When you’re running a business and wearing 15 different hats on any given day, nothing is more precious than time. We spoke to Jeff Lipp, cofounder and COO of Artkive, a service that helps busy parents conserve their kids’ artwork, to learn how he spends less time on unnecessary busywork and more time growing the business.
Try a startup accelerator
Between meeting with investors and due diligence, fundraising can quickly turn into a full-time job. That’s one of the reasons why Jeff decided to raise money through Amplify.LA, a startup accelerator.
Startup accelerators don’t just funnel money into your business—they also spread the word about your business. “Amplify was how we found most of our other investors in our seed round. It streamlined the initial fundraising,” he explains.
Make your employees feel like owners
According to the Society of Human Resources (SHRM), it takes an average of 36 days and $4,425 to hire. Having to constantly replace employees isn’t a good use of time or money, so make sure your employees are invested in their work.
One way Artkive does this is by offering equity to its employees. “We want everyone to act and feel like an owner so we can trust they’ll do the right thing. Equity definitely plays a part because it’s easier to think like an owner if you actually are an owner.”
Pivot when you know something’s not working
One of the scariest but most important things you can do for your company is to pivot as soon as you know something’s not working.
Artkive originally started with an app that allows parents to create a sortable and shareable digital library of their kids’ artwork. It was very popular—nearing a million downloads—but sometimes user growth isn’t enough to build a sustainable business. People were using the app but not paying Artkive to turn the artwork into books. “We were solving a clear, massive problem, but we weren’t solving it in the right way.”
Instead of continuing to throw time and money into a product that wasn’t sustainable, they tweaked their model and introduced the Artkive Box, which allows parents to throw all of the artwork into a box and let Artkive do the rest—photograph and sort the pieces and create the book.
Today, Jeff’s biggest advice to other companies is “if you’ve discovered a way to solve a problem but you’re not creating a viable business, don’t throw it out. See if there’s another angle you can take—if there’s another service your customers would be willing to pay for.”
Trust your employees to do what they’re good at
When Artkive launched their Artkive Box, sales quickly took off. For a second everyone panicked—“we actually weren’t really prepared at that moment.” However, Jeff and the rest of the leadership team were comforted by the fact that they had a team who could step up and handle the volume. “These are the moments when you see you have the right team members who are going to do everything they can to solve the problem.”
The less time you spend micromanaging, the more time you can spend growing your company. It’s understandable to want to check in constantly, but you hired your employees for a reason—trust them to do their job instead of doing it for them.
Use software to automate unnecessary work
Software is one of the best ways to free up time. Jeff used to have over a hundred versions of Artkive’s cap table and would have to constantly consult with their attorney to make sure everything was correct. He calls moving over to cap table software through Carta “cathartic”—now he has a single source of truth.
Even better, Carta has freed up countless hours that Jeff can now spend investing in Artkive’s operations and customer experience. “I’ve got to imagine I’ll save tens of thousands of dollars cumulatively in the years to come. Carta is such a time saver, saving me from countless hours of interfacing with investors and trying to source information.”
To learn more about how Carta was able to help Artkive, download the case study. If your company has 25 stakeholders or less and has raised up to $1M, you can get started with our Launch plan through one of our partner law firms for free.
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