Before e-commerce started its ascent into total domination, “social shopping” was, you know, going to get a cute dress with your friends. Now that we’re all searching for deals online, it’s easy to miss out on the social element.
Or, should I say, it was easy to miss out on the social element. Enter Listar, an online community for social shopping. Listar provides their users with a space to search for products, curate lists of things that interest them, follow other users’ lists, and even become a tastemaker or trendsetter. You can also upload photos of yourself rocking whatever great piece you just found, create posts to up you status on the site, and even ask questions of the community.
We caught up with founder Simon Vielma to get the scoop behind Listar, how to manage a team that’s located all over the world, and his favorite tools for being as efficient as possible. There’s a lot of good advice in here, so check it out!
What time do you usually start work each day? How many hours a day do you usually work?
I wake up at 5 am every day, and I start my workday at 6am. Not only because I am a morning person, but most of our team is in China, so waking up early makes it convenient for all of us to get a lot of things done from 6am-9am.
Where did you go on your last vacation?
Mission Hills Resort in Shenzhen, China. It was awesome!
What’s the very first thing you do at work every day?
We work asynchronously, so the first thing I do is to read the messages that have been posted on our company’s collaboration platform and respond to the ones addressed to me. A big part of my job is business execution and product development, so I focus on that while the rest of the team focuses on implementation. Our team has become incredibly effective at working together and getting things done in a short period of time. I am very fortunate to be working with incredible people.
When do your best ideas come to you? In bed in the morning? During dinner? On your third beer?
They come at me randomly. I am very disciplined when it comes to ideas. What I mean is, I have more ideas that we can implement, so I try to keep a log of all of them, and come back to them frequently to decide what’s important and has priority. For that reason, Evernote is one of my essential work tools.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
The founding team was composed of Inseek who was a product manager at Baidu, Tyler who was working on his own start-up when I met him, Teng who was an engineer at Yottaa, Alla, and myself. We have expanded the team since then.
Remember the early days of starting up? Describe the struggles you went through.
Well, the hardest part was learning to work together in an asynchronous way. It was something new for all of us, since most of the team was used to working regular 9 to 5 jobs. We were inspired by the Github talks on how they work, and we thought we could try that method. It wasn’t easy in the beginning, but I think it would be hard for any of us to go back to the 9 to 5 format now.
Now, everyone works on their own time, and we have very few processes. In a lot of companies people do work about work. We are not one of those companies. Everyone works with a great degree of independence, and we all contribute a great deal to the end product.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Focus on building a business from the very beginning. That’s the lesson I learned from my first start-up failure. I know that the Silicon Valley model is to build something cool that many people use, and worry about the money later, but that only works if there is plenty of funding to go with.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Thanks so much, Simon!