Want To Build A Better Start-up? Build Better Relationships

When traveling, striking up a conversation with a stranger can lead to your next big idea

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BY Marishka Cabrera and Tanya Mariano - 23 Mar 2017

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PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Andrew Griffiths, in his article in Inc., talks about how our perception changes when we focus outwards instead of inwards. He posits that those “who are genuinely interested in those around them, live a richer and more rewarding life in many ways.”

“If you take a very real and genuine interest in the people you encounter, they will pick up on this and be extremely receptive. It is the way to build friendships and relationships and businesses,” he writes.

For Fatima Yambao, co-founder of TechShake, exploring other cultures will open the mind and help in becoming more understanding of other people. “This is important for start-up founders since we interact with all kinds of people who grew up in different cultures,” she says.

In the case of Jay Fajardo, co-founder of such start-ups as ProudCloud and Medifi, and incubator LaunchGarage: “I’ve also learned how to watch the world and observe how people behave. Be aware of how society functions in the white spaces and fringes [because] that’s where opportunity resides.”

Over many years, Griffiths shares he has developed his “curiosity gene,” enabling him to become “fascinated by pretty much everything.” It’s this curiosity that helped him build relationships with others.

Yambao recalls the time she traveled solo to San Francisco to attend her cousin’s wedding. On the side, she planned to check the start-up scene in the area, so she randomly Googled “meetups for start-ups in SF” and saw a number of interesting events. “I did this on impulse and booked several events,” she shares.

One of the events she attended was an elevator pitch competition and the judges were known personalities in the start-up community. “It was an eye-opener for me. The judges did not play nice—seeing founders get grilled live is not something I commonly see in the Philippines,” she says.

She also got to meet fellow Filipinos in the Bay Area start-up space. “It was nice to hear the stories of fellow Filipinos and how they are willing to help other entrepreneurs back home. After the meetup, we stayed connected through a Slack group called Filipinos Forward—we’re still very active today,” she says.

Fajardo, a serial entrepreneur for 30 years now, also benefitted from his openness to learn from others. “I’ve had quite a few mentors along the way, from whom I've learned so many lessons, [most of which] are real world lessons you can never learn in school,” he shares. Today, Fajardo pays it forward by mentoring young start-up founders.

Yambao shares a few things she thinks more people should do when traveling that are actually applicable in everyday life: “Start a conversation with locals. Try to disconnect from your mobile phone and the Internet—it may not be 100 percent, but at least make a conscious effort. Do not be afraid to try things on your own. Find inspiration in people and places.”