Experiencing an environment in which successful entrepreneurs were commonplace was key to successfully launching start-up Trustpilot, according to CEO and founder Peter Mühlmann.
In an exclusive chat Mühlmann told Growth Business he believes things may have worked out differently if he has been in a different environment when he launched the business in 2007.
“If [the environment] had been different it’s not at all sure that I would be on the same path I am on now,” he said. “I think it’s important that you seek out people who are one step ahead of your journey for advice.”
Mühlmann does warn that “90% of what they say won’t be relevant to you”. But he believes that there can be some genuine pearls of wisdom in the remaining 10%.
“There will be things that are relevant, but at the same time this leads to a revelation that you are on your own journey,” he added. “And as useful as the initial advice was the most important realisation was that what everyone was doing wasn’t necessarily right for me.”
>See also: Top five reasons why start-ups fail
Online reviews community Trustpilot was launched in 2007 after Mühlmann asked a wealthy relative to invest and received around £10,000. Although it was less than he was originally hoping for he describes it as “enough to get started”.
“That gave us enough traction to raise some money through venture capital,” he continued. “In this was we raised the equivalent of around £150,000 to £200,000.”
The Trustpilot founder says that the biggest surprise for him at the time was “how much proof of the business case you need to raise money”.
“I didn’t realise how thorough you have to be in your documenting of your business case. You hear all these stories of people raising vast sums of money for their ventures. If you’re an ex-Google guy or an ex-Facebook guy it’s easy to get $5 million for your business: but for the rest of us its usually a full-time job for six months.”
Now that the business is established the focus for the next 12 months involves expansion in both London and New York.
“Right now we’re focusing on the English-speaking world but in the years to come we definitely have very global ambitions,” Mühlmann said.
Further reading on entrepreneurs: Five business giants who failed first time around