Founders Column - Naman Trivedi, Wattbuy
Every week we send the same list of questions to a different founder from companies of all sizes. Each week we get new answers, insights, perspectives, and tips on how we all can shine a bit brighter. This week we interviewed Naman Trivedi Co-Founder & CEO of Wattbuy.
About the company: WattBuy makes taking charge of your electricity easy, transparent, and trustworthy. The company’s personalized recommendation engine helps residents living in states with electricity choice save hundreds of dollars each year on their electricity bill by choosing a cheaper, greener electricity provider. Just search your address, compare plans, choose the one that’s right for you, and save money. Wattbuy has 8 people in Seattle, New York, and Washington D.C, and raised 1.7M.
Naman lives in New York City with his wife and enjoys cooking and biking in his free time.
1. What is a daily habit you love doing?
I exercise first thing in the morning when I wake up every day. This was a pretty hard habit to build, but once I figured out the form of exercise that I really enjoyed — biking — it started to build into a routine.
2. What piece of advice would you give yourself when you started? What advice would you ignore?
Early on, take every meeting. While you’re building a company, you are also building your network in a new industry, with investors, or with customers. And while not 100% of the people will be relevant or useful to you today, you’ll be surprised how many times people will circle back into your work in the coming months and years — as customers, investors, referrers, or employees. Of course, you have to focus your time on building your company, but in my opinion, it is as valuable to focus on people.
I would ignore the startup media vanity. As a first time founder, it’s easy to get wrapped up in reading about startups on TechCrunch or elsewhere and start equating things like funding rounds or valuations with success. Keep your head down, continue to test, and find your initial product-market fit. Getting the word out has its place — but it’s not the goal.
3. What piece of content (book/podcast/Ted Talk) is your favorite or has influenced your life?
Dune by Frank Herbert. I read it first in high school and have re-read it three times since. It’s a science-fiction epic that is not only an amazing story but also teaches you about countless themes — our relationship with the planet, political rivalry, principled leadership — you name it.
4. What is the most valuable investment (time, money or energy etc.) that you’ve ever made?
Keeping in touch with friends that live far away. Having grown up in one place, gone to school in another, and now have moved twice since then, there are so many important people from different stages of my life that are now spread out all over the U.S. and the world. But I try to make an effort to call several of them every month — they’re an extension of my family and I couldn’t do what I do without them.
5. Is there a quote, mantra or message you live your life by and that you resonate with? It can be someone else’s as well.
“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” — Barack Obama.
6. What helps you stay motivated on good and hard days?
I generally operate with a bit of irrational optimism that things will go well, so it’s not too hard to stay motivated on good days. On hard days, the most uplifting is to talk it through with my wife, my friends & family.
7. What are you passionate about other than managing your own company?
I’m passionate about supporting students and young entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship requires a heavy dose of optimism, and I’ve seen students find massive success once they receive some guidance and support. I’ve mentored several over the last few years and started a newsletter that discusses the challenges of the really early stages of a startup, called Zero to 0.5.
*See why Nitzan, Co-founder, and COO of Jolt, also loves meeting young entrepreneurs. Read her column here.
8. What have you recently thrown away or released from your life that made a positive impact and why?
Instagram. I rarely ever shared content of my own, mostly just checked in on what other people were up to — a lot of whom I barely even talk to or know. I much prefer to call up friends and learn about what’s going on in their life.
9. Share a failure you have experienced and what you learned from it.
In April 2018 we almost shut down WattBuy. We were running out of our initial cash — only $1200 in the bank. We had already been rejected from the Techstars Accelerator once, but as a last-ditch attempt, we applied to another round with the hope that we would receive some much-needed mentorship and funding. It worked. Techstars proved to be a critical inflection point for our story. The achievement is not so much in getting into Techstars as it is building a strong network of mentors who continue to support us to this day.
10. If you could have anyone in the world answer these questions who would it be and why?
Roger Federer. I’m a huge tennis fan.
*See why Liron Rose, Founder & CEO at Rose Innovations also chose Roger Federer. Read his column here.