Even though Sam is working on his second startup, he doesn’t underestimate the importance of idea validation and the amount of time and effort it actually takes to know you’re onto something worthwhile.
That’s why during his time in Day One, Sam was hyperfocused on idea validation.
Sam relentlessly asks himself, “What am I trying to figure out? What’s my intuition at this point?” and he continues to check that against his expectations to dispel his own confirmation bias.
Sam is a technologist, in a good way. He says he’s always looking for ways to tie technology back to people and human needs.
The thread that ties his last few projects together is improving decision making through technology. Sam wants to help businesses be more data driven, scientific, and rigorous by providing a solution that’s more effective and can speed up learning loops.
The problem Sam wants to answer is: “How can I make the process of data science and collecting valuable insights easier for all kinds of users?”
Sam’s latest startup is called Automana, and it’s an alternative data marketplace. He wants to bridge the gap between data practitioners, users who manage data within businesses, and the customers who are being served. His goal is to create the right level of abstraction to easily share insights that companies need to know. Forget old methods of spreadsheets, outdated reports, and broken dashboards.
Sam is ruthless about his experimentation process because he’s experienced enough to understand that the earliest days of entrepreneurship are where you want to pivot fast. It’s only when you start to observe consistency that you know you’re on the right track.
Sam’s advice to fellow founders is,
“When you need to pivot, pivot, and do so quickly.”
Sam knows he’s in an idea phase, and he’ll stay there until he has letters of intent, pre-sales or other similar metrics. Although it’s tough to stay in the idea validation space, he knows this is what it takes before he can shift into building and growing.
“I’m trying to be real with myself. It runs against my own instincts. If you don’t have real validation and you’re building something elaborate and time consuming, then stop, rethink, and consider how you can shorten that feedback loop.”
In Day One, Sam intentionally went back to basics. He wanted to be deeply engaged in customer interviews because he knew he needed to learn, take it all in, see what people are actually experiencing, and he’s holding off from proposing solutions until he’s gathered enough consistent insights.
Sam also knew he needed a community. He feels one of the hardest things about being a founder is having the right community, and that’s something you have to find or create for yourself. After all, there’s no team in the beginning of a startup.
Sam believes there are two types of people you need to support you: those who care about you, and those who care about the problem you’re solving. If you can find both of those, and sometimes they overlap, then that becomes a huge superpower for you.
Sam is actively working on Automana and navigating the idea validation stage while keeping his runway long and burn rate low for as long as possible. He’s found a problem that is also his passion project, which means his conviction and drive to figure this out are high.
She’s had a great deal of trauma in her life, but those experiences shaped her into who she is. We asked her if she’d go there in a conversation. And, to our surprise, she really, really went there.
My energy was a bit low for the first few minutes. I blame the weather. Then, Trupti jumped on and immediately introduced herself with a confidence and gusto that I haven’t encountered in months — especially on Zoom. Within seconds, I knew that we had someone special on our hands.
If you pin all your hopes on reaching the top of that mountain, your path up there will feel endlessly long and painful, and anything other than summiting will feel like failure. After countless trials and tribulations, I learned that starting a company isn't about getting to the top of the mountain—it's about becoming the kind of person who climbs mountains, no matter how steep they are.