For Vancouver Entrepreneur Chris Kape, Authenticity, Unique Selling Proposition Key to Career Longevity
Christopher Kape is the founder of JAMCO Capital, a venture capital and consulting firm that focuses on a number of industries, including gaming, high-tech and wellness.
As an early-stage investor who works in partnership with many other entrepreneurs, the Vancouver executive has seen firsthand what leads to startup success, as well as what can go wrong. Chris explains that while technology is removing barriers for starting a new business, it’s also never been more competitive. As such, he suggests founders add something of value to their initial idea – something that will set it apart from other competitors in the marketplace.
Here, we talk to Chris Kape about the important role authenticity plays in business success, what unique selling proposition means, and his advice for young entrepreneurs who are looking to start their journey.
The essential steps to starting a business include creating a solid business plan, getting financing, structuring your company, and more. Funding seems to be the hardest component for a lot of entrepreneurs. Why?
The answer to this question is rather simple. Funding is hard.
For one, it’s extremely difficult to prove that a new product is worthy of an investor’s time. What’s more, it’s impossible to follow a clear-cut path because the fundraising process is fluid and different for each company. And, when it comes down to it, getting funding is hard because pitching an idea requires a lot of work and effort, something many investors just don’t put enough time into.
Unlike borrowing money to buy a house or purchase a car, there’s no simple form to fill out to prove your worth or the worth of your business. What’s more, you need to reach the right investors at the right time and deliver the right pitch that resonates well in order to turn heads.
Entrepreneurs need to have a certain amount of intelligence, self-confidence and fearlessness to become successful. You also add authenticity to that list. Explain.
Authenticity is the most appealing trait of all, in your personal world and in the business world. There is so much energy expended being fake, or projecting a persona that isn’t natural and real. If you don’t waste that energy (and money) on projecting and deflecting, you can be free to flourish without betraying yourself. When you are authentic and real, it also invites other people to do the same, creating relationships and bonds that are much more meaningful. People want to do business with sincere people.
Given the above, my best advice is to recognize what all that you’ve done including the good, but especially the bad. Analyze it, learn from it, understand it and own it. It’s all part of your authentic self. But don’t forget to move through it and ultimately silence the negativity in your head and use it as a learning tool. Some wonderful thoughts await you on the other side.
The most important thing to remember is not everyone has to think like you — and that’s okay! Try and really be true to yourself and find people that enjoy your true authentic self.
You stress the importance of having a unique selling proposition. What does this mean in layman’s terms and how does it set founders apart from their competitors?
A unique selling proposition, or USP is something that’s important to your customers and that sets you apart from your competitors.
Let’s say you have an idea for a business and you believe it’s a winner. Now, what can you add to your idea that will set it apart from other competitors in the marketplace? I’m not talking about a difference for the sake of being different, but something that’s meaningful to the customers you hope to attract.
There are many things that can help a start-up company establish itself and achieve success. A strong USP is one of them.
Life always has bumps and turns in the road. What career advice would you give to your younger self?
There are many parts of my youth that I’d like to change – things I am not proud of and foresights that I would have appreciated in advance to help make different choices. I would have liked these untidy loose threads removed or changed. But, if I pull at any one of those threads, I risk unraveling the entire tapestry of my life. Instead, in the wisdom of my age, I no longer see them as loose threads, but through effort and struggle, was able to tie them into knots that made my tapestry even stronger.
Your life has to take on the bumps and turns in the road, as mine did, in order to unfold in a true and natural way and for you to develop into the remarkable person you will become. Mistakes and adversity are an essential part of the journey.
In your opinion, is overnight success possible anymore?
Although everyone wants instant gratification, in most cases, it’s highly unlikely. In a perfect world, no one would have to put in the effort or wait for success to happen, but we don’t live in a perfect world.
Also, looks can be deceiving. Just because something appears to have been an overnight success, doesn’t mean that it actually is. First, you need a product or service that is refined enough to be a success, and success often comes in increments. I, for one, believe you need experience and that doesn’t come overnight. Honestly, the best way to learn is through failure. And getting experience and failing and going through that cycle multiple times is a whole process.
Finally, you need a little luck. Of course luck alone isn’t enough, but you still need a component of luck to succeed.
In the end, when you ultimately hit it big, everyone will always think it was somewhat of an overnight success, but you will know that is was hard work, passion, perseverance, dedication, and or course luck and intelligence.