreneurship to me at an early age. These times of uncertainty built me a natural layer of perseverance.
How did your business come to be? (e.g. What sparked the idea? How did you decide to take the leap?)
I grew up in a barber environment, checking in and out from my grandpa's barbershop in Iran. After moving away and growing up in the bay area, the previously joyful experience I used to have turned into a monthly hassle. I realized the inconvenient appointments, long waits, commutes etc. had sucked out the life from the chair. On the other hand, barbershops were only giving their barbers between 40-60% commission, or charging hundreds weekly. I knew there was an opportunity here worth fixing.
What is the biggest learning from the journey so far? What do you wish you knew when you started? Is there anything you would change/do over?
The journey to launching a startup needs to be lean and efficient. I was lucky to make some wise pivots early on that prevented us from being thrown off track. I did however make mistakes that taught me how to differentiate emotion from business. While we do like to make decisions from our gut feeling, it's important to rarely do so. If I could go back, I would change some of my early decisions that used much of our time. The window from product to beta could have been shortened.
What advice/credo do you live by as you grow the business? What is your professional and personal mission statement?
There are many times when what you're working on won't work out. There could be many reasons for this, but it's important to realize that while you are learning, it's important to limit those mistakes. I hear many people saying, "the more you fail, the more you learn", while this is true and I have failed in certain aspects as well, it's important to fail less often and rather learn quickly. For example, there is a difference between learning a price point doesn't work, from realizing a poor decision you made may have actually impacted the companies time and resources.
What's it like to work alone/with your partners? What advice do you have for fellow entrepreneurs about building and leading teams?
This is the most important aspect of Trym for me. As a sole founder, I was never interested in forcing a co-founder relationship, because I knew we would be worse off. While I don't regret this mentality, I do feel having a partner that is dedicated as you are is extremely valuable. Working with people on my team, whether its developers or barbers has made a huge impact.
You've heard before to "utilize your network", and this is true, but if you're not finding someone that's a right fit, it's best to go beyond your network. Working with smart people is the best way of validating your company and yourself to stakeholders (especially investors!). Read a few management books while you're at it.
Where do you find inspiration when faced with challenges? Tell me about a time you overcame an obstacle.
Knowing yourself is the most important in dealing with stress or challenges. Managing yourself is just as important. Find what drives you to work on your business, if it's an outside reason, find it and keep it close. When I started working on Trym, I began meditating and following a workout plan. Feeling right every day and working with the right team, is the best you can do to prepare for the challenges that may come up.
What does "success" mean to you? What's the dream for your business? What has helped/will help you achieve it?
At Trym our mission is to connect barbers directly with customers, making the barber industry more accessible and lucrative than it's ever been. All of the current metrics that we focus on are in line with achieving this mission. To put it simply, the best way to achieve success, especially for a marketplace like platform, is to understand people and work with the right people.
What is your proudest and darkest moment so far? Share a key high and a key low from your journey.
My proudest moment thus far has been finding a sector of individuals who need our services, because they have no other option. Not just because they like the experience of an in-home Trym haircut, but because they have disabilities or other conditions that prevents them from leaving the house. One of our customers wanted to get his buddy a haircut and a shave at his hospital before an operation. He loved the experience and his buddy called thanking us because it uplifted his spirit.
Some not so great moments from Trym came in its early pre-launch days when I was working with the wrong person. Some people have intentions that they hide. This is one of the reasons it's important to recognize people, and not settle for the sake of working with a co-founder. Luckily, that occurred very early on and I was able to step away from that without hurting the company.
Nasdaq's Education Foundation helped launch The Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center in the fall of 2015. Located in San Francisco, it has quickly become the go to destination for the next generation of risk takers and idea makers who take the plunge into entrepreneurship.