Advisor Garage and the Advisor Garage Community is an online service for entrepreneurs to connect with Advisors, Angels, Venture Capitalists and other entrepreneurs. It was established by three people – the founder (Andrew Makunas) and two really fantastic tech guys. Another interesting interview from Loscreador. Let’s find out more…
The idea for Advisor Garage came to Andrew Makunas at Harvard Business School. He was guided by various advisors there who helped him realize his ideas and start his various businesses. Advisor Garage hopes to achieve that same goal, but for entrepreneurs all across the world.
Advisor Garage is still in the initial stage, but promises to be a huge success with the every increasing number of talented entrepreneurs and always helpful guides who want to help. Andrew has taken these both and created a wonderful combination.
In this insightful talk with Los Creador, Andrew tells us what he wants Advisor Garage to achieve and the journey that still has a long way to go.
Los Creador: How did you get the idea for AdvisorGarage?
Andrew Makunas: As an entrepreneur, I realized that one of the most challenging and time consuming tasks for entrepreneurs is the ability to connect with great advisors, investors and new team members. In my case, it took months to get everything lined up to get my businesses really thriving. Advisor Garage was created to make that process much easier and faster. Speed is critical when starting businesses because every day without revenue is a day closer to failure. If AdvisorGarage can help connect the dots for an entrepreneur then they are much more likely to realize their startup dreams and objectives.
LC: What’s Advisor Garage all about?
Andrew: Advisor Garage and the Advisor Garage Community is an online service for entrepreneurs to connect with Advisors, Angels, Venture Capitalists and other entrepreneurs. The core site allows entrepreneurs and advisors to search according to their interests and needs so they can reach out to people that can help them move their businesses forward. The newly launched Advisor Garage Community site gives members the opportunity to connect right now with other Entrepreneurs, Angels and Venture Capitalists members through the free blogs, forums and networking groups. They can build up their personal entrepreneurial network through a ‘linking’ system with private messaging.
LC: Skilled and experienced advisors would be the bedrock of AG. What is your plan to attract such people to your site? What do you offer them?
Andrew: There are multiple ways that Advisors find out about AdvisorGarage. Perhaps the most important is member referral or recommendations. AdvisorGarage has grown to include hundreds of advisors through word of mouth. In addition, the management team reaches out to their own personal network and alumni of their own business schools and encourages them to join. But the real ‘hook’ for advisors is to discover fresh new entrepreneurial talent and great new businesses. Advisors and investors love the idea of discovering new innovative people and businesses and Advisor Garage and the Advisor Garage Community are good channels to do this.
LC: How many people are involved with AdvisorGarage? Tell us a little more about them?
Andrew: Advisor Garage was established by three people – the founder (me) and two really fantastic tech guys. The interesting thing about the team is that none of us work full time on Advisor Garage – we frankly cannot afford to as we do not charge for the service and will not do so until much later. What we would ideally like to do is to take any revenues we make, when we make it and channel is straight back into product development. We have already mapped out where Advisor Garage is going and the services we would like to provide for our members. We would like to pass every dime the site (eventually) earns into improving the services and offerings for the members rather than paying expensive salaries. For those reasons, we build and manage Advisor Garage during our long nights and too short weekends. Part of the entrepreneurial journey I guess!
LC: What are your plans for the future of the site?
Andrew: Ah ha! If only I was allowed to tell you! What I can say is that now that we have the basic Community site live (http://www.AdvisorGarage.com) we would like to refine and improve it and from there we have another two or three key services that revolve around helping entrepreneurs with their key challenges at various stages of development.
LC: How did you begin your business networking?
Andrew: I don’t think I ‘business network’, I think I generally enjoy spending time with people and both new and old contacts. Its not a conscious effort, meeting and working with people is something I just plain enjoy.
LC: Which site do you visit everyday other than your own?
LC: Who are your idols in the IT space? What is it about them that you think is really great?
Andrew: There are too many people – if pushed it’s probably Guy Kawasaki. What’s great about Guy? He tries to give back to the broader entrepreneurial community and the upside of that is it also builds his personal equity and brand.
LC: What is the greatest challenge to your success? How did you or plan to overcome it?
Andrew: The greatest challenge to our success (and still is) is building a comprehensive member focused site that delivers the range of services that can really help them and their businesses without cash. Could we go out and get cash from angels or VCs? Probably, but we want to focus the business on our members rather than on the bottom line so we struggle every day to manage and improve the site from our own personal savings.
LC: What was the one main reason for starting something on your own?
Andrew: I can’t help it. I’m an entrepreneur! I basically come up with new business and product ideas on a daily basis. The shower is usually where it all happens! Some ideas ‘stick’ others disappear when the next idea comes along. I’m compelled to pursue the ones which stick. Advisor Garage was one of those.
LC: What is the one accomplishment till date you’re most proud of?
Andrew: Aside from the personal stuff, probably designing and launching the world’s smallest, safest fire escape ladder which is now a permanent exhibition in New York’s MOMA and being sold in multiple accounts. It feels good to have brought a product to market which saves lives.
LC: What’s that one big dream or accomplishment you are working towards?
Andrew: The next iterations of Advisor Garage and related services will be the next set of accomplishments. In terms of dream – to help a significant number of entrepreneurs build great and successful businesses world wide.
LC: Time to play soothsayer. What according to you is the next big thing?
Andrew: I’m not sure there is truly a next big thing – I thing all next big things come back to the consumers. If they don’t then they are destined to be the next big ‘has been’.
LC: Any advice for other web entrepreneurs out there?
Andrew: Whatever you want to try, give it a shot. Don’t worry too much about Business Plans, its better to get it out there and modify and build as you get customer feedback. Pick the right team members from day 1. Get some good advisors and leverage them until they squeal!
LC: How early in life did your relationship with computers/internet start? Tell us about your first few interactions with technology.
Andrew: This will show my age but my first ever computer was when I was about eight or nine. It was called a Sinclair ZX81 and that was closely followed by the Sinclair Spectrum, the Commadore 64, and the Apple LC…after that I’m afraid I sold out to Windows machines and so after that point the computers stopped being memorable.
LC: Which was the first company you worked with? What did you do there?
Andrew: The first company I worked for was Procter & Gamble. I was a brand manager for Cover Girl cosmetics – a bit weird for a guy but it taught me some good lessons on marketing and delivering great products to consumers.
LC: Can you elaborate on your hobbies and what you enjoy doing to pass your time?
Andrew: Spending time with my family and martial arts – a combination of JKD, Muy Thai and mixed martial arts. It’s a great way to get your mind to switch to something aside from entrepreneurialism.
LC: Where are you based now? Any plans for the immediate future.
Andrew: I’m in New Jersey right now. Immediate plans for now are email this to Los Creador and go get some lunch.
BTW, please check out our new Community site . A shameless plug but as we have a zero dollars marketing budget I won’t apologize too much
Thanks for the interview…