In this Startup of the Week, we are highlighting Austin Yoshino, a serial entrepreneur based in the United States who earned the prestigious title “Innovator Under 25” by the Californian Newspaper, Pacific Business News. He is the Founder and CEO of Phenom, a marketplace that matches aspiring athletes in the United States to professional coaches. In this piece, we will share his vision and guidance for other startup founders.
Phenom: Democratizing Access to Quality Sport Mentorship
As many of you know first-hand, having a network to tap into is an indispensable resource, one that requires constant cultivation and is not easily earned. In other words, not everyone is blessed with one when they are starting out and trying to achieve their dreams. The success rate between the have and the have-nots can be substantial. Austin recognized this discrepancy in the athletic space.
Phenom is designed to help aspiring career athletes who do not have a built-in network to find athletic coaches on their own. In short, he seeks to democratize access to quality mentorship. He hopes that by bringing Phenom to scale, he will be able to ensure that all aspiring athletes can receive personalized guidance and build out a network in their chosen profession. The idea for the Phenom emerged not only for his love of sport and coaching, but also through his academic background in engineering.
The Path to Becoming a Startup Founder
Austin has always liked creating things, and he realized that entrepreneurship was the most effective way to maximize his ingenuity. He thrives when there is no set playbook and enjoys starting projects from scratch. However, despite being passionate about his job, Austin says that being an entrepreneur is not without its challenges, particularly when it comes to fundraising.
Fundraising is hard. Why not try to throw in a little fun at least?
As many of you have highlighted, fundraising is very competitive. But do not be disheartened by the nos, non-responses, and the maybes. As Austin said, if everyone is saying yes to your proposal, you are probably too late. Instead, Austin recommends that you diversify your fundraising strategies to both maintain your sanity and make fundraising a little bit more fun. Yes, keep using professional networking avenues and social media, but throw in some casual networking opportunities too. As Austin said, never underestimate the people you meet casually at parties-even those you play beer pong with. In other words, have your fun while you talk about yourself and your business.
Health is Wealth
As we hinted at in the last section, being your own best advocate as a startup founder can be trying. That is why it is critical that you maintain your physical and mental health. It is key to being able to perform sustainability and finding the joys in your vision during the tough times. So do it-take that break you deserve.
Final Thoughts: Find a Mentor
To bring it full circle, Austin’s final word of advice is to find yourself an experienced mentor-someone whose instincts you trust and who can provide with you with sector specific feedback.
If you are having a hard to finding one on your own, the Startup Club has got your back. Our primary goal is to connect startup founders to experienced investors and advisors in our network. Ask us about out Pitch Night and LinkedIn groups to connect to the mentorship you need.
In closing we want to extend a warm thank you to Austin for his time and tips. If you want to learn more about Austin Yoshino and Phenom, please check out their linkedin and website. Until next time! Have a wonderful weekend.