LET NOTHING STOP YOU FROM LIVING YOUR DREAM: INTERVIEW WITH MATTAN GRIFFEL , CEO/CO-FOUNDER OF ONE MONTH
Mattan Griffel is a growth hacker, Co-founder and CEO of One Month, teacher behind One Month Growth Hacking, and creator of the most popular deck ever created on growth hacking.
As a partner at GrowHack, the world’s first growth hacking agency for startups, he’s helped launch over a dozen products and advised companies like Pepsi, JPMorgan, and American Express on growth hacking. He has also taught at New York University, Cooper Union, SVA, and Singularity University, and has been featured in Forbes, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, Huffington Post, and The Next Web.
“One Month is an online education startup that empowers people to change their lives by learning real-world technical skills in an accelerated time frame.”
Great to have you on Under35CEO today. Could you please introduce yourself to the Under35CEO community?
Hi I’m Mattan, the Co-founder and CEO of One Month. We’re an online school that focuses on teaching people business skills – like content marketing or learning to code –in a short amount of time.
Tell us, what exactly prompted you to start One Month?
A few years ago I taught myself how to code. As a beginner, I found the process so confusing and overcomplicated. I just wanted to build something simpler that answered all of the questions I had when I was first starting out.
What are the challenges you face as CEO on a day to day basis?
Motivating people, making sure everyone on the team is aligned and communication is happening, hiring new people, managing the budget, making sure projects are on track and that we hit our goals, strategizing about what’s going to move the company forward, and lots of other things.
How do you deal with these challenges?
I’m not sure there’s one answer to that. Mostly I try to remember that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing and I look to other people or resources to learn. I watch a lot of videos, read a lot of books, and talk to a lot of people for advice.
How old were you when you decided to go the entrepreneurial path?
I’m not sure it was ever a decision. In middle school I created a t-shirt printing company, I bought candy in bulk and sold it to my friends in school, and even came up with plans to build a cafe for teens in the middle of our town. I guess I really seriously decided to be an entrepreneur when I quit my first job in 2011 about a year after graduating from college.
Let’s talk a bit about Y Combinator. Tell us how you got into Y Combinator even though you were a non-technical solo founder.
That’s something I’ve written about before, but basically I got rejected the first time because I had an idea but no product. I taught myself how to code, built a company, and applied again a year and a half later and got in. I think what changed the second time around was that I did not only had a product, but 6,000 paying customers, and I had proven that not knowing how to do something wasn’t going to get in the way of doing it.
What impact did Y Combinator have on your life and business?
That’s another thing I’ve written about before. It taught me a lot about what’s important to focus on in a business (growth) and what’s not (everything else). We made about three years worth of progress with the company in the three months while we were there. That’s why they call it an accelerator.
It did kind of wreak havoc on my personal life though, I had to move out to the Bay Area for three months. A lot of those nights I couldn’t sleep because my head was just filled with ideas and worries that kept me up. Still, it was an incredible learning experience and something I’d absolutely do over.
How have you differentiated One Month from competitors?
We focus on a smaller number of higher quality classes – specifically around business skills. Each teacher that we go with is hand-picked as the best in the industry. We provide support and mentorship for all of our classes. So what we’re really selling isn’t the class but the guaranteed results.
What do you personally think are the biggest struggles young entrepreneurs have to deal with?
Not having experience to fall back on. Most young entrepreneurs make stupid mistakes like not forming their companies properly, using the right contracts, ignoring accounting or taxes, hiring the wrong people, focusing on the wrong markets, and so many other mistakes.
Young entrepreneurs have what a lot of other entrepreneurs don’t have though, which is a drive and passion that tends to leave people as they get older and the realities kick in. Ironically it’s being somewhat naive that makes young entrepreneurs more likely to succeed.
If you were to start your entrepreneurial journey all over from scratch, what are some of the things that you would do differently?
I would make more progress before raising money or taking on a bigger team. You can do amazing things and make amazing progress as just two or three people in an apartment living like college students. Close your first customers. Make money from the beginning. Decide a lot of the important things early because it gets harder to change as your company grows, gets slower, and more set in its ways.
What failures have you had as a startup founder?
Haha, this is another thing I’ve written about before (notice a theme here? I write about things people ask me often). There have been lots of mistakes, like hiring someone who got sent to jail a week after I hired him (I would have known if I had just done the research) or running an A/B test during our first major media coverage event (the article accidentally linked to the wrong version of the site). But I was able to recover from all of these mistakes. Most mistakes and failures are recoverable, and also learning experiences. That’s how you learn. So keep making mistakes.
We have a saying at One Month: It’s okay to make mistakes the first time. Just make sure you learn so you don’t make the same mistake a second time.
What advice would you offer to any soon to be startup founders out there?
Be overly willing to admit when you don’t know something, and actively take steps in order to learn in any area that is important to your business, even if you think you already know it. That means if you need to get PR, then buy 3 books on PR and read them. If you need to raise money, take an online class on fundraising and understand the lingo. There’s no excuse for not doing something because you don’t have the skill and can’t find someone that does. Figure out how to do it or die.
What do you personally think about Under35CEO?
I’d never read if before you contacted me, but I really respect and admire what you’re doing. You’re talking to a lot of people and pulling out valuable insights for a lot of other people as well. I hope you keep doing it.
In closing, how do you personally define success?
Success is being happy. Living your life in such a way that you’re satisfied, both in the moment and when it’s all done. Don’t drive yourself crazy working on something you don’t care about now just so that you’ll have money to follow your dreams later. It’s not worth it. Follow your dreams now. The rest doesn’t matter.
Are you a young entrepreneur under the age of 35 with an interesting story of success (or failure)? If yes, then the Under35CEO community has something to learn from you.
Kindly send us an email.
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